This past Friday, the Pollard Memorial Library hosted an open house to show of some new Low-Vision Stations that have been acquired for folks with limited vision. Besides the equipment on display inside, the New England Eye Institute’s Mobile Clinic was parked in front of the library where comprehensive eye exams were provided all day long. Inside the library, there was an impressive display of equipment that showed how various types of technology are being used to assist people with low vision in their everyday lives. I’m sure each item had a technical name, but I’ll do my best to describe them in non-technical terms. First, there was a standard computer terminal that had a monitor that could easily enlarge any portion of it AND had an automated reading capability, sort of a reverse “voice recognition software.” Here, the application would read every word appearing on the screen in a completely comprehensible way, allowing a person to acquire the information on the screen without having the ability to read it. Other equipment resembled hi-tech goose-neck lamps which, instead of casting light, snapped a picture of whatever text was placed underneath it and either displayed a greatly enlarged version of that text on a screen or spoke the text in the same manner as the other machine. Then there were pocket-sized versions of this device that would permit someone with low-vision to read labels on packages in the store, the thermostat at home, and any number of other words that we all take for granted in our everyday lives.
This new equipment was funded by the Pollard Library Foundation, the Lowell Lions’ Club and other individual donors. Also on-scene throughout the open house was Stuart Flom of AdaptiVision, Inc., the consultant retained by the library to assist in the acquisition of all of these devices. Mr. Flom’s website has a host of information about low-vision devices and related things.