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Ways To Enlarge Print Materials

by: Southwest Low Vision 1-888-534-4321

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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.

Vision 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 and read.

Another 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.

For 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".)

In 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.

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