Monday, December 04, 2023
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A Column On Assistive & 'Boomer' Friendly Technology


When I was 30 years old the warranty on my body ran out. Systems started failing and tech support wasn't a whole lot of help. Re-booting wasn't an option and calls to the manufacturer.... Well let's just say the‘answers' are still a point of discussion. It's not like it was the‘blue screen of death' or anything, but it is chronic... (Multiple Sclerosis). It has caused me to have a different perspective on most things because where I sit.... is in a wheelchair.

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Are Your Arms Getting Shorter?

The Basics

Like many phones this 5.8 GHz model has caller ID, speed dialing and a digital answering machine.  What makes it different is what caught my attention.

uniden_cezai998.jpgThe CEZAI998 is a 2-phone single line system consisting of a base unit with a wired handset and a second wireless handset.

The base unit includes the digital answering machine with an adjustable (hi/low/off) red LED that flashes during incoming calls and when a new message is received.

You can set an audible beep to indicate a new message. It also features a speakerphone, oversized buttons and large print on the LCD screen.

The wireless handset also has large buttons, a 3 line LCD with large print and a red LED that flashes to indicate an incoming call.

Added Extras

The base unit incorporates a text to speech CID (Caller ID) Announceor that tells you who is calling, saving you from the frantic search for your glasses.  I turn the volume up so I can hear who it is from another room. Last names and spellings being what they are, the system takes its best guess. Pronunciation of the name is sometimes invaluable just for the comic relief. 

The Caller ID on Call Waiting (CIDCW) also displays the name and number but is polite enough not to announce it while you are on speaking on another call. Unfortunately, the handset doesn’t speak to me.

Help is on the Way

The base unit has a built in instruction feature that talks you through setting up all the phones features. The phone is trilingual (wish I was) offering English, French or Spanish, so using this feature to guide you through the menus is accessible to most of the population.

I spent a few minutes listening to the little person in the box explain how to change the date, time, ringer, call announce, brightness and answering machine set up with simple ‘push this next’ instructions. This is invaluable not only for those who are visually or otherwise impaired, but also for the rest of us that never quite learned how to set the time on the VCR!

The extra large keypad on the base and handset are appreciated and relieve the problems of dexterity and touch. Both the base and wireless handset have an emergency 911 key in the form of a large red cross. Very helpful in those stress filled moments that require that kind of call.

Special features geared for the hearing impaired include its compatibility with hearing aids, amplified earpiece with volume control and the visual ringer LED that will flash even when ringer volume is set to off.

Listening to messages on the answering machine can be done on the base or from a remote location but unfortunately, not from the wireless handset.

Uniden has incorporated numerous features that increase the usability of the phone for many of us. I appreciate the effort and offer here a few suggestions for the next iteration:

    • Ability to save and edit caller ID info
    • Add speakerphone to the wireless handset
    • Add ability to retrieve messages from the handset

If you are looking for a truly useful gift for that ‘special' someone on your holiday list, the Uniden CEZAI998 will ring your bell (or at least you'll see the flashing LED).

The CEZAI998 retails for $89.99.

Lee Coty
Contributing Editor
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