“For many, the biggest fear associated with sight loss is losing the ability to read and write; to keep up with current events and to stay in touch with friends and family.”
Thankfully, assistive technology has advanced rapidly in recent years making it relatively affordable and easy to use. Most computers running Windows or Mac OS, have accessibility features built-in which will help most users. And with voice activated services like Siri and Alexa, you can just speak at the device and instruct it to do a task - such as “make an appointment next Monday at 11AM for coffee” and your smart device will do the rest.
There are several options depending on your residual vision and where you want to read. You may find you cope well with just a simple magnifier. Many magnifiers have small lights built-in which is very useful. Handheld Video Magnifiers are great if you have adequate residual vision. They magnify and enhance the contrast of text. The variable magnification means you can zoom-in to view fine detail in a family photo. There are devices that can focus on distant objects such as signs and notice boards.
There are many options for “reading” books electronically, such as an ePub which allows you to set your own font size. There an many options to listen to Audiobooks, from commercial services which are simply an online bookshop, to public libraries which have a good selection, to specialist services like Booklink library service from the Blind Foundation.
Most mobile phones also have built-in Accessibility features, as well as many software applications [Apps] which will read printed material, as well as many other challenges of daily living. There’s an App for just about everything you do in your daily life.
For iOS devices [iPones and iPads] you can search the App Store and for Android
phones its Google Play store. If you search using the keyword “accessibility” you
should find a huge number of apps. I’m sure some of them you’ll find useful.
- Seeing AI – Free OCR app for instant reading of text
- Tap Tap See – Photographs and identifies objects
- Be My Eyes – Object identification & guidance (uses volunteers to identify objects)
- Blindsquare – Navigation app, provides information on what shops, roads and points of interest are nearby and in what direction ($60)
- Booklink – Talking books from the Blind Foundation
- Wheelers ePlatform – Audiobooks through the public library
- Borrow Box – Audiobooks through the public library
- RB Digital - Magazines and newspapers through the public library
- Transit Times – provides Bus timetable information for Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch (more cities added each year) (use Transit Real Time for Hamilton)
- Color ID Free – Describes the colour of the object the camera is aimed at
- Voice Dream Reader – Accessible reading app for text, word, epub, daisy, and mp3 files as well as Bookshare ($22)
- Dolphin EasyReader – Accessible reading app (requires free Dolphin account)
- Big Keyboard – Large print white on black keyboard app (Not voiceover compatible)
- My Big Keyboard – Large print keyboard app with keys arranged in alphabetical order (Voiceover compatible)
- Speech Central – Free news and website aggregating reader app
- Audio Game Hub – A range of games for blind users
Feel free to contact us...
For general enquiries, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our administrative NZ freephone number is 0800 569 849 (0800 LOW VIZ). All members of our Executive can be contacted by using the press button options given when you call that number.