WBU-NAC(Senior Group) Fine Work
A Sound House
U.S.A Tracy Lynn Spittle (41, Female)

“Tracy, I’m so glad I don’t have to live with you. You’ve got to many things in this house that talk, and there are just some things I don’t want to hear, especially that scale,” my mom said to me one day. The entire family got a good laugh out of her comment. But then, my husband and Istarted thinking of all the audio devices, or, as my mom and kids call them, things that talk, that we truly do have and use on a daily basis. The list turned out to be rather long, but there were no devices that we would ever give up because they each, in their own way, add to our independence as blind people.
Let’s start with that pesky scale that Mom brought up. Her comment was quite funny, but the scale serves its purpose. Even though I don’t always like what it says, I’d like it even less ifI had to depend on a sighted person to read my weight to me. That’s bad enough at the doctor’s office. My kids have taken to loudly singing “La-La-La” until the scale stops talking so that I won’t know their weight.
We can move from one scale to another. We have a kitchen scale that talks, too. Just the other day, we used it to weigh out equal sized hamburger patties for freezing. It has even been pressed in to duty when weighing Pine Wood Derby cars when my boys were in Cub Scouts. The wooden cars that they had to design and paint could weigh no more than 5 ounces, and the talking scale worked perfectly.
Since we are already in the kitchen, let’s look at the iGrill thermometer that we bought this summer. It is great, easy to use, and adds, again, to our independence. I no longer have to guess whether or not the food is done on the grill or in the oven. Now, we have perfect steaks every time.
The iGrill works by talking to my iPhone, another, and for me, the most used, audio device that I own besides my screen reading software on the computer. This phone, along with many apps has truly increased my personal independence. With the KNFB Reader app, I can access all sorts of printed documents, menus, books, and the list could continue on, including those bills that I really don’t want to read. I also have the Money Reader app which will tell me the amount of the bills that I have. This is especially helpful when my fifteen year old hands me several crumpled bills that he was hoping I would let him keep after I sent him to the store for something. And, let’s not forget the many navigation apps that I have on my phone. They, in conjunction with my white cane can get me most anywhere I wish to go. I could continue with this list, but I think you get the picture.
So, let’s just take a quick look around the house to see what else we can find that helps me be my independent self. How about that talking thermometer in the medicine cabinet. It got a lot of use when my two boys were younger, and still gets used today. The talking thermostat allows us to independently control the temperature in the house. The talking indoor/outdoor thermometer lets us check the weather before getting ready each morning. There’s also the Amazon Echo which will let me use my voice to set timers and play music and/or newscasts. My kids do enjoy the Echo as they can ask it to spell words for them when they don’t know how to spell them while doing homework.
Lastly, a huge audio device/program that holds a prominent place in our home is JAWS, our screen reader software for the computer. Using it, I can access an endless, ever changing, body of information, stay in contact with friends and family, keep records for the home and my job, check my children’s grades, play games, and the list goes on and on. It gets really interesting when my husband and I are both on our computers. JAWS is talking on both, delivering different information to each of us, and making independence possible. My kids say that JAWS makes headaches possible for them, and they quickly learned the insert F4 command to unload it.
I’m a teacher of the visually impaired, and have been blind since birth. I learned braille as a child, and use it every day. Yes, I truly love my dots, but know and appreciate a great tool when I hear it. So, while keeping my hands on braille, I can keep my ears wide open, listening to a Sound House, filled with audio devices which contribute to my daily independence. So, talk on, Siri, Cortana, Alexa, Hey Google, and all you guys with no name! I love the independence!


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