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Age, Acuity, & Assistive Devices: Choosing What's Right for You

With age often comes the wisdom to understand the primary importance of our need to stay connected to family, friends, and the larger world even as our faculties begin to fail us, including the possible loss of our sight from glaucoma. Assistive devices can help us to stay connected.

I'm 66 years old and I've had glaucoma since I was born. I've been totally blind in my left eye since my congenital glaucoma was discovered at age five. The visual acuity in my right eye was 20/30 at its best in my youth and has worsened with age to my current acuity of 20/70. Thus, for my entire life, I have been an eager advocate for assistive devices to help me see, read and write.

In my first grade sight-saving class in 1952, I learned to use a manual typewriter. In 1975 I learned to use a primitive single- use electronic word processing machine. In 1989 my world opened up with the purchase of my first Macintosh personal computer.

My technology assistance got even better on June 29, 2007, when I bought my first full-fledged computer that could fit in my pocket and be used anywhere and that could also make phone calls: the iPhone smartphone. In 2011, I added my first full-sized iPad.

In June, 2013, I bought an iPad Mini for my wife who has perfect vision which I'm using to write this article via its speech transcription software and its virtual keyboard. In July, 2013, I added the Kindle Paperwhite e-Reader single-use device so that I could read my books while in broad daylight at the beach.

These devices help me to stay connected with friends and family, and stay productive and entertained. Now that you know my story, I hope it will inspire you to discover assistive technology devices that will help you cope with your own seeing, reading, writing, and phoning needs.

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Article by Paul Otterness. Paul wrote about the Apple iPad in the January 2014 issue of Gleams, and the iPhone (High Tech for Low Vision) and accessibility features of Mac computers in Volume 27 of Gleams. Questions and comments welcome - Email Paul Otterness

Last reviewed on October 29, 2017

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