Braille Monitor                                     March 2017

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Independence Market Corner

The National Federation of the Blind Independence Market is the conduit through which our organization distributes our empowering literature to our members, friends, and the general public. As a service we also operate a blindness products store, which sells mostly low-tech items, designed to enhance the everyday independence of blind people.

This month we want to highlight a product we have carried for a while: the PenFriend 2 Voice Labeling System. A tool for labeling and organizing various household items, this pen-shaped device, approximately six inches long and one inch in diameter, records voice labels of varying lengths and associates them with stick-on labels. The unit has four gigabytes of internal memory, which allows for up to 125 hours of recording time. The memory capacity can be increased by replacing the included micro SD card with one up to sixteen gig. 127 stick-on labels of assorted sizes and three magnetic labels are included. Individual recordings can be up to an hour long. Label playback may be paused and resumed, but rewinding and fast-forwarding are not possible. Labels can be re-recorded and additional label packages are available for purchase. Features include volume control, an external speaker, a headphone jack, and a lanyard. Audio instructions are built into the packaging and are accessed with the PenFriend itself.

This audio labeling tool can be used to accomplish a variety of tasks. From labeling cooking spices; packaged, canned, and frozen foods; medications; CDs and DVDs; AC adaptors; to files and important papers, only the user's imagination will limit what one can accomplish with this device. For example, when labeling medications, place the label on the cap, so the cap can be switched out for the next refill of a prescription. If the prescription changes, simply re-record the label. One might want to follow the same procedure with cooking spices. One may not want to place the label directly on canned goods and other one-time use items, since the labels are reusable and re-recordable. The Independence Market carries plastic food labels, originally designed for Brailling, which attach to cans and packages using elastic. As it turns out, these labels are perfect to create reusable PenFriend labels. One could even combine the two labeling methods by creating a Braille label for boxed brownie mix and using the PenFriend label for the preparation instructions. Some people have even used an arrangement of PenFriend labels to create address books, calendars, and to-do lists.

PenFriend laundry labels are also available for purchase. After the adhesive has had a chance to bond with the fabric, the labels can go through the washer and dryer. However, they are not suitable for garments that have to be dry-cleaned. Record the care instructions as well as a description of the clothing item and note what other garments match it.

It's obvious that the PenFriend is a very useful device, especially to those who don't know or can't read Braille. With some creativity, the PenFriend can serve as an invaluable organizing tool.

For more information about the products and literature available from the Independence Market or to request a catalog in Braille or in print visit us online at You may also contact us using email at [email protected] or by phone at (410) 659-9314, extension 2216, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. eastern time. Our staff will be glad to assist.

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