When someone is “legally blind,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are totally blind. It only means that their vision has dropped below some level and they can no longer drive a car. I still have some vision which allows me to generally see where I’m going when I’m walking around, but I can’t read regular size print and I can’t recognize people by their faces. I use a white cane to keep me safe and let others know that I can’t see everything they can see.
Since I still have some sight, I can use what is
called a video magnifier, or closed-circuit TV. It has a large screen and a camera that shows
anything on a piece of paper at a larger size that I can see. I have one at
work for looking at important papers and pictures of my data. I also have one
at home for paying bills and looking at photographs, and another in my kitchen
for reading recipes. Many companies sell video magnifiers; I use ones made by
My vision is not good enough to see a regular
computer screen, so I use a special computer program that makes everything on
the screen bigger. It can also change the colors around to make them easier for
me to see. I’ve been using this screen magnifier for about 10 years. It really
helps me be able to do my job. I use a screen reader called ZoomText. As well as making
everything bigger on my computer screen, it can be used to display on a second
screen at normal size. This makes it possible for me to teach lectures and give
presentations to the public. The audience sees a normal size view on the
second screen at the same time that I see a magnified view on my screen.
When the screen magnifier doesn’t do the
trick, I use a screen reader on my computer. This is a computer program that
makes the computer speak out loud anything I want to read on the screen. I use
it to read e-mail and find information for my research on the internet. The screen reader will also read everything I
type, so I use it to write reports and e-mail. In fact, I’m using it to write
these words right now! There are several screen readers availableI use Jaws
for Windows by Freedom Scientific. These screen readers are also used by people
who have no sight at all. They have really opened up the whole world of
computers and the internet to visually impaired and blind people like myself.
Another tool I just started using is one that
combines a video magnifier and a screen reader. It consists of a small portable
camera and some computer software. The camera takes a picture of anything I put
under it, and a few seconds later, the text or pictures appear on my computer
screen and a voice begins to read it right away. It’s called Zoom-Ex by ABISee,
American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
There are many other tools that are used by blind people to do their jobs and have fun. You can find out more by visiting the American Foundation for the Blind’s Technology web page at the American Foundation for the Blind.
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