iPhone Loss Leaves Man Blind In Atlanta

    February 21, 2012
    Shawn Hess
    Comments are off for this post.

A Georgia Tech grad student found himself in a compromising position after he lost his smartphone. Vincent Martin is blind and his phone has special software that allows him to interact via voice recognition. Last friday he had to make a special trip to the veterinary clinic to allow his guide dog Karson to undergo a series of diagnostic tests. Normally Martin would take the bus to Georgia Tech, where he is a computer science major, but he cannot ride the bus alone. Without his K-9 partner he was resigned to a cab for transportation.

Upon exiting the cab and arriving at the college, Martin noticed his iPhone was no longer attached to his waste in the holster. By this time the cab had already left the campus. Somehow He managed to contact his friend Synge Tyson to tell her what happened. Synge had an excellent idea, she used her iPad to locate his iPhone. The only problem is that Synge is visually impaired herself, and is classified as legally blind. They used a magnifying glass to view the signal on the tablet and came to a conclusion about the device.

Tyson Comments on the event:

“It would change locations and I said, ‘your phone has gotta still be in this taxi because it’s a taxi pattern’,”

The couple did the next logical thing, they contacted the cab company who provided outstanding customer service by doing nothing. Of course, why would you help two blind people find an expensive device that helps them navigate the world? Customer service is horrible now days. Next they tried the police department. Again, no help. Unless you are the victim of theft or have been attacked they will not get involved.

The next day Martin’s brother drove the two of them around with their iPad and magnifying glass tracking the signal. The trail led them to the cab driver’s home. He had the device.

Martin comments:

“He was flabbergasted, he didn’t even know it was a phone; I really don’t think he had any idea what was going on.”

The phone was recovered and Martin has his lifeline to the world back on his hip. It’s crazy that two visually impaired people had to investigate the incident themselves and that the cab company couldn’t take care of this for them.

Synge elaborates:

“An everyday person like myself can help my friend, who’s blind, find his phone; I thought it was just wonderful,”

The technology in the iPad and iPhone made it possible for blind leading the blind to achieve better results than any customer service could provide. I am impressed.

Here’s a video about the incident featuring Vincent Martin, his dog Karson, and Synge Tyson provided by News 11:

  • GeoffTomcion

    Independency begins with reliance upon nothing but yourself. Being able to get to work or anywhere on your own should not be looked upon as something amazing. Seeing your photo of the blind leading the blind and the angle of your article strengthens my conclusion that you need to get out more and see what the blind are doing today. Articles such as this one lead to supporting the limited expectations that society put upon the blind. Imagine how blind people were before Apples fell from the sky.

  • Blind and Interested

    I am not surprised about the cab, but by the police but thanks Steve Jobs for your innovation

  • Tiffany

    Honestly, this article offends me. First of all, while the iPhone has voice recognition capabilities, most blind people use it because of its screen reading software. Voice recognition and screen readers are two separate capabilities. Second, I am blind, and before I decided to partner with a service animal, I used public transit alone every day. If my dog isn’t working, I still use public transit alone. It is not the dog that allows a person to be independent, but the person themself. Please check your facts and spend sometime in the community with blind people before painting a picture of us as helpless beings.

    • John Sheffield

      Sighted or blind, people loose phones all the time. Knowing the people involved, I find the reporting of the incident and the sound-bites used to be cringe-worthy in spots.

      What makes the story is that the private citizens could track the missing phone down, report the information but neither the cab company nor the authorities were any help retrieving it. Vision issues aside, if there had been a different mix of people in this same situation it could very easily have made the news with a less peaceful outcome.

  • Amy

    As an independent traveler who happens to be blind, this article offends me on so many levels. You have managed to portray this individual as clueless, and inept. Even if he is both of those things, your attempt at grabbing readers by going for an angle of pitty the poor blind guy who lost his iPhone and is too clueless to take the big, bad, public transit system without his guide dog, is disgraceful!
    Is this journalism? Seriously?
    I am sorry sir, but you are doing the public a huge disservice by writing this article. You could have focused on what wonderful technology is out there and how it helps people, which might have been your idea, but your intent is overshaddowed by portraying people who are blind as being clueless idiots, who spend their hours bumbling around big cities incapable of taking public transit. You may not know this, sir, but not every blind individual uses a dog. And, any dog handler with a clue who values their own traveling skills as a blind person, makes it a point to travel with and without their four-legged friend in toe; just to stay sharp and confident in all travel situations. Every day all across the country, blind men and women use public transit services in cities such as San Francisco, Sacramento, Boston, Chicago, and yes, even Atlanta, and they do this quite well, without a dog. If your article has any truth to it with regards to this gentleman’s travel skills, I’d be embarrassed if I were him to show my face. I try to go through my life educating individuals who demonstrate as much ignorance as you have in this article, and I fear you’ve single handedly helped to set the average clueless sighted person who has no idea that a blind person can dress themselves, let alone travel on their own with a variety of mobility aids, back about a hundred years; by promoting the idea that blind people are not self reliant, which is how so many off balance souls see us. I’m shocked and saddened that this is what constitutes gernalism these days! I can only hope, that enough people will pass right by this supposed human interest story, and that those who do read it, will see it for what it truly is: an insulting piece, who’s portrayal of those who are blind/visually impaired, is narrow minded and laughable… Not in a good way… In closing sir, the next time you are assigned a story like this, don’t do it! Not, unless you can spin it so that the blind or persons with disabilities in general, (and the technology we use,) can be viewed in a positive light.

  • Something from Nothing

    I will have to disagree with all of the comments stating that this is not a good writer, or that the story has no merit. Only a great writer can take a ridiculously uninteresting story, and create controversy.

    A blind man misplaces an iPhone, and then asks his blind friend to track it.


    Spin that!

    And you have, you certainly have!

    And yes, you deserve the virtual bashing.

  • Amanda

    Wow. This is the most uninformed and offensive piece of “journalism” I’ve seen in a long time. Firstly, why is this even a story worthy of news coverage? Secondly, most blind people use the iPhone because of its screen reading and screen enlargement capabilities, not for the voice recognition. Voice recognition and screen reading are two different technologies. But perhaps the most offensive thing here is the assumption that blind people can’t take public transportation without a guide dog at their side. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Actually, a very small percentage of the blind population use guide dogs. I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of the blind who use canes aren’t sitting at home waiting for a furry pal to bring the amazing ability to take the bus into their lives. I am blind, and guess what. Before obtaining a guide dog, I lived in Boston where I crossed busy streets and took the subway nearly every day. And after I got a dog, I moved to New York City where I did the same things. Sometimes, gasp, I’d even go out without the dog and, gasp, would take a bus or train to get somewhere. Maybe next time, you should do a bit of research before portraying the blind as pathetic people who need to be pitied and who were saved by the amazingness of Apple. Because seriously? I like my iPhone, I like my Macbook. But they are not my lifelines. I could still exist happily without them.

  • Alexis

    Dear Sir:

    I am visually impaired and use an iPad daily. The reason it’s so popular among the blind and visually impaired is not for its voice recognition technology but rather for its built in screen reading technology. Voice recognition technology is quite different from screen reading technology.

    Second, your portrayal of the man being unable to travel without his four legged companion is embarrassing at best and offensive at worst. I travel independently everyday without the use of a four legged companion. The myth that a blind person needs to employ the services of a trained guide dog in order to travel independently is a myth and nothing more. The dog does not tell the person where to go. In fact, in order to be accepted into the guide dog program, one must have good independent travel skills.

    Before you publish another story such as this, do some research and interact with blind or visually impaired people in the community. Your eyes will be opened.


  • Jacki Martin

    WOW!! I can’t believe some of these responses..first let me set the record straight… Vincent Martin is a Grad student at GA Tech. Secondly, he just got Karson in June. Third, since he doesn’t DRIVE he takes Marta trains and buses all the time. Lastly, the story was about technology and the lousy customer service we’ve all come to enjoy!

  • Alexis


    That may be true regarding the intended focus of the story. The writer did neither of these things by painting the blind person as an individual who is unable to take public transportation without the use of his service animal. If this writer is worth his salt, he should conduct more thorough research about the abilities of the blind before writing a piece. If his research is thorough, his next piece of writing will, hopefully, not be an uninformed piece of trash not worthy of anyone’s time or money.

  • Jacki Martin

    The writer didn’t say Vincent was not capable of traveling via public transportation. Vincent is a four time Paralympic athlete (Spain, Austria, Atlanta and Greece)
    Ok maybe the writer should have researched the accessibility issues of the story a little better but did you see the actual news story on TV as well? It was a very good story again about technology!