Browse any of the internet sites, like Amazon or Independent Living, Aids and you will see a vast array of devices called ‘low vision aids.’ Low vision aids can be anything from bold lined paper to the desktop CCTV (closed circuit television).
Simplified, the low vision aids can be divided into 3 basic categories:
- Objects modified for use by the visually impaired;
- Optical devices; and
- Electronic technology.
Objects Modified for Use by the Visually Impaired
Many products are made in large print versions, such as watches, clocks, TV remotes, playing cards, and phones, to name a few. These can be found almost anywhere. Another modification helpful to those with low vision are household items that give audio feedback. While an audio caller ID is familiar to most of us, there are also talking clocks, microwaves, coffee makers, and medication reminders.
Colorful and tactile labeling systems are non-optical aids which asset the visually impaired to organize their environment.
Lighting fixtures are commonplace household items. it is essential that lighting is adequate to maximize contrast to aid those with subnormal vision to function in their environment.
These are items that magnify print and objects using optical lenses. The first thing to come to mind are those lenses attached to a handle. Magnifiers can have their own stands, or attached to a lamp. Some are illuminated. They vary in size from small loupes to large page-size magnifiers.
Telescopes and binoculars are also optical magnifiers. Some are specifically made as low vision aids for driving or watching television.
Electronic aids have exploded over the last 10 years. This is a large category which includes:
- Video magnifiers;
- Desktop and Laptop computer assistive technology;
- Computer software for text-to-speech and voice recognition;
- Personal digital assistants; and
- Head mounted technology.
Electronic aids can be purchased through online distributors. Many of them are task specific, expensive, and may require some instruction and training in their use. For these reasons, consider consulting with a profession who is familiar with these products and can make recommendations for the best aids for your needs.