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Assistive Technology for Persons with Low Vision

Over 150,000 individuals in New Jersey, including senior citizens, experience visual impairments or low vision. Individuals with low vision can have difficulties in reading normal sized print, problems in distinguishing one color from another, or experience limited central or peripheral vision.

There are a wide range of AT devices and services for individuals with vision difficulties to help with reading, writing, using a computer, or engaging in activities in their homes, including recreational activities. . Certain low vision devices may require a prescription from an optometrist to ensure the device’s optimum use.

Devices for Reading

  • Many books and magazines are available in large print through publishers. E-readers can display the text of electronic books in large print, and digital talking books can play audio versions.
  • Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) systems can show an enlarged video display of most documents. Flatbed or handheld scanners can also scan and display documents at greater magnification.
  • Magnifiers are available in a wide range of shapes, sizes and specifications, from thin plastic sheets to powerful lenses.
  • Book stands can help individuals with low vision get a closer look at books and documents without experiencing fatigue from holding a book up to his or her face for extended periods.
  • Variable lamps allow a reader with low vision to adjust the lighting to maximize readability of a document.
  • A light box provides illumination from below and can be helpful for some individuals with low vision.
  • For some individuals with low vision who need higher contrast, colored transparent overlays can help make documents more readable.

Devices for Writing

  • An illuminating pen has a light attached that lights up the writing surface. Writers with low vision that have a better view of the writing service can write more legibly.
  • Bold line paper makes the lines on ruled paper larger and easier to see, resulting in more readable handwriting.
  • Large print check registers can help people with low vision manage their finances more successfully.
  • Bold permanent ink markers can help make handwriting more legible.
  • Plastic signature guides are available in a variety of sizes to help with writing on checks or envelopes.

Devices for Using a Computer

  • Most operating systems for computers allow users to customize the way that backgrounds, menus, and other control features are displayed. Users can make the fonts on operating systems larger, utilize high contrast between backgrounds and controls, and display more readable colors.
  • Most computer monitors support different resolutions that can make the display more readable and text appear larger. Computer monitors also come in a wide array of sizes; a larger monitor may help some individuals with low vision read more easily.
  • Computer keyboards with large print can help make typing or writing e-mails easier.
  • Most internet browsers allow a user to adjust the size of text displayed on websites. However, this technique may not work on websites that have a fixed font size. Additionally, users can create a customized cascading style sheet (CSS) that they can use to display websites in a consistent font size and custom color format.
  • Magnifying software can help individuals with low vision get a closer look at their screens. Some operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows, have magnifying software built in.
  • The American Printing House for the Blind offers a specialized font called APHont, which was specifically designed to be more readable for users with low vision. The font is available for free download at the APH website at http://www.aph.org/products/aphont.html.

Devices for Daily Living

  • Various clocks and watches are available with large faces to be more readable. For individuals with more serious vision loss, a tactile watch or a talking watch may be more helpful.
  • Telephones with large buttons can make phone calls easier. Some cell phones also have larger buttons or lighted displays.
  • TV remote controls are also available with large buttons for easier use.
  • A digital scale with a large readout can help a person with low vision better manage their health.
  • Large print playing cards, and other recreational items like dominoes and board games can help people with low vision socialize with others.
  • An audio labeler uses adhesive stickers to save audio messages on items around the house. Touching a specially-designed pen to the sticker plays back the message, enabling the user to identify the item easily.
  • Barcode readers can also identify items that have a UPC bar code on them and read back information that identifies the item.
  • Sunglasses may block out certain colors or types of light.
  • Magnifying desk lamps combine a magnifier with a powerful lamp to make manual tasks easier to perform. Additionally, magnifying mirrors can help with grooming and other self-care tasks.
  • Several devices are available for people with low vision who also have diabetes, including syringe magnifiers, talking glucose meters, and insulin syringe filling devices.
  • Talking blood pressure devices and thermometers can help individuals with low vision monitor their health.

Resources

  • The New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI) can provide access to information and demonstrations of
    assistive technology. Contact CBVI at http://www.state.nj.us/humanservices/cbvi/home/index.html or call (973) 648-2324.
  • The New Jersey Foundation for the Blind (NJFB) provides programs to specifically address recent vision loss. Contact NJFB at http://www.njffb.org/ or call (973) 627-0055.

For additional information contact:

The Assistive Technology Advocacy Center (ATAC) of DRNJ

210 South Broad Street, Third Floor, Trenton, NJ 08608

For voice assistance and information, please call 1-800-922-7233.

TTY users may dial (609) 633-7106 or use the NJ Relay, 711 to reach the 800# above.

Visit us on the web at www.drnj.org/atac.

The 58 statewide Assistive Technology (AT) Programs form a national network of statewide assistive technology programs. Information contained in this brochure represents the accumulation of knowledge of this national network. This publication was made possible by Grant Number 90AG0050-01-00 from the Administration for Community Living. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Administration for Community Living.

 

Member, National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)

New Jersey's designated protection and advocacy system for people with disabilities


Disability Rights New Jersey
210 S Broad Street, 3rd Floor
Trenton, New Jersey 08608
1.800.922.7233 (in NJ only) • 1.609.292.9742 (Voice)
1.609.777.0187 (Fax) • 1.609.633.7106 (TTY)
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