Category Archives: technology

Eye deal iPhone

Looking is not really my strong point (understatement), but looking for simple solutions is.

Problem: Really bad eyesight

Solution: iPhone

Yes, the solution for-needing an electronic magnifier, was literally under my nose…almost on my nose!! Such is the posture that shortsightedness dictates. My iPhone had been merrily freeloading in my handbag like a lazy stowaway, until I discovered how brilliantly it can work … for a living.

Now It works 15 hours a day, on minimum wage, and it is everything from a personal assistant, a talking watch, cab caller, story reader and an electronic magnifier. It is very polite and never complains. Paired with a bluetooth keyboard, it is also a word processor with built in, free screen reading software.

It requires patience to learn how to handle this versatile creature, but the rewards of a mutually beneficial relationship outweighs the inevitable frustrations of a green apple ….user.

Just one byte 😉 and you will be hooked.

….and live ‘appily’ ever after.

Check out my first video and share with friends and family with really bad eyesight


iSight or iSee

iSight or iSee


isightI recently attended a mobility training course to learn how to get around more independently as a visually impaired person. It required that I learned how to use a mobility cane – an extra-long cane with a rotating golf ball at the tip (so you get extra notice when you are about to fall into a cover-stolen manhole) as opposed to a symbol cane, a shorter stick which merely reminds others that you are a person who has full permission to act slightly strangely at times (like using a magnifier to see a till slip or walking past a friend without greeting them).

Shortly after this, a close friend of mine found an iPad that had been dropped in the street.  In her good citizen quest to find the owner she had to make a trip to the iStore in Canal walk. That day I was feeling down about a health issue, and was pondering on how precious life is.  So when the opportunity arose I grabbed the chance to get out, enjoy time with a friend, changed my plans and offered to go along for the drive.

I took along my new cane and was excited to try out my fresh skills in an unfamiliar environment.   I felt really free just walking from the car into the building without putting strain on my always confusing vision.  We found the relevant shop and, bolstered by my new found confidence, I asked her if she was up to a bit of fun. She giggled and said , “Go for it”, so I held onto her elbow, kept my shades on and she led the way to the counter at the back of the store where two attendants were waiting . I asked, “Is this the iStore? “when the chap said yes, I announced politely, “I would like to buy some eyes”.
There was a serious and awkward silence and then we burst out laughing.  The guys then joined in – I think very relieved at not having to make an appropriate response. We eventually got onto our real errand.

I was reminded that life with a disability is not as tragic as a life where you cannot see hope. There is no option to buy ‘iSight’, but there is always an option to choose how ‘iSee’.

P.S.I admire all things Apple and, in my opinion, an iPhone is a brilliantly helpful assistive device for any blind or blindish person… even without using the accessibility functions.

P.P.S. Apologies for any emotional trauma caused to the iStore staff.


Ice-cream or I scream

Early this morning, long before the alarm was due to go off, I was settled at my desk in front of my reading camera with my nose hovering about 10 centimetres from the high definition monitor screen. The house was dark and still while I read in the glow of my desk light, blinkered and focussed on the words. All was quiet in the room, and I could vaguely hear the twittering and chattering of the birds in the background, announcing the pending dawn. I was deep in thought as I pondered the scripture for my day ahead.

A heavy hand rested on my shoulder and I heard a deep whisper, ‘Jen”. I screamed and shrieked as I lurched back in the chair. I looked up, still yelling because my eyes had not adjusted from the bright glare of the screen and finally the man- sized figure evolved into my apologetic and astonished husband. He happened to be wearing thick socks and had crept quietly into the room so as not to disturb my peace and contemplation. Well that didn’t work! We both got the fright of our lives!

We laughed and hooted in recovery, waiting for the hammers in our chests to wane.

He owes me one …I think Ill demand a caramel dip… ‘I-SCREAM’!!

Bring on Technology

I just thought I would share this link with those who follow my blog via email.

This is so cool and I am so grateful for all the creative and technically brained people who thought this up!

Snapshots and sound clips

Recently, while we were away on holiday on the edge of Langebaan lagoon, I was awakened by the unusual and fascinating sounds of the early morning. I dressed warmly, armed myself with coffee and crept outside to embrace the new-born day. I listened to seagulls squawking belligerently as they squabbled over seafood specials. I heard the lap and swash of the shoreline, the clinking of fishermen’s bait cans and the distant drone of a fog horn from the harbour. On that white, foggy morning there was low visibility, and coupled with my own poor ‘visibility’ I decided to appreciate the sounds with my eyes closed.  The experience made me realise how much there is to hear when I take the time to notice it ….or whatever the equivalent of noticing is in sound terms.

I set my voice recorder on my phone, placed it on the gate post and saved the cacophony of sound which accompanied the waking world. It has recorded a moment that I can relive every time I listen to the audio clip. It even ignites the memory of the cold air stinging my cheeks and the salty smell of seaweed and wet sand .Sound memories for the vision impaired are as photo memories for the sighted.

I have started recording ordinary circumstances as keepsakes – like the sound of the family pottering around on Sunday afternoons and the sound of a bird call while I hang the washing.  What do I call the sound version of a ‘selfie’? Maybe an ‘audie!?

Now I just need to work out how to save a sound album instead of a photo album.

It’s not called a smart phone for nothing

I am so pleased that ordinary technology can help VIP’s (visually impaired persons). well done to Cape Town Society for the blind and Vodacom.

if you are a technology explorer maybe you can help a short-sighted friend to turn on the accessibility function on their smart-phone. Just don’t leave them  with the changes until you are sure that it really is suitable for their needs. Remember too  that the cell phone cameras can be  used as a magnifying glass to read things like the electricity meter or temperature on the oven dials. I even use it to see weight measurements on the kitchen and bathroom scales.  My phone is like a hand -held eye …is that why they call it an iPhone? 🙂

Siri and Silly

I love my iPhone, especially the speech to text function as well as Siri – the built in personal secretary who responds to voice commands. Siri and I have had some interesting misunderstandings. I asked her to save a contact of a friend with the surname Christoffels and she wrote down something similar. I just left the mistake for the fun value, so if I need to call him I ask her to dial ‘Mr Chris tonsils’.

I have adjusted Siri to an Australian accent as it is more compatible to my South African Accent than the British or American English. There are however, some sounds where she and I are on different wavelengths. I was out with a new friend and I needed to call our domestic worker. She is a joyful, honest and reliable ‘angel’ who does miracles in our house on a weekly basis – but she insists on pronouncing her name “Regina” with a long ‘I’ (eye) sound. When I asked Siri to call Regina Lama she said, in her polite Australian accent, “Sorry, but I cannot find Vagina Drama in your contacts”. Needless to say we collapsed laughing and the friendship was bounced to another level.

Who says that having low vision cannot be fun?