If you have developed a visual impairment or had hearing loss, the way you socialize and relate to your friends and family may have changed. You may find it harder to stay in touch as your ability to hear a conversation, see body language, or do things independently changes.
However, continuing to maintain and develop friendships isn’t just important socially, it’s good for your health. And there is plenty of adaptive technology that can help you do it.
If you have hearing loss, an amplified phone is the perfect solution. Devices like our Amplified Phone with Answering Machine give you lots of options. Not only can you adjust and equalize the volume and tone, but it also comes with the ability to set three different user profiles so that it works for everyone in the household. The keypad and caller ID talk, and the answering machine holds up to 11 minutes of messages.
For the visually impaired, brailled phones with large, contrasting buttons give both a tactile and visual assist. And voice-activated phones eliminate the need to see the keypad or read phone numbers.
Keeping up with your friends through email can be a challenge when it’s hard to see the screen. But voice technology is helpful. You can find software and devices that have voice-to-text and text-to-speech capabilities.
Voice-to-text programs will write your message for you. Phones and many computer programs have this as a native feature. They aren’t always 100% perfect in dictating your words, but they usually get the job done.
To read the messages sent to you, you can also use software or a separate device, like the Mercury Electronic Magnifier and OC Reader. The reader is a 12″ Windows 10 tablet, extensively enhanced with digital magnification and Text-To-Speech capabilities. A lightweight stand holds the tablet and allows it to be comfortably positioned above any reading material.
Another great way to communicate is through video technology. This is convenient for people with driving restrictions, or who live far away from their friends and family. It’s also helpful for people who have hearing loss and need to see lips and hands to understand a conversation better.
Skype, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, FaceTime, and Zoom are all programs that have video call capabilities. All of them are available for free, and they have different features to suit different situations. For example, many families like to use Skype or FaceTime for calls, while Zoom is a great tool for scheduling business meetings.
Using Social Media to Be Social
While social media, adaptive devices, and digital technology shouldn’t completely replace your real-life interactions, it can certainly help you feel less alone and isolated. Technology is sometimes criticized for creating a barrier between people. However, when used in the right way, it can be a lifesaver instead.
No matter your disability, it’s likely there is a social media platform or piece of adaptive technology that works well for you. Examine your options and find the technologies you are most comfortable using. When checking out social media options, find out what platforms most of your contacts are on.
If everything feels too challenging, ask a friend or relative for help in getting you set up with your new equipment or registered with your new program. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you’ll be glad you took the time to put down the foundations to better communication.
ILA has a variety of assistive devices that can help you read and communicate. Check out our selection of scanners, readers, and screen magnifiers here.