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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

February is Low Vision Awareness Month

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Lee Huffman, AccessWorld Editor-in-Chief

Low vision is a term commonly used to mean partial sight, or sight that isn't fully correctable with surgery, medications, contact lenses, or glasses.

In the United States, the foremost common causes of low vision are age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy; although, people can also be born with conditions such as albinism or optic nerve damage which can result in low vision.

Magnification devices, electronic devices, computer-access software, as well as other assistive and mainstream technologies are used to help people maximize their remaining vision or learn alternate ways to do things, such as using their sense of touch or their sense of hearing.

The American Foundation for the Blind's monthly, online, technology magazine, AccessWorld®, reports on many of these technologies that assist people with all levels of vision loss. If you or someone you know is experiencing vision loss, check out AccessWorld for the latest tech news and accessibility information on cell phones, main stream and assistive technology, personal medical devices, office equipment, e-book readers, digital audio players, and web-based technology.

Lee Huffman is AFB's Technology Information Editor and Editor-in-Chief of AccessWorld.

There are currently 2 comments

Re: February is Low Vision Awareness Month

all these devices are wonderful. but how can anyone afford them? i have diabetic retinopathy and recently whent to a low vision doctor and at the end of my appointment found out that the device that would help me. i could not afford it. so i left the doctors frustrated.

Re: February is Low Vision Awareness Month

I saw your comment, I know Lee agrees with you about the cost of the devices. We can offer you some ideas that may help address this issue, but will not solve it. Just trying to help.

There are a few thoughts to this comment:
1. There are organizations within states that specifically loan assistive technology to persons with disabilities -- each state is a little different. Typically this type of organization is under general disabilities because it addresses all disabilities. I would contact your state vocational rehabilitation agency and local community rehabilitation providers to see if they know about this type program in your state.

2. Sometimes vocational rehabilitation or a community rehabilitation provider might be willing to loan a device.

3. One of the most important things to note is that you may be able to accomplish the same tasks with a much cheaper older device. Often specialists are quick to suggest the newest device or might only have limited knowledge of devices. It may be a good idea to speak to different vendors or do research online. You may find a much cheaper version without all the bells and whistles, and more affordable.

4. I have many friends who have tried out equipment and researched it, then found the equipment on eBay, Craigslist, or via other online lists -- including consumer group list services.

5. Saving up -- I had to do this while in graduate school -- it was rough and took a long time -- I was able to purchase a device on my own. I am saving for a new magnifier right now. I had one that I loved that broke. I have some older ones that do the job, but are not as small and compact -- so, I am saving for it. Hope to be able to get it in the spring. A magnifier is not a priority for me, as I have very, very little vision -- but, nice to have that option.

6. On rare occassions, vendors are willing to loan or work out a deal to make a product more affordable, but this is rare. It is difficult for them to do this due to the margin and how often products can become out of date.

7. Look at older products, you might get a deal on them -- older versions just end up sitting there.

I hope these thoughts help -- I know they do not solve the issue.

Joe S.
AFB Staff

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