The Opus is a radio manufactured by Roberts which is supplied by British Wireless for the Blind. Roberts and Wireless for the Blind have a history of collaborating in the design and modification of radios to make them more usable by visually impaired people.

The Opus offers DAB, DAB plus and FM radio, the ability to play from and record to USB memory sticks and the ability to play audio from Bluetooth enabled devices such as smart phones and tablets. It is also possible to play from devices such as MP3 players, which can be connected to the Opus using the Auxiliary 3.5mm jack socket on the back of the radio.

Accessibility

The Opus is black with yellow controls that are all on the top of the radio. This should help people who have some useful vision to find and use the controls effectively.

The large LCD display has yellow text on a black background which should offer good contrast for most users. There is a zoom button which can be used to enlarge the text on the display, increasing the screen’s accessibility for many potential users.

For those with no useful vision for reading, most features have their own dedicated buttons with large raised symbols or letters that clearly indicate the purpose of the buttons. For example, the preset buttons have the numbers 1 to 5 written on them, and there are separate buttons to select the different modes of operation i.e. Tuner, Bluetooth, USB and Auxiliary. The process of recording from USB is also accessible as the controls for Stop, Back, Forward, Play and Record are arranged the same way as the controls on a cassette recorder. Additionally, beeps clearly indicate when recording starts and stops and, when using FM, a rising and falling tone can be heard as you scan up and down the band. The volume of the tones and bleeps from the radio can be adjusted which is a nice touch.

One downside is that the radio does not have any inbuilt text to speech so if you are unable to read the display, you cannot tell which station you are on. This also means that you can’t read other useful information, such as track names or programme information, which also appears on the display.

If you only listen to a few stations, you can store five stations on the DAB radio presets and five stations on the FM presets. The process of setting these is accessible, providing you know which station you are on in the first place when storing the preset.

Overall, I think this is one of the best designed radios to come out of Wireless for the Blind and Roberts for some time, but the lack of speech output does somewhat limit accessibility.

By Graham Page, Assistive Technology Adviser