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Some folks out of Belgium started a kickstarter campaign to bring to market a unique Bluetooth speaker with some cool accessibility features. While it was not intended for blind children, it quickly caught my attention as I was Christmas shopping for two of my visually impaired kids.
A playful figurine based music player that anyone can use, anywhere, anytime. Great for kids, no screen in sight, easy on parents.
— Read on www.kickstarter.com/projects/muuselabs/jooki-the-jukebox-for-kids
While I like to categorize this device as a Bluetooth speaker, it is so much more. There are a number of features anyone might like it a rubberized solid pretty indestructible toy speaker for children. For instance, the Jooki can play music from a storage card or from popular streaming services, including Spotify. The coolest feature, as it relates to children is the NFC, or near field communication, tokens that allow playlists or music stored on local storage to be selected by placing the corresponding token onto a position at the top of the speaker.
These NFC tokens are where the fun begins for the visually impaired. I have a daughter who loves BonJovi and Guns n Roses. Being fully blind makes it difficult for her to select specific songs on tablets or phones. However, I can assign single tracks or playlists to a token so she can tacitly choose a character associated with a track or playlist that she loves.
We have seen NFC used in the financial industry, in information security, and even on vending machines and point of sale at the grocery store, but this implementation of near field communications takes the cake. With the Jooki, you will receive a handful of unique tokens shaped like animal characters. Each animal offers some tactile differing feature to make it easy for a child to know which one they have selected.
What if your children want more tokens? What if a playlist is frustrating because they want to listen to a specific track but only have a handful of tokens? That problem has been solved as well. Additional tokens (without characters) can be purchased to extend the available choices. The add on tokens are just flat discs as opposed to animal characters, so those folks with visually impaired children might have to figure out some ways to make them distinguishable. Still, this is a great option.
You might be wondering how quickly a visually impaired child can pick up choosing playlists. My daughter could tell me the playlists associated with each animal within a few minutes and was already swapping them around to listen to multiple playlists within an hour. While she is super smart like her daddy, the toy is very intuitive and I think easily picked up by most children.
If you have a visually impaired child, this is something you have to look at. You will love the construction and the freedom of choice that it brings to your child. It is great to see them have the option of exercising some control over their music choices. We even have children’s stories linked to characters. You will not regret checking this out. Please do so and let us know what you think in the comments below.