Video magnifier, CCTV, or desktop digital magnifier – whatever you want to call this powerful tool for low vision, there is no doubt this assistive technology (AT) has helped countless numbers of individuals with low vision gain more independence in a number of tasks. (For this blog, I will refer to this AT as a video magnifier.)
The first video magnifiers appeared on scene in the 1970s. A simple camera, light, and black and white television projected an image larger and clearer than a handheld magnifier ever could. It quickly became obvious that video magnifiers would help individuals with low vision remain independent in a multitude of tasks at home, work, and school. For example, video magnifiers help individuals with low vision read print material such as books and the newspaper, see their own handwriting so they can write letters or checks, see photographs of family and friends, or see important materials, such as blueprints or instructions, for completing tasks.
As the need and popularity for video magnifiers grew, the design and sophistication of the technology did too. Larger screens, more color options, clearer cameras, guidelines for reading, and other features were added to video magnifiers to accommodate to a broader group of individuals with different low vision needs.
The most recent technology integrated into video magnifiers is Optical Character Recognition (OCR). This technology is simply amazing. OCR converts an image into a text file, which in turn is read out loud by a digitized voice. The whole process is done almost instantaneously! So now, video magnifier users can not only enlarge the document they are trying read, but they can also have the document read to them! This feature is great for people who experience eye fatigue, have a progressive vision loss, or even for individuals who are blind. Below are a few examples of video magnifiers with OCR. (Keep in mind this is not an exhaustive list. If you know of other brandss of video magnifiers with OCR, please comment below and share your find!) Take a look at the videos listed to see OCR in action!
If you would like to learn more about AT for vision feel free to contact IPAT!