Sep 15. 2020

How Huawei Helps the Visually Impaired Help Themselves

How Huawei Helps the Visually Impaired Help Themselves

Wang Zhongwei sits at the piano, hands hovering above the keys. Nearby sits a small box which contains all of his tools. Tuning wrenches, tuning forks, and silencers are all neatly arranged in their proper compartments. He tilts his head to one side, straightens his back, and presses a key. As the note rings out, Zhongwei listens intently for subtleties of pitch. This one is a little flat. He takes a wrench from the box and reaches inside the piano to tighten the corresponding pin a little. This is how a piano tuner works. It may sound simple, but it's also skilled work. This work requires intimate familiarity with the hundreds of densely arranged tuning pins inside the piano. Zhongwei, as a visually impaired person, has had to learn by feel alone.

Wang Zhongwei was born visually impaired. Since childhood, he has seen the world only as a vague blur, but his keen sensitivity to sound led him to his career as a piano tuner. He can tune every note by staying close to the piano, feeling it with his hands and hearing the sound repeatedly after recording it on his mobile phone.

How Huawei Helps the Visually Impaired Help Themselves

Wang Zhongwei uses the sound recorder function of his Huawei phone in his work.

Zhongwei spent nearly 10 years in special schools learning Braille while also studying other knowledge one typically covers at school through a magnifying glass. He has been using consumer electronic products for nearly 10 years. In 2015, he bought his first Huawei phone, a P8max.

How Huawei Helps the Visually Impaired Help Themselves

Wang Zhongwei still keeps his HUAWEI P8max.

Since then, Zhongwei has got to know the accessibility features in Huawei phones, which have become a "good helper" in his daily life. With the ScreenReader function, he can operate his phone without the help of other people, and take advantage of functions that help him live a more independent life. He can access study materials online, especially now, with the rise of audiobooks.

In 2018, Zhongwei began to work as a piano tuner. He often uses the Recorder feature when tuning a piano. "It's one of the features that I use most," says Zhongwei, before going on to praise the sound quality of Huawei phones.

He feels around inside a piano to determine the position of the strings and tuning pins, adjusts the pins with a tuning wrench, and then presses the corresponding key and listens to the subtle change in pitch. He uses his Huawei phone to record the sound of the piano before and after tuning for comparative study, which helps him hone his ears.

"When I tune pianos, sing a song, or listen to a concert, I record the music with my phone. When I listen to the recordings, I feel as if I were there again. I've started using the AI Life app to manage other devices through my phone, and it has made my life much easier," says Zhongwei.

With the ScreenReader feature, Weizhong can turn on the air conditioner, and freely adjust the temperature and wind direction with the AI Life app. He can also help friends coming over connect to his Wi-Fi network with the Guest Wi-Fi feature, which is secure and convenient.

Zhongwei is effusive in his praise for the Huawei AI Life app. "It can control and manage all of my household appliances and smart devices. This is beyond what I could have imagined just a few years ago. In the past, every device came with a dedicated remote control. There was no voice command option for a lot of devices and, as a visually impaired person, I sometimes needed help when using them."

How Huawei Helps the Visually Impaired Help Themselves

Unlike Wang Zhongwei, Wu Yiming was not born visually impaired. In 2017, he began gradually losing his eyesight due to advanced glaucoma. "I can only see a shimmer of light now," says Yiming.

Wu Yiming is now an accessibility engineer. His passion for software technology can be traced back to his high school days 7 year ago. Driven by his passion for the subject, he taught himself software development by taking online video courses and reading books.

"When medical treatment does not help, I try to look for the brightness from technology." In 2018, Wu Yiming joined the Accessibility Research Association, where he finds bugs related to accessibility experience in apps, software, and UI design, and then proposes solutions to developers.

How Huawei Helps the Visually Impaired Help Themselves

Wu Yiming is testing the accessibility functions and experience of a Huawei phone.

"The way we interact with technology is very different from how a sighted person interacts with it, and developers of accessibility features should have a sense of empathy. I am both a promoter and a beneficiary of this effort. It's a wonderful feeling, and I'm always motivated to do the job as well as possible," Yiming says.

For Yiming, his phone's ScreenReader feature, which reads onscreen text aloud, is an essential function. Since 2018, Yiming has not just been a Huawei user, he has been an active contributor to the design process. He participated in the Huawei Gallery upgrade program, helping develop features that enable visually impaired users to share photos with friends and enjoy themselves while recording beautiful moments in their lives with their phones.

Accessibility experience and technology have been improving and upgrading thanks to a team of dedicated, empathetic engineers like Wu Yiming. In the future, Yiming will continue to explore the field of accessibility. He is also applying for some patents that will help visually impaired users embrace smart technologies. "I've gone from being a wheel user to a wheel maker," says Yiming, deploying one of his favorite metaphors. "In the future, I want to bring the convenience of technology to even more people."