Globally, over 2.2 billion people have some form of vision impairment, whether near or distance. In the United States, more than 7 million people are living with uncorrectable vision loss, including over 1 million Americans who are blind.
A 2016 study supported by the National Eye Institute reported the number of people living with visual impairments in the United States will double by 2050. This includes several eye diseases and impairment issues, like:
- Age-related macular degeneration
- Diabetic retinopathy
The eye diseases listed above are the leading causes of global vision impairment, including uncorrected refractive errors.
Impact on mental health
Living with a visual impairment can be especially difficult for those with low vision or visual impairment with age. According to the CDC, “Approximately 12 million people 40 years and over in the United States have vision impairment.”
And for some experiencing this, it can take a toll on mental health.
“Loss of vision can lead to feelings of depression, anxiety, and loss of independence” (Living Well with Low Vision)
With visual impairment being common in our society, it’s important to make accommodations, and one way to do that is with talking devices. Thanks to technology, many tools can make everyday tasks more accessible for those with a visual impairment.
“Besides allowing us to carry out routine tasks at work and school, assistive technology also enables people with visual impairments to be more independent at home,” says an article in The Chicago Lighthouse. “We can now read the mail, listen to audiobooks, get step-by-step walking directions to unfamiliar places, record important information, and so much more with special standalone devices designed for people with no or low vision.”
Products to assist
Here is a list of assistive technology products that can help those with visual impairments develop a deeper sense of independence.
A great tool for those living with low vision, color blindness, or blindness, the Talking Color Detector can tell the difference between colors across a variety of surfaces, including paper, cloth, wood, plastic, and more. It then uses voice technology to let the user know the color.
iBill Money makes transactions more accessible. The device assists low-vision users in identifying United States paper money from $1-100. The device announces the results verbally, using a tone, or by vibration (which can also be helpful for those living with hearing loss or deafness).
This portable pen scans and translates more than 40 languages. The Scanmaker Air Pen quickly scans 3,000 characters per minute and creates summaries. The words scan directly into any computer application or mobile app. The Scanmarker app reads text back in real-time while scanning, helping with memorization and reading comprehension, and can be useful for those with dyslexia or other reading difficulties
This device is an easy-to-use medical labeling tool. It records, stores, and plays back personalized voice messages about the medication giving audible guidance that can be helpful for those with low vision, including seniors with Dementia.
Designed to be used in addition to traditional canes, this high-tech mobility aid helps blind and visually impaired users by providing a handheld, lightweight, and compact supplement to traditional canes for the blind. The conveniently compact device is very sensitive and senses obstacles. It then alerts the user through audible or vibrating signals (or both.)
Vispero is the world's leading assistive technology provider for the visually impaired. They offer a range of products and services to help people with visual impairments, including screen readers, magnifiers, and braille displays. Vispero and TPGi have collaborated to make JAWS, the most popular screen reader in the world, available in kiosks and other self-service devices. By using JAWS, people who are blind or have low vision can perform tasks such as ordering at a quick-service restaurant or café with increased independence.
Talking devices, such as screen readers and speech output systems, can help people with visual impairments develop and maintain a sense of independence. These devices can read screen text and translate web pages into plain text, allowing people who are blind or have low vision to access digital content. Refreshable braille displays, special equipment, earphones, and voice assistants can also be used to improve accessibility and reduce distractions for the user. By using these devices, people with visual impairments can enjoy a more accessible lifestyle and increased independence when performing tasks such as ordering at a quick-service restaurant or café.