You loved November's holiday gift guide for people with visual impairments, so here we are with an encore! Here are some more products, both practical and fun, to add to your gift-buying list. Again, some products are items designed specifically for people with visual impairments, while others are pulled from the mainstream market. Nearly all are priced under $100.
Adding Color to Life: The Rainbow Color Reader Color Identification Device
Anyone who likes to shop and has trouble telling the red shirt from the yellow one is going to love this first amazing little gadget. The Rainbow Color Reader will be one of the gifts that rapidly becomes indispensable to the one who receives it. About two inches long and an inch wide, the Rainbow Color Reader has only one button. Hold its lens firmly against any item—a jacket, a sock, a wall, or an automobile—and press the button to find out the object's color. The device identifies up to 40 colors and speaks them in a clear female voice. The unit has adjustable volume and convenient key ring for attaching to your keys or backpack. $95 from the Adaptations store, San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind, 415-694-7301.
Cooking Gadgets for People with Visual Impairments
Create your own breakfast sandwich with ease and speed with this toaster that cooks your egg and your toast or bagel, too. The West Bend TEM500 Egg and Muffin Toaster comes with its own mini skillet, just the right size to cook an egg, which it does for you while toasting your bread. $35 from Amazon.
If pouring the perfect cup of tea or coffee without burning a finger is a problem for you or someone on your list, the EasyFill from the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) can take the sting (and the finger) out of the operation. Just attach this simple device to the rim of a cup or glass, and stop pouring when you hear the tone. Measures hot or cold. $18 from APH or call 800-223-1839.
Another useful kitchen item is a talking cooking thermometer, also available from APH for $39. A convenient tool in the kitchen when knowing the precise temperature of food is important for determining doneness.
Health and Fitness Gifts for People with Visual Impairments
The Speak To Me catalog offers a variety of talking products for monitoring health at home. The Talking Blood Pressure monitor comes with two cuffs and speaks in five languages, ($80). Other talking health products from the same company include a forehead thermometer ($50), an oximeter for monitoring oxygen level and pulse rate ($60), and a low-cost sonic toothbrush with extra brushes ($20). Visit the Speak to Me Catalog site or call 800-248-9965.
For the friend or loved one who is addicted to fitness or just wants to begin getting in shape, browse the BlindAlive site for a workout from beginner to advanced levels. All are downloadable or can be mailed on a flash drive or CD. Read Introducing Blind Alive and Eyes-Free Fitness: Fitness Is More Than Meets the Eye for more information on this website.
Fun Gifts for People with Visual Impairments
I included coloring books in the November gift guide, because I loved the news that blind people can now enjoy tactile images to pass the time with crayons. Try National Braille Press for books of dinosaurs or farm animals (about $15) or the American Printing House for the Blind for more expensive educational coloring books (around $40). Visit the National Braille Press website or call 800-548-7323. You can also visit the APH website or call 800-223-1839.
If drawing doesn't appeal to you or your gift recipient, playing in the sand or the snow can be for grown-ups, too! Brookstone offers versions that might even go to the office. Floof, Brookstone's pretend snow, sticks to itself while not clinging to other surfaces. Try Polar Babies Bucket or Floof Play Balls Bucket (each $15) Create while trying to come up with the answer to a problem or just to relax.
If sand is more appealing, Sand By Brookstone is a whimsical medium that stretches and oozes and holds its shape. Model a sand castle for your desk, and it will stay there till you model something else. $20 for original, $25 for color, each 2.2 pounds.
Travel Gifts for People with Visual Impairments
Weighing those bags before heading to the airport to be sure they are within allowable limits can be awkward if you aren't accustomed to schlepping 50- or 60-pound items around. The Speak To Me catalog offers a talking portable luggage scale ($30) that does not require lifting. Just place the handheld device on the top of your floor-planted suitcase and hear the weight announced in pounds or kilograms. Large backlit LCD renders reading friendly to users with low vision. Visit the Speak to Me Catalog website or call 800-248-9965.
If losing battery power for your cell phone or other portable device while you are on the road is a concern, Brookstone sells some holiday themed power banks (8000 mAh) ($25). Choose from a snowflake design, lighted tree, or snowman replete with scarf and carrot.
For a fully accessible power bank boasting a whopping 18,000 mAh, order the Power Bank designed for blind and visually impaired consumers ($89) available from the Harbolt Company and mentioned in our November 2017 Holiday Guide. The unit beeps and vibrates to let you know charging progress and status, thus making it usable by people who are blind or deafblind.
For the guide dog handler who would like to carry a lightweight white cane that can be tossed into a bag or purse (or even attached to the dog guide's harness) for use in emergencies, the Adaptations store at the San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind offers two excellent solutions. The telescoping cane is tiny and comes in its own zippered case. The carbon fiber folding cane is a bit sturdier for use in wayfinding. Both are available in various lengths. Adaptations store, San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind, 415-694-7301.
Portable Audio Notetaker
While some of us still find jotting a note with a traditional slate and stylus or bold pen the most convenient approach, there are plenty of other ways to retrieve and store small snatches of information. Many blind and low vision people prefer an audio recording of a phone number, email address, recipe, or calendar item, and there are plenty of tools for capturing information in this way. One particularly popular and inexpensive device is the Wilson Digital Voice Recorder from the Braille Superstore ($50). The device holds up to 12 hours of recorded messages, and offers easy controls for recording and playing messages as well as easy navigation for moving from one recording to another.
Gifts for Sharing with Others
Of course, there is no gift more appreciated than the gift of time together. Plan a meal, a night of movie watching or card games, or a one-on-one session for sharing tips and tricks with technology. If you want to combine time together with a gift that is ongoing, try a subscription to an online streaming service with lots of audio description programming, such as Netflix or Amazon Prime, or a subscription to an innovative service for blind people such as AIRA.
Whatever your budget and your choices, spend as much holiday time as possible with people you love and enjoy the season!
- Holiday Gift Guide: Unique and Affordable Gifts for People with Visual Impairments by Deborah Kendrick
- AccessWorld's 2017 Online Shopping Guide by Janet Ingber
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