All About Leap Day

Did you ever wonder why there is a Leap Day? What purpose does it serve? Does it really occur every 4 years? These questions along with several fun facts about Leap Day will be discussed in this blog. Articles from Time and Date, History, and Mother Nature Network were used to gather the information below. This week’s sale items can be found using the links at the end of this blog.

Why do Leap Days Exist?

Leap days keep our modern-day Gregorian calendar in alignment with Earth’s revolutions around the Sun. It takes Earth approximately 365.242189 days, or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds, to circle once around the Sun. This is called a tropical year, and it starts on the March equinox.

However, the Gregorian calendar has only 365 days in a year. If we didn’t add a leap day on February 29 almost every four years, each calendar year would begin about 6 hours before the Earth completes its revolution around the Sun. This would mean a difference of 24 days every 100 years. Allow this to happen for a while, and Northern Hemisphere dwellers will be celebrating Christmas in the middle of summer in a matter of a few centuries.

Leap days fix that error by giving Earth the additional time it needs to complete a full circle around the Sun.

Why Doesn’t Leap Day Occur Exactly Every 4 Years?

Many calendars, including the Hebrew, Chinese and Buddhist calendars, are lunisolar, meaning their dates indicate the position of the Moon as well as the position of Earth relative to the sun. Since there is a natural gap of roughly 11 days between a year as measured by lunar cycles and one measured by the Earth’s orbit, such calendars periodically require the addition of extra months, known as intercalary or interstitial months, to keep them on track. There did not seem to be any rhyme or reason to how this was calculated. This ill-defined system irked Julius Caesar and when he became emperor of Rome he re-ordered the Roman calendar.

By the 16th century, scholars had noticed that time was still slipping—Caesar’s calculation that a year lasted 365.25 days was close, but still overestimated the solar year by 11 minutes. This was a problem for the Catholic Church, as the date of Easter had drifted away from its traditional place, the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox, by roughly ten days. Pope Gregory XIII commissioned a modified calendar, one which kept Leap Day but accounted for the inaccuracy by eliminating it on centurial years not divisible by 400 (1700, 1800, and 1900 were not leap years, but 2000 was). The introduction of the Gregorian Calendar marked the last change to the Western calendar as we know it today.

Fun Facts About Leap Day

Leap Day is often associated with marriage, proposals and flipping gender roles. Tradition holds that in 5th-century Ireland, St. Bridget lamented to St. Patrick that women were not allowed to propose marriage to men. So, legend has it that St. Patrick designated the only day that does not occur annually, February 29, as a day on which women would be allowed to propose to men. In some places, Leap Day thus became known as Bachelor’s Day.

People born on Leap Day are called ‘Leaplings.’ There are only about 5 million people in the whole world who were born on February 29, with the odds of being born on Leap Day standing at about 1-in-1,461. Several famous people—including actress and singer Dinah Shore (born 1916), motivational speaker Tony Robbins (born 1960) and hip-hop artist Ja Rule (born 1976)—are leaplings. Leaplings technically only get to celebrate their birthdays once every four years, but they do get to be part of an elite group.

There’s a Leap Year Capital. The twin cities of Anthony, Texas, and Anthony, New Mexico, are the self-proclaimed Leap Year Capital of the World. They hold a four-day leap year festival that includes a huge birthday party for all leap year babies. (ID required.)

There’s even a leap year club. The Honor Society of Leap Year Day Babies is a club for people born on Feb. 29. More than 11,000 people worldwide are members. The goal of the group is to promote leap day awareness and to help leap day babies get in touch.

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Lighting Makes A Difference: The 3 Primary Types of Light

Lighting can make a world of difference in terms of how well you can see, glare, and comfort. There are three primary sources of lighting: ambient (or general), task, and accent. Each type is necessary for different parts of your home. This blog will look at the difference between each lighting type. Information in this blog comes from Do It Yourself Network, Elle Decor, and Home Stratosphere.

Ambient (or General) Lighting

Ambient lighting, also known as general lighting, is a hidden source of light that washes a room with a glow. It flattens an interior and creates very little shadow.  Its purpose is to provide broad lighting for the entire space. It is generally the primary source of lighting in a room, but it also directly influences the overall ambiance and mood. If a room has an abundance of natural lighting, that can often be the source of general lighting during the daytime. Think: chandeliers, recessed lighting, or sconces. Use of a dimmer can also provide ambient light.

Task Lighting

Task lighting is just that; lighting that’s used to perform daily activities such as reading, cooking, shaving, putting on makeup, etc. It needs to be glare-free. Effective task lighting enhances visual clarity and keeps the eyes from getting tired. Task lighting is more localized than other types of lighting, and it can come from a variety of sources. The function of task lighting is to brighten a certain work area, providing just enough contrasting light to enhance your productivity.

As we get older, our vision worsens, which is why task lighting is so effective in reducing the glare of lights and preventing eye strain. The types of workspaces that task lighting typically centers around are cooking, reading, crafts, studying, and other kinds of hobbies that are stationary.

ILA has many types of lightbulbs and lamps that fit this category including a color changing desk lamp, a floor lamp with full page magnifier, and a Z-Line lamp by Enfren. Special chromalux bulbs are also available and are recommended by low vision specialists and the National Association for the Visually Handicapped. These bulbs filter out the yellow rays that are emitted by ordinary incandescent lamps which dull visual perception. Chromalux light enhances original colors and textures.

Accent Lighting

Accent lighting is more design and decorative focused than the other two types of lighting.  It is a type of directional lighting or lighting that adds interest or highlights a certain object or unusual architectural feature in a room. A bulb and some kind of shield to direct the light are all that’s needed for this type of lighting. Halogen spotlights and table lamps with opaque shades are good ways to achieve accent lighting. Accent lighting adds drama to the room it’s in. Its goal is to draw your eyes to the focal point it has created. A well-executed accent light will bring your attention to what is being lit, not how that object is being lit.

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Assistive Technology for the Visually Impaired

Assistive technology for the visually impaired are items designed specifically to help people with vision loss or blindness. These items can include everything from screen readers, screen magnifiers for computer users, video magnifiers and other devices for reading and writing with low vision. This blog will focus on wearable technology, products that combine smartphone apps and physical products, and those products that build on existing technology.

Wearable Technology

Just as it sounds wearable technology are items which attach to your body and can travel with you. These can include watches, glasses, smartphones, and magnifiers. ILA carries several options in this category to assist those with vision impairments. Two of our newer items in this category are the Patriot Viewpoint Wearable Technology and the Cyber Eyez Trifecta.

The Patriot Viewpoint Wearable Technology is a wearable electronic magnifier with OCR provides handsfree magnification up to 20X. It can be used for close up or distance viewing. The OCR can scan and speak any printed material with just a few easy steps. The unit has touch pad controls on the side of the glasses. Product comes with both a phone jack and ear buds. Item weighs 1.1 pounds and has a 4-hour battery life.

The Cyber Eyez Trifecta is an exciting new product in the world of wearable technology. The complete package includes a Samsung Gear virtual reality headset, custom built wearable smart glasses with remote control, and a Samsung smartphone with the Cyber Eyez app pre-downloaded. The headset, glasses and app all perform virtually the same functions, using the same gestures and finger swipes to control each of the 3 devices. The choice of three devices allows a user to select the best device for a particular situation. VR headset can be great for extended viewing of TV or sporting events or sitting in a classroom. Smart glasses, available in small, medium, and large sizes, offer a more discreet and lightweight way to scan an area and grab your visual information. Results are displayed on the phone app. Glasses can also be ordered with custom prescriptions and with clear or tinted lenses. The app is best for quick grab and go tasks and doesn’t require putting anything on your head.

Technology Pairing Smartphone Apps with Physical Products

New technology advances also come in the form of products which are a combination of a smartphone app and a physical product or tag of some sort.  ILA proudly carries merchandise in this category including the WayTag series, Orbit Tracker Cards, and the Dot Watch.

The WayAround Starter Pack gives you a sampling of all of the different WayTags™, so you can try them out and decide which you like best. This Starter Pack contains 60 WayTags, including stickers, magnets, buttons, and clips. The WayAround product line is a combination of smartphone app and physical WayTags™ that allows you to tag and label nearly everything in your environment. Download the free app for either iPhone or Android onto your own smartphone.

Orbit Tracker Cards are Bluetooth trackers that will help you locate your valuable items using a free iOS or Android app. From your phone, you can page that item when it goes missing. Orbit Card is a credit card sized card that can slide into a wallet. Stop losing your stuff!

The Dot Watch is the first tactile smartwatch, with a 4 cell Braille display. This tactile smartwatch connects to a user’s smartphone or operates as a standalone tactile Braille watch. The wristband is magnetic mesh, for easy on-and-off. And it has quite a few features including standard watch alarms as well as Bluetooth connected notifications from your phone.

New Products That Build on Existing Technology

Many new assistive technology products build on existing technology, allowing users to work with familiar platforms but gain lots more additional functionality.  Examples of this include the Mercury 8 Electronic Magnifier and the Scanmarker Air.

Built on a full Android tablet platform, the Mercury 8 Electronic Magnifier with Speech is a durable handheld 8″ tablet magnifier with accurate full page OCR. This allows a user to both read magnified material on a large screen and to scan (via snapshot) and listen to that same printed material. In reading/OCR mode, a user can start and pause the speech, as well as follow the reading progress on the screen, while manipulating the size and color of the material being read. Mercury 8 features a wide 8-inch screen with rubber grips and a polycarbonate case designed for rough handling. It can also be used as a regular Android tablet with the full Android eco-system of apps.

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.

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New Products Are Here!

At Independent Living Aids, LLC (ILA) we pride ourselves in always looking for new products to help our customers. Sometimes, these products are everyday products in which we find a real application for people with low vision. Products like an Air Fryer, Cobra Color Changing Light, and the ScanMarker Air, have not been developed for the low vision user, but these products have crossover appeal and functionality for these consumers. Instead of the usual blog, this week we will look at new products from our 2020 catalog in each of the six outlined categories.

Assistive Technology

We carry a wide range of assistive technology products for the visually impaired and blind, including assistive technology software, screen magnifiers, readers and scanners, and much more. New items in this category include:

TV and Audio Listener Amplifying Headphones (or page 91 in the catalog): TL200 TV Listener Amplifying Headphones pairs wirelessly with either your television or mobile phone to amplify TV shows, phone calls and music. This allows the user to amplify the television volume, while others in the room listen at their preferred level. Can also pair with a smartphone to receive and amplify cell phone calls as well as music played from the phone. Has a 30′ headset range.

Children’s Large Button Keyboard (or page 86 in the catalog): Compatible with either a Mac or PC. Has oversized buttons and color-based mnemonic system to reinforce reading skills.

Envoy Elite Digital Recorder (or page 90 in catalog): Rugged, water resistant, and solar powered recorder with tactile buttons. Includes a flashlight and FM radio with 5 preset stations. Built in MP3 player can play downloaded MP3, WAV, or WMA files. Unit has a built-in speaker and earphone jack. Has an 8 GB internal memory with a microSD card slot.


ILA sells a wide variety of healthcare products and aids, including talking scales, bathing and bathroom aids, glucose meters and diabetic aids, pill and medicine organizers, and much more. New items in this category include:

Talking Wrist Arm Blood Pressure Meter (or page 57 in catalog): One touch operation. Includes a 2-person memory storage with 90 measurements each. Averages the last 3 measurements. Has your choice of English or Spanish voice. LCD display with 3 color backlighting. Comes with WHO classification indicators. Talking Upper Arm Blood Pressure Meter is also available.

Talking Oral Medical Thermometer (or page 57 in catalog): Talking oral medical thermometer delivers spoken results in 8 seconds and can give results in Fahrenheit or Celsius. Speaks in 6 languages, including English and Spanish. Large digital display has .75″ high digits. Voice can toggle off.

Talking Scale- English, Spanish, German (or page 58 in catalog): Attractive tempered glass scale has a 440-pound capacity and can speak results in 5 languages, including English, Spanish, and German. Results can be reported in pounds or kilograms.


We sell a wide variety of hearing products for the deaf and hard of hearing, including alerting systems, amplified phones and accessories, clocks and timers, TTY products and much more. New items in this category include:

Tactile Talking Clock with Bedshaker (or page 73 in catalog): This clock speaks the time and date in a male voice with adjustable volume. Clock face opens to reveal a tactile analog face. Time can also be spoken on demand. Includes a wired pillow shaker. Alarm combinations of vibration, audio, or both.

Vibrating Dual Alarm Clock (or page 75 in catalog): Place this vibrating dual alarm travel clock tableside or under your pillow to ensure that you awaken, on time, as needed. Set up to 2 alarms to buzz, vibrate, or both.

Clarity Big Button Phone with 35dB Amplification (or page 82 in catalog): A terrific phone for both the hard of hearing and those with low vision. Moderate amplification combined with large, back lit high contrast buttons make it a great solution for many.

Household (or Daily Living Aids on website)

ILA sells a wide variety of daily living aids, including durable medical equipment, kitchen and cooking aids, safety and security products, reachers, and much more. New items in this category include:

George Foreman Grill (or page 47 in the catalog): 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.

Chefman 3.5L Air Fryer (or page 47 in catalog): Cooks food with a crispy fried texture, without deep frying. Cook, bake, roast and “fry” with an adjustable temperature range of 175°-400°F. Food cooks quickly and safely, self-contained in the cooking basket. Easy to use manual temperature dial and 60-minute timer. Can cook from frozen. Basket is dishwasher safe.

ScanMarker Air (or page 50 in the catalog): 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.


We carry a wide selection of mobility products for independent living, including walking canes, rollators and walkers, and support and transfer aids. New items in this category include:

Offset Handle Cane (or page 63 in catalog): Handle is equipped with a soft foam grip. The offset handle centers user’s weight over the strongest part of the cane. Adjustable handle height from 30” to 39.” Cane has a 300-pound weight capacity.

Padded Bath Safety Seat with Backrest (or page 66 in catalog): Has an adjustable seat height from 14”-18.” The seat dimensions are 16” wide and 11.5” deep. Weight capacity is 300 pounds.

Vertical Bath Bar (or page 66 in catalog): Bar extends 14” above tub edge to provide extra stability when getting in & out of tub. Made of steel construction with vinyl coating and protective rubber cushions. Fits tub walls up to 6” wide and secures to tub in minutes.


ILA sells a wide variety of low vision aids, including magnifiers, electronic magnifiers, sunglasses, magnifying lamps, talking products, reading glasses, and more. New items in this category include:

Travel Size Atomic Talking Alarm Clock (or page 6 in the catalog): Setting buttons “lock” after setting so they don’t get pushed during travel. Unit speaks the time, date, and day. Provides verbal feedback during setting.

Mercury 6 Electronic Magnifier with OCR (or page 19 in the catalog): You get 2 fabulous devices in one with the Mercury electronic magnifier and OCR (Optical Character Reading) reader. Use its touch-based 5.5″ HD screen to have magnification from 3X to 40X while in live mode. Use touch or voice commands to control magnification or color settings. Switch to OCR scanning with one touch.

OttLite Cobra Color Changing LED Lamp (or page 27 in the catalog): Color changing LED desk lamp offers 3 levels of lighting, from warm light to cool light to natural daylight (3,000K, 4,000K and 5,000K.). Select the color that is best suited for your needs. Dimming feature controls brightness, with a maximum of 500 lumens. Flexible arm and head adjust from 24″ to 9″ in height. Built in USB port on the base is great for charging personal devices like smartphones and tablets.

If you are unable to find a specific item or have a new idea for something we may not yet carry, please contact us. We are available by phone(1-800-537-2118) and through our contact us page from the main website.

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Gift Ideas For That Special Someone

Valentine’s Day is seen as a special day for expressing your love, often through gifts to another. Knowing your loved one’s “love language” can help ensure that any gift given, be it for Valentine’s Day or throughout the year, is better received, loved, and utilized. Basically, it means to pay closer attention to what makes your spouse, parent, child, friend, partner, etcetera tick. Knowing what it is important to them is the key. Traditionally, it is thought that there are five basic languages of love. This blog will look at each “language” and provide an example of a gift that might be best suited to those that seem to utilize that language most.  The brief definitions for each language is taken from excerpts from She Knows and Oprah Magazine.

Words of Affirmation

These are verbal (or written) expressions of care and affection. Think: “Thanks for putting the kids to bed” or “You looked really nice today.” Conversely, insults can be particularly upsetting to people who favor words of affirmation.

Presenting gifts that let the other person know you want to make them feel special would fit into this category. A gift could be as simple as a jumbo wall calendar that you write words of endearment or special reminders and dates that are meaningful to the person you’re giving it to. Verbally you can give a gift that keeps giving by presenting someone with a reader machine, such as the Milestone 212, where you can pre-record your voice expressing your love and gratitude for the recipient that can be played throughout the year.


The person who loves this language thrives on the love, thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift. In short, actions speak louder than words. Think about finding a gift that your partner has been asking for or would enjoy receiving and plan for a special way of giving it; make it a surprise. The act of giving a gift tells your partner you cared enough to think about him or her in advance and go out of your way to get something to make your partner smile.

If you know the person enjoys reading or doing crafts but lack the needed light to keep from tiring their eyes a color changing LED lamp might be a good choice to give. Something as simple as a pair of designer reading glasses could also be a good choice for the crafter or reader in your life that have a small amount of sight issues.  If your loved one has a hard time waking up when their alarm goes off in the morning and has stated that they wished they could find a better way to make sure they awake in time then this sonic boom sweetheart alarm clock might be an ideal choice. Basically, it’s any gift that shows you are paying them attention and know what they like, want, or need.

Acts of Service

Doing something helpful or kind for your partner. Think: Waking up with the baby in the middle of the night or doing the dishes so your partner can relax. For someone who favors acts of service, ambivalence or a lack of support are more damaging than anything else.

The WayAround starter pack or WayAround laundry starter pack are both excellent choices if the person you’re shopping for is visually impaired. These starter packs are a way to label the everyday things in our lives to make it easier to function. The WayAround product line is a combination of smartphone app and physical WayTags™ that allows you to tag and label nearly everything in your environment. Helping in the kitchen is another way to show someone you care.  There are plenty of kitchen and cooking aids to choose from depending on your special someone’s needs.

Quality Time

Engaging in an activity together, particularly one you both enjoy, like a walk after dinner or watching a movie with a bowl of popcorn. If this is your love language, having a distracted or distant partner that makes you feel unseen or unheard is the biggest pitfall.

Games such as Rummikub, chess, large print playing cards, or dominoes are all great suggestions for time you can actively spend together. If watching a movie is more your style ensuring that each person can do so comfortably will make the time spent together even more special. This wireless tv SoundBox brings adjustable TV sound right in front of you or where ever you go within your home. No longer will you (or your loved one) have to strain to hear your TV from across the room.

Physical Touch

People who speak this love language thrive on any type of physical touch: handholding, hugs and pats on the back. Physical touch is the most direct way to communicate love. As long as it’s done in an atmosphere which is loving and not oppressive, physical touch can be the most effective of the love languages. It calms, heals and reassures.

In addition to the touch between two people other ways to express this language is through gifts that promote a calming sensation of touch such as a massaging neck pillow or a heated foot massager. Another option more commonly given to a child, but to which many adults also enjoy, is a simple snuggle pillow or stuffed animal. Soft little mementos that when hugged will make you think of the person that gave it to you.

The bottom line is that not everyone loves in the same way, so being aware of the different love languages can not only help you understand the other person better but it can also help you be a better gift giver (or receiver if both parties are on the same page).

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