More Holiday Gift Ideas for People with Visual Impairments

still haven’t found that special gift for someone with a visual impairment, whether blind or low vision, here are some more options. I have used all of the products listed below and recommend them. When ordering a product online, consider expedited shipping if the gifting date is near. All prices in this article are subject to change. Gift Cards Gift cards have become very popular for the holidays. Make sure to give the recipient the value, card number, and PIN if there is one. Popular cards include iTunes, Amazon, and restaurants. * Audible and the Audible Accessible Site Audible offers thousands of audio books. They are available the same day the print version is released. Books can be played on many devices including a computer, a tablet, or a smartphone. Audible has several gift plans, starting at $45. Members can also use their credits to gift books to other Audible members. * Fitbit Flex If the gift recipient likes exercise or wants to get in shape, the Fitbit Flex ($99.95) is a good option. The Flex tracks steps, active minutes, calories burned, and distance walked. You can manually add calories consumed, exercise, and weight. The Flex is worn on the wrist and is roughly the size of a small rectangular wristwatch. The actual electronic device (called a tracker) slides into the flexible wristband and is lightweight. Two wristbands are included in black, one small and one large. Additional wristbands are available at extra cost in various fashion colors to match your outfit. There is a free, accessible iOS app that syncs with the Fitbit. The user can also sync their Fitbit with the Fitbit website. * Jawbone Jambox Wireless Bluetooth Speakers,k:jawbone+jambox&keywords =jawbone+jambox&ie=UTF8&qid=1446080721 For the music lover, consider one of the Jambox Wireless Bluetooth Speakers from Jawbone (Big Jambox, $160; Mini Jambox, $86). They have very good sound, especially for their size. All controls are tactile. It is easy to pair any Bluetooth enabled device, such as an iPhone, with these speakers. The top of the speaker has extremely tactile, differently shaped, raised buttons. The side of the speaker has an On/Off button, a button for pairing a device and ports for connecting the speaker to headphones, connecting the speaker with a device using the device’s headphone jack, and USB. The speaker has a built-in rechargeable battery that holds its charge for about 10 hours. * PenFriend2 Voice Labeling System The PenFriend2 ($139.95) provides a quick and easy way to identify items. It uses a pen-like device to record a description and special small stick-on labels. Many different sizes and shapes of labels are included and more can be purchased. Simply attach a label to an item, touch the pen to the label, press the record button, and record a description. Read a label by touching the PenFriend to the label. These labels can be used on items that will be stored in the refrigerator and freezer. * L’Occitane en Provence L’Occitane is a French company that offers skin care, bath and body, and fragrance products for both men and women. They pay extra attention to charitable causes and one of their goals is the “support of visually impaired people worldwide.” Every L’Occitane product has a braille label, even the little soaps. They recently donated $100,000 to the American Foundation for the Blind. The company is environmentally friendly and does additional charitable work. L’Occitane has special holiday gifts including a list of gifts for under $30. They also sell individual items and sets. Their products are available on their website, , at Sephora, and at L’Occitane boutiques (a boutique locator is available on their website). *The Gift of Reading Printed Text Reading printed materials is something that sighted people may take for granted. For someone losing that ability or for someone who has never been able to read print, that ability can be a tremendous help. There are two optical character recognition (OCR) programs available that I especially like for reading printed text. These programs use an electronic device to take a picture of text and then convert the photo into text that the device’s screen reader then reads aloud. There are stands available, if needed, for holding a device steady and properly aligned for scanning. Several AccessWorld articles compare various OCR programs and stands. Not all devices are supported by a particular OCR app or stand. Check the links below to determine whether a specific device is supported. All products in this section, with the exception of the KNFB Reader, are mainstream products and are not specifically designed for people with visual impairments. KNFB Reader ($99.99) Android iOS My favorite OCR program is the KNFB Reader. Although it is expensive, this app does an excellent job of recognizing text; it is easy to use. This app is specifically designed for people who are blind or visually impaired. In the latest version, the device can be placed in a stand and documents can be scanned automatically without having to press the “Take Picture” button between pages. Abbyy TextGrabber + Translator ($4.95) Android ull&hl=en iOS My second favorite OCR app is Abbyy TextGrabber + Translator. This mainstream app is significantly less expensive than KNFB Reader but it does a very good job. It supports many languages and does an excellent job of translation. * Giraffe Reader ($52) The Giraffe Reader stand is used to hold a phone and works with iPhone 4, 4S, 5, 5C, 6, and 6 Plus. Android users should e-mail Giraffe Reader to determine whether their particular device will work. The Giraffe reader is very easy to assemble and folds up into a small size. Although a bit expensive, it is an excellent product. * StandScan Pro ($34.95) The StandScan Pro works with just about any device that has a back-facing camera. It is held together by tiny magnets and is not difficult to assemble. It folds down to fit into a computer bag. The StandScan Pro comes equipped with LED lighting to insure a good scan. It is powered by battery or electricity. *Conclusion Even if you need a last-minute gift, there are still many options for a person who is blind or visually impaired. When giving a gift, be give sure to give the recipient information on how to use it. For example, if you’re giving someone a Giraffe Reader, offer to help them put it together the first time. Remember to get your gifts as early as possible. Happy Shopping and Happy Holidays.]]>

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