Hi Lifehacker, I want to purchase a portable MP3 player for my aunt. The problem is that she has a vision impairment and is in her 70s. Are there any models out there that have basic functionality and big buttons? Thanks, Tune Vision
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Have you considered buying an MP3 player that’s specifically designed for the vision impaired? These devices have large, tactile buttons and an unobtrusive user interface which makes them ideal for elderly users who can’t see very well.
One popular example is the DAISY range of playback devices from Vision Australia. These products are primarily designed for audio books but can also be used to play music CDs and MP3 files. Some models even boast voice-guidance to make operation is easy as possible.
Unfortunately, these products tend to be expensive; basic models generally start at a few hundred dollars. If you go down this route it might be a good idea to get other family members to chip in too.
Another option worth considering is an Apple iPod nano with Accessibility enabled. This is an inbuilt mode that assists users with poor vision via spoken guidance and better visibility of menus. On the downside, she will need to deal with iTunes regularly, which isn’t particularly inviting to technophobes.
To be honest, even the most user-friendly MP3 player will probably be too complicated for a non-computer user with visual impairments. You don’t want to buy something that’s just going to gather dust in the “too hard” basket. If your aunt has limited experience with the internet and MP3 files, you’re probably better off going for a portable boom box or CD player. Hear us out.
The advantages of a CD player over an MP3 player are numerous: they boast fool-proof operation (just stick the disc in and press play), large physical buttons and a singular purpose unmarred by extra features or confusing menus. Plus, they tend to be more affordable with good models starting at $80 or so.
The only significant downside is that you can’t slip them into your pocket for music on the go. However, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue for a woman in her 70s with a vision impairment. We’re going to hedge a guess that she doesn’t get out much.
In terms of specific models, I’m going to throw it open to Lifehacker readers. If you know of any CD players or MP3 players that are especially suitable for older users, let TV know in the comments section below.
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