Velcro, Hi-Marks and Spotters: the Private World of Bump Dots

If the arrows, numbers and On/Off print information on your electronics and appliances are becoming a blur, it is tempting to continue as before. But what is really happening? Most likely you are setting the washer and the remote (remote control for your TV, stereo etc.) from memory, guesswork or waiting till you can ask someone to help you out. Your stress level and your independence are both affected. Worst of all,  the simple happiness of getting daily tasks doneefficiently  has disappeared.

 

You know what it is like! Dials are the easiest because muscle memory often lets you know when the pointer bar is in the right position, but then only some pointer bars are pointy at the business end. If not, you may lie stretched out across the washer trying to eyeball which end of the pointer bar has the faded arrow. And that’s the easy one!

 

Control panels now seem to rule our lives, and with the help of a small selection of raised markings (often called labels), you can control your control panels again. There is one thing to do before you begin: find a small basket or box (with good color contrast if you have some vision) and put a selection of bumps plus scissors and either dayglo tape or puff paint (also called Hi Marks or 3D Paint) into your labeling box. Here are some good sources:

 

Selection of bump dots of different sizes, ILA catalog#730110, including Spotters for cell phones and keyboards, www.independentliving.com, phone 800.537.2118, $10.99

Velcro Dots, pack of 15 doubles, black and white, Carroll Store, www.carroll.org/the-carroll-store/, phone 800.852.3131 x 215, $ 3.76   

 

Touch dots pack of 5 x 64, Carroll Store, www.carroll.org/the-carroll-store/,     phone 800.852.3131 x 215, $7.53

 

3D Paint, ILA catalog #459300, www.independentliving.com, phone 800.537.2118, $2.95 (specify color)

 Waterproof tape dayglo orange or lemon, removes cleanly from most surfaces, 200 feet  x 1 inch, Carroll store,www.carroll.org/the-carroll-store/ 800.852.3131  x 215, $13.18  (also available in art stores )

 

Bump dots with nodule for extra definition, ILA catalog #730111, 25 bumps, www.independentliving.com, 800.537.2118, $2.95

 

Now put this small miracle worker in a place you can find it easily. When you need to label something, you have what you need right at hand. This way you avoid the whole depressing loop which goes like this: You need to label your microwave.  You do not have the bumps.  You do not know how to buy the bumps. You mean to find out but do not know where to start. You continue to have an unlabeled microwave.

 

How can all those control panels be tamed with a strip of bump dots? Well, you do have to decide what is important to you, and just mark that. Sometimes the buttons relate to changing printed options behind a transparent cover. This may be a real problem. And there will be a future post on which appliances have the best controls and features for people with vision loss.

 

As a break from all this hard work of labeling, next week post will be Pot Luck Pies for Summer. So if you have a never-fail pie recipe that’s easy, please share it with the rest of us.

Here  are 3 photos with descriptive  captions about tactile labeling:

 

A selection of tactile labels. Waterproof bright lemon tape, Hi Marks tactile paints , Velcro strip and dots , Touch Dots,which are soft, small and good value, flat topped orange bump dots , the classic tactile label, and large and medium black squares.
A selection of tactile labels. Waterproof bright lemon tape, Hi Marks tactile paints , Velcro strip and dots , Touch Dots,which are soft, small and good value, flat topped orange bump dots , the classic tactile label, and large and medium black squares.

 

 

 

Microwave oven with different labels to indicate the cancel/stop and the start/resume buttons, the minute button, the power settings button, and the 2,4,5,6 and 8 on the number pad so the minutes can be punched in.
Microwave oven with different labels to indicate the cancel/stop and the start/resume buttons, the minute button, the power settings button, and the 2,4,5,6 and 8 on the number pad so the minutes can be punched in.
 Dots that mean the same wherever they are. Off /Cancel Velcro dot, and on/Play a big bump. Small medium and large transparent dome dots to indicate cold warm and hot, or low medium and high. There is a TV remote with Hi Marks letters for volume and channel and little dots indicating the numbers and power, and a bright orange tape cut at an angles to remind you which remote it is to go on the back.
Dots that mean the same wherever they are. Off /Cancel Velcro dot, and on/Play a big bump. Small medium and large transparent dome dots to indicate cold warm and hot, or low medium and high. There is a TV remote with Hi Marks letters for volume and channel and little dots indicating the numbers and power, and a bright orange tape cut at an angles to remind you which remote it is to go on the back.

5 thoughts on “Velcro, Hi-Marks and Spotters: the Private World of Bump Dots

  1. Thank you for your very helpful posts. Recently I was trying to find a clock radio for my 92 yr old mother that didn’t have twenty little buttons! I’m ordering some bump dots today.

    1. I am glad that you are assisting your mother to label her kitchen appliances. The problem is not so much with the type of labeling but with, as you rightly point out, the outside of the toaster-oven getting hot. In fact most of them get very hot. Also the gap between the positions of the oven rack and the elements above and below makes pulling out the racks potentially hazardous for someone with poor vision. I wish I had a recommendation for the best toaster-oven for someone with vision loss – I don’t, but it you can look for one with some insulation (a cool-wall model) and one where the oven rack pulls out as the door is opened – there was a Black and Decker model that did this – it will allow your mother to use a toaster –oven safely and also get rid of the labeling problem .

  2. This article is great!

    I am a researcher/product developer working on tactile computer interfaces. The different shapes used for each function is very helpful information. My goal is to start the industry conversation on tactile icons – shapes with meaning.

    My current study on this subject is at experiment.com/tangible.

  3. I’m looking for a tactile way for my mother to determine settings on a toaster oven. You have the dots and Hi-Marks, but are these suitable for toaster oven exteriors that get quite hot to the touch? Thanks.

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