Digital Recorders

The very first voice recording took place in 1860 but with the advent of technology what once was primitive and choppy at best has turned into state-of-the-art recordings. The digital recorder, as we know it today, has many more uses than its original intent. Nowadays this device can be useful to everyone but how do you know what to look for? What are the everyday benefits of using a digital recorder? How do digital records benefit the blind or visually impaired?

What to Look for in a Digital Recorder

An article on Rev provides a good rundown on buying a digital recorder in general. Whether you need to record audio for a work meeting, lecture, or interview, a voice recorder is one of the best business tools to use. With the variety of voice recording devices on the market, it might feel like a challenge to choose the right one to fit your needs. Here are 8 points to consider when looking for a voice recorder:

  • Audio Quality: Some digital audio devices can include a variable recording setting. This means that with just a simple press of a button, you will be able to record the audio quality you’ll need.
  • Convenient Carry: Find one that’s the right size and shape to meet your needs
  • Ample Storage (or Memory) Space: The available storage capacity will determine the length of time you are able to record before you need to either transfer files to a computer or delete them.
  • Ease of Sharing Files: If you think you’ll need to transfer files make sure your equipment is compatible with each other.
  • Editing Capabilities: Make sure it’s capable of editing in the manner you wish.
  • Battery Life: Make sure your device has the capacity to stay charged for as long as you may need it at any given time.
  • Voice Activation: The recorder will automatically begin recording when it detects sound. Additionally, it will stop after a period of silence.
  • Recording Time: Keeping in mind that this can vary depending if you’re using high- or low-quality audio files look for a machine that can record long enough for your needs.

Other items to keep in mind are the interface (how it’s laid out physically and navigation wise) and the quick startup options to keep operation steps to a minimum.

Everyday Benefits of Using a Digital Recorder

There are many everyday uses and benefits to utilizing a digital recorder. They can be as simple as recording your thoughts, taking notes in a lecture, even listening to music. If you scour the internet you can find a whole plethora of uses. Rev and Oral History Association provide several uses that may not spring immediately to mind.

  • Speech (or singing) Improvement: Record and playback to listen for areas that need improving.
  • Audiobooks for Children: Using your own voice to recite stories brings it to life for them.
  • Lectures: Recording lectures frees you up to jot down key points and questions that arise.
  • Podcasts: You can also easily get your podcast up and running with a digital voice recorder, downloading the digitized audio files to your computer. (See this article for instructions)
  • Recording Oral History: This offers a helpful resource for historical research and to preserve family history. (See this article for best practices)

Of course, you can also listen to audiobooks, talk faster than you can write, and record thoughts while on the go.

How Digital Recorders Benefit the Blind or Visually Impaired

Persons who are blind or visually impaired often cannot access information beyond those things that they can touch or hear. It is imperative that they learn new ways to function in a mostly seeing world. An article from American Foundation for the Blind illustrates that not all persons with vision loss learn the same way, take notes the same way, or even agree on how to record the world around them the same. The fact remains that sound is of utmost importance in their daily lives.

An emerging new science called “soundscape ecology” is ideally suited for persons who are blind or visually impaired in that it takes advantage of what they tend to do best which is listen. It incorporates digital recorders to record and study the world around them through the lens of sound. Students at the Perkins School for the Blind learned about this field with the help of Perdue researchers. The article discussed how the students did a sound scavenger hunt, recording snippets of people talking, laughing and walking with canes; natural sounds like birds chirping or water running; and man-made sounds from cars or appliances.  One student even commented that he liked learning how the world’s sounds were created.

Independent living aids, LLC showcases three digital recorders this week with the Voice Recognition Memo Book, Micro-Speak Plus Talking Digital Voice Recorder, and Eltrinex Talking Digital Voice Recorder. To view all other digital recorders that ila has to offer see digital recorders.

Light Bulbs Explained

Incandescent, fluorescent, LED, lumens, and watts are common words found when looking at light bulbs but what do they all mean? Which bulb is most energy efficient? What types of light do each emit? Keep reading for a brief run down of the mystery of the light bulb and some suggestions of hobby lamps to use to help shed light on all that you do.

Incandescent Bulbs

Incandescent lamps are often considered the least energy efficient type of electric lighting commonly found in residential buildings. It produces light by heating a wire filament to a temperature that results in the generation of light. The metal wire is surrounded by a translucent glass bulb that is either filled with an inert gas or evacuated (a vacuum).

This type of bulb is measured by watts, that is, the amount of energy it takes to light them. Newer bulbs are measured by lumens which is a measure of the amount of brightness they put out. These bulbs are available in a soft to warm white only.  Simple Dollar states that the average lifespan of an incandescent bulb is 1,200 hours compared to 8,000 hours for the CFL and 25,000 hours for the LED bulbs. To achieve the lifespan of 1 LED bulb (approximately $8) it would take 21 incandescent bulbs (approximately $21) and 3 CFL bulbs (approximately $6).

Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs)

According to the Department of Energy,  CFLs combine the energy efficiency of fluorescent lighting with the convenience and popularity of incandescent fixtures. CFLs fit most fixtures designed for incandescent bulbs and use about 75% less energy. Although CFLs cost a bit more than comparable incandescent bulbs, they last 6–15 times as long.

CFLs are most cost-effective and efficient in areas where lights are on for long periods of time. You’ll experience a slower payback in areas where lights are turned on for short periods of time, such as in closets and pantries. Because CFLs do not need to be changed often, they are ideal for hard-to-reach areas. They do take time to warm up, however, before full light is emitted.

There are two common forms of fluorescent bulbs: fluorescent tubes and circline lighting. Fluorescent tubes are ideally suited to illuminate large indoor areas of commercial or industrial buildings. Circline lighting, however, is a special form of linear tube lamps commonly used for portable task lighting.  Available in soft, warm, and bright white hues

If you’re interested in trying out this type of light than this CAN-DO Magnifier Lamp might be a good option. This flexible light can be rolled from room to room and extended and rotated to ensure that you are able to maintain ideal lighting for whatever you do.

Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs)

Simple Dollar’s article on light bulbs states that, Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, were for years most commonly found in small electronic displays, such as the clock on your cable box. LED light bulbs work by bringing together currents with a positive and negative charge to create energy released in the form of light. The result is a fast source of light that is reliable, instantaneous, and able to be dimmed. They further state, “What sets LEDs apart from incandescent bulbs and CFLs is just how long they can last…which is up to five times longer than any comparable bulb on the market.”

CNET provides an article outlining 5 interesting facts about LEDs that may make decision making easier. These facts include:

  • LEDs are cooler, in fact they may be up to 200 degrees cooler than their counterparts
  • You get instant full light when you turn them on which is an advantage over CFLs
  • LEDs don’t attract bugs at least not the ones without ultraviolet light
  • LEDs come in funny shapes such as snow cone, squat disc, and crown
  • You will need to learn some lighting lingo such as lumens vs. watts

A different CNET article helps explain the difference between lumens and watts. Contrary to common belief, wattage isn’t an indication of brightness, but a measurement of how much energy the bulb draws. For incandescents, there is an accepted correlation between the watts drawn and the brightness, but for LEDs, watts aren’t a great predictor of how bright the bulb will be. For example, an LED bulb with comparable brightness to a 60W incandescent is only 8 to 12 watts. (see CNET for a chart) These lights are available in soft, warm, and bright white hues.

If you think an LED light might be most ideal try out this OttLite Natural Daylight LED Flex Light. It features Super Bright Natural Daylight LEDs rated for usage up to 40,000 hours. The sleek and innovative design and small footprint is perfect for dining room tables, desks, counter tops, work benches, end tables and more!

Another option is this Rechargeable LED Light which is great if you want a portable light to take on the go. This portable slim style rechargeable lamp provides you with wireless portable light for up to 10 hours on the low setting or for 4 hours when set at its brightest illumination.

To see an overview of all lighting that independent living aids, LLC has in stock please check out ila lights.

It’s Time

From sundials to timepieces that communicate with each other nightly, how we tell time has come a long way. The ancient has become decorations and the old is slowly leaking back into the new. Their evolution is a story as old as man.  The focus for this article will be the “portable clock.”


The first wristwatch was made for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary by the Swiss watch manufacturer Patek Philippe in 1868, according to Guinness World Records. But the first wristwatch for men is not so easy to pinpoint. Prior to this the first portable clocks were clunky, inaccurate, unprotected, and subject to break easily.

Watches worn on the wrist first became popular in Europe during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Americans thought men wearing this traditionally female adornment were comical and often would use it in vaudeville and comedy acts. It wasn’t until World War I that the practicality of having a watch more easily accessible for men/soldiers made sense.  The Atlantic article on watches further shares that it was during this time that European soldiers were outfitting the device with unbreakable glass to survive the trenches and radium to illuminate the display at night. And civilians, seeing the wristwatch’s practical benefits over the pocket watch, were parroting the behavior.

If the traditional style watch is something of interest check out this Unisex Low Vision 2″ Watch. This extra-large watch has a 1.6″ wide face within a 2″ case, providing extra-large visibility and clarity. Bold black hands are featured on a white face with bold black numbers so that you can read the time with ease.

If closing and opening straps are an issue than try the Talking Watch With Black Leather Slip-on Cuff. Not only is this watch easy to put on and take off but you can choose between a male and female voice to give you the date and time. The different voice options are great for anyone who has started to have some high frequency hearing loss.

Pocket Watches

Pocket watches were some of the first portable clocks. While they came before the wristwatch they also are continually being utilized to this day. This brief history is taken entirely from a Dapperfied  article on the history of pocket watches. One of the first historical references of the pocket watch can be found in a letter dated in November 1462 from an Italian by the name of Bartholomew Manfredi. By 1524 the practice spread and Peter Henlein, a master locksmith, began manufacturing watches in Germany. Watch production spread to the rest of the world, gaining popularity rapidly.

Early pocket watches only had an hour hand as the minute hand did not appear on the clock face until the late 17th century. In the late 1830s, the first American pocket watches were produced using machine-made parts.  Some of the first pocket watches also included practical gadgets in their design like winding keys, a vesta case [small match box] or even a cigar cutter. These added gadgets increased the usability of the watch and gave it an added appeal to consumers.

If you’re interested in purchasing a modern-day pocket watch check out this Gold Talking Atomic Pendant Watch With Gold Chain. This is an attractive talking time piece with 1.4″ wide case. It features a multi-band atomic receiver that can work in the US, Europe, or Japan once you adjust your time zone. This watch has a clear male voice which speaks the time and the date at the touch of a button. There is a daily alarm that can be activated if needed. It comes with a matching gold tone 30″ chain.

But what is an atomic watch?

Atomic Watches

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.

American atomic watches are programmed to search at least once a day for a 60 kHz radio signal from the Ft. Collins clock, which can broadcast at a range of 1,864 miles. It receives and decodes this signal to maintain its accuracy. The watch doesn’t stay in constant contact with the atomic clock, but it doesn’t need to as 24 hours isn’t long enough for the watch to noticeably drift.

If you’d like to check out the other amazing watches offered by ila please visit our watches category.

The Art of Distance Viewing

Whether it’s watching a mysterious bird from afar, going to a game, or trying to see details more clearly on the TV, distance viewing technology has its advantages. Read further to see how these devices can make any indoor or outdoor activity more enjoyable to watch.


Audubon is a wonderful website to learn all about birding.  They state, “If you’ve been considering joining the ranks of the 47 million birders in the United States, there’s no better time than the present to take the plunge—or at least dip your toes in.”

The first thing to consider is your gear. Most people use binoculars to better view birds from a distance but a monocular can be used as well. In fact, a monocular could be a more practical aide to bring as it’s smaller, more compact, and is essentially like using a short telescope. If you’re considering giving a monocular a go the 4 x 12 Monocular on sale this week is an excellent inexpensive option to try.  Other suggested gear includes a weatherproof notebook, a field guide, comfortable clothes, and an easy to use birding app.

Before you actually start your first birding adventure the site suggests you learn the American Birding Association Code of Ethics. Once you familiarize yourself with the code of ethics another important step to take is to learn about  safety tips for better birding. It is also advised to check the elements, consider the season, and look up your local species occurrences prior to any outing.

Sporting Events

Whether going to watch friends, family, or just your favorite team play there is evidence that attending sporting events can be good for your health. Sporting events allow you to socialize, get out of the house, network, spend time with family and friends, and even immediately gives you a connection to the people around you.

A recent study looks at the association between sporting event attendance and self-rated health.   The results of this 12 year study demonstrate that sporting event attendance positively correlates with self-rated health. In addition, individuals who attended a sporting even within the past year were 33% more likely to indicate a higher level of self-rated health. An article on CNN Health further states “scientists have found that being a sports fan can be good for your emotional, psychological and social health.”

Creating lasting memories is another advantage of going to a sporting event. The 7″ portable HD CCTV with distance, on sale this week, is a great way to both take photos, store reminders and zoom in up to 32x from as much as 16 feet away. It stores nearly an unlimited number of freeze frame images on a removable 32 GB card. Voice memo feature can add a recorded message to any of those images.  This may not make the game itself easier to view (depending on where your seat is located) but it can be beneficial when reading a program, small print at the concession stand, and can be both a visual and auditory aid in remembering where you parked or where your seat is located.

Watching TV

Everyone know that watching too much TV can be bad for your health but there are several surprising beneficial reasons to turn on the tube as well. Darling Magazine reports on three ways that TV is good for you.

The first reason listed is that watching TV can reduce stress. The more time we take in something we enjoy the less stressed we tend to be. The next reason is TV can promote healthy living. In the academic world it is called “entertainment-education.” An example provided is after an episode about PTSD the stars of NCIS also participated in a public service announcement about seeking help for the disorder. The third and final reason listed is it can inspire creativity. Do it yourself shows, cooking shows, and even those showcasing every day people demonstrating their talents can inspire others to do the same.

For some people with low vision and/or macular degeneration this pastime can be frustrating. Thanks to new technology such as the Eschenbach MaxTV Glasses individuals can adjust their vision to fit their TV viewing needs. They provide 2.1X magnification and allow the user to focus each eye independently, allowing for more precise focusing.

Be sure to check out other great products to help make distance viewing more enjoyable at independent living aids, LLC.






Summer Fun for Everyone

July 4th always lands just under two weeks after the official start of summer on June 21st.  Summer is a wonderful time for family get togethers, barbequing, social events, and outdoor sports. In order to ensure everyone has as much fun as possible it’s important to keep safety and limitations in mind.

Barbequing Essentials

Regardless if barbequing means cooking outside on the grill or having chopped pork or beef brisket certain things remain constant. Nationwide provides 9 safety tips for summer barbeques. In a nutshell these include ensuring the grill is safe and operational, wearing appropriate clothing, and being prepared to put out a fire if it gets out of control. Safety should always be the number one concern.

Once everything is deemed safe to operate it’s necessary to consider everything that is required for a successful barbeque.  The Spruce Eats provides a 6-part barbeque essentials checklist. Beyond the food (meat, desserts, buns), other items needed are grilling tools (spatula, tongs, glove, and grill fork), drinks, condiments and sauces, and the sides.

To save space by the grill consider ordering this locking spatula/tongs combo. The unit features a stainless-steel frame with a nylon head that is heat resistant to 450°F/230°C. Simply push down to open and pull up to close. Dishwasher safe.


Participating in Summer Sports

Whether your go to game is baseball, soccer, basketball, tennis, or even volleyball the summer season is a great time of year to play. The easiest of these sports to setup and play in a matter of minutes is volleyball.  All you need is a couple of people, a ball, and something that could be used as a net. Non-regulation games can last anywhere from minutes to hours. Volleyball is also the second most popular sport in the world today.

Volleyball is a sport that people of all ages and abilities can enjoy. Team USA further expounds on this idea by saying, “Volleyball is a team sport which can be played by disabled and able-bodied. It can be played by youth, juniors, adults and seniors in any combination. Unlike many sports, volleyball can be played at all levels co-educationally, creating a gregarious and integrating atmosphere that is appreciated by all involved.”

If volleyball is your go to sport and you’re looking to purchase a new ball check out this volleyball with bells, currently on sale. It’s perfect if you have any guests that may have any vision impairments but still want to enjoy the game.


Independence for All

Everyone knows that July 4th is the day to celebrate America’s independence from the British. A day to celebrate freedom be it by social gatherings, parades, and/or fireworks. Independence can also mean the ability to live your life without having to depend on the assistance of others. This could mean financial independence, learning to live on your own, or accepting and living with a disability. Statistically at any given time 1 in 5 Americans is disabled.

If you know in advance that friends or family members invited to your summer function lives a bit differently than you do, then you can research and find out tips and tricks to help them feel as much an active participant as everyone else. There are many wonderful resources readily available to assist you or your loved ones in returning to a new sense of normal. This HelpGuide article is a wonderful place to start.

Traveling with disabilities doesn’t have to be an issue either. A quick example for someone traveling with visual impairments  is this adjustable folding support cane. This cane is a durable, aluminum folding support cane (4 sections) with a comfortable T-handle and a Santoprene rubber tip. It has a white shaft with red on lower section. For more tips and advice for traveling with a disability check out this article on SMARTERTRAVEL.

Be sure to check out other great products to help make your summer more enjoyable at independent living aids, LLC.