Our Communications Officer, Sam, blogs about her latest tech purchase…
As my vision has deteriorated, I am becoming more and more reliant on technology to continue to do everything I need to do. In terms of the great outdoors, this means a greater reliance on GPS and travel alert apps. But obviously walking around with either your phone out and visible, or earphones blocking your ears is not a good thing from either a personal security or safety point of view. So what’s the solution?
Being aware that other people with similar vision issues have become fans of the After Shokz range of open ear headphones, I decided this might be the right time to try them out myself.
Yes they may seem expensive, basically ranging from £60 upwards depending on the model and colour, but as a Yorkshire woman I do like value for money and could see many situations in which I could get use of these, so I saw it more as an investment in my mobility.
So how do they rate? All I can say is I am incredibly impressed. Once charged, they are very easy to Bluetooth link to your chosen device, and once they have been linked initially any future Bluetooth link ups are even quicker. The set basically comprises of two buttons. One button is the on/off button and also acts as the volume up feature. The other button coincidentally gives you volume down and also gives you an indicator as to the level of charge left in the headset.
The third button, which is separate, is probably going to be the most important whilst using the device. This allows you to carry out a number of actions via the headset that you could normally do on your phone. For instance you can receive and make calls, send a text or simply ask your phone the time, all from this small button on the headset.
As for out and about use, the headset does amazingly well. The audio is definitely loud and crisp enough to be heard over a fairly busy road full of traffic, and even stood up well against the noise of being inside one of Arriva’s most ageing, rickety buses!
So what’s my end verdict…? Okay, this may not be for everyone who has a visual impairment but if, like me, you are a regular independent traveller, reliant on your phone and apps to get around, then I would definitely recommend this product as a much-needed essential. The ability to have that much information available to you whilst maintaining your personal safety is quite literally priceless.