Blog for Independent Living, Blind, Low Vision, Deaf

Discover the latest innovations in the low-vision, low-hearing, and mobility industry, as well as those must-have products to enhance your day-to-day life. Our Independent-Living Blog will help make daily life a little less of a struggle and a bit more pleasurable with assistive products, suggestions, and advice. MaxiAids Helps You Do It . . . Yourself™
05 October, 2017

OSU Research: Gene Therapy for Deafness

Researchers at Oregon State University have been working on what could lead to the development of gene therapies for those born deaf. Mutations in a protein called otoferlin, which binds to calcium receptors in the sensory hair cells of the inner ear, can be directly linked to hearing loss. 

The team found more than 60 mutations that weaken this bond to the sensory hair cells of the ear, marking the first of many steps to identifying successful therapies. 

In a press release from OSU, Colin Johnson, associate professor of biochemistry and biophysics stated that, “a lot of genes will find various things to do, but otoferlin seems only to have one purpose, and that is to encode sound in the sensory hair cells in the inner ear. And small mutations in otoferlin render people profoundly deaf.”

The size of the protein has been causing problems for researchers thus far.

“The otoferlin gene is really big, and it makes a huge protein,” Johnson explains, “the traditional method for making a recombinant protein is using E. coli, but they loathe big proteins. This paper came up with a way of getting around that challenge.”

“We were trying to shorten the gene, to find a truncated form that can be used for gene therapy,” Johnson added. 

“There is a size limit in terms of what you can package into the gene delivery vehicle, and otoferlin is too large. That’s the Holy Grail; trying to find a miniature version of otoferlin that can be packaged into the delivery vehicle, and then hopefully, the patient can start hearing.” 

To get around these obstacles and find out how otoferlin mutations affected their bond to calcium receptors, the researchers developed a new way to assess that bond after identifying a truncated form of the protein that can function in the encoding of sound.

This research not only opens a door for people who are born with hearing loss, but for researchers working to solve similar problems through bioscience as well.

Johnson’s team included doctoral biochemistry student Nicole Hams, former biochemistry doctoral student Murugesh Padmanarayana, and Weihong Qiu, assistant professor of biophysics.


See our products that are designed for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Article courtesy of Corvallis Advocate's Andy Hahn

Image courtesy of Renae Richardson / Levana Photography

04 October, 2017

Legally blind seven-year-old sees for the first time through high-tech glasses

Davin Bazylewski, a legally blind seven-year-old boy, is seeing clearly for the first time, thanks to a pair of eSight glasses. 

Davin was born with optic nerve hypoplasia (ONH) also known as septooptic dysplasia (SOD) or DeMorsier syndrome, a congenital disorder characterized by underdevelopment (hypoplasia) of the optic nerves, which causes continuous eye shaking and poor vision. In Davin’s case, he is completely blind in one eye and has poor vision in the other.

Davins's miracle was set in motion earlier this year when his parents got wind of this high-tech eyewear that could help him. They learned that these unique glasses have the capability to capture high-definition video and then optimize the images into an easily viewable format. They were even more pleased to find that the glasses actually did as advertised, after having Davin try them out. Davin's parents then started a GoFundMe page to assist them with the $10,000 purchase price and were beyond grateful to see absolute strangers donate towards covering the costs.

These glasses now allow Davin to see patterns and textures as well have the ability to read, watch TV and engage in all visual activities. Davin's parents are assured that with time, he will gain even more independence and confidence. 

Check out these products that are also improving the lives of people who are blind or have low vision.

Photo Courtesy: Winnipeg Free Press

02 October, 2017

Emmett Smith to Help Visually Impaired Fan Watch Dallas Cowboys Game

Emmett Smith

Thanks to former Cowboys star Emmett Smith and AT&T-backed startup Aira, on Oct. 1st a visually impaired fan was able to watch the Dallas Cowboys-Los Angeles Rams game on from quite a unique perspective. Pete Lane, the lucky fan, who shared his story about experiencing more out of life despite being impacted by blindness or low vision, won the sweepstakes created for AT&T’s Experience More campaign in honor of National Blindness Awareness Month.

Aira uses technology to assist those with low vision with everyday tasks. Their smart eyewear uses a combination of technology and human assistance to verbally assist those wearing the glasses through daily activities. In this case, Smith assisted Mr. Lane through the game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, giving him a personalized run-down of the game straight from an NFL legend.

Lane's excitement and gratitude could not be held when he won. When asked how he felt prior to the game he said, “I’m going to sit up in the box, and we’re going to talk about what I’m seeing, and I’m going to relay the game to them so they can get this visual effect of what’s actually transpiring on the football field,” Smith explained recently during an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show, as seen below. “These glasses are pretty awesome. I’m enjoying the technology. This is a way to communicate to the visually impaired to help them understand what’s going on around them.”

Aira, which was founded in 2014, won the Consumer Technology Association Foundation’s Eureka Award. AT&T’s role in supporting the smart eyewear is providing the wireless support between those wearing the eyewear and the live agent assisting them, as well as using its Dynamic Traffic Management to guide agents through prioritizing the traffic flow between themselves and those wearing Aira’s smart glasses.

Aira’s SEO Suman Kanuganti said of the smart technology, “It’s exciting to have the AT&T ecosystem by our side to help our blind and visually impaired users stay connected.” AT&T’s Experience More campaign will continue through October, putting a spotlight on people faced with cognitive or physical challenges who are dedicated to making the most out of life.

Image from AT&T press release (

25 July, 2017

Is Your Smartphone Stealing Your Eyesight?

Isn't it odd how we seem to care more about scratching our smartphone or tablet screen than protecting our eyesight. Our electronic devices, while costly, are easily replaced or repaired – unfortunately, our eyes are not.

Many people are unaware how dangerous our precious electronic devices are to our vision. Smartphone and tablet screens – as well as computer monitors – emit damaging HEV (High Energy Visible) Blue Light.

Digital Devices Emit Dangerous Blue Light

Hazardous High Energy Visible Blue Light

You've probably heard the news that Blue Light from electronic device screens suppresses the hormone, melatonin, which helps control when your body goes to sleep and when you wake. Many people with a smartphone or tablet bring them to bed to surf the internet, check Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., with the intention to unwind before going to sleep. Unfortunately, these devices emit Blue Light which disrupts your natural sleep-wake cycle. The problem is not just losing a good night's sleep. Upsetting the timing of your circadian rhythms can have unexpected and serious effects on your health, such as diabetes and obesity.

"A Harvard study shed a little bit of light on the possible connection to diabetes and possibly obesity. The researchers put 10 people on a schedule that gradually shifted the timing of their circadian rhythms. Their blood sugar levels increased, throwing them into a prediabetic state, and levels of leptin, a hormone that leaves people feeling full after a meal, went down."

—​ Harvard Health Letter: Blue light has a dark side

One solution researchers have recommended is to put some time (2 to 3 hours) between using your electronic devices and your bedtime. While this is good advice, it doesn't help protect you from the other dangers of HEV Blue Light. Every time you use a smartphone, tablet, or computer, Blue Light is doing damage to your eyes.


Let's Shed Some Light on Light

Why Is the Sky Blue?

Go out for a walk with a child on a nice day with a beautiful blue sky and they are sure to ask, "Why is the sky blue?"

Here's the short answer: Sunlight appears white but it's actually made up of a rainbow of colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Aside from clouds, the sky looks empty but is really made of gases and tiny particles that scatter light in every direction. Blue light colors the sky because it travels in shorter waves than the other colors so it scatters more than they do.

Why Isn't the Sky Purple?

Technically, violet has the shortest wavelength in visible light. So why isn't the sky purple?

Two reasons:

1) Our sun emits less violet than blue; and

2) Our eyes are more sensitive to blue than violet.


Light Science via NASA and Stan Lee

Light is electromagnetic (EM) energy made visible to the human eye. Visible light occupies the smallest portion of the electromagnetic spectrum and has a wavelength range of 400 - 700 nanometers (nm).

"The visible colors from shortest to longest wavelength are: violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. Ultraviolet radiation has a shorter wavelength than the visible violet light. Infrared radiation has a longer wavelength than visible red light. The white light is a mixture of the colors of the visible spectrum."

—​ "What Wavelength Goes With a Color?" by NASA

Cosmic Rays

Examples of electromagnetic energy we cannot see are: Cosmic Rays – which created Marvel's Fantastic Four (as documented by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby); Gamma Rays – which transformed Bruce Banner into the Incredible Hulk; X-Rays; Ultraviolet Rays – which are the cause of sunburn, even on a cloudy day; Infrared Radiation (IR) – such as utilized in your TV remote control; Microwave Radiation; and Radio Waves.

Fun Fact: Certain insects, such as bumblebees and butterflies, as well as some birds, reptiles, and fish have "UV Vision" and can see ultraviolet light.


Why is Blue Light Bad?

So if blue skies are wonderful enough to inspire Irving Berlin to write a beautiful song about them, why is High Energy Visible Blue Light so bad for us? Light is a form of electromagnetic (EM) energy and not all EM energy is good for our health, which is why they put a lead apron on you when they take X-Rays and why you put on sunscreen and wear UV400 sunglasses when you go to the beach.

Light is made up of elementary particles called photons. We see by virtue of the amazing process whereby our eyes convert photons into electrical signals in the retina. Those photoreceptors in our eyes are essential to vision.

Blue-light hazard is the term used to describe the danger to your eyesight from electromagnetic radiation exposure at wavelengths between 400 and 500 nanometers – the wavelength of Blue light is 450 nm – which can cause the irreversible death of photoreceptors and lesions in the retina.

"Recent studies suggest that the blue end of the light spectrum may also contribute to retinal damage and possibly lead to [Age-related Macular Degeneration] AMD. The retina can be harmed by high-energy visible radiation of blue/violet light that penetrates the macular pigment found in the eye. According to a study by The Schepens Eye Institute, a low density of macular pigment may represent a risk factor for AMD by permitting greater blue light damage."

—​ "Ultra-violet and Blue Light Aggravate Macular Degeneration" by the American Macular Degeneration Foundation (AMDF)


"Over time, our eyes are exposed to various sources that emit this blue-violet light (e.g., the sun, LED lighting, CFLs). Combine that with the use of tablets, TVs, computer screens and smart phones, and there's no doubt our exposure to blue-violet light is on the increase. This cumulative and constant exposure to the blue-violet light is going to accumulate over time and has the potential to cause damage to the retinal cells, which is going to slowly lead to retinal cell death and can in turn lead to AMD."

— Review of Optometry: The Lowdown on Blue Light: Good vs. Bad, and Its Connection to AMD


Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) is a medical condition which results in blurred vision or lack of vision in the center of your field of view.

"Early on there are often no symptoms. Over time, however, some people experience a gradual worsening of vision that may affect one or both eyes. While it does not result in complete blindness, loss of central vision can make it hard to recognize faces, drive, read, or perform other activities of daily life."

— Macular Degeneration by Wikipedia 

Age Related Macular Degeneration AMD

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of retina damage is that there are no early warning sign or symptoms. Digital devices emit LED light that can damage retinal cells. Unfortunately, retina damage does not make itself known with pain, only with loss of vision. And that is why proactive, preventative measures must be taken to protect your eyes. Otherwise, by the time you know you have a problem, it will be too late to do anything about it, except to prevent additional damage.


Yes, You Can Eat Your Cake and Have It Too!

The good news is that the dangers from our latest-and-greatest technology devices, which we all so dearly love, can easily be eliminated by using some brand new, fairly inexpensive products.


Blue Light Protection Products

Fortunately, there are two ways to protect your eyes from HEV Blue Light. The first is at the source, with LED screen and eye protection; the other is with computer eyewear protection.


Protect Your Eyes As Well As Your Screen!

Reticare Eye+Screen Protectors

The Reticare Eye and Screen Protectors help shield your eyes from the damaging HEV (High Energy Visible) Blue Light emitted by digital device screens and also protects your screen from scratches. It adheres to the screen and is touch sensitive for easy scrolling.

At this time, Reticare is the only scientifically proven protection from High Energy Blue LED Light emitted from screens. Reticare is based on 15 years of research on avoidable blindness with 140 international scientists and experts involved. Reticare Eye and Screen Protectors reduce your risk of retina damage as well as the other unhealthy effects of HEV Blue Light.


Make eye health a priority. Protect your eyesight or risk losing it...

Children are drawn to digital devices like moths to a flame. Unfortunately, their young eyes receive three times more HEV Blue Light than an adult using the same device. Don't let those amazing smartphones, tablets, and computers that you and your loved ones love to use – for hours and hours a day – do harm to your eyesight or theirs. Reticare Eye and Screen Protectors help reduce the risk of eye strain; blurred vision; dry eyes; headaches; sleep disorders; and retinal damage, such as Macular Degeneration.

Check out all our Reticare Eye+Screen Blue Light Protectors


You Save Your Work, Now Save Your Eyes!

Cocoons Eyewear

Most people are fanatical about saving their precious computer documents. No one wants to lose a single bit of their work in progress, whether it's the great American novel or a financial spreadsheet. Saving your work is very important – but so is saving your eyesight.

Cocoons Blue-Light Blocker Computer Fitover Eyeglasses make it super simple to deal with the dangers of our digital devices. And they are perfect for both those who wear prescription glasses and those who don't, because they can be worn "as is" or over prescription eyeglasses. And don't worry, they are available in a variety of frame sizes to comfortably fit over your current eyeglasses.

Cocoons is the world’s leading manufacturer of professional grade fitovers. They make optical-grade lenses which have an anti-reflective, chemically-bonded, scratch-resistant coating. They are known throughout the world for their technically advanced, yet fashionably designed, sunglasses and eyewear. Welcome to designer eyewear without the designer price tag.

Cocoons Blue Light Computer Eyewear

Cocoons has a variety of eyewear collections to address different needs. Their Computer Eyewear Collection filters out both harmful UV light and High Energy Visible (HEV) Blue Light. Wearing a pair of these glasses will reduce headaches, eyestrain, blurred vision, sleep disruption, and eye fatigue from digital screen exposure. Cocoons Computer Eyewear provides 360 degrees of protection with a full undercarriage and maximum-sized peripheral lenses to completely shield your eyes from harmful HEV and UV light.

Whether you spend hours looking at a computer screen, smartphone, or tablet, you owe it to your eyesight to grab a pair of these superb, beautifully designed, yet surprisingly affordable eye protectors.

Check out all our Cocoons Blue Light Computer Fitover Eyeglasses




05 July, 2017

5 Safety Tips for Drivers with Hearing Loss

Driving Safety Precautions for the Hard of Hearing

For those who are hard of hearing, safety precautions should be taken to ensure a safe driving experience for everyone on the road. Hearing impaired drivers aren’t any less safe than other drivers, but there are certain precautions that should be taken.

Since driving is mostly visual, focusing on seeing visual indicators while on the road is the most important precaution deaf or hard of hearing drivers should take. There are additional safety precautions to consider, such as removing distractions and keeping up with car maintenance. Below are five tips for drivers with hearing loss to be extra prepared while behind the wheel.

Driving Safety Precautions for the Hard of Hearing

flashing emergency light

1) Rely on Visual Cues

Driving with hearing loss means you might not be able to hear sirens clearly or quickly enough. It is paramount to pay attention to visual cues, such as flashing lights for emergency vehicles and police cars. Another important aspect of driving when hearing impaired is to make frequent use of mirrors when changing lanes or passing other cars. It’s prudent to get your eyes examined annually to adjust your prescription eyeglasses as needed.

2) Remove Distractions

Removing distractions is important for any driver, hearing impaired or not. However, there are other distractions hearing impaired drivers might experience, such as feedback from hearing aids. It is vital to care and maintain your hearing aid and its batteries regularly. Other tips to remove distractions to help you keep your focus solely on the road are: turning the volume down on the radio; keeping the car windows closed to eliminate road noise; and asking your passengers to keep their conversations to a low volume.

3) Check Signal Lights

Hearing impaired drivers may be unable to hear the clicking sound that alerts the driver that a turn signal is still on, even after turning. It could be a driving hazard to other drivers on the road if your signal indicator is still on even after turning. As a hearing impaired driver, be hypersensitive to checking the signal lights visually so as not to confuse your fellow drivers on the road.

4) Keep Your Car in Top Working Condition

Keeping up with car maintenance is important for every driver, but for drivers who are hard of hearing and living with hearing loss, it is an absolute necessity – because strange vehicle noises may occur unheard. If something is wrong with your car without any visual indication and it breaks down, that could be dangerous to yourself and a hazard to other drivers.


5) Get Regular Hearing Checkups, Use Assistive Aids, and Take Spare Batteries

  • Visit your doctor if you notice any changes in your hearing, because driving carries a big responsibility, affecting other drivers on the road, pedestrians, and your passengers.
  • There are assistive devices available for hearing impaired drivers, such as oversized rear view mirrors and wide-angled mirrors.
  • If you wear a hearing aid, make sure to always carry an extra set of hearing aid batteries when driving – or keep a fresh set in your glove compartment.


Shop MaxiAids’ Hearing Products and Devices for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing



25 April, 2017

How to Save a Choking Victim – When You Can't Use the Heimlich Maneuver

The LifeVac Choking Aid Solution

choking victim

Have you ever been with someone while they were choking on a piece of food? Or have you yourself ever had something so stuck in your throat that you couldn't take a breath? You try to cough, hoping to clear your windpipe, but you can't cough, or can't cough enough to clear it. At first, you're startled, then frightened, then frantic. You have no voice and must scream, "Help me!" – yet you cannot utter a sound.

You wave your arms to get someone's attention and make the universal sign for choking by holding one or both of your hands in front of your throat.

You hope that someone will come up behind you and use the Heimlich Maneuver® so that you can finally breathe again...

But – if you are wheelchair bound because of Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, or some other reason, the Heimlich Maneuver® can be difficult or impossible to successfully perform when you are choking.

This is where the new LifeVac Choking Aid may be able to come to the rescue.

What is the LifeVac Choking Aid?

LifeVac Choking Aid

The LifeVac Choking Aid is an affordable, easy-to-use suction apparatus to help remove a foreign substance blocking the airway of a choking victim when standard choking protocols cannot be used or have been unsuccessful.

In those situations, the LifeVac Choking Aid can provide peace of mind to parents and caregivers, giving them a life-saving choking solution for a patient or loved one for whom the Heimlich Maneuver® is not an option.

It is ideal for high-risk potential choking victims: children (over 40 lb.); the elderly; those with dementia; the wheelchair-bound; those with Neurological Conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Muscular Dystrophy (MD), Cerebral Palsy (CP), Amyotrophic Laterals Sclerosis (ALS) aka "Lou Gehrig's disease," Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, etc.

How does the LifeVac Choking Aid work?

When someone is choking, LifeVac recommends that standard choking protocol be followed. These are the steps:

1) Perform the Heimlich Maneuver® – if possible, but if not possible (e.g., you can’t get your arms around the victim, due to obesity, pregnancy, or the choking victim is wheelchair bound) or if unsuccessful, then proceed to Step 2.

2) Use a back slap to attempt to dislodge the obstruction – and if unsuccessful, then proceed to Step 3.

3) Use the LifeVac Choking Aid to remove the obstruction in the choking victim's airway.

LifeVac recommends certified training in BLS (Basic Life Support) Protocol, including choking protocol and CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation). Follow all BLS Protocols first and call 911. If all BLS Protocols are unsuccessful or cannot be used, proceed using the LifeVac Choking Aid, exactly following all instructions for use (including practicing prior to use).


For those who may be unfamiliar with Step 1, which is the Heimlich Maneuver®:

Heimlich Maneuver Step 1

Choking Victim & Heimlich Maneuver® Image Credit:

"Situation: A choking victim can’t speak or breathe and needs your help immediately. Follow these steps to help a choking victim:

1) From behind, wrap your arms around victim’s waist.

2) Make a fist and place the thumb side of your fist against victim’s upper abdomen, below the ribcage, and just above the navel.

3) Grasp your fist with your other hand and press into victim’s abdomen with a quick, upward pressure. Do not squeeze the ribcage; confine the force of the thrust to your hands.

4) Repeat until object is expelled."

Excerpted from "How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver®" on a standing choking victim when rescuer’s arms can reach around the choking victim.


The Heimlich Maneuver® works on Pascal's Principle to push the foreign object out of the airway. By applying force to the choking victim's abdomen, there is an increase in internal pressure that is transmitted to their throat to dislodge the food they were choking on – in much the same way that squeezing a tube of toothpaste at the bottom will cause the toothpaste to squirt out the top (that's right, there's no need to squeeze it in the middle – unless you just want to annoy your spouse!).

The LifeVac Choking Aid, with its unique push-pull design, works the opposite way of the Heimlich Maneuver®. The LifeVac device uses suction to pull, rather than push, to dislodge the obstruction causing the choking. The LifeVac's one-way valve prevents pushing the food or object downward, using suction to clear the airway of the choking victim.

The LifeVac Choking Aid is FDA Registered as a Class II medical device and does not require a prescription. It has become an additional, new lifesaving tool for EMT and First Responders, such as the Police and Fire Department, as well as for home use.

LifeVac founder and CEO Arthur Lih

Pictured: Ray Cooney, Firefighter and host of Firehouse Kitchen with Arthur Lih, Founder and CEO of LifeVac.

LifeVac's Founder and CEO, Arthur Lih, visited MaxiAids recently to demonstrate the LifeVac Choking Aid to our Sales and Customer Service Departments and answer our questions.


LifeVac Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):


Q: Is choking a rare occurrence?

A: Unfortunately not. Research shows that choking is a leading cause of death in children and a leading cause of accidental deaths in the elderly over the age of 65. According to the National Safety Council, in 2015, over 5,000 people died from choking – more than half were older than 74. And over 100 million Americans have no defense against aspiration emergencies due to pregnancy, disability, obesity, or just being alone.


Q: Why not just call 911 when someone is choking?

A: When there's an emergency, calling 911 is always a good idea – but the average emergency response time ranges from 7 to 11 minutes. However, brain cells begin to die after one minute without oxygen. Brain damage and eventually brain death is the inevitable outcome if oxygen deprivation is allowed to continue beyond five minutes.


Q: Is the LifeVac Choking Aid intended to replace the Heimlich Maneuver®?

A: LifeVac is not intended to replace any of the standard choking protocols. The LifeVac Choking Aid is intended to be an additional tool when the Heimlich Maneuver® is impossible to use or has been unsuccessful in clearing the choking victim's airway.


Q: If the Heimlich Maneuver® doesn't work, then how can the LifeVac Choking Aid possibly work?

A: The negative (suction) pressure generated by the force of the LifeVac is approximately 3 times greater than the highest recorded abdominal thrusts (which is used in the Heimlich Maneuver®). The LifeVac generates over 300 mmHg of suction. However, the duration of suction is minimal – so the LifeVac Choking Aid is safe as well as effective.


Q: Has the LifeVac been tested and published in any medical journals?

A: The American Journal of Emergency Medicine published an independent study documenting the LifeVac Choking Aid's effectiveness in removing an obstruction from a blocked airway.


Q: Can the LifeVac make the choking situation worse by pushing the obstruction farther down?

A: No, because the LifeVac has a patented design with a one-way valve to vent the air outside the face mask rather than into it when pushed down. This creates a one-way suction to dislodge the obstruction.


Q: Is there any chance that using the LifeVac might break the choking victim's ribs like some other first aid procedures may?

A: No. The LifeVac does not require the use of any external force on the abdomen or anywhere else near the rib cage.


Q: Will using the LifeVac damage the choking victim's lungs?

A: No. The pressure created by the LifeVac is approximately equal to a really good cough.


Q: If necessary, can I use the LifeVac on myself?

A: Yes.


Q: Will the LifeVac Choking Aid work on an adult with a moustache and/or beard?

A: Yes.


Q: Is the LifeVac Choking Aid difficult to use?

A: The LifeVac is not difficult to use but practice is recommended prior to using it. It comes with a Test Mask for practicing the procedure, as well as both an Adult Mask and a Pediatric (40 lb. and up) Children's Mask.

LifeVac Choking Aid Procedure Graphic

Q: How many choking incidents can the LifeVac be used for?

A: For the utmost in safety and reliability, it is best to use the LifeVac Choking Aid device once per choking incident and then replacing the unit.


Q: Has the LifeVac Choking Aid actually saved any lives?

A: Yes, in fact the first life the LifeVac saved was in 2016. The woman, a resident at a nursing care home in Wales, was choking on her lunch. An attendant cleared the woman's airway with one press-and-pull of the LifeVac. Luckily for that woman, the facility had ordered the LifeVac Choking Aid after another resident had choked to death earlier that year – and just received the device two days earlier.


Q: What's LifeVac's best feature?

A: For high-risk choking victims and those who care for them, the LifeVac Choking Aid is a peace-of-mind, in-case-of-emergency-break-glass Plan B – a fallback option when all else fails or when there is no other option – and much more than just a Hail Mary play because it has been proven to work.


MaxiAids has been serving the deaf, the hard of hearing, the blind, those with low vision, as well as seniors, and the disabled for the past 30 years as a leader in providing assistive devices for independent living.

Click here to order the LifeVac Choking Aid.


17 April, 2017

Iron Deficiency Anemia Linked to Hearing Loss, New Research Says

A link has been discovered between iron deficiency anemia (IDA) and hearing loss, according to a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association's JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, "Association of Iron Deficiency Anemia With Hearing Loss in US Adults." 

Hard of Hearing

Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine’s Kathleen M. Schieffer and her research team studied 305,339 men and women with ages ranging from 21 to 90 years old and discovered a positive association between iron deficiency anemia and both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. Out of those studied, 4,807 had hearing loss and 2,274 had iron deficiency anemia.

The study concluded that iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is tied to hearing loss, with the authors stating, "An association exists between IDA in adults and hearing loss. The next steps are to better understand this correlation and whether promptly diagnosing and treating IDA may positively affect the overall health status of adults with hearing loss.

Iron Deficiency Anemia

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia

"Many of the signs and symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia apply to all types of anemia.

"The most common symptom of all types of anemia is fatigue (tiredness). Fatigue occurs because your body doesn't have enough red blood cells to carry oxygen to its many parts.

"Also, the red blood cells your body makes have less hemoglobin than normal. Hemoglobin is an iron-rich protein in red blood cells. It helps red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.

"Anemia also can cause shortness of breath, dizziness, headache, coldness in your hands and feet, pale skin, chest pain, weakness, and fatigue (tiredness).

"Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency may include brittle nails, swelling or soreness of the tongue, cracks in the sides of the mouth, an enlarged spleen, and frequent infections."

U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services: National Institutes of Health (NIH)


NOTE: Resist the urge to self-diagnose. If you suspect you are anemic, please visit your doctor for a professional opinion.

Anemia and Hearing Loss Research

The risk for sensorineural hearing loss, which affects nerves in the inner ear, was 82 percent higher in those who are iron deficient. There was a risk, though a lesser risk, for those with conductive hearing loss, which affects problems in the ear canal, eardrum or bones of the middle ear. Out of the over 305,000 people studied, 132,551 were men with an average age of 50 years old. The study found a 1.6 percent prevalence of combined hearing loss and 0.7 percent prevalence of anemia.

Further research is needed to conclude whether screening and treatment for anemia amongst adults can impact the risk of hearing loss for future hearing care patients. The reason this research is so valuable is because having a better understanding of iron deficiency anemia’s link to hearing loss can help with early detection to allow time for appropriate treatment.


MaxiAids has been serving the deaf, the hard of hearing, the blind, those with low vision, as well as seniors, and the disabled for the past 30 years as a leader in providing assistive devices for independent living. Browse our Deaf and Hard of Hearing Store 



03 April, 2017

Deaf American Honored by United States Postal Service

Robert Panara Commemorative Distinguished American Postage Stamp  

Have you heard of Robert Panara?

He was a respected teacher, poet, and pioneer in the field of Deaf Studies. Panara became deaf at the age of ten when spinal meningitis took his hearing away.

Robert Panara Postage Stamp

Panara had a distinguished education, graduating "from Gallaudet College, the first deaf college to be allowed to grant degrees, and then became the first deaf person to receive a master’s degree in English from New York University." [The Economist]

Born July 8, 1920 in the Bronx, he passed away on July 20, 2014 at the age of 94.

His life was long and deep with significance for the deaf community.


"Blindness cuts people off from things,

but deafness cuts people off from people."

– Helen Keller


Helen Keller, who was blind and deaf, once said, "Blindness cuts people off from things, but deafness cuts people off from people." As we all know, her life of writing and communicating with people – on her own terms – eloquently disproved that saying. However, it poignantly expresses the truth of the significant challenge and potential isolation uniquely faced by the deaf.

To say that Robert Panara was an advocate for the education and inclusion of the deaf so that they would not be cut off from people would be to understate his contribution and lasting legacy to that community.

A Shakespearean scholar, Panara developed some of the first plays for deaf actors and audiences. He was instrumental in founding the National Theater of the Deaf in connection with the American School for the Deaf.

For almost twenty years, Panara taught English and Drama at his alma mater, Gallaudet. He also taught at a private nonprofit school, the New York School for the Deaf, known as Fanwood.

In addition, he helped found the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID), at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Teaching literature at NTID, he was the first deaf professor in higher education in America. These are just the headlines, the merest whispers, of his contributions to deaf culture and education.

As well as being a noted educator, Panara was a well-known writer in his day. In 1946, he published his most famous poem, "On His Deafness."

It begins in a style reminiscent of John Milton's famous poem, "On His Blindness":

"My ears are deaf, and yet I seem to hear
Sweet nature’s music and the songs of man
For I have learned from Fancy’s artisan
How written words can thrill the inner ear
Just as they move the heart, and so for me
They also seem to ring out loud and free.

It concludes with an amazing Keatsian sensuality, arousing in the mind's ear sounds normally denied the ears of the deaf -- but able to be heard clear as crystal by those who read it enthralled by the magic of its words and evocative imagery.

"In silent study I have learned to tell
Each secret shade of meaning and to hear
A magic harmony, at once sincere,
That somehow notes the tinkle of a bell,
The cooing of a dove, the swish of leaves,
The raindrop's pitter-patter on the eaves,
The lover's sigh, the thrumming of guitar,
And, if I choose, the rustle of a star!

USPS Robert Panera Distinguished American Stamp Invitation

To its credit, the United States Postal Service has chosen to honor Robert Panara as its 16th stamp in the Distinguished American series.

This stamp's issuance coincides with the 200th anniversary of the founding in 1817 of the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut, which marked the beginning of formal education for deaf students in America.

The United States Postal Service has extended a cordial invitation to the public to attend the First-Day-of-Issue Dedication Ceremony being held in Rochester to commemorate the Robert Panara Two Ounce Stamp. Details are below.


Robert Panara Stamp Dedication


Tuesday, April 11, 2017 10:00 a.m. EST


Robert F. Panara Theatre
Rochester Institute of Technology
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Lyndon Baines Johnson Building
52 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, NY 14623-5604



If you're interested, the stamp is now available for pre-order on the USPS website.

Robert Panara Two Ounce Stamp

Robert Panara

Two-Ounce 70¢ | Sheet of 20

The 16th stamp in the Distinguished Americans series honors Robert Panara (1920-2014), an influential teacher and a pioneer in the field of Deaf Studies. The stamp features a photograph of Panara taken in 2009. He is shown signing the word “respect.”

During his forty-year teaching career, Robert Panara inspired generations of students with his powerful use of American Sign Language to convey Shakespeare and other works of literature. His contributions to the field of Deaf Studies included influential articles he wrote in the 1970s on deaf American writers and deaf characters in modern literature, and the book Great Deaf Americans (1983).

Panara taught at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., for nearly twenty years beginning in 1948, and at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (part of the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York State) from its founding in 1967 to 1987. He was one of the founders, in 1967, of the groundbreaking National Theatre of the Deaf in Waterford, Connecticut, which provided deaf actors with a venue for thriving in the performing arts.

Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp with an existing photograph by Mark Benjamin, official photographer of the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

The words "Two Ounce" on this stamp indicate its usage value. Like a Forever® stamp, this stamp will always be valid for the rate printed on it.

Made in the USA.

Issue Date: April 11, 2017

Art Director/Designer: Ethel Kessler

SKU: 114004

#PanaraForever #DeafEducation


12 February, 2017

How To Survive the 2017 Flu Season

Here's What You Need to Know to Survive Flu Season

This year's flu season is still going strong. 

As reported today by Dr. Tara Narula on CBS This Morning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has indicated:

  1. The flu virus is widespread in 43 states.
  2. There are approximately 14,000 new flu cases a week.
  3. This year's flu is mostly from the more severe H3N2 strain.

Influenza Flu Virus

FEBRUARY 13, 2017, 7:16 AM| The number of flu cases is surging across the country. The latest figures from the CDC show the virus is "widespread" in 43 states. There are 14,000 new cases a week, and at least 20 children have reportedly died from the virus since late 2016. Dr. Tara Narula joins "CBS This Morning" to discuss the threat.

3 Steps to Help You Beat the Flu

1) It's Not Too Late To Get A Flu Shot!

The CDC states, "...seasonal flu activity can begin as early as October and continue to occur as late as May. Flu activity most commonly peaks in the United States between December and March."    

Last year "...influenza activity peaked in mid-March, 2016..." 

"CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease." 

Flu Shot

People at High Risk for Developing Flu-Related Complications

  • Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old
  • Adults 65 years of age and older
  • Pregnant women (and women up to two weeks postpartum)
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • Also, American Indians and Alaskan Natives seem to be at higher risk of flu complications
  • People who have medical conditions including:

Asthma; Neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions [including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability (mental retardation), moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury]; Chronic lung disease (such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD] and cystic fibrosis); Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease); Blood disorders (such as sickle cell disease); Endocrine disorders (such as diabetes mellitus); Kidney disorders; Liver disorders; Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders); Weakened immune system due to disease or medication (such as people with HIV or AIDS, or cancer, or those on chronic steroids); People younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy; People with extreme obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or more). 

Hand Sanitizer Disinfectant Hygiene

2) Employ Good Health Habits To Help Stop Germs

CDC Recommendations:

1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.

2. Stay home when you are sick.

This will help prevent spreading your illness to others.

3. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

It may prevent those around you from getting sick.

4. Clean your hands.

Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.

If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

5. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.

Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

6. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at home, work or school, especially when someone is ill.

Routinely use disposable disinfectant wipes to clean frequently touched objects and surfaces, including doorknobs, keyboards, and phones, to help remove germs.

7. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.


3) If You Do Get The Flu – Go See Your Doctor Promptly!

What Are the Symptoms for Influenza (also known as the Flu)?

Flu Symptoms Runny Nose

People who have the flu often have some or all of these symptoms which usually come on suddenly:

  • Fever* or feeling feverish and getting the chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue (tiredness)

Some people may have vomiting and diarrhea, though this is more common in children than adults.

* It's important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever. 


People at high risk of serious flu complications (such as children younger than 5 years, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, people with certain medical conditions, and residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities) and people who are very sick with flu (such as those hospitalized because of flu) should get treatment with antiviral drugs as early as possible after illness begins.

Treatment with antivirals works best when begun within 48 hours of getting sick, but can still be beneficial when given later in the course of illness. Antiviral drugs are effective across all age and risk groups.

There are three FDA-approved influenza antiviral drugs recommended by the CDC this season to treat influenza:

  • oseltamivir (available as a generic version or under the trade name Tamiflu®)
  • zanamivir (trade name Relenza®)
  • peramivir (trade name Rapivab®)

MaxiAids wishes good health to all. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Remember, health is the greatest treasure of all. 


06 February, 2017

Prisms May Be the Light at the End of "Tunnel Vision"

Research Solutions for Peripheral Field Loss (PFL) of Vision


Prisms are a fascinating scientific invention with almost magical properties which most people find amazing.


Because an optical prism, made of transparent glass or plastic, refracts light rays resulting in dispersion of its component colors into that gorgeous "ROY G BIV" (Red-Orange-Yellow-Green-Blue-Indigo-Violet) spectrum which we call a rainbow.

Prism Rainbow

However, as with most technological tools, there are many applications for prisms. In corrective lenses, a prism displaces images off axis, causing the image to be moved in such a way so as to allow it to be seen by those with certain vision impairments.

For example, prism lenses can correct some instances when a person has a misalignment of their two eyes relative to each other that results in binocular diplopia ("double vision"), also called "crossed eyes" or "cross-eyed."

In recent low-vision research news, it was reported that scientists designed new prism-based eyewear to help patients suffering from peripheral vision loss ("tunnel vision") avoid collisions with other pedestrians.

Some medical conditions which cause Peripheral Field Loss (PFL) of vision still retain good central visual acuity. On other words, they can still see what's in the center of their field of vision. Prism-based eyewear can serve as a "visual field expansion device" by creating artificial peripheral islands of vision at an angle making them visible to the unaffected central field of vision of the eye.

(Plain English Translation: Prism eyeglasses can redirect previously unseen peripheral images to the center of vision where they can be seen.)

Tunnel Vision

In a number of cases, optic nerve damage from glaucoma may cause someone to lose their peripheral vision. However, because there are so many other diseases and accidents that can result in tunnel vision, a comprehensive eye exam by a qualified eye doctor is absolutely necessary.

Among the risks associated with peripheral vision loss are pedestrian collisions while walking. The new prism-based eyeglasses are meant to eliminate the risk of collision with other people in crowded locations such as malls, bus terminals or city streets. The study, "The risk of pedestrian collisions with peripheral visual field loss," was published in the Journal of Vision involving 42 retinitis pigmentosa patients with low vision.

Eye Examination

Vision researchers set out to find out which direction these collisions usually occur, which led them to discover that collisions typically occur at a 45-degree angle. The study’s lead author, Eli Peli, OD, professor of ophthalmology with the Schepens Eye Research Institute, at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Harvard Medical School, said, "This means that any visual-field expanding device will be most effective if it can cover that angle."

Unfortunately, at present, commercial prisms are limited to 30-degrees. The research scientists made prototypes of high-power prism eyewear closer to the desired 45-degree mark to utilize the viewer's sighted area.

Patients who will require these glasses to expand peripheral vision, including those with retinitis pigmentosa (RP), Usher syndrome, choroideremia, advanced glaucoma, hemianopia, and similar diseases affecting eyesight, usually have good central vision.

The vision scientists, who conducted this study, used prism-based eyewear they developed, based on a mathematical model they created, that determined the risk of collision for those they studied. Experimentally, this new eyeglass design manipulated light to hit areas of the eye that still provide sight, thereby helping those experiencing peripheral visual field loss avoid collisions with other people while walking.

MaxiAids has been serving those with low vision and the blind, as well as seniors, the deaf, the hard of hearing, and the disabled for the past 30 years as a leader in providing assistive devices for independent living. Browse our Low Vision Store.