Lighthouse holds demonstration at Harlem Irving Plaza
Tom Perski, senior vice president for The Chicago Lighthouse, demonstrates how video magnifiers can be used to read text at the organization's retail store in Chicago for people who are blind or visually impaired. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
The Chicago Lighthouse is hosting a holiday bazaar at its Vision Rehabilitation Center in Glenview.
More than two dozen vendors will sell a variety of items. Refreshments will be served.
Time: Noon-5 p.m.
Date: Saturday, Dec. 1
Location: 222 Waukegan Road in Glenview
For more information visit www.chicagolighthouse.org/north or call (847) 510-6200.
Updated: December 30, 2012 6:22AM
NORRIDGE — Reading and writing are becoming easier for those with visual impairments.
Stand-alone units, along with components and software compatible with computers, allow people to live more independent lives, according to Tom Perski, senior vice president of rehabilitative services at the Chicago Lighthouse for People Who are Blind or Visually Impaired.
In addition to assisting those with visual impairments, the technology helps those recovering from strokes or living with cerebral palsy to live more independent lives, he added.
“And, we’re gearing up to meet the challenges of the Baby Boomers,” said Dominic Calabrese, Lighthouse spokesman.
Staff from the non-profit organization, founded in 1906, will demonstrate the capabilities of these devices from noon-6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at Best Buy at Harlem Irving Plaza, 4104 N. Harlem Ave. in Norridge.
Perski noted the Lighthouse/Best Buy partnership allows the agency to expand its educational outreach beyond its Chicago and Glenview sites.
“This is the first time these products are being shown in a retail environment,” Perski said.
Among the options to be demonstrated are:
• A stand-alone device that reads aloud scanned material;
• A video magnifier on which one can adjust the contrast for easier viewing; and
• Another magnifier that includes a program that allows the reader to see what he writes.
“That’s so important because it helps a person pay bills, keep records,” Perski said of the last option.
Other products available for inspection will include small cameras that hook to computers, allowing users to photograph a page and turn that page into a file that can magnify the print.
“And if you get tired of reading,” Perski said, “it reads to you.”
The technologies are called “optical character recognition” and “text to speech.”
“This technology has been available only in the last couple of years,” Perski said. “Now we have scanners and other items so people have access to the latest reading materials.”
Myriad other software can be tailored to individual needs.
“If you just want to do emails or just want to read, it’s out there,” Perski said.
Other programs allow those with low vision to manipulate a computer through the use of the mouse while those who are blind use the keyboard arrows.
One can print in large type for personal use and send emails in smaller type.
“There’s also a headset that, when you speak, the words appear on the screen,” Perski noted.
In addition, smaller devices are available, such as talking clocks, watches and medical supplies, including blood pressure and glucose meters as well as thermometers.
“They’re independent living aids,” Perski said.