AccessWorld Teaser: Staying Cool-There’s an App for That. But Is It Accessible?

Date Posted: 06/14/2017

by Bill Holton, AccessWorld Contributor

As spring turns to summer and pleasant weather turns to oppressively hot for many, thoughts turn toward air conditioning. You want to stay cool but you also don’t want to cool an empty house when you head to work, or to the beach for a day of fun. For the visually impaired adjusting the standard thermostat can be difficult at best. You have to memorize buttons and count presses, and if your thermostat is a touch screen model you are pretty much out of luck.

Creating and setting a cooling schedule with a standard thermostat can also be next to impossible for the visually impaired user. Happily, there are now thermostats that include text to speech. One popular model is the VIP3000 Talking Thermostat from SmartWay Solutions. The Talking Thermostat allows blind and low-vision users to monitor and adjust temperatures. Additionally, schedules can be created that will automatically lower the temperature at night and then raise it when you’re at work.

Unfortunately, if you kill the cool before leaving for a day at the beach with most thermostats you’re going to come home to a hot house. Unless, of course, you have one of the newer network connected “smart” thermostats that allow you to control the device using a mobile app. With one of these newer thermostats you can connect and adjust your home environment from anywhere in the world where you have a data connection, on the road, say when you are about a half hour from home. Or from your living room without even having to get off the couch.

In the June issue of AccessWorld we take a look at a pair of network connected thermostats, one from Honeywell and a second from Emerson. Both of these thermostats offer iOS and Android mobile apps. Unfortunately, there are accessibility issues with both, but each offers sufficient touch screen reader accessibility that you may decide to give one of these, or another connected thermostat, a try.

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