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High-tech answers for the visually impaired



According to statistics from the National Eye Institute, the estimated number of people affected by the most common eye diseases will double by 2050. The main causes of vision loss are cataracts, age-related macular degeneration (one in ten Americans have late-onset AMD at the age of 80), diabetic retinopathy (27 percent of diabetics do not know they have it), and glaucoma. Conclusion: If you are over 60 years old, have your eyes checked every year.

Technological advances

Luckily, visually impaired people have more and more resources to remain independent – so many, in fact, that some seniors with vision loss can benefit from the services of a CVRT (Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist) , CVRTs provide guidance on using adaptive equipment, technology, and technology to help visually impaired seniors stay safe and independent in their homes.

Auxiliary Devices

Some of the leading auxiliary devices include:

Speech Tagging Systems: Electronic audio tagging systems allow the user to label items (food, household items, files). The device is used to record information on small self-adhesive labels in the user's voice. (Magnetic labels and waterproof labels are also available.) Devices typically have a recording time of 1

00 hours and some have MP3. Devices have internal memory and information can be stored on the computer.

Digital Voice Recorders: When saving notes and reminders becomes difficult, using a digital voice recorder is a convenient way to keep track of information. Several digital recorders can only be operated with buttons and acoustic notices.

iBill: D The iBill device is a helpful electronic tool that discretely reads various banknote denominations. Small and easy to use, this battery-powered device is equipped with a headphone jack for privacy reasons.

Speaking Devices: Many daily tasks are facilitated with talking devices. A talking clock or wristwatch allows the user to determine the time independently. With talking scales and fever thermometers, people can do their own health tasks without help. Level gauges and talking timers help manage meal preparation tasks. The list of talking devices continues to grow as technology continues to expand.

New technologies

Electronic zoom: The use of technology has improved the benefits of enlargement for visually impaired seniors. The electronic enlargement can be desktop (CCTV) or handheld. The user can adjust the magnification size, font and contrast. Many electronic magnifiers have read the function.

Smartphone Technology: Smartphone / tablet technology continues to grow, offering visually impaired users many opportunities for communication, identification and secure mobility. Users are given instructions to understand and use the accessibility features built into their device (magnification, language support, color / contrast / size). With this help, users can manage calendars, take notes and reminders, and use the voice recorder on their smartphones. The list of smartphone apps that benefit the visually impaired is growing. Identification apps use device cameras to read text, documents, colors, currencies, and barcodes.

Bio: Lisa Sluszka is a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (CVRT) and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS) at VISIONS Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired. VISIONS / Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired offers lessons for people of all ages, blind, to lead an independent and active life in their homes and communities. VISIONS is a non-profit agency based in NYC. Find out more about their services for the elderly here. Persons over the age of 55 can contact VISIONS at 212-625-1616 directly for information.

Note: Lisa Sluszka will hold a talk on equipment and technology at Senior Planet NYC, which will be used as part of rehab instructions (127 W. 25th Street) on Wednesday, July 31, from 1:30 to 3:00 pm. RSVP is required. E-mail rsvp@seniorplanet.org or call 646-590-0615.


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