I admit being a hearing and visually impaired sexagenarian. I share this personal narrative because more and more I am asked about tech to overcome impairment. Devices that can help people through their daily lives.
Impaired means weakened or damaged. It is not a stigma – it just means you can’t access a sense as well as you used to. More often there are simple tech things you can do to make life easier.
Tech to overcome impairment can take many forms.
- Sight can benefit from large friendly ‘lettering’ seen on some alarm clocks, phone handsets and accessibility enabled tablets and PCs.
- Visual cues such as a flashing light indicating an incoming phone call or captions on TV
- Audible cues such as an 80+dB ring on a doorbell, alarm clock or phone, or an even louder siren on a security
- Reinforcing music or TV where you need it by adding extra speakers or using headphones
- Sensories like haptic feedback, the vibration of a smartphone, or a great bass sub-woofer
The backbone to much of this is a good, fast Wi-Fi home network to enable a smart home of connected devices. These devices talk to each other and help make your life easier.
Hearing impaired – the best solution is an audiologist and hearing tests
My wife calls me ‘deaf adder’ but in her case, I prefer to think of it as selective hearing. I also wear reading glasses – I would wear contact lenses if they could correct long-sightedness.
If you are hearing impaired, what did you say, repeat that, huh, then its time to go to an Audiologist. Most will bulk bill Medicare for the test and can recommend the best type of hearing aid for your needs.
Business people may shun the ‘stigma’, but there is a range of discrete but expensive (several thousand dollars) in-ear-canal aids that are undetectable – show no weakness!
Pensioners may not be so fashion conscious and can get behind-the-ear aids at far lower prices.
Then there is a range of smart Bluetooth hearing aids that can work with your TV, music or smartphone to help you enjoy the experience better.
Connect Hearing has a free book titled Consumer’s Guide to Hearing Aids that may alleviate the anxiety of admitting you are a deaf adder.
Visual and hearing impaired – large lettering and loud devices
If you are visually impaired but don’t want to wear glasses all the time “Plus size” is the answer.
Laser has a large lettering alarm clock with Qi phone charging and Bluetooth hands-free speakerphone. The 30mm high, soft white, Auto-dimming LCD letters, and two large user-friendly rotating dials make this one of the best visual and audible aids. It is easy to use, and you can wake to an 80dB alarm or your favourite FM station. Hands-free speaker capability round out this terrific $129.95 gadget.
I am long sighted – I can pass an eyesight test and read traffic signs but nothing close-up. I use a larger 6-inch Garmin 61-LMT-S GPS that allows me to see speed and road information more clearly.
In choosing a smartwatch, I found that the Samsung Gear Fit2 Pro has a range of ‘huge’ numeral watch faces that allow me to see the time. Of course, I monitor walking, heart rate, sleep and more but frankly, the large letters were the main reason to buy. Sorry, round and square face smartwatches don’t have the real estate.