This paper reports on a study of older people with visual impairments learning to use a mainstream smartphone with touchscreen. The aim of the study was to evaluate whether the EziSmart solution could facilitate the use of a standard off-the-shelf smartphone, and thus stimulate more social contact and digital participation for this group. The EziSmart solution consists of Ezi-Pad and Ezi-Smart Apps. The Ezi-Pad is a flip-casing with a receptacle for the smartphone. When the casing is flipped open it reveals an integrated keyboard with large ergonomic physical keys. The smartphone and the Ezi-Pad keyboard communicate via Bluetooth. The Ezi-Smart Apps is a set of Android applications including a startpage (launcher), an app organizer and several other features. Six visually impaired adults, aged 63 to 80 years received a five day course in using a smartphone together with the EziSmart solution. The participants were observed during the course. They were then followed up during a two month period. The participants and their relatives were interviewed about their smartphone use, experiences and expectations before the training started, and after the follow up period ended. We discuss challenges that older people with visual impairment face when trying to learn and use a smartphone. We then report on the usability and accessibility of the Ezi-Pad solution, describe the course and the experiences of the participants, and reflects upon how both the EziSmart solution and smartphone training could be improved with regard to this user group.
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