Monday 14 May 2012

Vision Loss due to a Brain Tumour - 3. Pros & Cons of Assistive Equipment

Hi this is another episode relating to my student in year 11 secondary school. Mohammed, you recall, had a brain tumour and is registered blind as a result. The impact on a sighted young person of losing their vision is very different in many ways to someone who has grown up with a sight loss. There are all the visual memories for instance that he or she can draw upon, which is a major advantage when navigating through the environment. Mohammed is really a delight to work with. He is so positive and enthusiastic about using any bits of equipment that I bring in. And he is really keen to test drive hardware and software. In this short video Mohammed talks about the pros and cons of assistive technology – as I would call it – but you and he might just call it ‘gadgetry’. He now has a range of equipment from an ipad to a MYReader2 ‘CCTV’.

Equipment is useful but not the whole answer. It can help a person become independent but there is no one size fits all solution to a visual impairment. However that said I am excited by the new 'gadgets' that are being developed. The main con is their cost; they can often be highly over-priced for the average user and fortunately for Mohammed the education authority is still able to fund much of his equipment. Another con is that, like all technology, they become outdated very quickly. However this is where software has strengths, since it can be easily updated. 

A young person like Mohammed takes to equipment so readily I think because it really does make a difference. I was delighted how useful the MaxTV television specs were. Mohammed asked me early on if there was something to make the TV more accessible. These specs really do the job. He can now watch football on the TV without having to get close and block the screen for others. It may be useful in future blogs to focus on particular devices and review their pros and cons. So watch this space and add your comments as always. 

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