Recently I offered to help a friend of mine locate a braille watch for her father, who’s losing his sight. I priced a standard man’s braille watch at a company in New York. Some of you know what a braille watch looks like, but for those of you who don’t know, it’s very similar to a regular wrist watch, only the cover opens up and you can feel the two hands. They’ve also added dots around the perimeter of the inside of the watch in order to indicate the hours.
Well, I guess you could say there isn’t that much difference between a sighted and blind person’s watch, yet the braille watch costs $60. I would like someone to justify this price. I’ve looked at braille watches over the years, and I can’t, for the life of me, understand why a blind person has to spend $60 for something that really is a regular wrist watch with a few minor additions. What possible adaptation was made from a regular watch to a braille watch that was worth so much money?
It all goes back to what I’ve always said about products for the blind–companies are allowed to sell them at these ridiculous prices, and there is no need for it. If I had the skills, I could take an average wrist watch, adjust the cover so that it can open and close, mark the perimeter with several small dots, and, presto!–I’d have a braille watch. After these minor adjustments, am I supposed to understand that the value of the watch went up to sixty dollars? What did I do to it? What drastic changes did I make? The hands are still intact. The interior mechanisms are the same. The only difference now is that a blind person can actually use it.
I told my friend that she’s better off going to her local Radio Shack store for a talking watch for her father. She’ll save $40 in the process. This leads me to another point. Why should a braille watch cost three times more than a talking watch when there aren’t any microchips or circuits in the braille watch? It’s simple mechanics, like any other watch, with a little bit of refining.
There has to be a way to make these companies understand what they’re doing to blind consumers, who, for the most part, cannot afford to be their customers. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.