Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Vision & Hearing Needs

Resources -- Comment Responses

I recently received hearing impaired and vision request inquiries in comments on my post about the Gnomedex Conference 2007. (see "Gnomedex Proud Elder" 8/11/07.) That was the Seattle conference where Ronni Bennett of "Time Goes By" presented on the topic of Elderblogging. (See “An Elderblogger At Gnomedex”) She discussed with these technology professionals some of the special computer features that would benefit some of all ages, but especially many elders (50 yrs and older) and those with special needs.

She continues to champion special features integration into computer design for elder ease of use and simplicity. She also proposes an inexpensive computer be produced to expand the Internet world to all elders including those with limited financial resources.

CBS-TV “60 Minutes” recently followed up an earlier Lesley Stahl story about the $100 computer created by MIT’S Nicholas Negroponte which could well have application to elder needs as Ronni has suggested.

Meanwhile, I promised in my blog post that I would explore and post here further information on the hearing and vision comments made on what I wrote.

1. Darlene said here and at TGB:
"I am severely hearing impaired and I wish someone would convince the computer geeks at YouTube that we need closed captioning below the videos. I miss out on so many things like clips of the Daily Show{with Jon Stewart} and Bill Moyers Journal."

Darlene, I tried many approaches but was unable to find a way to forward your request to any of the YouTube Team. Perhaps others more technological knowledgeable than I will read this and be able to find an email address. I think it's quite likely Ronni Bennett will make note of your same comment made on TGB. She will likely be more successful in presenting your view to those who need to be aware.

2. Ruthe said:
"I have trouble reading your blog, which shows up as gray on white. Be kind to vision impaired elders like me and make the typeface larger and bolder."

Ruthe, as I mentioned in an earlier comment response to you, my technical skills and time to devote to learning how to make alterations from the norm on my blog through Blogger are limited presently. Perhaps the best option for you and others with similar low vision issues would be to use a screen magnifier that would enlarge ALL print on your computer screens, as most blogs seem to be written in normal typeface size. I know only too well from my mother’s visual needs and that of others with whom I’ve interacted, that often thick or heavier black lines contrasted against a white background are needed to facilitate visual perception for many individuals.

Following are some links I was able to obtain through Google search that provide information and/or products of interest to individuals with visual limitations. I have not personally used any of these links and products, nor have I had direct contact with anyone who has used them. They do appear to be worth a potential users investigation.

I am aware there has been increased vision emphasis in recent years with some Occupational Therapists (O.T.) providing low vision therapy. You might want to consider checking with your local hospital or rehabilitation hospital to see if such service is available in your community. Be certain to establish any vision therapists you engage have obtained special or continuing education and training for providing such visual deficit interventions.

In Southern California, Los Angeles County, where I live, whenever I receive inquiries about special vision needs and products, I provide referrals to their ophthalmologist and a local hospital whose O.T.’s do provide a low vision program. A primary referral source I provide is to the Braille Institute whose website states: "Braille Institute is a private non-profit organization whose mission is to eliminate blindness and severe sight loss as a barrier to a fulfilling life."

They have a large mobile van that regularly visits Southern California communities, often senior citizen meeting places, where individuals can seek the most current information about all vision issues. I suggest you check with your local ophthalmologists, senior groups, phone directory and Internet listings to see what is available in your area.

One Braille Institute service with which I am most familiar is Talking Books -- available throughout the United States, free to those legally blind or blind. I do have personal experience with this organization as my mother, legally blind, received the benefits of some of their services; was a user of audio Talking Books, first when they were records, then tapes. Today the books are on CDs. Certainly they are much more readily available from public libraries, for purchase, with Internet sources, too. Talking Books were a lifeline to the world for my mother for many years.

Following is a computer screen magnifier product I have read favorable comments about from some individuals who reportedly are satisfied users that you might want to consider: BigShot Magnifier"This low-cost, easy-to-use magnification program allows you to fine tune the screen for more comfortable viewing. With 20 levels of magnification from 100 to 200 percent, BigShot allows you to focus on your work without straining to see the screen. Price $99."

Other links I located included:A listing of numerous links to U.S. Internet Resources - Low Vision; UAB Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences; Association of Vision Science Librarians

"The Low Vision Gateway to the Internet is your starting point to the world's resources to vision loss, vision impairment, blindness, low vision aids and low vision rehabilitation services."

Vision Aware - Self Help for Vision Loss

The Low Vision Store.com
Vision Related Websites:
"Untangling The Web" WVU

”Resources on Visual Disability
“Resources in this category are primarily targeted to software and devices to assist people with visual disabilities to operate computers.”

Access Dome
"For People Working to Make the Web Accessible"
"We are a Global Community dedicated to individuals seeking or offering products, services, information, and participation in ensuring that the Web is accessible to people with disabilities, including people who are vision impaired or have hearing disabilities, physical disabilities, cognitive, and neurological disabilities.”

American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)is a significant information source reporting: "Low vision can result from specific eye conditions, such as cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy, or from a stroke." This AFB site also clearly describes the differences between cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma.

There are many more resources on the Internet for those who wish to conduct further research. No doubt others may be able to provide additional information on these topics.


  1. Concerning the size of letters, it's always possible to enlarge the letters using c-trl + on PCs or command-+ on the Mac. You can repeat hitting that combination of keys several times. Hitting ctrl-minus, or command-minus will reduce the size. Just in case one didn't know that already.

  2. Great links Jorad...I have problems with the small type on many blogs and also if the font is too small and one is reading against a color of any kind...I find it almost impossible...! But there are ways to make the type bigger on some blogs and other websites, too....Internet Explorer has a place at the top called VIEW... You click on that, scroll down to text size and click on that, and there are choices......if it going to work at all you can see the difference immediately...

    As to BLOGGER DASHBOARD: To make your type bigger when you are writing your post...it is really simple. At the top of the box where you are creating your post, there are little letters and symbols....you go to FONT...and click on that and I believe there are five choices...pick one and then go to B for bold and click on that, too.....This should increase the size and blackness of your post immesurably....It makes it so much easier to read...for everyone, but particularly for us "Alta's"...if you know that word....lol!

    Just read the comment above and THAT IS A GREAT SUGGESTION!

  3. Claude and OldOldLady: Thanks for your comments and assistance.

  4. I tried Claude's method and it is FABULOUS! I have already passed it on to others, too! And it is better than what I had been doing.

  5. Many of the English-language films distributed by Netflix provide the option for captions on the screen. As a geriatric case with hearing problems,I find this a great tool for enjoyment of movies. I'd like to encourage all movie (and TV) producers to provide captions routinely on their films--as they do with foreign films. Having become accustomed--and spoiled--to watching so many Netflix-distributed video disks with their captions on my DVD player at home, I find it a chore, even with my hearing aids, to sit in a movie theater, trying to decipher the mumbling performers on the screen.

  6. Try hitting the "ctrl" and "Shift" keys and the "+" key together (you'll need both hands to do this) The type font should come up by at least 25%

  7. Joared, I apologize. I should have read your blog a month ago and I would have seen your report about my hearing problems. Thank you for trying to contact YouTube for me. Ronni did offer some suggestions, but I was unable to make use of them. Maybe in time the Internet will catch up with TV and furnish the service.

    I just had a CT scan today and it's the last step before scheduling surgery for a cochlear implant. If all goes well I may be able to hear once again.

    Thank you for your interest and I am sorry that it has taken me so long to find time to read your blog. It's fascinating and I will make it to your space oftener.