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 Another con is that, like all technology, they become outdated very quickly.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. 


  1. Hi! I recently made an app for android that takes a picture of a page (words) and then speaks it aloud. I wanted to do it open source (free), inspired by a Ted Talk video that stated this technology used to cost a lot.
    Now any android phone can do it, here it is I'm trying to get it out there to those who can use it:

    Also on the left of the page you will see a version that takes a picture of ANY language (but this one is more geared to travelling:)


  2. Above link has been changed, See Say Image to Speech for the Visually Impaired is now here on Google Play:

    Take Picture of Book Page, Android Reads it Aloud! See Say Image to Speech OCR.
    An app for android that takes a picture, and speaks the text aloud:) A tool for the visually impaired, or just for the curious.
    I was inspired by a Ted Talk that mentioned that not too long ago, this technology was available for around $10,000.00, for the visually impaired. Technology has come so far that I am able to write this app and release it for under five bucks :)

  3. There is also one that does page image to speech translating from any language:

  4. Further along the lines of Visual Impairment, I spent the better part of 6 months developing Object Recognition, in other words, picture of ANY object to speech. This tool works best on "things", not people, and it gets smarter each update. It's named ANDROID EYE, and it won Reviewers Choice Award, with much great positive feedback: