Phones and Phone Accessories for the Hearing and Visually Impaired

Telephones are an important part of our everyday lives. Some people prefer having only the basic landline phone like they grew up with for others they only want a smartphone. Then there are also those who have no preference or want the ability to choose between either. This blog will highlight some of the many phone related products for sale from ILA designed to help those who are hearing and/or visually impaired.  The title of each product is also an active link for those that want to look into and/or purchase the item. To peruse all phone related products from ILA see phones.

Cell Phone Only

Cell Phone Holder and Screen Enlarger: This handy product holds your personal cell phone or tablet and magnifies the cell phone screen, giving you hands free, magnified cell phone or tablet viewing.  With its 12″ magnifying screen, this integrated stand is great for watching movies and long-term viewing.  The mobile phone screen expander is particularly helpful in providing extra magnification of your cell phone. Folding stand folds and stores flat when not in use, making it easy to tuck out of the way.  Offered in red for high visibility.

Bluetooth T-Coil Headset for Cell Phones and Audio: The Beetle H-2ST Speech is a lightweight mini Bluetooth® headset for use with cell phones and stereo audio devices. It interfaces with Bluetooth® compatible cell phones and transmits speech directly to the user’s T-Coil equipped hearing aid via the special T-coil hook. Beetle H-2ST Stereo offers unparalleled clarity for voice and music. Use it with your Bluetooth® equipped cell phone to improve your conversations or even listen to your favorite music. Choose between the included special T-coil hook, the neckloop, or audioboot which connects directly to your hearing aid.

RiVO 2 Bluetooth Smartphone Keyboard: RiVO2 allows blind and visually impaired smartphone users to more easily access all the functionality of their smartphones using Rivo’s small, credit card-sized tactile keyboard.  Connetc the keyboard to the phone via Bluetooth; tuck the phone into a pocket and navigate all the functionality of the phone using the keyboard.  With its 20 tactile keys, RiVO can manage 50 phone navigation commands, touch typing, Voice Over support, and music and audio control.

BlindShell Talking Cell Phone: The Blindshell talking cell phone has been designed specifically for the visually impaired. It  features a full physical keypad as well as a large digital display screen which can provide visual feedback in large, bold, customizable font. All features, keys, and commands on the phone are spoken. The phone can alternatively be controlled by voice commands. Voice can also be used for dictating text messages, emails, and notes. Standard phone functions include calling and one touch speed dials, SMS texts, email, contact management, notes, and calendar! Other specialized functions include a camera, calculator, timer, alarm, color identifier, QR code object tagging, FM radio, audio player, book reader, Bluetooth connectivity, and a specially located one touch SOS button. Available in Black or Red. This phone will only work on TMobile.

Landline Only

Geemarc CL-1 Telephone Ringer/Signaler: The Geemarc Ring Alert lets you know that the phone is ringing with a bright flash and very loud ring and has an attractive modern design. It is wall or desk mountable and the volume and tone is adjustable up to t 95dB.

Extra Loud Phone Ringer SR200: This super loud phone ringer from Clarity generates an extra loud 95dB ring and offers a choice of four ringing patterns, so individuals with hearing loss can find the best ring for them. Also includes adjustable volume control, a bright visual ring indicator, and an AC adapter.

Combination TTY and Voice Carry Over Phone: This multifunctional phone has a variety of options for individuals with any degree of hearing loss, permitting TTY, VCO, HCO and traditional phone calls. A great phone for the whole family! This phone comes equipped with a full keyboard for TTY use.

Alto Plus Big Button CID Speakerphone – 53DB: The AltoPlus 53dB amplified corded telephone with caller ID is the ideal solution for those with mild, moderate and severe hearing loss as well as those with vision impairments. The ergonomic volume and tone controls also make this a perfect solution for those with arthritis as well as limited dexterity.

Cell Phone and/or Landline Compatible

Universal Ringer/Flasher: This Universal Ringer and Flasher unit allows users to set up their phones so that they can be more strongly alerted to the ringing of any phone both audibly and visually. Cell phones rest in the cradle whereas landline phones plug into the device with an incoming call vibration triggering the alerts. You can also differentiate flashing patterns and ring tones for each type of call.

Serene CentralAlert Home/Cell Phone Sensor-Transmitter: Never miss a call again! The CA-CX landline and cell phone sensor flashing transmitter will grab your attention whenever a call is coming in. This call and text alerting system (for cell phones) is also designed for use in conjunction with the Serene Central Alert CA360 System, our sku 257530. This unit, when connected to your landline wall phone jack, will notify you of incoming or missed phone calls. Rest your mobile phone or smart phone in the front cradle and it will also alert you to any calls or texts from your cellphone.

Serene CentralAlert Mini Notification Package: The Serene CentralAlert mini system provides quick coverage for phone calls and visitors.  It combines the cell or home phone flasher/ringer (CA-CX) with a doorbell (CA-DB.)  The phone sensor is a standalone device and does not require any additional receivers.

Serene CentralAlert CA-380 Wearable Notification System: Serene’s CA-380 wearable notification system is designed for the deaf/blind and offers tactile notification from any of Serene’s CentralAlert transmitters. The wearable receiver (CA-PX) features braille buttons, strong vibrations, loud audio tones, and bright flashing lights.  The bundled 380 package includes the wearable receiver, a strong bed shaker, a doorbell signaler and ringer/flasher for either a home or cell phone (CA-CX).  The wearable receiver can also be paired with any other transmitter in Serene’s CentralAlert system.

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Definition, Uses, and Examples of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) Devices

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) devices are everywhere though they got their start as far back as the late 1800s. Since their earliest invention they have continued to advance in use and advancement. Today, OCR devices make everyday tasks faster and more efficient. One such use is they can assist persons who are visually impaired, or otherwise struggle to read and comprehend, be able to keep up with the ever-evolving world around them. The information in this blog came from OCR (optical character recognition), 11 Important Uses of OCR Tool that Help you in daily life, and product highlights from the ILA website.

What are OCRs and how do they Work?

OCR is defined as a tool that scans text from images and extracts that text into a digital copy. The digital text can be edited and distributed easily.

Further, OCR (optical character recognition) is the use of technology to distinguish printed or handwritten text characters inside digital images of physical documents, such as a scanned paper document. The basic process of OCR involves examining the text of a document and translating the characters into code that can be used for data processing. OCR is sometimes also referred to as text recognition.

The first step of OCR is using a scanner to process the physical form of a document. Once all pages are copied, OCR software converts the document into a two-color, or black and white, version. The scanned-in image or bitmap is analyzed for light and dark areas, where the dark areas are identified as characters that need to be recognized and light areas are identified as background.

Characters are then identified using one of two algorithms:

Pattern recognition– OCR programs are fed examples of text in various fonts and formats which are then used to compare, and recognize, characters in the scanned document.

Feature detection– OCR programs apply rules regarding the features of a specific letter or number to recognize characters in the scanned document. Features could include the number of angled lines, crossed lines or curves in a character for comparison. For example, the capital letter “A” may be stored as two diagonal lines that meet with a horizontal line across the middle.

Five Important Uses of OCR Devices

In addition to helping those with visual and literacy impairments, OCR devices offer a wide range of uses in the world today.  The highlighted items in the next section will more fully expound on the benefits available for persons with visual impairments.

Signature identification: If you had been to a bank, you would probably know that you are asked to sign your check to get the transactions done. They capture your signature and compare its pattern with their database. If your signature matches, you are given a go-ahead. This shows how OCR is trying to keep your finances secure from fraud.

Educational purposes: You can use OCR to create a digital library of books and important publications. Moreover, you can scan historical and ancient books that are smeared and prone to wear and tear. In this way you can archive historic information, such as newspapers, magazines, or phonebooks, into searchable formats.

Language translation: You can use an OCR tool to scan documents and convert them into your specified language. This process is done by first adding dictionaries of different languages into the tool so that it recognizes all fonts.

Hospital database: Doctors can know their patient’s history, diagnosis, insurance, and payments by using OCR. This is through the automation of data entry, extraction, and processing.

Edit and send documents: One of the most common benefits of OCR is that we can edit hand-written text and send it to others without rewriting the text again. It is also possible to scan printed documents into versions that can be edited with word processors, like Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

OCR Products Available from ILA

OrCam Read: OrCam Read is a revolutionary handheld scanner and reader that instantly reads aloud text from any printed surface or digital screen. Point and click the marker-sized device and capture either full pages of text or targeted text sections. OrCam Read can even capture street and building signs in the distance.  OrCam Read is an excellent tool for anyone with any kind of reading challenge, including dyslexia, reading fatigue, visual impairment or those who read large amounts of text – empowering them with real-time access to print material.

Patriot Voice Plus Scanner and Reader: A standalone, portable scanner and reader that can scan and read aloud nearly any printed document including mail, newspapers, TV Guides, or magazines. Features simple, big buttons for easy identification and navigation. Easy to manage settings such as language, voice choice, reading speed, and volume. The Patriot Voice Plus comes loaded with Amazon Alexa voice response system; when connected to wi-fi ask Alexa any question, and hear the response spoken back.

ScanMarker Air: 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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Nutritional Building Blocks for a Healthier You

March is National Nutrition Month® which is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and has been around since 1973.  This year’s theme, “Celebrate a World of Flavors,” showcases how flavors from cultures around the world is a tasty way to nourish ourselves and appreciate our diversity. Each week focuses on a different topic to delve deeper into creating 4 broad topics by the end of the month. This blog will look at highlights from each weekly category with information coming from National Nutrition Month®, 7 Ways to Enhance the Flavor of Your Meals, 10 Reasons to See an RDN, How to Use Fruits and Vegetables to Help Manage Your Weight, and Celebrate a World of Flavors and product suggestions from the ILA website.

Cooking and Preparation

To be successful with anything you need to learn and prepare for success. A healthy diet is no different. It is important to have the right tools at your disposal to truly become good with your own nutrition. This section will look at a few basic adaptable tools offered by ILA and a few cooking pointers from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Tools

VOX-2 Talking Kitchen Scale English/Spanish/French/German: A small, easy to use, ergonomic, big-button, talking kitchen / multi-purpose scale that can be used by anyone, anywhere. Able to speak in English, Spanish, French, and German. Simply turn it on, and after it speaks ‘Hello’ and ‘I’m ready”, you can place the food or other item on the platform or in the plastic bowl. A pleasant female voice announces the weight.

George Foreman Grill: 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.

Green on Black Measuring Cup and Spoon Set: High contrast, high visibility measuring cup and spoon set is a great tool for the visually impaired cook.  Measurements are printed in high contrast green on black printing.  Size measurements for the cups cover the entire bottom of the cup, for best visibility.

Tips

Try these seven simple techniques to enhance flavor and experiment with flavor combinations.

  • Intensify the flavors of meat, poultry and fish with high-heat cooking techniques such as pan-searing, grilling or broiling, which help to brown meat and add flavor. Just don’t overcook, burn or char meat.
  • Roast veggies in a very hot (450°F) oven or grill for a sweet, smoky flavor. Before popping them into the oven, brush or spray lightly with high-heat oil and sprinkle with herbs.
  • Caramelize sliced onions to bring out their natural sugar flavor by cooking them slowly over low heat in a bit of oil. Use them to make a rich, dark sauce for meat or poultry.
  • Pep it up with peppers! Use red, green and yellow peppers of all varieties — sweet, hot and dried. Or, add a dash of hot pepper sauce.
  • Add a tangy taste with citrus juice or grated citrus peel: lemon, lime or orange. Acidic ingredients help lift and balance flavor.
  • Use small amounts of ingredients with bold flavors such as pomegranate seeds, chipotle pepper or cilantro.
  • Give a flavor burst with good-quality condiments such as horseradish, flavored mustard, chutney, wasabi, bean purees, tapenade and salsas of all kinds.

Visit a Registered Dietician

Have you ever wondered if you should visit an RD?  A registered dietician can learn about your dietary habits, likes, dislikes, and overall health picture to ascertain the best avenue for creating a more healthful outlook for yourself and family.  If you have ever asked yourself any of the following questions, you might find an RD to be beneficial. Do you want to lose or gain weight? Are you pregnant, looking to become pregnant or just had a child? Are you looking for ways to maintain your health in your older years? Are you an athlete looking to boost performance? These are just a few of the reasons people seek the expert, science-based advice of an RDN.

10 Common Reasons to Consult with an RDN

  • You Want Help Managing Diabetes, High Blood Pressure or Other Chronic Diseases
  • You Are Thinking of Having or Have Had Gastric Bypass Surgery
  • You Have Digestive Problems
  • You’re Pregnant, Trying to Get Pregnant, or a New Parent
  • You Have a Food Allergy, Intolerance, or Sensitivity
  • You or Your Child Is Experiencing Disordered Eating
  • You Need to Gain or Lose Weight
  • You’re Caring for an Aging Parent
  • You Want Practical Lifestyle Advice
  • You Want to Improve Your Performance in Sports
  • You Realize the Need to Feed Your Family Healthier Foods but You Do Not Cook

Ask your medical provider for a referral to see an RDN, or find an RDN on eatright.org.

Meal Planning

There are many options available for helping you to plan meals from apps, tutorials, YouTube videos, food kits delivered to your door, and when all else fails there are delivery services that can bring you ready made food from your local favorite restaurant depending on where you live. This section is going to narrow things down to how you can plan on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your everyday meals.

Breakfast

  • Substitute spinach, onions, or mushrooms for one egg or half the cheese in your morning omelet. The vegetables will add volume and flavor to the dish with fewer calories than the egg or cheese.
  • Cut back on the amount of cereal in your bowl to make room for some cut-up bananas, peaches, or strawberries. You can still eat a full bowl, but with fewer calories.

Lunch

  • Substitute vegetables such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, or onions for 2 ounces of the cheese and 2 ounces of the meat in your sandwich, wrap, or burrito. The new version will fill you up with fewer calories than the original.
  • Replace 2 ounces of meat or 1 cup of noodles in broth-based soup with 1 cup of chopped vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, beans, or red peppers. The vegetables will help fill you up, so you won’t miss those extra calories.

Dinner

  • Add in 1 cup of chopped vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes, squash, onions, or peppers, while removing 1 cup of the rice or pasta in your favorite dish. The dish with the vegetables will be just as satisfying but have fewer calories than the same amount of the original version.
  • Take a good look at your dinner plate. Vegetables, fruit, and whole grains should take up the largest portion of your plate. If they do not, replace some of the meat, cheese, white pasta, or rice with legumes, steamed broccoli, asparagus, greens, or another favorite vegetable. This will reduce the total calories in your meal without reducing the amount of food you eat. BUT remember to use a normal- or small-size plate — not a platter. The total number of calories that you eat counts, even if a good proportion of them come from fruits and vegetables.

Snacks

  • Most healthy eating plans allow for one or two small snacks a day. Choosing mostly fruits and vegetables will allow you to eat a snack with only 100 calories.

About 100 Calories or Less

  • a medium-size apple (72 calories)
  • a medium-size banana (105 calories)
  • 1 cup steamed green beans (44 calories)
  • 1 cup blueberries (83 calories)
  • 1 cup grapes (100 calories)
  • 1 cup carrots (45 calories), broccoli (30 calories), or bell peppers (30 calories) with 2 tbsp. hummus (46 calories)

Vary Your Diet

Eating the same things day in and day out can lead to boredom and cause you to be more tempted to give into your cravings, especially if what you tend to normally eat is high calorie, high fat, and low nutritional foods. There’s a reason why people say it’s important to add a little spice to your life. Flavorful dishes and life experiences can lead to a more satisfying life. This section will look at some simple way to incorporate cultural foods from around the world into your daily diet.

• A smoothie with low-fat yogurt or buttermilk and tropical fruits, like papaya or mango.

• Vegetable upma, an Asian Indian dish, that can be made with semolina or rice, spiced with ginger and other seasonings.

• A Spanish omelet with potatoes and other veggies, topped with a sprinkle of cheese.

• Or, an omelet filled with fried rice, known as omurice in Japan.

• Salads that include different types of produce along with whole grains, dairy, and protein foods. Many options exist, such as tuna salad made with Greek yogurt, onion, celery and whole wheat pasta.

• Vegetables like cabbage, eggplant or zucchini can be stuffed with seasoned mixtures that may include meats, grains, and sauces. One example is mahshi, a Middle Eastern dish, made of zucchini stuffed with cooked rice, lamb and spices served in a tomatobased sauce.

• Raw veggies with hummus or tzatziki, which is a creamy yogurt-based dressing made with cucumbers, garlic, and dill.

• Baba ganouj, a mixture made of roasted eggplant and tahini, which is a sesame seed paste, served with whole wheat pita bread.

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Daylight Saving Time and Atomic Clocks

Daylight Saving Time (DST) beings on Sunday, March 13, 2022. This means, that for most of the United States, clocks are to be set forward one hour. If you have atomic clocks, such as those in mobile phones, the time change is done automatically for you. This blog will review the highlights of some of our previous blogs discussing the history of DST and the importance of the atomic clock followed by a section highlighting ILA’s atomic clocks for 2022. Information came from Daylight Saving Time (DST) and Atomic Clock Accuracy, Daylight Saving Time: Do You Ever Forget?,  Atomic Clocks: What are They?, and the ILA website.

History of Daylight Saving Time

Benjamin Franklin is credited with first introducing the idea of Daylight Saving through a satirical article he wrote while ambassador to Paris. He wittily claimed to have discovered that the sun provides light as soon as it rises, and proposed that people get up earlier to make use of the summer daylight. Although this was before electricity, he believed people could save money on candles this way.

However, Daylight Saving Time was never considered a practical option until Germany established it in May 1916 as a way to conserve fuel during World War I. The rest of Europe shortly followed, and the United States came onboard in 1918.

The US has observed DST for 105 years between 1918 and 2022. Daylight Saving Time (DST) in the USA starts on the 2nd Sunday in March and ends on the 1st Sunday in November. The current schedule was introduced in 2007 and follows the Energy Policy Act of 2005. According to section 110 of the act, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) governs the use of DST. The law does not affect the rights of the states and territories that choose not to observe DST.

For the U.S. and its territories, Daylight Saving Time is NOT observed in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and Arizona. The Navajo Nation participates in the Daylight Saving Time policy, even in Arizona, due to its large size and location in three states.

What are Atomic Clocks and Watches?

An atomic clock is a clock that uses the vibrations of molecules to keep time. The technique of atomic beam magnetic resonance was developed in the 1930s. By the mid-40s, Columbia University professor, Isidor Rabi, was considering how to use this resonance to measure time.

In 1949, the National Bureau of Standards announced the first atomic clock. The vibrations of an ammonia molecule were used to measure seconds. In 1952 the measurement tool was changed to cesium atoms. Over the next ten years, scientists worked to perfect the atomic clock. Finally, in 1968 the world’s most stable cesium clock was completed. It has an error margin of one second every 20 million years.

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.

Highlighted ILA Atomic Clocks for 2022

Designer Talking Atomic Clock and Calendar: This beloved Designer Talking Atomic Clock keeps perfect time with a lovely lady’s voice to announce the time at the press of a button. She will also announce the date and the day if you press the button twice. The large digital display shows you the time, day and date, in big, bold numbers and letters. As an atomic timepiece, this clock will set and reset itself, once the specific time zone has been selected.  This means that you don’t have to reset the time each time the batteries are changed or each time there is a Daylight Savings change. 

Talking Atomic Watch Black Face: Atomic talking watch has high contrast, bold white numbers and hands on a black background, making it easier to read. We offer this watch with either a black expansion band or a smooth black leather band, please specify. It has a clear male voice that will speak the time and date at the press of a button, and you can set a daily alarm on this watch when needed.

Digital Talking Atomic Watch, Black, Top Button Black Plastic Band: This lightweight and simply designed digital talking atomic watch has a high contrast round green button on a black face that is easy to find and press whenever you need the time. The multi-band atomic receiver can automatically set the time within the US and the UK once you have set it to your specific time zone.

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