When Your Technology Talks Back to You

Editor’s Note: This is part of our ongoing series on Laughter is Often the Best Medicine, a series that encourages people who are blind or visually impaired to laugh at themselves and celebrate victories.

Siri Speaks Up

by Empish Thomas

empish demonstrating iphone

As some of you may know I recently purchased an iPhone. In these last few months I have been learning something new almost weekly. It has been an interesting experience for me after years of using tactile phones. Additionally, I have been learning how to use Siri, the personal assistant for the iPhone. With a simple press of the home button, Siri can do all kinds of things like send text messages, reply to emails, pull up apps, make phone calls and search for things on the Internet.

Siri Confesses

Well, one day I was about to give Siri a command. But before I gave the command I got distracted talking to my boyfriend and said “Oh, my God!” Siri heard me say this and immediately replied, “I am not a spiritual advisor. You must get a human being for that.” I looked down at my phone in shock and amazement. Did I hear correctly? Yes I did. Then I started to laugh loudly. My boyfriend asked me what was so funny and I shared with him what Siri said. Then he started laughing too. Siri can do all kinds of things; but that day she made it crystal clear that things related to religion was not one of them!

Siri, You Can’t Be Serious?

by Maribel Steel

I never thought I’d still be carrying my old Nokia phone in 2015 and feeling like the only person in the world who hasn’t jumped aboard the iPhone and smart phone craze. I almost feel like a tech-dinosaur, content to stay with my touch-pad portable phone.

Braving the Tech Challenge

So last October, I braved the tech challenge and ordered a new iPhone 5. The anticipation that I was going to give this new technology “a go” was so great; it was as if my entire family was getting ready to welcome a new baby into our household. They were only too pleased to help show me how to start the phone, swipe correctly with my fingers, place icons wherever I wished them to be, set up my contacts page and showered me with instructions how to download my emails and surf the net.

Ah, but then, we turned on a voice over called Siri – and this is when the real fun began.

I tried to speak clearly, I tried to be patient but time and time again, Siri misunderstood my requests. She often would begin to dial the incorrect number and I found myself in a panic to try and end the call.

Siri Is Hopeless

Three months went by and Siri was still getting my instructions completely wrong. Not one to give up when presented with a challenge, I persisted with learning how to master the new technology. But one day, I asked Siri to text a friend. It took seven attempts to get the message correct and on my final attempt, I sighed into the phone, “Oh sorry for this message, Siri is hopeless.”

Pressing the listen button to check on the text before sending, I couldn’t believe my ears. Instead of Siri repeating my message, she actually said, in an offended tone, “Maribel, I’m doing the best I can!”

Are you serious? My phone can now argue with me?

Maribel holding Nokia to her ear and holding smartphone in her hand

That night, I charged the battery of my old Nokia and put Siri away in a drawer. I guess, one day, I will have to speak to her again but honestly, it really is much easier using a phone when all I want is…a phone.

In Your Face with FaceTime

by Mary Hiland

I’m still plugging away at learning to use my iPhone, and so is my friend Jane. About once a month, we call each other to chat. Neither of us is very proficient, and we proved it when one day, she accidentally used the FaceTime feature, instead of just calling me.

It was completely ridiculous for two totally blind people to use FaceTime, but oh well. We laughed and chatted for a while, and then we thought we had ended the call. I started to say hung up, but we don’t hang up anymore. We ended the call, or so we thought. We said goodbye, and then I turned back to writing my blog. I was happily typing away, when several minutes later, I heard this little voice from the couch beside me say, “Mary, I’m still here.” What? I thought I was alone. Good thing I didn’t talk to myself.

FaceTime Won’t Give Up

We tried every which way to end that call, and still, we couldn’t get rid of each other. More laughter. This was getting goofy. There she was, in that little square on my couch, telling me she still hadn’t gone away. Finally, I told her that I had to get my writing done, so I was taking her into the kitchen and leaving her on the counter. I checked back in about a half hour, and she was finally gone. I have never used FaceTime since. And never “intentionally” again!

More About Using Talking Technology

I Finally Got an iPhone

What’s New in IOS Accessibility

Reading and Writing with JAWS

Reading My Own Phone Bills

Technology Success Brings Renewed Self-Confidence