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Living with Deafblindness

Personal Independence

Telling the time

Clocks and watches that may be suitable for a person who has vision and hearing difficulties will vary depending on their level of vision and/or hearing.

Some large face or talking clocks and watches can be purchased online or from larger department stores. Some features to look for in clocks and watches:

  • Large font with contrasting display
  • Talking clocks and watches (quality of speech varies)
  • Male voices may be easier to hear for a person who is hard of hearing
  • Vibrating alarms
  • Tactile and / or Braille markings

A wrist watch with time displayed in brailleA wrist watch with time displayed in braille

A wrist watch with digital time

A wrist watch with digital time

An alarm clock with digital time

Low vision aids

An individual with deafblindness may have some useful vision. A variety of low vision aids can optimise use of functional vision. These devices can support access to reading print and seeing photos, or pictures.

There are many types of low vision aids that vary in strength. These aids can enlarge view from 1.5 times to 20 times the original size. Some magnifiers are portable and lightweight. The way a magnifier is used will differ depending on the type and focal distance.

Electronic video magnifiers have powerful magnification. Many have options of adjusting colour and contrast to suit the user. Electronic video magnifiers are available as portable devices. Some desktop models are also light in weight and can be transported easily. Using a desktop version of an electronic video magnifier may be easier for viewing larger pieces of work, such as writing or reading a map.

Training the user in techniques to gain maximum benefit from a low vision aid (such as a higher strength magnifier) may be necessary.

Given the varied nature of vision impairment, what may be suitable for one individual may not be suitable for another. When choosing a low vision aid, consult a vision professional to ensure the device meets your individual needs.



Users need to be aware that as magnification increases, the glass area of the magnifier becomes smaller reducing how much can be seen at once. There are many different types of magnifiers. Some will fold away for carrying in the pocket or handbag when not in use. Others are larger and depending on the type will be used in different ways. Some magnifier types include:

  • Handheld magnifiers that are held away from the page
  • Stand magnifiers are used handsfree and are mounted on a base or clamp
  • Magnifiers with inbuilt lighting
  • Pocket magnifiers

A round magnifier over a portion of a printed page of text


Video Magnifiers

Electronic video magnifiers are more powerful than standard magnifiers. Some models have the capability of magnifying up to 60 times the original size. Video magnifiers can be used by people with low vision for greater clarity with tasks such as writing, reading print, viewing pictures, reading medicine packaging, photos, and other graphics.
Video magnifier systems have an inbuilt camera which enlarges images onto a screen. These are available as portable desktop equipment (CCTV’s) or portable pocket devices. Prices will vary according to features.
Devices can be flexible for the user, with features such as

    • adjustable levels of magnification
    • freeze frame
    • brightness controls
    • choice of screen background
    • print colour including negative and positive views



A wide range of options are available to assist people with deafblindness with communication including both assistive and inclusive technologies. In this section, we have examples of both as well as landline and mobile phone options.

The below list is not exhaustive but gives some examples. Please discuss with your treating therapists if you have further questions or queries.

Mobile Phones

Most smartphones and mobile phones will have some in-built accessibility software. Mobile phones have simple or complex options to suit your needs. Common functions include features to change screen brightness and text size. Voice control and screen reading features are also available with most mobile phones.

When choosing a new phone, speak with your treating occupational therapist and trial different phone options at retailers. Consider the particular applications or software you use and what you need in your device. Some applications may be native only to Apple, or Android. Many users prefer consistency in their operating systems, avoiding the need to learn several ways to do the same task. It is also beneficial to consider the touchpoints a screen will have if you intend to use screen braille functions. You might consider a mobile phone or software designed for people with sensory impairments in mind.

Please look at both the Apple accessibility suite and the Android accessibility suite via links below for more details.

Apple accessibility: Accessibility – Apple (AU)

Android Accessibility: Android Accessibility Suite – Apps on Google Play

A range of smart phones


As technology advances, there are improvements in the software and applications available to assist us. The software you choose to use can have many functions. Applications such as Zoom, Skype, Facetime, and WhatsApp allow users to communicate in different ways. For example, with typed communication, audio, or video linked to your camera or webcam. Screen reading software such as JAWS, or Apply shortcuts/Android blocks can improve accessibility. Please speak to your treating occupational therapist if this is something you would like to explore further.

Smart Braille Devices

We use our mobile phones for an increasing range of tasks. There are now smart braille devices that have both a braille display as well as a Perkins style keyboard. This may be used in tandem with a smartphone to improve access to technology. Smart braille devices can increase independence when used with a smartphone and different applications.

A refreshable braille display

A refreshable braille display

Other useful technologies

Easyread Memory Storage Sheet

Record numbers stored in your telephone’s memory system in large print on this A4 size card for easier access.

Easyread Stickers

Easy peel stickers have large print numbers on high contrast background to stick on keys of the telephone keypad.

Extension Ringer General Purpose Alarm

      • Extra loud ring
      • Adjustable tone and volume
      • Install with standard telephone

Visual Signal Alert

Connects to the telephone line and power socket. Lamp plugs into the socket of alert flashing on/off when telephone rings (lamp not provided).

Cochlear Implant Telephone Adapter

      • Connects telephone directly with the cochlear implant speech processor
      • Provides clearer telephone reception
      • Compatible with a wider range of telephones
      • Adjustable volume control

Telephone Amplifiers

Amplifiers increase the volume for a person who has difficulty hearing on the telephone. Portable In-Line Amplifiers have tone and volume controls that can be adjusted to suit the user.

Amplifiers are compatible with most analogue and digital corded telephones. However, some amplifiers are not compatible with Telstra branded telephones.

Amplifiers are connected between the telephone handset and the base of the telephone.

Before making a choice ensure the amplifier is compatible.

Technology using Bluetooth is another option that can be explored.

Telephone Ringers

Telephone ringers are connected to the telephone line. They alert people who have difficulty hearing by amplifying the incoming ring tone. The ring tone can be adjusted to suit the individual. Some telephone ringers also have visual alerts such as a flashing light.

Accessible Telecoms

For more information about accessible telecommunications products for people with disability including those with deafblindness see

Deafblind Information Australia is not a supplier of any equipment listed here. Some Australian suppliers can be found in our Find Services pages.