High and Low-Tech Basics for People New to Vision Loss
Prevention & Treatment There are many assistive devices that use the power of technology to enrich the lives of people with vision loss. Here’s an overview, from the lightweight to the heavy-duty.
Many everyday items have been adapted to make them more accessible to people with vision loss.
Low tech devices
Often digital items, for example, have incorporated speech output to make them accessible, including talking watches and clocks, thermometers, blood pressure monitors and kitchen items such as talking scales.
Often, simple solutions such as increased task lighting, introducing high-contrast colors and applying tactile markings to devices such as microwaves, dishwashers and other home appliances can greatly improve accessibility or readability for people with low vision.
“Hand-held video magnifiers are also available for spot reading small amounts of text, which can be helpful for people on the go.”
High tech devices
For people with low vision, video magnifiers can provide higher and more customized magnification than a standard magnifying glass. These come in many configurations, from larger desktop models with dedicated monitors, to smaller, more portable models that can be connected to a laptop’s screen. Hand-held video magnifiers are also available for spot reading small amounts of text, which can be helpful for people on the go.
For computer users with low vision, screen magnification software is also available which enlarges and customizes the displayed content on a computer’s screen. For those whom magnification is not helpful, full-featured screen reading software is available which speaks aloud all the content on a computer’s screen.
Additionally, Braille note-takers, standalone devices similar to a tablet and used for tasks such as word processing, web browsing and schedule management, are available. Some people prefer to use Braille displays, which provide a Braille interface to computers or smartphones.
Optical character recognition systems scan printed material and convert it to speech output. Mobile tablets and smartphones can also be accessible to people with vision loss using their built-in screen magnifiers and screen readers.