Peggy Walsh lives in Oakland. She heard my interview on Town Talk, and told the radio station (RIS) that she was interested in learning more about the project. When we spoke on the phone, she wanted to hear a sampling of ringtones from the project. She said she was tired of the rings that came programmed on her cell phone. I played some of them for her on my phone (by putting it near the speakers on my computer).
I asked if Peggy might like to make a ringtone or two, she told me she wanted to think about that possibility. When I called her back in a few days, she said she wanted to collaborate. Here are her tones–a Simple Wind Chime Tone, Peggy’s Kitchen Phone Tone, Old Fashioned Phone Tone Montage and her Simple Symphony No. 9 [in D minor by Beethoven] Tone.
I was delighted that Peggy took me up on my offer to collaborate on some tones, since the major goals of the project are service, empowerment and sharing. Being a sighted person, setting ringtones as identifiers for callers is interesting and fun, and most helpful to me when I have my hands full (am cooking or doing the dishes). But most of the time, I can tell who’s calling just by looking–on my phone, I can see picture or text caller IDs. For the blind, however, the option to set tones as caller IDs is potentially much more useful.
Peggy doesn’t like the electronic sound of the new rings on cell phones, so we recorded two of her “old fashioned” or land line phones ringing. She likes the gentle sound of wind chimes, so we got that, too (if you listen carefully, you may hear birds chirping in the background). And since Peggy plays the piano, I also asked her to do a very simple, right handed version of some copyright free music that would make a decent tone.
Peggy is a self-described would-be-writer, and she belongs to Western PA’s Blind Outdoor Leisure Development, where she’s served as their correspondence secretary. She’s done a good deal of advocacy writing, and she loves good theater. Her favorite TV shows are Masterpiece Theater and Law and Order. I asked her if she ever turnS on the Descriptive Video Service, and she said that the shows she likes to tune into are so well done in terms of audio, that descriptive services are just a disruption. She did note that when she visited friends in England, there were loads and loads of radio plays to listen to. She wished that she had more access to radio plays here.
Peggy became blind as a premature infant. She has a Coupe phone, which has larger buttons and a talking menu. She said she just called Verizon, where a “very nice salesperson helped me find this phone.” When I mentioned to her that I’d heard stories this year about Stevie Wonder’s advocacy at this year’s Consumer Electronics show, she said, “I can use this phone, but there’s a lot missing. If you’re not a sighted person, you can’t do a calendar or a schedule, which would be very helpful to me. You can’t text message–I suppose the advantage there, though, is that I am saving a little bit of money. The blind, in many respects, have access to, the 16th Century of accessibility. That’s considering most [sighted] people carry around and using these little complete computers on their cell phones!”
As Peggy worked with her cell phone, I noticed that she had to memorize the menu choices. A sighted person could just look at them and easily scroll through them. Peggy had also memorized the layout of the numerical key pad and command buttons (something else I don’t need to worry about because I can see).
Thanks, Peggy for sharing these tones with the project (and for answering all of my numerous and “nebby” questions)!