My grandfather is 94-years old. (Actually, 94 1/2, but he doesn’t think he should start counting halves again until he’s 95.) He’s lost a step, but his mind is sharp as a tack. As he often says, “if I knew I was going to live so long, I would have taken better care of myself”.
The really sad thing, though, is that he’s losing is vision.
Losing one of your only five senses is tragic regardless, but the vision is especially difficult because my grandfather is a reader. A Reader with a capital R. That man reads everything. Literally, everything, down to labels on the ketchup bottle at a restaurant.
Sometimes, when I call over to his house, and I’m talking to my grandmother, so I’ll ask, “what’s Grandpa doing?” And, she’ll respond, “oh, I don’t know, he’s probably reading something.” That makes both of us smile, though.
Anyhow, being me, I couldn’t just let Grandpa not be able to read, so I borrowed a Kindle from a friend to see if that could be the solution to our problems. Based on some limited testing, here’s the feedback:
The good news is the font size increases to a size large enough that he can read it. That was our main goal, but it turns out there’s more to it than that.
First, the navigation screens don’t adjust font size, really only the book pages. So, he could sort of make it work with a magnifying glass, but it was tricky.
Next, the keys are too small. There really isn’t a way to use the Kindle without typing, the most common use being searching for books in the store. But, he couldn’t read what the buttons said, and even if he could, they were hard to press with his creaky, nonagenarian hands.
Finally, and this applies to folks old and young, you can’t skim through a book on a Kindle. That really bugged him. (I guess, when you’re his age, you feel like you need to get through things as quickly as possible.)
Quite honestly, it was the size of the keys that made it a non-workable solution. Amazon, do you hear that? Make a Kindle with big buttons and you’ll sell a whole bunch.
Now, a few people suggested looking into the iPad. I stayed away from iPad for a few reasons, all having to do with complication.
My grandparents don’t have a computer (nor do they want one). The iPad requires a machine with which to sync.
Also, the iPad has a whole bunch of other stuff on it that I believe he would enjoy…have you heard of a little thing called The Internet?…there is sooooo much to read on that thing. But, it and the other stuff is scary (seriously, computers are genuinely intimidating to most people) and would probably just confuse and frustrate him.
For this use case, a huge benefit of the Kindle is WhisperSync. He could have bought a book on the Kindle and it would have magically just shown up. There’s no having to deal with any network connectivity of any sort. My plan was to simply setup an Amazon account for my grandparents…I’d create a Gmail account that forwarded to my e-mail, and put their credit card into the Amazon account. After that, they really wouldn’t have to know anything about “Amazon.com, the web site”…they could just buy and enjoy!