RNIB and emporia launch talking mobile phone for blind and partially sighted older people

Telecom company emporia has launched its first mobile specifically adapted for visually impaired older people. The device will be sold exclusively through the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

The TALKactive phone is an adaptation of emporia’s ACTIVEglam phone, which launched in the UK last year, but with additional spoken menus, buttons and SMS text to assist users with sight loss. 

“There are 350,000 people in the UK who are registered blind or partially sighted, and 70 per cent of these are aged over 65. The TALKactive phone has been designed with them specifically in mind,” explains Jennie Mather, senior retail products manager at RNIB.

“It was great to work closely with emporia during the development stages of the phone to really tailor features specifically for people with sight loss.

“This accessible, easy-to-use feature phone will enhance day-to-day life, and RNIB is proud to be its exclusive distributor.”


Using a voice assist function, the phone reads text messages aloud and helps users to respond by speaking the letter keys, as well as providing the option to read back the typed message before sending. When receiving calls, voice assist will read unknown numbers, or announce the name of the contact saved in the phone book.

The phone has large illuminated buttons with a defined pressure point make typing easier, while large on-screen text aids the partially sighted. An extra strong vibrate function alerts users to incoming calls and messages.

The clamshell design offers greater control over the handset: opening and closing the phone can be set to auto answer or end a call. The volume button located on the phone’s exterior is adapted to speak the time and battery level aloud when the phone is closed.


The TALKactive comes with a set of uncomplicated, well-written user instructions available in large print, braille or audio, produced by emporia and RNIB.

With affordability in mind, the phone is priced at £125 excluding VAT, the TALKactive also includes a 2MP camera. It also comes with a charging cradle so users don’t have to waste time inserting the USB cable into the charger port. 

Chris Millington, managing director of emporia UK & Ireland, says: “Although smartphones have accessibility functions, the majority of blind or partially sighted users are older and unaccustomed to touchscreen technology prior to losing sight.

“Designed with much care and consideration, the TALKactive offers simplicity and affordability and is vastly easier to handle for a majority of retirees who haven’t grown up with mobile technology at their fingertips.

“We were keen to get this absolutely right, so we worked closely with RNIB during the design phase, and it has passed muster with the charity’s discerning Technology For Life user testing panel.”

All emporia phones are compatible with hearing aids, has extra loud and clear sound, and an emergency button located on the rear of the phone for extra peace of mind. If pressed, up to five emergency numbers will receive an SMS and be dialled automatically in sequence. 

Find out more about the TALKactive phone now through RNIB.

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