Accessible ThermostatsPart One
My goal for this post seemed simple enough--to identify and discuss options for accessible thermostats which blind people could control. Finding talking thermostat options was easy enough, however, I also knew that options existed which permitted smartphone users to control thermostats using the aforementioned smartphone. Thermostats which fall into this second category are much more numerous so we will discuss those options in the second installment of our series. For now let's look at talking thermostat options.
At one time, blind people had two talking thermostat options; one was the Kelvin Talking Thermostat. While several references to it still exist online, the reviews and commentary that one will locate dates back to 2007-09 with perhaps a sparse reference to 2012-13. Most sites show the Kelvin as no longer available while one review from 2009 says that it is a clearance item. This site states that it is available, but I was unable to locate an accessible way to add it to the site’s shopping cart.
Thus if one prefers a talking thermostat, the best place to look is the VIP Talking Thermostat site which offers 2 models, the VIP 1007 and the VIP 3000. The 1007 can control single stage 24 Vac gas, oil and electric furnaces and single stage air conditioning systems. It replaces most 2, 3, 4 and 5 wire alalog and digital thermostats; it does not work with heat pumps.
The 3000 (images included) is a “universal multi-stage talking thermostat that can control most 24 Vac AC and heating systems including the newest multi-stage (up to 3 stages of heat and 2 stages of cooling) gas, oil and electric furnaces, air conditioners and heat pump/dual fuel systems with 1 or 2 stage compressors and auxiliary heat. The 3000 also has other enhancements not found in the 1007 as the 3000 uses newer technology. When the Report button is pressed on the VIP 3000, the user hears the room temperature, the temperature setting and the mode, heat, cool or off. The mode was not announced on the VIP 1007. The Up – Down arrow buttons not only announce the temperature setting, they also announce the mode. Again, Heat or Cool. The VIP 1007 did not announce the mode. The biggest enhancements, though, are in the System Settings. The VIP 3000 uses push buttons that talk. When the user pushes the Fan Button, the VIP 3000 announces “Fan On”. Push again and the thermostat announces “Fan Auto”. The VIP 1007 uses an Up – Down mechanical vertical switch that does not talk. Up is “Fan On”, down is “Fan Auto”. When the user pushes the System Button to change modes, the VIP 3000 announces “Off”, push again, it announces “Cool”, push again, it announces “Heat”. If the VIP 3000 is programmed for Heat Pump operation, it will announce “Auxiliary”. Lastly, if the VIP 3000 is programmed for “Automatic Changeover, it will announce “Auto”. Again, the VIP 1007 uses a mechanical vertical switch that does not talk. The VIP 1007 does not have the “Auxiliary Heat” or “Automatic Changeover option”. The 3000 is demonstrated well in this VIP 3000 YouTube Video.