CCTV and Electronic Magnifiers
Last updated: November 2022
When last we met I told you I was going to discuss electronic magnification. Yippee! Toys!
Closed-circuit television magnifier
Being a VIP - that is a visually impaired person for those of you that are new - means “playing” with a lot of toys. I have a portable, closed-circuit television magnifier from Low Vision International and Eschebach but that does not mean that is the brand you have to look for. There are CCTV magnifiers from Clearview, da Vinci, and Enhanced Vision just to name a few. Look for one that suits your needs and your budget.
I got this one specifically because it is portable and reasonably lightweight. When I first got it, I was working two places and also doing work at home. I was not going to have a machine at every place. Although I did not pay for this machine myself - that was the state agency’s doing; thank them very much - the price tag on my CCTV magnifier was $3,500. They are a little pricey. Better to have one that travels along.
That said, if I have to replace my machine with no financial help, will I do it? In a heartbeat, my dears, in a heartbeat. It is my CCTV that, in a large part, has allowed me to get on with my life.
How do they work?
Other than its ease of transport, my machine is pretty basic. It consists of a large screen, a camera, and a tray. The tray will slide horizontally or vertically. The camera has magnifications from very little to ones that will allow you to do an in-depth study of the pores in your skin or the grain of the paper. I have never quite understood why anyone would need magnifications of that level but slightly lower magnifications than that are great for removing splinters and doing other forms of minor surgery.
The camera on my machine is on a hinge. If I am at a conference and need to see the PowerPoint, I can flip the camera around and view it all pretty easily. It is also good for looking at faces from across the room. Better to see you with, my dear.
Color contrast combinations
Another great feature of this machine is the color contrast option. Some of you folks who are just starting on this journey may not realize it but contrast is a biggie with us VIPs. Because we have deficits in this area, most CCTV magnifiers will give us the option of selecting one of a variety of color combinations to increase contrast. Perhaps you can see better with blue on yellow or yellow on black. You can experiment.
Those are the basics on CCTV magnifiers. I am rather attached to mine. It was the first thing suggested to me by the low vision tech guy and I can easily understand why.
Options to try before you buy
Not sure you want to spend the money on a CCTV magnifier? When mine broke down I was able to borrow a machine from the local public library. I was also able to get a loaner from the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services. There might very well be someplace near you that would let you try one out.
Handheld electronic magnifiers
Or, you might want to go with a handheld electronic magnifier. I have a Smartlux, again from Eschenbach. My handheld magnifier was $600. Again, I am not suggesting you buy from Eschenbach. A quick search for handheld, electronic magnifiers will show you dozens of options.
What does my electronic magnifier do?
My handheld magnifier has 5, 7, 9, and 12x magnification, it has contrast color settings. It also has a one-shot camera. If you cannot see what is on a shelf above your head, hoist your handheld magnifier and take a picture!
If you are not doing a lot of paperwork as I do, a handheld, electronic magnifier may be your better option. I use mine for “little jobs” like reading a menu or shopping. The camera option is helpful to keep you from getting your nose stuck on the frozen food or burying it in buffet choices.
So much for electronic magnifiers. On to computers!
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