Written by Avi Laird
PACE has been working at home recently, due to COVID, and its numbers being in the hundreds or even thousands of cases per week. This is causing a massive shift in how people work and are communicating with each other. Many people have been using various types of technologies and some of the more popular choices have been the Google Devices and the Amazon Alexa leading the way. I have decided to share with you some of the Alexa items that I find useful or at least entertaining.
Alexa has voices with the command “Talk Like” and can speak with the voices of Chewbacca, Computer, Darth Vader, Echo, Han Solo, Jabba the Hut, Jar Jar Binks, Luke Sky Walker, Pika Pika, Pirate, Princess Leia, Santa, Yoda, Ziggy, C-3PO and others! You can also quote movie lines back and forth with your device. Be careful though, Samuel L. Jackson, and other celebrities voices will cost you a one-time fee of $4.99 – $24.99 each.
And if you Open Sesame Street Skill; you will find yourself talking to Elmo!
If you don’t know what you want for dinner, there are recipes apps. One of the nice ones is Allrecipes. To open it, you say, “Alexa open the Allrecipe Skill.” You can ask it for a type of food, diet, something quick to make, gluten free, etc. It can match your needs. What is nice about this Skill is that they can give you a list of everything you need, walk you through the recipe, and do a countdown timer for cooking. You can skip a step or repeat any part. If near a paycheck or on a limited budget and don’t know what to prepare, until you can go shopping again, tell it you want a recipe with what’s in your fridge and discover something new!
You can choose to send your recipes to your cell phone as a text. If you have one of the newer Echo Shows, version 8 or later, you can have this displayed for you, on the screen. Your Echo Show 8 can read text that you present to it, a handy feature if you have a baby in hand, or happen to have Low Vision and cannot see the text due to various problems, such as contrast, especially when people fill up the background with images or colors that make it hard to read the text put on top.
You can turn your Alexas and Shows into accessibility devices.
Another important concept, is lighting, and you can you can use your voice to turn on and off compatible devices, such as lights. You can name your light, “bedroom light,” or “Light B,” or “Bob,” it doesn’t matter. When you speak to your device, it can turn on your light so you can find your way safely in the dark, and turn it off again when you are snug in bed. Or you can open a “Skill” that allows the lights to turn on and off at certain times when you are away from home. There is even one that will make dog noises if it hears someone come in when your lights are off.
As a quick aside, the Google device, gives you a better range of built in animal sounds and are more accurate, but you would need that device, in order to have this feature. They even have a free section of built in fantasy animals, where you can hear Mermaids splashing, or a Yeti growling at you. This will cost you on Alexa.
And just for fun, there are thousands of games, you can play with the Alexa, either by yourself or with a group. There are several ones that are built in or free, so you can learn to use the device, for gaming just by talking, before deciding if you want to purchase anything. Hours and hours of fun at your command. If you want to jump into something a little more complicated — start with “Hunt the Yeti” (a game like “Hunt the Wampus”) where there is a large cavern that gets mapped out while you try to beat the Yeti or play the TV version of “Jeopardy” and test your knowledge against some of the best and funniest questions ever asked. Or a new twist on an old game, “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock” always has people come back for another game. If you got a few minutes, you could try different versions of “Black Jack” or go easy on yourself and relax with an exciting game of “Tic Tac Toe.” Already know how to play Chess? Learn the Chess Notation of Rank and File and you never know who you might be playing against, or just sharpen your own skills.
There are games to help you learn Braille. An app to let you stay connected to news from the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and other important News sources of your choice. Stay connected to what matters to you.
Learn about the Alexa and other adaptive technologies and devices when you join PACE’s Low Vision or Braille Culture Groups. You just never know what we will be discussing and what there is to learn. Sign-up and discover with us! voice phone: (217) 344 – 5433/video phone (deaf only): (217)689-0289