There is a wide range of technology available to help with the running of everyday life, whether in the home, at work, out shopping, reading or using computers there is a product out there to help theses tasks run more smoothly. These devices cater for people with low or no vision.
Large Print Keyboards
With letters over 4x larger than standard keyboards and high contrast keys and lettering, large print keyboards can assist people who have low vision to use a keyboard.
Video magnifiers are designed to help people who have low vision rather than being completely blind. These are an alternative product to a traditional magnifying glass.
There are three types of video magnifiers:
These devices enable those affected by low vision to continue to carry out daily tasks such as reading letters and the newspaper and allows them to maintain their independence. These products can be very expensive prices can range from £500 up to £3000.
Handheld video magnifier:
These devices are a lot smaller than the desktop magnifiers and are designed to magnify any text whether at home or out travelling. Dependent on the product they can have far or near sighted capabilities. These products too are not cheap and can range from £89 up to £2500.
Laptop Video Magnifier:
This is a low vision camera solution that can be used in the home, at work or in a school/educational environment. There are a range of colour modes available also which enable the user to find the most appropriate colour mode for them so that they can read comfortably.
Recording Devices can assist the blind and visually impaired in many ways. Rather than having to read a written note or struggle to see small text printed on a medicine bottle, recording devices can ensure whatever you need to read in a hurry or remind yourself of there is an alternative audio solution.
PenFriend Audio Labeller
This product allows you to record your own self-adhesive voice label and attach to a wide range of items in and around the home, at school and at work. It can be used to label a range of household items such as food, medicine packaging and paperwork. The Pen Friend labeller also works with washable labels enabling you to label your clothes.
Voice and Media Recorders
Create voice recordings and listen to your music and audio books on the go with this pocket-sized digital voice recorder and media player. Some recorders offer voice navigation, audible feedback and tactile buttons help you to navigate your way easily through the folders and menus. Dependant on the product you can store from 90 seconds to 2,000 hours worth of recordings on its internal memory. This type of technology could be beneficial in lectures, making shopping lists, recording personal message for blind children who are comforted by the sound of your voice and any other things a sighted person may ‘jot down’ as a reminder.
Reading machines to help those affected by low vision or blindness to continue to enjoy the experience of reading. Reading Machines utilise optical character recognition in order to accurately read out the words on printed material. These devices scan the printed reading material, whether it be a book, instruction manual, menu and then read out the text.
These products are expensive and can be used in home or an educational institution. There are two types, ones that can be directly attached to a laptop or alternatively a stand alone unit for people who do not have access to a computer.
Closed circuit television (CCTV)
CCTVs are stationary standalone devices that use cameras to magnify large format printed materials and objects. The materials are inserted into a shelf in the device, which displays the magnified images on-screen.
Text-to-speech (TTS) software
Text-to-speech software converts written text such as, text files, web pages, PDFs and emails into audio files that can play on a wide range of devices, such as computers, MP3 players, iPods and CD players.