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, October 11, 2011

Appliances are a Challenge

by Donna J. Jodhan

There used to be a time when I, as a blind person, was able to navigate the buttons on the panels of my appliances without having to ask for sighted assistance. Buttons and knobs on washers and dryers were big enough for me to feel and touch, you could set levels of water and temperatures by counting off the clicks, and you could do other things by simply memorizing how many clicks to the left or right, etc.

A few months ago, I had to replace my washer and dryer and thank goodness I was able to find a small appliance store that sold washers and dryers with manageable buttons. Many of the appliances today are dominated by touch screens and digital displays and this makes life more difficult for someone who is unable to see. Some appliances even have lights to indicate certain things and this too is not very good for a blind person.

In the good old days, I only had to ask for sighted assistance once when I was learning the position of the buttons but all this has changed. I know, we are now in the digital age and that can't be helped but how I wish that someone can come along and develop a gadget for blind persons to use with digital displays and touch screens. Thank goodness I have a talking microwave but my toaster oven is a challenge for me.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all:
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility:
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns:

NFB's Accessible Home Product List

From the website:

In our effort to keep up-to-date with current technology we are always adding to and changing the list of usable consumer electronics. We say “usable” because we do not know of any modern household appliances that are completely accessible. The clock and timer settings on all of the appliances we observed require visual assistance to set and use reliably. To assist in identifying major buttons and functions, it would be a good idea to label many of the panels either in Braille or with some other marking. We found some appliances more accessible than others. Dishwashers had the most touch pads and were generally the least accessible line of appliances we viewed. Many of the ovens have buttons labeled “Clear/Off” or “Start/Off” that when pressed to turn the oven off will always clear previous settings so that every time you turn the oven on, it starts at the same temperature, often 350 degrees, as noted in many of the descriptions. This means that if the multiple layers of functions get confusing, the cook can just turn the oven off, then back on to start over at a known temperature and try again. In some instances, you may have to memorize the sequences for buttons with multiple selections in order to cycle through the choices and know where you are. We hope you find these product descriptions useful. As you shop you will find other models with similar controls so you can choose the model that suits your needs.

We selected some lower-priced and higher-priced models in each category.  The model numbers listed are the manufacturers’ model numbers.  Stores often add their own model numbers so be sure to ask your sales representative to look for the manufacturers’ model number.  We do not include prices as they vary from region to region and from time to time. 

The higher end models of appliances contain more features and have more buttons and menus.  The less expensive models often are the most accessible.  In most cases, with adaptations, blind and low vision homemakers can find ways to use any of these appliances.

Click this link to view the NFB's Accessible Home Product List.

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.