General discussion

Easy-to-use phone for disabled person

May 6, 2005 5:41PM PDT

Hi, I'm posting this for my mother's sake.

Awhile go, my mom had a series of disabling strokes which has made it almost impossible for her to answer a regular phone on her own.

She is wheelchair bound, and can't reach over to pick up a phone. She can use her hands.

She gets confused easily by all the buttons on a phone. A phone with large numbers and buttons isn't the solution. She can see very well.

So, I'm enlisting all of you here at cnet in "The great search for the one-button, voice-activated/speakerphone cell phone."

Does the perfect phone for my mom exist? Requirements:

1) Preferably a cell phone;

2) Light weight enough to wear on a cord around her neck;

3) Has one button to answer and end calls;

4) Is voice activated (if not too complicated) ... ie: "Phone, Wake up!" ... "Call Nancy." ... "Hangup phone." Anything more complicated than that most likely will be too confusing;

5) Has a speakerphone so she doesn't have to hold the phone up to her ear;

6) Preferably a "candy bar" style phone as opposed to a flip phone. Having to open the phone to answer it might be too confusing.

7) Not sure what "International compatibility" is. If it means, the phone can't make international calls, then that would be a problem.

Cool Not a necessity, but if the phone has video recording/display during a call that would be fun for my mother.

I've been trying desperately to find a cell phone with all of these features for my mother.

I've looked at a variety of websites: (too) high-tech sites; sites for the disabled; sites for the mentally and/or physically disabled; cell and regular phone sites; aged/dementia sites.


No gold.

Did happen upon some cool stuff. Ideo created a really cool wrist phone ... though it might be only a prototype.

Any good suggestions?!

My mother would really appreciate any suggestions.

Thank you so much in advance.


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Check firefly
May 6, 2005 11:29PM PDT

It was reviewed two days ago on CNET and it is a simple cell phone specially made for kids. I think it fits your requirements.

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firefly cell phone
May 7, 2005 4:39PM PDT

Thank you for the suggestion.

This is a fun phone, and definitely easy to use.

One concern: The address book would be hard to navigate for my mom ... though I'd set it up for her. In my mom's case, an address book would work best with voice commands.

There's a new phone out there that uses this technique; however, it has some other issues that might be issues. Forgot what it's called. Oh goodness.

The 911 button is great ... but what if my mom hits it accidentally or whenever she wants to? That button might need to be disengaged or covered up. She wouldn't need it cause she's living in a community with 24-hour help.

The phone still is an awesome find and would be neat to demo it for a day or at least at a store.

Thank you for the great suggestion. This phone is the closest thing I've seen that might just be the answer.


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cell phone for mom w/o use of hands
May 13, 2005 7:55AM PDT

did you find anything? I'm in a very similar situation- my mom fell & has a serious spinal cord injurt- she is paralyzed- so like you rmom cannot use hands...what did you find- I;m searching everywhere ...big buttons may be ok for my mom b/c she can move her arm & possibly hit with her wrist ( not sure)...but the turningoff/on/speaker etc- cannot use fingers...

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hands'-free phones
May 14, 2005 5:37PM PDT
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Another phone possibility
May 15, 2005 2:06AM PDT

Haven't looked into this very much, but have been told that Nokia has "candy bar" style phones, which may have both voice-activated commands and speakerphone.

The Nokia phones I've actually seen are older models or are on the lower tech end.

Going to their website could be helpful.


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Re: accessible cell phone provider
Jun 1, 2005 1:46PM PDT

I specialize in accessible cell phones for people with special needs. My general url is For people with mobility disabilities a more direct link is A Sony Ericsson phone with magic word and a headset instead of the carkit as shown on my site might be a solution. My contact information is on my website.


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good luck with kid phones for handicapped
Aug 16, 2009 8:02AM PDT

I read your e-mail on getting a phone for your elderly mother and need to reply. I have a mentally handicapped brother who I have tried the Firefly phone and the Jitterbug phone and both may have worked better if it was not for the companies non concern for their customers. All these companies care about is making money off you!! Fire fly sold me a phone then when I went to activate it they changed up billing and formatting which required me to purchase another sim card. It took 4 months of repeated calls to get the thing and I was told it was on its way every time I spoke with uh ah what you might say was customer service? Once I received it and went through the hassle of activating it it cost a fortune to use, line fee and tower fee etc. The phone didn't hold up and I was not going to purchase the small little goofy thing again and go through the ordeal again! Firefly should have made a flip phone, the ones they have are so goofy and little to mess around with you think its some kind of toy ya cool it lights up. So on to the Jitterbug I bought the three button unit and it was working o.k. except my handicapped brother was able to keep hitting the buttons and make the numbers go away? (should make it so one can lock it) Well after only 6 months of use the screen on the phone went all blue?? I called uh um customer service and they ask every question of how I may have destroyed the phone (they in no way are in your camp and do not stand behind Samsungs product). The phone can still receive calls and you can push the operator button and it calls out however the screen is blank so you have no way to navigate to place a call (this is the three button model which by the way they just canceled production on). This phone was the one and only which came close to being able to work for people with a Mental handicap, people who still can function but need constant care as they are not capable to be on there own. I was asked if the phone was dropped to which I thought who on this planet has not dropped their cell phone? I have a phone which is also a Samsung which I have wondered how it has survived some of the things I have done to it. I sent the phone to Jitterbugs handy dandy service repair shop in San Diego CA, how convenient! They just sent it back saying it was physically damaged and did not elaborate??? I was also instructed to just call customer service and frog up another $160 and buy another one, what the heck. There is not a scratch on the phone and one would think for $160.00 it would last more then 6 months?? So now back to the drawing board trying to find a phone for the mentally handicapped which will serve their needs, but first one will need to get it into some companies head that special needs people need this product. All companies to date I have dealt with have one and only one concern money!!!!!!!! My brother lives in a group home with 23 other special needs folks who all have been trying to find a cell phone which is very very basic which will not be able to dial 911 (they do not understand not to call) a phone which works on only what that person can manage and be able to be locked out from any operation which will cause problems. This is just one group home in one area of one town I can only wonder how many other people in this country have mentally challenged family members fighting this same issue. With all the crap they can stuff into a phone these days you would think some engineer would figure out this part of the market and put together a reasonably priced phone with reasonable cost of operation.......THERE IS A MARKET OUT HERE WAITING FOR THAT PHONE AND MAKE IT TOUGH ENOUGH TO MAYBE FALL OFF THE ARM OF A WHEEL CHAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Any one out there that knows of a product that can be set up for mentally challenged people so that one can set it up to speed dial with one push of a button to preset numbers and is a flip phone so that when it opens it answers the calls let me know. All other functions are of no use and need to be locked out, my brother was putting in over three hundred minutes a month so that alone should entice a company to produce a product for this sector of the market. Good luck with either Firefly or Jitterbug their phones are expensive as is the service and customer support Ha ha it is set up to keep you at arms length. Go and try to buy a Jitterbug they sell them at sears and one or two other out of the way places and remember if it needs fixing you just simply send it to San Diego CA.............I bought the Jitterbug I had at some hearing aid store and the people involved in selling it to me had absolutely no idea on any aspect of the product (clueless), when I went back for service they knew even less.....CNET does your company have any ideas on finding a phone of which I am trying to find???? Anybody???

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Oct 4, 2010 11:52AM PDT

what kind of phone did you find? We were looking for either a land line phone or a cell phone for our mother who is in a nursing home.

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Maybe . . .
Nov 24, 2010 8:07AM PST

Maybe FotoDialer can help. It allows the user to dial people by pressing a large button next to the photo of the person they want to call. The slots for the photos are wallet-sized. It connects into an existing analog phone.
Good luck!

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No Buttons Headset
Feb 8, 2011 1:59PM PST

If a Bluetooth Cell Phone Headset that does not require you to press any buttons to make or receive a call is an option you might want to check out this Website.

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