Amazon Shopping Tips

The holiday season is in full swing and online shopping has never been more convenient. One of the most popular sites to score bargains and fast shipping is Amazon. From getting the perfect gifts for your loved ones and supporting your favorite nonprofit with ease, Amazon will have you checking off your holiday shopping list in a breeze! Check out these tips to have you shopping like an Amazon pro in no time.

Get to Know the Layout of the Amazon Website and App

Both the website and the Amazon iOS app are accessible with a screen reader and screen magnification software, with the website offering a more reliable experience. The website offers an intuitive layout including properly labeled elements and easy navigation by heading and common shortcut keys to find edit boxes and relevant information.

The Amazon iOS app is also fairly easy to navigate with an easy to locate search box at the top of the app and various tabs across the bottom. Once a search is initiated product titles are labeled with headings for easy navigation with both Voice Over and screen magnification.

Additionally, Amazon offers Disability Customer Support options via their website including obtaining additional assistance via phone and chat.

Read The Product Descriptions Carefully

Once you’ve located the perfect product, be sure to read both the product information and features and details sections for the product listing. Sometimes these sections will offer different information regarding the product you are considering, especially clothing items. Some product descriptions are better than others, so our next tip will help you obtain even more information.

Check the Product Reviews and Customer Questions

Amazon is well known for the detailed reviews its customers leave on products. This is arguably  where you will find the most valuable information for your product including quality, fit/feel of the fabric and even descriptions of how the product looks and operates. Additionally, you will find a customer questions section where you can find answers to commonly asked questions, or you may even submit your own question before purchasing the product.

Use Your Resources

Despite all of the detailed information provided on the product information page, it can still leave you with some questions. Luckily there are now 2 resources available for on-demand sighted assistance. Both Aira and Be My Eyes offer sighted assistance via an app on your smartphone. Aira has trained agents that provide visual interpreting and Be My Eyes has sighted volunteers available for assistance. Aira has options for both paid and limited complimentary service while Be My Eyes is completely free. To learn more about each service, check out the Aira and Be My Eyes websites.

Review the Return Policy

Sometimes no matter how detailed your research is on a product, it is necessary to return an item. Be sure to read the return policy for each item you purchase. Most items have free returns, however some products from third party sellers on Amazon will require you to pay to ship the item back, or in some cases may charge a restocking fee.

Support Outlook Enrichment with Amazon Smile

Did you know Amazon donates a percentage of all eligible purchases to your favorite nonprofit? Be sure to learn how to designate Outlook Enrichment as your nonprofit of choice while you shop on Amazon this holiday season! Happy shopping!

Laura Bridgman: The first deaf-blind pioneer

June 26 kicks off the beginning of Helen Keller DeafBlind Awareness Week. This year’s focus is Diversity and Inclusion: Creativity and innovation are built upon a diverse group of perspectives. Throughout June, many groups recognized the accomplishments and creativity of the Deaf-Blind community.

Many of us know about the impact Helen Keller had on the Deaf-Blind community spanning generations. However, half a century before Helen Keller was born, Laura Bridgeman became the first Deaf-Blind person to learn a language.

Laura Dewey Bridgman was born in Hanover, N.H., on December 21, 1829, to hardworking New England farmers. At 24 months, she became ill with scarlet fever. Though the fever passed, it left her without sight, hearing, sense of smell and nearly all of her sense of taste.

Left with only her touch, Laura tried to make sense of the world around her. Her love for imitating her mother made her very helpful with household chores. She learned to sew and knit. She developed a rudimentary sign language, with gestures for food and other basic needs, and a name sign for each family member.

As Laura grew, communication became more difficult. At seven, she could only be controlled with physical force. Something needed to change.

Founded in 1829, Perkins School for the Blind, the first of its kind in the United States, opened its doors in 1832. The school’s first director, Samuel Gridley Howe, was happy about his first five years of progress. However, when he heard about Laura, he was eager to try educating her. During this time, DeafBlind people were considered unreachable.

After her parents agreed to the move, Laura arrived at Perkins in October of 1837. No one had succeeded in teaching language to a person with deaf-blindness. Howe decided to teach Laura English. He gave her forks, keys and other objects with name labels made of raised letters pasted upon them. When he gave her detached labels with the same words, she matched them with their objects.

Howe took this a step further by cutting the labels, separating the letters. He spelled the familiar words, showed them to Laura, and then jumbled the letters. According to Howe’s account, Laura rearranged the letters to correctly spell the words. This was the beginning of Laura’s understanding of the English language.

Once Laura understood that objects have names, she quickly learned the alphabet. She communicated with her peers and teachers by using cut-out letters. With the help of fingerspelling, Laura attended geography, arithmetic and other classes with her peers.

Howe published an account of Laura’s education in the Perkins annual reports, making both student and teacher internationally famous. In 1842, British writer Charles Dickens visited Perkins and wrote of his encounter with Laura in his book, American Notes.

Laura spent most of her adult life at Perkins. She taught students how to sew. She sold her own needlework pieces. She sometimes visited family and friends and was an avid letter writer. Once she had the tools she needed, Laura carved out her own life journey. She died in 1859 at Perkins.

It was Dickens’s account of Laura’s education that gave the parents of Helen Keller hope in 1886. They contacted Perkins, and Director Michael Anagnos sent Perkins graduate Anne Sullivan to be Helen’s teacher. Sullivan educated Helen using Howe’s methods for teaching Laura.

Helen Keller was a groundbreaking advocate for the rights of people with disabilities and one of the foremost humanitarians of the twentieth century. Though she led the way in advancing education, civil rights and accessibility for people with disabilities, Helen always acknowledged that she followed in Laura Bridgman’s footsteps.

Laura Bridgman and Helen Keller had profound hearing loss, meaning they could possibly only hear very loud sounds. Their hearing loss was also pre-lingual, meaning they lost their hearing before they could talk.

Some hearing loss types include:

Conductive Hearing Loss – Hearing loss caused by something that stops sounds from getting through the outer or middle ear. This type of hearing loss can often be treated with medicine or surgery.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss – Hearing loss occurring when there is a problem in the way the inner ear or hearing nerve works.

Mixed Hearing Loss – Hearing loss including a conductive and a sensorineural hearing loss.

Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder – Hearing loss occurring when sound enters the ear normally, but because of damage to the inner ear or the hearing nerve, sound isn’t organized in a way that the brain can understand.

Some people may experience mild hearing loss, which means they can hear speech but might struggle to hear soft sounds. A person with moderate hearing loss may not hear most speech at normal volume levels.

If you or someone you know has vision and hearing loss, Outlook Enrichment can help. Our team’s Deaf-Blind specialist can answer your questions and connect you with additional resources. Contact us to get started.

Handheld Digital Magnifiers & Cool Apps For Your Phone

As assistive technology devices, digital or electronic magnifiers usually come with a camera and screen or another display mechanism showing the enlarged image. Many technological advances have been made in this area of magnification.

Older models tended to have a stand that a standard 17’ inch TV or computer sat on. On the stand below the display was a mounted camera positioned over a movable x/y tray that a book or other reading material would be placed on. Newer versions of this have a lot more flexibility with the onset of LCD screens and advancements in camera technology.

With all magnification aid, you always need to keep a few questions in mind when determining the best fit for your needs.

Handheld electronic magnifiers

There are many handheld electronic magnifiers to choose from. Prices range from $75 to $1,000. Coming in at a lower price, the Eyoyo Portable Digital Video Magnifier gives you about a 3.5’ to 5.0 inch screen. This magnifier has a large magnification range. These magnifiers are easy to use. Some models such as the Eyoyo PD43 Electronic Digital Video Magnifier even have color-coded keys. This specific magnifier is priced around $150. 

In Enrichment, we often see higher-end models such as the Eschenbach and the Ruby. These often have a larger screen, magnification up to 12x -14x and have some additional bells and whistles. One of the important things to always consider when looking at electronic aids is the user interface and the weight of the device based on the user’s physical limitations. A person with arthritis or tremors might want a lighter device that may be easier to hold and manipulate or a device that has a fold-out leg for hands-free usage.

As a great light-weight option, the Eschenbach has nice curvatures for holding. The controls are all in the same location and can easily be accessed by the thumb. This usually sells for around $600. However, an app available on Apple and Android phones called Visor uses a comparable interface to Eschenbach’s handheld device. The app’s downside is that it only has four zoom settings. The maximum magnification is 8X. Visor retails in the Apple store for around $18. Enrichment has tested many magnification apps and recommends this one for best results.

Other noteworthy apps

Apples magnifier app – This free app has a significant amount of cool features such as a slider for easy zooming in and out of items, 12 color filters and contrast controls. This app is harder to use. However, users can select which options they want to have available in the app settings. Options include turning on and off the color filters so it would not appear on the screen all the time.

Claro Magic X – This nifty free magnification app does not give you as many features. But it will magnify up to 16x if you need more magnification at your fingertips. The user interface is pretty strait forward. The interface places primary options at the bottom of the screen. Other features such as the contrast and filter buttons are in the middle of the display along the sides. 

Don’t discount camera apps.

If you use color filters to decrease glare, consider using a camera app instead of a magnifier app. The apps all use your phone’s camera. Many camera apps will allow you to zoom in and out, have a variety of settings for black and white modes and contrast settings.

Other features may be a wide variety in colors and effects. Camera+ Free with Colors effect filters 4+ is one of these apps you might want to look at. This free app is packed with features. There are nine color filter options and eight black and white options with varying degrees of contrast. It also allows you to take a picture with the filter applied which is not an option while using typical magnification programs.

Unlike magnification apps, camera apps allow you to use the forward-facing camera. This can help you use the feature for personal care purposes.

Whether you need more information about how to choose the right magnifier or how to use one, Outlook Enrichment is here to help. Contact us to get started.

Choosing The Right Magnifier For Your Needs

Adaptive technology advancements have improved magnifiers across the board. However, basic handheld magnifiers with an actual lens have not seen many advancements. We often view the handheld magnifier as the standard Sherlock Holmes clue-finding magnifier. The large lens on this magnifier increases the viewer’s field of vision when viewing text or other small items. Often, we think a larger lens gives us a more expansive viewing space. However, this is not necessarily the right way to think about a magnifying glass. 


The power of a magnifier can be measured in several ways. The most common, “times magnification” or “power,” refers to how many times bigger an object appears when viewed through the device versus the naked eye. The “X” notation on many magnifiers represents the power provided by a given device. So a 3X means three times the magnification.

Lens Curvature and Focal Point

The magnifying power of a lens depends on its focal length (FL). The focal length depends on the lens curvature. Think of it this way the greater the curvature, the shorter the focal length, and the greater the power. When a lens is several inches wide, there tends to be less curvature resulting in more viewable space, but it will be relatively low in power. 

Good examples of this are page magnifiers used to see a whole page of a book or magnifiers used to go over a television screen to allow a person from a distance to see the image better. Because both of these examples have very large surface areas, their magnification will be very low. Often from a 1x to 3x magnification power. When somebody first starts having problems reading a page, a magnifier might be the direction they go, thinking, “I will be able to see the whole page and not have to move it around.” But often, as their vision changes, the page magnifiers are not strong enough to allow the individual to see the letters clearly.

Low vision aids include various adaptive technology devices, such as magnifying reading glasses, handheld and stand magnifiers, loupes and small telescopes. Magnifying devices are generally either handheld or mounted on a stand, with zoom ranges from 2x to 10x. 

Reading Glasses

Store-bought readers, often called cheaters, are readily found at popular pharmacies across the country and are frequently the first place an individual who does not wear glasses will turn when printed material becomes increasingly challenging to read. They come with lots of fun frames and are readily available. These lenses tend to be in the lower power ranges from 1x to 3x magnification. Reading glasses help bring small text into focus through magnification, making text appear larger. The downside is that when wearing these single-vision glasses to magnify text, they also magnify everything you view through the lens. While suitable for close work, they may distort anything in the distance. This can cause headaches and other eye strain-related issues. If you find you are using cheaters frequently, this would be the time to have your eyes checked by your eye care professional. Bifocals, to many, are a dirty word, but the advantage to bifocal glasses is they only change part of your field of view. If you view something through the base of the lens, the text will appear larger or clearer; but if you look through the top of your glasses, objects appear as they would normally.

Here are some key points to remember when choosing a magnifier:

Magnifiers come in many shapes and sizes. Answering some of the above questions will help evaluate the best fit.

Handheld Magnifiers – are used for short-term uses such as reading a menu, price tag, or nutritional/cooking instructions on a box. They are portable and very versatile. Many models also have lighter options. 

Stand Magnifiers – These are a better choice for extended reading periods. The stand rests directly on the page at the perfect distance to allow optimal viewing. Some models are also designed for reading and writing tasks such as writing checks, signing documents, or taking notes.

Other stand magnifiers may come on a swing arm to allow more flexibility ins tasks. This allows the user to sit more comfortably or to have their hands free to do tasks such as hobbies. 

Monoculars and Binoculars – can help the user see items at a distance, often 15-30 feet away. These handheld telescopes are usually small enough to fit in a pocket. They are often used in an outdoor space or in a larger venue such as a classroom or concert hall. They allow users to see items such as street signs, menu boards and performers more easily. As these are often small fields of viewable space, they will require more scanning techniques and practice to be effective in daily use. 

A low vision specialist may prescribe several different low vision optical devices for various tasks or help determine the correct type of device that will fit your needs. Also, these low vision evaluations are often covered by health insurance.

As adaptive technology continues to improve the way of life for those with vision impairment, we are here to help. Whether you need more information about a low vision evaluation or a magnifier, Contact us to get started.

Good Maps And A Comparison Of Explore And Outdoors

GoodMaps develops Digital maps for both indoor and outdoor use. Founded in 2019 and based out of Louisville, Ky., American Printing House for the Blind created GoodMaps (previously named Access Explorer) with a simple mission: to further the cause of accessible navigation, particularly indoor navigation. 

This article will compare some of the most important features of their Popular GPS apps – GoodMaps Explore and GoodMaps Outdoors. Both apps are free to download and use for Android and iPhone users.

Explore was developed first primarily for indoor usage through their specialized mapping system. Some of the key features of Explore include:

This app helps you navigate indoor locations. While this form of navigation is still in development, indoor navigation uses geo-referenced images through a camera-based Positioning System to determine a user’s position. GoodMaps Explore can locate where you are in a room within 2-inches to one meter of accuracy. This is a substantial improvement over the accuracy provided by GPS (which is 8-10M outdoors), Bluetooth trilateration (4-5M), and other approaches.

Another advantage to this approach is that venue owners are able to update and customize their indoor maps, ensuring that point of interest data is always up to date. You can even virtually go to any location, allowing you to explore the surrounding area without physically being there. This is similar to how a sighted person might use the street view aspects of a mapping program.

Another cool feature of this app is that you can launch Be My Eyes within the app. Be My Eyes is an app that connects a Blind user with a sighted volunteer. Through your phone’s camera and microphone, the volunteer provides access to visual information and additional information in situations where sighted assistance is needed.

Download GoodMaps Explore from the Appstore or Google play store and try it out.

GoodMaps Outdoors was originally acquired from Aira, previously called Seeing Eye GPS. This outdoor navigation app provides detailed intersection information and turn-by-turn Navigation. Some of the features of Outdoors include:

Outdoors also contains a variety of settings that allow you to customize what items are spoken and even how they are displayed. The user can set specific items such as arrival distance. This will provide notifications upon arrival at a destination. For example, options from fifty feet to one hundred feet can be selected. This may be useful when needing to locate venues that may not be listed on the map such as kiosks, ATMs, walking paths etc.

Good Maps Outdoors also provides a variety of Low vision display settings such as Black/white, white/black and yellow/black.

You can download GoodMaps Outdoors from the App store and the google play store.

Both Explore and outdoors contain similar items. However, Outdoors focuses on outdoor navigation such as planning a pedestrian or vehicular route based on a point of Interest, street address or even a wave point, GPS coordinates that the user can create and name. You must create an account to use Outdoors. GoodMaps automatically saves all the user route information, wave points, and other data to the cloud for ready access.

Contact Enrichment’s adaptive technology trainers for more information or a demonstration of these apps at 531-365-5051.

National Fair Housing Month

If you are visually impaired or blind, finding housing to fit your specific needs can be challenging. Before you begin house hunting, it can be helpful to develop a list of personal preferences. A list makes it easier for you, or the person assisting you, to narrow down your search. In honor of National Fair Housing Month, here are some things to take into consideration about looking at future housing options.


The first step for anyone looking at housing is figuring out where it is they want to live. Your home should be in an area in which you feel safe and meets your needs. Think about the places you go on a regular basis. Is it important that you can walk to those places? If this is the case, you may want to look at housing that is located around shopping centers that include grocery, casual shopping, and dining options. Or is being close to a bus line important to you? If this is the case, looking at where the bus stop is located, how early, late, and often the buses are scheduled would be helpful. Accessible smartphone maps give you an idea of what businesses are near a location, as well as what bus lines are in the neighborhood. 


If you are a blind or visually impaired person who likes their independence, access to public transportation will be high on the list of “must haves”. When looking at housing options, make sure the neighborhood is on a transit line. Research the guidelines for fixed-route and paratransit services to ensure your needs will be met. Knowledge of the routes, for example fixed and express, and their schedules can very helpful when choosing where to live. It is also important to know where the bus stop is in proximity to your location. 

If you are a public transit user, this information is essential in determining if a location is right for you. 

Outlook Enrichment offers travel training to teach people with disabilities, older adults, and any interested traveler how to access and use public transportation independently. Some of the skills travel training focuses on include:

Contact Outlook Enrichment if you are interested in travel training.

Helpful hint: Paratransit systems tend to only run on fixed routes and have limited hours. In general, ADA paratransit service must be provided within 3/4 of a mile of a bus route or rail station, at the same hours and days, for no more than twice the regular fixed-route fare. If paratransit is your primary mode of transportation, it never hurts to call and verify an address to ensure service. 


Walkability is the measure of how friendly an area is for walking. When applied to people with vision loss, walkability is looked at from a safety and convenience standpoint. Here are some questions to ask yourself when thinking about safety in walkability:

  1. Are there well maintained and navigable sidewalks throughout the area?

  2. Are the sidewalks on both sides of the street?

  3. Are there accessible pedestrian signals at street crossings?

  4. Are the Street crossings to get to services easy to navigate or complex intersections with multiple crossings?

Making sure there is an adequate path of travel and sidewalks leading to and from your destination ensures you arrive safely. 

Something else to consider is the age of the neighborhood. How old is the neighborhood? Old neighborhoods most likely all have sidewalks, but the condition will vary. New housing divisions may have gaps where open lots are still for sale. 

When we think about convenience in walkability, ask yourself this: Are there amenities such as grocery stores and restaurants within a five to 10 minute walk? If your answer is no and you find value and convenience in being able to independently walk to places, then that location is probably not the best choice for you. 

Looking for housing is never a fun process but taking the time to create a “must have” list and asking questions can help you make the best choice for you to meet your housing needs.