On Dec. 5, the ACB Information Access Committee (IAC) hosted an evening webinar on accessible shopping, technology, and home appliances with special guest J.J. Meddaugh, Author, Access World. ACB Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs, Clark Rachfal, and IAC Chair, Tony Stephens, led this discussion on what is naughty and nice in terms of accessibility, highlighted tips and tricks to improve the shopping experience, and shared ways that we can overcome the challenges when smart appliances fail the test on accessible interfaces for customers who are blind and visually impaired.
To listen to the full webinar, including listener Q&A, visit the ACB Radio Special Events page at: http://acbradio.org/special.
To learn more about Access World and read the 2019 Holiday Gift Buying Guide, visit: https://www.afb.org/aw.
Intro: You are listening to the ACB Advocacy Update.
Tony Stephens: Hi everybody. Welcome to the Information Access Committee ACB webinar and conference call for those dialing in, dealing with home appliances and accessibility going into the holiday season. I'm Tony Stephens, the chair for the Information Access Committee, and with us on tonight's conversation, we'll call it for those joining in online or via traditional dial up phone. We have two wonderful guests that are able to join us. Jason Meddaugh with the A T Guys and also with Access World has some exciting information to share for holidays and shopping and also Clark as well. Folks that know Clark Rachfal from the American Council of the Blind is Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs with ACB in Washington, DC. For those joining, just a few notes and for those already on the call first off, thanks for joining us. If you do join in on the call or you're on the call we will have a Q&A session toward the end.
We're going to have our presentations upfront discussing accessibility and home appliances and the holiday season and shopping and a lot of the great things that are going on right now out in the, out in the consumer marketplace. But we ask that you save your questions till the end. We'll have a Q&A section toward the end and this for record so folks know is being recorded. So watch what you say. If you've got any of those questions try to keep them short and to the point we would really appreciate that. So other people as well could have opportunity in time so it doesn't get too chaotic. But this will be recorded and carried over the ACB Advocacy Update feed for folks that subscribe to that via iTunes. And you can also find it on the ACB Radio through the feeds as well with ACB Radio for those that listen in via that channel.
So home appliances and accessibility. Why a conversation on that now? Well, I think a lot of folks obviously know we're a few days out of the biggest blast off for the holiday shopping season. That is the Thanksgiving holiday, long weekend, Black Friday. For a lot of folks, those sales start even sooner. It is, it is an opportunity for folks to get all the new gadgets and toys and things like that for their homes. And when it comes to for those in America that are blind or visually impaired you know, there's a lot of opportunities out there that exists now we thought it might be good to educate folks on. But there's also still a lot of challenges that exist when we talk about advocacy and trying to make the world a more accessible place for roughly the 7.6 million adults who are blind and visually impaired or have difficulty seeing in this country. Even with glasses. We find ourselves in an interesting time. It's definitely an interesting era. If you were to go online right now and search for accessible home appliances for instance, you see a lot of information that's 10, 12 years old for a lot of different sources and sites. But just take a moment and imagine where the world where the world has gone in the past 10, 12 years.
The iPhone came out 12 years ago and there's no doubt it revolutionize the world for billions and billions of people. But more so in a sense I think for people with disabilities and particularly those with vision impairment, it has truly transformed the way we communicate, interact and move about the world. But so much so that it even impacts the whole industries and how they have been in some sense turned upside down over the past 12 years in the way that they reach customers, approach customers, sell their products, how we can find out about products, research our products, test our products, but even for people who are blind or visually impaired, how we can access and use those products in new ways that we couldn't even have imagined 12 years ago when if we had a conversation on accessible home appliances or accessible goods in the home, it would have been okay, does it have a physical hard switch or a button that you can turn, something that you can feel, you know, it was either accessible or inaccessible or ambiguous.
It was kind of the measurements that Access World and other folks would have in their reviews, but in a lot of ways those are, are very much more complex in this new world of smart devices. Go to any big box store around your neighborhood and you're going to find a lot of toys with bells and whistles on it, from refrigerators to ovens to stoves to crockpots. Even just check out the, I think ACB we're having the auction coming up soon, and hands down I believe it's fair to say that the biggest items always sold are those appliances that are more for the home that have sort of the accessibility features built in and the nuances that, you know, 10 15 years ago, again, we might not even have dreamed of possible. So to that end, what is a little bit about the history in a sense of the accessibility and sort of this, you know, we've, we've mentioned just briefly about the 12 years since the iPhone, but it goes back even further.
A lot of folks might find it interesting that, you know, the Americans with Disabilities Act is often the benchmark by which we compare all things to be accessible in this country. It was in that sense, that piece of legislation in 1990 it'll be, oh my goodness, 30 years next year. It was that piece of legislation it took prior to that was, you know, things funded through the federal government or state agencies had to have some level of accessibility to them. But the ADA brought accessibility to the whole wide world. Well did it? Well not necessarily in public spaces, accommodations, physical buildings and stores. Yes, access was improved. But for folks that know like Clark and others along the way, many of whom are on this call that had been fighting the good fight for advocacy over the decades. It has been a long battle in areas around technology and things inside of our home.
While we may be able to go into a public building or public space and have braille where we may need it or have other reasonable accommodations in the workplace, oftentimes the most private place and the place where we spend most of our time in our home is often times not as accessible. We all take O&M classes or different classes to try to get out and be independent. And we'll take our independent living classes and find ways to be independent in the home. But at the end of the day we find ourselves working a lot of work arounds, a little tape here, a little sticky glue here. Different things cut different ways or laid out different ways or in patterns. But within just the past couple of years I think it's fair to say that that technology has dramatically changed and it's done interestingly enough in ways that, you know, when we think of how I mentioned over the past 12 years how industry has changed. Stores like Sears that when we talk about home appliances, that was where, I don't know many of you when you were a child maybe, but that was where the magic of walking down aisles and aisles and aisles of appliances have, you know, sort of rested. Where we would go to get the things for the home no longer exists like that.
A couple of years ago, Sears started moving its Kenmore brand over to Amazon and so now it's possible to get Amazon products and for Amazon they love that because when we talk about Alexa or other gadgets and technology and smart homes, which is where the technology is going, we find ourselves in a space now where the gadgets and the devices are all sort of becoming interconnected. There is a term called the internet of things, IOT. It's a very popular term in past couple of years in Washington, DC and in the tech circles where when we talk about technology and accessibility, it's how all of these devices essentially are talking to each other, and in some sense it has really opened and broken down barriers for a lot of ways for us to be accessible. We have pretty much easy to say that if I say Alexa on the phone right now, chances are good if you're listening on speakers, there are many of us on this call that are probably having our devices kick in right now and wondering if we're going to be asking it a question any second now.
So to that end, you know, as we get started with this conversation and we'll be having Jason share with us in just a few minutes kind of the landscape of accessibility and home appliances. What exactly does it mean and what are the goods and et cetera and the big trends where we come and then where are we going in terms of just home goods and accessibility. You know, it's important to think about where we are with this opportunity in terms of access. It's fair to say that the biggest challenge we had towards making accessible appliances over the decades has been the enormous cost that goes into research and development, right? It takes a lot of time and R and D for folks to refit and to try to essentially fix the airplane from 30,000 feet after it had already left the runway. That's not necessarily the case anymore because of our smart homes.
The more that these devices are becoming fixed and tuned into home networks, hubs, they might be such as Alexa or not to be a commercial for Alexa, but if you have Apple home kit or Google, you'll find that these devices are more and more operated out of their software. And it's the software that has really helped us pave the way in a sense, it's the software that has allowed us to have these solutions. But at the end of the day, we know too that with the software and with these devices also comes a price. Not all of these devices are what we can say is very affordable. When you consider that only 15% of working age adults who are blind or visually impaired have a college degree, probably working in jobs that could afford refrigerators and things that are in the thousands of dollars. Right, or for folks that are in a sense you know, tied in their limited income.
However, they might try to find ways to purchase a device. You know, you might've bought your fridge 10 years ago or washer and dryer and you're needing to buy something now and you're trying to find out what is out there. So that's why we're here today to find out what is out there, what's available, what's accessible. And the reality is, yes, there are refrigerators. Some of the things you'll hear about are thousands of dollars and out of the range for most of us on the call. But the reality is too, there is a lot of stuff that's out there today that is extremely accessible. If you do have internet in your home, you can get an accessible microwave, for instance, on Amazon for just a little over $50 that works with Alexa and can be completely in a sense, you know, break down those barriers of, of accessibility.
So I'm going to be quiet now on my soap box. I'm going to step down from it. Thanks everybody for allowing us the opportunity to set up the call. But what would be wonderful is if we can now welcome J.J.. Are you on J.J.?
Jason Meddaugh: I should be here. Can you hear me?
Tony Stephens: Excellent. We certainly can. So again, thanks so much for taking time for folks that don't subscribe or read Access World, J.J. had a wonderful article recently on just sort of laying out some of the new appliances, not necessarily just appliances, but some of the new goods in the holiday season, but also you know, as an expert in his own way of just how do we, you know, what is accessible, but how do we get to stuff that's accessible as well. So I'm going to pass it over to you, J.J.. Thanks so much for being a part of our call this evening and looking forward to it. So thanks.
Jason Meddaugh: Oh, thank you so much for the intro and for hosting the call tonight, I really appreciate it. Also want to say hello to Aaron Preece who is one of the editors on Access World. He's on the call or on the computer, what do we call it now? You're right, we're not on the call anymore. We're, we're on the conference. But hello to him and everybody else that's listening now or later on on the podcast. So as you were talking and before I came on tonight, I was taking some notes about some of the things that I have used to kind of help me with holiday shopping and shopping in general. I am a bit of an online shopaholic for sure. Just to reinforce that point, I put it in order for some vitamins during the beginning of this call on Amazon.
If you look at my Amazon order history, it's a bit, it's a bit much, but it certainly has, you know, changed the way that I go about lots of shopping and am able to do things from home where you might do lots of trips to the store in the past. And some of that, it does come down to the various kitchen appliances that are out there. So let me just kinda go over a few of the tips that I have come across over time that maybe also highlight a couple of products as well. I know you're going to talk some more about accessible appliances a little later on as well. I think for me, especially when it comes to the kitchen, it's finding that balance between the convenience of online shopping and sometimes the prices of online shopping, which are often now just as cheap or cheaper than a local store and also knowing what you're actually getting when it comes with a lot of these appliances.
Many things as we know now, microwaves and toasters and air fryers and pressure cookers. Some of these things used to be accessible and somehow over years as technology evolved, the accessibility diminished because things that used to be controlled with dials were replaced by touchscreens. First it was buttons, and buttons that you could label with a diamond label or something like that, or a locator, dots, bumped dots and you'd be okay and you could just remember where the dots were and then this got replaced by total touchscreen control and a lot of situations, so you don't even have buttons that you can mark or feel you have a completely flat surface in by just touching the microwave or the oven. You actually activate something which isn't of course ideal for us and really makes it a lot more difficult. That's hard to figure out sometimes by looking at an Amazon review for something or a review for online shopping site.
I've made a couple trips. I don't do a lot of shopping in stores itself, but one of the things I have done a couple of times now and I actually have a plan to do again soon, is to go down to an actual appliance store and to see what's out there with the current models. Nope I don't, I think our Sears is about going out of business here too, and most of them are disappearing, but there are other stores that have appliances. Bed, Bath and Beyond is one. That does carry a lot of kitchen things. Microwaves, air fryers, toaster ovens, convection ovens, things like that. And they have a lot of the major brands and everything's just sitting out on shelves. You can walk up and down and just do a quick glance without even talking to anyone.
Like, all right, these have buttons, these don't, these have dials, these don't, and once you've narrowed that part of it down, then you can maybe get a little more information about, all right, what other features do I want to look for besides the fact that it happens to be something that I can touch or I can get more information about? You know, some of the other electronic stores also have some of these types of items. It's going to depend on the, the store and the, the item you're looking for. It's really weird. You mentioned refrigerators, even items like refrigerators, which I mean a refrigerator was what, a door that you would open and you would put stuff in and how could you not make that accessible? Well now you have refrigerators with ice compartments and ice trays and sometimes those are using touch screen controls or flat controls to just change from ice to water.
You can label these things in a lot of situations, but it makes it a lot more interesting than what you might've thought in the past. Sometimes the accessibility is simple. I went down to a Sears when they were still around and I believe it was Whirlpool, among a couple of others that had a simple solution for when you turn the dial on the washing machine or dryer, it would play a different tone for each setting. So once you memorize the tones and whatnot, you could figure out which setting you want. And it would be a very easy way to remember that you could combine that with braille or with labels or anything else to do that. And some still have the old school ways of doing it. Again, on the other washing machine, some of the major companies do offer braille overlays that you can have them send to you for free if you give them the model number and you can get overlays to help you kind of label and realize where the buttons are on these types of appliances.
When it comes to online stuff, there's some things that you can do though online. So take a site like Amazon who actually does happen to have a specific phone number you can call. And one of the things you can do with this number, it's really designed for providing descriptions and things like that for people who are blind or visually impaired. So you can call up this phone number and say, Hey, I have this product that I have up here, can you tell me what's up with the pictures or can you describe them to me? And generally they'll do that for you. You could also apply that same logic to either Be My Eyes or the free calls with Aira. I think it works better with Aira in this situation. So Aira, if you have a computer, has a free software they use called team viewer and you can have someone log into your computer and you can have them be on your screen just temporarily.
You can take them out when you hang up. But you can say, hey, I have this page up on Amazon or I have this page up on whatever website - can you just tell me what you see as far as the pictures, if you don't want to deal with team viewer, you could also email them a link to the page and you can usually accomplish this for a couple of pictures within the five minutes. If you're not familiar with the Aira free call offer, Aira being the service that you can call to get free remote visual assistance now has a service where you can get calls up to five minutes for free. And that's as many calls as you want. It's not limited to one call a day. You can keep calling them back throughout the day to get descriptions of products.
So that I found with one of the better uses of the free five minute calls. As far as online shopping and some of the things that I've done to kind of make it work for me. I am an Amazon prime member. I do recommend that if you do a fair amount of online shopping to definitely consider that, it's about $120 a year. There are discounts for students and a couple of other ways to get discounts and you can also share it with your spouse or partner if you'd like. But it gives you pretty much free one or two day shipping on most items on Amazon. It's very well worth it. I would still shop around a little bit as far as price because not everything is cheapest on Amazon. No one store has the cheapest price on everything. So I would definitely shop around a little bit, but for a lot of household products it can be a really big time-saver instead of having to go to the store if you just had your, your toilet paper delivered to you every month or, or vitamins like I just did.
Or you know, this all sorts of other electronic stuff. I'm always ordering something from, from Amazon. There are some other stores that do that too. So if you have, if it's a store that you shop at often see if they have some sort of frequent shopper discount program where you can have, you can save on shipping or maybe get free shipping and have items delivered within a day or two. I'm also a member of Shipt, S-H- I- P-T. That is one of the two big grocery and other household items, delivery services, Instacart being the other. I like Shipt a little more because they are now owned by Target, and Target has all sorts of things that are not grocery. So not only can I get my groceries delivered through Shipt with Target or Meijer here in the Midwest, I can have them bring lots of other stuff.
You know, whether I wanted, say I wanted a Google Home or an iPod or a TV or any number of other things, kitchen appliances, all that stuff is at Target. So I can have a shopper go over there and pick up the stuff and bring it to me within an hour or two. A couple of things on Shipt. So Target owns Shipt. So the prices from Target are not marked up. Prices from other stores, so like if you have like we have Meijer here in the Midwest or PetSmart is on Shipt, there are grocery stores, Vons out West or HEB in Houston, those prices are marked up 10-15%. So just take that into account. I think it's worth it just for the time and money that I save, but that's certainly a calculation to consider versus getting someone to drive you there or taking an Uber or Lyft or, or whatever you want to do.
So you know, it just depends on what you want to do, but it's nice to have all these options and ways to have things brought to you quickly. When it comes to shopping and apps and websites, you know, a lot of websites are getting better as far as accessibility. Not everything is perfect yet, which is, you know, it's sad that we still have to say that, but there are certainly some websites that are better than others as far as accessibility. If I really am set, I'm ordering from a certain store and their website isn't that great, I might go and see if their app is better. Because sometimes the mobile apps are designed by a different person or just better than the website. Actually I have an iPhone and an Android phone so if it doesn't work on one, if I'm really desperate, I might try it on the other. Now mind you, I might just go to a different store because this one isn't working for me. It's not accessible. They don't get my business. And that's a choice you can make too. Maybe it's not worth getting that big deal if the store itself is not very accessible. As it comes up to the holidays remember shipping deadlines. Again, if you have prime shipping or things like that from Amazon or you can get things delivered, you have up until a couple of days before Christmas. But Christmas is on a Wednesday this year. So if you're shopping for Christmas, you have that weekend before, that's going to delays things. So don't think if you order stuff from the previous Friday, you only have two shipping days beyond that Monday and Tuesday. So kind of a stuck there... I think someone needs to, someone's trying to get muted there. I'm sure they'll figure it out. But just remember that as far as shipping, allowing a couple of extra days can be very useful as far as the holidays and Christmas.
Tony Stephens: And just a quick reminder for folks on right now if you're un-muted, it would be great to have less distractions. So thanks everybody. That's alt-A on the computer or *6 on the phone. And again, that's alt-A, there you go. Go ahead J.J.
Jason Meddaugh: Awesome, no problem. Cool. so just a few other things to, to cover as, yeah, I mean as far as like I said, as far as shipping, you know, doing it about a week ahead of time or more, it's just, it's safe. I don't always listen to myself. It's okay, these things happen. But you know, you take, you run the risk of even if it says guaranteed delivery by December 24th. Well I mean just takes one little thing, or a snow storm or something that happened to get in the way of that. So there's been lots of sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
One of the things I want to point out as far as sales, and especially when it comes to accessibility, is figuring out why something is on sale. This especially comes up for things like televisions or other media devices. So in the past few months there is a new version of the Google Home Mini, the Nest Mini. So that's now a new generation product. There are newer versions of televisions that come out every year. There's newer versions of Fire TV and Roku and all these other different devices. So sometimes the new version is on sale, but sometimes stores will put the old version on sale because they have a whole bunch of leftover and they want to get rid of it. The reason that becomes important for us is those older versions are going to either have in many cases less accessibility or they will get updates for a less amount of time than the new stuff.
So the Roku that you buy that might be last year's Roku might be giving you the same amount of accessibility now, but it might stop getting updates sooner. This especially is true with TVs as the requirements, and as companies are still kind of learning how to figure out how to do accessible televisions, I think it's taken them a while, but there you go. It's taking them a minute to figure this out. So a lot of times TVs that go on sale are from 2017, 2018, and they might have a little less accessibility than the 2019 model. So just remember that if, especially if you can track down a larger purchase item, figure out when that item was released, when it was first available, a lot of times you can Google that or you can find a news story and that might lead you to figure out, is this really a good deal? Or is this something that I should maybe just hold off on? We've got a couple more minutes here, let's talk about a couple of really cool products that I've found mentioned in the the holiday shopping guide. One I ended up buying is this little talking thermometer. Let's see if I can get it to come on here.
Talking Thermostat: 77.9 degrees Fahrenheit.
Jason Meddaugh: So you know we pay $50 for these things or more, I have the smart one that's 15 bucks on Amazon and it's pretty accurate for what it is. I've been using it a few times now. It has the prong that folds out and you can just fold it back in. If you search for talking kitchen thermometer, I see it's under a few different brands, but it will come up right away. And of course the smart speakers plenty, plenty of articles out about those, but those are still, you know, 30, 40, 50 bucks for a Google Nest Mini or an Echo Do are the cheapest ways into that. Lots of cool stuff there. As far as the TV and entertainment area, I'm liking as far as the choices, none of them are perfect, but the Fire TV sticks from Amazon have a pretty decent amount of accessibility and a lot of the apps do work on them.
Like I said, nothing is perfect there, but that's certainly one to look at. If you go on the November issue of Access World, so that's afb.org/aw, we have the holiday gift guide that I wrote along with a few other articles of a lot of interest to holiday shoppers and we talk about lots of more products that you can buy there and you can get a lot more information on that. One note you mentioned actually reminded me of this. The Alexa microwave, which is not a bad microwave. But it reminds me as far as smart products, one thing to look at, some things worked really well with smart products. Some things raised the price quite a bit. So while I make the, when I decide whether I want to buy something, one of the things that I look at is yes, can I control it with a voice assistant?
They're useful, but you also want to look at the other things. For instance, the Alexa microwave is a 700 watt microwave. So it's good for reheating things up and good for, you know, maybe for very small personal use. But that is a little less than a lot of other microwave's in the same price range. And the same token, I'm not seeing the greatest reviews on the $250 Alexa convection oven air fryer, a multicooker thing. You know you can get a dial air fryer for 50 or 60 bucks. So look at these smart things and see is it really worth paying the extra money for that smart control and being able to talk to something? Or is it really, it's easier to press a button and get the get it done. So just a thought that I had on the the smart stuff. There's a lot more things that we could talk about.
But those are the people that are going to speak and we're definitely have a huge Q&A section after this as well. So happy to answer any questions at the end. And again thank you so much to Lee and Aaron at Access World and the Clark for inviting me on here. Access World is a great resource for keeping up on the latest in technology. I'm one of several writers for that magazine and it's a really great way to keep up on the latest with appliances and many other things as well. Again, that's afb.org/aw and I encourage you to subscribe. You can get an email when the new issue comes out every month and the December one is just coming out as I speak. So thank you.
Tony Stephens: Thanks so much J.J. And hopefully you'll be able to stay on because I'm sure we're probably going to have some questions, but then as well, you know, after we'll hear from Clark in just a minute, because he had an exciting adventure with a couple other folks from ACB's national office and sort of secret shoppers to kind of search out the accessibility and what really is accessible on more of the high end, those home appliances you were talking about. You made a real interesting point toward the end, and I want to come back to this because I know, I think Clark, you know you'll probably touch on this as well, but how easy it is for us to jump on board with all the new bells and whistles, devices, that maybe come out and I like two things you really spoke about.
One, a reminder that oftentimes it's those sales you know, this is coming out obviously after the black Thursday sort of, or Black Friday, blast for sales for the holidays is that those are the older items and they're not always up to speed per se with their interfaces or things like that towards accessibility. But then too, you had mentioned as well that, you know, sometimes there's still the things out there with the old switches and just good old fashioned what really is accessible for everybody, right. In a sense of you know, just a nice button is nice to hit sometimes one button. That's all you need sometimes to make things really good. So thanks for bringing those two points up. I have a feeling we'll probably chat about that toward the end. Clark, I'm going to pass it over to you now and share with us a little bit about you know, sort of the adventure you all went on and the ACB national office and dive into as well some of the other sort of interesting things, is definitely what you find in a showroom floor loves to show off it's bells and whistles and how do they stack up for someone who's blind or visually impaired shopper?
Clark Rachfal: Absolutely. Thanks a lot Tony. And thank you J.J. for joining us tonight. So as Tony mentioned, the ACB national office took a little field trip recently. You know, if you, if you read and visit the Access World website, they'll recommend when you go in store shopping, you know, maybe call ahead and let them know that you'll want to try some appliances, have them plugged in, ready to go so you can get the full experience. Well, we didn't do any of that. We wanted the, the full unvarnished treatment. So Claire Stanley, our Advocacy and Outreach Specialist, Kelly Gasque, our social media guru and I went on down the road here in Alexandria and visited a Best Buy and we went in there and one of their very friendly and helpful employees asked us what we were doing, and we were just like we're appliance shopping, what do you have, what can you show us?
And of course they wanted to show off the smart appliances. Now as soon as you throw that word smart in, you get a lot of features, but you also get a lot in the price tag. But what some of those thousands of dollars got you were internet connected devices some of which had multimedia capabilities and something we'll touch on later. But if you're going to be able to play video or send a tweet from your refrigerator for those of you saw the, the news article back in September, so #FreeDorothy, it needs to have an accessible user interface. So one of the refrigerators that we saw from Samsung electronics basically had a flat screen TV built in. And along with the internet access and the ability to send messages and play YouTube videos is the fully baked text to speech engine that is included in other Samsung products. And that was just really fascinating that, that technology is available in a refrigerator, but then also the things you can do with it, manipulate the settings of the refrigerator as well as add stuff to your shopping list to order directly from Amazon or Grub Hub, Uber Eats, anything like that. But then also a lot of appliances are starting to add voice control as well. So maybe you don't want to scroll through the menus, but you still want to manipulate the features and functions of your, of your appliance. You can talk to, as Jeff Bishop calls her the A-lady just so you don't activate any devices. Those features exist as well. A lot of times when we think of out of the box accessibility when it comes to internet enabled or home appliances, medical equipment, exercise equipment for example we have a pretty, I'll say for the longest time we've had a, an idea of a solution and that solution has been, for example, like a talking microwave or talking thermostat where the user presses a button and the device speaks the function of that button or what you just did.
But as we all know with the ADA, it's not always the remedy that we would prefer, but it's the reasonable accommodation that fits the end user's needs. So what that's looking like now with new technology, is things that Tony and J.J. touched on. It's that accessible user interface on a device via touch screen. It could be control through an application of an internet connected device. And it can also be voice control. Whether that's Amazon, Google, Apple or, or some other product. This wasn't only the case in kitchen appliances but also, you know, we went over to the TV section and again just found a sales associate and struck up a conversation with them. They started showing us a whole bunch of TVs, you know, those kinds of TVs that that I certainly won't be buying anytime soon, but plenty of people do and love.
And we just asked the guy, you know, is there, what kind of accessibility features are there? Is there a text to speech menu navigation? And they were very willing to help. They said, you know, I don't know, but let's find out. Picked up the remote, scrolled through, and wham-o. A lot of TVs now and every TV should have an accessible user interface. Not only do we notice these exciting trends in smart appliances but as J.J. mentioned in the traditional appliances, I don't want to call them dumb appliances cause they're still way smarter than I am. But back in the day, things were buttons or knobs. And then it was almost like industry wanted to show just what they could do. Everything went to touchscreen or a flat interface just because they could and they want to see how many features they could cram in and just have it with the capacitive touch or a flat screen interface.
Well now it seems like the trend is kind of dialed back from that. So while we were at Best Buy, we noticed that a lot of appliances now have mechanical buttons and mechanical knobs again. And we were asking the sales associates you know, they're not experts in the way of appliance marketing, but they said that they've just noticed that stuff like that is cyclical. It changes with product lines over time. And when we had a meeting with LG electronics, they said the same thing. You know, it's some, some years and some models will have flat screen touchscreens and others come back to buttons and knobs. So we're certainly in favor of the buttons and knobs and we make sure to tell folks that when we have their ear and when they'll listen. But it's always reassuring when you have not just a knob, but a knob that is indexed and gives some haptic feedback or a knob that has a raised indicator line to let you know what direction the round knob is pointing.
So that, that was very interesting as well. Back to the smart appliances, one of the reasons we have noticed the inclusion of these, especially the accessible user interfaces for video capable and two way communications, advanced communication services devices. A lot of people don't think a refrigerator can be an advanced communication service. But as soon as you can send a tweet, check your email, it falls under the FCC's rules for advanced communication services. As soon as you can play a video, whether it's a TV or a refrigerator or a smart speaker, it falls under the FCC's rules for accessible video interfaces and those rules stem from the advocacy work of ACB and Eric Bridges, you know, 10 years ago, alongside of the American Foundation for the Blind and those stem from the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. So yes, it's been 10 years, but it's getting to a point where these products and these features are ubiquitous in the marketplace. And that's really exciting to see. And before I kick it back to Tony here also say that in the space of application interfaces, so you could still have an appliance that has a flat touchscreen display, but a lot of times it's becoming easier and easier to connect that appliance or that piece of smart home tech to a smartphone application. And like J.J. said, sometimes the apps are made by different folks, sometimes the apps a lot cleaner an interface because they're designed to work with the,
The Apple or the iOS operating system, which has voiceover built right in, similar properties on the Android operating system. So it can be a much smoother interface and you can control a lot of features of smart appliances or smart home tech. And if you're not able to control them, you can at least see status updates. So going forward, what are we doing in the space of advocacy here? Well, there's a few exciting pieces of legislation out there. One is HR 1199, and that's the VA Website Accessibility Act.
And some folks may think, well that only deals with websites and apps and kiosks at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Well true, but the CVAA only covered things under the purview of the FCC, you know, who thought that that would trickle down to home appliances.
So if the Department of Veterans Affairs is able to push and move the market towards being more accessible and having accessibility included from day one, we are all for that because we think that that will then have products trickling down to other parts of the market as well. There's another bill in Congress. The short title is the GAIN Act and that would call for the US Access Board to create universal accessibility standards for fitness equipment, home appliances and medical devices. There's another bill, the Exercise and Fitness for All Act which again would require the Access Board to create standards for exercise and fitness equipment. And of course there's the work that ACB is doing legislatively with regulatory agencies and working directly with companies to make sure that when they roll out products and services, whether that's kiosks, websites, dashboards, and things of that nature, that accessibility is included from square one. So it's an exciting time. There's certainly still a lot more work to be done, but we are seeing a lot of progress in this space.
Tony Stephens: Clark, thanks so much and thanks for sharing that and for the team in the national office for ACB, for sort of going out on that sort of sojourn to find out what, you know, what accessibility really lies out there. Cause it definitely sounds like you uncovered a lot more than just accessible appliances on the floor. But the whole conversation that you shared about how the CVAA and how, you know an accessible cable box essentially where the mobile phones had to be made accessible with their operating systems has really helped us get ahead of the curve. So oftentimes with inaccessibility, we find ourselves sort of trying to catch up and trying to you know, chase behind and it's always harder to fix something once it's left the station, so to speak. But this is an exciting time because the CVAA coming in a sense before the birth of all this smart, you know, internet of things revolution it's really opened up a lot of opportunities.
We're going to be opening it up for questions in just, just a moment. A question for both you and J.J. though in a sense. If you all don't mind as I have the floor here, as we get queued up for folks to start thinking about your questions and we will be unmuting shortly. And try to work through as organized as we can and accepting, you know, having people ask their questions. But in a sense for now, for J.J. And Clark you know, I think about the first I mentioned the Kenmore device, the first washing machine. I have a little note here that Sears put out in 1927 by Kenmore. Not a lot of technology has changed much in washing machines. It's a belt. It's a motor. It's a drum that spins around really fast sometimes and really slow and other times I think of the first CD player my father got in 1984 for Christmas, it was $1,500.
It was a JVC CD player in 1984 for $1,500. I looked on Amazon just before this call and I can now buy one for $19 on Amazon. While it not be a JVC, it still does the same thing. You know, the devices when they came out, if it was a washing machine in 1927 or a CD player in 1984 one of the great things about technology is how it drops prices. It reaches what's called economy of scale and they start selling millions and millions of them. So these $3,000 fridges now in a couple of years from now, are going to be much more affordable. Think about how much a 60 inch television costs now and how much it costs just 10 years ago and compare those prices and it's probably about 10% of probably what you would have spent 10 years ago for that product.
In terms of blindness, bringing it back to the world of blindness and visual impairment, we know things like diabetes is now one of the leading causes of blindness in the country. So much of our conditions, particularly for the majority of our population, that are older age adults that have other health problems is managing your life. And oftentimes smart devices can make us feel dumb. There's no question about that. But to once we sort of get over that fear or that anxiety and jump right in, to if it's Alexa or Apple or Google there's huge potential. You had mentioned Samsung, LG as well, has what's called the Instaview on their refrigerators. Now this is fun for sighted people where they can hit their, hit basically their door, their fridge twice, tap it and it suddenly they can see everything inside.
Now we're not necessarily at a point where we have a type of accessibility that will describe that to us. We do have Aira as you mentioned and we have, you know, Be My Eyes and other ways that we can use our smart phones and other devices or Seeing AI app or OrCam and other devices to kind of read text. But what's interesting is not just the visual on the outside but the skin underneath. And that fridge can also do things like, it can tell you if your device, and these are now all of these devices are working in tandem with these smart homes, these smart hubs, but is your food expired? Apparently 37% I found out tonight of Americans have food in their fridge that's two months overdue. It's well over expiration date. So these are oftentimes things we have on challenging. But just in managing your own diet as well, it keeps track of what you're eating, which makes me a little bit nervous.
But nevertheless, if I had, you know, needing to watch my diet and needing to really sort of you or even count calories, which probably is something I should do, you know, it becomes a tool for us. And I believe there's enormous potential. I think in a lot of these devices and as these initial launches into these smart hubs of like the Instaview fridge or the Samsung, you know, with these, all the things they can do in addition to just, you know, make it hot or cold in your fridge or on your oven or your washing machine, you know, how much more can it impact our life in a positive way so that it allows us to manage our lives as well. So, you know, folks encourage to find out what's out there. Go to websites like Amazon and what I also encourage folks to do is leave accessible reviews.
If you have any of these devices, I encourage everybody here to go on to Amazon, go on to Best Buy, go on to wherever it is you bought that product perhaps, and leave the device and talk specifically about the accessibility because we just as much need to crowdsource these type things as well. For those of us that are trying to research and find things out on these devices as well, where we could search in and, and try to find out, you know, comments and reviews that are specific to that. So we also have a way to be empowered ourselves as advocates and to go on and leave reviews on the experiences we have that are positive and to check things out.