by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady wrote:
I know a stereo plug has two rings, and a mono plug only one. That is easy to see, but, how do you know whether the device you are plugging into has a stereo or mono jack?
One manufacturer of assistive devices says in their instructions, “do not plug a stereo plug into this device, because it will damage the product” (or something like that). Not all devices come with adequate instructions (and in some cases, no instructions). Also, some instructions that are translated from another language into English can leave you scratching your head as to what they mean.
As you know, you can’t tell just by looking at a jack whether it is made for a mono or stereo plug. The easy way to tell is, if ear buds (for example) come with it, I check the plug on them, and if it is a mono plug, then the jack will almost certainly be mono as well. The same for stereo plugs and jacks.
Since you can’t tell by looking, and its easy to forget later whether the jack was mono or stereo, what I do with my assistive devices, adapters and ear buds/neckloops is put a color-coded dab of nail polish by each male plug and female jack—a blue dab means it is mono and a pink dab means it is stereo.
This way you always know which is which. When using any assistive devices and adapters, it is very simple—you plug blue to blue and pink to pink.
So when I use my PockeTalker (mono) with my stereo ear buds (which I much prefer to the ear buds that come with the PockeTalker), I have to use a stereo to mono adapter. I have a blue dab beside the PockeTalker jack and a blue dab at the male adapter plug. I have a pink dab at the female (stereo) end of the adapter, and pink a pink dab on the stereo ear bud plug. When plugging all this together, all I have to remember is “blue to blue and pink to pink” and I never have to wonder whether I’ve hooked it up correctly or not.
This is a great idea to use with elderly people and people that are not “electrically” inclined. Put all the appropriate colored dabs on the jacks and plugs of their assistive devices, and then just tell them always to match colors and they won’t have problems.