“Why is uncle wearing a watch when he cannot see?” my 22yrs old niece whispered to my wife. Before my wife could answer her, I quickly pressed the button on my watch, “Dong! It’s 5.45pm” an artificially synthesized western female voice shouted from my watch. We had a good laugh and that answered the question. Yes, a talking watch! You cannot imagine and understand my frustration about not being able to keep track of time of day and when I cannot see. What a difference this simple talking watch makes in my life since. Yes, I chanced upon it during my first visit to the MAB, Malaysian Association for the Blind.
A young bright young lad, 9yrs old Benjamin, back home for the Christmas break from Abu Dhabi with his family, was so fascinated with my talking watch and I gave it to him as a Christmas present. It does make one feels good when ‘seeing’ another happy! I got myself another replacement a few days after that.
It is marvelous that technology has advanced at such a rapid pace and it has certainly helped to make life so much better for the blind and I believe too, also for the other less fortunate people all over the world. I was also pleasantly surprised to learn from my new VIPs (visually impaired persons) friends about the gadgets some of them have. Talking weighing machine, talking thermometer, talking telephone shouting out caller ID numbers and talking mobile phones. I believe there are several more of talking gadgets out there which we may not have heard of yet.
After getting myself a talking mobile phone a few months back, it has given me so much fun and pleasure. I am able to operate the new phone just like any other normal sighted person, i.e. composing, sending and receiving SMS/Emails, retrieve/edit/update contact list, surf and browse the internet.
There is still so much more to discover in the world of technology especially for the visually impaired. Indeed it has empowered people like me the independence in maintaining communication with both sighted and the non sighted friends.
Phew! More challenging times ahead!