By Curtis Chong
In June of this year, the Vision Free HD Radio from Dice Electronics became available for purchase. This radio, based on the Dice Electronics ITR100, was designed from the ground up with nonvisual access in mind, and the nonvisual design features were developed with significant input from a lot of people who were themselves blind or visually impaired.
The radio receives signals in AM, FM, and HD 1, 2, and 3, plus HD radio reading service signals, where available.
All controls on the radio provide audible feedback as long as the radio is turned on. The radio’s visual display is accessible to people with varying levels of vision, employing an approximately 18-point font utilizing a light blue against a darker purple background.
The radio provides verbal cues at all points of its operation. It will even tell you when it is turned off or powering down. You can hear the frequency of any station and even the call letters, if they are broadcast on the digital channel. You can even set the clock and the alarm without any sighted help.
When I first heard about this radio, I learned that it cost $249 (plus $49 for an optional add-on speaker). I will tell you that this high price did dampen my initial enthusiasm quite a bit. “Who would pay that much for a radio?” I wondered. “The nonvisual access is nice, but it is hardly worth $249.” (I will add that 10 years ago, I was more than willing to spend twice as much for a Bose Wave Radio.) Then, I chanced to hear an audio demonstration of the Vision Free Radio, and I confess that my interest in the radio was stimulated by the excellent audio quality I heard during the demonstration. Perhaps I can get this as a Christmas present?