Principal Manager: robin spinks

Deputy PA: louise arnold

Address: 105 Judd Street WCIH 9NE

Phone: +44 (3)03 123 9999


11 August, 2011 

(5th Interview)

Innovation Unit Goal:

Create an inclusive society for all, by working on existing technology and developing new technology in order to find solutions to problems faced by blind and partially sighted people.

Innovation Unit Current Projects:

Consulting with major mobile device manufacturers and key global software houses.

Offered Services:

  • IVONA (text to speech)
  • Talking Book Series
  • Mobile Phone Toolkit
  • Business & Product Consultancy 

Per Our Conversation…

Do you work with any outside technology and/or consulting companies?

RNIB works with multiple companies and have offered prototype consultancy to several major organizations such as Google, Android and Apple.  Another one of our long standing partnerships is with Action For Blind People - a national magazine for the blind and partially sighted.

Of course, we also work with not only blind/visually impaired patrons, but also the sighted and those with other disabilities.


What are your user labs like?

We have user trials where participants work intensively in the testing and designing of accessible apps and devices.


What useful design information do you get from your testers?

Just about all the feedback we receive from our testers helps us! It really does come down to gathering a lot of people, then asking and recording their responses. Even when the outcome is unexpected, every bit of supporting information helps the bottom line of better understanding how to make tools/apps more accessible.  


What other features does RNIB offer?

Presented as a free app,  The Mobile Phone Toolkit can be downloaded to tablets and smartphones and assist in software guidance. We also have a radio station that is specifically geared towards the visually impaired/blind community - Insight Radio. We also host a series of other programs such as ACB radio and Blind Handyman (DIY solutions for the blind).


Is there a company that you think offers more inclusive devices than others?

Apple has definitely made it their mission to make their products “all inclusive”. In fact, they are proof that major companies can make universal design marketable!

Built into every Apple device are speech & sound options, bluetooth (which works with braille displays), screen magnification and customizable text size with inverted colors - just a few of the free accessible options to choose from. With a majority of devices, such inclusive features are rather expensive and cumbersome. They usually have to be separately bought and specially installed.

With Apple however, the configuration is so easy, that despite most disabilities, one can navigate and customize their own device in very few steps; truly a luxury for many with disabilities.

What is particularly encouraging is the fact that other corporations try to compete and follow the example/success of Apple, since it has been proven that tools designed for the disabled can also be beneficial to the general population.  

This is the future of the mobile!


After a few words about what makes the iPad useful in an educational setting, Robin Spinks gives an overview of the features designed for partially sighted users - large text, Zoom and invert colours. He also mentions other features like triple-click Home and Safari Reader, which may be of particular use.

Words Of Wisdom!

“For the partially sighted and blind, the smartphone really has become the remote control for life!”


Read article: The Era Of The Seeing iPhone Is Here With Apps For The Visually Impaired