Saturday, March 10, 2007

What could be the top inventions that could help the visually impaired?

Being visually impaired, I’m always encountering situations that could be made more efficient (if not easier) with the help of new inventions. The following are some situations and their corresponding inventions that I wish someone would create.

Okay, I’m in the shower and I reach for the shampoo which is room temperature, so I can’t tell whether or not the shampoo bottle has yet relinquished its contents into the palm of my hand, and if it has, how much I have is a mystery until I plop about a half a cup onto my balding scalp. The next thing I know, I’m sliding around in a suds filled tub clutching at the shower curtain, holding on for dear life.

The invention in this case is a cap of some sort that can be attached to the top of shampoo bottles that allow only a measured amount of shampoo to come out at a time.

Next, I’m in the grocery store with my wife, and I’m impatiently waiting for her to choose between the vast arrays of toilet tissues. Suddenly, I decide I want to go get a jar of pickles and assuredly walk away from my wife as she complains about a brand of tissue being a “rip-off” (no pun intended).

So far so good (as they say) until I emerge in the wide center isle and realize I can’t distinguish which Isle contains the pickles that I want. So I begin the hunt, snaking in and out of the isles too self conscious to ask passing strangers for directions. To top this situation off, I finally enter the correct isle just as my wife comes into view saying, “The pickles are right here.”

The invention in this case should be placards placed on posts, at isle entrances, giving visually impaired shoppers the opportunity to press a button and hear recordings of each isle’s main contents.

Yet another: Okay, I’m at a department store trying to choose a birthday card for my wife and hesitantly buy a card that I think says, “I love you, and always will.” Later that evening when presenting it, I discover to my horror that the card actually says, “I love you even though you’re over the hill.” The invention in this case might be an electronic scanner of some sort located nearby that will read each card for me.

Here’s another one: Okay, I’m on the phone with my mother who is talking about her gas and how it makes her butt feel like she’s wearing a flaming thong backwards, and I get a beep meaning I have a call waiting on the other line. So I interrupt my mother saying, “Hold on a sec. I got a beep.”

Then I try to look at my phone actually thinking I can find the flash button which is hidden amongst 20 other identical buttons; save the talk button which is the largest button I see. So panicking, I hastily reach for it like it’s` a life preserver and press it; both hanging up on my mother, and missing the incoming call.

Here the invention could be to give the flash button, the talk button and the redial button distinctive shapes that can be easily recognized by blind and low vision telephone users.

The last situation that needs addressing is more of a requested service than an invention, unless an invention can be created Addressing the following inconvenience:

Okay so I’m in the kitchen listening to “Good Eats” on television’s Food Network trying to prepare the same meal as the host when suddenly a huge blurb of text is displayed across the screen that I can’t read. Believing I missed something important, I find myself involuntarily yelling at the screen, “Why doesn’t someone just read that aloud?!”

This leads me to the requested service of not just displaying the text in television shows (and movies), but reading the text aloud for the benefit of those of us who can’t read the words ourselves. If this can’t be accomplished, the producers of such content could invent a special audio channel containing vocalized text that the visually impaired could receive with specialized televisions.

Finally, the inventions listed above serve to remind everyone that no matter how silly they are, things can always be done to make the lives of the visually impaired easier. That said, if you are an inventor, and I inspired you with the above ideas, I want to thank you in advance for seeing the inventions through. My only request is that you remember me when you are making a fortune selling the finished products.


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