My goal for this post seemed simple enough–to identify and discuss options for accessible thermostats which blind people could control. Finding talking thermostat options was easy enough, however, I also knew that options existed which permitted smartphone users to control thermostats using the aforementioned smartphone. Thermostats which fall into this second category are much more numerous so we will discuss those options in the second installment of our series. For now let’s look at talking thermostat options.
At one time, blind people had two talking thermostatoptions; one was the Kelvin Talking Thermostat. While several references to itstill exist online, the reviews and commentary that one will locate dates backto 2007-09 with perhaps a sparse reference to 2012-13. Most sites show theKelvin as no longer available while one review from 2009 says that it is aclearance item. This site states that it isavailable, but I was unable to locate an accessible way to add it to the site’sshopping cart.
Thus if one prefers a talking thermostat, the best place tolook is the VIP Talking Thermostat sitewhich offers 2 models, the VIP 1007 and the VIP 3000. The 1007 can controlsingle stage 24 Vac gas, oil and electric furnaces and single stage airconditioning systems. It replaces most 2, 3, 4 and 5 wire alalog and digitalthermostats; it does not work with heat pumps.
The 3000 (images included) is a “universalmulti-stage talking thermostat that can control most 24 Vac AC and heating systemsincluding the newest multi-stage (up to 3 stages of heat and 2 stages ofcooling) gas, oil and electric furnaces, air conditioners and heat pump/dualfuel systems with 1 or 2 stage compressors and auxiliary heat. The 3000 alsohas other enhancements not found in the 1007 as the 3000 uses newer technology.Whenthe Report button is pressed on the VIP 3000, the user hears the roomtemperature, the temperature setting and the mode, heat, cool or off. The modewas not announced on the VIP 1007. The Up – Down arrow buttons not onlyannounce the temperature setting, they also announce the mode. Again, Heat orCool. The VIP 1007 did not announce the mode. The biggest enhancements,though, are in the System Settings. The VIP 3000 uses push buttons thattalk. When the user pushes the Fan Button, the VIP 3000 announces “FanOn”. Push again and the thermostat announces “Fan Auto”. The VIP1007 uses an Up – Down mechanical vertical switch that does not talk. Upis “Fan On”, down is “Fan Auto”. When the user pushes the System Button tochange modes, the VIP 3000 announces “Off”, push again, it announces “Cool”,push again, it announces “Heat”. If the VIP 3000 is programmed for HeatPump operation, it will announce “Auxiliary”. Lastly, if the VIP 3000 isprogrammed for “Automatic Changeover, it will announce “Auto”. Again, theVIP 1007 uses a mechanical vertical switch that does not talk. The VIP1007 does not have the “Auxiliary Heat” or “Automatic Changeover option”. The3000 is demonstrated well in this VIP 3000YouTube Video.Information on thermostats one can control using a smartphone will follow soon.