Needed a Large Clock Due to Vision Loss

By:  Frank Engelman   |  Posted: May 1, 2023   |  Updated: September 25, 2023

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A number of my relatives need a “special” clock, for a variety of reasons. I set out to find them one, but both the physical and app versions I found fell short of what we needed in various ways.

So, … I developed a special “Time Clock App”.

The Need for a Special Clock

My 96-year-old aunt has been suffering increasing loss of vision which makes it very difficult for her to read a clock without putting on her glasses. This can be a real problem at night when she also needs to turn on the lights to find her glasses to read a small bedside clock.

My sister-in-law suffered from dementia, which caused her to misunderstand the time of day. She would start cooking breakfast late at night after waking up from a few hours of sleep, thinking that because it was dark, it must be early morning instead of late at night.

My sister, who lives in a retirement community, mentioned that there is a need for “Day Clocks” for those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who need a feeling of being “grounded” as even to what day of the week it is without having to ask a caregiver.

I found that a Day Clock could even be useful to me since I’m retired and sometimes forget what day it is.

What about Using a Physical Day Clock?

I researched physical “Day Clocks” (Dementia Clocks) that display the date and time and felt they could be useful.  They even show the day of the week and the “time of day,” e.g., morning, afternoon, evening, and night.

After reading several reviews, I found that family members were disappointed about how hard it was to set them up and keep them working properly. Many had small confusing switches, and some did not have battery backup requiring a setup after a power outage. Most of them were like a clock on your stove that needs to be reset twice a year for Daylight Savings Time.

What About Using an iPad App?

Since I have some older iPads, I started to wonder whether there was an app that could perform the same function when the iPad was used as a dedicated “Day Clock”.

An iPad includes easy on-screen controls for setup, has a battery backup, and handles Daylight Savings Time changes if used on Wi-Fi or a cellular connection.

I found several Day Clock apps available, but I found them lacking in several aspects.

  • The “Time” did not stand out as all items were displayed at the same size (time, day of week, time of day, date)
  • Using a leading “0” when displaying a time such as 02:40 AM, even in a 12 HR mode, was confusing.
  • The use of a “\” in a “0” could be confusing
  • Most did not speak the time or offered a very hard-to-see “speak” button

The Features I Wanted

  • The “Time” display is in the middle of the screen with a font larger than other items.
  • Use “dark mode” to make it easier on older eyes.
  • An easy-to-push “Speak the Time” button for those with low vision

My Day Clock App

So, I decided to create my own Apple iPad app and offer it for FREE on the iPad App Store.

See the image at the top of the page to see how it looks.

It works on any iPad capable of supporting iPadOS 14 or later. If you don’t have one that meets these specifications, “renewed iPads” are available on Amazon at around $150 (USD).

What I like about this app is that the “Time” and “Day” are displayed much larger than the “Date” and that a prominent “Speak the Time” button also speaks “Time” & “Date”. For those with low vision or problems locating the on-screen button in the dark, the app allows touching anywhere on the screen to speak.

Here is a YouTube video of it in operation

When setting an iPad up as a dedicated “Day Clock”, I recommend using a tablet stand and the following iPad settings:

Keep it always displaying

  • Plugged into power
  • Keep screen displayed
    • Settings- Display & Brightness- Auto-Lock- “Never”

Screen brightness

  • Settings- Display & Brightness- “Night Shift”
  • Settings- Accessibility- Display & Text Size- “Auto-Brightness”

Remove distractions

  • Settings- Focus- Do Not Disturb- Schedule- 12:00 AM – 11:59 PM
  • Settings- Accessibility- Guided Access- Guided Access- Passcode Settings
  • Settings- General- Software Update- Automatic Updates- “Off”

If you are worried about a restart after a power outage or someone unplugged it… you could create a “Shortcut- Personal-Automation” to launch the Day Clock app when the iPad is charging

Caption- Shortcut Person Automation

I like this Day Clock so much that I have repurposed a couple of old iPads around my home. It’s neat to look over and be grounded as to what day it is… since I’m retired with no schedule, I’m prone to forget the day.

Where to Get My Day Clock App

You can find my App on the Apple App Store at the link below.

*Disclosure: The research and opinions in this article are those of the author, and may or may not reflect the official views of Tech-enhanced Life.

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1 thought on “Needed a Large Clock Due to Vision Loss”

  1. Your app allows for almost any setting one might want, Well Done!
    I’m far sighted so I need large font to read info. I use my iPhone with the “Talking Alarm” app (Be careful if checking for it, there are two apps, one is very poor, this one is seen as great by users.) It has an extremely inclusive settings menu, although a user can not set up a screen like you have created.
    I have mine set to show a digital screen with hours and minutes, temperature and humidity, day and date, Sleep off and Alarm off.
    Everything on the screen is in red with fine line font and dimmed to avoid distraction.
    This app works well for those wanting a simple screen that can be read without glasses and/or from some distance.
    Keep up your goos work on behalf of seniors.
    Lew Ford

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