Dressing Aids: Tips and Tricks for the Visually Impaired

Doing laundry, putting clothes away, and get dressed can be mundane boring tasks for most but for persons with disabilities it can also be overwhelming and frustrating. Luckily there are many tips, tricks, and assistive devices that can make things more manageable and less nerve wracking. These tips are mostly for the visually impaired but can be used and/or adapted for most anyone with a disability looking for advice.


Laundry no longer has to be the chore it once was with the use of assistive technology. There are several different gadgets that can be utilized to help ensure that each piece of clothing is being washed correctly and that your colors are not mixed in with your whites (unless you want them to be).

The WayAround Starter Pack is a great tool to help with most of your laundry needs. This product works in conjunction with a smartphone app available for both iPhone and Android. Each type of tag is good for different items around the house. To label your detergent bottles and dryer sheets you can either use the WayTag Stickers (permanent) or the WayTag Clips (reusable). The WayTag Clips can be used as is or with an elastic loop that can go around cylindrical and other shaped containers. The WayTag Buttons can be attached to clothing and both their care instructions and descriptions uploaded to your smartphone to retrieve as needed. There are two types of WayTag Buttons. The 2-Hole Button can be sewn into your garment and the Oval Button can be attached to your garments with a safety pin. It’s advisable to attach the buttons at the same relative position of each piece of clothing for further ease of use.

If you do not have access to a smartphone the RNIB PenFriend Laundry Labels are another option. These labels are 1-inch square and are self-adhered (preferably to the garment label). You can record the care instructions and garment description with your own voice. A couple of things to note with these are no ironing or stitching is required, suitable for both washing machines and tumble dryers for 50+ washes, once adhered wait 7 days before washing to ensure they adhere correctly, and all labels should be used within 6 months of opening.

Putting Clothes Away

Both items mentioned under the laundry section can also be used to label clothes to assist in putting them away where they belong. There are also a few low-tech options that can be utilized in putting clean laundry away.

The  Braillable Labels are little transparent hard plastic labels that have room to Braille three lines. Each non-adhesive label has a hole in each end for the black elastic band peg to push through so that the label can be stretched around whatever you are marking.

Using Thick Sock Locks you never have to worry about matching socks again. From wearing to washing, once you slip socks into the Sock Lock, they remain paired while in the washing machine, dryer and sock drawer.

These Closet Organizers fit around the hanger rods to organize your closet into any categories that make it easier and faster to find your clothes. You can use the 60 pre-indexed labels, with identifiers such as ‘sweaters’, ‘dress pants’, ‘dressy’, ‘jackets’ or write your own categories on the 3 extra labels. The dividers can also be identified using Brailled labeling tape. (To read about more tips and tricks for organizing your closet please see our blog Closet Organization Strategies for the Visually Impaired.)

Visionware offers many more tips and tricks including using an empty egg carton to organize jewelry, using Ziploc bags to organize socks and hosiery, using various things lying around the house such as shoe boxes, craft boxes, and baby food jars.

Getting Dressed

Everything mentioned thus far can also be used to help find matching and appropriate clothing to wear. If you don’t have the time, technology, or patience to use some of the ones mentioned above or need help in a different area here are a few more items that can be beneficial when it’s time to get dressed.

The Colorino Talking Color Identifier detects 150 nuances of color and distinguishes sources, intensities and locates light sources. It speaks clearly at 3 volumes and has an earphone jack. Using this tool will help ensure that you are color coordinated every time.

The Zipper Pull/ Button Loop is specifically designed to help you grab and hold those small little buttons and zipper pulls with the greatest of ease.

The Telescopic Shoe Horn can help you finish off your look by enabling you to put on your shoes easier. It gently guides your foot into your shoe from either a seated or standing position. Its compact telescopic design adjusts from 22” to 32.5”.

For more wardrobe time saving tips for the visually impaired see this article from Visionware.

Independent Living Aids, LLC has many other daily living aids, technologies, and gadgets available from their homepage at https://www.independentliving.com/


Working Around the House

Working around the house can be a tedious chore for anyone but can be even more so with persons having any sort of disability. There are certain home improvement strategies, including both assistive and adaptive technologies, that can make life easier in the long run. Here are some tips and tricks to making your living environment more user friendly with specific ideas for persons living with a vision impairment.

Using Color Contrast to Your Advantage

The Blind Guide states: Having colors that are starkly different from each other can help a person with low vision get around the home easier. It’s best to use contrasting but solid colors, as patterned upholstery and rugs can be confusing to the eyes.” Using complimentary colors on the color wheel is the best way to achieve ultimate contrast. The basic complimentary color combinations are red/green, yellow/purple, and blue/orange. To learn more about color theory or to use an interactive color wheel calculator to help figure this out see Canva Color Wheel.

There are many other ways in which you can use color to your advantage including using contrasting colors to indicate a change in surface level, using brightly colored post-it notes to arrange bills and other important documents, painting door knobs and door frames a bright color, and using dinnerware that contrasts with the color of your table or tablecloth.

With a littler work and a little practice utilizing this trick will ultimately save you from frustration down the road. A few examples of daily living aids that illustrates the concept of using high contrast are:

Low Vision Black and White Cutting Board: One side is black to contrast with light colored food you are cutting. The other side is white to define dark foods being cut on this full-sized plastic, washable board.

Color Coded Measuring Spoon Set: Bright colors help differentiate the 4 measuring spoons. Spoons are made of sturdy plastic that is dishwasher safe.

Rainbow Pill Holder: Each compact box is a different color, with the day of the week and the four compartments marked, ‘Morning, Noon, Evening and Bedtime’.

Housecleaning with Safety In Mind

Housecleaning is important for a happy and healthy life. Doing so with a disability can be tricky but not impossible and eventually not overly hard once practiced. Live Accessible offers this YouTube video outlining her top 5 cleaning tips for the blind and visually impaired. A more in depth look at cleaning with vision loss can be found on wikiHow.

Both assistive and adaptive aids can be beneficial in keeping a clean and organized home. A good first step before bringing any big items into your house is to ensure that it will fit in the space you intend for it.  Using a Talking Measuring Tape is a fast and easy way to ensure a proper fit.

Vantage Mobility provides a few examples of devices that can help you work smarter and not harder around the house:

Vacuum Robot: Most models work quite well on carpets and swerve their little dirt-munching bodies under every available surface. Newer models even have sensors that detect what area of the house the cleaning bot has visited, so it won’t get stuck cleaning just one area. Most modern models also let you set a cleaning schedule, and a few fancier options even let you program the robot to return to its dock after cleaning and stay there until its next scheduled session.

Floor Mopping Robot: These ferocious scrubbers are nearly identical in operation to the vacuum robot, but they have a water reservoir to scrub clean your hardwood, linoleum or tile floors.

In addition to color contrast and cleaning other ways to help ensure everyday items are clean and secure include keeping desk and table chairs pushed in, keeping pathways free of clutter, utilizing tactile assistance markers to help locate various areas in the house, using handle bars near the toilet and shower, using non-skid, non-glare cleaning products on any non-carpeted floors, taping down any area rugs, and making sure that all exits are marked.

These are just a few suggestions on how to make your home easily accessible and safe. To learn more about home safety and for further suggestions check out this Bright Focus Foundation article about living with low vision.

Lighting Is Important

An article on home modifications for the visually impaired found at Hire a Helper states, “You will want to provide plenty of light in the areas of the home that are used for recreation, reading and socializing. Light should always be aimed at the point of focus, i.e., where you will be doing work, not at the eyes.”

Things to remember when considering lighting include using floor and table lamps, using lighting that is between 60 and 100 watts, allowing for natural light using blinds and curtains, ensuring light is uniform, and keeping flashlights readily accessible.

An easily accessible small light flashlight that can carried around with you is the Lil Larry Light. At only 6.25″ high, it has a high power 250 lumen COB LED light, which can be changed between a high or low setting and a flashing emergency red light. it is water resistant, so you don’t have to worry about getting it wet.

It’s important to experiment with lighting to see what works best and where it works best. The lighting used in the kitchen may not be the best light for the bedroom. To learn more about lighting see our previous blog Light Bulbs Explained.

Once everything is in place and lighted correctly grab a book sit back and relax with this TheraBeads Neck Collar.  It is ideal for soothing the neck and upper shoulder area after a hard day’s work.

To discover everything that ila has to offer check out our homepage independent living aids, LLC.

On The Go: Traveling With A Visual Impairment

Traveling can be a daunting experience for anyone of any age or ability. If you are blind or have low vision travel can incur a different set of issues than for those who are sighted. Luckily, in today’s technological world it is now easier than ever for most everyone to travel more confidently.

The Basics

AARP shares a short overview of the basics needed when traveling with a visual impairment. The first thing mentioned is the possibility of needing documentation from an eye provider if your issue is not immediately noticeable. This will help ensure that you’re provided the assistance that you may need. It is also recommended to share your itinerary with someone you trust either a loved one back home and/or someone whom you’ll be traveling to see. If this is your first time traveling alone it may be useful to consult with an orientation mobility specialist to help you become a more confident less stressed traveler. It is also important to remain flexible in your plans which is true of anyone traveling.

If traveling by air it’s important to call ahead. All airports should have a meet-and-assist program to help travelers with anything from check-in to boarding and baggage claim. By law you need to give airports at least 48 hours’ notice for them to be able to guarantee the services you need. Tag your luggage in such a way that it helps differentiate it from all the others. Using brightly colored tape around the handle is one way to make it easier at baggage claim. Lastly don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for assistance as needed.

If traveling by bus, ask customer service for help navigating the station. Multi-level bus stations often have steep escalators or stairs. If you prefer using an elevator, make sure to point this out to whomever you have assisting you.  Talk to the driver as you load the bus to let him/her know that you’re visually impaired and will need to be told when you reach your stop. If you’re catching a transfer bus you will also need to be instructed where to find the connecting bus.

If traveling by train, ask customer service for help. Train stations can be chaotic, and tracks are often not announced until a few minutes before departure times. Choose a seat by a door so you won’t have to climb over people when you reach your stop. Familiarize yourself with the name of the stop before yours so that you will be ready to exit once you’ve reached your destination.

Using GPS Technology Geared Towards the Visually Impaired

A review for the Victor Reader Trek Talking GPS (currently on sale at ila at time of writing) provided by the American Foundation for the Blind explains what is capable with this technology. To get started with the GPS feature of the Victor Reader Trek, the unit needs to recognize where you are. When the online button is pressed, the Trek announces, “Searching for satellites.”

It begins operation in pedestrian mode. You can walk a route and have the Trek record it for later, identifying intersections, landmarks, and points of interest along the way. You can map a route from where you are standing to where you are going, and you can record in your own voice names for landmarks you wish to find again. You can switch to vehicle mode when you need information when traveling by car, bus, or train.

The review concludes with two pros of using the Trek over other GPS based devices. First, the Trek is dedicated to downloading, streaming, and playing information relevant to reading and wayfinding. You won’t get interrupted by phone call, text message, or social media alerts. Secondly, not all blind and visually impaired people have warmed to smartphone touchscreens. There is a definite comfort factor to tangible buttons you can press.

Other Devices and Resources to Assist in Travel

Two other devices, on sale this week, can also be utilized with helping visually impaired persons on the go. The Sunu Mobility Device is a wrist-worn smart watch which uses echolocation to provide 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.

The BuzzClip Mobility Guide – 2nd Generation is the third highlighted device on sale this week. It is a wonderfully small and helpful tool for assisting those who are Blind or have very low vision and utilize a mobility cane or a guide dog. Its hinged clip easily clips to the user’s clothing and vibrates with increasing intensity as an object appears within detection range of the BuzzClip.

Online resources are numerous and can be a tremendous help to anyone traveling. Upgraded Points provides links to organizations geared towards everything from guides and tips to understanding your rights as a traveler with a vision impairment.

To check out what else ila has to offer visit the website at individual living aids, LLC.

Tools to Assist Students with Low Vision

Students with low vision or who are visually impaired may find it harder to learn in a traditional classroom setting. Advances in technology helps close the gap between learners of all abilities. This week’s blog focuses on three different types of technology that students of all ages and limitations can incorporate into their daily lives to make learning more enjoyable.

Talking Calculator

The Orion TI-30X Talking Calculator is the world’s first fully accessible multi-line scientific calculator, created for students who are visually impaired. It represents a breakthrough in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education for students with vision impairment.  This calculator may be used on high-stakes exams as an approved accommodation for students who are visually impaired if it is specified in the student’s Individual Education Program/Plan (IEP).

Phys.org states, “The advanced, four-line scientific calculator, with higher-level math and science functionality, is ideal for middle school through college students. A clear, high-quality, recorded voice announces each key and the answer on the display, providing a choice of speech modes for quiet or verbose operation. Students will love the thin, lightweight design, and parents and teachers will love the familiar functionality that makes it easy to help with classwork and homework.”

A few other great features of this calculator are its accompanying earphones, instructions in both print and braille formats, and can be operated via either battery or AC adaptor.

To order this innovative talking calculator please click on Orion TI-30X Talking Calculator.


Windows Tablet Magnifier with Optical Character Recognition

In a world better adapted to the sighted, Optical Character Recognition systems (OCRs) provide persons who are blind or visually impaired with the capacity to scan printed text and then have it spoken in synthetic speech or saved to a computer file.  The American Foundation for the Blind provides a basic understanding of standalone OCRs which will help you better understand how the technology works inside a Windows 10 tablet.

The Mercury 12” Windows Magnifier incorporates both scanning capability and a OCR system into a fully functioning tablet. Benefits of using this all-in-one system are vast. This video demonstration located on the product information page shows how versatile and easy this machine is to use. Place a document below the tablet on the included platform to bring the image up on the screen. If the image is too small you can enlarge it or change the contrast between the writing and the background if it’s too difficult to read. Easily capture a full-page scan, reorient it on the screen, and have it read the text aloud to you. Simple touch gestures allow you to do these things and more with relative ease. Once you’re ready to put the tablet away it folds up neatly to fit inside a standard laptop bag.

Digital Highlighter

Scouring the internet, you’ll soon find that digital highlighters are beneficial to everyone but especially to those with dyslexia or low vision. The Scanmarker Air is constantly reviewed as one of, if not the top digital highlighter currently available. Closing the Gap provides an excellent overview of this wonderous device. Here are just a few of the things that can be accomplished with this technology:

  • Saves time by scanning words directly into computer or mobile applications including Gmail, Word, Excel, Facebook
  • Can easily translate text into 40 different languages
  • Can double as a barcode scanner easily capturing both UPC and EAN codes
  • Able to read text aloud which can assist in memorization or helping level the playing field for those learners with disabilities

To order this lightweight portable device click on Scanmarker Air.

Summer Picnics

Summer is the time for vacations, outdoor sports, reunions, and of course picnics. Apart from holidays and birthdays, summertime is a prime time of year for family togetherness. Whether you celebrate with biological family and/or a family of friends is up to you. In addition to good people you also need a few other elements to throw a grand picnic. Here are a few quick suggestions on location, food, and activities to better include everyone in your party no matter their age or ability.


No matter where you live or what you live near you can make nearly any location picnic friendly. Castello offers suggestions for picnics in nature, by the waterfront, or in urban settings.

A park or forest is the perfect spot for an outdoor picnic with plenty of room to invite all of your friends and family. Big shady spots under trees helps keep the summer heat from being a factor. Plus, many parks and forest settings have easy access to tables and benches, as well as, access to bathrooms. If the location is used often or is a tourist locale, chances are the facilities are handicap accessible as well.

Waterfront locations offer beautiful backdrops but not as much shade. It’s essential to remember to bring sunscreen when utilizing these locations. As with parks and forests if it’s a known tourist area, or often used, chances are there will be accessible bathrooms and places to dine off the ground.

If the beautiful green outdoors and waterfront areas are not an option than pack a small picnic basket and find the perfect setting near where you live. A rooftop with a view of the city skyline, town square, a public park, a bench or a quiet green space in an urban garden or even your own balcony are all perfect places for a picnic. Many urban areas are also accessible but when in doubt check in advance if such amenities are needed for your party.


Just because it’s the summer and you’re at essentially an outdoor party it’s still possible to dine with your health in mind.  WebMD provides numerous suggestions on better choices and a list of easy to make recipes all on the same page (when you choose “see all” instead of using a slide show).

The main takeaways from this article is to avoid or limit the more fattening foods such as mayonnaise-based dishes, fried foods, hamburgers and hot dogs and to substitute more healthy alternatives. Summer is an excellent time of year for fresh fruits and vegetables and these make an easy substitute or add-in for everything from what you to drink to what you dessert on. Instead of the more fattening main courses they suggest using wrap-based entrees utilizing more lean meats, veggies, nuts, and low-calorie sauces.

As a reminder, just before the recipes, they include making sure your food arrives and stays safe and to be sure to include some type of exercise to your outing.

Ways to make food preparation easier can be found in this week’s newsletter or by choosing one of the following: 4 Piece Floral Knife Set, Talking Digital & All Purpose Thermometer, or Pot & Lid 7 Piece Set in Stainless Steel.


Who doesn’t enjoy good clean wholesome family fun? BuzzFeed provides a list of 27 fun outdoor games to play all summer long. Here are a few of the more accessible friendly activities with adaptability suggestions from Child Development Programs :

  • Bean Bag Ladder Toss: Easy to set up and easy to play. Grab a ladder from the garage and toss bean bags through the different rungs to earn points. Can be made adaptable for the visually impaired by including bells inside the bean bags and using brightly colored tape on the ladder rungs.
  • Glow in the Dark Bowling/Bowling: Add glow sticks into ten bottles of water to make bowling pins you can use at night. You can use the bottles during the day for bowling as well making them adaptable with stones, balls, high contrast safety tape, and brightly colored yarn.
  • Glow in the Dark Capture the Flag: A fun update of your favorite game from gym class using glow sticks instead of flags. The instruction page elaborates that this game is played in the dark with brightly glowing sticks and bracelets. This game seems ideal for the visually impaired to be on a fairly even playing ground with their peers.
  • Spaghetti Scavenger Hunt: This game allows you to have messy food fun *without* gorging. You hide small items (like gummy bears or peanut M&M’s) in giant plates of spaghetti, set the plates down on a tarp-covered picnic table, and have the contestants search for them–using their mouths! If you decide to go with this game, please be aware of potential allergies with all participants.

To check out everything that ila has to offer please see our website independent living aids, LLC.

CCTV Magnifiers

While the first Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) was created in 1942 it wasn’t until the 1980s that they grew in prominence.  Today there are over 25 million CCTV cameras set up worldwide and some pundits estimate that the average American can be seen on one up to 300 times daily. So how and why did these, for all intents and purposes, security cameras get scaled down to be used as magnifiers? How are they used and how are they more beneficial than other types of screen readers?

What are CCTV Magnifiers?

The Low Vision Center offers a concise article on CCTV Magnifiers and the different types available. It reads in part, “CCTV’s magnify reading material, medicine bottles, photos, etc. and display the image on a TV screen or monitor. CCTV’s can also be used for writing, filing fingernails, and other tasks. CCTV’s have a range of magnification and are made in either black and white, or in color.  Many can be switched to reverse the image colors when desired.  Some models require you to focus the camera; others do it automatically.”

The types of CCTV magnifiers mentioned are free standing units, units with text-to-speech, portable CCTVs, head-worn CCTVs, handheld video magnifiers, tablet-based system. Ila has several types of these on sale this week that we’ll take a closer look at.

Free Standing Unit: The Mezzo Focus 16″  at 11.5 pounds, it can be easily moved from room to room. Magnification can range from 1.6X to 32X, depending on selected settings. Other features include customizable color selections, windowing, line marking, simple 3 button operation. Battery operated unit separately available.

Handheld Video Magnifier: You get 2 fabulous devices in one with the Mercury 6 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. Finger taps control other functions such as auto focus, flashlight access, and menu settings Switch to OCR scanning with one touch; scan (photograph) your reading material and have your scanned material read back to you. Scanned material appears on the touch screen where you can manipulate its magnification, colors, and reading position. Integrated foldable reading stand also provides room for writing.  Can also speak in Spanish.

Portable CCTV: Humanware has come out with the Explore 8 Handheld Electronic Magnifier which is a portable HD CCTV with a touchscreen. This handheld CCTV electronic magnifier is designed for active people who prefer a large screen but still want maximum portability as It is thinner, lighter, and more affordable than most 7-inch magnifiers on the market while providing a screen that is 8 inches which is 30% larger. The Explorē 8 features two 21-megapixel cameras—one for closeup viewing and the other for distance, with an automatic toggle to switch between the 2 modes. At closeup, it offers up to 30X magnification with stunning HD quality. Large physical buttons provide easy access to key functions; easy-to navigate touchscreen is available for all other settings.

How do you use CCTV Magnifiers?

CCTV Magnifiers are like microfilm readers on steroids. Instead of requiring, the now hard to find, microfiche these new readers can enlarge anything that can be put within the camera eye. The larger desktop-based units often have a sliding tray where you place the object you wish to enlarge. You can slide the material back and forth under the camera to show the desired output on the screen. The portable versions often have adjustable cameras so that you can enlarge objects both near and far from you which could be ideal in a classroom setting. The handheld models are smaller in size which allows for easy transport and can be used on the go to enlarge everything from ingredient lists to menu options at a restaurant. To read much more in depth on how CCTV magnifiers are used see Low Vision Aids.

Benefits of using CCTV Magnifiers

Whether you’re an older individual experiencing vision loss, a person who has developed macular degeneration, or simply a person whose eyesight goes beyond what standard eyeglasses or contacts can correct CCTV magnifiers could be beneficial to your everyday life. Pulling information from each link above this is a partial list of potential benefits of using CCTV magnifiers:

  • Reading the newspaper/magazine
  • Working on hobbies such as sewing or painting
  • Looking at photographs more closely
  • Reading a medicine bottle
  • Reading ingredient labels
  • Reading recipes
  • Writing checks
  • Trimming fingernails


To see what other CCTV devices ila has to offer please see CCTVs.






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.