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Music Media Technology

Audio Players for the Vision Impared? 27

Posted by Cliff
from the music-for-those-who-aren't-quite-blind dept.
Panz asks: "Over Easter my 86 year-old grandmother asked my parents to help her buy a CD player. Normally, there would just be a technology barrier to overcome. Unfortunately, my grandmother has macular degeneration which prevents her from using traditional consumer electronics. What, if any, low-vision friendly CD/MP3/audio players are available? Is there such a thing on the market?" What CD/MP3 players have interfaces suitable for people who have less-than-stellar eyesight? Features that would be nice to have would be backlit displays, and larger than normal text displays.
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Audio Players for the Vision Impared?

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  • I have a simple MP3 player with a display so crappy that I never look at it. Basically, there's play/stop, forward and back, and volume controls--all of which can be found by touch--what else do you need?
  • This is rather obvious, but, since you don't indicate this needs to be portable...

    Get her a PC, and run Winamp at its built-in double sized setting on a low resolution monitor.

    And then do her a real favor, and rip all her CDs so she doesn't have to bother with changing the CDs.

  • Archos / Rockbox (Score:5, Informative)

    by ibbey (27873) * on Saturday April 17, 2004 @08:30AM (#8890875) Homepage
    The Archos Jukebox Recorder [amazon.com] with the Rockbox [rockbox.haxx.se] open-source replacement firmware has several features designed for blind [uark.edu]. I haven't used them, so I can't comment, but you might try posting a question on the rockbox list for further details.
    • Re:Archos / Rockbox (Score:2, Informative)

      by ZenCrawler (149867)
      I use a jukebox FM recorder with rockbox / talkbox installed.

      The system works well in speaking out menu options, and can spell/speak a folder name if you record one. The rockbox system also has user defined fonts and you can create custom what's playing screens to use an ultralarge font ( there are tons of fonts ranging in sizes from 10 lines fit on the screen, to 1 line of text takes up the screen ) to make it easier for her to see what is playing/browse the files.

      However the button

  • by Cpyder (57655) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @08:50AM (#8890920) Journal
    Altough intended for kids, they usually have got huge, colourful buttons. I don't think this one [fisher-price.com] has got a display, but at least it hasn't got tiny buttons. Good luck!
  • DVD player (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cybermace5 (446439) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Saturday April 17, 2004 @08:51AM (#8890922) Homepage Journal
    Most DVD players these days will play just about anything, including MP3 CDs and audio CDs. They are also very inexpensive, and tend to have more or less readable large displays, given the fact that they work on a TV.
  • portable/cd walkmans (Score:2, Informative)

    by next1 (742094)
    the key here could be to go portable.

    my panasonic cd walkman has 7 buttons: ff, rw, play, vol. up/down, stop and an eq button.

    you don't even need to look at the display - all it does is display track number, eq settings and batteries.
    i often find i use the controls just by touch.

    stand alone cd player units or small shelf systems etc have more options, remote controls, etc. so would be more confusing and harder to use with poor sight.
  • Remotes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hswerdfe (569925) <slashdot...org@@ ... swerdfeger...com> on Saturday April 17, 2004 @09:16AM (#8891000) Homepage Journal
    any thng that works with a good remote.

    Remotes are Amazing...they are designed so you don't have to look at them you can feel the buttons. and know where to press.

    except the pesky EJECT button....which is missing from most remotes.

    other than that simple sugestion I am usless to you.
    • They dont put eject on remotes since if your ejecting something they asume your going to go to the unit and take it out. On that note, if you hold down stop on my universal remote it ejects the dvd, but theres no button to put the disc back in the case and the case back on the shelf...
  • by Andy_R (114137) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @09:26AM (#8891026) Homepage Journal
    If this is a degenerative condition, you might want to consider products aimed primarily at the blind or partially sighted, such as a talking book player - in Britain these can be bought from the Royal National Institute for the Blind here:http://onlineshop.rnib.org.uk/display_product .asp?prodid=2169

    • In Canada you can get a Victor (I think, anything designed to play DAISY talking books should work though) talking book player from the CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind), www.cnib.ca (you can get the same players from others in different countries). While they are designed for talking books they also play audio CDs, they are designed for people that are completely blind so they have VERY large buttons that are all shaped differently. If she is legally blind you may be able to get one for free
  • You might even want to consider a regular name brand CD player, and get a good universal remote with a big LCD screen that can been seen easily. My father has the poor eyesight and a good remote goes a long way. Even if it doesn't light up, good tactile design makes all the difference. He can't see most LCD's so I made sure that he has a remote with different shaped buttons that can be felt easily. Check out http://www.remotecentral.com [remotecentral.com] for reviews.
  • Does she live near a Wi-Fi network? If so a Squeezebox [slimdevices.com] might do the job. It has a nice big bright display, and no need to change media.

    OTOH she will need someone to set it up to play things she likes, and the remote may not be very usable. (Could be replaced.)

  • by FFFish (7567) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @12:10PM (#8891760) Homepage
    What's the challenge of using a CD player?

    You plug the CD Player into the back of the amp. You punch the amp's power button, the CD player powers on. You put the CD in, bump the drawer closed, and it plays. Punch a button, and it ejects. I rather doubt your gramma is going to be skipping songs and such, so the other buttons are irrelevent.

    Paint the front of the tray red, paint the eject button bright yellow.

    If you can't find a CD player that works as I describe, I've got an old Toshiba player that I'd probably be willing to donate to her, if you pay shipping.
  • by zulux (112259) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @12:55PM (#8892049) Homepage Journal


    There was this line of brightly colored DVD players designed for kids near the Kareoke section. It had only a few, large, high-contrast buttons.

    Would be great for the hard of sight as was onlt $60 or so.

  • Remember the huge amount of non-music audio material available (say, from libraries, usenet, www.audible.com and www.rusc.com (to name but two)etc).

    With those in mind, you may want a player that can also save your place in audio files, hopefully automatically, ideally for every directory. Do any MP3 CD players do that?

  • Hmm? (Score:2, Troll)

    by pauldy (100083)
    IANAL however, the apprent new american way is to bust out a copy of the ADA and sue, sue, sue.

    There is another part of me that also says uhh GOOGLE.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&oe=U TF -8&q=mp3+player+for+the+blind
  • A good idea that would also be more cost effective than doing something like buying her a whole computer just to play CDs (to which a computer would create more problems for her than it would solve) would be a two step solution:
    1. Find a CD player with the least amount of buttons on the front. It should also have the biggest buttons possible.
    2. Colour code each of the buttons (and if possible, texture code them too).

    Now you'll have to teach her how to use it in terms of things like: Press the red button t
  • HAL Home Automation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by skinfitz (564041) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @03:48PM (#8893165) Journal
    There is a product called HAL Automated Living [automatedliving.com] which using the optional Digital Music Center [automatedliving.com] addon may be ideal.

    Basically you have all your CD's ripped into HAL's own playback program, but its all controlled by voice. You can either have it listening in rooms, or it can be controlled using the phone. It does other stuff as well like turn on the lights / TV / whatever you like etc. so may be useful overall.

    I seem to recall an opensource type home automation system based on Linux so that may be worth investigating also.
  • Best of both worlds? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by zcat_NZ (267672)
    Verne uses his Linux computer with speech synthesiser to play his audio (mostly the soundtrack of science and space-related TV programs from Discovery channel, which he records via cron jobs since they run them at stupid hours)

    The output from the computer is also fed into a small FM transmitter, so he can use an FM walkman or portable radio if he wants to listen while moving around. Unfortunately, there's no way of controllingthe audio thts way (ie skipping the ad-breaks)

    Total cost == most of this stuff w
  • Buy a cheap no-brand CD-player with a large PLAY and EJECT button. The other buttons are there mostly for geeks.
  • by Catharsis (246331) on Saturday April 17, 2004 @07:14PM (#8894283) Homepage
    Recently, the Rockbox Open Source firmware replacement added voice support.

    Considering that the rockbox firmware (which completely replaces the original (crappy) firmware) is free, multi-lingual, and has optionally enlarged fonts, I'd say go get one!

    The Jukebox itself has a battery life of around 10 hours, and comes in 10-20GB versions, last I checked. Archos has recently been phasing these ones out of production, so you can find them cheap here and there, and off ebay.

    Requisite reading:
    Rockbox! [rockbox.haxx.se]
    Archos [archos.com]

    It also works with the Neo MP3 player which I don't have a handy link for.

  • It's in my pocket, bag, jacket, whatever. I never look at the display. I never look at the controller when I switch tracks, change volume or stop/start. What else does she need to do? Why is this an issue?
  • Hell, I just (xmms) want an mp3 player (xmms) that doesn't CAUSE (xmms) eyestraing (xmms).

Sentient plasmoids are a gas.

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