When eyesight deteriorates, either due to illness or advanced age, many people turn to audiobooks as an alternative to reading. With today's technology there is an abundance of services and devices one can use.
Unfortunately, most portable audio players are created for the young and tech-savvy. They are small, require precision to operate and come with various modes like shuffle and repeat. All of these good traits make them unsuitable for people who do not adapt so well to new things, have poor vision and whose fingers aren't as precise as they used to be.
We have tested a number of audio players with an elder in my family and we were unable to find one that would be suitable for her. So I've decided to make one myself. After all, how hard can it be? ;)
I'm not good at building stuff but I'm a software developer so I have decided to take an off-the-shelf device, an Android tablet, and achieve my goal with a custom app.
I came up with something like this:
The app, obviously, plays audio files but also does three things that are geared towards the visually impaired and the elderly:
- it reads the book titles when the screen is enabled and when browsing,
- it has large START and STOP buttons in contrast colors,
- stops playback when placed with the screen downward on a level surface.
And, last but not least, the app can be installed in such a way that the user cannot leave it. This hides all the complexity of the underlying system and applications - the device serves one purpose and one purpose only.
It is still an experiment but I hope it will evolve in a good tool. It already serves its purpose for one person :)
You can find the application and more info on the website: http://msimonides.github.io/homerplayer/