Everyday Accessibility: By Amy L. Osvold

<< All News Thursday, April 30, 2020 Categories: Adult Programming News Assistive Technology

The model I purchased from Amazon is the ST55 model that cost $92.31. I did hours of research on which thermostat to purchase. This one had had a 4.5-star rating with 4,766 customer ratings. As part of my research when purchasing new products, I carefully consider the reviews. Unfortunately, most/all of them are done by people who do not have vision loss. Very rarely do you find a review by someone with vision loss, for someone with vision loss. The good…It said it was do-it-yourself but was it really? I thought I was going to have to have an HVAC person come and install it. It did say on the box and in the reviews that many people installed it themselves. On Good Friday, I saw Brian (my husband) standing in the hallway with the old thermostat off. My only thought was, “I hope that truly is a DIY thermostat or we are going to have a very chilly Easter!” And it would be DIY for someone with vision. According to Brian, for someone with no or low vision the small wires would be difficult to see. I was not able to find a review that said it was compatible with VoiceOver. There are many products out there that will say they work with IOS, but VoiceOver is often another story. For the most part, it is compatible. First, you must download the app. Once you have set up the app, you create an account. Once the app and the thermostat are linked, it will allow you to use your phone to raise and lower the temperature, switch between heat or cool, turn on the fan, and set a schedule. Will it really work with Alexa? Once Alexa has the skill you can use your voice to raise and lower the temperature. You do have to go to the Alexa app and set up the skill. Some of the reviewers said they had some difficulty with Alexa and the thermostat not being able to communicate, but I have not had difficulty with that. The bad…It isn’t just as easy as sitting in your recliner and yelling at Alexa to raise or lower the temperature. Like all Alexa devices, you must use a specific set of commands. For example, “Alexa, raise the temperature 1 degree” not “Alexa, raise the temperature.” Also, you must be able to work between the Alexa and the Sensi App in order to run it if it happens to lose connectivity. You do have to be somewhat tech savvy. You must know VoiceOver very well to use the app. There are some people that say in the reviews that it will run without a “C” wire, you will just go through more batteries. Fortunately, we did have a “C” wire, so that was not an issue for us. In order to run the app, you do have to be fluent with VoiceOver. Continued on next page Page 3 #94 When setting a schedule, there is a submenu where you can set different temperatures for the time of day and the day of the week. Unfortunately, the temperature up and down in this area is not VoiceOver compatible. I was trying to figure a way around it and accidentally set our overnight temperature to 62 degrees. It was a bit of a frosty morning at the Osvold house! One morning I woke up and wanted to turn the temperature up, but the thermostat and my phone were not “speaking” to each other. To fix it, I just went to the App Switcher and did a “hard close” and it reset itself. If you have any questions about this device or want to have me review any other products, please feel free to contact me at 701-857- 7635 or abrunner@nd.gov.

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