Technology is not just for life – it’s for Christmas

Technology gadgets, including a smartphone and Trekker Breeze GPS
A selection of technology gadgets

Technology plays a big part in my Christmas – and I’m not talking about an Xbox, iPad or smartphone in my stocking! There are a range of gadgets and accessible technology for blind and deaf people, that help me to enjoy the festive season to the full, and ensure that I don’t miss out on all the fun and games. I’ve written a short ‘day in the life’ blog to illustrate how technology helps me to get into the Christmas spirit.

Time to get up

‘Cuckoo! Cuckoo!’ my talking clock blares out, jerking me awake. I stagger to the bathroom and climb on to the wireless scales, which tell me – via my mobile phone – ‘You have gained two pounds!’ I groan and stumble into the kitchen to switch on the automatic hot water dispenser for my first mug of tea of a busy day ahead.

App-solutely amazing

After breakfast, I get out the ingredients to make a chocolate yule log and, using my trusty old talking food scales, I measure the flour and sugar. I then whizz up the sponge cake mixture and slam the tin into the oven. Using an amazing app on my smartphone called Be My Eyes, I programme the oven to the correct temperature to bake the cake – adding 20 minutes to my rotary knob ding-a-ling alarm timer.

While the cake is baking, I sort out my Christmas party clothes, using a PenFriend to announce the colours and texture of the shirt and trousers. I confirm the party venue by quickly sending an email to my friends using my talking screen reader-enabled computer. I then programme my Trekker Breeze talking GPS with the address of the venue so that it’s ready to guide me tonight.

Get me to the party!

Chocolate log in hand, I walk to my friend’s house, avoiding the major roads and busy junctions, taking the easy route as guided by my Sat Nav. I arrive in good time to join the noisy party.

Equipped with the Streamer Pro Bluetooth adapter and a small discrete wireless microphone, I can hear people talking clearly, right inside my ears, via my hearing aids.

And, joy of joys, I can work out the names of people too, via the very clever Orcam MyEye glasses, which I have previously blogged about for Sense. When I turn my head to face the person speaking, I hear their names within a second or two. For unrecognised people, it takes only ten seconds to record a new name to match the new face – marvellous!

The Streamer Pro also connects to my mobile phone. I’m able to press a large button on the module I have hanging around my neck to answer a phone call – on this occasion from my brother. Even though I am at a noisy party, I can mute the background noise and hear the conversation clearly. My brother can also hear me, as the Streamer Pro has good noise reduction algorithms.

A happy Christmas

Sigh! I make it home by midnight (as informed by my talking wrist watch) and flop into bed with a satisfied smile – both over the success of my chocolate yule log and the fun time I had. It was great being able to properly join in with the natter and fun of the party.

Thank goodness for modern technology. The best thing is that, as technology develops, my Christmases will get even better. Merry Christmas to you all!


If this blog has inspired you to find out more about technology or getting online, then why not get involved in the Online Today project, which helps people with sensory impairments to access the internet? Find out more at: www.sense.org.uk/content/online-today

Sean McGarry

Author: Sean McGarry

Digital Champion for Online Today

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