Computer Keyboard Options for People with Low Vision

If you have low vision, it may be challenging to use a standard computer keyboard. The good news is, there are several different options for adapting this piece of hardware. You can meet your specific needs and avoid having to use a computer keyboard you aren’t comfortable with.

 

Jumbo Keys and Oversized Hardware

Some keyboards have jumbo keys. Not only are the letters printed larger than usual, but the entire keyboard is also bigger. The VisionBoard Keyboard is a good example of this kind of adaptive equipment. The letters on each key (A-Z) are 7/16″ x 7/16″, and feature bold print. The oversized keys also have ample spacing in between.

 

Another oversized piece of hardware is the 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 while you click. The BIGtrack allows you to settle the cursor in position and then click easily without moving the cursor inadvertently. The giant yellow ball makes it easy to get the cursor to precisely where you want it. You can even do this with your foot or elbow!

Keys With Extra Contrast

If you are comfortable with the spacing of a standardized keyboard, there are other ways to enlarge the letters for easier viewing. The EZ Key Keyboard large print keyboard provides easy to see computer keys with extra-large key legends for greater visibility and efficiency. It features large-print keycaps that are clear and easy to read with high-contrast color schemes. You can choose black on white or black on yellow, depending on which one is easier for you to see.

 

Don’t want to buy a whole new keyboard? Stick-ons and overlays are the perfect solution. You can buy a set of black and white stick-ons that display capital letters at .4 of an inch high in bold print. Just peel them off and carefully place them on your existing keyboard.

 

If you have an Apple keyboard, you can buy a “skin,” or overlay that fits over the entire keyboard. No peeling and sticking individual stickers! These come in white on black or black on white.

Braille Keyboards

Make your keyboards tactile with braille stick-ons. Just like the large print bold stick-ons, these stickers are printed with jumbo letters. But the bonus is that they are also in Braille. The stickers come in black on white or black on yellow, to give you a choice of contrast. Braille keyboards are perfect for both low vision users and users who are blind.

Screen Magnifiers

While you’re considering your keyboard options, you may as well think about how to improve your screen viewing as well. LCD magnifiers and filters don’t just enlarge the screen, they also enhance contrast and reduce glare.

ILA stocks plenty of keyboards and keyboard labels for you to choose from. You can also find the complete range of our assistive technology on our Assistive Technology category page.

Tips and Tools To Help Keep Your Finances in Order

 

Sometimes retiring or getting older also means having a tighter budget. When you aren’t working anymore, there’s no prospect of getting a raise. Whatever your budget is from social security or savings, it likely won’t change any time soon. And even if that number is small, one good thing about it is that it will be mostly consistent. That allows you to make a budget with more certainty. Keeping your finances in order will be the key to feeling less stressed about money.

Recording and Budgeting Expenses

Whether you prefer using pencil and paper or you like to keep track of things online, the first step to managing your finances is to record and budget for your expenses. You will quickly see where you may be overspending, and you will hesitate to make impulse purchases, knowing you have to keep track of every penny.

 

If you don’t already have a budget in place, the first step is to record your essential expenses. Make note of any recurring payments, like your electric bill, and keep in mind that may fluctuate during the year.

 

After you have a good idea of what your base level of spending is for housing, food, and utilities, see how much money you have left out of your monthly income. Try to save a percentage, then budget the rest into categories like entertainment, clothing, travel, etc. Even if you don’t buy clothes every month, if you put $20 in your clothing budget (and don’t spend it on eating out!) in several months, when you need new shoes, you will be able to buy them without having to sacrifice from an essential area.

Protect Yourself from Fraud

Some banks are more “senior friendly” than others. Find a bank that will be supportive of any needs you may have as you maintain your account. Support can be shown in a variety of ways, including providing large print copies of materials, hiring employees that talk in a clear, non-condescending manner, and providing extra fraud protections.

 

Although no one wants to think about themselves cognitively declining, you should still prepare for the possibility. One way to do this is through fraud protections that involve sending family members alerts if large withdrawals are made from your account, or locking your debit card to a specific geographical area.

Low Vision and Money Management

Another barrier to money management can be low vision. That’s why ILA provides products that help count and track your money.

 

The New iBill Talking Banknote Identifier

Convenient, accurate and compact, the new iBill Talking Banknote Identifier enhances independence and confidence with ease of use. The new iBill offers accurate and immediate identification of paper money while being compact enough to go anywhere. Increased volume makes it easier to use in noisy places as well as for users with hearing difficulties. The earphone jack provides an alternative to the vibration mode as well as providing additional privacy. A redesigned slot makes it even easier to insert the bill, and the recessed buttons prevent inadvertent activation when the unit is in a purse or pocket!

 

Personal Financial Management Kit

This sturdy plastic envelope contains all the products you need to help you independently manage your finances. The kit includes plastic signature, check, and letter writing guides,

portable and desk-sized large print check and deposit registers, the CAN-DO Low Vision Pen, a low vision calculator, and an Expense Management Log.

 

Plastic Check Writing Guide

This heavy-duty plastic guide has cutout fields to assist in writing the necessary information on a standard 2 3/4″ x 6-inch check.

 

For even more tools that can help with money management, check out our Writing Guides & Money category on the ILA website.

Tips to Help You Extend the Life of Your Hearing Aid Batteries

Hearing aid battery life isn’t completely under our control. Batteries will run out at different speeds depending on how often you use your hearing aid, what type of battery you have, and what type of hearing aid you use.

 

However, there are a few tips that, if you follow them, will at least help you get the most life out of your batteries as possible.

 

Let the battery breathe.

Did you know that when you open a new battery and pull the tab, you should let the battery sit out for about five to ten minutes to “breathe”? That may sound funny, but it’s true! When outside air hits the materials inside the battery, it activates them. Putting your battery into the hearing aid too soon can shorten the battery life by a few days.

 

Wash your hands.

Wash your hands any time you change the battery or open a package of batteries. Oils and grime from your hands can clog up the battery (remember- it has to get air!) or damage it.

 

Keep your batteries at room temperature.

You may have heard that batteries last longer if you store them in the refrigerator. The thought is that the cooler temperatures will slow down the power leakage from the battery. But with hearing aid batteries, the refrigerator does more harm than good. Hearing aid batteries need to stay very dry, and the refrigerator creates condensation. This can lead to corrosion or shortened battery life.

 

Keep your batteries (and hearing aid) dry.

Speaking of staying dry, keep your batteries dry, even once they are in inside your hearing aid. Using a hearing aid dehumidifier can prolong battery life and increase the efficiency of the hearing aid itself.

 

Use fresh batteries.

If you keep pushing that one pack of batteries to the back of the drawer, by the time you pull it out and use it, you may not get as much life out of them as you’d like. Make sure you are using your batteries in the order that you purchased them, so none of your packs have a chance to sit around and lose power.

 

Open the door.

When you aren’t using your hearing aids, open the battery compartment door. This will keep the batteries from draining, and it will also encourage airflow and help with the moisture problem we’ve already discussed.

 

Take your batteries out.

If you’re not going to use your hearing aids for a long time, go ahead and take the batteries out. This gets even more air flowing than opening the compartment door, and is an even better way to prevent corrosion and moisture build up.

 

Need new batteries? This week ILA has several on sale.

 

Power One Hearing Aid Battery Size 675 – 6 Pack $2.96

These Power One Implant Plus batteries have 20% longer life. Recommended by Cochlear

 

iCellTech Hearing Aid Battery Size 312ds (6 pk) $2.53

 

Hearing Aid Battery #13 Orange (6pk) $3.42

Renata Maratone + replaces all size 13 zinc air batteries, including high power batteries.