Throughout history, blind people have been able to enjoy full, independent lives. But we’ve evolved because there’s no doubting that if you can’t see, the world may be a scary and challenging place. Guide dogs have been around for around half as long as Braille, which was created nearly 200 years ago. Significant progress has been achieved in this Age of Information to increase the accessibility of several elements of daily life and work for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Selecting only ten instances of this accessibility was difficult, but here are my top picks.
10 Talk about Scrip
It may literally be a matter of life or death to understand the information on your medication package. According to estimates from the Food and Drug Administration, drug errors result in over 100,000 deaths and two million hospital admissions annually.
Prescription container labels are quite detailed, however the print is little. How can you tell one pill container from another? Applying an adhesive Braille label is one option, but it’s only effective for the 10% of blind persons who can read Braille. Even so, there isn’t much room on the label—you’d be lucky to catch the entire name of the medication—so you’ll still have to rely on your memory to remember how much medicine to take when.
Now launch ScripTalk. This technology is being used by an increasing number of pharmacies to safeguard the well-being and autonomy of their visually impaired clientele. The pharmacist inserts a radio-frequency identification (RFID) microchip embedded in the bottom of the container with all pertinent drug information (name, amount, dosage directions, warnings, patient information, etc.). After then, the patient can obtain the data by setting the bottle atop a ScripTalk Station, which is often free of cost. After the RFID microchip’s information has been decoded by the device, it will be spoken out in a distinct artificial voice. The gadget is made such that it won’t mix two medicine bottles that are next to its scanner, negating the need for sighted help. It is as near to fail-safe as it gets in this way.
9 Measure of Liquidity
Now that you’ve organized your medication, you need a drink to help you swallow it. How do you fill a glass to the brim without spilling anything? To detect when the liquid hits the edge, you could loop your finger over it, but that’s not the most hygienic solution and definitely not what you want to do while serving distinguished guests. Pouring hot liquids puts your finger at risk of burns. This conundrum was cleverly resolved with the creation of the Liquid Level Indicator.
You hook the tiny prongs of this tiny, incredibly light device over the rim of your glass or cup and insert it within. After that, you pour. The device beeps when the liquid reaches the level of the prongs.
This video shows how the indicator vibrates in addition to beeping, which is helpful for those who have hearing loss. Additionally, once the water hits the prongs, the beep pattern changes. The initial beeps just tell you to slow down, but if you keep pouring, the tones quicken and warn you that you are getting dangerously close to the cup’s rim. This is useful if you don’t want to feel like you’re giving a child who spills things a half-full glass of milk.
8 Software for Screenreading
Though they haven’t quite taken over the world, computers are undoubtedly playing a bigger and bigger role in our day-to-day activities. Every day, it becomes more difficult to get by without computer abilities.
So, how does someone who is blind utilize a computer? A number of software applications are available that convert text on the screen into either Braille or synthesized voice, which can then be viewed on an external Braille display that is linked to the computer.) Jaws is by far the most well-liked of these shows.
The majority of operating systems and web browsers are compatible with Jaws. It makes it simple to communicate via email, explore the Web, create and edit documents, and read everything that a sighted person would read on the screen. Actually, without Jaws, this list would not have been possible to compile.
Be aware that even though the voice is extremely clear, it does require some getting accustomed to because it does more than simply read text; it also recognizes links and visuals. The user can change the quantity of voiced punctuation as well as the tempo and pitch.
You can download thousands of different voices to use as your screen-reading voice if you think Jaws’ default voice is too robotic. These voices sound almost entirely human, and they talk in a multitude of languages.
7 Color-Identifiers that Talk
Living without sight can be challenging because, whether you like it or not, color is a vital part of the universe. All of us want to look put together, be able to answer politely when someone says, “Bring me the blue folder,” and be able to enjoy the vibrant beauty of leaves and flowers.
Color identifiers come in a variety of forms, and although they differ greatly in terms of cost and level of information provided, they all work on the same fundamental idea. The “eye” of the device detects the amount of light reflected back from the material you want to identify when you hold it up to it. After all, color is nothing more than the absorption and reflection of light. The gadget then speaks out the hue it detects.
The information displayed on the gadget might range from something as basic as “light blue” to something more striking like “pure steel blue.” Not only does the premium ColorTest Memo from Caretec in Austria record personalized messages and reminders, but it also includes an integrated room thermometer, clock, and calendar with a stopwatch.
Here’s an example of the more affordable Colorino. You’ll see that while it’s not perfect, it’s still rather accurate.
6 Interactive Bar Code Readers
As most people are aware, almost everything you purchase at a pharmacy or grocery store has a unique bar code that the cashier may use to quickly scan and determine the price of. However, the blind and those with reading disabilities can also use these bar codes to recognize food, over-the-counter medications, cosmetics, books, and CDs.
With the extra benefit of speaking the product name, the ID Mate Galaxy employs the same scanning technology as those seen in stores. In addition, it will include details on the package size, CD track titles, nutritional information, and instructions. With its onboard database containing literally millions of objects, the ID Mate can quickly and efficiently scan a bar code and get the necessary information.
This is an example of how ID Mate works. This model also comes with a number of extra features, such as an online price-check feature for comparison shopping and the capacity to record your own messages (for example, if the instructions on a frozen dinner say to cook it for 30 minutes, but you discover it actually needs 40), which will be stored for the next time you scan the item.
5 Online Book Exchange
Braille and audio books were only available for rental from libraries like the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped back in the day. The nine thick volumes of “Gone with the Wind” were among the huge, bulky braille novels. NLS started allowing its customers to download books from their website in the middle of the 1990s so they could read them on a computer using a talking book player or screen reader. Although there was a limited selection of books, this was nevertheless a significant advancement.
Then Bookshare was introduced in 2002. Bookshare is a nonprofit organization connected to the Benetech Company. It converts print books into audio or Braille files using specialized scanning software, which is done by publishers and volunteers. Following that, Bookshare customers can download as many books as they like and save them to their own PCs or external drives. Then, with the help of that useful screenreading software we mentioned earlier, the books can be read or heard.
Although users must pay a $50 annual subscription price to access the service, it is not free and has been quite popular among consumers who are blind or have other print disabilities.
Bookshare currently offers hundreds of thousands of books, ranging from textbooks, classics, and best-selling novels to trashy romances, how-to books, and all the volumes in between.
4 Identifiers for Currency
Coins are easily distinguished by touch because they vary in size and some have ridges while others do not. But that’s a whole different story with paper money. There are no size or texture variations among US bills. They are all precisely the same size. How then do you know which bills to give over when you make a purchase if you are blind? You could, and many do, fold each denomination in a different way and/or store them in various sections of a wallet, but you are still dependent on a sighted person to tell you which bill to fold in which way. How can you be certain you weren’t underpaid when you get your change back?
Technology saves the day once more! Any US bill entered into the slot will instantly be recognized by the I-Bill, a very small and light device.
The denomination is subsequently stated either vocally or by means of a sequence of beeps, the duration and quantity of which vary depending on the kind of banknote. The I-Bill has a silent setting as well. Each denomination is indicated by vibrating pulses, each with a different pattern and quantity of pulses. The I-Bill will not incorrectly identify a heavily torn or damaged bill; instead, an error message will be displayed.
This is a comparable gadget that accepts euro notes as well: Money Talks.
3 Described Video Content
Try keeping your eyes closed while watching a movie or TV show. How much of the story can you make out just from the conversation and soundtrack? Without being able to see the action, clothes, character motions and facial expressions, etc., you might get anything from a fair sense to almost no idea of the plot, depending on the movie.
WGBH, a PBS affiliate in Boston, introduced the Descriptive Video Service in the early 1990s. Professional describers would watch television series or films and then describe the people, action, and onscreen text in their descriptions. Then, these explanations would be captured and placed into the conversation during organic breaks.
The service has grown significantly since it first began. Not only are there a ton more DVDs available, but there are now descriptions available for several well-known TV series. With the Second Audio Program (SAP) option, which is already common on TVs, viewers can access the explained versions of shows like “The Simpsons.” There are also some cinemas and even museums that offer described motion pictures.
Although there is a slight discrepancy between the spoken descriptions and the onscreen action, this should only provide a minor difficulty for viewers who are following the action visually. When you close your eyes, the distraction disappears.
2 iPhones that can talk
A blind user can genuinely utilize your iPhone or iPad to their fullest potential—something you may not even be aware of. Voiceover is a feature included under General and Accessibility in the Settings menu. Once you turn it on, your phone will speak everything that appears on the screen, all of the prompts, and all loaded apps in addition to working with Siri. Thanks to this functionality, blind persons can interact with the screen just like sighted users would—by tapping, sweeping, and flicking.
Even though Voiceover will read your text messages aloud, it takes some getting used to using the touchscreen. However, you can still send and receive emails quickly. Additionally, voiceover is a must if you wish to use
1 Click on TapSee
Originally available for free, TapTapSee has become so popular that a small monthly cost is now required. Using a combination of artificial and human intelligence, TapTapSee uses the camera on your iPhone to capture a picture. The image is then uploaded to a server, where it is verbally recognized for you in a matter of seconds.
The incredibly simple interface of the app—open it, aim the camera at the subject you wish to learn more about, then double-tap the screen—gives it its name. You will hear the object’s description after a little wait. It can accurately recognize various colors, patterns, textures, brand names, and even facial expressions. It is amazingly—and frequently frighteningly—accurate. You can snap twenty free photos with TapTapSee before deciding to purchase a subscription.