With the rapid increase in the number of visually impaired persons in
the United States, more organizations and companies are making an effort
to make printed publications available to this population. There are
three methods of enlarging print materials: enlargement of the printed
materials size, use of magnification, and use of a Close Circuit
Television (more commonly called a CCTV or Reading machine).
One of the more commonly used methods in providing written material
is large print. Large print means that the type-setting of the letters
are size 14 or greater. Although this style of modification works well
for many people, some people with a more severe vision loss cannot read
large print without further magnification. Additionally, people who
rely on reading large print materials become very limited to the vast
amount of information available to the public. This is due to the fact
that only a small number of items are available in large print because
it is more expensive for printing companies to print magazines, books,
newspapers, and other reading materials in large print.
aids such as magnifiers or magnifying reading glasses are helpful for
many and are sometimes used in conjunction with large print to help
a person read more easily and for a longer period of time. In order
for the use of magnifiers or magnifying reading glasses to be effective,
proper training is essential. Most first time users of magnifiers do
not know that the stronger the magnifier is, the smaller in diameter
the magnifying lens becomes. This is often a hard reality for visually
impaired people to face because they are usually under the impression
that they will find a large magnifier that they can place over the item
they want to read and the words will be clear enough for them to distinguish
fact most first time users do not know is that the use of a stronger
magnifier requires that they bring their eyes closer to the magnifier
to maximize the amount of letters they can see at one time under the
lens. Unfortunately, the use of magnifiers to enlarge the reading material
will not allow you to view the entire page at one time like you were
able to do prior to your vision loss. Nonetheless, learning to use a
magnifier to read is a necessary skill not only for the purpose of extending
the recreational materials you have access to, but also for the purpose
of reading important documents such as utility bills and cooking instructions
on food packages.
those individuals whose vision loss is still more severe than what a
magnifier or magnifying reading glasses can accommodate for, the use
of a CCTV (Reading machine) may be necessary. Similar to using a magnifier,
using a CCTV (Reading machine) to magnify reading materials will also
not allow you to see or read the entire page on the screen at one time.
This is because the size of the television screen does not change. The
more a person needs to enlarge the material to be read, the more room
it will take up on the television screen. Beginning CCTV (Reading machine)
users often complain of getting motion sickness. This is a normal feeling
and one that can be avoided with proper training by your instructor.
Learning to use a CCTV (Reading machine) can be more difficult than
learning to use a magnifier and it is also not as portable as a magnifier.
However, technology is continuing to progress and CCTV (Reading machine)
cameras are becoming smaller and more portable. (See the article "Helpful
tips for beginning CCTV users".)
closing, the awareness of low vision is increasing and alternatives
are available but unfortunately they cannot compensate perfectly for
the vision already lost. Learning how to use a magnifier or CCTV (Reading
machine) efficiently will not only enable you to read again and increase
your choices of reading materials, but it will also allow you to see
to write your checks and letters again.