Communication on the telephone is something most of us take for granted. You pick up the phone, dial the phone number, and you are talking to the other person. For an individual with a vision loss the steps to make this happen can be more difficult.
A local woman recently contacted IPAT and explained how she had been diagnosed with Macular Degeneration and was having difficulty seeing the numbers to be able to dial. We discussed some basic things she could do with her existing phone. We tried identifying various buttons with Velcro or raised dots as a way to know where she was on the keypad. This strategy provided some help but was still not effective as the phone call would time out because it took too long to dial. We also explored the option of speed-dial buttons that are available on most phones. She was also unsuccessful with this as it was a two-step process of pushing the memory button and then the number associated with the person to call.
The next idea we looked at was the one that met her needs, the FotoDialer. This device can be added to any land line phone, once connected, numbers are programmed into the device (a maximum of 24). You are able to identify the number with a 2”x 3” card with a picture, number, or name. To use the FotoDialer, first the individual finds the person they would like to call by flipping through the pages, then picks up the phone and pushes the button adjacent to the card. The dialer takes care of the rest. The individual was now able to have the confidence she could make a call in case of an emergency or just wanted to talk to a friend.
Through the North Dakota Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Service she was able to receive the dialer and assistive technology services at no cost. IPAT is fortunate to be able to help individuals who have difficulty using the phone for a variety of reasons: hearing loss, vision loss, fine and gross motor movement difficulty. Most states have a telephone program similar to North Dakota so let your clients, friends, and loved ones know that help is available. Check out the state listing here: TEDPA
There are other options for phone dialers, take a look at possibilities below and remember you can always contact IPAT with questions about difficulties using the phone.