Assistive technology: Gift ideas for the blind and visually impaired

 

At times finding the right gift can be stressful, it doesn’t have to be that way, we will give you great gift ideas to fit your budget. You will find a gift here for teens, adults or seniors who are blind or visually impaired.

So, let’s start with the basics. Assistive Technology, or AT is any product, electronic equipment, system, gadget or software that increases, maintains, or improves the functional capabilities of persons with disabilities.AT can be low tech, high tech, expensive or quite affordable and simple. 

Here are some great assistive technology gift ideas that are useful and won’t break the bank.

Smartwatches

When it comes to gadgets, smartwatches rank #1 for multifunctionality, design, and value.

Smartwatches have come a long way from just being a high-tech timepiece, and yet only providing features that are useless to the visually impaired. 

Now with voice, haptic feedback and braille display technology, smartwatches are becoming a part of daily life for the blind. 

Here are three smartwatches that rank among the best and most recommended:

The Dot Watch

Dot watch braille

Dot is a sleek motorized smartwatch that uses braille to give the wearer not only the time but a lot of other information, such as notifications, text messages, Facebook messages and more, in braille.

Price: The Dot Watch is priced at $399, you can read more and buy it here

Pros: Discreet, use braille to provide information

Cons: Requires that the user knows how to read braille. Small area for its tactile display makes it difficult to read at times.

Sunu Band

Sunu band- assistive technology gift for the blind

This multifunctional smart-watch doubles as a mobility and navigation aid. Using sonar and haptic feedback, the Sunu Band improves awareness of obstacles within the environment.

Basically, it warns the blind and low vision (through pulses) when an obstacle, object or person is near them. Reducing accidents to the upper body and helping them gain more confidence.

A person wearing a Sunu Band

The Sunu Band is the perfect complement to the white cane and guide dog and extends awareness beyond the traditional mobility aids in a way that is discreet, intuitive and easy to learn. 

With its mobile app (for iOS or Android), the Sunu Band provides location, information about nearby places, intersections and navigation – in a way that is accessible to blind and low vision users. 

Price: The Sunu Band is priced at $299 but you can get $49 off with the code SUNU49, get it here

Pros: Affordable, multi-functional assistive technology, easy to learn and use. It can be used by teens, adults, and seniors. The app is available in multiple languages.

Cons: Not waterproof, only water-resistant. Only available in black.

Apple Watch

Apple watch

Known for its style and features, the Apple Watch is a good complement to anyone who is using an iPhone. 

Price: The Series 5 starts at $399. Older series are available as low as $199.

Pros: Very well integrated with the iPhone, provides lots of features for health and wellness. Includes a compass. Perfect for teens and adults, seniors might prefer the Dot or Sunu Band.

Cons: Low vision individuals might love it more than someone who is blind. It has a small screen, works best for those using iPhone and other Apple products.  

Cellphones

We all have to stay connected. Since Apple launched its first iPhone, smartphones have come a long way in providing accessibility and inclusion for the visually impaired. Here are some of the top choices:

RAY Smartphone

The RAY smartphone provides a non-visual interface that’s specifically designed for the visually impaired. This smartphone brings all of the features of most mainstream devices.

Pject Ray's phone for the blind

Price: There are different models, the most affordable option priced at $499 USD and the newest model at $999, you can view all the models in his store

Pros: Some models have a keyboard and navigation pad, as well as a touch screen, the phone offers 24/7 remote assistance. They will be able to access audiobooks, podcasts, internet radio, etc. It has color and currency identification.

Cons: Low vision individuals might prefer other mainstream options combined with different assistive apps.

BlindShell

The BlindShell is a simple, no-frills phone that is durable, with the 90s style, and most importantly, easy to use. The phone includes voice control and a tactile keyboard. 

Price: The blind shell price starts at $420

Pros: It’s the most affordable option and a phone specifically designed for the visually impaired. It has an S.O.S button (you can program emergency numbers or a specific contact). It is very customizable, you can change the background and text colors, font sizes (by default comes with large fonts and icons), etc. Check all the features.

Cons: It’s a simple phone so you won’t have access to mainstream apps or social media.

The iPhone

It’s the favorite smartphone among blind and low vision users, at least in the US. The iPhone delivers a wide variety of accessibility features with great user experience such as voiceover for the blind. It also includes zoom. Contrast and ‘Dark Mode’ for low vision users as well as allowing users to set shortcuts and gesture control.

The price for the latest iPhone 11 is $699

Pro: Great accessibility and compatibility to most of the apps for the visually impaired.

Con: Requires Apple connector for plug-in headphones and its a more expensive option.

Article Trackers

Let’s face it, sometimes we lose track of our belongings. You don’t need to be visually impaired in order to lose your phone or keys. 

Article trackers are a nifty high-tech gadget that helps us keep track of our belongings. Here is our favorite:

Tile article tracker

Tile is a Bluetooth tracker that allows you to use a smartphone app to monitor the location of whatever they’re attached to

You can also remotely trigger a sound on the Tile to locate it when you’re nearby or use the crowd-finding feature to allow others with the Tile app to help you locate your item.

Price: There are different packages but you can get them starting from $24.99 up to $99.99 USD

Pro: Easy to use and affordable. It’s a small but very useful gift for the blind and low vision.

Cons: The article tracking efficiency varies due to BlueTooth signal strength or interference. The app is moderately accessible according to some reviews.  

Headphones

We all certainly enjoy listening to music, an audiobook or having a hands-free call, regardless if we’re visually impaired or not. 

However, most in-ear or over the ear headphones tend to obstruct the sense of hearing. This can be especially dangerous for blind or low vision pedestrians who require to have their sense of hearing available to any traffic or noise in the environment. 

So, here is our best gift recommendation for headphones:

Aftershokz

The Aftershokz use bone conducting technology to transmit sound through the skull or cranium. Their latest blue-tooth enabled headphones provide great sound quality and wireless experience at an affordable price.

Price: Aftershokz start at $120 but you can get them for free when you buy your Sunu band here

Pros: Bone conduction technology makes it safe for the blind to use while walking.

Someone blind or low vision can listen to their GPS in an unknown city and still be able to hear what’s going on around them.

We have found these headphones really make a huge difference for the blind and low vision, so we are offering special deals if you join our newsletter.

Cons: Some sound fidelity is lost due to the bone conduction.

Bose SoundWear

The SoundWear is a unique neck-band wearable speaker that surrounds you with clear, full sound while keeping your ears free so you can still hear what’s going on around you. The SoundWear send the sound directly to your ears, while anyone close by is unable to hear it. 

Price: SoundWear is priced at $299 

Pros: Outstanding sound quality. Very comfortable to wear compared to regular headphones. 

Cons: It is not designed for exercising, it could fall off your neck.