Finding a way to read comfortably is one of the most difficult challenges for people with low vision. Perhaps what used to be effortless or enjoyable now requires thought, preparation and adjustment. There are many different aids for reading to suit individual needs.
Lighting is one of the most important and simple aids for many people with low vision. Increasing the amount of light can greatly improve reading ability. Both task and ambient lighting are important and simple solutions such as the use of pocket flashlights or head torches can also be helpful, especially when out and about, for example reading a menu in a restaurant. Read more about lighting here.
Large print books, usually printed in 16 or 18 point font, are a good option if sight allows for this level of print size. Often the local library or a low vision service will lend or sell a selection of these books. Large print music is available for those who read music.
Using simple aids to assist with reading can also be helpful. For example, a reading guide is a simple device that enables better focus when reading either normal or large print. This simple black card or sheet with a block cut into it guides the reader. Reading stands and lap desks with built in lighting can also be helpful.
Magnifiers can be a vital consideration for people with vision loss. There are many options available and it is important to seek a professional assessment and recommendation from a low vision specialist or organisation.
There is a large range of optical magnifiers in different magnification strength and sizes. It is important to match the type of magnifier with the task required and a professional assessment will help identify the best options available.
An important principle to remember with optical magnifiers is with regard to power and field of view size. A higher power magnifier will have a smaller diameter or field of view but the image will be larger. The lower power magnifier will have a larger field of view but will the image will be smaller. Read more about optical magnifiers here.
Electronic magnifiers are excellent for high magnification reading and writing to support a wide range of activities. They provide distortion free viewing, a large field of view, and a very large range of magnification levels (from 2 to 90 times). They may be portable or larger desktop units. Read more about electronic magnifiers here.
The use of audio technology is a useful, and sometimes necessary, option for people with vision loss. Audio technology can range from something as simple as a CD for audio books to dedicated audio-book devices to text-to-voice document readers. Read more about audio technology here.
Computers and low vision software
A computer opens up doors for reading and accessing information. Simple adjustments using standard software may be sufficient for many people. Or a wide range of specialised low vision software is available. Many low vision service providers offer computer and other technology training courses. Read more about computers and software here.