April is Occupational Therapy Month

During the month of April, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) celebrates Occupational Therapy Month and the more than 213,000 occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and students who work nationwide to create fuller lives for clients and their families. This blog will look at the basics of occupational therapy (OT), reasons you may need OT, and a section specifically for OT for the visually impaired. Information from this blog can be found at WHAT IS OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY? and Occupational Therapy Services for Persons With Visual Impairment.

What is Occupational Therapy?

Your life is made up of occupations—meaningful everyday activities. These occupations can include many roles, such as being a parent, a friend, a spouse, a tennis player, an artist, a cook, or a musician. We generally do not think about our daily occupations until we have trouble doing them. Everyone has occupations—from the toddler whose occupations are play and learning to develop important skills, to the older adult whose occupations are engaging with family and friends and managing his or her home. If you are recovering from an accident or injury, your valued occupations may be disrupted. Occupational therapy incorporates your valued occupations into the rehabilitation process.

Occupational therapy practitioners are either occupational therapists or occupational therapy assistants. They are skilled health care professionals who use research and scientific evidence to ensure their interventions are effective. With strong knowledge of a person’s psychological, physical, emotional, and social makeup, occupational therapy practitioners can evaluate how your condition (or risk for one) is affecting your body and mind, using a holistic perspective.

OT is covered by most health insurance plans. Ask your physician about a referral for occupational therapy services or look for a private practice in your community. Talk to your child’s teacher about occupational therapy services at school.

Reasons You May Need OT

Imagine if an accident, injury, disease, or condition made it difficult for you to participate in your daily activities. A wrist injury means that getting dressed in the morning is painful. Arthritis makes driving challenging. Autism may hinder a child from interacting effectively with classmates. A traumatic brain injury keeps a wounded warrior out of active duty because of difficulties with memory and organizational skills. Or a small change in your activities or the environment could prevent a future condition (such as using ergonomics at work to avoid injury).

An occupational therapy practitioner will keep the focus on the things you need and want to do—your goals, your activities, your independence. With occupational therapy services you can:

  • Achieve goals, such as helping your teenager with a developmental disability gain the skills to transition from high school to independent living as an adult.
  • Stay as healthy and productive as possible, while managing a chronic medical condition.
  • Maintain or rebuild your independence, such as using assistive devices so you can care for yourself after a stroke.
  • Participate in the everyday activities important to you, such as driving, visiting friends, going to church, and other activities that keep you involved with your community.

In short, an occupational therapy practitioner can help you live life to its fullest no matter your health condition, disability, or risk factors.

OT for Persons with Visual Impairment

20.6 million Americans report experiencing vision impairment or blindness (Blackwell, Lucas, & Clarke, 2014). It is one of the top 10 disabilities among adults over age 18 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015).

Older adults with visual impairment are three to four times more likely than adults with normal vision to experience difficulties completing instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs), such as preparing a meal, managing medications, and utilizing community mobility options (Crews & Campbell, 2004).

Occupational therapy practitioners work to ensure that older adults are able to age in place and participate in their communities despite visual impairment. Occupational therapy practitioners are also part of coordinated rehabilitation teams that enable working age adults with visual impairment to acquire or continue independent living and productive employment.

Occupational therapy practitioners also apply their expertise with adaptive devices and assistive technology to enable older adults to use optical and non-optical devices to complete ADLs. The practitioner, for example, may work with the person to use a prescribed optical device such as a hand-held magnifier to complete shopping, or a non-optical device such as a talking glucometer to complete diabetes self-management.

Occupational therapy services for persons with low vision may be provided in any setting, including early intervention environments, schools, skilled nursing or other extended care facilities, rehabilitation centers, specialty clinics, community-based programs, and the person’s home.

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All About Reading Glasses

Like it or not, as we age, our vision tends to get worse, and you may eventually find yourself needing a pair of reading glasses. This blog will look at the reasons behind this phenomenon, how to know when it is time to consider getting a pair of readers, and how to determine which strength and style of reader is right for you. Information in this blog came from American Academy of Ophthalmology, Your Sight Matters, The Cleveland Clinic, and product suggestions from the ILA website.

Presbyopia, the Reason You May Need Reading Glasses

Presbyopia is when your eyes gradually lose the ability to see things clearly up close. It is a normal part of aging. In fact, the term “presbyopia” comes from a Greek word which means “old eye.” You may start to notice presbyopia shortly after age 40. You will probably find that you hold reading materials farther away in order to see them clearly.

Your clear lens sits inside the eye behind your colored iris. It changes shape to focus light onto the retina so you can see. When you are young, the lens is soft and flexible, easily changing shape. This lets you focus on objects both close-up and far away. After age 40, the lens becomes more rigid. It cannot change shape as easily. This makes it harder to read, thread a needle, or do other close-up tasks.

There is no way to stop or reverse the normal aging process that causes presbyopia. However, presbyopia can be corrected with eyeglasses, contact lenses or surgery. People who have trouble seeing both near and far may benefit from progressive lenses. In the future, presbyopia be treated with eye drops. If you do not correct presbyopia, you may be bothered by headaches and eye strain.

How to Know When You are Ready for Reading Glasses

OK now you know what could cause the need to have reading glasses but when is the right time to consider getting them? If any of these 5 reasons sound all too familiar it may be time to consider getting reading glasses, or at the very least make an appointment with an eye doctor to be sure.

  1. You are over the age of 40. Everyone’s eyesight changes at a different rate, but most people develop presbyopia in their 40s. Presbyopia is a condition in which the eyes strain to focus on nearby objects. This is different from farsightedness, or hyperopia, a condition in which you can see distant objects clearly, but objects nearby may be blurry. Hyperopia is usually present at birth, but presbyopia develops during the aging process.
  2. You need brighter light when reading. If you never seem to have enough light, regardless of the room type or the number of lamps you have turned on, it may be time to get reading glasses. According to a study, a 60-year-old requires three times as much light as a 20-year-old to do the same tasks.
  3. Your eyes get tired when reading or working at your computer. Do you find yourself dozing off at your computer, or do your eyelids get heavy when you read or do detailed work? If you are developing presbyopia, your eyes are working harder and straining more than they normally would. A temporary solution is to blink more often, take more breaks, or adjust your screen to reduce glare. Another option would be to get some reading glasses!
  4. You are getting more headaches. Consistently straining your eyes to read or focus on crafts could give you headaches. A headache right behind your eyes could be indicative of hyperopia. It is important to remember the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. If your headaches persist, you should visit your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam.
  5. You see halos. When your lens cannot focus light into your retina, it makes your vision appear blurry. You may see glowing circles around lightbulbs or car headlights. Glasses often solve this problem, but this may also be an early sign of cataracts.

Deciding on the Right Pair of Reading Glasses

Ok so maybe you are over 40 and at least one of the deciding factors sounds like you, now what? Trying to decide on the right pair of reading glasses may at first sound daunting but it does not have to. Here are three tips to keep in mind when searching for your first pair, or any pair, of reading glasses (also referred to as readers).

Tip 1: Find the right power. All reading glasses will have signs or stickers indicating their power. In most cases they will range from +1 to +5 diopter, in increments of +.25. Try the lowest power (+1) first.

Tip 2: Test-drive the glasses. If you have brought reading material with you, try reading it at a comfortable length. (Many drugstore eyeglass displays have an eye chart, too, to test the glasses.) If you have to hold the material too far out to be able to read it, increase the power. Keep testing the different powers until can read clearly at the distance that is most comfortable for you. If you are shopping online for reading glasses, you can also print off this printable reading eye chart to help you decide.

Tip 3: Go big the first time. While there are many styles and colors to choose from, you may want to start your reading glass journey with a bigger pair of specs. You may need larger glasses frames or lens to really get the sweet spot of where the prescription is. You can go down in size as you get used to wearing them.

ILA offers many different types of reading glasses including these Boca Linear Stylish Reading Glasses, Greenwich Linear Reading Glasses, and the Burgundy Designer Readers with Rhinestones.

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Information about the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled

Last week’s blog celebrated National Library Week and shared information about the things libraries offer their community. This week we will discuss the National Library Service (NLS) for the Blind and Print Disabled. Information for this blog came from the NLS website and product suggestions came from the ILA website.

What is the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS)?

The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled (NLS), Library of Congress, administers a free national library program that provides braille and recorded materials to people who cannot see regular print or handle print materials. Established by an Act of Congress in 1931 to serve blind adults, the program was expanded in 1952 to include children, in 1962 to provide music materials, in 1966 to include individuals with other physical disabilities that prevent reading regular print, and in 2016 to permit NLS to provide refreshable braille displays. The NLS program is funded annually by Congress, and books and materials are mailed as “Free Matter for the Blind or Handicapped” through a separate appropriation to the United States Postal Service. Cooperating network libraries are funded through a combination of state, local, and/or federal sources.

Any resident of the United States or American citizen living abroad who is unable to read or use regular print materials as a result of temporary or permanent visual or physical limitations may apply for service.


The NLS Catalog contains more than 281,000 book records, of which more than 74,000 are braille books and braille music scores and 207,000 are talking books.

Books are selected for the NLS collection on the basis of their appeal across a wide range of interests. Approximately sixty-five percent are fiction, and thirty-five percent are nonfiction. Bestsellers, biographies, fiction, and how-to books are in great demand. The collection includes books in Spanish and a limited number of titles in other languages. Books for youth—from preschool to young adult—are provided in audio, braille, and print/braille. Registered borrowers learn of new books added to the collection through two bimonthly publications: Braille Book Review and Talking Book Topics. The NLS book collection and other resources from cooperating agencies are listed in the NLS Catalog.

Currently 51 audio and 40 braille magazine titles, selected for the program based on reader interest, are available through NLS by subscription. Other magazines are available on BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download). Readers may subscribe to such titles as People, National Geographic, and Consumer Reports in audio and ESPN: The Magazine and the New York Times Large Print Weekly in braille. A variety of magazines for children are also available. Current issues are mailed to readers shortly after print issues are released.

BARD and Equipment for Loan

BARD, a free online service, provides access to thousands of special-format books, magazines, and music materials. The same materials that are offered on digital cartridge and braille are also available for download in compressed digital audio and ebraille formats. The password-protected service is operated as a partnership between NLS and its network of cooperating libraries. Readers with a personal iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch can download and read audio and ebraille materials with the BARD iOS Mobile app. A refreshable braille display with a Bluetooth connection is required to access ebraille materials. Readers using Android devices, including the Amazon Kindle Fire, may use the BARD Mobile app for Android to access BARD’s audio materials. BARD Express provides NLS patrons with a simplified way to access BARD on Windows-based computers and transfer books and magazines to a NLS cartridge or USB drive.

NLS patrons are loaned playback equipment free of charge for use with talking books and magazines. Players are available in two models (standard and advanced), provide high-quality sound, offer variable speed controls, and have built-in audio instructions. The advanced player also enables bookmarking and navigation, allowing readers to skip to different parts of a book. Accessories for the players include lightweight headphones, adapters to facilitate the use of commercial USB flash drives, and a breath switch. Readers with significant hearing loss may request a high-volume player and headphones.

Devices for Purchase

Some people prefer to own their own equipment to have more freedom and ability to save/personalize their devices as they see fit. If you would rather purchase your own device ILA offers several different options to choose from.

Milestone 312 ACE Book Reader for the Blind: Use Milestone 312 ACE as your daily, portable companion and experience a new simplicity in digital entertainment that overcomes barriers. It represents a new generation of aids for visually impaired and blind people. Milestone 312 is furnished with a Voice Recorder, Music Player, superior Text to Speech voices, NLS-Audio Book Player, Clock, and Alarm. This unit can play Audible.com and National Library of Congress books as well. Milestone 312 integrates enormous functionality in a small credit card size casing. The following formats are already usable with Milestone 312: MP3, M4A, M4, M4V, AAC, WMA, WAV, TXT, DAISY 2.02, DAISY 3.0, DOC, AA/AAX (NLS, Audible, Bookshare, and iTunes).

New Victor Reader Stream: The New Generation Victor Reader Stream is smaller and smarter than its predecessor with new wireless capabilities that will open up the world to the blind and visually impaired. With the new Stream you can receive content from books and newspapers to podcasts and radio. It features a louder speaker, superior text to speech and improved recording. The high contrast tactile keypad and popular Victor Reader bookshelf navigation makes this the easiest to use hand-held player on the market. This new model has been designed to be user friendly, compact, and lightweight. Read books from DAISY libraries, The National Library Service (NLS,) Audible.com, Bookshare, and Learning Ally.

Envoy Connect Book Player: Economical, rugged, and solar powered book player can play any file in an MP3, WAV, WMA, OGG, and FLAC format. Download books from Bookshare, LibriVox, or Open Culture. Navigation on the Connect is simple, with just a few raised, intuitive buttons for Bookshelf, play, volume, forward/back, and sleep timer. Connect has 8GB of internal storage or a microSD card slot for additional storage. High-quality built-in speaker, as well as an earphone jack and ear buds. Comes with an on-board audio tutorial as well as audible user feedback for all buttons. Solar powered or USB re-chargeable. Not DAISY compatible.

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Welcome to Your Library: National Library Week 2021

National Library Week (April 4 – 10, 2021) is a time to celebrate our nation’s libraries, library workers’ contributions and promote library use and support. This year’s them is “Welcome to Your Library.” First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and observed in libraries across the country each April.  This  blog will look at highlights found from the ALA’s dedicated page(s) for National Library Week. Read to the end to discover all the ways in which libraries are able to help anyone in their communities.

Celebration of Library Workers’ Contributions on April 6th

Library staff play an invaluable role in supporting their communities both in person and virtually as the world continues to fight COVID-19. In times of crisis, libraries of all types and their workers serve millions of library users in need of free access to WiFi, eBooks, accurate information, and digital social services.

On April 6, 2021, the nation will celebrate National Library Workers Day (NLWD), a time to recognize library staff members for their public service contributions in transforming lives and communities through education and lifelong learning.

The ALA Allied Professionals Association (ALA-APA) invites library advocates, patrons, and staff to show their support of our nation’s library workers by posting words of encouragement and appreciation for their local library stars at http://bit.ly/librarystar. Academic, public, special, school library patrons can “Submit a Star” by providing a brief testimonial about a favorite library employee. Patrons are welcome to share stories about how library staff has an impact on their lives or community. Each testimonial will appear in ALA-APA’s “Galaxy of Stars.”  Library staff and the general public can also share well wishes over their social media channels with the hashtag #NLWD21 or post messages to the National Library Workers Day Facebook page.

National Library Outreach Day on April 7th

Libraries across the country will observe National Library Outreach Day on April 7, 2021. Formerly known as National Bookmobile Day, communities will celebrate the invaluable role library professionals and libraries continuously play in bringing library services to those in need.

The American Library Association (ALA), the Association of Bookmobile and Outreach Services (ABOS), and the Association for Rural and Small Libraries (ARSL) agreed to rebrand National Bookmobile Day in recognition of all that outreach library professional do within their communities.

Library services surpass bricks and mortar, as library professionals continue to adapt and develop innovative ways to deliver library materials and services that transform lives and support lifelong learning. Whether bookmobile, outreach van, book bike, senior services, school services, library workers go above and beyond to ensure that marginalized, underserved populations and all community members have access to library services.

“During COVID-19, library outreach workers continue to provide essential resources and services to their communities,” said David Kelsey, president, ABOS. “Whether providing free Wi-Fi in mobile libraries, providing virtual programming and storytimes, calling seniors in isolation, or distributing food and clothing, outreach workers are there to meet patrons and their communities.”

During the day, libraries will participate in a Virtual Bookmobile Parade and post to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with the hashtag #LibraryOutreachDay. ALA will highlight examples of innovation over its social media channels and on its Office for Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services (ODLOS) blog, Intersections.

Quotable Facts About America’s Libraries

The following facts are found from a 2019 ALA pdf entitled “Quotable Facts About America’s Libraries – January 2019.”

  • The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with more than 167 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves, which would span roughly the distance from The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., to Cape Canaveral, Florida.
  • Libraries play a critical role in the happiness of Americans. Communities that spend more on libraries, parks and highways are shown to support the well-being of community members.
  • Americans go to public libraries more often than they go to the movies.
  • There are more public libraries than Starbucks in the U.S. – a total of 16,568, including branches. Nearly 100% of public libraries provide Wi-Fi and have no-fee access to computers.
  • There were 113 million attendees at public library programs in 2016, more than all Major League Baseball, National Football League, and NBA games combined. That’s 16.5 million more than in 2013.
  • Students in high-poverty schools are almost twice as likely to graduate when the school library is staffed with a certified school librarian.

Libraries strengthen local economies.

  • 84% of libraries offer technology training to patrons in computer software use;
  • 76.8% of libraries provide online health resources and 60% offer programs to help Americans identify health insurance resources and get better informed on health topics;
  • 73.1% of libraries provide programs that assist individuals apply for jobs, create resumes, and prepare for interviews;
  • 97% of libraries help people complete online government forms

Libraries create healthier communities.

  • 77% of libraries offer online health resources
  • 59% provide programs on finding health insurance
  • 58% provide programs to help people find and evaluate health information
  • 23% offer fitness classes

Libraries are the place for lifelong learning.

  • 95% provide online homework assistance
  • 95% offer summer reading programs for children

Library access equals opportunity.

  • 100% of public libraries offer access to the Internet
  • 98% of public libraries offer free Wifi
  • 90% help patrons with basic Internet skills
  • 97% help people complete online government forms
  • 9 out of 10 libraries offer access to e-books

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*Blog banner reproduced with permission from the ALA National Library Week Press Kit

Time to Wake Up! Alarm Clocks for the Hearing Impaired

Trying to wake up from a deep sleep can be hard for practically anyone. This is especially true for those with varying degrees of hearing loss. Luckily, there are many options available to help rectify this issue to ensure that even the soundest of sleepers are able to wake up at their desired time.  This blog will look at bed shaker type alarms starting with an understanding of what bed shakers do and then delving deeper into the differences between wired and wireless versions of these products.

What are Bed Shakers?

Hearing a standard alarm clock can be a challenge for people with hearing loss. Specially designed alarm clocks for people who have hearing loss come in many forms, including those with bed shakers. These alarm clocks can operate by electricity or by batteries. Battery powered alarms can be useful when traveling.

Bed shakers (also seen as bed-shakers and bedshakers depending on source) are small disc shaped devices that are meant to be used either under a pillow or between the mattress and box spring. As the name implies, they are used to shake the bed to help awaken its occupant. It is connected either wirelessly or directly wired to a compatible alarm clock.  The alarm clock settings determine when (and often how strongly) the disc will start vibrating to help rouse a sleeper from a deep sleep. The vibrating discs can also be accompanied with high decibel sounds and/or some kind of flashing light/lamp. Even if someone is not hard of hearing these devices have the added benefit of making it harder to sleep through an alarm of pressing the snooze button.

Wired Bed Shaker Alarms

Obviously, the main difference between a wired and wireless bed shaker are the ways in which they are connected to the alarm clock device itself. Please note that even though the disc is wired to the clock that does not automatically mean that it is then wired to an outlet. Some of these clocks run off removable batteries but the disc is still wired to the clock itself.  Here are a few benefits for having a wired device.

Comes as one unit: Since the disc is connected to the clock there is only one unit/product to keep track of and they are always together.

Set location: Since the wires are a certain length, it may be easier to have a set routine in using them as they can only go in certain areas. This means that they will most likely always be in sight when near the bed.

Always within reach: Since the disc is wired to the clock there is little worry that it will move out of reach during the night or upon any movement created by shaking. If more than one pillow is used, or a pillow is often taken outside of the bedroom, it also makes it more difficult to accidentally move the disc outside of the sleeping zone.

An example of the wired disc bed shaker alarm clock is the Tactile Talking Clock with Bedshaker. This clock speaks the time and date in a male voice with adjustable volume. The clock face opens to reveal a tactile analog face. The time can be spoken on demand. It includes a wired pillow shaker. There are three different types of alarm combinations to choose from (vibration, audio, or both). It uses 2 AAA batteries which are not included. Being tactile this clock is also a good option for persons with vision loss as well.

Wireless Bed Shaker Alarms

Wireless devices are exactly that wireless. The main benefit these have over their wired counterparts is they can literally be used anywhere, so long as they have an adequate charge.

Convenience: No worry about accidentally pulling the cord (and thus disc) out from under the pillow or from between the mattress and box spring.

Mobility: Easy to travel with and take anywhere you go, even camping with an adequate charge.

Easy setup: Fast and easy to setup wherever you go without having extra cords hanging about.

Two examples of wireless bed shakers are:

AlarmDock Smartphone Dock with Bedshaker: Use your own smartphone and create an extra loud alarm clock with 100dB sound and/or a bedshaker. The docking station pairs with a personal smartphone and uses a wireless bedshaker and 100dB alarm to wake a hard sleeper or hard of hearing person. It uses a free iOS or Android app to manage alarms, timers, volume and tone control, flasher activation, and large clock read out. The wireless speaker can play music from the phone in clear, full sound.

TimeShaker Alarm Clock with Wireless Bedshaker: The TimeShaker™ BOOM alarm clock with bedshaker is a wonderful clock for the hard of hearing or the deep of sleeping. This alarm clock features a wireless bedshaker disc for placing under your pillow or between your mattress and box spring. The TimeShaker™ is loaded with features to help wake you up.

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Wearable Technology

From prototypes using LED lights in clothing, the advent of smart watches, and advancing technologies that can do everything from helping with Parkinson’s to aiding in the diagnosis of breast cancer the field of wearable technologies has come a long way. This blog will look at the basics of wearable technology.  Information in this blog came from Wearable Technology: How and Why It Works, Wearable Computer, and Wearable Technology. Product suggestions came from the ILA website.

What is Wearable Technology?

Wearable technology, also known as “wearables”, is a category of electronic devices that can be worn as accessories, embedded in clothing, implanted in the user’s body, or even tattooed on the skin. The devices are hands-free gadgets with practical uses, powered by microprocessors and enhanced with the ability to send and receive data via the Internet. ILA offers many different types of wearable technology (and other technology based products) geared towards assisting those persons with vision and/or hearing loss.

How Does Wearable Technology Work?

Wearable technology can be said to have existed since eyeglasses were first developed in the 13th century. Timepieces small enough to be worn have been around since about 1500. Another early example of wearable technology was created in 17th century China, when an inventor created a ring that contained an abacus. During WW1, cameras were mounted on pigeons to capture images of enemy troops. But modern wearable technology is defined as incorporating a microprocessor and an internet connection.

The growth of mobile networks enabled the development of wearable technology. Fitness activity trackers were the first big wave of wearable technology to catch on with consumers. Then, the wristwatch became a screen and more robust mobile applications were added. Bluetooth headsets, smartwatches, and web-enabled glasses all allow people to receive data from Wi-Fi networks. The gaming industry adds more wearables, with virtual reality and augmented reality headsets.

Types and Uses of Wearable Technology

There are many different types and uses for wearable technology. The devices can range in size and functionality depending on their intended usage. Here are a few examples of the differing ranges and uses of this cutting-edge technology.

Accessibility of Wearable Computers: There are many accessible uses for wearable computers. For individuals who are blind, braille watches or smart glasses that interpret visual information into audio data can help with daily tasks. Smart glasses are wearable technology worn on the face like glasses. They often include augmented reality capabilities and HUD for relaying information to the wearer. Two examples that utilize types of smart glasses are the Vision Buddy Television Viewing System and the Patriot Viewpoint. Sound shirts and vibrating bracelets allow deaf individuals to enjoy music through vibrations. Individuals with difficulty communicating can wear portable translators that give them independence and improve their everyday lives.

Generalized Wearable Computing Devices and Electronics: Wearable computers can be used by consumers to streamline personal tasks and complete their daily workloads. Wearable computers that incorporate augmented memory technology can help individual users by keeping track of a lot of details or setting reminders. Wearable electronics, also a computing device, is worn more so as an accessory such as a smartwatch. An example of using technology as accessories can be seen through the rise of smart jewelry that delivers high-tech features through the most discreet of accessories. One example of this type of jewelry is the smart ring which tracks fitness activity, heart rate, and sleep patterns in a slim, minimalist ring.

Healthcare Technology: Wearable computers can help healthcare providers deliver better, more efficient care and patient management. For example, a sensor that can be swallowed by a patient could monitor whether they stick to their regimen of prescribed pills. In addition, wearable fitness and nutrition trackers can help patients improve their health through lifestyle changes. Another example in this category is the Cyrcadia Health wearable breast monitor that can detect early signs of breast cancer and transmit the information to a lab for analysis.

Military: The use of wearable computers in the military has grown for applications such as surveillance, location tracking and equipment repair. For example, smart watches that can provide GPS or mechanical information or biometric tracking devices can help military personnel complete tasks more efficiently.

Policing: Members of the police force are required to wear body cameras clipped onto clothing or built into headgear to collect evidence of criminal activity and deter violations of human rights or brutality.

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March is National Nutrition Month

According to eatright,  National Nutrition Month® is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. During the month of March, everyone is invited to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits. This blog will look at each weekly theme and delve deeper into 3 items per theme. These good eating habits can be gradually incorporated at any time not just in March.

Week One: Eat a variety of nutritious foods every day!

Include healthful foods from all food groups. There are six main food groups, and it is a good idea to chose nutrient dense foods from each for a well-balanced diet. A nutrient-dense food is one that provides vitamins, minerals and other substances that have health benefits. The food groups are vegetables, fruit, grains, dairy, protein, and oils.

Hydrate healthfully. The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine determined that an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men and about 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women. These recommendations cover fluids from water, other beverages, and food. About 20% of daily fluid intake usually comes from food and the rest from drinks.

Learn how to read Nutrition Facts Panels. People look at food labels for a variety of reasons. But whatever the reason, many consumers would like to know how to use this information more effectively and easily. The FDA offers an in-depth article on how to correctly read food labels. It covers such things as serving information, calories, nutrients, percent daily value, and label variations. If you or someone you are shopping for has any food allergies or intolerances, it is especially important to further check the ingredient list for each item not just the nutrition label.

Week Two: Plan your meals each week!

Use a grocery list to shop for healthful foods. Healthline offers a step-by-step guide to creating helpful grocery lists in their article, How to Make a Healthy Grocery Shopping List.  Here are a few tidbits from that article. A grocery list is a handy tool that can help you navigate the store with ease and help you stick to your healthy eating plan. A well-thought-out grocery list is not only a memory aide, but it can also keep you on track, minimizing impulse buying while saving you money. It will also set you up for success even when you are tight on time, helping you keep nutritious food on hand to eat all week.

Be menu-savvy when dining out or ordering takeout. Restaurant food is meant to look, smell, and taste great. This often means that nutrition can sometimes fall by the wayside when menus feature main dishes drenched in butter or rich sauces, salads with creamy dressings, and few whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. The site behind this weekly layout, eatright, has a detailed article entitled 7 Tips for Healthy Dining Out to help combat this item. The article’s main takeaways are plan ahead, do not split your plate (better to eyeball a correct serving size), add healthy items to your meal, don’t go overly hungry, watch for the wording (broiled vs creamy etc.), and do not be afraid to ask your server for assistance.

Fuel for school or work with a healthful breakfast. According to WebMD, breakfast kick-starts your metabolism, helping you burn calories throughout the day. It also gives you the energy you need to get things done and helps you focus at work or at school.  Many studies have linked eating breakfast to good health, including better memory and concentration, lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, and lower chances of getting diabetes, heart disease, and being overweight. Skipping the morning meal can throw off your body’s rhythm of fasting and eating. When you wake up, the blood sugar your body needs to make your muscles and brain work their best is usually low. Breakfast helps replenish it.

Week Three: Learn skills to create tasty meals!

Share meals with people who live with you or virtually, when possible. I am sure that nearly everyone can agree that sharing a meal with friends or family can make for a more enjoyable dining experience and often helps control how much one eats. Thanks to technology that same sort of experience can be obtained even when you are not in the same room, state, country, or even continent. Virtual dinner parties are slowly becoming what in person parties were in the past. Delish’s article How To Throw A Virtual Dinner Party breaks down the ins and outs of throwing a successful online dinner party so that anyone from novice to expert can benefit from the lessons. It covers everything from suggested apps/programs to use, ideas for décor, and various menu options to choose from.

Reduce food waste. Food waste is a bigger problem than many people realize. In fact, nearly one-third of all food produced in the world is discarded or wasted for various reasons. That equates to nearly 1.3 billion tons every year. Healthline provides an article on 20 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Food Waste. Some of these ideas include shop smart, store foods correctly, learn to preserve, save leftovers and many more.

Try new flavors and foods. Another article from eatright, 7 Ways to Enhance the Flavor of Your Meals, explores simple ways to enhance/alter the flavor of meals cooked from home. To maximize food’s flavor and nutrition, start with high-quality ingredients. They do not need to be the most expensive foods. It is also important to handle and store foods properly, because poor storage destroys flavor and quality. Cooking cannot improve poor-quality foods, but it can enhance the flavors of high-quality foods.

Week Four: Consult a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)!

Ask your doctor for a referral to an RDN. Eatright offers an article on this very topic, RDNs and Medical Nutrition Therapy Services. Health professionals agree that nutrition services are one of the first treatments that individuals should receive to improve conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. The RDN often acts as part of a medical team, in various practice settings, such as hospitals, physician offices, private practice and other health care facilities. Your primary care doctor should be able to refer you to a RDN that fits your individual needs.

Receive personalized nutrition advice to meet your goals. Together with a registered dietitian nutritionist, you will set nutrition goals to improve your health. They will review your eating habits and lifestyle. They will also provide a thorough assessment of your nutritional status. Finally, they will give you a personalized nutrition treatment plan.

Find an RDN who is specialized to serve your unique needs. Medical nutrition therapy is covered by a variety of insurance plans. Under the Medicare Part B Program, you can receive nutrition services to help improve your health. Medicare Part B covers medical nutrition therapy for diabetes and kidney disease or if you have had a kidney transplant within the last 36 months.  Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans may also offer additional benefits, including coverage beyond the conditions covered by traditional Medicare. If you have private insurance (such as through your employer), check with your insurance plan for specific medical nutrition therapy coverage details. Your plan may cover nutrition counseling for a wide variety of chronic conditions and health concerns, such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

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Water, Candle, and Incense Clocks

From sundials to candle clocks to atomic watches humans have always been fascinated with telling time. There are many articles all over the internet discussing the history of telling time but three of the more interesting ways (according to the person writing this blog) are water clocks, candle clocks, and incense clocks. Each one will make you feel grateful for the modern-day clock. Remember if you never want to have to set your watches again that the way to go is with the atomic watch.  To learn more about atomic clocks/watches see our previous blog entry,  Atomic Clocks: What are They?

Water Clocks

According to an article on Wikipedia, a water clock (or clepsydra) uses the flow of water to measure time. There are two types of water clocks: inflow and outflow. In an outflow water clock, a container is filled with water, and the water is drained slowly and evenly out of the container. This container has markings that are used to show the passage of time. As the water leaves the container, an observer can see where the water is level with the lines and tell how much time has passed. An inflow water clock works in basically the same way, except instead of flowing out of the container, the water is filling up the marked container. As the container fills, the observer can see where the water meets the lines and tell how much time has passed.

Water clocks are one of the oldest time-measuring instruments. The bowl-shaped outflow is the simplest form of a water clock and is known to have existed in Babylon, Egypt, and Persia around the 16th century BC. Other regions of the world, including India and China, also have early evidence of water clocks, but the earliest dates are less certain. Some authors, however, claim that water clocks appeared in China as early as 4000 BC.

Some water clock designs were developed independently, and some knowledge was transferred through the spread of trade. These early water clocks were calibrated with a sundial. While never reaching a level of accuracy comparable to today’s standards of timekeeping, the water clock was the most accurate and commonly used timekeeping device for millennia, until it was replaced by more accurate pendulum clocks in 17th-century Europe.

Candle Clocks

A candle clock is a thin candle with consistently spaced markings that when burned, indicate the passage of periods of time. The candle needs to burn steadily. If it is in a draft, it will burn more quickly so it is placed in a holder which lets you see the marks on the candle yet protects the candle from drafts. While no longer used today, candle clocks provided an effective way to tell time indoors, at night, or on a cloudy day.

The earliest known reference comes from a poem written in 520 AD by a guy named You Jiangu. His clock consisted of 6 candles: 12 inches high. Each candle was divided into 12 equal sections, with each section burning for a total of 20 minutes. The entire candle took a total of 4 hours to burn completely.

The most famous candle clock is probably the one made by the Turkish scholar and inventor, Al-Jazari (1136–1206). The Clock of the Swordsman is still the most complex candle clock ever made. In simple terms, it went like this: When an hour passed, a burning candle released a metal ball into a sling on the swordsman’s arm. The weight of it then moved the arm causing the sword to trim the wick. From there the ball dropped into a falcon at the base, which served as a gong to tell the hour.

Information in this section came from articles from Wikipedia, Curriculum Visions, and Medium.

Incense Clocks

According to Wikipedia, the incense clock is an Indian timekeeping device that was popularized by China during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and spread to neighboring East Asian countries such as Japan and Korea. The clocks’ bodies are effectively specialized censers that hold incense sticks or powdered incense that have been manufactured and calibrated to a known rate of combustion, used to measure minutes, hours, or days.

An article from Medium states that the simplest version is nothing more than a specially prepared punk cord with knots at measured intervals. Punk, which is made from decayed wood or fungi, has a steady burning rate making it possible to evenly indicate the passage of time. The poorer classes found a unique way of turning these simple clocks into alarms. The cord was placed near the skin, usually between the toes. Obviously, when the cord burned down to the skin, it was pretty hard to sleep through.

Incense sticks could be used in the same manner. The most common was a stick of sandalwood and elm root that was ground into a powder and mixed with wood dust. This was then turned into a paste and formed into sticks six or seven inches long. Once the stick was dry, its even burning made it an excellent way to keep track of time as well as providing a nice, pleasant scent. Fancier versions of this placed the incense in the body of a dragon made of wood or bronze. If the owner needed to wake up at a specific time, he or she simply placed a thin silk string along the top of the incense. a bell or piece of metal was attached to the other end. When the incense burned down to the chosen point, the bell dropped onto a copper or brass plate. Similarly, balls could be placed at regular intervals to cause a clang every hour.

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Heat Therapy vs. Cold Therapy

Heat therapy, also known as thermotherapy, is a common way to help relieve aches and pains. Knowing when or how to apply heat, as opposed to cold, can sometimes be tricky. This blog will cover both the basics of heat and cold therapy with suggested uses for both and conclude with a more scientific section for those that want to delve a little deeper into how these therapies work.   

Heat Therapy and Its Uses

According to the Arthritis Foundation, if you have a chronic condition like fibromyalgia, arthritis, or lower back pain, try heating things up. Soaking in warm water or applying a heated compress is one of the oldest, cheapest, and safest forms of complementary therapy. Research has shown that heat treatments can loosen stiff joints and relieve achy muscles.  

Here is how it works. When you warm up a sore joint or tired muscle, your blood vessels get bigger. This allows more blood, oxygen, and nutrients to be delivered to the injured tissues. Better circulation means more relaxation for those stiff muscles and joints. 

Here are a few simple ways to heat up your daily routine. 

Take a steamy shower. Start your day right by taking a long, warm shower. The heat of the water will reduce morning stiffness, limber up the body, and increase your range of motion for the daily activity ahead.   Make sure the water is not too hot, particularly if you have heart problems. A healthy temperature is between 92 and 100 degrees. 

Stretch out in the pool. When you have arthritis, a warm pool is the ideal place to strengthen your muscles and increase your flexibility. The water will reduce the force of gravity compressing the joint and offer 360-degree support for sore limbs that have limited range of motion.  Studies show that patients with arthritis and fibromyalgia who participated in warm water exercise programs two or three times a week could move around better and had as much as 40 percent less pain. Do not overdo it. Maximum benefit is reached after about 20 minutes in a warm pool or bathtub.

Apply a warm compress. Buy a heating compress such as the heated foot massager, heated neck collar, or lower back warmer from ILA. Before you stretch or exercise, heat up your hips, back, shoulders, or knees. Rest with the warm compress on the affected area for 20 minutes when you are doing computer work or reading the newspaper. 

Cold Therapy and Its Uses

Healthline states that cold therapy (also called cryotherapy) works by reducing blood flow to a particular area, which can significantly reduce inflammation and swelling that causes pain, especially around a joint or a tendon. It can temporarily reduce nerve activity, which can also relieve pain. You should not use cold therapy on stiff muscles or joints. Further, cold therapy should not be used if you have poor circulation.

There are a few different ways to apply cold therapy to an affected area. Treatment options include ice packs or frozen gel packs, coolant sprays, ice massage, and ice baths.

For home treatment, apply an ice pack wrapped in a towel or ice bath to the affected area. You should never apply a frozen item directly to the skin, as it can cause damage to the skin and tissues. Apply cold treatment as soon as possible after an injury.

Use cold therapy for short periods of time, several times a day. Ten to 15 minutes is fine, and no more than 20 minutes of cold therapy should be used at a time to prevent nerve, tissue, and skin damage. You can elevate the affected area for best results.

People with sensory disorders that prevent them from feeling certain sensations should not use cold therapy at home because they may not be able to feel if damage is being done. This includes diabetes, which can result in nerve damage and lessened sensitivity.

Scientific Overview of Thermotherapy and Cryotherapy

According to Physiopedia, cryotherapy and thermotherapy are useful adjuncts for the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and soft tissue injuries. Using ice or heat as a therapeutic intervention decreases pain in joint and muscle as well as soft tissues and they have opposite effects on tissue metabolism, blood flow, inflammation, edema, and connective tissue extensibility. Thermotherapy can be used in rehabilitation facilities or at home.

The goal of thermotherapy is to alter tissue temperature in a targeted region over time for the purpose of inducing a desired biological response. Most thermotherapies are designed to deliver the thermal therapy to a target tissue volume with minimal impact on intervening or surrounding tissues.

The treatment depends on the type of application and the type of disease.

There are 3 phases of the healing process: the inflammatory phase, the proliferation phase, and the remodeling phase.

  • The first phase, known as the inflammatory phase, protects the injured area from further injury while the body contains the damaged tissue. During this phase, cryotherapy can help to reduce swelling. Never use heat during this phase because heat increases the blood flow into the injured area and increases the amount of swelling. The inflammatory phase has a duration of 2 days.
  • During the second phase, the proliferation phase, new tissue and scar tissue are formed. Heat can now be applied to the injured area to facilitate the healing process.
  • The third and final phase, the remodeling phase, is the process of returning to health: the restoration of structure and function of injured or diseased tissues. The healing process includes blood clotting, tissue mending, scarring and bone healing. Heat therapy can also be used during this phase.

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Oral, Ear, and Infrared Thermometers

Before 2020, I bet most people rarely ever had their temperature taken and when they did it was most likely with a normal oral thermometer. Since covd-19, the use of thermometers have risen astronomically to the point they were even hard to locate for purchase at times last year. This blog will compare and contrast three types of thermometers meant to read body heat. These three types are the oral thermometer, the ear thermometer, and the newer infrared thermometer. The products linked in this article are from ILA. Each of these linked products have talking components to them making them essential for persons who are visually impaired that want to be able to take and know anyone’s temperature.

Oral Thermometers

A digital thermometer is used to take an oral temperature. It is a small hand-held device with a “window” showing your temperature in numbers. There are many kinds of digital thermometers. Most digital thermometers are easy to use and measure body temperature within seconds. Carefully read the instructions before using your digital thermometer.

The average oral temperature reading is 98.6°F (37°C). However, any oral temperature from 97°F (36.1°C) to 99°F (37.2°C) is considered typical. Some people run naturally cool, and others slightly warmer. It is a good idea to know what your temperature typically is so you can assess whether you are running a fever when you feel sick.


  • Oral thermometers are most accurate in children over 3 and in adults.


  • Small children and people with breathing issues may not be able to keep their mouths closed long enough to acquire an accurate reading.

ILA offers this Talking Oral Thermometer for sale. It is a talking bi-lingual (English and Spanish) oral medical thermometer and it delivers spoken results in 8 seconds in either Fahrenheit or Celsius. Information in this section came from How to Take an Oral Temperature and Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Types of Thermometers.

Ear Thermometers

Remote ear thermometers, also called tympanic thermometers, use an infrared ray to measure the temperature inside the ear canal. Tympanic readings are 0.5°F (0.3°C) to 1°F (0.6°C) higher than oral temperature readings.


  • Tympanic thermometers provide fast and accurate readings and may be preferable to oral or rectal thermometers, especially in children.
  • When positioned properly, infrared ear thermometers are quick and generally comfortable for children and adults.
  • Infrared ear thermometers are appropriate for infants older than age 6 months, older children and adults.


  • Due to the size of the ear canal, tympanic thermometers are not recommended for infants under 6 months old.
  • They must be positioned properly in order to get accurate results.
  • Obstructions like earwax may skew results.
  • They may not fit properly in a small or curved ear canal.

ILA is proud to offer this Talking Ear Thermometer for sale. It allows the user to easily take a body temperature without needing to put anything in the mouth. In just 5 seconds the temperature is ready and spoken aloud in either Fahrenheit or Celsius. Information in this section came from How to Take an Oral Temperature and Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Types of Thermometers.

Infrared Thermometers

If you prefer a non-invasive means to determine someone’s temperature the non-contact Infrared Thermometer (NCIT) is the way to go. NCITs may be used to reduce cross-contamination risk and minimize the risk of spreading disease. Before NCITs are used, it is important to understand the benefits, limitations, and proper use of these thermometers. Improper use of NCITs may lead to inaccurate measurements of temperature.

Benefits of NCITs

  • Non-contact approach may reduce the risk of spreading disease between people being evaluated
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to clean and disinfect
  • Measures temperature and displays a reading rapidly
  • Provides ability to retake a temperature quickly

Limitations of NCITs

  • How and where the NCIT is used may affect the measurement (for example, head covers, environment, positioning on forehead).
  • The close distance required to properly take a person’s temperature represents a risk of spreading disease between the person using the device and the person being evaluated.

ILA is proud to have this Talking Infrared Thermometer for sale. It speaks the readout in either English or Spanish and can be turned on or off with voice control. Information in this section came from the FDA article entitled Non-contact Infrared Thermometers.

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