Teacher Appreciation Week 2022: Origin, Notable Teachers, and Non-Monetary Gift Ideas

Nearly everyone has a story to share about a favorite teacher from their school years. It is easy to understand why special days to honor these professionals were created. This blog will explore the formation of Teacher Appreciation Week, share tidbits on a few notable teachers from history, and offer a few heartfelt free gift ideas that can be given now or any time during the year to show a special teacher how much they mean to you. For further reading on the below sections see The History Behind Teacher Appreciation Week, Famous Teachers in History, and 10 Teacher Appreciation Gifts That Don’t Cost Anything.

Brief History of Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher Appreciation Week originated in 1953 (as National Teacher Day), and teachers have Eleanor Roosevelt to thank for its inception. Roosevelt convinced Congress that there needed to be a specific day on which teachers were recognized. Prior to Roosevelt going before Congress, it is believed that some states had such days of appreciation, but it is unclear and unsubstantiated.

Even with Eleanor Roosevelt taking the case to Congress and getting their help and support, it would take another 27 years for it to become an official national day. It was 1980 when the National Education Association (NEA), which was formed in 1857, joined together with the Kansas State and Indiana State Boards of Education and began to lobby Congress to have the day nationally recognized.

National Teacher Day was celebrated on March 7th until 1984, when it was moved to May. Behind the move was the National Parent Teacher Association and, instead of just one day, they named the entire first week of May to be Teacher Appreciation Week. The NEA followed suit the next year and held National Teacher Appreciation Day on the Tuesday of the week.

There are still a few cases of oddities though. Massachusetts celebrates Teacher’s Day not on National Teacher Day, but instead on the first Sunday of June; perhaps because teachers are out for summer and therefore get to relax on their special day.

Notable Teachers from History

Anne Sullivan: A mere 20 years old when first employed to school the deaf and blind Helen in 1887, Anne Sullivan herself was blind for much of the first part of her life. Educated at the Perkins School for the Blind in Boston, Sullivan had recovered part of her eyesight by the time she traveled to Alabama to begin her job as Helen Keller’s governess. Undoubtedly, Sullivan’s own partial blindness gave her insight (in the fullest meaning of the word) into the little girl’s closed-off world.

Sullivan’s breakthrough with Keller came as she spelled words out on her open palm to make her understand that things had words attached to them. Sullivan placed one of Keller’s hands under running water; on the other, she spelled “w-a-t-e-r.” Soon, Keller could express herself far beyond the series of primitive signs that had been her sole means of communication up to that point.

Sullivan directed Keller’s family to send her to the Perkins School, and from that point on, she remained Keller’s companion until her death in 1936. Helen Keller would live a long life as a successful and inspiring writer, lecturer, and activist.

Maria Montessori: Born in Italy in 1870, Maria Montessori was exceptional from the beginning. The only female attendee of an all-boys school, she excelled at her studies and eventually earned a degree that made her one of Italy’s first female doctors. She became interested in education, and in 1907, opened a child-care center in Rome called Casa del Bambini (Children’s House) that allowed her to put her educational theories into practice.

Foremost among her theories was the idea that children essentially teach themselves; the teacher’s primary responsibility is to create the appropriate environment for learning and provide the spark that allows children to develop naturally. Given the ability to be mobile and learn from their surroundings rather than being forced to sit still and be lectured to, most children, even rough inner-city kids, flourished under her system.

William Holmes McGuffey: William McGuffey was born in 1800 and was a precocious child. He was such an adept student, in fact, that he began to teach classes himself at the age of 14. Putting in long hours at country schoolhouses in Ohio and Kentucky, McGuffey saw that there was no standard method to teach students how to read; in most cases, the Bible was the only book available.

McGuffey paused his teaching career to attend college himself, and by age 26, he had been appointed Professor of Languages at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. His ideas about language teaching were much admired by his colleagues, and in 1835, through the intercession of his friend Harriet Beecher Stowe, he was asked to write a series of readers for the publisher Truman and Smith.

McGuffey’s readers, more correctly known as Eclectic Readers, set a template for textbooks that we still follow today. They followed a steady progression from the first reader through the fourth, beginning with teaching of the alphabet and phonics alongside simple sentences, and progressing all of the way up to poems and stories. The popularity of McGuffey’s readers was massive. In print from 1836 to the present day, it’s estimated that they have sold in excess of 120 million copies. They long outlived their author, who passed away in 1873.

Teacher Appreciation Gift Ideas with No Monetary Cost

Teacher appreciation shouldn’t be about spending money. The following are fun and inventive ways to celebrate the teachers in your life. The following are five of the ten ideas presented in the article 10 Teacher Appreciation Gifts That Don’t Cost Anything. Using a little ingenuity, these idea can be tweaked to honor teachers of all grades and levels from daycare al the day up to university.

Applause parade. Have students line the hallway one morning during Teacher Appreciation Week and clap as the teachers enter the building.

Class song. This requires a little rehearsal. Have a class parent work with students to sing a simple song like “You Are My Sunshine.” Rehearse during a recess time shortly before Teacher Appreciation Week. Set up a special surprise performance for the teacher during the week.

Class cleanup. A class parent can oversee daily classroom cleanups with the children. This could be done after school, or the teacher may allow a few minutes before the end of the day or at the start of the day to help make this happen.

Thank-you notes. Have the children each write a handwritten note about what makes their teacher special.

Social shout-out. Post a thank-you with photos on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to tell your teachers how much they mean to you.

If none of these ideas sound ideal to you, there are tons of other articles available online concerning teacher appreciation gift ideas.

To see what’s currently on sale at ILA please sign up for our newsletter, view our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website.

Brief Overview of the Blindshell Family of Phones

The Blindshell line of phones were created with the visually impaired and blind person in mind. This blog will look at some of the key features of the Blindshell Classic Lite, Blindshell Classic, and Blindshell Classic 2 with product links provided from the ILA website. The phone style has been named “candy-bar” as they are approximately the same size as a standard candy bar. See below for more details.

Blindshell Classic Lite

BlindShell Lite is a fully vocalized phone for visually impaired and blind users. The main features of the phone are its simplicity and its physical keyboard, by which the phone can be fully controlled. The following information comes from the article The Smarter Phone: BlindShell Classic Lite.

Like its older sibling, the BlindShell Classic, the BlindShell Lite is a candy-bar style phone with the display and touchpad on one side of a straight, non-folding phone. The phone is about 5.5 inches long (nearly 3 inches of that dimension is display), 2.5 inches wide, and weighs about 4 ounces. The BlindShell Lite’s dimensions are very similar to the BlindShell Classic—it simply has fewer features.

While the BlindShell Lite is certainly not what you might consider a smartphone, it has one elegant feature that’s quite smart: spoken menus from the moment the phone is turned on. Power on the phone to a spoken status update, and navigate through the menu with a large, centrally located directional pad, with each menu item spoken. You can feel the navigational buttons with your fingertips, and you don’t need to turn on a screen reader.

In addition to the text-to-speech, the BlindShell Lite offers a large-print display with high contrast and a dialing pad with a well-spaced number pad and navigation keys. On the side opposite the keypad there is even an SOS button that can be preset to an emergency number of ‘your choice for one-touch speed dialing.

You can order the Blindshell Classic Lite from ILA by following the link provided.

Blindshell Classic

BlindShell Classic is a button phone for blind and visually impaired people. The phone is operated via the physical keypad or by voice commands. Feedback is provided by the built-in synthetic voice, vibrations and additional acoustic signals. The following information comes from the article The BlindShell Classic Accessible Feature Cell Phone, a Smart Alternative.

One of the things you’ll notice very quickly about this phone is that it functions like it was built from the ground up with user accessibility in mind, not as a feature that was bolted on as an afterthought. When you unbox the phone, install the battery, and long press the Back button, the phone starts with text-to-speech and an interactive tutorial. The tutorial is quick and gives new users the opportunity to learn what each button on the phone does. While exploring the phone, you’ll discover that out of the box, the BlindShell offers 4 female voices and 3 male voices in the Settings > Sounds > Voice Output menus. In addition to 10 voices, there are 4 levels of speech intonation and 5 levels of voice rates, to make speech output very customizable.

Each menu item is numbered, and when it is read, you hear both its number and the number of menu items in that level. So, for example, the second item in the main menu is Messages. When we get to the Messages menu item we hear, “Messages, two of nine.” As a shortcut, to jump to any menu item, simply press its number. So, pressing 2 when you’re on the main menu will open the Messages menu item.

For many users, having a tactile number pad and navigational buttons will make this phone easier to use than a conventional touchscreen smartphone, with perhaps one notable exception: the need to type in text using the number pad, a skill many of us have forgotten or never learned in the first place. This issue aside, BlindShell offers a great deal of functionality. In the More Applications menu, you’ll find a range of applications that make the BlindShell every bit as useful as a touchscreen smartphone. In addition to common applications like Email, Messaging, Calendar, Alarms, Timer, Stopwatch, Voice Recorder, Calculator, Weather, and Dictionary, there are several applications in the More Applications > Vision Aids menu that are worth mentioning. The Color Indicator is a handy color identifier. Hold the camera over an item and press the Confirm button to hear the color described. It seemed the accuracy of the Color Indicator was about 50%, probably due to the limitations of the 2-megapixel camera. For the casual user, having this application built into the phone is a convenient feature, but if you need more accurate results, a separate, stand-alone color identifier is a better choice.

You can order Blindshell Classic from ILA by following the link provided.

Blindshell Classic 2

BlindShell Classic 2 is a button phone for blind and visually impaired people. The phone is controlled via the physical keypad or by voice commands. Feedback is provided by the built-in synthetic voice, vibrations, and additional acoustic signals. The following information comes from the article BlindShell Classic 2: The Smarter Smart Phone.

This latest version of the BlindShell Classic introduces upgrades in both the hardware and design of the phone. Blindshell Classic 2 also includes new apps and software. The camera, for example, now boasts eight-megapixel images. The upgraded camera not only takes great pictures, but makes apps like Google Lookout, Be My Eyes, and Magnifying Glass, work as well as they do on those smartphones without buttons. Additionally, the speaker has been upgraded to offer greater volume and the navigation buttons redesigned to make the controls easier to use. The volume toggle is now on the side, as is the button used for dictation.

The overall design of the phone remains relatively unchanged. The top half of the phone is dedicated to the display, with the keypad and navigation buttons beneath it. A USB port for charging and file transfer and a headphone jack are located on the top and bottom edges.

Added Features

  • LED Flashlight. An LED flashlight is on the top edge of the phone. When the flashlight is enabled, the phone beeps regularly to remind you it is on.
  • Near Field Communication (NFC) scanning (a form of contactless communication between devices like smartphones or tablets). Several NFC labels (included with the phone), allow individuals to make audio recordings that play when the phone encounters one of the labels. Labels can be erased and rerecorded, as needed.
  • The BlindShell Beep labeling system. The BlindShell Beep is a thin, square electronic tag, about an inch wide, that is used with the Beepers App. Just attach the BlindShell Beep to a set of keys, purse, wallet, luggage—anything that has a tendency to get misplaced. When the Beepers App is enabled, the tag emits a continuous sound to help you locate it.

In addition to the new bells and whistles, the BlindShell Classic 2 keeps many of the features of the original BlindShell. Moving through the menu is straight forward, using an up and down key and the Confirm key or Back key. These last two keys are also used to answer or hang up a phone call.

You can order the Blindshell Classic 2 from ILA by following the link provided.

To see what’s currently on sale at ILA please sign up for our newsletter, view our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website.

Vision Impairment Basics with Example Assistive Products

According to statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), globally, at least 2.2 billion people have a near or distance vision impairment. Statistics from the same year estimate that the world population was 7.753 billion meaning that 1 in 4 persons worldwide have some sort of vision issue. This blog will look at the technical definition of vision impairment, statistics, and products from ILA that can either help make products adaptative for vision issues or merchandise created specifically for the visually impaired.

Definition of Vision Impairment

Vision impairment poses an enormous global financial burden with the annual global costs of productivity losses associated with vision impairment from uncorrected myopia and presbyopia alone estimated to be US$ 244 billion and US$ 25.4 billion.

The same WHO article further states:

The International Classification of Diseases 11 (2018) classifies vision impairment into two groups, distance and near presenting vision impairment. The first set of numbers are in meters with the American approximate equivalent in parentheses.

Distance vision impairment:

  • Mild –visual acuity worse than 6/12 to 6/18 (American 20/39 to 20/59)
  • Moderate –visual acuity worse than 6/18 to 6/60 (American 20/59 to 20/197)
  • Severe –visual acuity worse than 6/60 to 3/60 (American 20/197 to 10/197)
  • Blindness –visual acuity worse than 3/60 (American 10/197)

Near vision impairment:

  • Near visual acuity worse than N6 or M.08 at 40cm.

A person’s experience of vision impairment varies depending upon many different factors. This includes for example, the availability of prevention and treatment interventions, access to vision rehabilitation (including assistive products such as glasses or white canes), and whether the person experiences problems with inaccessible buildings, transport and information.

Vision Impairment Statistics

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has extensive coverage on all things related to eye health. The following statistics come from their Fast Facts of Common Eye Disorders page.

  • Approximately 12 million people 40 years and over in the United States have vision impairment, including 1 million who are blind, 3 million who have vision impairment after correction, and 8 million who have vision impairment due to uncorrected refractive error.
  • Approximately 6.8% of children younger than 18 years in the United States have a diagnosed eye and vision condition. Nearly 3 percent of children younger than 18 years are blind or visually impaired, defined as having trouble seeing even when wearing glasses or contact lenses.
  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reports that every day about 2,000 U.S. workers sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment. However, safety experts and eye doctors believe the right eye protection can lessen the severity or even prevent 90 percent of these eye injuries.
  •  An estimated 93 million adults in the United States are at high risk for serious vision loss, but only half visited an eye doctor in the past 12 months.
  • Vision disability is one of the top 10 disabilities among adults 18 years and older and one of the most prevalent disabling conditions among children.
  • Vision loss causes a substantial social and economic toll for millions of people including significant suffering, disability, loss of productivity, and diminished quality of life.

Eye care and glasses can be expensive. And even if you have health insurance, it may not include vision coverage. The good news is that lots of programs offer help, like free or low-cost eye exams and eyeglasses. If you need financial assistance check out this list of organizations provided by the National Health Institute.

Products to Assist Persons with Vision Impairment

The following are just a few of the many items sold by ILA that help address vision loss and impairment. To find even more products see the full website at ILA.

Photo Phone by Clarity: Simply touch the picture of the person you wish to call and the Photo Phone corded telephone dials the number for you. Since it has 9 easy to program photo-dial buttons as well as the regular alphanumeric buttons it is useful for the entire family. Comes with three designer photo-frames.

Giant Button Affordable Speaker Phone: This convenient phone offers large buttons, 10 two-touch speed dialing, 3 programmable one-touch speed dials, hold button, and a last number re-dial. It also has a two-way speaker phone with volume control for easier hands-free use. Please note this telephone is a corded, landline phone.

KEYS-U-SEE Wireless Large Print Keyboard w/ Mouse: Bigger, bolder print on each key makes them easier to see! The Keys-U-See wireless large print computer keyboard and mouse combination is designed for those who have a hard time seeing the existing letters on the standard keyboard. This user-friendly large print keyboard also has 12 “hot keys” providing easy access to common functions. Wireless functionality means that there are no cords to get tangled on your desk.

Marinoff Low Vision Playing Cards: Designed by the ophthalmologist, Dr. Gerald Marinoff, to enable individuals with vision problems to see the numbers more easily on playing cards. They come with 1.25 inch high numbers. The outstanding feature is the black outline that surrounds the large numbers to make them ‘stand out’.

Big Print Address Book With ILA Low Vision Pen: This spiral bound address book is printed in over 24 point type, making it very easy to see where to write your contact’s name, address and phone numbers. The large alphabet tabs guide you to the section you want. You can record 3 entries per page for a total of 550 contacts. Its laminated hard cover has inside pockets in which to keep stamps or return address labels. Provided with an ila CAN-DO Low Vision Pen.

To see what’s currently on sale at ILA please sign up for our newsletter, view our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website.

All about Computer Keyboards and Computer Mice/Mouses

Anyone who has tried to type out long text on tiny keys after using a full size keyboard knows the importance that type, and size of typing apparatuses can make. What many may not realize, however, is the vast array of types and sizes both keyboards and computer mice are available for purchase and use. This blog will look at many different kinds of these computer peripheral devices along with a few highlighted products from ILA.

Computer Keyboards

There are many different types of computer keyboards on the market today. One of the more comprehensive overviews I’ve found comes from the article Types of Keyboards for Computers: How to Choose the Right One. This section will look at 5 of the 13 types listed.

Qwerty Keyboards   

Designed in the likeness of old-fashioned typewriters, QWERTY is the most common keyboard layout. Generations of typists have come to know the QWERTY keyboard, and most students learn to type with this kind of keyboard layout.

Where it excels: The QWERTY keyboard layout is comfortable, familiar and time-tested, ideal for everyday typing needs. If you are happy enough with your word-per-minute typing rate using QWERTY, you won’t need to learn a new system on a keyboard with a different layout.

Ergonomic Keyboards

Ergonomic keyboards refer to any keyboards designed to reduce strain on the body from typing. These kinds of keyboards are often laid out so that you can rest your hands in a more comfortable, natural position as you type.

Where it excels: Because ergonomic keyboards are designed to reduce strain on your hands, arms and wrists while you type, they can be a great choice for those concerned about posture, hand, arm or shoulder pain, or the possibility of developing typing-related medical conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome.

Wireless Keyboards   

Relying on a radio frequency antenna or infrared to keep you connected, wireless RF keyboards offer a bit of freedom in your computing activities.

Where it excels: Wireless keyboards offer flexibility to move about while working on a computer without the clutter of excess wires. Because these keyboards are wire-free, they can also be a great option to take on-the-go because there won’t be any cords that can tangle in your work bag.

Bluetooth Keyboards   

A bit pricier than other wireless keyboard models, Bluetooth keyboards offer numerous features and benefits. As you might be able to guess by the name, these keyboards sync up with a laptop using Bluetooth connectivity.

Where it excels: Bluetooth keyboards offer great flexibility with a sizable range of use and versatility. These keyboards also won’t tie up a USB port on your computer, meaning you can use that to connect to other devices.

Backlit Keyboards   

An ambient glow from your keyboard makes it easy to type in the dark or in low-lighting and can also deliver a stunning “wow” factor.

Where it excels: Backlit keyboards bring radiance to your gaming and computer work in both wired and wireless designs. While backlit keys may not be a necessity, they can be a great option for those with vision issues as they make it easy to see all of the keys on the keyboard.

Computer Mice/Mouses

When it comes to the plural of the computer mouse both mice and mouses are considered correct. Just like there are a myriad of keyboard options there are also a plethora of various types of computer mice. A nice comprehensive breakdown of this peripheral device can be found in Types of Computer Mice- Which One Should I Get? This section will look at 5 of the 12 mentioned types of mice.

Mechanical Mouse

The mechanical or ball mouse is a refined version of Engelbart’s original mouse which had external wheels. Instead of wheels, mechanical mice have a metal or rubber ball that can spin in any direction. Two rollers keep track of the ball’s movements and convert the data into electric signals for the display cursor. The good thing about the ball mouse is that it’s cheap and it works on glossy surfaces. But it does require regular cleaning to operate smoothly.

Optical and Laser Mouse

If you’re using a mouse today, chances are that it’s either optical or laser mouse. Instead of a ball, optical mice detect the user’s movements using the reflected light of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Laser mice, of course, use laser light. Since they have fewer moving parts, they are more reliable than a mechanical mouse. They are also more sensitive and do not require regular cleaning. The only downfall to the optical mouse is that it does not work on shiny surfaces which the mouse sees as its own reflection tricking the software into thinking it is not moving. Laser mice do not have this limitation.

Wireless Mouse

There are two types of wireless mouses out on the market today:

  • RF Mouse: This type of wireless mouse uses radio frequency to send signals to the receiving computer or device. A dongle inserted into the device’s USB slot is usually needed to actualize the set up.
  • Bluetooth Mouse: This type of wireless mouse takes advantage of the Bluetooth protocol that most modern computers have. Because of this, Bluetooth mice usually don’t need a dongle. Using the 2.4 GHz radio frequency (RF) range, it has a range of about 33 feet (10 meters).

The biggest drawback of RF wireless mouse is the need for a dongle, while for Bluetooth, it’s the higher latency and delay when pairing up with your computer.

Trackball Mouse

A trackball mouse consists of a large ball housed inside a stationary unit. You rotate the ball using your fingers, thumb, or palm to control the cursor on the screen.

There are two types of trackball mice:

  • Finger-Operated Trackball: With its symmetrical design, this can be used by either hand.
  • Thumb-Operated Trackball: Asymmetric by nature, it’s hard to find this type of trackball mouse in a left-handed configuration.

The trackball mouse can be a good choice for anyone with CTS and other RSI, as it minimizes common wrist movements such as the “windshield” action that often leads to wrist pain (especially the thumb operated version). It’s a good alternative as well for the elderly who have difficulty keeping a traditional mouse still while double-clicking.

A trackball mouse is also great in tight or uneven surfaces (such as on a couch).

Of course, it has some pitfalls too. It is not as precise as the standard mouse in tasks like drag and drop and selection. It is not suitable for fast-paced gaming either.

Roller Bar Mouse

Sometimes referred to as the track bar, the roller bar mouse is placed directly in front of your keyboard. It comes with a small bar which you can move sideways, forward, and backward to control your cursor. You can tap on it to click or use the designated buttons. It also usually comes with a built-in palm rest.

There are several benefits to using this type of mouse.

  • Prevents stretching to reach the mouse, which can strain the neck, back, and shoulders
  • A good alternative for people with arthritis and others who find it difficult to grasp a traditional mouse
  • Can be used by both hands to minimize fatigue
  • Helps with thumb pain.

Specialized Keyboards and Mice from ILA

ILA offers many options to assist persons who are visually and/or physically impaired to be able to use their technological devices more easily. To see more specialized products, click on assistive technology.

KEYS-U-SEE Wireless Large Print Keyboard w/ Mouse: Bigger, bolder print on each key makes them easier to see! The Keys-U-See wireless large print computer keyboard and mouse combination is designed for those who have a hard time seeing the existing letters on the standard keyboard. This user-friendly large print keyboard also has 12 “hot keys” providing easy access to common functions. Wireless functionality means that there are no cords to get tangled on your desk.

LogicKeys LP Apple Keyboard for MAC: Large print keyboards for Mac computers are perfect for those individuals who are having a hard time seeing the existing commands on their keyboards. By offering a bigger and bolder typeface, the keys become easier to see. These keyboards are especially designed to assist the low-vision Mac user.

Big Track Mouse Ball: The BIGtrack is a valuable tool for users who lack fine motor skills which a regular mouse requires. For example, if you have arthritis an ordinary mouse can be difficult to hold and keep the cursor in position whilst you click. The BIGtrack allows you to settle the cursor in position and then click easily without moving the cursor inadvertently.

The giant yellow 3″ trackball makes it easy to get the cursor to precisely where you want it and bright blue right and left click buttons are easy to see and distinguish.

To see what’s currently on sale at ILA please sign up for our newsletter, view our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website.

Information about: National Library Week and the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled

National Library Week is a recurring event that happens once each year in April. This year the event will be the week of April 3rd through the 9th.  This blog will look at the origins of the event, library facts and figures, a brief overview of the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, and highlighted items from ILA to help the visually impaired make the most out of reading this week and every other week of the year. Information for this article was obtained from National Library Week Press Kit, Actress and comedian Molly Shannon to serve as 2022 National Library Week honorary chair, Quotable Facts About America’s Libraries – January 2019, Information about the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled, and the ILA website.

History of National Library Week

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and observed in libraries across the country each April. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate.

In the mid-1950s, research showed that Americans were spending less on books and more on radios, televisions and musical instruments. Concerned that Americans were reading less, the ALA and the American Book Publishers formed a nonprofit citizens organization called the National Book Committee in 1954. The committee’s goals were ambitious.  They ranged from “encouraging people to read in their increasing leisure time” to “improving incomes and health” and “developing strong and happy family life.”  With the cooperation of ALA and with help from the Advertising Council, the first National Library Week was observed in 1958 with the theme “Wake Up and Read!”

National Library Week celebrations include the release of ALA’s State of America’s Libraries Report, April 4; National Library Workers Day, April 5; National Library Outreach Day, April 6; Take Action for Libraries Day, April 7; and the celebration of School Library Month throughout April.

The 2022 Honorary Chair is none other than actress and comedian Molly Shannon who states, “I am so honored to serve as honorary chair of National Library Week for 2022. My mom was a librarian. She encouraged kids to read. So, the work of librarians and libraries has such a special place in my heart,” Shannon said. “Libraries are places where communities connect—to things like broadband, computers, programs and classes, books, movies, video games, and more. But most importantly, libraries connect us to each other. Supporting National Library Week in this role allows me to connect to my mother’s memory and all the librarians out there. Thank you for everything you do.” 

Quotable Facts about American Libraries

  • The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with more than 167 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves, which would span roughly the distance from The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., to Cape Canaveral, Florida.
  • Libraries play a critical role in the happiness of Americans. Communities that spend more on libraries, parks and highways are shown to support the well-being of community members.
  • Americans go to public libraries more often than they go to the movies.
  • There are more public libraries than Starbucks in the U.S. – a total of 16,568, including branches. Nearly 100% of public libraries provide Wi-Fi and have no-fee access to computers.
  • There were 113 million attendees at public library programs in 2016, more than all Major League Baseball, National Football League, and NBA games combined. That’s 16.5 million more than in 2013.
  • Students in high-poverty schools are almost twice as likely to graduate when the school library is staffed with a certified school librarian.
  • 100% of public libraries offer access to the Internet
  • 98% of public libraries offer free Wi-Fi
  • 90% help patrons with basic Internet skills
  • 97% help people complete online government forms
  • 9 out of 10 libraries offer access to e-books

National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled

The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS), Library of Congress, administers a free national library program that provides braille and recorded materials to people who cannot see regular print or handle print materials. Established by an Act of Congress in 1931 to serve blind adults, the program was expanded in 1952 to include children, in 1962 to provide music materials, in 1966 to include individuals with other physical disabilities that prevent reading regular print, and in 2016 to permit NLS to provide refreshable braille displays. The NLS program is funded annually by Congress, and books and materials are mailed as “Free Matter for the Blind or Handicapped” through a separate appropriation to the United States Postal Service. Cooperating network libraries are funded through a combination of state, local, and/or federal sources.

The NLS Catalog contains more than 281,000 book records, of which more than 74,000 are braille books and braille music scores and 207,000 are talking books.

Any resident of the United States or American citizen living abroad who is unable to read or use regular print materials as a result of temporary or permanent visual or physical limitations may apply for service.

Product Highlights

Milestone 212 Ace Book Reader: If you are seeking a compact audio and DAISY player, then the Milestone 212 Ace is probably the perfect device for you! It fits in the palm of your hand and has 6 simple tactile buttons for ease of use. It can read aloud National Library Service (NLS), Audible.com, and DAISY downloaded books. It can also retain and play MP3, WAV, WMA and iTunes AAC audio files. You can also use this Milestone 212 Ace for recording quick notes to self or lectures that you attend.

New Victor Reader Stream: The New Generation Victor Reader Stream is smaller and smarter than its predecessor with new wireless capabilities that will open up the world to the blind and visually impaired. With the new Stream you can receive content from books and newspapers to podcasts and radio. It features a louder speaker, superior text to speech and improved recording. The high contrast tactile keypad and popular Victor Reader bookshelf navigation makes this the easiest to use hand-held player on the market. This new model has been designed to be user friendly, compact and lightweight.

Plextalk Pocket Portable Daisy/MP3 Player: This convenient book reader and recorder does not only allow you to playback digital talking books or textbooks, but also to record lectures at school. With a quick key press when recording, you can insert headers and save precious time. Besides offering the ability to read digital talking books, the PLEXTALK Pocket, now has a wireless LAN capability, which enables you to download or stream Web Radio and Podcasts even when you are away from your computer. With Web Radio and Podcasts at your fingertips, you can listen to your favorite news programs and music channels wherever, whenever you want.

To see what’s currently on sale at ILA please sign up for our newsletter, view our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website.

Phones and Phone Accessories for the Hearing and Visually Impaired

Telephones are an important part of our everyday lives. Some people prefer having only the basic landline phone like they grew up with for others they only want a smartphone. Then there are also those who have no preference or want the ability to choose between either. This blog will highlight some of the many phone related products for sale from ILA designed to help those who are hearing and/or visually impaired.  The title of each product is also an active link for those that want to look into and/or purchase the item. To peruse all phone related products from ILA see phones.

Cell Phone Only

Cell Phone Holder and Screen Enlarger: This handy product holds your personal cell phone or tablet and magnifies the cell phone screen, giving you hands free, magnified cell phone or tablet viewing.  With its 12″ magnifying screen, this integrated stand is great for watching movies and long-term viewing.  The mobile phone screen expander is particularly helpful in providing extra magnification of your cell phone. Folding stand folds and stores flat when not in use, making it easy to tuck out of the way.  Offered in red for high visibility.

Bluetooth T-Coil Headset for Cell Phones and Audio: The Beetle H-2ST Speech is a lightweight mini Bluetooth® headset for use with cell phones and stereo audio devices. It interfaces with Bluetooth® compatible cell phones and transmits speech directly to the user’s T-Coil equipped hearing aid via the special T-coil hook. Beetle H-2ST Stereo offers unparalleled clarity for voice and music. Use it with your Bluetooth® equipped cell phone to improve your conversations or even listen to your favorite music. Choose between the included special T-coil hook, the neckloop, or audioboot which connects directly to your hearing aid.

RiVO 2 Bluetooth Smartphone Keyboard: RiVO2 allows blind and visually impaired smartphone users to more easily access all the functionality of their smartphones using Rivo’s small, credit card-sized tactile keyboard.  Connetc the keyboard to the phone via Bluetooth; tuck the phone into a pocket and navigate all the functionality of the phone using the keyboard.  With its 20 tactile keys, RiVO can manage 50 phone navigation commands, touch typing, Voice Over support, and music and audio control.

BlindShell Talking Cell Phone: The Blindshell talking cell phone has been designed specifically for the visually impaired. It  features a full physical keypad as well as a large digital display screen which can provide visual feedback in large, bold, customizable font. All features, keys, and commands on the phone are spoken. The phone can alternatively be controlled by voice commands. Voice can also be used for dictating text messages, emails, and notes. Standard phone functions include calling and one touch speed dials, SMS texts, email, contact management, notes, and calendar! Other specialized functions include a camera, calculator, timer, alarm, color identifier, QR code object tagging, FM radio, audio player, book reader, Bluetooth connectivity, and a specially located one touch SOS button. Available in Black or Red. This phone will only work on TMobile.

Landline Only

Geemarc CL-1 Telephone Ringer/Signaler: The Geemarc Ring Alert lets you know that the phone is ringing with a bright flash and very loud ring and has an attractive modern design. It is wall or desk mountable and the volume and tone is adjustable up to t 95dB.

Extra Loud Phone Ringer SR200: This super loud phone ringer from Clarity generates an extra loud 95dB ring and offers a choice of four ringing patterns, so individuals with hearing loss can find the best ring for them. Also includes adjustable volume control, a bright visual ring indicator, and an AC adapter.

Combination TTY and Voice Carry Over Phone: This multifunctional phone has a variety of options for individuals with any degree of hearing loss, permitting TTY, VCO, HCO and traditional phone calls. A great phone for the whole family! This phone comes equipped with a full keyboard for TTY use.

Alto Plus Big Button CID Speakerphone – 53DB: The AltoPlus 53dB amplified corded telephone with caller ID is the ideal solution for those with mild, moderate and severe hearing loss as well as those with vision impairments. The ergonomic volume and tone controls also make this a perfect solution for those with arthritis as well as limited dexterity.

Cell Phone and/or Landline Compatible

Universal Ringer/Flasher: This Universal Ringer and Flasher unit allows users to set up their phones so that they can be more strongly alerted to the ringing of any phone both audibly and visually. Cell phones rest in the cradle whereas landline phones plug into the device with an incoming call vibration triggering the alerts. You can also differentiate flashing patterns and ring tones for each type of call.

Serene CentralAlert Home/Cell Phone Sensor-Transmitter: Never miss a call again! The CA-CX landline and cell phone sensor flashing transmitter will grab your attention whenever a call is coming in. This call and text alerting system (for cell phones) is also designed for use in conjunction with the Serene Central Alert CA360 System, our sku 257530. This unit, when connected to your landline wall phone jack, will notify you of incoming or missed phone calls. Rest your mobile phone or smart phone in the front cradle and it will also alert you to any calls or texts from your cellphone.

Serene CentralAlert Mini Notification Package: The Serene CentralAlert mini system provides quick coverage for phone calls and visitors.  It combines the cell or home phone flasher/ringer (CA-CX) with a doorbell (CA-DB.)  The phone sensor is a standalone device and does not require any additional receivers.

Serene CentralAlert CA-380 Wearable Notification System: Serene’s CA-380 wearable notification system is designed for the deaf/blind and offers tactile notification from any of Serene’s CentralAlert transmitters. The wearable receiver (CA-PX) features braille buttons, strong vibrations, loud audio tones, and bright flashing lights.  The bundled 380 package includes the wearable receiver, a strong bed shaker, a doorbell signaler and ringer/flasher for either a home or cell phone (CA-CX).  The wearable receiver can also be paired with any other transmitter in Serene’s CentralAlert system.

To see what’s currently on sale at ILA please sign up for our newsletter, view our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website.

Definition, Uses, and Examples of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Devices

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) devices are everywhere though they got their start as far back as the late 1800s. Since their earliest invention they have continued to advance in use and advancement. Today, OCR devices make everyday tasks faster and more efficient. One such use is they can assist persons who are visually impaired, or otherwise struggle to read and comprehend, be able to keep up with the ever-evolving world around them. The information in this blog came from OCR (optical character recognition), 11 Important Uses of OCR Tool that Help you in daily life, and product highlights from the ILA website.

What are OCRs and how do they Work?

OCR is defined as a tool that scans text from images and extracts that text into a digital copy. The digital text can be edited and distributed easily.

Further, OCR (optical character recognition) is the use of technology to distinguish printed or handwritten text characters inside digital images of physical documents, such as a scanned paper document. The basic process of OCR involves examining the text of a document and translating the characters into code that can be used for data processing. OCR is sometimes also referred to as text recognition.

The first step of OCR is using a scanner to process the physical form of a document. Once all pages are copied, OCR software converts the document into a two-color, or black and white, version. The scanned-in image or bitmap is analyzed for light and dark areas, where the dark areas are identified as characters that need to be recognized and light areas are identified as background.

Characters are then identified using one of two algorithms:

Pattern recognition– OCR programs are fed examples of text in various fonts and formats which are then used to compare, and recognize, characters in the scanned document.

Feature detection– OCR programs apply rules regarding the features of a specific letter or number to recognize characters in the scanned document. Features could include the number of angled lines, crossed lines or curves in a character for comparison. For example, the capital letter “A” may be stored as two diagonal lines that meet with a horizontal line across the middle.

Five Important Uses of OCR Devices

In addition to helping those with visual and literacy impairments, OCR devices offer a wide range of uses in the world today.  The highlighted items in the next section will more fully expound on the benefits available for persons with visual impairments.

Signature identification: If you had been to a bank, you would probably know that you are asked to sign your check to get the transactions done. They capture your signature and compare its pattern with their database. If your signature matches, you are given a go-ahead. This shows how OCR is trying to keep your finances secure from fraud.

Educational purposes: You can use OCR to create a digital library of books and important publications. Moreover, you can scan historical and ancient books that are smeared and prone to wear and tear. In this way you can archive historic information, such as newspapers, magazines, or phonebooks, into searchable formats.

Language translation: You can use an OCR tool to scan documents and convert them into your specified language. This process is done by first adding dictionaries of different languages into the tool so that it recognizes all fonts.

Hospital database: Doctors can know their patient’s history, diagnosis, insurance, and payments by using OCR. This is through the automation of data entry, extraction, and processing.

Edit and send documents: One of the most common benefits of OCR is that we can edit hand-written text and send it to others without rewriting the text again. It is also possible to scan printed documents into versions that can be edited with word processors, like Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

OCR Products Available from ILA

OrCam Read: OrCam Read is a revolutionary handheld scanner and reader that instantly reads aloud text from any printed surface or digital screen. Point and click the marker-sized device and capture either full pages of text or targeted text sections. OrCam Read can even capture street and building signs in the distance.  OrCam Read is an excellent tool for anyone with any kind of reading challenge, including dyslexia, reading fatigue, visual impairment or those who read large amounts of text – empowering them with real-time access to print material.

Patriot Voice Plus Scanner and Reader: A standalone, portable scanner and reader that can scan and read aloud nearly any printed document including mail, newspapers, TV Guides, or magazines. Features simple, big buttons for easy identification and navigation. Easy to manage settings such as language, voice choice, reading speed, and volume. The Patriot Voice Plus comes loaded with Amazon Alexa voice response system; when connected to wi-fi ask Alexa any question, and hear the response spoken back.

ScanMarker Air: The ScanMarker Air allows you to scan a single line of text using the ScanMarker “pen” and send that text to either your smartphone or computer, using either Bluetooth or USB connectivity. You can scan either directly into the ScanMarker app or to an external application such as Word. Within the ScanMarker app, scanned text can be read back to you, without the need for a voiceover function. Scanned text can automatically be translated into one of 40+ languages.

To see what’s currently on sale at ILA please sign up for our newsletter, view our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website.

Nutritional Building Blocks for a Healthier You

March is National Nutrition Month® which is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and has been around since 1973.  This year’s theme, “Celebrate a World of Flavors,” showcases how flavors from cultures around the world is a tasty way to nourish ourselves and appreciate our diversity. Each week focuses on a different topic to delve deeper into creating 4 broad topics by the end of the month. This blog will look at highlights from each weekly category with information coming from National Nutrition Month®, 7 Ways to Enhance the Flavor of Your Meals, 10 Reasons to See an RDN, How to Use Fruits and Vegetables to Help Manage Your Weight, and Celebrate a World of Flavors and product suggestions from the ILA website.

Cooking and Preparation

To be successful with anything you need to learn and prepare for success. A healthy diet is no different. It is important to have the right tools at your disposal to truly become good with your own nutrition. This section will look at a few basic adaptable tools offered by ILA and a few cooking pointers from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Tools

VOX-2 Talking Kitchen Scale English/Spanish/French/German: A small, easy to use, ergonomic, big-button, talking kitchen / multi-purpose scale that can be used by anyone, anywhere. Able to speak in English, Spanish, French, and German. Simply turn it on, and after it speaks ‘Hello’ and ‘I’m ready”, you can place the food or other item on the platform or in the plastic bowl. A pleasant female voice announces the weight.

George Foreman Grill: The George Foreman Grill features a non-stick surface for cooking burgers, pork chops, and virtually any food fast and evenly. The simplicity of the design makes it an excellent cooking aid for visually impaired users. Cooking for yourself is easy with few hassles and pans. Grease will cook off the food and drip into a tray below for a healthier meal.

Green on Black Measuring Cup and Spoon Set: High contrast, high visibility measuring cup and spoon set is a great tool for the visually impaired cook.  Measurements are printed in high contrast green on black printing.  Size measurements for the cups cover the entire bottom of the cup, for best visibility.

Tips

Try these seven simple techniques to enhance flavor and experiment with flavor combinations.

  • Intensify the flavors of meat, poultry and fish with high-heat cooking techniques such as pan-searing, grilling or broiling, which help to brown meat and add flavor. Just don’t overcook, burn or char meat.
  • Roast veggies in a very hot (450°F) oven or grill for a sweet, smoky flavor. Before popping them into the oven, brush or spray lightly with high-heat oil and sprinkle with herbs.
  • Caramelize sliced onions to bring out their natural sugar flavor by cooking them slowly over low heat in a bit of oil. Use them to make a rich, dark sauce for meat or poultry.
  • Pep it up with peppers! Use red, green and yellow peppers of all varieties — sweet, hot and dried. Or, add a dash of hot pepper sauce.
  • Add a tangy taste with citrus juice or grated citrus peel: lemon, lime or orange. Acidic ingredients help lift and balance flavor.
  • Use small amounts of ingredients with bold flavors such as pomegranate seeds, chipotle pepper or cilantro.
  • Give a flavor burst with good-quality condiments such as horseradish, flavored mustard, chutney, wasabi, bean purees, tapenade and salsas of all kinds.

Visit a Registered Dietician

Have you ever wondered if you should visit an RD?  A registered dietician can learn about your dietary habits, likes, dislikes, and overall health picture to ascertain the best avenue for creating a more healthful outlook for yourself and family.  If you have ever asked yourself any of the following questions, you might find an RD to be beneficial. Do you want to lose or gain weight? Are you pregnant, looking to become pregnant or just had a child? Are you looking for ways to maintain your health in your older years? Are you an athlete looking to boost performance? These are just a few of the reasons people seek the expert, science-based advice of an RDN.

10 Common Reasons to Consult with an RDN

  • You Want Help Managing Diabetes, High Blood Pressure or Other Chronic Diseases
  • You Are Thinking of Having or Have Had Gastric Bypass Surgery
  • You Have Digestive Problems
  • You’re Pregnant, Trying to Get Pregnant, or a New Parent
  • You Have a Food Allergy, Intolerance, or Sensitivity
  • You or Your Child Is Experiencing Disordered Eating
  • You Need to Gain or Lose Weight
  • You’re Caring for an Aging Parent
  • You Want Practical Lifestyle Advice
  • You Want to Improve Your Performance in Sports
  • You Realize the Need to Feed Your Family Healthier Foods but You Do Not Cook

Ask your medical provider for a referral to see an RDN, or find an RDN on eatright.org.

Meal Planning

There are many options available for helping you to plan meals from apps, tutorials, YouTube videos, food kits delivered to your door, and when all else fails there are delivery services that can bring you ready made food from your local favorite restaurant depending on where you live. This section is going to narrow things down to how you can plan on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your everyday meals.

Breakfast

  • Substitute spinach, onions, or mushrooms for one egg or half the cheese in your morning omelet. The vegetables will add volume and flavor to the dish with fewer calories than the egg or cheese.
  • Cut back on the amount of cereal in your bowl to make room for some cut-up bananas, peaches, or strawberries. You can still eat a full bowl, but with fewer calories.

Lunch

  • Substitute vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, or onions for 2 ounces of the cheese and 2 ounces of the meat in your sandwich, wrap, or burrito. The new version will fill you up with fewer calories than the original.
  • Replace 2 ounces of meat or 1 cup of noodles in broth-based soup with 1 cup of chopped vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, beans, or red peppers. The vegetables will help fill you up, so you won’t miss those extra calories.

Dinner

  • Add in 1 cup of chopped vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, squash, onions, or peppers, while removing 1 cup of the rice or pasta in your favorite dish. The dish with the vegetables will be just as satisfying but have fewer calories than the same amount of the original version.
  • Take a good look at your dinner plate. Vegetables, fruit, and whole grains should take up the largest portion of your plate. If they do not, replace some of the meat, cheese, white pasta, or rice with legumes, steamed broccoli, asparagus, greens, or another favorite vegetable. This will reduce the total calories in your meal without reducing the amount of food you eat. BUT remember to use a normal- or small-size plate — not a platter. The total number of calories that you eat counts, even if a good proportion of them come from fruits and vegetables.

Snacks

  • Most healthy eating plans allow for one or two small snacks a day. Choosing mostly fruits and vegetables will allow you to eat a snack with only 100 calories.

About 100 Calories or Less

  • a medium-size apple (72 calories)
  • a medium-size banana (105 calories)
  • 1 cup steamed green beans (44 calories)
  • 1 cup blueberries (83 calories)
  • 1 cup grapes (100 calories)
  • 1 cup carrots (45 calories), broccoli (30 calories), or bell peppers (30 calories) with 2 tbsp. hummus (46 calories)

Vary Your Diet

Eating the same things day in and day out can lead to boredom and cause you to be more tempted to give into your cravings, especially if what you tend to normally eat is high calorie, high fat, and low nutritional foods. There’s a reason why people say it’s important to add a little spice to your life. Flavorful dishes and life experiences can lead to a more satisfying life. This section will look at some simple way to incorporate cultural foods from around the world into your daily diet.

• A smoothie with low-fat yogurt or buttermilk and tropical fruits, like papaya or mango.

• Vegetable upma, an Asian Indian dish, that can be made with semolina or rice, spiced with ginger and other seasonings.

• A Spanish omelet with potatoes and other veggies, topped with a sprinkle of cheese.

• Or, an omelet filled with fried rice, known as omurice in Japan.

• Salads that include different types of produce along with whole grains, dairy, and protein foods. Many options exist, such as tuna salad made with Greek yogurt, onion, celery and whole wheat pasta.

• Vegetables like cabbage, eggplant or zucchini can be stuffed with seasoned mixtures that may include meats, grains, and sauces. One example is mahshi, a Middle Eastern dish, made of zucchini stuffed with cooked rice, lamb and spices served in a tomatobased sauce.

• Raw veggies with hummus or tzatziki, which is a creamy yogurt-based dressing made with cucumbers, garlic, and dill.

• Baba ganouj, a mixture made of roasted eggplant and tahini, which is a sesame seed paste, served with whole wheat pita bread.

To see what’s currently on sale at ILA please sign up for our newsletter, view our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website.

Daylight Saving Time and Atomic Clocks

Daylight Saving Time (DST) beings on Sunday, March 13, 2022. This means, that for most of the United States, clocks are to be set forward one hour. If you have atomic clocks, such as those in mobile phones, the time change is done automatically for you. This blog will review the highlights of some of our previous blogs discussing the history of DST and the importance of the atomic clock followed by a section highlighting ILA’s atomic clocks for 2022. Information came from Daylight Saving Time (DST) and Atomic Clock Accuracy, Daylight Saving Time: Do You Ever Forget?,  Atomic Clocks: What are They?, and the ILA website.

History of Daylight Saving Time

Benjamin Franklin is credited with first introducing the idea of Daylight Saving through a satirical article he wrote while ambassador to Paris. He wittily claimed to have discovered that the sun provides light as soon as it rises, and proposed that people get up earlier to make use of the summer daylight. Although this was before electricity, he believed people could save money on candles this way.

However, Daylight Saving Time was never considered a practical option until Germany established it in May 1916 as a way to conserve fuel during World War I. The rest of Europe shortly followed, and the United States came onboard in 1918.

The US has observed DST for 105 years between 1918 and 2022. Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the USA starts on the 2nd Sunday in March and ends on the 1st Sunday in November. The current schedule was introduced in 2007 and follows the Energy Policy Act of 2005. According to section 110 of the act, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) governs the use of DST. The law does not affect the rights of the states and territories that choose not to observe DST.

For the U.S. and its territories, Daylight Saving Time is NOT observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and Arizona. The Navajo Nation participates in the Daylight Saving Time policy, even in Arizona, due to its large size and location in three states.

What are Atomic Clocks and Watches?

An atomic clock is a clock that uses the vibrations of molecules to keep time. The technique of atomic beam magnetic resonance was developed in the 1930s. By the mid-40s, Columbia University professor, Isidor Rabi, was considering how to use this resonance to measure time.

In 1949, the National Bureau of Standards announced the first atomic clock. The vibrations of an ammonia molecule were used to measure seconds. In 1952 the measurement tool was changed to cesium atoms. Over the next ten years, scientists worked to perfect the atomic clock. Finally, in 1968 the world’s most stable cesium clock was completed. It has an error margin of one second every 20 million years.

Watch Ranker states that atomic watches are calibrated by an atomic clock and maintain their calibration by receiving radio signals from that clock. This means that with your atomic watch, you can know the exact time with the exacting precision of NASA, literally: NASA uses an atomic clock for its countdowns.

In the United States, the atomic clock is in Fort Collins, Colorado, one of the most accurate in the world. The clock is operated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Atomic watches in other countries communicate with clocks elsewhere in the world.

Highlighted ILA Atomic Clocks for 2022

Designer Talking Atomic Clock and Calendar: This beloved Designer Talking Atomic Clock keeps perfect time with a lovely lady’s voice to announce the time at the press of a button. She will also announce the date and the day if you press the button twice. The large digital display shows you the time, day and date, in big, bold numbers and letters. As an atomic timepiece, this clock will set and reset itself, once the specific time zone has been selected.  This means that you don’t have to reset the time each time the batteries are changed or each time there is a Daylight Savings change. 

Talking Atomic Watch Black Face: Atomic talking watch has high contrast, bold white numbers and hands on a black background, making it easier to read. We offer this watch with either a black expansion band or a smooth black leather band, please specify. It has a clear male voice that will speak the time and date at the press of a button, and you can set a daily alarm on this watch when needed.

Digital Talking Atomic Watch, Black, Top Button Black Plastic Band: This lightweight and simply designed digital talking atomic watch has a high contrast round green button on a black face that is easy to find and press whenever you need the time. The multi-band atomic receiver can automatically set the time within the US and the UK once you have set it to your specific time zone.

To see what’s currently on sale at ILA please sign up for our newsletter, view our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website.

Lighting Tips and Advice Based on Room Type and Use

One of the easiest ways to make your home feel like new again is through changing how you light the different parts of your house. This blog will look at the various aspects that go into how you can turn a dim drab home into one that more aligns with your dreams.

Types of Lighting

Understanding the types of lighting will assist you in determining the aesthetics in which you feel most comfortable. Generally, lighting function falls in one of three categories: ambient, task, and accent. This basic overview comes from the article How to Pick the Best Light Bulb for Every Room.

  • General or ambient lighting acts as the overall lighting of a room. It illuminates all of the room and is considered the room’s “natural light.” You might use a chandelier, pendant light, track lighting or wall sconces to create ambient light that fills the room.
  • Task lighting lights up a work or reading area. You want this lighting to be brighter than your ambient lighting, so the contrast focuses the light in the specified area. Desk lamps and under-cabinet kitchen lights are common task lighting options. But pendants and track lighting can be used for task lighting, too, but it depends on how you layer the lighting in your room, and how bright your bulbs are.
  • Accent lighting highlights a particular area, like a work of art or a bookcase. It usually creates shadow around the object for a dramatic effect. Wall lights and landscape lights are common accent lights.

Bulb Types

Your bulb is your light source, so the type of bulb determines what the light will look like. Different bulbs perform differently, and there are four basic types:

  • Incandescent: These are the traditional bulbs most of us have used for decades, and they’re starting to phase out in favor of more energy-efficient options. They produce a warm, glowing light.
  • Compact florescent bulbs (CFLs): These use 75 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb. They also last longer. They usually emit a cooler tone, but you can find them in a range of brightness levels and temperatures. It’s worth noting that CFLs do contain mercury, and while the amounts are small, they still require more careful handling and disposal.
  • LEDs: These are just as efficient as CFLs, but they can last up to three times longer. They used to be mostly used for task lighting, because they only provided a harsh, direct light, but like CFLs, they’ve come a long way. They now offer the same look as incandescents, but they’re efficient, less hot to the touch, and last a long time. For these reasons, they can also be more expensive, but there are utility rebates available.
  • Halogen: These give off a bright, white light, similar to natural daylight. Great for task lighting. They also use 10-20 percent less energy than an incandescent bulb.

Lumens Recommended by Room Type

The more lumens, the brighter the bulb. A typical home bulb produces about 800 lumens, which is the equivalent of 60 watts. So how many lumens do you need for each room? The following is a generalized breakdown of recommended levels by room type.

Kitchens: 5,000-10,000 total lumens

Bathrooms: 4,000-8,000 total lumens

Bedrooms: 2,000-4,000 total lumens

Living rooms: 1,500-3,000 lumens

Dining rooms: 3,000-6,000 lumens

Home offices: 3,000-6,000 lumens

Kelvin Temperatures

Beyond brightness, you also want to consider the color temperature of the light. CFLs weren’t great years ago, because they mostly only produced a very blue, cool light. But they’ve come a long way, and you can now find them in warmer, yellower tones. The following is a brief overview of the types of temperature in relation to bulbs and lighting.

  • Soft white/warm white (2700 Kelvins): Best for bedrooms and living rooms; providing a traditional warm, cozy feel to them.
  • Bright white/cool white (4100 Kelvins): Best in kitchens, bathrooms or garages; giving rooms a whiter, more energetic feel.
  • Daylight (5000-6000 Kelvins): Best in bathrooms, kitchens and basements; good for reading, intricate projects, or applying makeup—provides the greatest contrast among colors.

Psychological and Physiological Effects of Light

There have been many studies demonstrating the effects of lighting on various aspects of mood and behavior. The following information came from the article Room-by-Room Interior Lighting Guide: Indoor Lighting Tips.

  • Emotions (both positive and negative) are felt more intensely under bright light.
  • Excessive light at night, including electronic media, can create difficulties sleeping and exacerbate sleeping disorders.
  • Students and workers are healthier, happier, and more productive when there is more natural light (daylighting). “Daylighting also decreases utility costs and improves the well-being of building occupants.”

Studies have also been conducted on rats and other mammals that demonstrates the effect light has on melatonin, which has been found to determine the body’s output of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood, behavior, appetite, sleep, memory, and desire.

Lighting is both an art and a science — it can affect our mood, appetite, and sleep. In order to implement an effective lighting strategy for your home, you will need a professional that fully understands electrical systems and lighting design. Besides the technical knowledge required, the person installing your lighting should also be concerned with mood, aesthetics, safety, and enjoyment.

Tips for Improved Lighting

The following are the top tips by room as specified in the article 19 Secrets for Getting Good Lighting in Every Spot Around Your Home.

General tips for the whole house:

  • Include at least three sources of light in each room: General lighting (overhead or pendant), Specific lighting (task or table), and Ambient lighting (sconces, candles, or decorative).
  • Maximize natural light by keeping your windows clean—it’s cheap, simple, and really does make a difference.
  • Choose the right shade for your fixtures: White shades let more light pass through but can create a colder tone, while colored shades will tint light, making it appear creamier, warmer, or cooler, depending on the hue you choose.
  • Incorporate reflective surfaces into your home; mirrors, glossy floors, and metallic finishes will bounce light around a room.
  • Swap in more decorative lighting for builder-grade fixtures to change the look of your room.

Kitchen:

  • Under-cabinet lighting can be extremely useful. It can illuminate your countertops while you work and can be turned off with the flick of a switch when you need more ambiance.
  • Light the dark corners of your kitchen that include features like shelves, counters, cupboards, and pantries. Areas like these are often neglected, but they become more functional and beautiful when properly lit.
  • Pendant lamps can be a fun and functional option above kitchen sinks, islands, and breakfast nooks. In the first two cases, they can help to illuminate the work triangle, which is where home chefs do their most prep, cooking, and clean up.

Bedroom:

  • Use candles safely for ambiance. Nothing helps to set the mood like a row of tealights in votives or a scented candle on your nightstand.
  • Bedside lamps with warm bulbs are a must. No one wants to leave the comfort of their covers to turn the lights out after reading—or to have to try to find the way back to the bed after flicking the switch at the door.
  • The latest techy alarm clock lights serve as a unique way to wake you up in the morning. They work well with your circadian rhythm by imitating a sunrise and will always feel better than flicking on harsh overhead lights. 

Living Room:

  • Consider scale. Table lamps are great, but sometimes a large lantern, an oversized pendant, or a big sculptural floor lamp can add a focal point that every well-designed room should have
  • Add a dimmer switch to your overheads. This allows you to easily change the mood and brightness of your lighting depending on the time of day. It’s also perfect for making those at home movie nights feel like they’re happening in a legit theater.
  • Make sure to light darker corners. There’s always that one dim spot in the living room that makes it impossible to do anything once the sun goes down. Add a lamp for a subtle glow that’ll instantly cozies up your space.

Bathroom:

Install vanity lighting or lights around your mirrors. When you get ready in the morning, you’ll be thankful for the soft glow that radiates from these types of lights versus the typical harsh overhead lighting that can cast odd shadows.

Opt for daylight-simulating light bulbs. If you’re someone who wears makeup, you’ll be able to see how your face will actually look outside of your home much better than under fluorescent bulbs.

Bring in candles to use for bath time and unwinding. Nothing compares to the soft glow of candlelight, so it’s worth having a few on hand when you’re doing a face mask or taking a bubble bath.

Hallways:

A quick note about hallway lighting from the article The Best Type of Lighting for Every Room in Your House.

As transition areas between rooms, hallways don’t pose as many specific lighting concerns as other spaces. Choose a flush-mount ceiling fixture for inconspicuous light, or attach a few sconces along the wall for indirect lighting. You don’t typically need particularly bright light in hallways, so 5-10 lumens per square foot is generally sufficient.

To see what’s currently on sale at ILA please sign up for our newsletter, view our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website.