Optelec Clear Reader Plus

May 30, 2012

The newest intuitive reading assistant for any individual with blindness or low vision, allowing the user to scan, view, magnify, save and/or listen to any printed text in a portable solution.

The Optelec ClearReader+ Advanced includes the Optelec ClearReader+ and NEW Magnification Feature Pack. The Magnification Feature Pack expands the functionality of the Optelec ClearReader+ scanning and text-to-speech reading device, and now offers electronic video magnifier and document saving capabilities. By the press of a button, low vision users can both view and/or listen to scanned or saved text instantly and simultaneously with user-friendly controls.

There is an informative video at http://www.optelec.com/en_US/new-clear-reader-advanced


Best Library in the US for Low Vision Readers

May 30, 2012

The following post is by Lauren Tappan:

For those of us with Low Vision and a love of books and libraries, check out the Brooks Free Library in Harwich, Mass. The low-vision group meets every Friday. If only our local libraries showed as much concern.

Vision Impaired Technology Assistance at the Library (VITAL):
The Library has designated computers with the following access software:

·        JAWS screen reading program

·        ZoomText magnification/reading program

·        Kurzweil 1000 scanning/reading program

·        Dolphin Guide magnification/reading program

(Our Guide program also offers voice recognition with a bridge to the Dragon Naturally speaking software program.)

·        Duxbury Braille Translation program, used with our Juliet Pro60 Braille embosser

We offer free, one-on-one instruction in the use of our access software programs to individuals with sight loss. Never used a computer before? Don’t let that stop you! We even have someone who will teach you to keyboard! We have a desktop video magnifier for use in the Library and a portable video magnifier, called Max, which can be checked out and used with your TV at home. For Braille users there is a Perkins Braille Writer and a slate & stylus. The VITAL resource area contains brochures, handouts, and catalogs of special interest to people with vision impairments. Our VITAL Center is located on the second floor of the Library, in the Reference Dept. If you’d like more information about VITAL services, training on the VITAL equipment or software, or are interested in training to be a volunteer tutor, please call the Library at (508) 430-7562 and speak to Carla Burke, our Assistive Technology Coordinator. You may also email Carla at cburke@clamsnet.org.

Check out this video from Harwich Channel 18 on our VITAL program.

For more info: http://www.brooksfreelibrary.org


AT Conference comes to NC

May 30, 2012

This post by Lauren Tappan:

The Assistive  Technology Conference is coming to North Carolina.

“Global Rehabilitation Enhanced with Assistive Technology” 

WHEN:          December 5th – 7th, 2012

WHERE:        Raleigh Convention Center

Discover the latest Assistive Technology developments.

See Device Demonstrations.

Get hands on experience with equipment.

For more Info: http://www.ncatp.org/

How to Buy a CCTV

May 29, 2012

AmazingVideoMagnifiers.com is a website that helps you buy a CCTV.

They have an ecourse listing the questions you should ask before buying. They have a quick comparison of the features in some of the stationary and portable CCTVs. They have an online catalog of some of the myriad manufacturers.

It may not show State of the Art devices, but this is a good first step before making this expensive purchase.

For more Info: http://www.amazingvideomagnifiers.com/

Possible Treatment for Macular Degeneration

May 28, 2012

There is finally hope on the horizon for macular atrophy due to dry macular degeneration. A pharmaceutical group named Acucela is currently in clinical trials with a drug coined ACU-4429 which is designed to be taken daily to limit the atrophy associated with dry macular degeneration. The drug works by blocking an isomerase that converts Vitamin A, an integral part of macular function, into a functional form. The theory is that people with macular degeneration suffer from accelerated Vitamin A processing, leaving an excess of byproducts near the macula, which become toxic and then cause retinal cells to degenerate. By slowing down the Vitamin A processing, the byproducts are lessened and atrophy is prevented.

At this point the FDA has ‘Fast-tracked’ the medication and could potentially be available as soon as 2013.

For more info: http://www.hbreyecare.com/dry-macular-degeneration-drug/


Virus linked to macular degeneration

May 28, 2012

US scientists have found that a type of herpes-virus infection of the eye is associated with age-related macular degeneration, a disease that causes blindness in the elderly.

The findings, appearing inPLoS Pathogens, indicate that human cytomegalovirus causes the production of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a signal protein that regulates the formation of new blood vessels. With the formation of these new blood vessels, retinal tissue destruction occurs, leading to the development of age-related macular degeneration and eventually, blindness.

“Prior to this work, cofactors for the development of AMD [age-related macular degeneration] included genetics, a high fat diet and smoking. Now, we are adding an infections agent as another cofactor,” said immunologist Richard D. Dix, from the Georgia State University Viral Immunology Center.

For more info: http://www.scienceagogo.com/news/20120421185312data_trunc_sys.shtml


Decisions about Low Vision Equipment

May 26, 2012

The following entry is by Gail Johnson:


Decisions, decisions, and decisions, we make them everyday. What happens when decisions get stalled on the tracks? Perhaps, my experience can help you avoid stalling.

Recently, I attended a 12 – week workshop presented by NC services for the Blind and Visually Impaired in my county. I had been a speaker for one of the group a few years ago. When this opportunity came up to participate, I was skeptical that the program was only for newly blind and V-I.  As I quickly found out, it was for me, too.  We had classes on every aspect of living with our visual problems. Not a question went unanswered by either teachers or classmates until the class on adaptive equipment.

During this class, I asked everyone questions of “what do you have”? “What should I get”? “Why do you like this one and not that one”? I must have been “hitting a button on those tracks” as a vendor answered me by saying, “there is no wrong decision, it is up to you and what is best for you. Not for anyone else. You can’t go wrong on a purchase as you can return it after a thorough work-out”. But, “there are too many choices” I said. “How do you expect to use the equipment?” the vendor said. So, began a discussion, which ended my years of searching for the perfect piece of equipment for the right price.

My decision on that day came after many, many years of looking, using on a trial basis, reading about the equipment and saving the money to buy equipment. Why now, do you ask? I finally realized there was no one size fits all or one piece for everything.  I chose two pieces of equipment.  A small portable camera based device that fits well in my hand, to magnify print when generally, I am away from home. And, a larger, lightweight portable camera on a stand which attaches to an HDTV to both magnify print as well as bring distance closer to me such as in a classroom.

Price, of course, was part of the decision making process. From the beginning of my search, I had looked at every piece so that included the high price magnifiers along with the lower priced ones. The vendor showing me tried to keep within my price expectations at this point. That is very important as one can try out the most expensive piece and be very disappointed when it is out priced a budget. I think that point is a wise salesman’s way of making a positive sale as well as helping me to find proper, useable pieces.

The best news is I am using my magnifying equipment everyday as long as I have HDTV, to enhance my reading at home, in the classroom and traveling. I feel better about making decisions as if the weight had been taken off my shoulders. The confidence I gained through this “light blub” moment of no decision is a wrong decision as it can be changed. Remember, no decision is a decision. In some ways, I wasted time looking at so many pieces of equipment over the many years of not buying. I have learned to think about three simple words as I analyze the situation.  I now focus on the HOW, WHY and WHAT before I get too far into a decision. HOW I would use the equipment, WHY I need it and WHAT price point do I need to stay with. Yes, I am an “organized” decision maker. A plus-minus delta works well for me only to a point.  WE make decisions everyday so the next time I am stuck on the tracks of a non-life threatening decision, I feel confident that I will not take many, many years to make up my mind. All I have t do is remember how much this new equipment has helped me and would have helped me over the years past.

How about you?  Are you stuck in making a decision?  Try writing down your plus and minus delta, figure out your price range before you try out equipment by looking in the magazines for blind and visually-impaired and online resources. Then, remember most decisions are not wrong and it can be returned (be sure to ask about the free return trial period). With my newly found confidence in making decisions, I am no longer stuck but free to enjoy a completed decision.

Take the opportunity to join a class for blind and visually impaired people.  Everyone can learn at any stage of his or her visual loss and especially if one’s vision has recently changed. Given the opportunity, take it.  It may be the best decision you have made in a long time. During the class, you find yourself thinking about the WHY, HOW and WHAT of making a decision.