Telling the time and managing appointments
Time management is an important part of day-to-day life, so here we share tips on ways you can tell the time and manage calendar appointments with sight loss.
First of all, think about your preferred way of getting information. Can you read large print? Do you use tactile information like Braille? Do you prefer audio? Or do you like to use technology? You may, of course, like to use more than one option.
There are many ways of getting information and these options can vary depending on what you're doing. For example, banks may offer communications in large print, audio and Braille, whilst a hair salon appointment reminder may be something you store as a digital or written note. In this case, you can use a combination of different methods, depending on your preferences.
Options for telling the time
Large, clear display
If you prefer to use your remaining vision, there are different options to consider when finding out the time.
- Larger, clear displays may be better, for example on a large-faced analogue wall clock or wristwatch.
- If you prefer using digital time, you can alter digital displays to improve the size and contrast.
- You can also buy digital clocks that project the magnified time onto a wall or other surface.
If you prefer an audio alert of the time, some wristwatches and clocks will announce the time at the press of a button. They can come in an analogue or digital display.
You might prefer to use tactile timepieces such as Braille clocks and watches. Watches with a vibrate feature may also be useful if you want to set an alarm without disturbing anyone else.
Smartwatches come with a significantly higher price tag but have become increasingly popular. In the past, many of them have been inaccessible to those with a vision impairment. However, some brands now have built-in voice assistants (Alexa or Siri, for example), which can do much more for you than just notifying you of the time, just as they do on a mobile phone or smart speaker system.
Developers have also recently created a Braille smartwatch that makes all the features of a smartwatch (fitness, heart rate, sleep, timer, etc) accessible to someone who uses Braille.
Smartphones and tablets
A common way of timekeeping is to use a smartphone or tablet. The time and date are usually displayed on the homepages for easy access. Accessibility features on phones and tablets also allow for display changes, together with the addition of an audio announcement using a screen reader such as Voiceover. Smartphones with voice assistants such as Siri or Google can also announce the time when asked.
Smart speaker systems
Smart speaker systems such as Amazon Echo or Google Assistant can tell you the time when asked. You can also use voice control to ask them to set alarms and timers. This can be useful when cooking or exercising, for example. You can ask Alexa or Hey Google to ‘remind me on Sunday to buy Sarah a birthday card’ or ‘remind me at 8am that I have the dentist at 9am’. You might prefer to do this alongside writing the note digitally or on a written calendar for double-checking.
Calendars and managing appointments
Managing appointments and remembering important dates can be tricky. As with the time, it’s important to first consider what your preference is when remembering information. For example, do you prefer a written or digital note? Where would you most likely store a reminder? Here are some ideas:
- Add audio labels, such as the PenFriend labels, to dates on a calendar to give you more detailed information.
- If you have some remaining vision:
- Write reminder notes on thick lined paper with a thick tipped pen. You could also use a whiteboard that you hang in a prominent place in your home.
- Large-print calendars and diaries - if you have sufficient remaining vision and like a calendar hanging on the wall, you could opt for a large print calendar and write on it with a thick tipped pen to enhance contrast and make it easier to read. Have a look at the RNIB Shop, Partially Sighted shop or other online retailers for diaries and calendars in large print and contrasting colours.
Using the built-in calendar apps on smartphones and tablets
You could use the built-in calendar or notes app on smartphones and tablets to store reminders, important dates and to-do lists. This is especially helpful when you’re away from home. Information that you’ve added to your calendar can link with your voice assistant, allowing you to have a written and audio reminder if needed.
If you have a smartphone or tablet, you can use virtual assistants, such as Siri on Apple devices or Google Assistant on Android, to create appointments and reminders. For instance, if you say: “Hey Siri, create appointment, dentist’s check-up at 2.30pm on Tuesday 17 November at Bridge Road Dental Practice”, the device will enter those details for you. You can ask Siri what appointments you have on any given date and to set reminders, for example for when there’s a programme you want to watch on TV. Siri can also launch apps for you if you say, for example: “Hey Siri, launch Word”, and you can ask Siri to tell you the time, or even solve a maths problem for you!
If you have a smart speaker system, such as the Amazon Echo or Google Assistant, you can set reminders, be told when it’s a certain date and time, be reminded of appointments and ask questions.
If you prefer to write or read your notes and reminders in Braille, you could use a Braille notetaker. These are small, electronic and portable devices and you can use either the built-in speech synthesizer or Braille display to store information.