Elizabeth has been visually impaired since an accident in her early fifties, but has some vision remaining in her left eye. She finds storage heaters useful for controlling temperature and uses RNIB Daylight portable lamps to improve lighting where needed. She prefers old-fashioned appliances and is frustrated that she can no longer find plug-in-the-back kettles. Her cooker is very old but she likes the tactile controls and can’t find a modern replacement she ‘feels comfortable with’. Her washing machine has tactile markers to guide control.
Other gadgets Elizabeth uses include a talking watch, a colour-detector and a needle-threader. She has a scanner reading machine for letters and uses a DAISY player for audio-books. She reads a lot of talking newspapers and enjoys radio and listening to music (the controls on her stereo have labels stuck on). She finds her TV difficult to operate and tries to keep it on the same channel, either fully on or fully off, in order to minimise confusion. She has a BT big button phone that she finds useful and an Alto-mobile device that she can’t get to work.
Although she is in her eighties, Elizabeth still works and uses computers in her role. She has stickers on her keyboard and Dolphin accessibility software installed on her computer that enables her to access different functions through a simple, linear system of menus and sub-menus. She can use email and print out material but she isn’t comfortable searching the web. She says she would need ‘someone to give me confidence’ in order to expand her use of information technology.