Whether it is books, TV, music, or other hobbies, life is simply better when we can enjoy the things we love without being hindered by our eyesight, hearing, or motor skills. Thankfully, technology offers many adaptations and devices that make it easier to enjoy the things you love without worrying about physical obstacles that might get in the way. If you’ve been looking for a way to keep enjoying your favorite forms of entertainment, we might have a solution that works for you.
Audiobooks: Audible is an app that offers a wide library of audiobooks so you can listen to your favorite books instead. If you’re interested in making the leap to audiobooks but still want to check out books from your local library, the library has an app called Libby that allows you to check out e-books or audiobooks the same way you would if you were checking out a regular book from the library. In addition to eliminating eye strain, audiobooks are also great for those who experience difficulty turning pages due to injury or muscle weakness, and they free your hands for other activities like cooking or gardening so you can enjoy multiple hobbies at once! Audible and Libby are free apps. Audiobooks from Audible vary in price from $2-$30. audible.com
E-books: If you still prefer to read the words rather than listen, Kindle (a portable wireless electronic reading device) provides a way to make the text bigger to help you see it better. On the Kindle device, or in the Kindle app (accessible on a smartphone or iPad), you can increase the size of text until it is large enough to comfortably read, making e-books an option for anyone. In addition to books, Kindle users can get subscriptions to magazines and newspapers which contain the same content as their print versions, but often cost far less and allow you to manipulate the text to your desired reading size. Kindle devices range in price from $89.99-$279.99. The Kindle app is a free download on any internet-connected mobile device.
Assistive Listening and Closed-Captioning: One of the things that becomes more difficult as we age is going out for a date night at a movie theater. However, did you know that most movie theaters offer assistive technology to any guest who asks for it, free of charge? Whether you need amplified sound through a headset, or a closed-captioning device, theaters are happy to provide these to the public, making movies more accessible to all.
Bluetooth Headphones: Gone are the days when you would need to turn up the television to its highest volume so that you can hear it. Now, Bluetooth headphones offer a far safer option for those who need help listening to the TV. Ranging in price from about $30 for a simple pair to $400 for Bose-quality sound, Bluetooth headphones come in a wide range of sizes and styles that connect easily to any smart TV. Because the headphones guide the sound directly into the wearer’s ear, you can watch television at far lower volumes and prevent further auditory damage making Bluetooth headphones a far safer option.
Smart Captioning: One of the most exciting developments in recent years is smart captioning glasses that make it possible for anyone to enjoy a live performance. Smart captioning uses Augmented Reality (AR) to listen to what is being said and provide closed-captioning in front of the wearer’s eyes, allowing those who are deaf and hard of hearing to experience the performance. While the technology isn’t widespread, there are a couple of companies bringing it into the consumer space such as the Nreal Air, which is currently priced around $490, and the Epson Moverio line priced from $579-$1199 depending on features.
With the right tech, there’s no reason why you can’t keep enjoying the same experiences you always have, but in a whole new way.
By Vanessa Hutchison
P.S. Check out these gadgets to improve your hearing.