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Bridges Blog Independent Living Resources Information Resources Series: Food Four Ways, July 2022

Food Four Ways — Getting Food Package Information

With time off from school and work, our thoughts turn to food! Join us as we cover all things nonvisual food access in our Food Four Ways series:

  • July 5: Grocery Shopping Methods
  • July 12: Navigating Buffets in School Dining Halls
  • July 19: Getting Food Package Information
  • July 26: Accessible Food Delivery Apps

Today, we will discuss nonvisual ways of obtaining directions on food packages.

Introduction

Say goodbye to not knowing information on food packages! Whether you are looking for directions for a brownie mix, preparing a frozen pizza, or nutrition label details to keep yourself safe from any potential allergens, the Bridges Helpdesk is here to give you tools in your toolbox so that you can access any printed information via the method of your choosing.

Directions For Me

Directionsforme.org is a great tool to find accessible directions, nutrition information, ingredients, and sometimes allergy warnings quickly and easily. Just look up your brand and item and the website will have exactly what is written on the box in an accessible format! Use the search function or go to the categories page and you’ll find so much information!

Want to make Jiffy corn muffin mix? They have it! How about Stove Top stuffing? They have it! Your favorite frozen pizza? Choose from all of the well-known frozen pizza brands and you will be able to find the exact instructions to cook an easy dinner. Wanting to know exactly how much protein is in your favorite granola bars? How about the exact ingredients? You can view complete nutrition labels with ease on this handy website!

Seeing AI

Seeing AI is an artificial intelligence application that can identify text, currency, and colors for people who are blind/low vision. This app is available in 16 languages. It has the capacity to do many things, but we have identified two specific modes that are particularly helpful for reading food packages.

Seeing AI is available for free from the Apple App Store. However, at this time, Seeing AI is not available for use on Android devices.

Short Text Mode

This mode is extremely useful because it recognizes text without requiring the user to take a photograph. Simply open the app, make sure the “short text” mode is selected at the bottom of the screen, and point the camera where you think the text appears. As soon as the application detects text, it will begin reading. This means that you can aim the camera all around the food package until it starts reading the information you are looking for.

Document Mode

If you really want to zoom in on some text, you can use Seeing AI in document mode. The app will speak verbal directions to help you to get a clear picture. Once your camera is properly aligned, the app will automatically take the picture for you and then present it to you as a readable, accessible document on your phone’s screen.

Aira

Aira is a service-based smartphone app where you can call an agent in real-time to assist you with tasks in which visual information might be helpful. The call consists of an audio and visual component, similar to a Zoom or FaceTime call. Users often rely upon Aira agents to assist them in reading directions and/or nutrition labels on food packages, as well as getting critical information like best-by dates. There are paid monthly subscriptions available for Aira users to have varying amounts of service minutes available to them. However, even those who are not paying customers are permitted free five minutes of Aira service every 24 hours. If you would like to become a paid subscriber or want to learn more, please contact the Bridges Helpdesk.

Contact us

Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:

This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.

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