Cool and Simple Gadgets

Want to get things done quickly and easily? This month we discussed low-tech items and devices for the visually impaired. The group shared their favorites, as well as how to obtain them.

December 18, 2019

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Audio Transcript


Resource Roundtable – Cool and Simple Gadgets

Presented by Jennifer Ottowitz and Debbie Good

December 18, 2019

Jennifer O: Welcome, everyone to Resource Roundtable. I'm Jennifer Ottowitz, senior learning expert with Hadley. Thanks for joining us this evening. Assisting me in the co-host chair tonight is fellow learning expert Debbie Good. Hi, Debbie.

Debbie G: Hello.

Jennifer O: We are excited that you're here. Another thing to share is, that you may have noticed with the announcement that went out about today's group. From now on, when the announcement goes out a couple days ahead about the group, there will also be a link that you can click on and submit a question to us about the topic that we're going to be discussing ahead of time. Then, during our discussion, we can make sure to address it. Of course, you can always ask questions during the session, but this is just an opportunity to send us some questions related to the topic ahead of time. Thank you in advance for sending those questions. I did want to share that we did get a couple of questions for tonight's presentation, so thanks to the people that sent those in.

One of the questions was related to funding available to help pay for higher priced high-tech gadgets. That's a really good question, a really important question. Since the focus of our talk tonight is on low-tech gadgets, we're going to talk about that first. If we have time tonight, we can begin talking about some possible resources, but I think we're also going to try to save that for next week. Next week, next month.

I'm actually going to turn it over to Debbie Good to get us started, and just talk about what we mean by low-tech gadgets.

Debbie G: Yes. A low-tech gadget is something that probably you don't have to pay a lot of money for, you might already have around your house. It's not an app. You don't need batteries for it. It's simple to set up, simple to use. Low-tech gadgets. I was speaking to Jennifer about this, and ... Where can we find more information about that? Actually I was saying "Where could I find more information?" She said for herself, it's just things she's picked up all through the years. Jennifer will have lots of ideas for us. An example of a low-tech aid or gadget would be a handwriting guide. To learn more about that, you could go to our Hadley Presents, which is our podcast. There's a whole podcast on handwriting. If you go there and listen to it, or read the transcript, you will learn about things such as a handwriting guide or a template, which would be perhaps cardboard with a rectangle cut out. There are different sized ones. One could be for writing a check, so it would have a certain place where there would be a hole, a rectangle shape, where you can sign your name. There's also ones that would be the size of a credit card, that you could just keep in your purse or your pocket or something, if you need to sign your name to the check of a restaurant or something.

One other low-tech gadget that I think is amazing is something that can be used to keep you writing on the line. You could spend money and buy some kind of raised paper with raised lines, that you could feel tactilely, or you could do this. You could take a simple piece of paper, roll it up into a tube about the width of a thumb, and then put it on a flat surface and flatten it. Then when you unroll this tube, you will have raised lines all through the paper, and you can use it as a guide for writing something. I thought that was a wonderful example of a low-tech gadget. Jennifer, tell us some more.

Jennifer O: Sure. I had a question for all of you first, and we're going to do a very informal poll right now, or survey. I'm just going to see, we're going to see ... I don't know, Debbie will be able to count everybody, we'll just see. I'm just wondering if you could raise your hand if you use a signature guide, to sign forms when you're at the doctor's office or anything. It might be plastic; it might be cardboard.

Debbie G: We have three people. Four. Five, six, seven.

Jennifer O: All right, great. Excellent. Glad to hear that. They're really great devices, like Debbie said. They help you keep your writing straight on a line. I've had people say they tend to write uphill or downhill, so this can kind of help keep you straight. It also helps keep your handwriting small, because sometimes when people start to lose vision, they tend to write a little bit bigger so it's easier to see. Then sometimes it doesn't always fit in the space that's available. The signature guides and the other writing guides Debbie mentioned are really good for helping you keep that writing small and fit it in the space that's available. Those are really nice gadgets. They're usually available from specialty companies that sell products for people who are blind and visually impaired. Sometimes rehab agencies for people that are visually impaired will give them away at different events that they have. They're usually pretty inexpensive, just a couple of dollars. Really nice things.

One of my favorite low-tech gadgets I was telling Debbie about earlier today, is called a double spatula. I don't know if anybody uses one of these, but it's a spatula, it's actually two spatulas that are connected at the handle. It functions almost like a pair of tongs, but it's really great if you need to flip food. Like you're making a grilled cheese sandwich or pancakes or a quesadilla or a hamburger or chicken breasts. What you do is you just open it and slide the bottom spatula underneath the food item, close it so that food item's trapped between the two spatulas, and then you flip it. It helps you keep control over where that food goes when you flip it, and it also helps keep the food from curling up or flipping back onto itself, which sometimes happens, at least when I try to flip things using a regular spatula. It's just a really nice gadget. It's usually made out of, I think nylon. You can use it in a non-stick pan, as well as a stainless steel or cast-iron pan. That's a really nice one. It usually has a little thing that slides over the handle to keep the two parts, just compress them a little bit so it'll fit in your drawer a little bit easier. That's usually available from the specialty companies as well, and later on we're going to share some resources, names of those companies. I also had seen it a couple years ago at Bed, Bath, & Beyond. I saw it on a TV infomercial. They were calling it the Grip 'n Flip. Then I saw it at our state fair, one of the vendors in the big exhibit hall was selling it. Sometimes you can find these low-tech gadgets in the craziest places.

Another one of my favorite low-tech gadgets is something you can get just about anywhere. You can get it at department stores, probably hardware stores, other places. That's just a set of funnels. Usually you can get a set of three, and they're three different sizes. They might be hard plastic; I have a set of silicone ones. Funnels are great, because you can use them for lots of different things. You can use them to help when you're refilling your saltshaker, so you don't make a mess. You can use them to help refill a container or dispenser for liquid hand soap when it's time to refill it. I actually have a four-cup coffeemaker, and I put my largest funnel in the hole in the back, where you're supposed to pour the water into, because I am really good at making a mess if I don't have it. With the funnel, my aim's a lot better. I usually don't make a mess at all, and it's really nice. The other thing that I've heard can be done with a funnel that I've never tried, and maybe if any of you have done this, you'll let us know in just a couple minutes. I've heard you can separate an egg in a funnel. If you crack your egg into a funnel, the whites will drip out the bottom, and the yolk will stay in the bowl. If you have to separate your eggs for whatever you're baking, you might try a funnel.

Debbie G: That's great, Jennifer. I wonder if anyone has used a funnel? If so, let us know. Do a *9 and share your experiences, or a signature guide, or a double spatula. I know Marty wrote a comment about the double spatula, "I want one!" I think I do, too.

Jennifer O: They are really good. I should have looked up some prices. I was going to say, I remember getting one, I would say it was under $20. If anybody has more recent experience buying them ...

Debbie G: Has anyone used a funnel or a double spatula or a signature guide? I know a lot of people have used a signature guide. Please tell us about your experiences using it. We're going to hear from area code 469, but I'm going to ask you what your name is first. What is your name?

Carol 1: Carol.

Jennifer O: Hi, Carol.

Debbie G: Go ahead, Carol.

Carol 1: I keep a signature guide in with my checkbook, and I also keep it in my wallet. I always have it, anywhere.

Jennifer O: Excellent. That's fabulous, Carol. I know I have probably five of them, I think. Every purse I have, right? Like you said, your wallet, your checkbook. That's great. Where are you calling from tonight, Carol?

Carol 1: Dallas, Texas.

Jennifer O: Wonderful. Thank you so much, appreciate you sharing.

Debbie G: Let's hear from area code 785. What's your name?

Deb: My name's Deb.

Debbie G: Deb, D-E-B?

Deb: Yes.

Jennifer O: Hi, Deb. Where are you calling from tonight?

Deb: I'm calling from Wichita, Kansas.

Jennifer O: Excellent. Welcome. [crosstalk]-

Deb: I was just going to say that using the funnel for the separating eggs works really well.

Debbie G: Wonderful. I'm glad that it's real.

Deb: If you just put it over ... Use a small one, you know, so the yolk doesn't go through the spout as well. If you put it over a measuring cup or something small, the white will just go right through the hole, and the yolk will still be up there in the top part.

Debbie G: All right, thanks for sharing that Deb. Let's hear from Brenda.

Brenda: Hi, this is Brenda. I have something, not a funnel, but it's an egg separator. It's a plastic thing, it's very small. It's probably under $5. I've used it for years, and it does a really good job with separating the white from the egg. You just crack an egg, drop it into the middle of it, don't have to be real exact, and the egg whites fall out underneath the catch. Then you can do whatever you want with the yolk.

Debbie G: That's great, thank you for sharing that. Let's go to Barbara. Go ahead, Barbara.

Barbara: Okay. I have several of those signature guides that I keep with me, but I keep forgetting to use them. They haven't done me a whole lot of good. I recently received one of the double spatulas, and I absolutely love it. I've used it for hamburgers, I've used it for steaks, I've used it for several different things. It works really wonderful.

Jennifer O: That's excellent. Good to know.

Barbara: I have ... On the funnel, I buy Dawn dishwashing soap, so I have a small container that I keep on top of the sink, and then I buy a big container and keep it under the sink. I use the funnel to refill my small container. I've also used them in, you know those bottles of soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce. When I pour some into a Dixie cup, use it to measure it, and then I put the funnel in there, and pour what I didn't need back in the jar.

Jennifer O: That's fabulous, Barb, because you can do that with vanilla, too. If you're baking-

Barbara: Yes.

Jennifer O: Yeah, that's an excellent way to use funnels. That's great. Just to go back to Brenda, your egg separator. I think I have one of those too, and it has little slats kind of that are around the outer edge, and that's where the whites fall out. Is that the kind you have?

Barbara: I have a egg cracker. It's just a handheld thing, and it's got two nylon or rubber rings. You stick the egg in there, squeeze it together, and it'll crack the egg open. There's also a little removable piece, kind of like that flat bowl that fits on it, so if I want to separate the eggs, all I've got to do is put the egg in there, crack it, and it separates it automatically.

Jennifer O: There you go.

Barbara: I don't remember where I got it. I've had it for a few years, now.

Jennifer O: That's okay, that's excellent. That's awesome. Very good. I do have one more I'd like to share, and then we'll go back, we'll kind of open up the lines again and find out if you guys have others, because I know there are a ton of others. Not just for the kitchen, but for all kinds of other tasks. Mine, of course, is related to the kitchen too. It's called a smooth edge safety manual can opener. The one I have is made by OXO. It's available in department stores like Target, or here in the Midwest we have Kohl's department stores. What it is, it's a can opener that fits on the top of the can, and then the handle is on the side. You turn the handle, and when it removes the lid of the can, it removes the entire lid. There are no jagged edges. The can opener I grew up using was the kind that mounted on the side, and you turned the handle, and the metal rim was still left on the can. Sometimes it was kind of jagged along the inside edges. This smooth edge safety manual can opener is really nice. I really like it; it makes work easy and safe. Don't know if anybody's used one of those before. I think Debbie, now this is a good time to just kind of open it up, to see if any of you have other favorite low-tech gadgets that you like to use.

Debbie G: Okay. First, we're going to hear from Barbara, who had a comment.

Barbara: Yes, on the can opener. I have one of those, but I have a hard time getting it on the lid. I came across a battery operated can opener called a Tornado. It's magnetic, so you just stick it on the top of the deal, push the button, and it'll go around and open up the can with the non-sharp edges. Then when it gets all the way around, you just hit the button again, and take it off. It's awesome.

Jennifer O: That's great. Even though it has a battery, we're going to include it in this low-tech, because it's very easy to use, right?

Barbara: Yes, it is.

Jennifer O: It's just so fun to watch, too, because it just walks around the whole can by itself. That can be a can of any size, too. It's just really fun. There's another one called a one touch that's very similar, a one touch battery operated can opener. Those are really fun.

Debbie G: Thank you for sharing that, Barbara. Let's hear from Shirley. And I'm supposed to ask people where they're from. Sorry about that. Shirley, hi, where are you from?

Shirley: Columbus, Ohio. Just wanted to mention, when you were talking about signature guides and things, I have a variation of that. I do have a signature guide, but I also had a signature stamp made. Most of the time, unless it's something that's really official and you're signing some kind of legal document or whatever, 90% of the time they will allow you to use a signature stamp to sign something. I find that to be so much quicker and easier than for me to stand there and try to sign my name, which I've never been super great at. I'm not very fast at it, either. A lot of times I'll carry that. It's just a quick, easy way to put my signature on something. It was done initially with my signature, and it was done at an office supply type place. It comes in a little case with an ink pen, everything, and you can carry it with you pretty easily.

Jennifer O: Great, that's wonderful. Thank you for sharing, Shirley, we appreciate that.

Debbie G: Let's hear now from Charles.

Charles: Okay, how are you doing?

Debbie G: Hi Charles, where are you from?

Charles: I haven't gotten any in a long time, but you can go to your bank and order raised checks. The checks are raised. It'll help you fill out checks.

Jennifer O: Yes. I have a funny story about that. I worked with a client once who went to her bank, and she asked for that. She said she would like to order some raised line checks. They said "We don't have those." She said "Okay, I'll just go to a different bank." They said “Wait a minute." They opened up their giant book of all the different check designs, and "Oh, here they are." They actually had them, but they just didn't know about them. Deluxe is the name of the company that used to make them, I think they still do. There may be other companies as well. Even if people at your bank are not familiar with them, just politely suggest that they check that big book of check designs and see if they might find them. Sometimes they're called guideline checks or raised line checks. Either one. The information that's printed on them is in large print, too, but the lines are nice. You can feel them, and you can get them either with or without the carbon papers for them, too. I think they ... I forget, you get I think a little bit less in an order of checks than you do with an order of standard size checks, but still, they're really nice things to have. Thanks, Charles, for bringing those up.

Debbie G: That's a great idea. Let's talk now to Deb. Go ahead, Deb.

Deb: Hi. I was going to tell you about a thing that I got that I use a lot in the kitchen. It's called a Genius. That's the company, is Genius. It's a thing you use to dice vegetables and stuff like that. For dicing, it just has a blade on it that slips into this housing or whatever that's on top of a container, where it's going to go into. It's got squares on it. If you have your, for instance, if you have potatoes sliced the thickness you wanted them, you can lay them on top of this thing, and then the top comes down like you're closing a box or something, and pushes that through that blade. It cuts it in squares. There's a couple different size squares, and you can grate. There's a thing that you can slice with this thing. It's really, really handy. I use it a lot.

Jennifer O: That sounds wonderful, and it sounds like it fits or has a container, so everything goes right in that container, too.

Deb: Everything goes in the container. It's a rectangle-shaped container, and the housing thing holds these different types of blades that's right on top of it. You just switch the blades in and out. The blades are all housed in a plastic ... square sort of plastic thing. These blades are ... It's easy to grab onto without cutting yourself, albeit that those blades are sharp. It's still easy to manage without ... You have to be careful, because the blades are sharp. It even has a thing that will quarter ... Well, it's not quarter, it's like six or eight cut, like an apple or something like that. You can set that on there and cut it. It's really a handy gadget.

Jennifer O: I like multitaskers, too, that can do a lot of things at once.

Deb: Yeah, me too. It makes really quick chopping of stuff for beef stew or Mexican food. Whatever you're making, it makes really quick work of it. It comes apart nicely.

Jennifer O: Oh, good, I was just going to ask is it easy to clean? Good, okay.

Deb: It is, it's really easy. It comes apart easily. I just thought I'd mention that.

Debbie G: Just so I'm sure, it's called a Genius, right? The Genius?

Deb: Yes.

Debbie G: G-E-N-I-U-S?

Deb: Yeah, I believe so.

Jennifer O: By any chance, Deb, do you remember where you got it?

Deb: I actually ordered that on QVC, that shopping network QVC. I ordered it on there. There's nothing electric or anything about it. It really makes chopping and dicing up stuff ... It's got a real small dice, so if you're making diced onions or whatever, you can set them on there, the slices, and push the thing down and it dices them. Anyway, thank you very much.

Jennifer O: Thank you for sharing, that's excellent.

Debbie G: Thank you, Deb. Let's hear from Mary.

Mary: Hi, I'm from Philly. Pennsylvania. A couple ideas. For writing guides, I've used the check guide, just the regular small checkbook guides. Then regular envelope guides, and then a guide that's like a clipboard, just for regular 8.5x11 pages. Then also I've used bump dots for a number of things, for anything from appliances to putting on your keyboards ... I mean computer keyboards. Stuff like that. The other thing, which I should look for again, is called Teflon tape. It's comes in rolls, sort of like Dymo tape, but it's used for typing Braille information on it, and sewing it into my clothing. It holds up in the wash very well.

Jennifer O: Excellent, very good.

Debbie G: Mary, can I ask you, what is the name of that tape again please?

Mary: I don't know the exact name of it. I was just told it was called Teflon tape. I don't know where you would get it now.

Jennifer O: Yes. You can get it from some of the specialty catalogs sometimes, and we'll share some resources for those coming up in just a little bit. Yes, it's really nice. You can Braille so you can know the color of your clothing. That's great that it holds up in the washer and the dryer. Fabulous.

Mary: Yeah, and then when I'm going to throw out the clothing, I just reuse it on something else.

Jennifer O: There you go. Good. That's good to know, too.

Mary: If you can, for certain colors and all that.

Jennifer O: Fabulous. Thank you so much for sharing. Glad the writing guides seem to work well for you, too. It sounds like you use them quite a lot, probably quite often.

Debbie G: Speaking of writing guides, we had Cyrille writing in the text box how when she doesn't have a signature guide, she uses her finger as a guide. Cyrille, do you want to say more about that?

Cyrille: I use my finger as a signature guide, because we lack resources here.

Debbie G: You're in the Philippines, right?

Cyrille: Yes.

Jennifer O: The good thing is, your finger is always with you, so you never have to worry about losing it.

Debbie G: I think that's the ultimate low-tech gadget, right. You always have a finger handy. Okay, thank you, Cyrille.

Jennifer O: I do think that's an important thing about low-tech gadgets, is you're resourceful. You use whatever you have available. It doesn't have to be fancy; it doesn't have to be expensive. Like Debbie said, it's just something nice, easy, sometimes it's something that maybe has a different purpose. I'll just share another one real quick. I use it a lot this time of year. That's a letter opener. You can use the kind that I call the stick version, but the kind that I have is a rectangular letter opener. It's about three inches long by two inches wide. One of the long sides has a slit so that it has what I can a thin little arm. You would slide that under the flap of an envelope if you were going to open a letter. What I use it for is to cut wrapping paper, because I don't cut that very straight when I use a pair of scissors. I keep the wrapping paper on the roll, and I roll out a slightly longer length than what I need. Then I fold it back over top of the roll and make a crease, so that the paper itself is the length that I want it to be. Then I run the letter opener, put it through the crease like I'm opening an envelope, and move from one end of the crease to the other. It works really well for cutting straight. You can get those letter openers in the office supply part of department stores, or maybe the office supply store, even.

Debbie G: That's a good one.

Jennifer O: Anybody else. Any fun, simple, low-tech gadgets that you like to use?

Debbie G: We have two more hands raised. Let's talk to Carol. Go ahead, Carol.

Carol 1: Hi. I'll make this quick. I agree with everything you said about the OXO smooth edge can opener. It makes it easy to clean the can for recycling without getting your hand cut. I also agree with the comments about the Teflon tape for labeling clothes. A couple of years ago, I tried to get some from the Lighthouse, and they said they couldn't find any manufacturer that still made them. If they've started making it again, I would love to find out. I've been looking for several years for more Teflon labeling tape. It's the best way to label your clothes, especially t-shirts that have logos on them. What I've done instead, when I don't have the Teflon labeling tape, is I have one of those Colorino color identifiers, because I have no light perception. I use tiny safety pins, the size 000 or 00 you can get at Walmart. I put the head of the safety pin pointing at different points in a clock face. I know in my head that pointing to three o'clock is green, pointing to six o'clock is blue, and pointing to nine o'clock is black, or just whatever combination ... Like I wear right now, wearing a sweat suit because it's cold. That way I can tell all of the different colors apart in a hurry, based on where the head of the safety pin is pointing.

Jennifer O: That is a fabulous strategy. Thank you so much, Carol, and thanks for letting us know. I'll be on the lookout, see if I can find anything, any resources for Teflon. If I do, I'll let you guys know next month.

Debbie G: Go ahead, Shirley.

Shirley: Okay. We've been using the Teflon tape also, and we love it. We have found one very good resource for it, at least as of a month or a two ago they were still carrying it. It's a company called Marquez Products. M-A-R-Q-U-E-Z. They're in California. We have ordered it from them at least two or three times now and told other people about it. Like I said, last I knew about two months ago, they were still carrying it. You guys might check them out. Do you want a phone number? I have it here.

Jennifer O: If you have it right there with you, sure. We'll take that.

Shirley: Yes, I do. Len, is that the guy's personal number, is that their number? Okay, let me give you the 888 number, because I think the one might have belonged to the individual that we had. I'll give you the 888 number just to be sure. That's a toll-free number. It's 888-238-3393.

Jennifer O: Thank you so much.

Shirley: I hope it will work for you guys, because we have found it to be a great resource. They have a lot of things for blind people and other disabilities. I know I have a friend in California who ... There's two brothers, I guess, that run this thing. They go to her house all the time and bring her things. They seem to run a pretty nice little business. You might check it out.

Jennifer O: Thank you so much for sharing. That could help a lot of people, so we appreciate that.

Shirley: Thank you so much.

Jennifer O: Thank you. That's great, and glad we're getting some good testimonials for Teflon tape. It sounds like it can be a really useful product, too.

Debbie G: Yes, I did write down the phone number, and we will definitely have this in our show notes.

Jennifer O: Thank you.

Debbie G: We have a hand raised; area code 573. Go ahead.

Deanna: Hi. I use something that's a little different when I'm buying something that has a lot of grease, like maybe sausage or ground beef when I can't afford the extra lean. It's always been a trick to try to get the grease out of the pan and leave the food in the pan. What I use is a turkey baster. I draw the grease up, and I have a clean, empty jar like a glass jar that had maybe spaghetti sauce in it at some time, and I've washed it. I keep that handy with its lid. I tip the baster up to run the grease down towards the bowl, and I put the end of it over the open mouth of the jar and squirt grease into it. Then I go back and take up the next tablespoon or so of it. I do that so that I don't have to try to tip the pan and pour the grease anywhere.

Jennifer O: That's a great idea, because sometimes those pans can be heavy as you're trying to maneuver it and get it over the jar, or whatever you're trying to collect the grease in. No, that is a fabulous idea. Thank you so much. What a great use of, an extra use for a turkey baster.

Debbie G: Yes, and I didn't get your name, area code 573. What's your name?

Deanna: My name is Deanna, and I live in Missouri.

Jennifer O: Deanna, thank you so much.

Deanna: My signature guide ... Sometimes if you don't have anything else, you can ask them if they've got a business card, or something there on their desk that they can use as an edge. Or you can ask them to crease the paper right where they want you to sign.

Jennifer O: Very true, yes. Great, thank you. We're getting all kinds of tricks for signing your name. That's wonderful. That works well when you don't have a lot of resources available, too. Just anything that has a straight edge to follow works well.

Deanna: And if there's a lot of signatures, like some forms they want your initials here in 47 places. I will ask the person ahead of time to put a line of scotch tape along the line that they want me to sign and prepare the document before I get there. I don't have to have them shuffling around trying to line up my signature guide or whatever. That way, we can get through it more quickly. If you're signing away your life on a mortgage or something, it's 57 signatures they need.

Jennifer O: I was just thinking of when we bought our house, all the forms we needed to sign. You got it. Great trick. Another thing about your turkey baster idea, I bet that helps keep things a lot cleaner, too, doing it that way.

Deanna: It does. And you can just snap the turkey baster apart and put it in the dishwasher. You don't have grease everywhere. If you're a person that saves [inaudible] for bacon grease in a container in the fridge to use for flavoring in something else, or if you're like me that has a love of wildlife, want to put out some extra little cups of fat for the birds.

Jennifer O: Nice. Wonderful.

Debbie G: Thank you, Diana.

Jennifer O: I think Carol, it was use that said ... I apologize if I got the wrong person, but with the smooth edge manual can opener, just making sure if you do recycle, that you don't have those sharp edges around the can. That's another nice reason to use it. Okay, anyone else?

Debbie G: Carol, did you want to say anything else?

Carol 1: Yes. I've gotten that tactile clothing tape from American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville. It comes in these big rolls. It's kind of expensive, but it lasts forever. I was trying to find it all over the place. MaxiAids didn't have it. I finally got it at APH.

Jennifer O: Excellent.

Debbie G: Thank you for that.

Carol 1: And it comes ...

Debbie G: Sorry, go ahead Carol.

Carol 1: It comes with the pins and everything.

Jennifer O: Nice, very good. And you use that to help you tell what color of clothing you have?

Carol 1: Yes.

Jennifer O: Excellent.

Carol 1: And it's washable and dryable too.

Jennifer O: Very good. Sometimes if you-

Carol 1: It looks something like a Dymo tape, but it's not.

Jennifer O: The Dymo tape would not hold well in the dryer, so yes.

Carol 1: In the washer, either.

Jennifer O: True. Thank you for sharing. That's great, I'm glad you were persistent, and you found another resource to purchase it from.

Debbie G: And we have area code 210. Go ahead.

Brenda: Y'all were talking about where you put initials. A lot of initials on legal documents or whatever. In college, at a college bookstore, I know you can buy these little tabs that save pages, or bookmarks ... They're probably called bookmarks. They're almost like Post-It Notes. If you can have someone line them right underneath the lines to initial ... They're small, so they would work.

Debbie G: That's a great idea. What's your name, 210?

Brenda: Brenda.

Jennifer O: Oh, that's Brenda. I thought I recognized that voice.

Brenda: I got bounced off, and had to come back in.

Debbie G: Oh, that's what ... okay.

Jennifer O: Glad you're back. Somewhat similar to the scotch tape. Nice. That's really nice. You could even use Post-It Notes, too. Those tabs are nice because they're much smaller and would fit a space for initials. Anything like that works well. Debbie, if we don't have any more hands up, I want to talk a little bit about resources. Let me know if we have anybody waiting.

Debbie G: No, no one's waiting, so go for it.

Jennifer O: Okay. I just wanted to mention a couple of resources. The first one is just your local craft stores. Michael's, Joann Fabrics, similar places. These can be really good places to find things like wire loop needle threaders for threading sewing needles, and they have the standard type of wire loop needle threaders. But my favorite one that I've found and love to use, I got in the quilter's section. If you're familiar with these, it's kind of like a wire ... reminds me up a shape of a football. The standard one, the back end is aluminum, but the one I have that I got in the quilter's section, it's hard plastic on the end. There's a tiny little notch in it that you can pull your thread down over that notch, and it will actually cut your thread also. It's a little sturdier than the standard ones. Again, I got that at Joann Fabric. You can also find plastic cutting mats and cutting wheels to help you cut fabric straight. I had somebody once tell me they picked up something called a bucket of shapes. They were all these different circles and triangles and diamonds and squares. They use these kind of like their bump dots that someone mentioned earlier. They would glue them on different items. I had a client once that put rhinestones on her microwave to mark them, just to jazz up her labeling a little bit. And then these craft and sewing supply stores are really good places to find gooseneck lamps. You can find them a lot of times cheaper than you can in specialty catalogs, or from the specialty companies. Lots of things you can find in a craft store.

A hardware store is another good place to find low-tech gadgets. You can find all kinds of different colored tape. All kinds of different fasteners. Dowel rods, I've heard of taking two dowel rods and wrapping a wire around it, a thin wire, and using that to cut soft cheeses or cheesecake. I've never tried that myself. It was a chef that I heard say to do that, so I'll take his word for it. Then department stores. Target, Walmart. Of course, nowadays you can get anything online just about. From department stores, I've gotten measuring cups, a set of measuring cups that had really good, large print but really good contrast. The markings on them were easy to see for someone who had low vision. I also got for the clients a set of mixing bowls, where each bowl was a different color. There was a red one, a green one, a yellow one, and a blue one. That was kind of nice, because they really stood out on the counter. You could tell "My dry ingredients are in the green bowl, my wet ingredients are in the red bowl," or whatever.

Then you can buy things like rubber shelf liner. Rubber shelf liner can be used for lots of different things besides lining shelf. You could put it underneath a cutting board to keep it stable, so it doesn't slide around while you're trying to cut. You could put it under a plate, and it'll do the same, so the plate doesn't slide around while you're trying to cut your meat. Put it under a mixing bowl, so the mixing bowl doesn't wobble around as you're trying to do things. You could even use it to wrap around the handle of something. A hairbrush, a fork, a knife. If you have trouble with your hands, maybe you just need a bigger handle to help make the grip more comfortable. You can wrap some of the shelf liner around that.

Then we have the specialty companies. Some that have been mentioned already tonight. APH is the American Printing House for the Blind. They sell a lot of products for children, but they also sell a lot of products for adults. A lot of their products are good for anybody, no matter what the age. From different things to label to the clothing tape that was mentioned to different lights ... Examples of lights, and all kinds of stuff. MaxiAids is another one. Independent Living Aids. LSNS group is another one. These are just some of the specialty ones. We now know of Marquez Products, too, that was mentioned this evening. I'm just going to throw it out to see if anybody else has particular resources for where they like to get or look for their low vision, or low-tech gadgets. They might be low vision, too, but low-tech gadgets. Anybody have any other resources they want to share?

Debbie G: Before we do that, Diana did have her hand raised, so go ahead, Diana.

Diana: One of the things that I would ... I worked at an independent living center for about ten years, and I would get all kinds of questions from people that were struggling with issues. One day, one of my consumers came in and I asked her how she was, and she was having a difficult arthritic day, and in a lot of pain. We were talking about that, and she said "It was so frustrating this morning, I couldn't hold on to my bar of soap when I was taking my shower." I remembered that I had some foam rubber that had come in packing. I took it out of my desk, and I cut a square of it large enough that it would overlap the bar of soap, about a half inch all the way around. I cut a slit in the side of it, and I said "Look. Maybe you could do something like this, and slide a bar of soap inside of it like this. That way, your soap would not be slippery to hold on to, and you wouldn't have to waste any when you got down to the sliver stage." I started looking for them, and they actually do have some products that are called soap savers that you can find different places. You can use a mesh bag with a drawstring. You can use a loofah sponge and just cut an opening in one end to slide the soap in. There's a lot of different ways you can handle that, so that you don't have to be chasing your bar of soap around the shower.

Jennifer O: That's fabulous. Those are excellent and wonderful options, several different options to try. It brings to mind, too, that at hardware stores you can also buy this foam ... I think they might use it to wrap around pipe or PVC or something. I'm not exactly sure what they use it for, but we used it for making built up handles around, again, utensils. Like a fork and a knife or a spoon, too. There are a lot of really creative things you can do to help make sure that the soap's not too slippery to hold on to, or that these utensils are easier to grab. Thanks so much, Diana. Appreciate you sharing that.

Debbie G: We have five minutes, and three more people with hand raised. You each get one minute, okay? Go ahead, Carol.

Carol 2: I'll make this quick. I like to shop at National Federation for the Blind. Their catalog is accessible for a screen reader. If you have no light perception, you can read it text only. Secondly, I was fascinated about what you said about the shelf liner paper, or the plastic shelf liner. How can I cut my shelf liner paper with right angled corners? If I'm using that, I don't know how to cut it straight.

Jennifer O: That's a great question, and unfortunately, I do not think the letter opener will work really well on that type of material, because it is that rubber mat. You might try a cutting wheel. Craziness comes to my mind right now, maybe because I just ate dinner, but I'm thinking a pizza wheel, even, to try to cut it.

Carol 2: Where would you get a cutting wheel? Is that something from a craft store?

Jennifer O: A craft store, Joann Fabric, right. Like I said, I don't even know, but a pizza wheel came to mind. If you happen to have a pizza wheel at home too, you could try. Sometimes creativity comes from strange places. The cutting wheel's more designed to cut fabric, so Joann Fabric, Michael's someplace like that.

Carol 2: Okay, thanks.

Jennifer O: You're welcome.

Debbie G: Very good. Let's hear from Barbara. Go ahead, Barbara.

Brenda: Hi. Another resource for buying things is If you go in the search button and type in blind, it will bring up a lot of products that blind and low vision people use.

Jennifer O: Excellent. Thank you so much, that's really good to know. Amazon has just about everything, and I'm glad you can key in on that search word.

Debbie G: Thank you. And we have one more ... Carol, I know we had a Carol that just spoke, but it also says Carol. Carol, go ahead.

Carol 1: Okay. I'm the one in Dallas. There's a place called Future Aids. It used to be the Super Braille Store or something like that. They have timers and talking clocks and watches, all that kind of stuff, too.

Jennifer O: You're right, they used to be the Braille Superstore. They're out of Canada. But Future Aids, I believe it's We're going to make sure we include all these. National Federation, Amazon, Future Aids. Yes, they have wonderful products. They're not just Braille, either. It's like you said, timers, low vision stuff, and it's good quality stuff, too. Thanks, Carol. Appreciate that.

Debbie G: Thank you. And then Brenda, did you have anything to add?

Brenda: Yes. About cutting the foam backing shelf liner ... I haven't tried it, but I use a paper cutter that I bought from Walmart for less than $5. I can cut thin sheets of plastic with it. You might want to try the shelving paper with that. Just a simple paper cutter.

Jennifer O: There you go, that's another great thought, Brenda. Appreciate it. Yes.

Debbie G: Thank you. We have two minutes, so Jennifer, why don't you wrap it up?

Jennifer O: Sure. First of all, let me just say with that cutting wheel that I mentioned, you'll want to get some kind of plastic mat to put under it, so that the shelf liner's on top of the rubber mat. Don't just put that on your counter or your carpet, okay? They have those plastic mats that can be used with the cutting wheels, too. Just wanted to mention that. I wanted to thank everybody for participating tonight. We had some really great ideas, and appreciate so many of you chiming in. I'm glad that ... Low-tech gadgets are something, again ... We use what we have available. It really is a nice way to let that creativity shine and come up with all kinds of ways to use a particular product and find multiple uses for it. I'm so glad that we can share with each other all these different things, and share resources, too. We hope that you've learned something new tonight and thanks so much, again, for joining us.