Magnifying Lamps

Some people are born with limited vision while others develop lower vision over time. As we age, it is normal to need more light in order to see things that once could be seen in lower light. Things that were at one time legible now need magnification. This is where magnifying lamps come into play. This blog will look at the ins and outs of these type of lamps explaining some of the key areas in which they differ from one another.

Diopter and Magnification

The type lens needed can differ depending on its diopter/magnification strength and how it will be utilized. Understanding the numbers included with magnifiers can help you decide if a particular unit is strong enough for your needs.

Magnification and diopters are two different measurements. Magnification refers to how much bigger an object looks through an optical lens compared to the naked eye. Diopter refers to the curvature of the lens. As the diopter number increases the lens becomes thicker and curvature grater.  Since both diopter and magnification are relative to one another it is possible to figure out both when the number is only provided for one.  Using the most common formula, if you are given the diopter number you would divide it by 4 and add 1 to get the level of magnification. Meaning if your diopter number were 4d than your magnification level would be 2X. Conversely if you are given the magnification number you would subtract 1 and then multiple It by 4 where a 7X magnification would equal 24d. (7 minus 1 is 6. 6×4 is 24)

Therefore, looking at the LED Desk Lamp with 4.5X Magnifier we can deduce that it would have a diopter of 14d. If math is not your strong suit, you can use this diopter to magnification calculator to do the math for you.

Arrangement of Lights

Some lamps come with lighting built directly into or around the lens while others have separate arms so you can pivot between the light and/or lens depending if you need just one or both.  Here are a few illustrations of when you might need one over the other.

If the main thing you need a magnifying lamp for is to work on intricate details, crafting, or anything that you need both magnified AND brightly lit up then the magnifiers with the built in lights might be the best option.  The LED Floor Lamp with 2X Magnifier is a nice option for those that need this type of lighting and magnification situation. It comes with 60 bright LED bulbs circling the 2X magnifying lens. The two are built in together so wherever you aim one you will be aiming them both.

If you are in the market for both a lamp and a magnifier but not always both together than an option where they can used together or apart is your best bet. The LED Desk Lamp with 4.5X Magnifier (also mentioned above) is a good choice with two separate, flexible arms to position the light and magnifier either separately or together.

XR Technology and Electronic Ballast

When reading up on various types of lamps you may come across XR technology and/or electronic ballast. While it may be tempting to ignore something you do not readily understand, these two features could be just what you are looking for in a lamp.

XR technology, meaning extended realty, is a fairly broad term and can have many meanings and applications. In the case of  the Daylight XR Ultra-Slim 1.5X Clamp on Magnifying Lamp this technology makes the lens 50% lighter, extra resistant and easier to clean. It also comes with an electronic ballast.

A ballast regulates electrical currents to a lamp. Without a ballast to limit its current, a lamp connected directly to a high voltage power source would nearly immediately overheat and burn out. An electronic ballast uses solid state electronic circuitry to provide the proper starting and operating electrical conditions without altering the input voltage. This type ballast eliminates any flickering of buzzing.

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Label Your World: Practical Products for the Visually Impaired

Labels can be found everywhere. Sometimes they are useful and sometimes they are just in the way. Depending on the definition they can also be insulting or a way of division. Labels can also be a necessity in a well-organized home especially for person with visually impairments. This blog will look more in depth at three types of labeling systems highlighted with this week’s sales. They include the WayAround Starter Pack, HALOS Home Package, and the Talking Label Wand.

WayAround Starter Pack

How they work: 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. Attach one of the different shaped tags to clothing, food products, files, medicines and more. Create a label for that tag on your phone by either typing or recording your message for that tag into the WayAround app. Add custom description for any item plus more details like washing instructions or purchase and expiration dates. To identify that item in the future, scan your smart phone over the item, and the item information is displayed on the phone. WayAround works with the accessibility settings on your phone. To hear your information spoken aloud, turn on VoiceOver or TalkBack to hear that information out loud.

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. Square WayTag products work on metal objects.

The starter pack includes: ~ 10 WayClips™ ~ 5 On-metal WayClips ~ 15 WayTag stickers ~ 5 On-metal WayTag stickers ~ 10 On-Metal WayTag magnets ~ 5 WayTag 2-hole buttons ~ 10 WayTag oval hole buttons

Nearly every item of your house can be labeled with an applicable WayAround product. Use the square on-metal tags to label any metal can in your pantry. (Metal interferes with NFC technology, so therefore special tags are required.) Use a clip tag with a rubber band or a hairband to attach a tag to all the bottles and vials in your bathrooms. The buttons (either with two holes or one long oval hole) can also withstand extreme temperatures and can be used on items in the freezer. Some people are also using the waterproof buttons to label plants and gardens, identifying each plant with information for species, fertilizer and watering information. How fun!

Below is a screenshot from a short YouTube Video showing how this system works. To purchase other WayAround items just click on WayAround. 

HALOS Home Package

HALOS stands for Home Appliance Labeling and Overlay System. The concept was created from a crowd-funded experiment to test tactile appliance overlays for the visually impaired. It was discovered that there is a need to standardize on tactile cues and provide helpful overlays for people to identify all the functions on their home appliances. ILA (and their sister store LS&S) is one of the only authorized sellers of this product.  For more information see Tangible Surface Research, LLC.

The HALOS tactile icon stickers are designed to represent common appliance features. The stickers are thick so you can feel the different shapes. For example, start button stickers are triangle shapes, stop button stickers are in the shape of an X, and timers are an hourglass shape.

The HALOS Home Package provides labels for nearly all the appliances in your home.  This package contains 60 tactile stickers to include start/stop stickers (which encompass stop/cancel, start, on, off, clock, and timer), cooking (bake/roast, broil, convention, warming, defrost, auto/smart, increase/decrease, power level, light), washing (heavy load, light load, temperature, hot, medium, cold, auto/smart, rinse, spin) and keypad 12 round flat stickers and 2 dome stickers (to help differentiate numbers on a keypad). Choose between black or orange stickers.

Below is a screenshot from a brief YouTube video showing how these stickers work.  To purchase other HALOS items that ILA sells just click on HALOS.

Talking Label Wand

The Talking Label Wand is a combination microphone and player of the specialized self-adhesive labels that are provided with this unit. Now you can label anything and everything by simply pressing a button while the tip is touching one of these labels. Press the play button while touching a recorded label and hear the wand play whatever has been recorded. Create memos, notes to self, appointments, phone numbers, addresses, medication instructions, CDs, virtually anything with this handy digital label recorder.

Highlights from Instructions: The Talking Label Wand comes with 160 round tactile labels and 72 rectangular washable labels. These labels can get wet and still work. While the unit is turned on, touch the wand tip to a label that you want to record. If it plays back an existing message, then the label has previously been used and is not blank. If the label is unused, you will hear “This is a new label.” Labels can be re-recorded and re-used multiple times. The Talking Label Wand comes with a 2 GB micro SD card already installed for up to 120 hours of recording. If more memory is needed, an additional SD card may be purchased separately.

Product features: ~ Allows you to record your own talking labels for items at home, school or work ~ Provided with self-adhesive tactile labels for recording on and then triggering the wand to play back the recordings ~ Record messages to identify specific items, special dates, and more ~ A terrific way for low vision and Blind users to identify their things with the greatest of ease ~ Record notes or memos to themselves or others ~ Provided with 232 mixed sized tactile labels that can be re-recorded over and over ~ 2GB of built-in memory for storage ~ Features five distinct volume settings, a 3.5mm headphone jack for utilizing your own ear buds or headphones ~ Convenient loop at the top of the wand for placing a string, chain or lanyard to hang this talking label wand ~ Operates on 2 AAA batteries (not included)

Image below is from the product page.  You may purchase additional labels from this link. 

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Kitchen Safety: Tips, Tricks, and Products for the Visually Impaired

Cooking can be a fun pastime enjoyable by anyone regardless of ability if the proper equipment and precautions are utilized. This blog will look at some tips, tricks, and products to use before, during, and after making a meal to keep the kitchen safe and this age-old hobby enjoyable. These suggestions are geared towards the visually impaired but can be useful for anyone wishing to learn more about kitchen safety.

Preparation/Prep Work

The Perkins School for the Blind offers an 8-step cheat sheet for preparing your kitchen for safe cooking. These tips are helpful if you’re blind and preparing to tackle a culinary challenge, or if you’re helping someone who is visually impaired set up a cooking environment. Below are two of these tips.

Tip One: Be smart about labeling foods. You don’t need to label items that are in distinctive packaging, such as a can of shortening, baking powder or milk. (If you have similar milk and juice containers in your fridge, put a rubber band on one to tell them apart.) Label different containers that are similar in shape, like tuna and cat food, soups, breakfast cereal boxes and oils and vinegars. Use braille or large-print labels and rubber bands, tactile markers on rubber bands, or a Pen Friend.

Tip Two: Use a cafeteria tray at your prep area to organize materials and contain spills. Anticipate making somewhat of a mess (that’s part of the fun of cooking!). Locate and take out all ingredients and supplies before starting to cook so you won’t need to hunt for things later. A simple method of organizing is to place all your waiting-to-be-used ingredients and equipment on the left side of the tray. Do the actual prep work – slicing, mixing and so on – on the tray. After using an ingredient or piece of equipment, move it to the right side of the tray. When you’re finished cooking, all the items that need to be cleaned, put away or tossed into the trash will be in one place. If you’re looking for a safe way to chop your food check out this Zick-Zick Classic Food Chopper.

Safe Cooking Tips

VisionAware offers many tips for kitchen and cooking safety. They state that cooking in the face of vision loss can be extremely intimidating whether you are a beginner or a seasoned cook. One of the most important aspects of cooking safely is preparation before you cook.

Tip One: Know the dials on your stove. Make notches or use bump dots on dials (or oven stickers) to locate commonly used settings such as the broiling functions and oven temperatures 275, 350 and for low, medium, high for burners. Formulate a system that works best for you. Another option is to use an Induction Cooktop, only the vessel heating the food gets hot.

Tip Two: Purchase proper oven gloves. Look for ones that cover your forearms to avoid burns when removing items from the oven and handling pots and pans on a stove top. Remove protruding tags or pieces of material as these could come into contact with the element and ignite. Cool Touch Oven Racks are also an option as they protect your fingers and arms from inadvertent burns.

Clean Up

WikiHow offers an in depth look at cleaning advice for the visually impaired. Here are a few of those tips geared towards kitchen cleanup.

Tip One: Wipe down all food surfaces immediately. As soon as you are finished cooking, get out cleaning wipes and go over the entire area. Wipe down the stovetop, which will prevent grease from accumulating. Go over the countertops as well as any other preparation areas. If you used the microwave or another appliance, don’t forget to wipe them down as well.

Tip Two: Wash the dishes slowly. Take your time as you turn on the hot water to rinse everything, making sure to test the temperature. Wash the glasses to begin with and handle each piece of glass separately to avoid hitting them against one another. Finish the rinsing process with heavier items, such as pots or pans. For dishwashers use your free hand to feel for open spaces in the dishwasher. Follow a standard loading pattern and place the glasses, dishes, and pans in the same location every time. This will also make unloading easier.

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Personal Hygiene: Tips, Tricks, and Advice for the Visually Impaired

Personal hygiene is well personal. It is also harder to accomplish when you have a disability. This blog will look at some tips and tricks to help learn, or relearn, how best to assure that you are doing the most that you can for your own personal hygienic needs when dealing with vision loss.

Bathing and Brushing Teeth

Alice Massa, an Occupational Therapist states, states that one of the challenging aspects of living with low vision can be our personal care. Issues like hygiene and grooming can undermine our sense of independence and confidence.  A few of her tips from the article 7 Low Vision Tips To Start Your Day include:

  • In the bathroom, items such as toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush/comb, and toiletries should be kept in the same place, on a shelf or a rack in the shower.
  • It is helpful to buy shampoo, conditioner and body wash in containers differentiated by shape or color.
  • Getting toothpaste on the toothbrush can be a bit of a hassle. Some people find squeezing some toothpaste into a small container and dipping the brush into the paste is easier. Some people just prefer to squeeze a dab of paste onto their index finger and then transfer from finger to brush.

In addition to these suggestions, another product that could make bathing easier is a long-handled brush. This Bent 27” Ergo Round Sponge allows the user to more easily reach hard to reach spots on the body. The bent handle allows for even easier access to the back. Use for bathing, lotion, and cream application.

Shaving

NewzHook offers shaving advice for men but the same strategies are beneficial for women as well. This article provides information on personal grooming as an important skill that all must acquire at an early age. Learning to shave is a critical aspect of this. However, shaving on your own may seem potentially dangerous for those who are blind or have low vision.  Information within the parentheses were added for this blog. Here are some tips for the visually impaired who are starting to shave or want to improve upon their skills.

  • Keep your basic supplies – razor/electric razor, shaving cream/foam, after shave, and a towel handy.
  • Wash the area to be shaved with soap and water and pat dry. This will soften the area, making it easier to shave cleanly.
  • If you are new to this, take the time to feel and explore the part of the face (or other body part) that is to be shaved. You can practice with an empty razor or with the electric razor turned off.
  • Shave against the grain of the whiskers in places where your beard (or other body hair) is heavier. In places with sensitive skin like the cheeks and upper lip, use downward strokes and shave with the grain of the whiskers.
  • After you are done, use fingertips to check one more time if you have left out any spots.
  • For cutting stubble, use scissors, “This is the area on the upper cheekbone. With a comb straighten the hair and with your hand feel which bits of hair are extending downwards and cut them with a pair of scissors”.

If you are looking to try out an electric razor, ILA sells the Norelco Triple Head Electric Shaver. The 3 rotary heads with self-sharpening blades give you the smoothest shave with its CloseCut Blade System 4-direction Flex Heads.

Makeup

Elin Williams, author and creator of My Blind World, shares her tried and true makeup tips in her article “Beauty Without A Mirror.” Here are a few highlights from that article.

All about the numbers: From counting how many times I swirl my brush in a product to how many strokes it takes when applying the product to my face, to me, makeup is all about the numbers. This is especially true for things such as eyeshadow or blush. I know that if I’ve tapped my brush into the product a couple of times and then sweeped it onto my eyelids 3 times, I’ll have a similar amount of product on both eyes and they’ll hopefully look quite similar.

Labeling: I normally label products that are not as easy to indentify or things such as different shades of lipstick or foundation. I use an audio labeller by the RNIB which allows me to record as much information as I need, I then place the small sticker on any of my products and when I place the device over it again, my recording will start to play, clever eh? It is definitely one of the most useful things for me when trying to differentiate between products.

ILA sells the RINB if you too would like to see how labeling in this manner could help you. In addition, we also sell a pair of 3X Makeup Magnifying Glasses which allows you to flip the magnifying lens away from the eye you are putting eyeliner or mascara on and look through the 3X magnifying lens covering the other eye.

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Celebrating Independence Throughout the Year

Independence Day is upon us which usually means parades, festivals, and fireworks. This year, thanks to the coronavirus, festivities will be a bit more intimate around the nation. For persons with disabilities celebrating independence is something that is striven for, albeit with hurdles, throughout the year. This blog will look at a few ways in which persons with visual impairments can celebrate both on the 4th of July and the rest of the days too.

Home

Being able to maneuver and do things independently in and around your home is something most able-bodied people take for granted. Here are a few items that ILA offers that makes routine tasks a bit more worry-free for persons with visual impairments.

Moshi Voice Controlled Talking Alarm Clock: This is an amazing, modern styled talking clock that is totally voice controlled. Once set, through voice commands only, the current time, the alarm time and sound, the sleep sound, and even the date, can be retrieved by just asking for it. “MOSHI” is fully voice interactive and can be operated without ever seeing the clock.

WayAround Laundry Starter Pack: The Laundry Starter Pack contains WayTag 2-hole buttons plus a blind-friendly sewing kit–everything you need to get started tagging your clothing with WayAround. 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

Talking Microwave Oven *** Magic Chef ***: This Magic Chef Microwave Oven has been specially modified to talk, making it accessible and simplifying its use for those with low vision or no vision at all. It features an adjustable cook time, adjustable power level, a built-in kitchen timer, a clock, and an attend to food timer. Around each button of the keypad is a raised ring to make them easy to locate by touch. A momentary press of any button will tell you what the button does.

Travel or Errands

For many people doing errands is something that is second nature and traveling Is something done either for business or for fun. Both are things that negate much planning on the part of someone with no physical and/or mental limitations. For people with visual impairments much more thought and planning are needed from start to finish. Here are a few items that could make navigating these items a bit easier.

BRAILLED Jumbo Portable Pill Box with Tactual Markings: Every detail has been included to make this the most useful pillbox for the visually impaired and individuals with limited dexterity. Seven removable pill holders come in a sturdy plastic frame. Each individual pill bar has four large compartments marked tactually and in Braille ‘MORN’, ‘NOON’, ‘EVE’ and ‘BED’. There is even an arrow pointing to the ridge for easy opening. Pills can be distributed to their compartments at the beginning of each week and the bar for each day removed and placed on the vanity or carried, whichever is most convenient.

Revolution 7 Section Folding ID Cane: Revolution Advantage 7 Section Graphite Folding Identification Cane is thin, light weight, and folds down for easy storage. It has a sturdy polymer pencil tip heat sealed onto the cane. It is quite useful for letting those around you know that you are Blind or visually impaired. Offered in 2-inch increments from 46 inches to 64 inches.

Sunu Mobility Device: The Sunu band is a wrist-worn smart watch which uses sonar technology (echolocation) to provide haptic (vibration) feedback regarding the user’s surroundings and other information. Used in conjunction with a guide dog or white cane, it can improve spatial awareness and provide information on obstacles in a user’s path that are above ground level up to 16 feet away. This smart-band augments your personal awareness, and reduces accidents to the body, chest, arms and head. It also has a Wayfinding tool to explore various categories of places which may be nearby including restaurants, shops, hospitals, banks, shops, metro stops, and more.

Just for Fun

Everyone enjoys having fun at least occasionally. There are so many advances in technology, thinking outside the box, and other sources of enjoyment available to most anyone of any ability. Here are just a few of the innovative and exciting things that ILA has to offer geared towards the visually impaired but able to be enjoyed by all.

Brailled Talking USA Jigsaw Puzzle: Begin rebuilding the USA map by finding the border states. When you place a State puzzle piece with the State’s initials, in Braille, into the correct puzzle place, a voice announces the state and its capital.

ISA Soccer Ball with Rattle Pods: With revolutionary rattling disks evenly distributed inside, the rattles continue to sound a few moments after motion has stopped. The rattling volume remains the same, unlike most other balls of its kind which contain bells that usually dissipate rapidly. Suitable for all ages; water and temperature resistant. Size 4 youth soccer ball, 23-24 inches in circumference. Whether fully blind or visually impaired, this ball encourages all to play the game. Please note this item is sold deflated.

Tactile Rubik’s Cube: This modified tactile Rubik’s Cube has different tactile markings for each color on the cube. This standard sized cube is a timeless and fun challenge.

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