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Spencer's Spotlight

For your reading convenients below you will find all the Spencer's Spotlight published in 2019

January 2019

Here's hoping that each and every one of you have the best possible year ever! Personally, 2018 was an extremely challenging year for me so I am not sad to have it behind me.

For this month's spotlight item, I would like to tell you about a pretty incredible speaker I have recently acquired. It is made by Bose and it is the SoundLink Micro. It is the smallest bluetooth speaker to date they make.

It has a four-inch rounded square appearance and fits comfortably in the palm of my hand. It is rugged, meaning it can take some abuse without causing it any harm. It has a silicone base and four protrusions on the bottom of each corner for feet. The dimensions are approximately 4by 4 square, by about not quite 2 inches high.

This is a take anywhere speaker. Did I tell you it is waterproof! Yes, you can get it wet, it can go in the shower with you, to the pool, and even to the beach. It is also equipped with a silicone strap that can be attached to a showerhead, tote bag, belt, or a beach chair. It doesn't look very stable but indeed once attached it has a very firm and secure grip.

If your mouth is not watering by now, let's talk about the features this little baby has. Of course there is bluetooth, but it can connect up to eight devices! Yes, eight. When you turn on the speaker, you will hear a double tone to let you know it is on. Then when you push the silicone covered button to the right of the micro USB charging port, it will announce the battery percentage. YES, it talks!

After the battery percentage, it will proceed to announce which device is currently connected. Although it can connect to eight devices, it will only tell you the first two. If it is not the device you are interested in working with, you can press the pairing button, yes, it is also silicone covered, and each press will cycle through all the connected devices until you reach the one you want. A long press of the pairing button will put it in pairing mode so you can connect another device. It is sooooo cooool, one speaker and 8 devices.

Okay, now let's take a look at the top. On the top left there is volume up, then the pause/ play in the center, and on the right is volume down. The volume buttons double as previous track and next track when pressed twice in quick succession. Another feature is that it has a microphone built-in and you can actually answer the phone pressing the play/pause button and use it as a speaker phone.

Okay now, I know you are wanting to know the most important thing, how much is this small but feature loaded speaker. I was surprised to find it on Amazon for 99 dollars and I have seen it as low as 69 dollars.

I have not been this impressed with a speaker since I introduced the little sound core Nano. So, if you are in the market for such a versatile speaker such as the Bose SoundLink Micro, I give this one a thumbs up. It is really affordable by Bose standards.

February 2019

Okay, I seem to be in a speaker mode. At least I managed to step away from the kitchen. This month�s featured speaker is brand new to me, in fact, I had never heard of this type of product. It was a gift from some special friends of mine for my birthday.

When I opened the box, I had no earthly idea what it was. I called up Aira and the agent told me it was a neck speaker. I thought, neck speaker? Then I had the agent read the instructions and the more she read, the more excited I became about this speaker concept.

What an ingenious idea this is especially for the blind. This is a new way to listen to your audio content. Wear your music while you do what you do. Wear this body speaker while doing chores, at the gym, walking, or just at home relaxing.

Because the speaker is situated below your ears, this is the safest way to listen to your music while being alert to your surroundings and enjoying full body stereo sound. More than just a speaker, this speaker is also Bluetooth capable, so you can pair it to your phone or other Bluetooth device and play the content through the neck speaker.

You can also answer and talk on the phone. It has a micro SD slot so you could load described movies or books on to a micro SD card or a flash drive. There is even a radio built-in.

I have really enjoyed having this speaker. One thing I have noticed about it, there is nothing on your head or in your ears. Unlike other speakers, you have to pick them up and carry them from room to room, but with the neck speaker design, the sound goes wherever you go!

This speaker is no longer in stock where it was purchased, so I went to my go to place for technology, Amazon. You weren't surprised, were you? The price ranges from around 40 dollars and up. So, my advice is if you are interested in getting a neck or body speaker, check the options, read the reviews and product details, and make an informed decision.
Happy safe listening.

March 2019

Last month I wrote about something I received for my Birthday. This month's item, oddly enough, just happens to be about something I received for Christmas. This is a backpack made by Sosoon. Now, I hear what you are thinking, a backpack? What kind of tech item is a backpack? Yeah, right! I know really, let me explain.

I am sure that a lot of you have already been introduced to this kind of product. However, this is new to me. Yes, I do need to get out more, working on it. Anyway, besides being a great backpack with loads, and I do mean loads of pockets, it comes equipped with a USB connecter, as well as an audio cable.

When I first saw the cables, I could not for the life of me figure out how it worked. The cables were literally sewn into the fabric of the backpack. I asked my sister Becky, and she had no idea. So, I went in search of an answer as to how it worked. YouTube was just a video with a lot of looky here and how cool is this. When my neighbor came over, I showed it to her and she figured it out. Eureka! You will never guess, of course unless you already know, and that does not count.

The way this works is really cool. The backpack has two straps, one has a USB input and on the other one is the audio input. So, you can have an MP3 player, or similar device plugged in the inside of the backpack via the built-in audio cable. Then you can listen to content by attaching your ear buds into the audio input on the strap. Wow, what a neat idea. You can hook up a power bank to the inside cable. Then, when you need to charge your phone, just plug the USB end of your charging cable into the USB input on the strap and twala!

This backpack is loaded with features other than the tech aspect. It holds up to a 15-inch laptop. It has a separate pocket for an iPad or tablet. There are separate spacious spaces for all kinds of accessories. I can see me using this as a weekend bag with no problem.

Other features include a strap for sunglasses, a key ring holder, two water bottle pockets, a concealed pocket on the back, three small pockets for smaller items, and a sleeve on the back for attaching to a luggage handle. This backpack is made of durable fabric, and the straps are wide and comfortable, distributing weight effectively. It comes with a lifetime warranty and the fabric is tear resistant.

I am not sure wear my sister ordered the one for me. I found one on Amazon, of course, for an amazing price of 25 dollars and 99 cents, and free shipping for prime members. Needless to say, I am highly impress with this product and if you are in the market for a backpack, the one made by Sosoon is hard to beat!

April 2019

This month I am straying from the norm and taking a suggestion from one of the Blind Prospective readers and writing about one of the products he is interested in learning about. So, thank you Roger from Canada for the idea.

Roger wanted to know about a pressure active mat that emits a sound when someone steps on it. As I was doing the research for this item, I thought of many ways I could use it myself! How about in front of my door to let me know when someone is there. I could also put one by the back door to let me know when my dog, or in my case, my horse is ready to come inside. Some other uses I thought of include putting it at either the top or bottom of stairs if you have small children, in order to keep them safe. Again regarding children, it can be place in front of cabinets that they shouldn�t get into, as an added safety measure. It can be placed next to beds of children or elderly people who have a habit of wandering about. Who knew this type of item could have so many practical and simple solutions perfect for the blind.

To help, let me tell you about a product I found that match these scenarios.
Ideal Security SK630 Solo pressure alarm with loud buzz and pleasant chime. Notifies you of visitors, intruders or people passing by. It has two modes, alarm and chime. The alarm trigger will emit a loud 105 db 30 second sound. This would be good to set this at night before going to bed. This sounds like it would be loud enough to discourage anyone who may be up to no good.

In Chime mode, it triggers a ding dong sound which goes off twice each time the mat is activated, and emits 95db sound. A cool feature is that it can be just a mat when you do not wish to be bothered with the alarm or chime. Choices, I love choices!

Although this mat is not waterproof, it can be placed under a waterproof mat and can withstand cold temperatures to 14 degrees F (-10 c).

The alarm unit is connected to the mat with 30 feet of very thin wire so you can place the alarm unit in the best location to suit your needs. There is even hardware included so it can be mounted to the wall. In my case, I would want to maintain flexibility then again, it is nice to have a choice.

The mat is designed to be sensitive to even small animals. It will be triggered when anything exerting more than 1 pound per square inch steps on it. So, if you are sneaking around, avoid this mat.

This mat is battery operated and based on a trigger of 20times per day the battery can last up to 5 months of use.

There is no volume control, so it is either on or off.
Dimensions are 21.75X13.75.
Battery size is 9 volt which is not included.

Okay, now to the best part, the price. It is just a mere 22 dollars and 27 cents, and is prime eligible. Just so you know, yes, it is in my cart. I am sold!
Thanks, Roger, for suggesting such a useful and practical product.

If anyone would like to suggest an item for the Spencer's Spotlight, send me an email and I will certainly give it my consideration.

May 2019

Spring is here and summer is fast approaching and a lot of outdoor events will be on the agenda. Picnics, camping, sports, swimming, biking, and hiking; you get the point. This month�s spotlight fits right in line with the on the go theme.

A lot of blind and visually impaired people wear sunglasses for cosmetic reasons, light sensitivity, or just because. I myself, do not wear sunglasses anymore. Well, this little gadget just may change my mind.

Other than providing protection from the sun�s ultraviolet rays, sunglasses can do so much more than you could believe. In this day and age, multitasking is the thing. Even our phones do so much more than make phone calls.

As I was doing research for these particular sunglasses, I realized that sunglasses have been multi-functional for many years now with built-in video cameras and let's not forget the Google glass with its video capability. As a blind person, this kind of functionality meant nothing to me but now, my attention has been grabbed by a new kind of usefulness for me, and perhaps you too!

A pair of sunglasses can now be bluetoothed to your phone or other audio-based devices such as your television. While wearing these glasses, you can now enjoy your favorite music, radio or television program or enjoy reading an audio book while at the beach, in the park or even at a sporting event. There are even microphones built in to the frames so you can actually answer the phone all with just your sunglasses. That totally amazes me.

There are actually several brands available. The price ranges from as low as 16 dollars and 99 cents for Techken Sunglasses which is Amazon's choice, and by the way, I am going to give them a try for that price. My searches found them on Amazon and Ebay. There are even waterproof versions to consider if you go to the pool or beach. I have a friend that has the Bose Bluetooth Audio sunglasses, and I must say, the quality of the microphone is most impressive. These sunglasses sell for 199 Dollars, from Bose.

I can't wait to get my sunglasses. I will let you know next month if they live up to the hype. wow, who knew that the sunglasses we have been sporting for years now has just become the ultra cool thing to wear!

June 2019

Remember last month I promised to tell you my impressions of the Techken Bluetooth sunglasses that I ordered from Amazon. I opted for the 16 dollars and 99 cents pair. When I first opened the package, I thought they were pretty funky looking. Very futuristic. I have a very small head so most sunglasses are too big for me. I solved the problem of them slipping off my head by wrapping an elastic band around the ends of the arms and my hair covered it well, so all is good.

The pairing process was pretty easy and I was able to hear my iPhone well. When I made a phone call, the audio was clear. All and all, in my opinion, it was a good buy. Those that have opted to get the Bose sunglasses are very happy with their choice as well.

Now, for this month�s spotlight item. Have you ever had trouble getting out of bed in the morning, not wanting to let go of the pillow and that nice dream you were having? Me too! I have actually slept so well that the alarms sounded, and I slept through all 4 alarms I had set. I hate it when the day starts with me running as soon as my feet hit the floor. I found a little gadget that might just help. it is called the TCLPulse Bluetooth enabled vibration and Sound Alarm.

The pulse unit pairs with your iPhone and apparently there is an ap that is voiceover friendly where you can setup all kinds of alarms and reminders. As many as 10 per day. The ap can control the strength of the vibration and this can be kind of cool if your partner is a light sleeper. Or, you can use a combination of sound and vibration to manage your sleep interruption.

This is also a solution to those of us that do not hear as well as others. The pulse device fits inside your pillowcase so when the alarm goes off, it vibrates and or makes sounds to wake you up.

Below are the product details, taken from their website:
Bluetooth 4.0
Each I O S device can monitor up to 5 TCL pulse vibrations
Program up to 10 alarms for any day of the week
LED indicator shows status with colors and patterns
Adjustable vibration/sound with snooze
Countdown timer
Wake up by vibrations, sound, or both
Color black
Weight is 0.5 lbs.

The price is 39 dollars and 95 cents which sounds like a good deal, considering what it does. Amplicon USA manufactures this device and it sold by A. T. Guys. Their web address is: www.AtGguys.com

July 2019

Here in North America we are sliding into the heart of summer and the outdoors awaits. Whether you are sitting by the pool, on the patio, camping, going to the beach, hiking, or simply taking a walk in the neighborhood, we all can't manage to go tech free. Our cell phones, book readers or similar items are ever accompanying us. So, this presents the common problem of battery power for these devices.

Portable power banks to the rescue. Power banks are used to provide portable power to charge battery powered items like cell phones, and other similar items that use a USB interface. Power banks work by using sophisticated electronics that manage taking in a charge from a charger and storing it in a battery, and then allowing the charging of other devices. All you really have to know is that it works.

The power of the bank is what to look at when shopping for a power bank. There are two types of batteries that are used. Lithium-Ion offers a high-power density and does not have what is known as "the memory effect."

Lithium polymer are generally more robust, flexible and they tend to last longer. They are lightweight, have a low profile and have a lower chance of suffering from an electrolyte leakage. Looks like Mr. polymer is also environmentally friendly.

Most commonly, a power bank will use a micro USB to charge its bank. The larger USB type A connector is used to enable the power bank to charge other devices. This means that standard charging cables supplied with most phones and other devices can be used. Normal USB have a type A connector.

Power banks have electronic battery management which includes a safety cut off to prevent overcharging and overheating. It is best to make sure you charge the power bank after you have used it to make sure it is always ready to go when you are.

Okay, you ask, which one? Yes, that can be quite the dilemma. It really all depends on individual preference. Fortunately, for us, there is a plethora of choices.

Power banks can range from the very small and slim, offering enough battery power for emergency purposes, to extremely large capacity power banks that are strong enough to jump a car battery. There are ones that are built-in to purses, backpacks, even phone cases. They are available in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some can charge anywhere from one device up to 4, and possibly more at the same time.

My preference falls somewhere in the midrange. I like to have the peace of mind that if I am out and about for the better part of the day, I will have enough juice to get me back home.

Power banks are widely available just about any department or electronic store. They can also be found in your favorite on line store. Prices can range from under 10.00 to 50.00 and up depending on your choice and capacity.

So, with the right power bank in hand, enjoy the peace of mind knowing that while out and about during these long lazy days of summer you are still connected!

August 2019

I hope everyone is having a lovely summer filled with fun and action-packed activities!

This month I am focusing on something we all can benefit from, even sighted people. How many times have you spent an inordinate amount of time looking for the remote, your keys, and even your phone? Bluetooth locators may be the answer to this problem.

These Bluetooth locators or tracking devices come in a pack of two. They are paired to your phone and given a name such as keys, remote or they can even be attached to your pet if they have a tendency to wander off from your property. These locators are both iOS and Android compatible.

Once the completely accessible TrackR app, note the spelling of the app, is downloaded and devices are set up, you are able to name each object. Then, when you want to locate your keys for example, open the app, find the icon labeled keys and initiate the search. An audible sound will continue until you locate the keys. Just push the button on the device to silence the sound.

If you misplace your phone, you can use the locator by pressing a button on the device to ring your phone even if your phone is on silent.

Another really handy use for it is when traveling whether by bus, train, or plane. Just put one of the devices on your luggage and you will be able to track your bag.

Isn't technology a wonderful thing! I have found these TrackR Bluetooth locators on the Harbolt web site, a set of 2 is 27 dollars and 99 cents.
Their website is: harboltcompany.com

Below is more information taken from the Harbolt web site.
2 Pack Bluetooth Tracking Locators for iOS or android With Audible or LED Sound, Free Battery Replacements, Keyring Loop, and 3 M Double Sided Adhesive.>br> Great for keys, remote controls, phones, or anything that you might lose.
Loud ringer; tap the app to make your Bluetooth locator ring loudly so you can hear where your stuff is hiding.
LED lights; the Bluetooth locator doesn’t just ring, it also lights up so you can find what’s missing in a flash.
Coin-Sized; measuring in at 1 x 1 x .2 inches, it’s one of the smallest Bluetooth trackers yet.
Replaceable Battery; get notified when the battery is low. Takes a standard 3V CR2016 button battery.
Phone finder; press button on the locator to make your phone ring, even when it’s on silent.
Map View; with the app running in the background you can tap on the map to see where and when you last had your stuff.
Crowd Locate; rely on a global network of users to help you locate what’s lost. You’ll receive a private notification when a TrackR app user passes by your lost item.
Sticks to Anything; use the included key loop ring or 3M adhesive patch to attach your pixel to just about anything.
Lightweight; weighing in at just 4 grams, the pixel won’t ever weigh you down.
Specifications: diameter. 1.03 inches; thickness. 0.22 inches; weight. 0.14 ounces; battery type. User-replaceable CR2016; volume. Up to 90 dB.
connectivity: Bluetooth version 4.0; range. Bluetooth range, up to 100 feet. Obstacles such as walls or furniture may affect range.
Compatibility: iOS version 9 or newer, Android version 4.4 or newer.

WHAT'S INCLUDED:
Key loop ring. (one per locator).
2-Sided 3M adhesive (one per locator).
User-replaceable CR2016 battery (installed in each locator).
Free Battery replacement: We've got you covered. Order a replacement battery right from the app. So, you never have to be without power. Just tap the battery icon in the app to order a new battery, for free.
*How to replace the battery: Hold Bluetooth locator vertical where rough textured side faces to the right. Place left index and middle fingers of left hand on left smooth side and the pads of the index and middle fingers of right hand on right textured side. Twist textured side counter clockwise toward yourself until cover turns. The textured side cover should come off easily now and battery is underneath. Replace cover and twist textured side clockwise away from you to lock cover back in place.

This is a cool item to put in your independent toolbox. If there is a product you would like me to shine my spotlight on please write me at the e-mail above and let me know.

September 2019

This month I bring up the topic of grocery shopping. As a blind person, I have never enjoyed going into a store and standing there hoping a store employee spots me and comes over to enquire whether or not I need assistance. I have waited as little as a minute to as long as, “Hello, am I invisible?” Then, you have to wait for someone to become available to walk around the store with you, which can also take some time.

Then, you go through that, get home and are putting your groceries away and you encounter something you don't recognize. The helper put the wrong item in your cart. I have had this experience on numerous occasions. It is very frustrating. I have gone as far as reaching into the cart to examine each package to make sure they have found the correct item.

Fortunately, the way we shop has become easier and less challenging. There are now so many options available to us these days. Services such as grocery delivery began surfacing a few years ago. Not necessarily designed for the blind in mind but rather for the professionals too busy to shop, parents with young children, and seniors unable to drive. We as blind individuals just happen to benefit from these services. About four years ago, a service called Shipt debuted in my town. I signed up for the service. It was a 99 dollar per year fee, but, during the introductory period, I got it for 49 dollars. That is what I pay each year. It is worth it to me to have someone else shop for my groceries. As long as the order is at least 35 dollars, the delivery is free, let's face it, you put a few items in your cart and you are looking at almost 35 dollars. Let's just say that I have no problem meeting the minimum.

In the beginning the app on the iPhone was very cumbersome, difficult to use, and was almost as frustrating as going to the store. After several updates to the app, shopping for my groceries is almost fun. The only problem with the app now is if you want to change the store option, it has to be done by a sighted person. I myself, call Aira and they sign into the web site and change it for me. I would not recommend Be my eyes for this as you would need to share your user name and password to log into your account. Alternatively, you can go to the website from your computer and change your store preference.

The app itself is very blind friendly. you can see how many items are in your cart and review them before checking out. It also gives you the option of adding or removing items as necessary. A special request feature is also nice when ordering a sub sandwich from the deli or any other specialty item. Once you check out on the app, you can choose how to handle substitutions. I choose to have the shopper contact me and give me the option of another product or no replacement item. I receive a text notifying me when my shopper is shopping for my groceries. Then I get another text when they are on my street. The shopper’s tip is not automatically included. When you go into the app after the groceries are delivered, there is an option to rate your shopper, make comments, and include a tip. It is encouraged, but not required. I have had really good experiences from this style of shopping.

Other companies also offer delivery services as well. Instacart is another popular choice for grocery, and other types of store delivery. Instacart offers yearly or monthly plans without a delivery fee, and it includes the tip within the total cost. If it's Meals On Wheels you are looking for, that's a whole different type of delivery service. Pizza isn't the only game in town anymore!

I know that Shipt is not available everywhere, so if this concept is appealing to you, search in your local area for delivery possibilities. Also, if you know it is available in your area, or know someone using the service, there are deals to be had by getting them to send you a referral via e-mail. I am all about making life easier and less challenging, this type of service definitely fills the bill.
Let the shopping begin!

October 2019

What would you like to do today?

Most of you know, or have heard about Aira. I attended a seminar about Aira at a convention in 2015. I had never heard of Aira before so this concept was brand new to me. A video was shown depicting a man walking down a shopping strip and the Aira agent was describing the area and directing him to a doorway into a coffee shop. The agent described the environment and where the line was located. Once close to the counter, the agent read the menu, and even described the expression on the clerk’s face. I was totally fascinated. I immediately signed up for a demonstration.

I was given a funky pair of glasses to wear. They were just a frame with a square lens at the top right and the actual camera was to the right of the lens. I was given a phone with an earbud attached for me to hear the Aira agent. After doing a sound check, the demonstration began. I was in a very large open area outside the exhibit hall. The agent directed me to go straight and described the area around me as I was walking. I was able to visualize my surroundings based on her description. The agent told me there was a water fountain about 20 yards away and I said I would like some water. So, she directed me right to it and as I reached out, I recognized it as something I had come across the day before but had no idea what it was and just went past it not knowing. She then told me where the cups were and I reached out like I could see. I grabbed a cup and got myself a drink of water. She then directed me to the trash can located near the door. I went through the door and the agent described my surroundings. She was even able to tell me what the temperature was as she kept an eye on where I was going. She then directed me back into the building and back to my chair. I was blown away, wooow! It was a life changing experience to me that this was something that I would be able to use to achieve so much without bothering friends or relatives which up to this point were my main resources.

I signed up on the spot and never looked back. I had my "onboarding" in January of 2016. Here are just a few of the many many things I have asked Aira to do for me: navigate difficult web sites, describe the items and navigate the different online stores, help me set up my television, shop in a grocery store independently, find a graduation card for my Niece, and take a picture and label it. I could literally go on and on.

Aira has been ever evolving and strives to make their service available and more affordable to more and more. They have expanded to other countries such as Canada, England, Ireland, and as far away as New Zealand and Australia.

Aira is unique unlike any other service in that their agents are highly trained and are required to sign a confidentiality contract in order to protect the subscriber’s privacy. Taken from their website: “Protecting your privacy and ensuring you feel secure using Aira are our top priorities. Anyone you connect with will have passed robust background checks, signed strict privacy clauses, and undergone weeks of rigorous training.”

Recently, Aira has made their service free for five minutes per call to anyone regardless whether they are subscribed or not. Just think of all the things you can do in five minutes or less. The list can be as long as your imagination.

If you have not had the Aira experience, I encourage you to download the ap and create a free account. Aira is available in the Apple App and Google Play Stores. All Aira requires is your mobile number. As they say, no credit card, no commitment, no problem.

Here is some information I found on pricing. (United States and Canada)
Aira Intro Plan: 29 dollars per month gets you 30 minutes, only available with the phone camera.

Standard (most popular): 99 dollars with just the phone or 124 dollars per month with the Horizon kit. this plan gets you 120 minutes.

Advanced: 199 dollars per month or 224 dollars per month with the horizon kit. This gets you 300 minutes per month.

These are just the personal plans available. There are discounts for Veterans, students, and members of the National Federation OF The Blind.

A quick mention on the Horizon kit. It comes with a pair of Smart glasses with a camera built into the center of the frame just above the nose. Also included is a phone to be used just with Aira., charging equipment, and necessary cables. The connection from the glasses to the phone allows the agent a wide field of view. Communication is done with either a Bluetooth headset or a wired earbud, whatever works best for the individual. And believe me when going for a walk, it's like having someone right beside you describing everything.

Free access: individuals can use Aira for free with the different partnerships they have made with businesses.
*Limited and on-going promotions that provide free access to Aira agents, such as the Intuit QuickBooks and Small Business Owners promotion.

*Products, free to use for tasks that involve using certain products like Vispero’s JAWS screen reader. This could be the work around for reading those inaccessible captias!

*Locations, an ever-growing number of locations like Walgreens, AT&T stores, airports, and federal buildings.

For more information on this incredible service, go to their website at: www.aira.io
or call them at: 800-835-1934 (6:00 am to 6:00 pm, PST)

I am not intending to take any props away from other services that perform similar task. Each has an important place in our independence toolbox.

Happy exploring!

November 2019

It pays to advertise.

I read the Blind Perspective as well as write for it. So, when I came across the add from the Blind Mice Mart about something called the Danny Boy, which frankly reminds me of the song, I was intrigued. I went to the website to find out more about this product. Hmmm, a device that holds your phone while you place a document or printed page underneath, and Twala, it makes reading so much easier.

I don't know about you, but at times I can be extremely aim challenged. I was looking through some paperwork a few months ago. I would put a page in my lap and hover the phone over it and found this process tedious. Then, I tried putting the phone on the table with the camera facing up and floating the page above, hoping that would work better. Well, it was mostly hit and miss with me.

I had heard about document stands before and did not really understand what they were all about. I Like the idea that this particular one is made of wood, is lightweight, and is adjustable. It can also fold for travel if need be.

It is capable of holding a phone as small as an iPhone SE, which is what I have, and up to the larger models. Basically, any size iPhone or Android smart phone. It has wingnuts that can be loosened to slide the opening wider apart to accommodate pretty much any size phone. Once you have the stand in place, there are wingnuts to tighten the legs down for stability. There are also rubber feet to keep the stand in place.

I use the Seeing AI app on my phone for reading mail. I put the channel to short text and as soon as I placed the page under the phone it began reading. I was extremely impressed at how fast it was and I was able to go through a pile of mail in record time.

One thing I did do to make it easier to orient the page under the camera was to place the stand in a box, like the ones that hold a case of drinks. It allowed me to place the page against the edge of the box, making sure that the page was straight. I think that helps the recognition process.

The platform tray adjusts to three different width sizes, three inches, three and a half, or four inches. It weighs less than six ounces, and the platform tray measures ten inches by four inches. The Danny Boy measures twelve inches long overall and thirteen and a half inches tall. Great for boxes of mixes or other similar products to scan.

The wingnut assembly makes it easy to loosen and fold up for putting in a computer bag or luggage for travel. The really cool thing is that it is made by the blind, for the blind, kind of like this newsletter.

The price is 39 dollars and 99 cents plus shipping. If interested, visit the Blind Mice mart at: www.BlindMiceMart.com
or send an email to: Sales@BlindMiceMegaMall.com
or if you like that personal touch like I do, call the Blind Mice order center at: 713-893-7277. They are credit card friendly, and for your convenience, they accept paypal. So, the Danny Boy gets two thumbs up from me! **I received new information about this product. Available now is an updated version of the Danny Boy. It is capable of scanning a legal size document. If you already own the Danny Boy you can trade it in for the updated version for 20 dollars.

December 2019

As we approach the gift giving holidays, there is always that age old question what do I get my friends and family, and I am sure they are wondering the same about what to get their blind friends and family members as well.

Are you tired of getting the same old generic gift that could probably have been purchased for just about anyone? Wouldn't it be refreshing if you got a gift that talked, or was otherwise accessible? That's what I'm talking about.

There are so many things available for the blind that there is absolutely no excuse for any of us to be getting another scarf or that awful bottle of perfume, or cologne. So many companies are now selling items that are affordable that are beneficial and useful to us blind folks.

Below is a list of businesses that sell fun and accessible items that you or someone you know may enjoy. Maybe you can casually slip in a hint or suggestion and you never know, someone just may be listening. Happy shopping!

Amazon: www.Amazon.com
Type the word blind in the search box, and you will be surprised what you find. I actually ordered a cane! A T Guys: Your Assistive Technology Experts. Product or Service: Your leader in affordable technology including iPhone and Android accessories, keyboards, headsets, speakers, cases, the iGrill kitchen thermometer, Braille displays, and other cool gadgets. Phone: (269) 216-4798 Website: www.ATGuys.com
American Printing House for the Blind Product or Service: APH is the world’s largest company devoted to making products for people who are visually impaired and blind, and is the official supplier of educational materials for blind students in the U.S. They also have games such as scrabble and monopoly marked in braille. Phone: (800) 223-1839 Website: www.APH.org
Blind Mice Mega Mall Wide variety of items such as electronics, watches, and novelty apparel. Website: www.BlindMiceMegaMall.com
Ebay I ordered a talking scale from here! Website: www.Ebay.com
Laura Legendary with braille Jewelry Elegant Insights Braille Creations jewelry and accessories are beautiful, unusual, accessible, and inclusive. You’ll get noticed, and get compliments! Phone 1-702-605-1265 Website: www.ElegantInsightsJewelry.com
Harbolt company We at the Harbolt Company love what we do, and can't wait for you to share in our passion for all things cool and accessible. Whether you're looking for some serious high end audio equipment, searching for the perfect accessory for your smartphone or mobile device, shopping for that elusive gift for the person who has everything, trying to locate that hard to find rare and unusual item, or just wanting something for yourself or for that special someone, we’ve got you covered. You've found the perfect place for fun, excitement, and accessibility. Most importantly, a place to feel right at home. We offer audio and written descriptions of all our products, so you'll always know what you are getting. So, come join us in our unfailing love of all things unique. Website: www.HarboltCompany.com
Independent Living Aids Product or Service: ILA, 38 years strong; Keeping life MAGNIFIED, AMPLIFIED, SIMPLIFIED, and always in MOTION. We are your #1 source for independence, with a wide selection of low vision aides, tools, and technology. Phone: (800) 537-2118 Website: www.IndependentLiving.com
National Braille Press Product or Service: Braille and tactile products for sale. Phone: (617) 266-6160 Website: www.NBP.org
Maxiaids Catering to multiple disabilities as well as blind and low vision. Phone: 800-522-6294 Website: www.MaxiAids.com
Speak to me catalog Featuring talking toys, games, electronics, and novelty gifts. Phone: 800-248-9965 Website: www.SpeakToMeCatelog.com
Materialism aside, remember the reason for the season. Cherish the time you spend with your friends and family. Wishing you all a happy and safe holiday season.
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