Comparison Shopping

Good evening! I am doing some comparison shopping here. Lin and I were looking at some TV magnifying glasses at the request of a reader. We found the Eschenbach ones I have for $164 and another pair for $49.

What the hey, for $49, I will order them. The truth of the matter is, I am REALLY hard on parts. My CCTV has been replaced and then repaired. My handheld reader was smashed and I had to replace it. My max TV glasses have also been replaced once. And we cannot forget the crack I have in my iPad screen. Can you say “bull in a china shop”? The day is going to come that the people repairing and replacing my stuff are not going to be so understanding. Better have a spare available.

So, the $49 max TV glasses came today. I gave them to my husband to be my “comparison shopper”. Then we compared notes.

The Eschenbach pair is the superior product. They are heavier, possibly because they had solid temple pieces. The inexpensive glasses are not quite as “solid state”. When I leaned forward the telescope part slipped and I had to readjust my focus.

That said, I can see just as well through the $49 pair as I can through the $164 pair. Nice and clear at 2.1 magnification, same as the Eschenbach ones.

Moral of the story: if you are not hard on parts, you don’t mind adjusting the wheel regularly and you do not have $164 to spend the more inexpensive pair may be for you. They are manufactured in China by Joyutoy and are available, of course, on Amazon.

Those of you who are using assistive technology and have any comments on it, please share. I would like to do more of this but there is a limit to the funds and we still have not found a multi-millionaire corporate sponsor (although we remain forever hopeful😎)

Moving right along, Lin sent me an article written by Dan Roberts, the guy who wrote The First Year: Age-related Macular Degeneration. Roberts apparently does a yearly wrap-up on the progress, medical and technical, that has been made in fighting and dealing with vision loss. I followed one of the links to Living Well with Low Vision and glanced through some of the technology.

Under text-to-speech readers was something called the Aries Smart Reader. Available from Enhanced Vision, the Smart Reader weighs under 5 pounds. The cost is $1800.

That is pretty much what I know about it. I have not seen it nor do I have a clue how well it works. For me, personally, it is going to stay in the warehouse. Two big sellers for me are portability and price. I have enough to carry and I do not have a spare $1800 to burn.

I have limited need to have text to speech capabilities at this time. When I do need them, I have my KNFB reader on my iPad. Zero additional weight and a $100 price tag. Of course, for some unbeknownst reason my KNFB ‘girl’ is Australian! No problem. The couple of Aussies I have met have been good people.

Again, I am speaking totally personally about preferences and have never laid eyes on this product. Different opinion? Let us know and we will publish it. Continue reading “Comparison Shopping”

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Can An Old Dog Learn Braille?

A reader made a suggestion I could learn Braille. At first it sounded sort of fanciful. I am 63 years old and she wants this old dog to learn new tricks! I am sure it is REALLY hard. I am sure it will take me FOREVER.

Then I thought I should practice what I preach. Turn the mind and be willing. I could at least look into it….besides, it is good for a page and I am running out of ideas. Anyone else out there willing to share? I could use a little more, wonderful help like we got from Lara, Jennifer, Rick and Andrea.

VisionAware has a page on All About Braille. They tell us Louis Braille invented the system in France in the mid-1800s. Braille ‘cells’ are made up of two columns of three rows. Each letter and symbols is made up of a pattern of one or more dots.

The letter ‘s’ is dots in the second column-first row, 1-2 and 1-3. U is 1-1, 1-3 and 2-3. E is 1-1 and 2-1. There! I spelled my name!

I probably would want to learn alphabetic Braille first. That is letter by letter Braille. There is also a form called condensed Braille in which whole words are represented by one cell of dots.

Being part of the special education system, I know a little bit about sign language for the deaf. American Sign Language is not just standard English you ‘speak’ with your hands. It is its own language with its own rules and specialized characteristics. Condensed Braille reminded me of that. It is also just one of a number of systems, just like ASL.

Problems with learning Braille as an older adult include finger sensitivity. Some people are blind because of complications of diabetes. Diabetic nerve damage may interfere with learning Braille.

Right now, I really don’t see Braille as an option for me. Not totally because it would be difficult and time consuming to learn, although those are factors. The major reason is right now I have options that work for me just fine.

I have magnification through my CCTV, reader and iPad, as well as ZoomText on my work PC’s. My computers and my phone also have options that allow me to be read to. I don’t use those options simply because they are so dang irritating! However, if I get to the point I cannot navigate around my desktop or my phone, I may be happy to have them.   [You can review how Sue uses these by going to her pages A Day in the Life and A Day in the Life: Work Day.]

And speaking of being read to, don’t forget my KNFB Reader. Then there are BARD books and the newspapers on my phone.

If I want to write as opposed to read, I do have a few touch typing skills. Speech-to-text is also available to me. Of course, we all know some of the things that happen there.

For example: I tried to speech to text the text “we find our adventures where we can” and the message my friend got was “we find our dentures where we can.” Took a while for her to stop giggling.

OK. Gotta go. I have a staff party tonight and I still have no idea what I am going to wear. Could be worse. At least I don’t have to find my teeth!

Click here for an article on how Braille is useful on the job in case Sue changes her mind. ::smile::

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A Day in the Life

Hello. Lin told me she has a number of new people in the Facebook group and that many of them may not be aware of the variety of assistive devices available to those of us with vision loss. Lin suggested I review the things I have and use in a typical day. I will do this here. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Please read with the understanding this is a cursory review only. More information is available in past pages. I will remind you how to search our website at the end of the page.
  • Also, I’m not specifically recommending anything since choosing these devices is a very personal thing based on the status of your eyes and what you want/need to do with the vision that you have.   What I use was selected for me by the counselors with Pennsylvania’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) Bureau of Blindness and  Visual Services (BBVS or BVS) so that I could continue to work.
  • We don’t get any money or services for what we include in my pages.

Here goes…. A Day in the Life

Disclaimer: I am not recommending any particular service or project, just reporting on what works for me.

One option for a low zinc AREDS2 supplement.
One option for AREDS2 supplement

Today is Sunday so I can afford to be a tad lazy. When I get up I take my medication including my low zinc AREDS2 formula vitamins. There is not much help from taking these supplements in the advanced stages but the minor disease slowing they found at other stages is better than nothing if they do occur.

one source of low vision aids

Being the dutiful granddaughter of Welshmen, I have toast and tea (with milk, of course!) for breakfast. Simple preparations do not require great accommodations. However, if I were ‘Becky Home Ecky’, I would own all sorts of nifty, kitchen gadgets from the MaxiAids catalog.

iPad Mini
iPad Mini

Since it is Sunday, I grab my iPad Mini and plop down on the couch. My iPad has been my salvation. I can check my email by using the pinch and zoom feature. I also have larger text turned on. If you go to settings – general – accessibility you can find a dozen other things that may be helpful.

 

Apple App Store
Apple App Store

My habilitation person from Blindness and Visual Services literally stuffed my iPad with apps. The ones I actually use are Magnify and Freeze and a large button calculator. It is also sort of fun to demonstrate the wonders of technology to people using the KNFB Reader. There are about a dozen others on there. Some of them are for people with much worse vision than mine at present. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst; you know.  Today I have been carrying my iPad around while I do chores. I am listening to an Agatha Christie novel on my BARD app. Hercule Poirot is such a clever, little man.

ipadtotv
iPad screen bottom left of photo, enlarged onto TV

 

I can plug my iPad into the TV so that I can see everything on its screen.  I don’t use it much since I can use the Zoom feature on the iPad. Click here to find out how I connected them.

 

 

Magnilink Zip 17 portable CCTV
Magnilink Zip 17 portable CCTV

Since I start teaching again on Wednesday I have my portable CCTV setup which is the MagniLink Zip 17 (photo on left). That way I can review my notes and actually be able to see them! If the CCTV breaks (bite my tongue!) I can always fall back on the iPad with Justand V2 (photo on the right).

 

Ott flip light
Ott flip light

I’m going to need to put together an outfit to wear but I need extra light to make sure I’ve got the color right.  I put my little Ott flip light on the “ironing board in the bedroom to help with that.  I also have an Ott floor lamp in the bedroom for extra light.  I can put the little Ott in my purse if I need extra light to find something.

Speaking of my purse, I carry my iPad Mini, Smartlux reader and MaxTV lenses in my purse.

 

We did not go out to lunch today but if we had, I have my Smartlux reader/magnifier in my purse to read menus.

 

 

Glasses to cut down on glare
NOIR glares glasses
Small monicular
small monocular

Later when I take the Beastie Baby for her walkies I will have my glare glasses on and my monocular around my neck. Since the old darling and half of the other dogs get to run off lead at the dog park, it is good to be able to see which of our friends is across the field.

 

Sue's Telescopic Glasses
Max TV Telescopic Glasses

This evening if I want to watch TV, I have my Max TV telescopic glasses. I use those to do classroom observations at my school job. The little kids like them because my eyes look huge when I wear them. They can be handy in a store when I’m trying to find something.

 

 

Those are the basic, low vision tools I use at home. If this were a workday I would also tell you about the zoom text app on my work computer. Absolutely essential if you are using a standard PC.

Hope that quick review helped. Don’t give up hope. With technology, things can be a lot better. Remember, comparatively speaking, you are losing your vision at the best time in history thus far.

If you want to review the pages where I talk about these devices, you can use the 3 ways to search our website: 1) search website; 2) categories and 3) tags/keywords. You can find these either in the right-hand column or at the bottom of the page.
Continue reading “A Day in the Life”

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Good Stuff Cheap

There is a discount store called Ollie’s.  Their motto is “good stuff cheap”. I am going to steal that motto to talk about my new toys!

standnew1The first thing I got yesterday was the Justand V2e.  It is made in China and distributed by Procomputing, Grapevine, Texas. My BVS rehabilitation therapist said they paid $120 for it.

What the Justand does is hold your iPad steady. That way you can use the free magnification app you downloaded from the App Store and turn your tablet into a magnifying reader just like a CCTV! If you are not really mobile, your Justand and iPad can also take the place of your regular reader. My reader was $600.

Justand= $120. iPad = $450. Magnification app = free. This set up is $570.00 as compared to the $3500 paid for my CCTV. Add the $600 for the reader onto that and we are talking about saving some serious money.

The second thing I got today was the KNFB Reader. The KNFB Reader is for sale in the App Store for $100. Watch out for this one when shopping. I saw something that looked the same on Amazon and the price was $1,000. Of course I may be wrong. We all know what it is like to not have the sight be what it used to be. Maybe what Amazon is selling is more than software???? Anyway, caveat emptor.  [Lin/Linda here: what Sue found on Amazon is indeed not just software, it is a phone which is only sold in Florida and costs $1,325.]

KNFB Reader is apparently made by Kurzweil, the people who were pioneering the technology in the 70s, in conjunction with the National Federation of the Blind. K and NFB; get it?

You take a picture of a page, hit a button and the machine reads to you. For some reason my iPad voice is an Aussie. Doesn’t matter. I understand her.

There are a variety of other languages available besides dialects of English. My habilitation person had a page written in English read in Turkish. Since my Turkish is, shall we say weak – OK, nonexistent – I had no clue how good the translation was. At least it sounded Turkish-ish.

The last thing I got was another app, AudioNote. The idea is to record lectures, etc., at the same time you are writing or typing notes on a page of the iPad.  I haven’t had a chance to play with it since I only received it yesterday. I will let you know if I get an opportunity to use it. The INDATA Project of Easter Seals has a how-to video on YouTube if you want to see what it looks like. Audio Note is $5 in the App Store.

I still have one more app coming. My habilitation worker thinks I need it. I have no idea what it is. I guess I will be surprised.

So, there you go. Good stuff cheap. Hope some of this is more in your price range. Continue reading “Good Stuff Cheap”

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DaVinci and Others

I saw an advertisement for the daVinci CCTV. My low vision specialist had initially suggested a daVinci but the daVinci is not portable. That would not have worked for me.

davinci-electronic-magnifier
DaVinci is a high performance desktop video magnifier (CCTV), featuring Full HD, selective text-to-speech (OCR) and a 3-in-1 camera.

davinci-woman-applying-makeup

The da Vinci has some other, cool features such as self-viewing with the camera. With up to 77x magnification that probably makes it the world’s most powerful make-up mirror.👸

 

 

It also has built-in ‘OCR’. If you have no idea what that is, you are not alone. Or at least you were not alone until about half an hour ago when I looked it up.

OCR is optical character recognition. According to Wikipedia, OCR is most widely used in scanning documents. Big Business and Big Brother use it in data mining. It is also used in – wait for it – text to speech. In other words OCR is what allows a machine to read to you. In fact, creating reading devises for the visually impaired was an impetus for the creation and improvements in OCR. Cool. Nice give and take, huh?

Of course, the beginnings were pretty modest. In 1914 (Wow! Really?), a guy named Emanuel Goldberg invented a machine that ‘read’ individual letters and converted them into Morris code. Another guy, Edmund Fournier d’Albe invented a machine that ‘read’ letters and produced corresponding musical tones.

Hang in there; just a bit more on the history lesson. The little bit more is the Kurzwell Reader. That product was unveiled in 1976. If you were working in special ed, or getting ready to work in the field as I was at that time, you may remember the Kurzwell Reader. We thought it was amazing. Unfortunately it was not portable and it was not cheap.

So fast forward to 2016. The daVinci has OCR. The KNFB Reader my habilitation person wants me to have for my iPad has OCR. In fact, a lot of things have OCR in their software. When I searched for OCR in the App Store I got dozens of hits. Some of them were expensive, like the KNFB Reader for $100, but some of them were free……and some of them translate Japanese and Lithuanian, but we are not interested in that at the moment.

Stray thought: if your iPad can read and translate multiple languages, can the universal translator a la Star Trek be close behind? Live well and prosper. Look for products that say OCR. Might help.

Continue reading “DaVinci and Others”

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Toy Story, Again

My habilitation person came yesterday. I was hoping she would have my iPad so I would be one step closer to being able to work full-time but nothing was delivered. We are hoping it will all come in next week.

My habilitation person wants to load up the iPad before she gives it to me. She wants me to have something called the KNFB Reader. The KNFB Reader is recent technology (2014) for Apple and Android phones and tablets. My habilitation person says you can take a picture of any text and the KNFB Reader will read it to you. Sounds pretty cool.

The KNFB Reader is available for purchase in the Apple App Store. Again, not a recommendation and not making a cent on any kick backs. My habilitation person wants me to have one so I am getting one. Just want to let you know it exists and is available for $100.

Since we recognize the iPad shimmies all over the place when I am trying to read with it, we also talked iPad stands. Another option for an iPad stand would be the Just Stand V2e. This one looks very much like the one we talked about before.  Only this one is only $140. You know the drill: not a recommendation. Be aware it is an option. The end.

The habilitation lady did bring sun glasses. Or, more accurately, she brought glare glasses. We spent time running in and out of the house seeing which pair she had brought would reduce glare for me the most.

I could have had two pair. One would have been for inside. Never really thought of indoor sun glasses, or glare glasses but apparently there is a lot of glare inside too. Glare is bad business when you are trying to see with AMD. Anyway, could have had two pairs but the same pair worked best both indoors and out.

The frames on the glare glasses were not too awfully bad. Some of them looked like those black things that I refuse to wear because I have no intentions of looking like I am 107. However, there were several that were acceptable to the fashion conscious. They were also big enough to fit over eye glasses.

[Sue doesn’t have the glasses yet but when she does, she’ll take a photo of them for us to see.  In the meantime, click here for examples of glasses that reduce glare indoors and out.]

The habilitation person also helped me register for BARD. Again, registration for Talking Books is required before you are accepted to BARD. The BARD folks warned they screen each application individually before they accept you. They said it would be days but I got my approval in hours.

This time I am responsible for the lack of progress. I did not make up a password yet. The weather is nice and it is time to be outside. More later! Continue reading “Toy Story, Again”

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