Saturday, October 14, 2006

New technology helps the visually impaired at home

Advances in technology are making life a little easier for those who are visually impaired. CBS 11 News took a look at a model home that's also a teaching tool.The house uses ‘audio eyes’… sounds that function almost like sight and is full of other gadgets that help lead the visually impaired to independence.The model home -- which includes a living room, dining area, kitchen, bedroom, closet and bathroom -- offers ideas on how to make daily life more manageable for those who are blind or losing their vision.

Lights are placed inside kitchen cabinets to make the contents more visible, a knife is affixed to a cutting board for safety and another device tells you when a cup is filled to capacity.Ed Brock was diagnosed with a rare eye disease six years ago. He has some vision left but says, “It’s kind of like looking through a straw. I continually break things and I can't find anything.”Brock he knows that he and Vermont, his guide dog, will have greater needs, soon.“One thing that I'll definitely need in the future is some way to figure out what's inside a can,” he says.

Technology now offers a brand new solution to that problem. It's a scanner device that can read bar codes on cans, or you can record your own voice to tell you what it is.There's also a color identifier to help the visually impaired. If you want to tell what color it is, all you have to do is point it at the object, and it says the color.Some of the items, on display at the new Center on Vision Loss, cost a thousand dollars or more… others are simple inexpensive solutions, such as color contrasting.

“Because if someone cannot see one color, they may be able to see another,” said Judy Scott, Center on Vision Loss. Brock says each way gives his quality of life a boost. “This is a great time to go blind. All these little technology-driven devices are incredible.”The model home is now open for tours and will hold its grand opening Oct. 27.The Center on Vision Loss doesn't sell the various gadgets featured, but lets visitors know where to purchase them.


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