Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

(See the end of this page for subscribing via email, RSS, browsing articles by subject, blog archive, APH resources, writing for Fred's Head, and disclaimers.)


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Finding Flexibility and Accessibility in an Exercise Bike

by Karen Keninger

I’ve had a Schwinn Airdine exercise bike for years. It has one tension, and doesn’t have any programming. It’s great as far as it goes, but I wanted something more flexible with training options. I found a NordicTrack C2 Si Upright Exercise Bike online that seemed to have the price tag and the features I wanted, and took a chance on it being accessible. Here’s what I got.

It came in a bazillion pieces with a very comprehensible instruction manual. Following the step by step instructions, it was possible to put it together even without the drawings.

The bike has an MP3 player connection that routes the player through a set of decent speakers. My Victor Reader Stream works perfectly. The volume up and down buttons are part of a flat panel area with circular “push” buttons. I stuck some plastic Braille labels on them and they’re easy to find and use. The Stream fits well enough in the allotted slot and connects through a simple cord into the earphone jack.

The bike has multiple levels of tension on the pedals so you can work pretty hard down to not hard at all. The controls for this function are big plastic arrows. They’re easy to find and shaped like arrows so I didn’t need to label them.

The unit has 16 preprogrammed exercise routines, eight for weight loss and eight for aerobic exercise. Each group is controlled by a round, pressure-sensitive button on a flat panel. Pressing either the “weight loss” button or the “aerobic exercise” button repeatedly cycles through the eight settings and then returns on the ninth press to off. Therefore, selecting the routine I want is just a matter of counting. I labeled these buttons the same way I labeled the volume controls.

During the exercise routines, the machine beeps each minute. If the tension on the pedals is changing, it has a series of beeps. If it’s staying the same for the next segment, it has one beep. Unfortunately it doesn’t have a different set of tones to tell me my routine is finished. Since I know they’re all 20 and 30-minute routines, I time them. The on-screen feedback that tells you you’re pedaling too fast or too slow for the routine is not accessible.

Heart-rate monitors are built into the handlebars, and a host of other information is displayed on the screen that is completely inaccessible. I couldn’t find any exercise equipment that had voice readouts of the information displayed on the screen.

The bike also has a couple of built-in video games that are not accessible as far as I can tell unless you enjoy random luck. The controls are built into the handles and easy to operate, but the action takes place on the screen. Audio feedback will tell you if you earned any points, though.

This model also accommodates the interactive iFit Workout Card Technology. I haven’t spent the $29.95 per card yet though. Thought I’d try out the built-in routines first.

Article Source:

Technology for the Blind

No comments:

Subscribe to receive posts via email

* indicates required

Browse Articles by Subject

Follow us on Twitter


Write for us

Your input and support in the evolution of Fred's Head are invaluable! Contact us about contributing original writing or for suggestions for updating existing articles. Email us at


The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) makes every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained in the Fred's Head articles; however, APH makes no warranty, guarantee, or promise, expressed or implied, concerning the content or accuracy of the information provided in Fred's Head. APH does not endorse any technique, product, device, service, organization, or other information presented in Fred's Head, other than products and services directly offered by APH.

The products produced by the American Printing House for the Blind are instructional/teaching materials and are intended to be used by trained professionals, parents, and other adults with children who are blind and visually impaired. These materials are not intended as toys for use by children in unstructured play or in an unsupervised environment.

The information and techniques contained in Fred's Head are provided without legal consideration (free-of-charge) and are not warranted by APH to be safe or effective. All users of this service assume the risk of any injury or damage that may result from the use of the information provided.

Information in Fred's Head is not intended as a substitute for professional advice or treatment. Consult your physician before utilizing information regarding your health that may be presented on this site. Consult other professionals as appropriate for legal, financial, and related advice.

Fred's Head articles may contain links to other websites. APH is not responsible for the content of these sites.

Fred's Head articles created by APH staff are (C) copyright American Printing House for the Blind, Inc. You must request permission from APH to reprint these articles. Email to request permission.

Any submissions to Fred's Head should be free of copyright restrictions and should be the intellectual property of the submitter. By submitting information to Fred's Head, you are granting APH permission to publish this information.

Fair Use Notice: This website may contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright holder(s). This site is operated on the assumption that using this information constitutes 'fair use' of said copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law.

Opinions appearing in Fred's Head records are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Printing House for the Blind.