Are there any apps that make it easier to use electronic appliances?

App Developer

I have heard from a few people that electronic appliances are hard to use as a blind person. Is this something people any of you encounter? How often do you encounter this? What specifically is challenging? How do you get around this problem? Are there any apps that successfully address these challenges?

Forum: 

My Big thing is touchscreen

A lot of appliances I have encountered have either touchscreens, or screens with buttons you can’t feel. So far I haven’t found anything that really assist with this, besides asking a sighted person to label things for me of course. But even that didn’t work on true touchscreens.

Agreed with Previous Comment

Ditto for me. I have some Braille labels on my microwave so that I can use it independently. In addition, the clothes dryer downstairs on ground level has a couple Braille labels on it and so did 2 of our previous washers. But they bit the bullet, and the current one has some raised markings on it but the knobs actually click so it's not an issue for me. By "click" I mean that they click into place when turned. The power button on the washer is tactile by default, and makes an audible click when pressed to let me know the door is locked. Regarding the iPhone, my parents and I were skeptical at first due to my hand coordination. But my brother gave us some good advice. The guy who got me up and running on mine is also a VoiceOver user, and has been very patient with us.

Anything with a screen

Just about every appliance with a screen is difficult if not impossible to use, as is. Some appliances are simple enough to use without feedback from a screen, but not too many. Others might be bluetooth compatible and controlled with an app on a iPhone, but that doesn't necessarily mean the app will work with voiceover.
OCR apps on phones like Seeing AI can help. If it's a interactive, multiple choice screen, like a touch screen, it's mostly hopeless. One that comes to mind is the newer soda dispensers at a lot of fast-food restaurants. I have to get assistance from a sighted person because an ocr app wouldn't help.
I avoid buying unusable appliances and do my best to avoid apps for devices that aren't voiceover compatible.

My Experiences with Touch Screens

Recently, I had to update my microwave and washer/dryer because they were outdated and didn't work anymore. Unfortunately, I don't recall for certain, but I think I bought a Sharp microwave with a touch screen. For this device, I bought some laminating paper, which is a sticky-back style 8-1/2 x 11 inch paper that you can braille on. I had some clear, heavy plastic cards that I bought to write recipes on. My friend cut this card to make a template on the digital screen. She used a black marker to write the labels on the microwave onto the plastic card stock. Then I simply inserted the laminating paper into my braille writer and she lined up the carriage for me, according to the plastic card template, and I created the labels. She then pealed the backing off the laminating paper and placed it onto the microwave panel. Worked like a charm. This paper is wipeable, which is just another bonus for me.

For my new washer/dryer, I purchased from Samsung. This also has a touch panel, but is also has buttons that don't move, but are rather touch buttons, instead. Each button has an indented crease above and below them for easy identification. Once the equipment was installed, my friend explained what selections were available. To my delight, there is something called My Cycle. This can be set to whatever combination of features you wish. there is only one My Cycle, though for each machine so I had to make some choices. For the washer, I use the default settings, which meets my clothing needs. I created a My Cycle for washing my king-sized comforter. For the Dryer, due to the fact that I wanted the longest runtime and the highest temperature, I chose to create a My Cycle as my default setting. However, the default setting is actually just fine.

If you have made it this far in reading my long-winded post, just know that, with a little thinking and with the right tools, I have found that I can pretty much get around these touch screens with a little bit of help to begin with.

Straying OT

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

A polite reminder that discussion of domestic appliances and their use is off-topic for AppleVis unless it specifically relates to their use with Apple devices/software.

More general discussion of appliances should be taken to somewhere more appropriate.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

Had some success using Seeing AI

Club AppleVis Member

Hello,
As I am talking about an IOS app, this is again closer to what is being discussed on this website. ;)
I too have some devices coming with a screen which I can‘t read as I am completely blind.
I did have some successes using Microsoft‘s Seeing AI app. Using it, I was able to read from some screens.
Only a few worked, I must admit.
But I was able to set up my wireless landline phone simply by having Seeing AI read out the instructions which appeared on the display.
In another case, Seeing AI helped me reading the screen of a laptop computer which had refused to talk to me. And I was able to fix it.

More appliances I use come with App Support.
The latest I got was the SmartChef kitchen scale which connects to my iPhone. Even though the app is far from being fully accessible, weighing things works perfectly.

My Seeing AI Success Story

I grabbed myself a copy of this gem of an app late last year, and I must say it's been a bit of a learning curve but I love it. The story I'd like to briefly tell concerns a tube of cream that a doctor recently prescribed for me. I'm not saying what it's used for. But my neighbor across the hall was kind enough to take me to our local Walgreens to pick it up. When we returned to our building, I was like: "Oh, I wonder if I can read the package instructions with Microsoft Seeing AI since you helped me pick up the cream." Mind you the doctor's assistant went over everything with me at their office, but I still wanted to see what would happen if the app took over. It actually read the box instructions fairly well that were written by my doctor. It did screw up a little bit and VoiceOver was a little choppy, but I'd say this was a very good experience over all and I have been using the cream just as instructed to do so.