Podcast Player for the Visually Impaired


My name is Mike Crowe and my father has macular degeneration. He’s always led an active lifestyle, so watching him lose his vision was heart-wrenching, but that was offset by seeing him learn to use a blind cane and adapting to his new normal. The National Library Service has a wonderful free books-on-tape service (well, USB on cartridges now). Dad devours several books a month using this service. However, these tend to be older books, history, fiction, etc., and he has complained about the lack of news in this service. They do include magazines such as US News and World Report, but that can be up to 8 weeks out of date by the time he receives it. My wife Kelly and I want to bring podcasts to him and those like him, but we need your help to get it off the ground.


I love podcasts and listen to them all the time (often to the frustration of Kelly with my continual “You have to hear this…”). There are over 700,000 active podcasts with 29 million episodes. Podcasts are continually updated, and there are many daily news podcasts. In addition, the breadth of original content (true crime, science, etc.) is astounding.  We believe Dad would love podcasts and believe there are many more like him. Since I have extensive experience developing custom hardware and software, I created and tested a prototype device that would help him and others like him that are starved for audio entertainment but who don't use smartphones.


That’s always the question. While the smartphone and computer-based podcasting experiences are very advanced, these devices are generally difficult to use by the visually impaired depending on the extent of their disability. Many of them report increasing difficulties in using the sophisticated devices that are now commonplace in our society. These difficulties result in reduced technology use and adoption of new technology according to the Pew Research Center.   The visually impaired, particularly those with advanced age, face obstacles when using smartphones according to the Open Challenges of Blind People using Smartphones paper.   From personal experience with Dad, this is a real problem, and I can help with that.


Kelly and I took this idea to the South Carolina Small Business Development Center and after working with them for months, we think this could be the real deal. To move forward, we need to trademark its name (done), do a patent search, and most likely file a provisional patent. To make matters more difficult, we can’t really go into detail about how we're going to solve this until this patent is in place or we risk losing the rights to develop this into a product. 

We need to raise about $8000 to cover these legal fees and prototype development. The patent search is ~$2000, and the provisional patent will be between $4000-$5000.  We’ve spent the past year getting to this point, and we can’t go further without your help.

Please donate $100, $50, or even $10 to help launch this idea.  We are most grateful for whatever amount you can contribute.

Additionally, please share this with your social media circle.  We are not asking for large donations, so we need to reach as many people as we can with this request.


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Mike Crowe 
Clover, SC
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