Each time I meet someone new, there are questions, some of them asked and some not. Eventually, I divulge some of my “secrets” of living a rich and fulfilling life as a person who is blind. Actually, these are not secrets at all, but techniques that are enhanced by technology, experience, and practice. Today, I’ll answer those questions you’ve always had but were embarrassed to ask.
How do you know what time it is? How do you read email? How do you read books and newspapers? Everything talks to you when you come to my house. Start with the doorbell. I have an intercom system, so you can announce yourself. (A peep hole does no good for me.) You might be sitting at my kitchen table when suddenly my clock announces that it is 10:00 a.m. and you might wonder, “Who was that?” It’s my version of a chiming clock. It just says out loud the correct time on the hour, whether you ask it to or not. When I want to know what time it is, I can just push its little button, and a little man inside tells me what time it is. My talking watch, and my cell phone do the same thing. When I turn the air conditioning up or down, the little man inside announces the temperature that I have selected. My computer talks to me, but I use a keyboard just as you do. I have talking books, and I read the newspaper by dialing a telephone number that connects to a synthesized speech version of many newspapers and magazines. I can choose which articles I want to listen to by pressing different numbers on the telephone keypad. When the cake is done, the timer announces, “Time is up.” My talking scale lets me know if I’ve gained weight. My talking GPS lets me know if I’ve turned on the wrong street. My light sensor plays a tune if I hold it up to a lamp so I know if someone left a light on. I listen to my talking Bible to prepare for Sunday school, and my talking dictionary helps me not look like the terrible speller I am.
My cell phone tells me when it is done charging. My caller I.D. yells out your number when you call. I don’t have these yet, but there are talking microwaves, talking bar code readers, scanners that are connected to a speech synthesizer, talking thermometers, glucose monitors, and digital recorders. I do have a talking color identifier, so that’s one way I keep from wearing one white sock and one black sock.
You might think a person could go crazy with all these voices talking all over the house, but they usually take turns. They are very polite. I have all these little men inside all these gadgets, announcing things, reading to me, and keeping me safe, but not one of these little men will take out the garbage.