What if glasses, magnifiers, or telescopes are not quite enough for me? Are there any other alternatives or solutions?
The Center for the Partially Sighted is proud of its Assistive Technology department. In our Culver City, Tarzana, and Eagle Rock locations we have an entire room dedicated to the latest and greatest in technology for those who suffer from vision impairment. This includes but is not limited to, Closed Circuit Televisions (CCTV’s), portable CCTV’s, distance/near CCTV’s, talking CCTV’s, adaptive software to help one use the computer, optical character recognition (OCR) technology, audio book players, GPS devices, and even labeling devices.
We listen to you and work with you; given your specific situation, eye condition, and goals, we try to help guide you to find the appropriate type of technology that will work for your specific needs and wants. We realize that everyone has a different level of technology they are comfortable with and we try to find solutions you can be comfortable with.
A CCTV is essentially a camera connected to a video monitor. The user puts something they want to see (i.e. a book or newspaper) on a movable tray and the camera displays a magnified image of the item of interest on the large monitor. The CCTV allows the user to magnify this document (and is capable of magnifying an image over 80x), gives the user the ability to alter and enhance the contrast of the image being viewed, and provides a wider field of view in comparison to traditional strong powered glasses and magnifiers. The CCTV has given many individuals the ability to read books and magazines, again, see photographs of family members, and even help fill out forms and sign checks. CCTV’s are available in many different formats including desktop CCTV’s, Portable CCTV’s, and Distance/Near CCTV’s.
Portable CCTV’s give the user the functionality of a CCTV in the portability of something that can fit in a purse, pocket, backpack, or sometimes a pocket. These have helped people read menus in restaurants, price tags when shopping, or class syllabi.
Distance/near CCTV’s give the user the abilities of a near CCTV but the camera can also be swiveled to point towards a distance and be zoomed in. This can be especially helpful to students who need to view the white board or PowerPoint presentations, business people attending meetings, or even just seeing who is on the other side of the room. These distance/near CCTV’s come in different varieties, ones with monitors attached or cameras that can be plugged into computer systems, using the computer monitor as the screen.
Left: an example of a Desktop CCTV; Right: an example of a Portable CCTV.
Example of distance/near CCTV with monitor
Example of distance/near CCTV with computer
There are many different solutions that one can use to use the computer again. For those who can still use their vision, screen magnification programs may be available to zoom in on the screen, enhance the contrast, magnify the mouse and cursor and can even read text on the screen aloud to the user. For the people who have more substantial vision loss, or perhaps have tunnel vision, using ones sight for computer use may not be a practical solution. Instead there are different computer screen readers in which you can learn how to control the computer via keyboard and not even need to see the screen. You can learn to still be able to send and receive e-mails, browse the internet, and write reports even if you have no vision at all.
Optical Character Reconition (OCR)
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is another amazing technology in which a user can utilize a scanner or an external camera, snap a photo or scan of a page in a book or a handout, and the software will process the text and read it aloud. OCR is available to use with a computer or is also available in a standalone device also for those not computer savvy. They have now even built OCR in conjunction with certain CCTV’s.