This page contains information about podcasts
that may be of interest, as well as reviews on a variety of
eyesight related products.
Please visit my let's go shopping page for a variety of places
to purchase these products from.
What is a podcast?
A pod cast is the distribution of digital media files, including
both video and audio. (For example you can
download and watch a pod-cast of a TV series, or you might listen
to a pod cast of a seminar on-line). In today's society, we are
all on the move. With today's portable gadgets, such as
mobile phones and portable media devices, podcasts have taken off.
You can get podcasts on just about anything now (from news and
information to views and documentaries). Technology podcasts are
great; whether it's to keep up to date with what's happening in
today's world, or to get an insight into what's going to be coming
out in the near future.
What is a review?
A review is simply a second view. It is a second, more indepth look at
something. (For example, a movie review or a review of a product
etcetera). I have found that being able to access reviews on the
internet is great, because it gives you a good general overview of
something from people who have tested the product or service. Many
things are reviewed and there are many good forums on-line
depending on what it is you are researching. On-line reviews also
give you a better idea about a product without you having to
travel into a store and test it out for yourself. They may also
give you far more information than could possibly be found in a
local catalogue. As with any product, there may be a variety of
distributors, retailers and or information sources.
Regardless of how the information comes, here are some links that
I have found useful:
The Blind Sport Podcast.com The Sports Podcast for
the Blind, the Partially Sighted & the Supportive Sightie
To find out more please go to http://theblindsportpodcast.com/
Most reviews of products are done by a sighted
person and they may not necessarily look for the information
required from a visually impaired or blind persons perspective;
where more information may be required to do with the
accessibility of that product. This information in terms of
accessibility may mean the difference between whether or not we
buy that product.
If anyone has tested out other adaptive technology products that
they would like to see here in the product review section, please
email me the product details and your review.
Echo Dot smart speaker (2nd Generation)
What is it?
The Amazon Echo Dot is a hands-free, voice-controlled device with
a small built-in speaker. It can also connect to your speakers via
Bluetooth connection, or through a 3.5mm audio cable to your AUX
input - to deliver stereo sound to speakers on your stereo.
• It will hear you from across the room with 7 far-field
microphones - up to 10 to 15 metres away.
• It can Control smart home devices.
When you want to use Echo Dot, just say the wake word “Alexa”
which is default. It can be changed to 3 other wake words. Smart control and connectivity
You can control multiple devices (such as lights, switches, TVs,
fans, etcetera) at scheduled times, or with a single voice
command. You can use Wi-Fi (for compatible wireless speakers) to
add voice control to your home stereo system in the living room.
With multi-room music support and speakers connected via cable,
you can play music across multiple Echo devices. (Bluetooth is not
supported for multi-room music). With the Drop In feature enabled
for room-to-room calling, instantly connect with compatible Echo
devices in your home.
The Echo Dot comes in 2 colours - black and white.
The application - Downloading the Amazon Alexa App
You can Download the free Alexa app from the Amazon Appstore, the
Google Play store , or the Apple App Store.
Your device/s will need to meet the following minimum requirements
to run the downloaded app; unless it is already installed.
• Fire OS 3.0 or higher
• Android 5.0 or higher
• iOS 9.0 or higher
• Desktop browsers by going to: https://alexa.amazon.com
Go to the app store on your mobile device and search for "Alexa
Note: The Alexa app downloads automatically to Alexa-enabled Fire
The app was fully accessible with the Talk Back screen reader. It
did seem to take a while to load the app on my Android 7 device
which was on a Vodafone N8 mobile phone. After it was loaded it
did not seem too bad.
If you are adding other devices that are third party apps they may
or may not be accessible (such as for your lights, smart switches
The size of the Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker is:
Size: 1.3" x 3.3" x 3.3" (32 mm x 84 mm x 84 mm) ...
Looking at the smart speaker
At the back of the smart speaker (on the side) is where you plug
in your micro USB cable. On the top of the speaker are 4 buttons.
At 12 o’clock is the volume up button; at 6 o’clock is the volume
down button; at 9 o’clock is the mute button; and at 3 o’clock is
the reset button. If the reset button is held down for a few
seconds (until a sound is heard) it will reset the speaker.
After your device has been setup it is just a matter of asking it
questions. You will need to say “Alexa”, then ask the question. It
will then come back with an audible answer.
"Alexa, what time is it in Wellington New Zealand?"
Conversion: "Alexa, what’s $1 Australian dollar in New Zealand
"Alexa, set timer for 10 minutes."
"Alexa, what's the weather like in Taranaki today?"
"Alexa, set an alarm for 3pm."
"Alexa, play [name of radio station]."
"Alexa, set volume to 6"
"Alexa, wake me up every day at 7am.”
“Alexa, set a 10 minute [pizza] timer.” (If using multiple
timers, Alexa will tell you your "pizza is ready".
"Alexa, how long is left on the timer?"
"Alexa, will it rain today?"
"Alexa, what will the weather be like tomorrow?"
For a visually impaired or blind person it can replace some of the
devices they use at home; along with providing some other very
useful functions. Some examples are: a talking clock (with date
and alarm functions); a talking timer; listening to the radio with
the radio skill installed; a basic calculator; looking up phone
numbers for businesses; reading books from the Blind Foundation
library with the Blind Foundation Skill app; learning how to spell
a word without having to google it; finding out the weather
forecast and much much more.
Blind Foundation Alexa Skill
If you are a member of the Blind Foundation in New Zealand, there
is now an Alexa skill that you can use with the Amazon series of
Smart Speakers. For more information please go to the following
link at https://blindfoundation.org.nz/alexa-skill/
To listen to an audio demonstration of this skill being used,
please go to:
Other skills can be added to your Alexa Smart Speaker to give it
When I compared the Alexa Echo Dot to the Google Mini, the top
volume of the Dot was equal to about 60 percent of the Mini (which
I found far louder). I also found at times it misheard me. Doing a
search for a phone number in the business directory, it would take
far more attempts to get it correctly - compared to just the once
or twice for the Mini. At other times, it would hear me clearly.
Maybe this could be due to the Kiwi accent?
If you are looking at getting a smart speaker, look into the pros
and cons of both, check out some reviews, find out which devices
they are compatible with, and ask others their findings on smart
speakers before you make a purchase.
Mini smart speaker
the Google Home Mini smart speaker
After you have
unpacked your Google Home Mini smart speaker, the items that
should be in the box are the Google Home Mini smart speaker, a
micro USB cable, a power adapter and user guide. Please note:
depending on which country you purchase this in, the power
adapter may vary.
The dimensions for the
Google Home Mini are:
Diameter: 98 mm (3.86
Height: 42 mm (1.65
Weight: 173 g (6.1 oz)
The Google mini comes in
3 colors and these are charcoal (dark grey), chalk (off white)
and coral (peach).
On the side of the
speaker is a hole to plug your micro USB cable into, and the
other end of the cable with the USB plug goes into the USB hole
on the power adapter that comes with the Google Home Mini.
Not far from where you plug in the cable is a mute button/slider
so that the Google Home Mini (herein referred to as the Google
Mini) will not listen for any commands when slid to the off
position. You should be able to hear whether it is listening or
not. It will need to be slid back the other way to turn
listening either on or off again for it to listen.
If you touch the top of the speaker (either on the left or the
right hand side) it will increase the volume or decrease the
volume. Instead of touching the top of the Google Mini you
can also use voice commands. To turn up the volume on your
Google Mini, you can say “Hey Google, increase volume”, “Hey
Google, turn it up” or “Hey Google, increase volume to maximum.”Use the opposite
commands to decrease the volume.
After the Google Mini has been plugged in it will begin talking.
You will also need to download the Google Home app on your
Android phone (unless it is already there) or Apple smartphone
(which it will not be).
Minimum OS requirements for Google Home and
Google Home Mini
Here are the minimum OS
requirements for Google Home and Google Home Mini
Mobile device operating system (OS) requirements:
If your device does not
already have the Google Home app, download it so that you can
set up your Google Home device.
The Google Home app is compatible with mobile
Android 4.4 and higher
iOS 9.1 and higher
Please note: You can’t
set up Google Home on a computer.
Mobile device display language
Important: To update
Google Assistant settings for Google Home, your mobile device’s
display language must be set to English (United States,
United Kingdom, Canada or Australia), French (Canada), French,
German, Japanese and Italian. Note: Changing your device's
system language doesn't mean that your Google Assistant supports
other languages. If you are used to using the Google smart
assistant on your android phone the smart assistant now is in
your Google Mini smart speaker. You will be able to do a lot of
verbal enquiries that you used to do on the smart phone - but
now on your speaker! Not all functions will be available - such
as making calls or texting etcetera from your smart speaker.
Hopefully some of the
functions already in use overseas, will be in the pipeline for
an update at a later date for other countries (such as being
able to make a phone call in New Zealand via the Google
Mini). I used a Vodafone N8 smartphone with Talkback and
was able to go through all sections of the Google Home app to
setup the Google Home Mini smart speaker.
Why would you
want a Google Home mini if you are blind or visually impaired?
In everyday life we use
different adaptive technologies. This may include tasks such as
using a talking calculator, a talking timer, a talking date and
time clock (which includes setting the alarm), finding out how
hot or cold it is outside your house (or in another location),
setting a reminder to do something or even doing a shopping
list, setting an alarm to wake you in the morning (not too early
of course), setting a timer when you are cooking food, listening
to a radio station (using either the dials to find a radio
station or one that can be spoken out when going through the
radio stations) and much more.
We might even use our
screen reader or magnification on our devices to look up
information such as bus and train timetables, business phone
numbers and much much more.We are finding out over time that where we can do voice
interaction - in most cases – it is preferred over typing.
I don’t know about you, but when you start adding some of these
prices together, you will find that you can use the Google Mini
more and more in everyday life at far less a cost than
purchasing all of those items individually (provided the power
stays on that is). Just in case you forget, the Google mini will
use your internet to make queries or to perform tasks that you
might want to do.
It may be a good idea to
monitor your internet usage just in case you are on a limited
The Google smart speaker
can hear you from a distance talking normally. It seemed the
smart speaker could hear you up to 10 metres or more away.
When issuing a command,
you need to say “ok Google” or “Hey Google” then say your
command (for example “ok Google… what is the time?”).
Third party services
that can be used with the Google mini, Home and Max
If you want to see some of these third party
apps demonstrated on You Tube please go to the following link at
twenty of the Google Assistant third party apps. There are
other third party apps that can be used with the Google mini,
Home and Max. It is a matter of saying the word "talk to..."
then the third party app name. An ever expanding list of these
apps can be found at https://assistant.google.com/explore
commands you can say
If you want to know the
time, say “Hey Google … what time is it”?
If you want to set an
alarm to be woken up by, say “Hey Google… set an alarm” (and the
time you want it set for example 7am)
If you want to check the
date say “Hey Google … what date is it”?
If you want to be
reminded about something at a certain day and time, you could
ask it to “set a reminder”.
If you want to find out
a recipe say “Hey Google…how do you make Banana cake?”
If you want to check
International time say “Hey Google… what time is it in
Christchurch New Zealand?”
If you want to check the
weather say “Hey Google… what’s the weather like today?”, “Hey
Google … do I need an umbrella today?”, “Hey Google … what’s the
weather going to be like in New Plymouth today?”, “Hey Google …
what’s the temperature outside?”, “Hey Google … is there a
chance of rain on Saturday?”
If down the track you
buy another Google mini, (once setup) you can broadcast your
voice from one room to another - much like an intercom. You just
say “Hey Google … broadcast” (then your message).
There are now 2 voices
you can use on the Google mini - a male voice and a female one.
It is a matter of saying the command “Hey Google … change your
voice”. It will then give you the other voice and it is a matter
of you saying yes to it.
If you want to see how
something is spelt say “Hey Google … how do you spell
If you want to convert
currency say “Hey Google… how much is $5 NZD in Australian
If you want to know some
examples of things Google Home can do just say “Hey Google…
If you are listening to
a song or talking book, you can say “resume” or “Hey Google…
If you want to listen to
any of the following terrestrial and internet/satellite radio,
you can say any of the following:
“Listen to (closest
radio station by name)
“Play Radio Hauraki (you
must enable this under the music section in the Google Home
app). You can also listen to a radio station by frequency
“Play radio on TV or
speaker” with Chromecast built in
If you want to set a
timer say “Hey Google … set a timer for the time you
If you want to check a
timer, say “Hey Google … how much time is left on my
If you want it to find a
business phone number, you could say “Hey Google … phone number
for the business you want …(then follow it up with a question
for its operating hours)
You can also ask it (if
available in your area) when the next bus or train is leaving
from your town.
You can also (at a later
date) add smart devices that can work with your Google Home Mini
so that you can automate your home. These are devices such as
lights that turn on and off via your command and much more.
A device that can be
used is called a Google Chrome cast. This plugs into your HDMI
slot on your TV and is a must. If you have Netflix account, once
it is hooked into your Google Home mini, you can then ask the
Google Home Mini to play say Dr Who from Netflix on the Google
chrome device in the area that it is in (such as a living room).
A couple of seconds later, it will appear on your TV for you to
watch. You can then use voice commands to play/pause, rewind the
show you are watching and much more with additional voice
commands. Your Netflix account must be linked in the
Google Home app to do this.
In case you are not aware, Netflix has a large range of audio
described shows/movies to watch. It must be enabled first in the
Netflix player (under the audio section) and the AD or audio
description feature must be turned on.
There is a list of
Google Mini commands that can be found in the Google Home app,
or if you do not know what to say, you can say “What can I say?”
and it will give examples of the kinds of questions that you can
You could have a couple
of Google minis around the house which would replace some of
your adaptive technology gadgets as mentioned above.
Over time, you will
figure out which add-ons will be useful to you in everyday life.
I am sure that there
will be plenty of things you can find the Google Home Mini
useful for (like mentioned above) and much, much, more!
Samsung 50" UHD 4K
television model number UA50MU6100SXNZ
This TV is part of the Series 6 Samsung TV's
which have accessibility features built into them.
Once the TV has been secured onto the base (or wall mounted), all
cables plugged in and turned on, and the remote paired with the TV, you can hold
down the Volume rocker for a couple of seconds and the
accessibility section will start up with voice guide. The volume
rocker is located on the very bottom left of the remote.
You can go into the voice guide settings to adjust
the voice speed, pitch and volume. There may be other
accessibility features of interest to you in the accessibility
In the accessibility section you can learn the remote and its
buttons by going into this section (and while selecting the
Learning your remote menu) pressing each button. While pressing
any key (apart from the power button which is on the top left), it
will speak what each key does. Also in the accessibility section,
you will find a menu called Menu Learning Screen. This will help
you to understand the layout of the menus, the various menus
functions and how to navigate them with voice guide (such as how
to navigate the smart hub or how to record a TV show and play it
While still using voice guide, you can set up the TV from the
start. You will use your arrow keys to select letters using an on
screen QWERTY keyboard. Press the select button (in the centre of
the circle) to select the letters and or numbers you want. You
will need to listen to some of the messages as they are only heard
once. You can connect your TV up to Wi-Fi and also tune in your
channels if on an aerial. After the TV has been set up, you will
hear a variety of information. Here are a few examples of what you
will hear spoken (channel numbers; programme names; volume levels;
navigation of the EPG electronic program guide; going into the
smart hub and navigating the different sections there - such as
the settings for your TV which are accessible; and going into some
of the sources - such as HDMI 1, HDMI 2 etcetera). Some third
party applications are accessible with voice guide (such as
Netflix) where others are not (such as Freeview NZ on demand).
With your smart remote, you can also speak into it (to either do
searches using the arrow keys to read the content; or speak into
it and get it to change channels, or go from the TV to a different
source such as HDMI 1). With some questions (such as "What is the
time?", it will even answer you back!
more detailed information about the buttons on your remote and
the structure and accessibility functions of this TV, please
visit the accessibility section and visit the two sections
called Learning your remote and Menu Learning Screen. You can get to the accessibility section via your
remote by holding the volume button in on your remote for a couple
Please also check out other Samsung TV models in this series as
they come in a variety of sizes.
Please also visit my Lets go shopping page Lets
go shopping to find out about other manufacturers who
may have accessibility features built into their models. What each
TV speaks may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.
Please note: Here are some other Samsung models that have the
voice guide feature (according to the Samsung website).
Please visit the following link to Samsung's website for
specifications on the model that you are looking at. As with all
technology, models and features are subject to change. http://www.samsung.com/nz/
Smart Prime 6 (VF-895N)
This Vodafone Smart
Prime 6 was purchased in New Zealand for $129 NZD on sale
(usually $149 NZD). It is a feature packed phone for its
price. Setup can be done independently by a blind or vision
impaired person. Having the option of being able to go up to a
64gb micro SD card is a bonus. It is an easy to use phone. If
you don’t mind labelling the odd unlabelled button/graphic
here and there, then for its price it is a decent alternative
to a more expensive model (such as an Apple IPhone 4S or 5)
with similar specifications. It is quick and smooth to use,
and the Talkback voice is quite clear. I wanted to try this
phone out (with its 8 megapixel camera) to see what results I
would get when using OCR software. I was happy with the
results. With the KNFB reader software coming to Android, an 8
megapixel camera is required. This phone might make a cheap
alternative even with the price of KNFB added on top (if they
follow the apple pricing for KNFB). Most of the apps functions
that I had used on an Apple IPhone, were available as
something similar for Android (for example Color ID, Shazam,
and so on). They may not have been called exactly the same
name, however they do a similar job. Finally, if you are
purchasing this phone direct from Vodafone, you can either
wait 9 months to unlock it for free, or pay a $30 NZD
unlocking fee and use it on another network (for example
Skinny or 2 Degrees etcetera).
Released May 2015,
155g, 9mm thickness,Android
OS, v5.0, 8GB storage, microSD card slot (expandable up to
64gb), 720x1280 pixels, 8MP front camera, 2MP rear camera, 1GB
RAM, quad core processor, 2500ma lithium polymer battery. For
the full specifications on this phone please go to the
following link http://www.gsmarena.com/vodafone_smart_prime_6-7230.php
When you first unpack
your phone it will come with the following accessories: the
phone, a Vodafone sim card, wall charger, micro USB cable and
layout of the phone
The dimensions of the
phone are: Approximately 14cm high, 7cm wide and 0.9cm thick.
With the phone facing
you, there is a headphone hole on the top in the centre; a
micro USB hole underneath on the bottom right, and a power
button about halfway down on the right hand side. Just above
this power button is an up/down volume button. The front
facing camera is located next to the speaker button on the top
right hand side of the screen. The rear facing camera is
located on the rear of the phone about a thumb space down from
the top of the phone in the centre.
phone and setting it up
Press the power
button until you feel the phone vibrate. Leave it for about 10
seconds for the phone to boot up. It may take longer. Next,
hold 2 fingers together on the screen when the setup screen
appears. You will need to hold them there for about 3 seconds.
You will hear talkback start up and a little after that
accessibility mode will start. You will hear a beep. The phone will start
with a short tutorial on what gestures are needed to use the
phone. After you have closed the tutorial it will give you an
option to pick your language (for example English). Once this
has been chosen, the step after that is to put your sim card
into the phone. This step can be skipped and done later. The
next step is to locate a wireless network. Locate your
wireless network and double tap on it to enter your wi fi
password. To hear what letters are being spoken, tick the show
password checkbox. This will speak out your password as you
enter it instead of hearing “star star star”.
As you go through the
setup screen, you may want to turn off reporting back to
google services. The best way to make it easier to navigate
your home screen (when setting up your phone), is to set it to
standard home screen. This will make it more like other
Android devices. The simple home screen (when set to it) gave
me a whole lot of unlabelled buttons. These were your
favourite apps and speed dials. These could not be labelled,
but as soon as you filled up your favourite speed dials and
favourite apps, they would be assigned a label.
As you progress
through the setup screens, it will be a matter of tweaking
your phone to your own preferences. When entering in the wifi
details, the qwerty keyboard was fully accessible out of the
box. Also when the phone was fully setup, the phone dialler
was accessible out of the box for a blind or visually impaired
Talk back can be
setup at a later date if preferred. This can be done by going
to the apps icon, double tapping on it, and locating
“settings”. Under that section, locate accessibility. Under that section,
there will be Talkback and this will need to be turned on.
Double tap to enable Talkback.
After your phone has
been setup, it is a matter of navigating around the phone with
the Talkback gestures.
If you have used
Talkback before on another android device, they are the same
ones that are used for both android tablets and phones. Later
versions of Talkback may have more gestures added to it.
When you do come
across an unlabelled button (or graphic) from time to time,
the best thing to do is double tap on it, to see what is on
the next screen. This may give you a better idea on giving it
a name. To label an unlabelled graphic or button you will need
to do the following: You will need to be on the unlabelled
graphic or button. From the left hand side of your phone
screen, do an upside down L. It
will make a funny little sound (and at the same time a
circular graphic will appear on screen). Next, after this is
heard, move your finger in a slight circle and you will hear
add label spoken. Swipe right until you hear the words edit
box label text. Use the on screen qwerty keyboard to type in
the label for the graphic that you would like to hear spoken.
Lift your finger when you hear each letter you wish to use.
After this has been done, double tap on the ok button and it
will now have a name. You may need sighted assistance to help
label some of the unidentified buttons. Most of the buttons
seemed to be labelled on third party apps.
If you wish to edit
or remove a label, repeat the process above and select either
edit label or remove label. You will notice in different
applications there will be unlabelled graphics or buttons. In
most cases these can be labelled, so the next time you come
across them you will know what they are. The operating system
seemed fully labelled (under the settings section).
In some instances
where a graphic was unlabelled, I was able to label the
graphic. However, some graphics revolved and it would only let
me label it once (for example, the front and rear camera or
the flash on / off / auto graphics). In a case like this, you
may be able to download another app that will tell you the
difference between the front and rear camera. This means you
may have to download another camera application until you get
one that does the job.
these apps - please note
If you are a
developer making apps for android phones, please consider
labelling all graphics, buttons etcetera, so that the Talkback
screen reader can speak out what the item is. The visually
impaired, blind and dyslexics rely on what is being spoken out
There are plenty of
new features in Android 5, but the two I used most are to get
into the quick settings part of the phone. While on the
desktop, use 3 fingers close together and swipe down. When it
opens, it will let you get to your quick settings on the phone
(for example wi-fi, bluetooth, display and so on). The other
feature is down near the bottom right corner of the phone
display. Move your finger around until you hear overview and
double tap. Here it will list all of your running applications
that you have accessed (for example camera, phone and so on).
Then, it is a matter of swiping to the ones you want to close
and dismissing them. For a full list of improvements to
Android 5 please go to https://www.android.com/versions/lollipop-5-0/
which may help others (that are not blind or visually
Please see the
section called accessibility (under your phones settings) for
features you may wish to enable. You can also visit the link
above to find out about the latest improvements.
app from your phone
From time to time you
may want to uninstall an app that you have installed to your
phone. This may be because it doesn’t do the job for you, or
it is not fully accessible to Talkback etcetera.
To uninstall an app
from your phone, you will need to locate the apps icon on your
home screen and double tap on it. Next, double tap on the
settings icon, and locate the Apps section (found under the
device section). It will give you a whole list of apps. This
could be on your phone or micro SD card. Locate the app you
want to uninstall and double tap on it. It will then give you
some options. One of them will be to uninstall the app. Double
tap on it and it will be removed.
to your phone
The process to
install apps to your phone is a pretty straight forward
process. You can either search for the apps on your desktop by
going to the following web address: https://play.google.com/store?hl=en
can also do it through the phone by signing into PlayStore
using your google account. The google search feature can be
used in the google play store. This means when you double tap
on the microphone icon on your phone, (while in the play
store) you can speak what you are searching for. It seems
pretty accurate compared to my I phone 4. It also allows you
to type in what you are looking for with the keyboard. When it
has come up with a list of results it is a matter of flicking
through them to find what you are looking for. Once you have
found it, double tap on it then locate the download button and
double tap on that to download it to your phone. The app might
also ask for permission to access certain parts of your phone
(for example the camera, GPS and so on). Once the apps are on
your phone, it is a matter of finding them (or the app you
have just downloaded).
Some apps to get
you up and running with your Android device
There are many websites out there that will list accessible
apps for your smart phone. Please let us know if you find more
accessible apps that you would like to share with the blind
The process for
putting music onto your phone is pretty much straightforward.
After your phone has been plugged into your computer (via a
micro USB cable), the computer should load the device driver
software for your phone and tell you that it installed
successfully. It is a matter of locating your phone under the
computer section of your computer. Here it will list all of
the drives on your computer and one of them will be your
phone. You will notice when you access the phone in this way
it will act like a removable drive and show up as a portable
device. It will give you 2 options of where to put your music
(for example the phone itself - known as “internal storage”,
or your micro SD card referred to as “SD card”). Here also
will be other folders (for example names of other programmes
or folders you have on your phone).The music you had copied
earlier on will need to be pasted into the music folder. After
it finishes and the phone is unplugged, it is a matter of
locating your music player and playing your songs. This
is a far easier way of putting music onto your phone than the
I tunes way found with apple devices.
Fun mobile phone
If you are looking for a mobile phone, most of
the new mobile phones now are touch screen (and not tactile ones
with separate buttons for the numbers and letters as they used to
This doesn't mean a visually impaired or blind person can't use
one of the touch screen phones. The mobile phones taking the world
by storm are the Android based mobile phones. Unlike some of the
earlier mobile phones, the user had to buy a screen reader for the
phone on top of the price he paid for that phone. Then Apple came
along and from the apple 3GS model onwards, voice over was put
into its' mobile phones, and Ipads and so on... in it's range of
Not everybody could afford Apple Iphones, so when the new range of
phones running Android came out it made accessibility a lot more
affordable. The earlier versions were accessible but very basic.
As the versions of Android went on, the user has enjoyed the
improvements as each version came out.
This review is on the Smart 4 Fun mobile phone which is sold by
different mobile carriers in New Zealand and elsewhere.
The specifications for this phone are:
3.5 " touchscreen
2 MP rear camera
Android 4.4 KitKat
Dimensions: Length: 11cm, Width: 6cm, Thickness 1cm.
Features found on this model are: Power button (top left when
phone is facing you) , 3.5mm hole for earphones (top right),
volume up and down button (left side towards the top), hole for
charger/sync cable (bottom centre).
The main thing I like about this type of phone
(unlike the Apple I phones), is its expandable memory slot. I can
add an expansion card which can take its memory up to about 32 gig
of storage on the phone.
The battery can easily be changed to a new one by the user unlike
the Apple I Phone. When you go to get new applications for the
phone, it is rather easy to do. Putting apps onto your phone has
to be done through the Google play store, and the software used to
obtain applications is a lot easier to use with a screen reader.
No software has to be installed onto your computer unlike the
Apple I tunes software for the Apple products. To find out more
about google play store please visit
Talkback screen reader
The mobile phone came with Talkback already
installed. For people who don't know what Talkback is, Talkback is
a screen reader pre-installed on the phone. It just needs to be
To turn on the Talkback screen reader (that comes with the phone),
it can be found under the settings menu. You will need to navigate
to the accessibility section and under that section look for
Talkback and have some one turn it on for you. At a later date if
you desire you can try out some other screen readers for the phone
- such as Spiel etcetera.
Under that section as well, you can run a tutorial on how to
navigate the phone with its touch screen gestures. This is a must
for a new user to an Android phone. When Talkback is on, it will
change the gestures from the usual way to a slightly modified way
for visually impaired/bind people. However, when Talkback is
turned off, it will go back to the normal gestures which the phone
It is wise to learn the touch gestures for
Talkback to get you up and running. When Talkback is turned on, it
will speak what is under your finger as you navigate around the
Some commonly used gestures are:
Swipe up then right. Open Local Context menu.
Swipe up then left. Home button.
Swipe down then right. Open Global Context menu.
Swipe down then left. Back button.
Swipe right then down. Open notifications.
Swipe right then up. Unassigned by default.
Swipe left then down. Unassigned by default.
Swipe left then up. Recent apps button.
If you are looking at other Android phones or tablets, most
retailers that sell computers will have these types of devices set
up so you can have a play on it for demonstration purposes. It
might be a good idea after learning the gestures, to give it a
whirl on one of these devices, and see how accessible it is for
you before making a purchase. Some of these shops will be The
Warehouse, Noel Leemings, Harvey Norman and so on.
Once Talkback was turned on and I had a good knowledge of the
gestures, I then could see how accessible the phone was to me or
someone else. The phone seemed very accessible going through the
different screens and also the settings on the phone. One thing I
did notice on some of the applications was some of the buttons
were unlabled. This was in some of the different applications you
could use on the phone. For example the phone and contacts list.
The other thing I did notice was the dial pad (and also the
keyboard used on the phone) , when I ran my finger across, either
the dial pad on the phone or in the keyboard section where you
entered text; it would add in all of the numbers or letters that I
moved my finger across. For a visually impaired or blind person
this is the way we locate letters or numbers in those programs. To
get around this problem, a different keyboard and dialer program
were used. These were downloaded from the Eyes Free project which
can be found at http://eyes-free.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/documentation/android_access/apps.html
Then, it was a matter of changing over to the new keyboard under
the settings section. When the Talkback keyboard was enabled, it
was a matter of moving my finger across the keyboard, then lifting
it to add in a letter or number. It was the same idea for the
Talkback dialer program. After these steps were done, then it was
a matter of learning the layout of the keyboard. It is based on a
qwerty keyboard for messages, and a matter of changing between the
Talkback dialer program and the contacts in your address book.
Ability to label unlabelled
buttons and labels
The unlabled buttons within the programs on the
phone , which initially would be reported as "unlabled button"
with Talkback could be given a label. Once this was done,
then the screen reader could read the name assigned to it instead
of saying unlabled button. This is a great feature as not all
program developers label buttons and other features. To a screen
reader user this function is invaluable.
At present, I haven't come across an up to date website like
Applevis, which is used by Apple users to see which programs are
fully accessible, partially accessible or not accessible at all
(to the Talkback screen reader). The closest I came to a website
like the Applevis one, was a website called Android Access. This
can be found at http://eyes-free.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/documentation/android_access/apps.html
If you know of an up to date website that gives you a guide to
accessible apps for the Talkback screen reader, please let me know
so that I can pass on the website to others and add it to this
It may even be a good idea to join an email list, where people can
help you customize your phone with accessible apps and also at the
same time learn new tips and tricks for using the phone. This
could be an Android email list or Talkback email list etcetera.
Once the phone was customised, it was very usable, and not only
for phone calls and messages; it could do a lot more than the
older style phones like the Nokia E 50 for example.
Once you have learned the touch gestures for the Talkback program,
(and this may take a little while to get used to), plus the
different layouts on the phone, you will find you will be up and
running in no time hopefully. Please remember that this will vary
from person to person depending on how quickly you learn
technology and how much time you spend practising it.
Even though this is a low spec'd phone (for example compared to
one with a higher megapixel camera or faster processor and so on),
it can do more than just make phone calls and send and receive
texts. With the added bonus of voice search, the phone not only
translates text to speech using Talkback, you can also search the
phone and the internet with your voice.
There may be other accessibility features
in the phone that may help you as well, for example
The text to speech voice used was very
clear and loud.
The phone was very customizable as well.
For example adding extra keyboards and so on.
The phone was not stock standard Android
(as in the Google/Nexus range of devices which are pure
With the range of Android devices on the market (aimed at all
price levels from the cheaper end right through to the higher end
in price), they are worth looking at to get you started with a
touch screen device. For example, mobile phone, tablet and
so on. While Apple devices could be considered higher end devices
with their pricetags, Android accessibility is certainly gaining
ground very quickly.
This phone was purchased for $36 NZD on sale at
an electrical retailer. Of course generally speaking, the more you
pay, the better the specifications could be on other Android
devices. Having Talkback already installed and just needing it to
be turned on, meant it was simply a matter of learning to navigate
the phone and learn the Talkback gestures. Once you learnt this,
it was a matter of either downloading software to the phone that
had already been labeled correctly (so that Talkback could read
the correctly labelled buttons etcetera immediately), or use the
built in labeler to identify (by entering a relevant label) the
unlabelled buttons. Overall this phone will get you started on the
Android platform. Remember when looking at an Android phone, go
for the latest version of software (for example 4.4.2), as it has
the latest enhancements for Android available at that time.
Whether you just want a phone to use to call on, or one with a
couple of smart features such as internet and email, this phone
(once set up) can be used independantly by a blind person. Check
out other Android phones in this price bracket to find the best
one to suit your individual needs.
T19 - Talking Travel Alarm Clock With Date and
Countdown Timer Function
Dimensions: 6.6cm wide, x 9.5cm long, x 2.0cm
This unit takes 2x AAA batteries.
It has a large LCD time display, and announces the time at the
press of a button in a loud, clear female voice. It also has a
count up and count down timer function, hourly chime, alarm
function (with a choice of three alarm sounds rooster, pip pip and
chime). The casing includes a cover which can be used as a stand
for the clock. The stand is not overly sturdy, and the talking
travel alarm clock could quite easily be knocked when used,
however it makes a good cover for the front of the unit. The stand
will hold the travel alarm clock in place, however just be careful
when pressing buttons on the travel alarm clock while the stand is
in place in case you put too much pressure on the stand and break
it. As long as you don't put too much pressure on the clock
while it is on its stand, it should be fine. The unit also has a
Having a loud voice, this alarm clock may well be suited to
someone who is hard of hearing. It is easily set up by a
blind/visually impaired person, and light enough to take in your
handbag or stick in your shirt pocket. These can purchased from
Cobolt Systems Ltd UK.
32" TV model number TH-32AS630Z with voice guidance
The specifications for the TH-32AS630Z are as
follows: 1920 x 1080 Full HD Resolution; 50Hz Refresh with 100Hz
Backlight Blinking; IPS LED Panel; Multi-Noise Reduction; Wide
Viewing Angle; V-Audio; My Home Screen & Voice Guidance;
Audio description; Dual Core Processor; Web Browser & Internet
Apps; Wireless LAN Built In; 3 x HDMI Inputs; 2 x USB Inputs with
Media Player; a remote which is tactile (with 8 of its buttons
marked with a raised bump for example the power button, arrow
buttons and play button etcetera), with well spaced buttons, large
print and high colour contrast.
A sighted person will be needed for the initial setup of the
wireless connection and the tuning of the channels. The following
will need to be done first. If there is an internet connection, a
password will need to be entered so the TV can join your network.
This can also be done at a later date under network settings. The
channels will need to be tuned in. Once this has been done, then
the voice guidance feature can be turned on. Most of the menus on
the screens on this TV will not be spoken apart from the voice
guidance screen when turned on.
Directions and audio demonstration showing how to turn on the
voice guidance feature
Press the Option button. A menu will appear. It will default to
voice guidance. Press the OK button to choose your preferences for
this option (these are Off/On). Select on by using your arrow keys
and press OK. Also under the Voice guidance settings you can
select from the following options: Speed (slow, normal, fast);
Volume (low, mid, high); User level (expert or beginner).
When you push the channel numbers on the
remote, it will tell you what channel you have chosen.
Depending on the channel, it may give a brief description, or
it may simply give a channel name. For example, channel 5
Maori TV. If channel 1 is pushed, it will give the channel
name as well as a brief description. (For example channel 1,
1930 to 2130 Coronation Street).
If the info button is pushed once on the
remote, it may give you a brief description of the show airing
at that time and its time slot. Pressing the info button
twice, will give you a brief synopsis of the show. (For
example a brief description of what the show is about, as well
as the type of show that it is).
Pressing the info button once, then the
right arrow key on the remote, will tell you what the next
show is that is coming up.
Pressing the info button twice, will give
you a synopsis of the next show.
Pressing the AV button (also known as the
source button), will tell you which source is selected (For
example HDMI 1, HDMI 2 and so on). Continuously pressing
the AV button will allow you to cycle through the source
options and back to the TV channel you were watching. These
will be announced as you cycle through them. Press OK to
select TV for example.
The television volume level will also be
spoken, along with an audible beep immediately prior to the
announcement. For example (beep) volume 23.
There is software you can download for your
smartphone called Panasonic remote 2. The software may allow you
to control functions on your TV. For example, change channels and
volume with your voice, and control other various functions on the
TV. Voiceover will speak the main screen of the application (for
example where you select between keyboard and remote etcetera)
however secondary screens off this main screen are hardly
labeled - if at all - which means that they cannot be spoken
by voiceover. Maybe a simple solution to this would be to label
those parts correctly within the app to make it more user
friendly. I can see the point in labelling the remote software for
your smartphone this way as it could be a good thing. Something to
be aware of is that in the remote control software for your
smartphone if you press (for example) volume up, all you will hear
is "button". It would be great to know audibly what these buttons
are for just in case you ever misplace your remote!
What the voice guidance feature does not speak
The main menu
EPG (Electronic programme guide)
APPS, HOME and GUIDE menu buttons
Enabling Audio description on the Panasonic TH-32AS630Z
To turn on Audio Description
Press Option...arrow down to Audio description...press OK... (use
your arrow keys to hear Off or Auto)...select Auto... press OK to
To set the Audio description language preference for AD
Press Option...arrow down until you hear Audio
selection/AD...press OK...(use your arrow keys to hear the
options)...select eng HE AAC AD and press OK. (Make sure it is the
one with AD at the end of it). Press exit to return to normal TV
PLEASE NOTE: Once AD has been set it will stay on. Audio
description can only be heard if the programme airing has the logo
AD))). Even if the channels are changed, it will still keep the
audio description stream once set.
Other Panasonic televisions with voice guidance
Please contact your local Panasonic retailer (or visit
to find out more about size, specifications and up to date pricing
on any of the following models).
TH-65AX800Z; TH-58AX800Z; TH-55AX670Z; TH-48AX670Z; TH-60AS800Z;
TH-55AS800Z; TH-60AS700Z; TH-55AS700Z; TH-50AS700Z; TH-42AS700Z;
TH-55AS670Z; TH-60AS640Z; TH-50AS640Z; TH-42AS640Z; TH-32AS630Z;
TH-50AS610Z; TH-32AS610Z. Please contact your local Panasonic
dealer (such as Dimocks, Harvey Norman, Noel Leemings etcetera)
for more information or an instore demo.
Wilson voice recorder
voice recorder (V5) is a small digital voice recorder that can
record up to 12 hours of messages. These can be
downloaded to a computer via the included USB cable. The Wilson can store multiple messages (which
can be added to or deleted). It can be clipped onto your belt
to take portable. Record information such as phone numbers,
addresses, recipes, shopping lists, appointments, directions
has a volume control button, an off button and an ear piece.
It is easy to use, but please note it does not have a rewind
button nor a fast forward button. This means that should you
wish to delete the previous message, you will have to either
cycle through the messages again to do so, or upload them and
remove it via your computers USB cable. Each time you record a
subsequent message, the message will be recorded in sequence.
The Wilson records in wav format which means you would need a
wav to mp3 converter program on your computer (if you wish to
save your recordings as mp3 instead). It
has high contrast, well spaced, tactile buttons. The sound
recording quality will depend on the level you set it to (but
they were both clear to listen to on our trial of this product).
Have you ever forgotten your watch while in a
hurry to catch a bus?; or simply just been in a hurry and also
forgot your accessible phone which you use to check the time with?
The things you never seem to forget are your keys to the house!
The talking silver key chain by Cobolt Systems Ltd is a must have
It has an LCD screen on the front at the top with larger print
digits (about a quarter of the way down), with a large easy to
locate oval button directly beneath it (about halfway down).
Pressing this button on the front will tell you the time! On the
back of the talking keychain are three small buttons near the top
quarter of the unit. The three buttons from left to right are:
Mode, Hour, and Minute.
Pressing the mode button will cycle you through the time set,
alarm set, and return you to the normal time function. Pressing
the hour button on its own will cycle you through the alarm on,
snooze on, and alarm off functions once the time has been set.
Pressing the minute button will allow you to choose between hourly
report on and hourly report off (a longer beep is on, a shorter
beep is off).
To set the time, press the mode button until you hear time set.
Use the hour and minute buttons to select the correct hour and
minute. Once you have selected (for example 7:17 pm) press mode
again to move into the alarm set function. Repeat the process to
select the hour and minute you would like to set your alarm to
(for example 7am). Press mode again to return to the normal time
To choose between 12 hour and 24 hour mode, press the mode button,
then select either 12 hour (by pressing the hour button) or 24
hour (by pressing the minute button). Press mode again (after
cycling through time set and alarm set) then it should beep 4
times when you have returned to the normal time function.
The dimensions (not including the keychain itself) are
approximately 6.5 centimetres high, 4 centimetres wide and just
over 1 centimetre thick. The talking silver key chain has a clear,
loud English voice. It can be set to tell you on an hourly basis
what time it is. You can also set the alarm to wake you up in the
morning. It runs on 2x L1154 batteries.
These talking keychains are available from Cobolt systems UK and
other eyesight related distributors.
Cobolt Speechmaster Talking
Length: 16ft (5 metre) tape measure with a
resolution of 1mm - 1/16". Voice: The measurement is spoken
automatically in a clear English voice. A press of a button
adds the width of the case if required. Memory: Measurements
can be added to memory to enable total measurements up to
999.99 metres. The memory is retained when the unit is
switched off. The tape can be set at zero at any
position. Unit of measurement: Readings can be taken
in feet/inches, metres, centimetres or millimetres and can
be converted at the touch of a button. Size: 95mm (W) x 72mm
(H) x 52mm (D). It is powered by a standard 9v Alkaline
battery (also known as a PP3 battery in other countries).
Cobolt Speechmaster Talking Tape
Measure Instructions and audio sample
belt clip facing away from you, there are five
buttons on the front face of the case. Two large ones on the
top row and three smaller ones on the bottom row.Pressing any of
these will turn the unit on.If the tape is not
fully retracted when you turn the unit on you will hear a
left button is the total distance stored in the memory. To clear the memory,
press it twice within two seconds.The top right
button is used to switch between feet and inches,
millimetres, centimetres and metres.This button will
also convert any measurements between these units. The
bottom left button adds the current reading to the memory.The maximum
distance which can be stored in the memory is 999 metres.
The bottom centre button resets
the tape to zero.This
can be done with the tape extended so that you can compare
also possible to measure negative distances in situations
where the second measurement is less than the first. The bottom
right button adds the width of the case to the
the spoken distance represents the length of tape which
has been pulled out but sometimes it is more convenient to use the back edge of
the case - for example if you wish to measure the internal
width of a door frame.A second press of this button deducts the case
width and returns the reading to normal.
The unit will
turn itself off after ten
seconds if the tape is fully
retracted, and after thirty seconds if the tape is
event you will be warned five seconds before turn off.Once the tape measure has turned off, the
current measurement will be lost but the contents of the
memory will remain intact.
The tape can be
felt protruding from the bottom left edge of the case.Pull the tape
out to the left to extend it. The flat sloping edge is a button used to retract the tape.Where your thumb
sits, a slight ridge can be felt. This should be pressed
on the lower angled edge (just above the tape). while using your
free hand to control the speed at which it retracts.If left free it
may retract rapidly and cause injury.
On the bottom
edge of the case you will feel a deep groove slightly to
the right of centre, running front to back.The right side
of the base can be prised open using a fingernail in the
flap can then be opened fully until it is in line with the
will feel a sharp metal point on this flap which can be
used as a pivot if you wish.
This unit takes
a 9v battery and you will find the battery compartment on
the rear of the case. You
will feel the ribbed surface of the battery cover under
your thumbs as close as possible to the edge of the raised
section press firmly down with your thumbs to release the
catches and slide the cover off towards you.Re-fitting is
done by sliding the cover back until it engages with an
You can purchase this from Cobolt Systems direct, or
through other blind equipment related shops.
Before the days of liquid level
indicators, a visually impaired or blind person (when
filling a cup) would have to use one of the following
methods. If it was hot water, they would put one finger on
the outside of the cup (near the top) and pour in the water
and try to judge the level to where they would stop (or the
level where they wanted to add milk in). The second method
would be to listen to the water going into the cup and judge
how close it was to the top etcetera. If it was cold water
they could put their finger into the glass and feel it when
it got to the top. Some people still do that, and others use
a liquid level indicator.
The following review will be on a liquid level indicator
purchased from the Braille Bookstore (for about $5 USD in
2013). These can also be bought from any Blind Foundation.
This liquid level indicator comes in a bright orange colour
which makes it easy to locate on a bench etcetera. It takes
2 triple A batteries which can be bought from anywhere. On
the back of the unit (on the side that doesn't have prongs),
you can slide the cover down and put in the new batteries
very easily. It is just as easy to replace the cover. Other
liquid level indicators from elsewhere may come in different
colours and may take other types of batteries. They are
usually a rectangular cube type shape.
To make it work, it is simply a matter of putting the prongs
on the inside of a cup, and filling the cup with water for a
cuppa. There are three prongs on the unit. Two are at the
same level and one is higher up. When the water reaches the
bottom 2 prongs it will make a beeping sound. When you hear
this, you would usually add the milk to the cuppa. When it
makes a long beep sound it has reached the top prong and
your cuppa is ready to drink (once you remove the liquid
level indicator of course). It usually leaves about a
centimetre or so up the top, so you don't overflow the cup.
Other units can also vibrate, so as not to annoy other
people. Some liquid level indicators will do both.
It is approximately 6cm high, 3cm wide and 4cm deep at the
deepest (2cm deep on the unit itself with another 2cm depth
allowed for the prongs). This is a cost effective, easy to
use piece of equipment.
Bop it game
Bop it is a hand held, tactile, audible
toy that you can adjust the volume on. It is made by Hasbro.
Variations exist (in terms of features and colours) however
the overall idea of the game is that once you press the "bop
it" button, you can choose your skill level and as you
successfully interact with the correct parts, the
instructions heard will get faster and faster. If you
get the instruction wrong, your game ends. This game is
completely accessible and can be played by both visually
impaired and blind children (and adults as well). They take
standard batteries available from most shops. The two Bop it
games I am reviewing are the "Bop It" and the "Bop It XT".
The Bop It is approximately 30cm wide, 10cm tall, and about
7cm thick. It has a round bop it button on both sides
towards the centre. With the battery compartment facing away
from you and at the back on the top, on the left will be a
"twist it" knob; on the left but closer towards the centre
will be a "shout it" mic (near the bop it button); and on
the right will be a "pull it" knob. These are all uniquely
shaped to make them easy to identify.
The Bop It XT is approximately 32cm high, 26cm wide and
about 7cm thick. The XT is slightly more challenging (or
more extreme) and has the following challenges on board.
With the battery compartment facing away from you (and at
the back on the bottom left (so that the Bop It XT makes a Z
shape), it still has the round bop it button on both sides
in the centre. Top left is the "flick it" knob, top right is
the "spin it" wheel, bottom left is the "twist it" knob and
bottom right is the "pull it" knob. The XT also has a "shake
it" knob which is located close to the centre near the Bop
Basically, you just listen for the next instruction. When
you hear "bop it" press the bop it button. When you hear
"pull it" pull the pull it button. When you hear "flick it"
flick the flick it button. When you hear "twist it" twist
the twist it button. When you hear "spin it" spin the
spin it wheel; and shake the whole unit when it asks you to
"shake". Familiarise yourself with the features before you
start as the way that you hold it will determine where these
pieces are located at any time. You can purchase Bop It and
Bop It XT from stores such as The Warehouse and other toy
Overall it is a challenging, accessible toy at a reasonable
The I phone 4
This is my second look at
an Apple product - the first being the I pod shuffle.
(Should you wish to check out other Apple products please
visit the official Apple website http://www.apple.com/nz/).
The dimensions for the Apple I phone are: 6cm wide, 11.5cm
high and 0.7cm deep. It has a 5 megapixel camera.
Being new to the touch experience, this was a learning
curve. When a person is so used to using a mobile phone with
buttons that are tactile, then going to a mobile phone where
there are limited buttons; in most cases (if it wasn't for
the screen reader output) the phone would be useless to a
visually impaired or blind person. Apple has put a screen
reader into the phone called voice over which was used for
I must commend the work Apple has put into their products to
help people out with disabilities.
The 3 main cons (to me) for the I phone 4 are:
1 If the battery dies, it will have to be
taken back to an Apple service agent to be replaced (or
dropped into one of their stores). It can be changed by a
sighted person, but is very fiddly work and the phone is
virtually dismantled to get to the battery that needs to be
2 I wish it could have an expansion slot
so a bigger memory card could be put in. This is so you
could have more storage area when it runs out on the phone.
The previous phones I had could do this, plus the batteries
were easy to change if needed.
3 The I tunes software is also a learning
curve. It will take a bit of time to learn it and the
experience you get from it may depend on what your screen
reader can read. To put anything onto the phone (in most
cases) you will use the I tunes software unless you are
confident to use the phone only for your downloads from the
The first thing that was done on the I phone was that voice
over was switched on. This facility can be found under
Settings...General...Accessibility...Voice over...and this
will need to be enabled. There is also a practice area there
where you can learn the gestures that will be needed to use
the phone correctly. It may be a good idea to practice a bit
until you are happy to move on to the rest of the phone.
After a while you will find out that you will move along
quite quickly doing tasks on the I phone. Below is a list of
gestures you will need to learn to make it a nicer
The default voice
that was used in voice over was very clear. The I phone
being a touch screen was totally a learning curve as
mentioned before. To give the I phone a chance, it may take
up to 2 weeks to learn it fully. The battery life (or length
of time you play with it) will determine how long it will be
before you have to recharge the phone again. All of the apps
on the I phone are accessible to voice over, however this
cannot be said for some third party apps. So, this may be a
case of trial and error on each app downloaded. It would be
a good idea to ask other visually impaired or blind people
which apps they have found useful- to use in every day life.
A few of the accessibleprogrammes I have
found useful so far are as follows. Prismo (for taking
pictures of documents etcetera and having them read out to
me; Colour visor (to say what colours there are around me or
on me as in clothes); and Ariadne GPS (which is much like
Loadstone GPS) for knowing where I am. I have also found
Apple maps useful, so when I am walking around the area, I
know where I am as in a street address. These 2 apps use
data on your phone, so a good phone plan may be needed if
you go down this track. While looking for apps for the I
phone, a useful website that was found was Applevis. This
can be found at http://www.applevis.com/
This website made it a lot easier to get apps for the I
phone. Instead of downloading an app from the Apple store
then finding out either it works with voice over or it
doesn't, it was a lot easier to read which apps were
accessible to the I phone off the applevis website. The
reviews were done by visually impaired or blind people so it
was a lot easier to see which apps may suit your needs.
The following are my thoughts after my first
play with the I phone (after learning the gestures on the main
There are 2 main ways to learn the layout of the I
phone. When voice over is on, you can move your finger across
the screen. This may be from left to right or up and down
the screen. As you do this voice over will read out what is
under your finger. This helps build up a page layout in your
head of how the page is set out. Where things are on the page,
will change from application to application.
To go into any of the apps on the main screen, you would double
tap the screen icon for that specific application. The way you
interact with the phone can be changed under keyboard settings.
For example settings... general.... accessibility... keyboard
To get out of that application, you will need to press the home
button. This is a big round button found on the bottom front of
the I phone. If you go in a few pages on the app there will be a
back button to take you to the previous screen.
When you are exploring the I phone screen with your
finger, it will read out all elements there as you move it
around. The other way to learn it quickly is by using the
gestures. This will help you move quickly through the screens
that you want to look at. The main gestures you will use will be
the left and right swipe (using 3 fingers to swipe up or down
the page, or left or right) and the 3 finger tap to see where
you are on the screen.
Of course you may end up using all of the gestures at
one time or another. Once you get used to the layout of the
pages, you will find you can do the tasks quite quickly (whether
this is making a phone call, or sending a text) and don't forget
the other apps that you may use on the I phone. These phones are
now basically mobile computers in your hand, the difference
being is that you can do a lot more than the old type of mobile
phone used to. The best bet (if you are thinking of looking at
an I phone), is to either contact a telecommunications provider
and book in a session to have them demo the phone to you, or
have a play with the phone from a friend who owns one.
Otherwise, you may be able to contact your local Blind
Foundation to show you how it works. You will find out quite
quickly how accessible the I phone is. Don't blame me if you
then go out and buy one. This could be on a contract with your
phone provider or picking one up second hand.
The thing I do like with Apple products is there whole range of
products are blind friendly pretty much out of the box.
More of this in other phones accessibility wise would be great
too. I mean that any phone you can buy having accessibility
built into it right out of the box (as Apple has done) would be
a good selling point. I will be keeping my eye on the Android
phones that are coming to the market as well in the future as
The I phone 4 has a speech recognition programme built into the
phone. If you are a kiwi, you need to speak Australian to get it
to do things. Your success with Siri and what you can make her
do will be determined by your voice. You will also need to learn
commands to use with Siri to get the most out of it. Be careful
with Siri while learning how to use her as you may find you are
making a phone call without wanting to. If you have music on
your phone, you can get Siri to play by artist etcetera which is
kind of cool.
Below is a list of commands that you can use with Siri.
Control commands with Siriin I phone
Hold down the phone's home button or the
middle button on your headset until the voice control feature
comes up on screen and you hear a beep. This should take about 2
Obviously, these only work on the iPhone and not the iPod Touch.
Call a contact "Call" or "dial"
plus the person's name or nickname as entered into your
address book. Optionally add the phone number type at the
end, such as "home", "work", "mobile". For example, "Dial
John Smith Work" or "Call Mum".
Call a number "Call" or "Dial"
plus the number, just as you would recite it usually. For
example, "Dial 555 9592".
Make a correction Say "not that
one", "wrong", "nope", "no", or "not that".
Music Commands These are the same for iPhone and iPod Touch.
Start musicSay "play" or "play
Play from a specific playlist
Say "play playlist" and the name of the playlist. For
example, "Play playlist gym songs".
Play from a specific album Say
"play album" plus the name of the album. For example "Play
album Dark Side Of The Moon".
Play from a specific artist Say
"play artist" plus the name of the artist. For example,
"Play artist Pink Floyd". The alternate "Play songs by" plus
the name of the artist has also been reported to work*.
Pause music Say "pause" or
Skip to next song Say "next
song". The shorter "next" has also been reported to work.*.
Go back to previous song Say
Shuffle the current playlist
Just say "shuffle".
Turn on Genius feature Say
"Genius", "play more like this", or "play more songs like
Get information about the current
track Say "what's playing", or for more specific
information say "what song is this", "who sings this song",
or "who is this song by".
Misc Commands These are the same for iPhone and iPod Touch.
Ask the time New! Say "what is
the time" or "what time is it".
Cancel voice control Simply say
"cancel". With iOS 4 New! you can also say "stop".
Get help Say "help"
Select an item: Tap it, or lift
your finger while dragging over it.
Select the next or previous item:
Swipe right or left with one finger. Item order is
Select the item above or below:
Use the rotor to turn on Vertical Navigation, then swipe up
or down with one finger.
Select the first or last item on the
screen: Swipe up or down with four fingers.
Speak the text of the selected item:
Set the rotor control to characters or words, then swipe
down or up with one finger.
Move up or down the current page:
Three-finger swipe up or down.
Go to the next or previous page
(such as the Home screen, Stocks, or Safari): Three-finger
swipe right or left.
Read the entire screen from the top:
Swipe up with two fingers.
Read from the current item to the
bottom of the screen: Swipe down with two
Stop speaking: Tap once with two
fingers. Tap again with two fingers to resume speaking.
Speaking resumes when you select another item.
Mute VoiceOver: Three finger
triple-tap. Triple-tap again with three fingers to turn
speaking back on. To turn off only VoiceOver sounds, set the
Ring/Silent switch to Silent. If an external keyboard is
connected, you can also press the Control key on the
keyboard to mute or unmute VoiceOver.
Select the first item on the page:
Four-finger tap at top of screen.
Select the last item on the page:
Four-finger tap at bottom of screen.
Activate the selected item:
Double-tap. Split-tap: As an alternative to selecting an
item and double-tapping to activate it, touch an item with
one finger, and then tap the screen with another.
Answer or end a call, Play
or pause in Music, Videos, Voice Memos, or Photos; Take
a photo in Camera;Start or pause
recording in Camera or Voice Memos; Start or stop
the stopwatch: Two-finger double-tap.
Speak additional information,
(such as position within a list or whether text is
selected): Three-finger tap.
Open the Item Chooser: Two-finger
Turn the screen curtain on or off:
Select an item by name:
Triple-tap with two fingers anywhere on the screen to open
the Item Chooser. Then type a name in the search field, or
swipe right or left to move through the list alphabetically,
or tap the table index to the right of the list and swipe up
or down to move quickly through the list of items.
Rename selected item so it’s easier
to find: Two-finger double-tap and hold.
Dismiss an alert Two-finger
“scrub”: Move two fingers back and forth three times quickly
(making a “z”) to dismiss an alert or go back to the
Read down or up a screen Triple
swipe up (to read down the screen) and Triple swipe down (to
read back up the screen)
Practice VoiceOver gestures: Go
to Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver,
then tap VoiceOver Practice. When you finish practicing, tap
Done. If you don’t see the VoiceOver Practice button, make
sure VoiceOver is turned on.
Turn spoken hints on or off: Go
to Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver.
Include phonetic spelling: Go to
Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver >
RT8400 Talking Digital Thermometer
The RT8400 digital talking
thermometer is hand held and has a probe so that it can be used
to tell the temperature of meat, cakes, bath water and so on. It
stands 23.5cm tall from the top of the unit to the bottom of the
probe. The top section (which houses the 2x AAA batteries)
measures approximately 11cm high by 5cm wide. The probe itself
is 12.5cm long. It features a hanging hook (at the top) as well
as a removable cover for the probe. An oval button is pressed on
the front of the unit (about centre) and announces the
temperature in a clear voice. There is a small button on the
back (directly below the battery cover) which can be pressed to
change it between celcius and farenheit. It makes one beep for
on, and two beeps for off. The temperature updates every second.
If you want to hear what the temperature is at a particular
point in time then press the On/Talk button to hear the
temperature spoken in a clear female voice. It can be used as a
room thermometer and will automatically switch off after 10
minutes of not being used. Alternatively, hold the On/Talk
button and it will turn off. This device is very easy to use.
This is available from braillebookstore.com
(also known as Future Aids).
Mousecam Video Magnifier
The mouse cam video magnifier is a hand held
magnifier in the shape of a mouse. The dimensions are 130mm long
by 70mm wide by 70mm at the highest point. It comes with an
AV/power cable. You will need to plug one end straight into
the yellow AV hole on your tv, and the other side straight into
power. It uses LED lights to illuminate the item you are viewing.
When you have the mouse cam in your hand (and looking down on it)
there will be an on/off switch on the left hand side. Your thumb
should line up with this switch if you are right handed. The
on/off slider switch will be on when nearest to you and off when
you slide it forwards towards the monitor. On top of the mouse cam
at the front, you will find a raised button, an up/down button in
the centre and another raised button to its' right. The
first raised button from the left is the mode button. There is a
letter M underneath it. This will allow you to cycle through its'
4 colour modes. These are: full colour, black on white, white on
black and high contrast. The middle up/down button allows you to
increase and decrease magnification. This will allow you to
magnifiy from 2 times to 45 times approximately. This will depend
on the screen size of your TV/monitor. Plus is towards the
monitor/TV and minus is towards you. Finally the button towards
the right is the screen lock button. This allows you to
freeze/unfreeze what you are looking at on the screen. Simply move
the mouse slowly over the item you wish to magnify, from left to
right if reading text or it can be moved up and down as well (if
turned side on).
There are 4 rollers on the underside of the mouse cam to glide it
from left to right. The advantage to this little unit, is that it
can be unplugged and put into any TV/monitor with an AV hole.
The mouse cam was tested on a variety of hard to read documents,
such as newspapers with small text, high gloss posters, EFTPOS
dockets and the Telecom phone book. It is comfortable to hold onto
(that is it is ergonomic), and very easy to use. The quality is
very good even with the text magnified. As with any magnification
the level of clarity will depend on the quality of the original
document and how big you enlarge it. You can also move the mouse
away from the item (for example a pill bottle) and it can still be
You can also buy an adapter (as an optional extra) which plugs
into your computer and allows you to magnify onto your computer
screen. At present the software drivers are for Windows XP only.
When attached to a computer it will use the USB port to power it.
Overall, this is an economical alternative to a CCTV for those who
have a TV or monitor to output it to. It can be taken portable and
fits into a small bag. When purchasing this, please be aware that
whichever TV you plug it into, it will need to have a yellow AV
Talking Wrist Blood
Pressure Monitor (model number HI168ET)
blood pressure and pulse rate monitor velcros onto your wrist. It
comprises a LCD screen with four buttons. The three smaller ones
(bottom left to right) are: Mode, Set and Memory. To the right of
this is a big button called Start/Stop.With your elbow near your
waist, and your palm facing upwards (at about your heart's
height), press the Start button. It will start inflating. After a
minute it will deflate and announce your blood pressure and pulse.
(To get an accurate measurement of your blood pressure and pulse,
you need to remember to keep your arm still). A clear female
English voice will announce your results and then it will
automatically switch off.
After each test the monitor will automatically store your test
results along with the date and time. The device has 99 memories.
Press the button to the left of the Start button to hear the
reading again. Press it once more and it will announce the
previous reading. When you hear the previous readings it will
announce the upper (systolic), lower (diastolic) and pulse rates
but not the time and date. It is supplied with a protective case
and is powered by 2 x 1.5v AAA size Alkaline batteries (supplied).
If the speech function is turned off when using it for the first
time, you will need to press the SET button once and either retake
your blood pressure, or press the MEMORY button to hear the
measurement results of the last test you took. When the speech is
on, a symbol of a dot and three curved lines will be displayed on
the screen. There is no spoken confirmation of this and you may
need sighted assistance to set this up initially.
The Cobolt talking kitchen scales are
approximately 19cm wide and 22 cm deep. With the bowl on
top, it is 18 cm high. On the front of the scales is a
rectangular shaped touch pad which is on the front right hand
side. On the right hand side of the unit is a slide switch.
If the switch is closest to the front it is off, in the centre it
will announce pounds and ounces, and if towards the back it will
announce kilo's and grams. When the unit is turned on, to tare it
(that is reset to zero) simply touch the On/Reset touch pad on the
front right to reset it. Then, drop your item into the bowl
and it will tell you what it weighs. If the touch pad is
held down it will cycle from a low volume to a high volume, so it
is easier to hear. The unit can take either a 9 volt battery
(which goes underneath the unit) or a power adaptor (which
plugs into the back of the unit). The power adaptor, which can be
purchased separately is an optional extra. You may need to
buy an international adaptor for it to work in your country.
It has a clear British male voice. The unit will weigh up to 5
kilograms in 5 gram increments. These scales are really easy to
The Cobolt colour detector is approximately 14
cm long, 7 cm wide, and 3.5 cm thick. When the colour
detector is held in your hand, the switch for the volume control
and turning it off is on top of the unit towards the front.
Slide this forward for the 3 different volume levels, and all the
way back to turn it off. There is a speaker on the left hand
side of the unit, where your colours can be heard. It will
announce up to 12 basic colours. Behind the speaker towards the
back is where the 9 volt battery goes. On the very back of
the unit is a 3.5 mm headphone jack and also a button to calibrate
the unit. Hold this button down with the lid on, and turn on
to recalibrate it back to white. The cover of the unit can
be put onto the back of the unit (for safekeeping) when scanning
for the colour of your item. To get the colour detector to detect
a colour, turn it on and remove the lid. Put the lens (which
is at the front of the unit) totally over the colour you want to
find out, and within seconds it will tell you what colour it is.
The unit is fairly accurate or within that colour spectrum.
For garments that may have different colours in them, you may get
different readings. The unit will also detect between day light
and night time. If there is light, it will beep. The
darker it gets, the quicker the beeps will be. At night time, it
will say it is black. The unit is easy to use.
To listen to a sound sample please visit https://www.dropbox.com/s/uo3vtwmlcf4ti0x/cobolt%20speech%20master%20%20colour%20detector.MP3?dl=0
These are available from Cobolt UK.
Friend Audio Labeller
The pen friend is one of the best products that
I have seen come onto the market so far for visually impaired or
The pen friend is approximately 16 cm long, and is 3.5 cm wide at
its widest point. It feels like an oversized pen. On the top
of the pen is a mic. Down the front of the pen there are 4
buttons. The button at the top (closest to the mic) is your power
on and off button. The next button down is your volume
button. Push the top of this button to make it louder and
push the bottom of this button to make it quieter. The third
button down is a mode button. This can be cycled between 3
settings. They are: one beep for play/record/save, two beeps
for the print settings (where instructions from the manufacturer
may be heard) and three beeps for an mp3 setting. This is so
you can play music on your pen friend if desired. The fourth
(and final) button (closest to the narrowest end of the pen) is
the record button. This is held down when you go to record
onto your new sticker/label. When you speak into the mic (while
holding the pen onto a sticker and holding in the record button at
the same time) it immediately transfers your voice recording onto
it. (You may need to practise this a couple of times to get used
to it). On the back of the pen you will find a long plastic
battery cover. This is where you place 2 AAA batteries into the
unit. When the buttons are facing you, you will notice a rubber
pull down cover on the top left side. There are three holes. From
the top these are: microphone, USB and headset.
The pen friend will hold up to about 70 hours of recording which
is almost three days of recordings. The pen friend comes
with about 127 stickers of various sizes. Each sticker can
hold up to an hour of recordings, so the shorter the recordings
the more labels you can do. These stickers are also totally
re-recordable as well. This means your label can be baked beans
this week, and once you get some other food to fill its place, it
can be re-recorded again to say what the new item is (for example
When you buy your pen friend, you must use your initial labels
first, then move onto the next pack. For example, pack A needs to
be used first, then go onto pack B and so on.
If you would like to use your labels over and over again, stick
them onto a magnet. Please see my pen friend ideas page for
ideas on different ways of sticking them onto other
The page also has a link to a demonstration of the pen friend
To use the pen friend, hold down the power button to turn it
on. It will make a beep when it is on. To record onto a
label, hold the pen about 3 cm or so away, then push down the
record button. While still holding down the record button,
drop it onto the sticker and it should make another sound.
When this happens, speak your label or instruction or message
etcetera. Once done, let off the record button and move the
pen friend away. The next time you move the pen friend over
that sticker it should speak your label. When the batteries
start to go flat, the pen will make an audible sound (like blowing
bubbles) to let you know that they need to be replaced. The pen
friend will also turn off after three minutes if not used (to save
power). The box that the pen friend comes in will also have
a lanyard in it, as well as a usb cable and batteries. On
the inside of the box will also be an RNIB piece of thick card
with four labels embedded (going from north to south). These
contain instructions on how to use the pen friend. Just move
the pen friend over the labels to hear what that function
does. It also comes with written instructions as well.
The pen friend is a must in any household for audio labelling of a
multitude of items.
These are available through your local Blind Foundation.
Classic video magnifier (model number AL6A)
The measurements and specifications for the
Aladdin Classic (by Telesensory) are as follows:
40 cm wide
50 cm deep
54 cm high
4.5X to 50X Magnification
Black and White model
Built in 14" (35 cm) monitor
When you go to use the Aladdin classic, looking towards the front
of the unit, locate the monitor. Beneath the monitor, across the
left front of the unit, is a power switch, and off to the right of
it is a manual focus knob. The focus knob is so you can focus in
on what you are looking at if it is not clear. Run your hand down
the left hand side of the unit and you will find a lever. If the
lever is all of the way back it is black text on a white
background (positive mode). If you then pull the lever all of the
way forwards, it is white text on a black background (negative
mode). Off to the right hand side of the unit is another
lever. If the lever is all of the way back it is 4.5 times
magnification, and if it is all of the way forwards it is 50 times
magnification. The unit takes 2x 5 watt (f5tt-27k)
bulbs. Underneath where the main part is, there is a
tray. There are actually 2 trays. The one on top will
go from left to right, where the one underneath can be pulled out
towards you for larger books. The top tray would be more than
sufficient for reading most books.
Although the Aladdin Classic is not a colour unit, it should suit
most people's needs. It is easy to use, and with the reversible
modes would be great for reading books and magazines etcetera. For
more information, or to find out about their other video
magnifiers, please visit the following Telesensory website link. http://www.telesensory.com/index.aspx
These are available from Telesensory.com or may also be ordered
through your local Blind Foundation.
Talking caller ID (model number SIA9190/17)
The measurements for the Philips VoiceAnnounce ®
Talking caller ID are as follows: 7cm wide, 8 cm deep and 3 cm
If you are holding the talking caller ID in your hand, on the top
at the front are two buttons. The little button to the left
is for volume control (from quiet, to medium, to loud and
off). The big button to the right of it is for reviewing the
numbers that have called in (referred to as the Call Review
button). While still on the top of the unit, there is a
speaker to hear the numbers spoken out. At the very rear of the
unit is where two plugs get plugged in. One will come from
your phoneline to the unit, while the other will run another line
to the telephone. This unit will take three AAA batteries
underneath it. It can also take a 7.5V DC power supply.
You can screen telephone calls while you're at home. It will need
a caller ID service for this to work. It announces the ten-digit
phone number by the second ring. If coming from a number that has
been blocked, it will announce "Number Blocked." If unidentified,
it will announce "Number Unknown". If the phone is still ringing,
and you didn't hear the number being announced, just press the
button and it will repeat the number. It stores the last ten calls
in memory so you can find out who called while you were out.
To review an incoming call, press the big button to hear the date,
time and phone number of the most recent call. Subsequent pressing
will announce information about previous incoming calls. If
pressed again while it is still talking, it will go to the next
call. After the final call is announced, the unit will beep.
Continued pressing will start back at the top of the list again.
If you hold down the big button for 2-seconds, it will announce
the number of new calls followed by the date, time, and telephone
number of every new call in the list. After the final call is
announced, the unit will beep.
The unit speaks in both English and Spanish. To change the
selected language, hold down the small button and quickly press
and release the big button. The unit announces "January" in the
To erase the calls in the list, hold down the big button for 4
seconds. The unit will beep confirming that the calls have been
erased. The small key is designed so that it is hard to knock
It speaks in a clear male voice and announces the date, time and
incoming number. It is easy to use. As with any electrical
product on the market, there may well be variations of this
talking caller ID available. Some may even speak a persons name or
record outgoing calls.
These are available from ebay.com or possibly your local Blind
311C PhoneEasy desktop phone
The DORO 311C is approximately 19 cm deep and 17
cm wide. It has large well spaced, easy to see buttons with white
writing on a black background. The phone is wall mountable, and
features shaped buttons for ease of identification. You can
autodial up to thirteen numbers (three under M1, M2 and M3, and
another ten by pressing MEMORY and the number you have saved it
under - for example MEMORY 7). M1, M2 and M3 are one touch speed
dials. You will need to press two buttons (for example
Memory + 2) to access the extra ten speed dials. There are three
different ring tones and each is available in low, medium and
high. When the handset is on the left, the large oval buttons
(reading from top left across in groups of three) are as follows:
1, 2, 3; 4, 5, 6; 7, 8, 9; *, 0, #
Below these 12 oval buttons are three smaller oval buttons with 4
smaller circular buttons below that again on the bottom row. The
three small oval buttons on the second last row are M1, M2 and M3.
The four smaller circular buttons reading left to right on the
bottom row are store/mute, memory, recall and redial. To the right
of these oval and circular buttons are two arrows. One up and one
down. These are volume up and volume down.
To store a number in M1, simply press STORE/MUTE...press M1...
enter the telephone number (up to 21 digits)... press STORE/MUTE
again and replace the handset to save it. The next time you lift
the handset and press M1, it will autodial that phone number. Once
you have used up M1, M2 and M3 you will need to autostore using
the memory button.
To store a number using the memory button, simply press
STORE/MUTE...MEMORY...(choose a number between 0 and 9)... enter
the telephone number (up to 21 digits)...STORE/MUTE again and
replace the handset. To auto dial using memory, simply press
MEMORY and the corresponding number (example MEMORY 7) and the
number will be dialled for you.
To change the ring tone, simply press STORE/MUTE...# ... 3
...STORE/MUTE and replace the handset. (3, 6, and 9 will give you
three different ring tones depending on which one you like).
1,2,and 3 are the low, medium and high of the first ring tone...
4, 5, and 6 are the low, medium and high of the second ring
tone... and 7, 8, and 9 are the low, medium and high of the last
These are available from The Warehouse in New Zealand.
Cobolt Speechmaster Talking
Microwave by LG
The Cobolt talking microwave dimensions are as
follows: 53 cm wide, 40 cm deep and 31 cm high.
When you look at the microwave from the front, the door will swing
out to the left. On the front right hand side are the buttons in
various shapes. There are 4 rows of buttons on the right
hand side of the microwave. The first three rows of buttons are
square shaped, and the bottom row of buttons are diamond shaped.
From left to right and going down, they are as follows:
Row 1: There are two square buttons. These are clock, and timer.
Row 2: There are four square buttons. The first is for your power
level. (You can cycle between the different power levels here by
pushing in the button to change to the desired heat level). The
next button is the defrost button. The third button is meat
(which is preprogrammed), and the fourth is for convenience food.
Row 3: There are three square buttons. The first button is to set
ten minute lots. The next button is for 1 minute lots. The third
button is to set 10 second lots. These same buttons (when used in
conjunction with the DEFROST button) are also used as kilos, grams
and to select between pounds and ounces or kilos.
Row 4: The fourth row of three buttons are diamond shaped. They
are the stop button, the auto minute, and the start button.
To set the time on the microwave, press the clock button. Next, go
to the third row and the first button will be the 10 minute button
and the second will be the minute button. Press the 10 minute
button to adjust the hourly time (for example between 12am and
12pm) and then press the minute button (to adjust the minutes
between 01 and 59). Now, your time is set. When wanting to check
the time, press the clock button and it will tell you the current
To adjust the volume, press the clock button again until you hear
set volume. Again, go to the third row and either press the 10
minute or one minute button to adjust the volume. The 10 minute
button will make it quieter and if you press the one minute button
the volume will get louder.
To use the defrost function, (say for example to defrost 1.3kg of
meat) press DEFROST... then using the buttons on the third
row...select pounds and ounces or kgs (third button on the
right)... Next, press the first button to select how many kilos
you need and then press the second button to select the 100 gram
increments (also referred to as point 1 of a kilo). Simply press
START. The microwave will confirm verbally the weight you have
entered. If you have entered an incorrect weight, simply press
DEFROST again and re-enter the weight and press START again.
If the power is turned off, you will need to reset the clock to
get the current time.
Throughout the whole process, the microwave will speak the buttons
or adjustments to you. If you press the button to open the door,
it will say door open. It will also tell you door closed when you
close the door again.
The dimensions for the I Pod shuffle are as
follows: 3 cm wide, 3 cm high and 1 cm thick from the front of the
unit to the back of the clip.
When you are looking at the I Pod shuffle front on, you will see a
raised circle on the front of the unit. This has four functions.
The top of the circle is volume up, the bottom of the circle is
volume down, to the left of the circle is the back button and off
to the right is the forwards button for skipping through your
songs. In the middle of the circle is a flat section which is your
play and stop button. These buttons are tactile, so it is fairly
easy to tell where these buttons are. On the top of the I pod
shuffle to the left is a 3.5 mm hole. This is where you put in
your headphones, or a charging cable to charge it up when it
starts going flat. Off to the right of this headphone hole is a
very slightly raised voice over button. Press this button once and
it will tell you the name of the song and artist. Pressing the
button twice quickly will give you the battery level for the I
Pod. If you hold down this button, it will give you some
different options depending on what you are listening to. Off to
the right of this button is a slider button. If it is to the far
right - it is off, moving it to the left will play your music in
order, and moving it to the left again will randomize your music
or whatever it may be. The button and slider switch are very
small. The battery lasts for about 10 hours. The unit is made of
aluminium and can be clipped to your top. You will also need the I
tunes software to move your music onto the I Pod shuffle. The
shuffle doesn't play mp3 files, so when you go to move your songs
onto it they will be changed into another format that Apple uses.
When accessing Apple I tunes, your screen reader may not be able
to access all parts of the software. You may need to tab quite a
lot to get to different parts of the software. It may or may not
work well with your screen reader depending on your version of
screen reader. The voice over voice is clear. The I Pod shuffle
can easily be used by a blind or visually impaired person, once
voice over has been enabled in the I Tunes software. The software
may take a bit of getting used to - to find out where various
things are kept. It is not quite as easy to move music onto using
I Tunes (compared to copying from a hard drive to an mp3 player
for example). Once you have used it once or twice, it is not that
hard to use!
These are available from Apple retailers (such as Harvey Norman or
Dick Smiths) in New Zealand.
Uniden SSE 25 plus 1 talking
phone set (Similar models are the SSE 25, SSE 27 and the
SSE 27 + 1).
This is a new phone series made by Uniden for
the visually impaired and hard of hearing. When you first get this
package, there will be 2 phones and 2 bases along with cables
etcetera. One of the bases will be big while the other will be
smaller. The bigger unit is the main unit, and will have an
answering machine built into it on the base. You will need sighted
assistance to set up the phone book as well as some of the other
things on the unit. The text to speech features will need to be
turned on in both phones so you can hear the numbers or names.
When you go to make a phone call (once plugged in and charged) to
a number that is not stored in your phone book, and if you would
like it to speak out the numbers as you dial, you will need to
dial in your number first before pressing the talk button. For
example 0800 36 33 44. These keys will be spoken to you as you
press them, then you will need to push the talk button. This will
then dial out your number (unlike some phones who dial out as you
press each number). The phone will do caller ID which will
be spoken out to you if you have this service from your provider.
This is usually at a small cost so you can hear the number or
person calling in. From what I have read, this may not work
in New Zealand at present. However, if you have an ATA analogue
adaptor for voip, and you have this service, it should work.
I have tested this function with the Australian VOIP provider
Pennytel and it worked fine. Adding names to your phone book
will need to be done before you can use your phone book speed
dials. Once someone has entered all of your names into the phone
book, press the phone book button, then arrow up and down the list
to hear the names listed in there. Once you have found the person
you want to ring, press the talk button and it will dial out the
number for you. The voice sounds like a Philipino / English type
voice. It may take a bit of getting used to. It is just clear
enough to tell what numbers you are dialling or to tell the
difference between people in your address book. If possible, it
may be a good idea to get the shop to demonstrate the phone to you
(to hear the voices both on the phone and address book) to see if
you are able to understand them. The dimensions for both the
bases and handsets are as follows. The main base dimensions are:
18cm wide, 10 cm deep and 22 cm high (with the phones seated in
its base). The handsets by themselves are: 8 cm wide, 10 cm deep
and 22cm high (seated in its cradle). Both of the handsets look
the same. Basically when you are holding the handset in your hand,
the layout will be as follows: There will be your ear piece (which
has a flashing red light in the top of it), down below this will
be a LCD screen. Below this is the phone book on the left, in the
middle is select menu and off to the right is caller ID. Next row
down is speaker phone from the left, in the centre is the talk
button (this is bigger than the other buttons making it easier to
find), and off to the right of this button is a flash button. The
next 4 rows down from left to right will be 1, 2, 3, below these
will be 4, 5, 6, and below them will be 7, 8, 9. The next three
will be star, 0 and hash. The last 3 buttons will be clear, redial
and mute. These may be used for other functions as well. On the
left of the phone (on the side) is a boost button. This is for
making your volume louder while in a conversation, and below this
is 2 arrow buttons (going up and down). On the right hand side is
a hole for a headset and below this is a button for tone.
The phones are nice to hold in your hand and have big buttons on
both handsets. They have clear black text on a white background on
the buttons. On the base of the main unit (on the back) there is a
9 volt DC hole to plug your power adaptor into, a telephone line
hole, and a visual ringer which can be adjusted. It will give you
3 options which are high, low or off. This is to alert a
hearing impaired person so that they can see when the phone rings.
If you look on the front of the main unit, you will find the
following. From left to right along the bottom is a long strip
which is a flashing light... above that are two oval buttons
(volume up and volume down)... to the left is the slow button (to
enable message to be played back slowly) and to the right is a do
not disturb button. On the right hand side there is a greet button
(to choose between the pre-set answering machine message and your
own). Second one down is on or off. Down the bottom is ringer
select (which gives you a choice of ring types). In terms of the
length of rings, you can choose between 3, 6, 9 and 12 and toll
saver. It also comes with a belt clip, battery charger, BT694N
battery, and manual). Support is via the Uniden 0800 number.
Audible beeps sound every 15 seconds if messages are waiting
(although it doesn't say how many messages there are, the beep
will alert you that there are some recorded). Please see the
user manual for more information.
The male voice on the answering machine was crystal clear, yet the
voice used in the phone book and for pressing number buttons was
harder to understand. I am not sure why Uniden used two different
voices? Overall, if this phone had a clearer voice for both the
numbers dialled and the phone book, and the call quality was that
of a 2.4 gigahertz portable phone (with no interference) then I
think this would be a great seller. I think it is still a good
product for the visually impaired, hearing impaired and elderly,
however it is not totally accessible or clear sounding for the
blind just yet. It may however be the difference between having an
accessible phone which you can use independently once set up, or
having one whose phonebook is inaccessible. Once you tune your ear
to the phonebook's accent, it makes it easier to use. Other
related phones are the SSE27 (large button desk phone), SSE27+1
(large button desk phone plus cordless phone) and the SSE25
(cordless phone with answering machine on the base). I think it is
best that you be the judge of this phone.
If you have the caller ID service enabled for your home phone,
when someone calls in, if the person is in your phone book, the
caller ID will be spoken. If the person is not in your address
book it will not be spoken. The caller's number will be displayed
on the caller ID screen visually. You may need sighted assistance
to see what that number is and also to delete or save the number.
To get around this, a blind person may wish to use a talking
caller ID unit which cam be purchased separately.
Test it out to see if it suits your personal needs!
is a plastic tab on the base of the timer which must be pulled out
before the timer will function. When this tab is removed, place
the timer in front of you on a table, with the display screen
facing towards you. On the right side of the timer is the Mode
switch. The top position is for the count up function (which does
not talk until it gets to one minute and says "one minute over").
The second position is for the count down timer. This counts down
in hours, (and ten minute lots in the last hour); minutes, (then
lots of ten seconds in the last minute), and in the last ten
seconds it says 10, 9,8, all the way to 0. The third is for the
clock, and the bottom position is Clock Set.
On top of the timer are six buttons. On the top row, from left to
right, are Hour (HR), Minute (MIN), and Second (SEC). On the
bottom row are Clear, Memory, and Start/Stop.
Below these buttons is a slide-off lid that reveals a switch on
the left and two buttons off to the right. The switch (REPEAT)
controls the Repeat function. In the left position it is on (YES),
and in the right position it is off (NO). The second button
controls speech. It is labelled (VOICE ON/OFF). One beep means
that the speech is off, and two beeps means that the speech is on.
The third button may be called Select (SOUND). In the COUNT DOWN
MODE, there are six sound options. They are: A whistling kettle, a
cuckoo, a school bell/alarm clock, a bouncing / boinging sound, a
car horn and a rapid beep sound. To change the timer alert sound,
simply press the Sound button until you hear the sound you would
like to use.
Using the timer operation for counting up or down. Press Hour,
Minute, and Second to set the timer. Press Memory to remember this
amount of time. Press Start to start timing. You can press Start
to pause the timer, and Start to resume again. To stop the timer,
press Start, then Clear. To clear the memory, press Memory, then
In clock mode. Any of the six buttons on the front will speak the
time in this mode.
In clock set mode. Press Hour, Minute, and Second to set the time.
Press Start to hear the time.
This timer has a magnetic strip on the rear clip as well as a
built-in stand in the base; so you can stick it on your fridge,
clip it to your shirt, or have it on its stand on your desk. The
voice is clear and the volume is reasonable. There may be slight
variations of this on the market.
These are available from Jaycar Electronics (NZ), TradeMe (NZ) and
other blind retailers such as the braille bookstore.
Talking Digital Skipping
Rope from Cobolt
digital skipping rope has the following features:
Runs on 2 x AAA alkaline batteries (included).
Adjustable rope length
Target settings. Set the timer from 1-99 minutes for your workout.
There are 4 display modes: the number of jumps, calories burned,
the elapsed time and a count down timer.
Your talking skipping rope comes separated
and will need to be assembled before use. Please refer to the
assembly steps below which tell you how to do this.
This rope measures bodyweight in pounds
(LBS) not kilograms (KGS). You will need to convert your
bodyweight from kgs to lbs if you are not familiar with pounds
(LBS). 1kg (one kilogram is approximately 2.2 LBS (two point
Your talking skipping rope has five buttons on one of the handles.
Listed below is where these buttons are located and what they are
1) The MODE button. This button is located on the front of the
handle with the display and is the button closest to the battery
2) The SET button can be found on the front of the handle just
above the MODE button.
3) The UP/AUTO and DOWN/CLEAR buttons are positioned on the side
of the handle next to each other, the UP being at the front of the
4) The TALK button is located on the other side of the handle to
the UP and DOWN buttons.
5) The RESET button is located on the back of the unit and will
require a pin or paperclip to operate.
Each handle has a swivel joint on the end of it. This is the part
where the rope attaches to the handles.
1) Hold one of the handles in one hand and push the rope through
the swivel joint side ways. You will notice there are two holes
next to each other and it does not matter which one of these you
2) Double back the rope and push it through the hole in the swivel
joint next to the one you pushed the rope through first.
3) Pull the rope tight so that it will not slip out of the joint.
Now do the same with the other handle.
4)Your skipping rope is now ready for use.
This is where you adjust the rope to the right length for the
person who is using it by setting the desired length through the
Installing the batteries:
This talking skipping rope uses 2 x AAA Alkaline batteries for
power, please follow the steps below for battery installation. The
battery compartment can be located on the end of the handle with
the display and buttons on it.
1) Open the battery compartment by turning the cap at the end of
the handle anti-clockwise.
2) Remove the compartment cap and install the 2 new batteries with
the pip on the tip of each battery facing out.
3) Replace the cap by turning it clockwise until it snaps into
place. The skipping rope will bleep twice if this has been done
Please note: If the sound weakens, distorts or the display dims
then the batteries will need to be replaced.
Using the skipping rope:
Press and hold the DOWN/CLEAR button until you hear “reset and
ready”. This will set all the functions to zero and the skipping
rope is now ready for use.
Setting your weight:
In order to calculate your calorie consumption the skipping rope
needs to know your weight, please follow the steps below to
enter your weight.
1) Repeatedly press the MODE until you hear “Number of jumps” or
2) Press and hold the SET button until you hear “Enter your
3) Repeatedly press or hold down the UP and DOWN buttons to set
your weight between 50-300 LBs, this is equivalent to 25-150 KG.
Please note: you can only enter your weight in LBs.
4) Press the set button once to confirm the settings and return to
the normal display mode.
Setting the countdown timer:
You can set up a target workout time by following the steps below.
1) Repeatedly press the MODE button until you hear “Countdown
2) Press and hold the SET button until you hear “Set timer”.
3) Repeatedly press or hold down the UP and DOWN buttons to set
your target workout time between 1-99 minutes.
4) Press the set button once to confirm the settings and return to
the normal display mode.
Announcement of Calorie, Number
of jumps, Workout time and Countdown timer:
Pressing the TALK button will announce what is on the display at
any time. To announce any of the other functions you must first
press the MODE button until you hear it say your desired function,
and then press the TALK button to hear that information spoken.
To hear the entire announcement, at any mode press and hold down
the TALK button for over 2 seconds and the unit will speak all of
Resetting the Unit:
Should your talking skipping rope show abnormal functions such as
a frozen display, or broken display, or no response to any button
being pressed, you must reset the unit by pressing the RESET
button on the back of the handle.
Overall, the skipping rope is easy to assemble and use. It is made
from a good quality man made rope with plastic handles. It has a
clear English female voice, and when you press the clear button it
will announce "reset and ready" so that you know you are ready to
start again. Available from Cobolt UK.
scales (model number 396TBS) by AWS (American Weigh
bathroom scales are round and have a glass top which measures
32.5cm in diameter. They stand approximately 3cm off the
ground (including the feet - which are stuck onto a 3cm black
plastic cross section). The underside "cross section" is like
a giant rounded letter X going from 2 o'clock until 4
o'clock, and from 10 o'clock until 8 o'clock). When the glass
is facing downwards away from you, you will also notice an
oval shape above the cross section. This is the rear of the
LCD display and has the pound, kg, pound slider control on the
left (kg being in the middle). When tapped gently, a blue
backlight appears and you will hear "Please wait a moment",
followed by "Please step on the scale". It will then announce
"Your weight is..." (in either kilograms or pounds - depending
on what you have set it to on the underside of the
scales). Once you have heard your weight, your weight in
kgs will flash three times in large black LCD numbers, then
you will hear "Goodbye" and the blue backlight will disappear.
It is a very clear female voice, and can be set to English or
Spanish (Espanol) by depressing a button on the underside of
the scales. It runs on 2x AAA batteries and can weigh up to
180kg in 100g increments. You can also mark the top of your
scales (near the LCD area) so you know which way to stand
every time. It comes with a ten year warranty and is available
from braillebookstore.com (Canada).
indoor and outdoor thermometer by NU Temp
The NU Temp
talking indoor/outdoor thermometer measurements are as
follows: approximately 11cm high, 7.5cm wide and 1.8cm thick.
Turn the unit around so the back is facing you. (The lcd
screen and tactile buttons will be away from you). The battery
compartment will be on the back of the unit, in the centre.
Slide the lid off (towards the probe) and insert 2 AAA
batteries. Replace the back by sliding it closed again. You
can attach velcro if you wish to stick it onto something, or
you can flip up the stand if you wish to stand it up
somewhere. This is done by pulling the plastic flap down away
from just beneath the battery compartment. Just above the
battery compartment is a sunken area which contains a slide
switch (left for C and right for F), and below that is a
rubber button for volume selection. A voice will confirm
"Celcius" or "Farenheit". There are three volumes to cycle
through. You will hear what those are as you press the rubber
When the front of the unit is facing you, the cable and
temperature probe will be on the left. There is a sensor on
the top left of the unit (above the lcd screen). There are
five tactile buttons in total on the front, each having a
different shape for easy identification.
The square brailled slide switch immediately below the screen,
toggles between "indoor" (to the left) and "outdoor" (to the
right). Below this is a row of three buttons. To the left is
an upwards facing triangle (HR/ALM), in the centre is a square
button (MODE) and to the right is a downwards facing triangle
(MIN/HOURLY). The left triangle shaped button turns the alarm
on and off. The square MODE button in the centre is set.
(Press once to set time, twice to set alarm, and the third
press returns the clock to normal mode - sounding 4 quick
beeps). The right triangle shaped button is pressed to turn
the hourly report on and off. Finally below these and centred
is an oval (TALKING) button. Pressing this button will
announce the indoor and outdoor temperature. To hear an
accurate outdoor temperature, make sure that you have put the
probe outside the window, in a shaded spot.
The voice is
clear. The buttons announce as you press them, so it is easy
for a blind person to set it up themselves.
These are available from braillebookstore.com (Canada).