Blind World Magazine

Technology to help the blind read.

KPVI, Idaho.
Friday, June 02, 2006.

A new device is being tested that potentially could help give sight to the blind and revolutionize how the visually impaired live their lives.

It's an experimental project called the Kurzweill National Federation of the Blind Reader. Lynn Kneip is showcasing its potential.

Lynn Kneip, NFOB Board Member: "A lot of people are amazed at what it can do, what it can read; of course it's in the testing stages, but it has remarkable affects of what I've been able to find out - reading things on the wall. It actually read a handwritten piece of paper."

It works by combing the technologies of a digital camera and a PDA, taking a photo then voice it out loud.

NFOB chapter president, Elsie Lamp loves it.

Elsie Lamp, NFOB Chapter Pres: "It would work for me even if I lose all my vision. It would work because it tells you whether the picture is in focus, whether you have the whole picture within the screen area, so it makes it very easy to use. A totally blind person would be able to use as well as those with varying degrees of blindness."

For now, she says drawbacks include bulkiness and some patience when using it, plus cost. You're looking at several thousand dollars in equipment, but the return for her could be unlimited.

"It means a lot more independence in our local community; sometimes it's embarrassing to ask who's ever with you - your partner, or friends your with, to read the menu to you. Sometimes just out of necessity we say oh we'll just take whatever and not realize that there's something you really want on the menu - you don't want somebody to go through the whole menu for you."

The reader is being tested by the National Federation of the Blind. For more information contact the Gateway Chapter at 233-5833.

End of article.

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