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VIBES Number 3: Labeling Something, NOT Someone

Labeling things around the house is quite beneficial for people who are blind or visually impaired. Read on to find out four ways to label different items in a simple and affordable way!

Introduction

Sometimes, we don’t need all high tech gizmos to get things done around the house. The gadgets we already have like stoves, laundry machines, etcetera, are pretty good, especially if you are lucky to have the older machines with buttons. To make these machines more accessible, you can label each button for a better experience when using them. “How, though?” No worries! Read on to find out four of the most common ways to label such things! All of them are very inexpensive, and you can be sure that they will last a very long time! This not only applies to appliances, though. It can also apply to food items and practically anything else you have that needs some sort of identification.

A Quick Labeling Note

Depending on how advanced you are, labeling items can vary from very minimum labeling, to labeling every button on the machine. Let’s say you are labeling a microwave. For myself, I only have three labels on the microwave on the number “5,” “Start,” and “Stop.” This is because I can tell by feel and spacial recognition that the number “2” is slightly above the 5, and “4” and “6” are to the left and right of “5” respectively, even if the microwave is a touchscreen style. Each person will have their own style of labeling. Most teachers of the visually impaired try to go for the minimum labeling, so the child can practice their spacial awareness, and in situations where something may not be labeled, they can use deductive reasoning to still figure out something based on its familiarity. With that note out of the way, let’s get to some labeling! “But hey! I won’t be able to see that! Man, blind people really know how to ruin stuff!” Don’t worry! the items that will be covered are transparent, so sighted people can still use the labeled items in question.

A Braille Labeler

Remember the good old print labels you could slide into a printer and be able to have a label for let’s say, a box? Well, we have the same thing in braille! The difference is that these braille labelers use a roll of special tape which is the exact width of a braille cell. This goes into the labeler, and as you input letters, the tape will move. There are actually two types of braille labelers. We will cover these below.

The Dial Labeler

This will show how long these babies have been around. These braille labelers had a special gadget inside, which was controled by a pretty large dial. Around the dial, you would see all the possible letters and punctuation you could turn this dial to, in order to then squeeze the trigger on the underside of the labeler to input that letter. I know, tedious, right? When you were done, you would then turn the dial to a picture of scissors (represented by a tactile rectangle) to then squeeze that same trigger to cut the label. Sometimes it would not be a clean cut, because the tab you would use to pull the cover off of the tape would disappear, and you would either have to do it again, or use something to get that cover off. However, despite the tediousness, it gets the job done for quick labels. You can purchase this device right here!

The 6dot Labeler.

This labeler came out five years ago. I guess many people complained about their hand strength with the previous labelers enough to the point where a company took it upon themselves to create a much better idea, and as of now, this is the new standard! The 6dot is a labeler with a braille keyboard. You can also use a QWERTY keyboard with it to label items, perfect for family or friends to create the labels as well! In the middle between dots “1” and “4” of the unit, you will find a magical button that when pressed, does a precise cut of the label when you are done creating it! No more needing to cut labels with knives or remove dials just to get your label back! The price tag is a bit hefty though, but it is a worthwhile investment. It uses the same tape as the Reizen devices discussed above. Here is the 6dot if you wish to find out more information!

The Dots

If you want something much simpler to label items, we highly recommend you purchase what is called “Bump dots.” They are dots on a piece of paper that you can remove, to then stick anywhere you want to have a label! These dots come in different sizes and colors, which will be very helpful to distinguish different things that are labeled. For instance, you could use a larger dot for a “Stop” button or a small dot for a number on a microwave. The colors mostly help the people that are low vision to distinguish the different labeled items. here is a variety pack of these bump dots so you can figure out what is best for the person using the labels in question, or they may even have a personal preference.

Paint, You Puffed It Up!

Did you know that puff paint, which you can find at craft stores or even Walmart, is used for labeling as well? Yes my friend, it is! In this situation, you can make either dots, or small pictures/markings to label things as well! Best of all, this works on things like cans. Let’s say you’ll be using a can of flour and sugar and will be re-filling these. Well, you can have a more permanent label on each one with the puff paint so you know which one is which! You would have to wait about twenty-four hours for this to dry, but once it is, you have yourself a much more permanent label! You can also use puff paint to draw very detailed pictures, but we will save that for another article!

Cards for Groceries

This method is most effective on cans and boxes. You can take a note card, such as the ones you use as flashcards, and write braille or large print on those. Once finished, you wrap a rubber band around the card and item in question. That makes it a good reusable item! Once you are finished with the item in question, for example cereal, you can then create a shopping list with those specific cards, and when you buy new items, you can reuse the cards again!

Conclusion

These are just some of many ways you can label things around your house to make life a lot easier. These are the more common methods that many people use. Do you have a different way that you label items or show your students how to label? Let us know, and remember that there’s no “right by the book” way to label things! Every method counts! Happy labeling!