Wednesday, July 21, 2010

American Council of the Blind National Convention

The national ACB convention was held this year in Phoenix from July ninth through the seventeenth. That's right. Mid July. No rain for three months. Low desert. Arizona. A whole lot of hot. I went for a few days and still enjoyed it very much.

It was at the Downtown Phoenix Sheraton. The Sheraton had many staffers standing around waiting to be helpful. Some were very active, piping up if a conventioneer looked or acted lost or uncertain, and some didn't get clear on the concept and just stood there, smiling and waiting to be spotted.

There were about 70 vendors there so that was really neat seeing and trying out all the different things. Everything was really neat to check out. I really liked seeing that you could get body lotions and things like that in factory Brailled bottles. I always have to mark things so it was neat to see that there was something out there like that.

We looked at bar code scanners. The I D mate from Omni was being remaindered out for half price but still about six hundred dollars. It is being replaced with a smaller lighter model for about thirteen hundred dollars. Both have internal memories of zillions of bar codes. Then we came across a company called Digit-Eyes at They have a color scanner app in development, but right now they are selling an Internet enabled app for smart phones that will read bar codes for thirty dollars. That's a one time cost but you will have to bear the ongoing monthly cost of Internet service on your phone.

The big difference is that the app looks up the code on their server with a few second delay, and we can't yet say how good it is at finding a code that the user is trying to locate on a package somewhere. It will also do custom labeling like the other code readers and the Pen Friend.

Some things are very expensive and most of us cannot afford them. The stand alone dedicated technology is definitely better, so comparisons often have to be made on enormous price differences. Technology is really getting better so we are going to be getting things now that are not so expensive. That sort of thing makes me happy. When my cell phone contract expires in a few months I will definitely be getting a smart phone.

We took a tour to the Foundation for Blind Children in northern Phoenix and enjoyed it very much. It was very informative; I did not realize they did so much there. They are Brailing maniacs. Contrary to their name, they work with people of all ages. The oldest person using them is over a hundred.

Finally, I went to the movies with my daughter and saw the third Twilight movie in descriptive video. Not bad. If it had not been descriptive I would not have enjoyed it much because there was a lot of action.


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