Visual Assistive Impairment Devices—Tech Aids To Help Blind and Low Vision People.
As per World Health Organization there are 285 million people who are visually-impaired around the globe. Out of these, 39 million are completely blind. Visual Assistive Impairment Devices are great technological aids to help the blind recognize, read, understand, and learn. Moreover, they can ease the mobility of the blind people.
Technology and research to revamp the lives of partially sighted or blind people is an ongoing process. Undoubtedly, smartphones, tape recorders, tablets, and braille are indispensable aids for the blind for reading and recognition purposes. Adding to it, braille ebook reader, smart glasses, finger reader are other visual impairment technologies that are under progress.
The Spectrum of Visual Disability:
As per the National Eye Institute, visual impairment is a corrected vision of around 20/40 or even worse. People can have low visual impairment, legal blindness or total blindness. The differentiation is based upon the level of acuity or precision shown by the blind people.
Here’s the difference:
- Low Visual Impairment involves corrected visual acuity between the demarcation of 20/70 and 20/160. Otherwise, you can judge it by their ability to have a visual field of at most 20 degrees.
- Legally blind individuals have a corrected visual acuity in between the demarcation of 20/100 and 20/200. They have a similar range of visual field, that is, at most 20 degrees or lesser.
- Totally blind individuals have a lack of perception of light. They cannot see anything at all.
What are Visual Assistive Devices?
The technological assistive devices are those that are meant to assist individuals with disabilities. Visual assistive devices are any product system or piece of equipment that are either commercially available, modified, or customized, meant to maintain, increase, or improve the functional in-capabilities of partially-sighted or blind individuals.
Visual Impairment Devices to Help the Blind:
We understand that whether blindness was there since birth or it happened suddenly amidst your regular life, it’s challenging to be as free as a bird. Dependency is always there; but, why not depend on tech gadgets that never fail you?
Here are different assistive devices to make the blind move around and perform daily actions with ease.
1. Technological Mobility Aids:
Mobility aids or devices that utilize ultrasonic waves to alert the individual of what’s coming in his/her way when outside, are commendable. However, make sure to employ these devices for use along with a cane or service dog to be on a safe side.
- ) Ray Electronic Mobility Aid: As a supplement to your cane, it helps in the detection of obstacles that are present within the vicinity of 9.35 feet. An audio signal or vibrations are signaled to the user to alert him in time.
- ) UltraCane: It is a combination of a cane and electronic mobility to protect the blind at even head/chest level from obstructive objects. The cane constantly emits narrow beam ultrasonic waves that helps the user to detect any objects in his way. The range of detection is 1.5 meters; the vibrations guide the user about the proximity of the object and the direction of it. What could be better than walking alone without annoying any other person or consuming most of their time?
2.Technological Reading Aid:
Alot of assistive technologies or software that are developed to help the visually impaired or blind read printed material, surf through the internet, and listen to what’s going on around the world.
- ) JAWS Screen Reader: JAWS is an acronym for Job Access With Speech that is a widely-known screen reader. It provides braille output or text-to-speech output after connecting to the Windows operating system.
- ) Kurzweil Education: Blind or visually impaired individuals who use computers can use the Kurzweil Education software, which is a text-to-speech software. It can also read the scanned ‘printed’ papers. It’s commonly used at schools, universities to help the blind individuals.
- ) Refreshable Braille Displays: It’s an assistive electro-mechanical device for deafblinds or blinds to display braille characters via round-tipped pins. It can also be used to read braille texts. The device processes information on the computer and electronically controls the braille pins to aid the reading process.
There are various low vision impairment deices to make reading process easier and fun. People with retinitis pigmentosa, macular degeneration, tunnel vision and other low vision ailments can read using:
- ) Magnifiers: Illuminated or non-illuminated magnifiers are handy to make the text appear bigger. You can also opt for mounted magnifiers or magnifiers supported with a band hanging from your neck.
- ) Reading Glasses: High-powered reading glasses are used for reading small printed text. They are far stronger than normal glasses.
- ) Video Magnifiers: These are basically desktop devices that have a camera lens that is meant to magnify the images on the computer screen or video monitor. You can adjust the levels of brightness, contrast, colors, and magnification.
- ) Reading Telescopes: Both hand-held reading telescopes and others that can be mounted on the lens of your eyeglasses are used for reading clearly and without putting stress on your vision.
- ) Portable Electronic Magnifier: Similar to an iPad or tablet computer, they can magnifier any kind of reading text that appears on a LED screen.
Such visual assistive devices are used at schools to aid the blind or blinddeaf students complete their education.
All in all, it’s important that there is an adequate light to improve the readability of text for low vision individuals. Assistive devices such as smart glasses and braille ebook reader are being worked on to aid the blind with making a slight image of the objects in near vicinity. Although we cannot bring back colors in life of a blind person, we can increase the spectrum of their vision to deal with life more positively. Visual impairment assistive devices are one way to hand over the control of their life in their hands.
Share with us in the comments the kind of assistive devices have eased life of people around you?