Tools For Following Televised Sports When You Are Visually Impaired

Sports fans love to watch a good game. But if you are visually impaired, it is a lot harder to follow the action on the TV screen. As you prepare for that big college rivalry game, Monday night football, or maybe Super Bowl Sunday, there are a few tools you may want to consider adding to your TV-viewing toolbox.

TV Glasses and Monoculars

TV Glasses are specially made glasses that magnify objects from about 10 feet away, to infinity. They are designed to provide clarity for a large viewing area. The glasses give telescoping binocular vision. Models like the SeeTV allow you to individually adjust each eye, giving you the ability to adapt to any discrepancy in vision between the two eyes or any vision changes that may occur in the future. Another benefit to using TV Glasses is that they are hands-free. The only drawback is that the maximum magnification is a little over 2x. If you need something stronger than that, monoculars or telescopes may be a better choice.

Monoculars are another option for magnification but are not usually the best choice when watching TV. Monoculars have a small range of vision. They are typically used for glancing at numbers or details signs in places like restaurants or grocery stores. They are also not intended to be used for sustained viewing because they are handheld, which eventually causes fatigue. All that said, monoculars do provide greater magnification than TV glasses. If your primary concern is reading the score on the screen or getting a close-up view of some stats, a quick glance with a monocular may be just what you need.

Remote Adaptations

“Honey, I can’t find the remote!” Have you ever said that before? Visual impairment isn’t the only reason for losing the clicker. But it doesn’t make it easier to find. Using a chunky, big button remote is one way to make sure you don’t spend too much time feeling around between the couch cushions. The TV Partner is an excellent choice for anyone who wants their remote to be ready at hand. This remote is one of the largest ones on the market. It’ 5.5 inches wide by 8.5 inches long and 2.5 inches high. The keys are  .75 inches tall. The size makes the numbers easy to read and the controller hard to misplace.

Bump dots are another tool that can be used to make your remote easier to navigate. If you don’t want to buy a whole new controller, you can purchase a sheet of Bump-on plastic adhesive dots to mark the most important buttons on your existing remote. This solution only costs a couple of dollars, and it’s simple to use. If you are familiar with your remote’s navigation but struggle to see which end is up, you can put a bump dot on the side that points toward the TV. You could also put a dot near the on/off button, or any other function you use frequently or struggle to find.

Audio Description and Apps

Depending on where you live, some TV stations are now providing video description for a certain number of viewing hours per week. According to the Federal Communications Commission, “FCC rules require local TV station affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC located in the top 60 TV markets to provide 50 hours per calendar quarter (about 4 hours per week) of video-described prime time and/or children’s programming. Local TV stations in markets smaller than the top 60 also may provide video description.”  Video description is a narrated description of important visual elements of the TV show.

Of course, if this service is not available for your favorite game, you can fall back on the original version, the traditional radio broadcast. People with visual impairment have been relying on radio broadcasts for years. Radio broadcasts have always included plenty of audio description and lively commentary. If you want, while listening to a radio broadcast, you can even play the game simultaneously on the TV screen, but you’ll want to turn off the volume.

Thanks to modern technology, being able to follow televised sports has also been made easier by apps. To cut to the chase and find game times and scores with no hassle, you might be interested in the app  Sports Scores and Alert. When there is new information on one of the teams you follow, the app can also alert you with a sound. And if you want to listen to that radio broadcast, instead of flipping around, hoping to find the right station, you can use Pro Radio, or College Football Radio Live, both of which allow you to search for radio broadcasts by your team’s name.

Whether you want to enhance your viewing experience through magnification, reduce navigation frustration with more accessible remotes, or just cut to the chase and get commentary and scores through audio descriptions or radio broadcasts, these tools will help you enjoy your televised sports. And if you don’t feel you are well equipped for this viewing season, ILA is happy to help.

Photo by Sandro Schuh on Unsplash

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