To make it easier for people in regional areas to access the latest low vision technologies, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT in conjunction with Quantum RLV is running a series of free expos across northern NSW, including Armidale.
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Regional Manager, Jeremy Hill, said it was important that people with low vision sought help early to maintain independence and reduce the risk of accidents, but distance was often a deterrent.
The expos will offer visitors the opportunity to test drive low vision aids and equipment designed to enhance independence, from the leading companies in this sector.
“About one in seven Australians over the age of 50 has some evidence of macular degeneration so it's important to let the community know there is equipment that can make writing brighter, bolder and easier to read,” Mr Hill said.
A range of equipment to enable people with vision impairment to read their favourite book, the newspaper or do crossword puzzles will be showcased.
“Users of this technology are delighted that they can see photos of their grandchildren and families again,” he said.
“Some of the equipment can be used in the home and other technologies are portable and enable the user to read price tags, signs and labels in the shops.”
This year, Quantum RLV is excited to launch their latest technology, OrCam MyEye, at the expos.
OrCam MyEye is an intuitive wearable device with a smart camera that clips onto a regular spectacle frame. It is designed to assist anyone that struggles to read, recognise faces or objects ‐ particularly people who are blind or vision impaired.
“Just 10 years ago this product would have sounded like science fiction, but today it is a reality. We have people from 16 right through to 95 years of age who have found that OrCam is simple to use, and that it really works, opening up their world of reading again," Quantum RLV CEO, Tim Connell said.
Other aids on display will include hand-held and desktop electronic magnifiers to help with reading, lighting options for craft work, text-to-speech devices, digital audio books, screen reading software and Braille keyboards.
Guide Dogs NSW/ACT will also display a variety of aids, including long canes and electronic devices like Miniguides, which are handheld obstacle detectors that work like a reversing sensor on a car, that can help people with low vision to be safe when getting around and prevent falls.
Local orientation and mobility specialists from the organisation will be on hand to provide information about the free services offered by Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.
The number of people with some evidence of macular degeneration will increase to 1.7 million by 2030, in the absence of effective prevention and treatment measures.
“Low vision increases the risks of falls, accidents and depression and the prevalence of vision loss trebles with each decade over the age of 40,” Mr Hill said.
Each year, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT’s highly trained instructors work with more than 4,000 people of all ages to help them achieve their mobility goals.
Programs are tailored to meet the lifestyle needs of each individual, and most training is delivered locally, in the person’s home, community or work environment.