For many American’s, one of the most frustrating aspects of aging is loss of vision. Known as low vision, this type of vision loss makes simple everyday tasks difficult or impossible. From driving at night to reading or even recognizing faces, low vision can mean an end to independence for many. For those who are coping with low vision, the solution is to find ways to work around this vision loss. Restricting driving to daylight hours and using magnifying lenses, are a few ways that people suffering from low vision can still cope with daily life, but what about reading?
It is estimated that close to 3 million American’s are coping with low vision. For many of these people, one of the most frustrating loses is the ability to see clearly enough to read. Millions of American’s both young and old enjoy the escape a good book offers. Thanks to technology, those low vision sufferers who enjoy reading can now do so once again.
Developers have long been working on an app which will help tablet users be able to once again enjoy the latest novels and even the classics however, the one which has made the biggest headlines thus far is called Spotlight Text. Receiving acknowledgment from a number of specialists around the country as well as the American Academy of Ophthalmology, this app provides low vision sufferers with access to over 300,000 titles on their iPad via Bookshare.
Bookshare is the world’s largest accessible online library for people with print disabilities that users can sign up for. Accessible online at bookshare.org, it was created only for those with disabilities and operates under an exception to U.S. copyright law which allows these books to be made available to those who have qualifying disabilities. Readers can create an online account which will then give them access to this massive online library. To read the books online, users can use Bookshare’s free Bookshare Web Reader on their computer however, this web reader is not available on the iPad. This is where Spotlight Text comes in.
Spotlight Text is simply a software app for the iPad which makes this Bookshare library accessible to reader. With an ever growing list of titles, Spotlight Text, unlike others, caters to the user and makes the experience more personalized. App users have the benefit with Spotlight Text, to choose the reading mode which best meets their particular needs.
How it works:
Rather than just “blowing up” text, Spotlight Text has a variety of reading modes which can adjust for a variety of types of vision loss including the effects of macular degeneration. For those suffering from macular degeneration, vision loss is often restricted to the central vision. With this type of vision loss, no amount of enlargement will allow the user to see. By offering text in a “streaming” format, Spotlight Text can arrange text in a singular line, and then allow that text to scroll across the screen from right to left at the readers pace. This scrolling will then allow the viewer to read using their peripheral vision rather than their central vision. Other modes allow the reader to adapt to other types of vision loss as well. For those with complete blindness, Spotlight Text even integrates with Apple’s voice-over feature.
Until recently, this app cost upwards of $30. However, the cost is coming down and there is even a “free” version of the app which allows the reader access to a small library of books.
How to get it:
Spotlight Text is not available on iphones, only on an ipad. To get Spotlight Text you must:
- First have an iPad and an iTunes account
- Download the app Spotlight Text
- Complete the Bookshare certification form, have it signed by your healthcare provider, and mail back the completed form to: 480 South California Ave., Suite 201. Palo Alto, CA 94306 or fax to (650) 475-1066
- Sign up for Bookshare on their site here
- Start reading
Alpine Eye Care is a leading eye care provider in Northern Michigan.