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Vision and hearing aids.

Vision and Reading Aids

Vision and reading aids are products designed to assist the blind and visually impaired. Auditory and speech output devices, reading machines, scanning/document reading systems, OCR systems, electronic book readers, talking equipment (clocks/watches, calculators, etc.), Braille devices, screen magnifier/enlarger, closed circuit television (CCTV) for magnifying documents, large button phones, speaker phones, large print books, and taped/audio books are all considered vision and reading assistive technology.

Hearing and Listening Aids

Hearing and listening products are designed to assist the deaf and hearing impaired. These products include assistive listening devices, hearing aids, infrared/personal amplification systems, audio/FM loop systems, FM amplification systems, TV amplifiers, TV decoders, visual signaling and alerting systems, tactile alerting systems, telephone equipment and accessories, text telephones, TDDs/TTYs devices, and adapted phones.

Vision aids at school

With more than 50,000 members, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is the largest and most influential membership organization of blind people in the United States. The NFB improves blind people's lives through advocacy, education, research, technology, and programs encouraging independence and self-confidence. It is the leading force in the blindness field today and the voice of the nation's blind.

Every year, the National Federation of the Blind awards thirty scholarships to blind high school and college students, ranging in size from $3,000 to over $10,000. This year, the scholarship winners got a special bonus along with their monetary prize: an assistive technology device that will help them in their daily activities. The device, known as the Kurzweil-National Federation of the Blind Reader, is a definite example of how people with vision disabilities can use assistive technology to improve their quality of life. The aid is revolutionizing the way blind people deal with print.

The reading machine was a gift from Ray Kurzweil, the famed inventor, who developed it along with the National Federation of the Blind. Unlike traditional desktop systems that can scan printed documents and read them to blind students, the Reader is portable. It consists of a personal digital assistant attached to a digital camera. The camera snaps a picture of the printed page, and then the text is read back in clear synthesized speech.

"Essentially, what you have here is a camera that talks," says Jim Gashel, Executive Director for Strategic Initiatives at the National Federation of the Blind. "Students can read their textbooks with it, but they can also read class handouts from their professors, flyers from student organizations, pizza coupons, whatever they need."

Charles Black, a student in technology and computer training management at the University of South Carolina, says he has found this form of assistive technology useful in his studies. "I have a professor who loves to hand out articles in class for the students to read and then discuss," Black explains. "I don't like to ask other students to read the articles to me. A lot of people have difficulty reading aloud and simultaneously understanding what they're reading, so I may be unintentionally putting someone at a disadvantage. Now, I can just snap a picture of the article, read it myself, and then discuss it along with the other students." In addition to using the machine for his class work, it proved helpful during a summer internship at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and he is confident that the machine will be very helpful in his working life. He has also done presentations on the Reader for his fellow technology students. "It's helpful to them to know that this technology is available, because now if they encounter a blind person outside of school, like on a job site where they are providing support, they will know that this machine is an option."

For more information about assistive technology for people with vision disabilities visit or call 1-877-708-1724.
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Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2007
Previous Article:Environmental aids.
Next Article:Fundamentals of funding an AAC device.

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