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Ask Slashdot: Building an Assistive Reading Device?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the start-with-the-C3P0-and-subtract-parts dept.

Hardware Hacking 134

RulerOf writes "A few years ago, my girlfriend's grandfather was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration. Ever since, he has had progressively more trouble with daily activities. While his wife and family are able to help him with most things, at the age of 88 and without many living friends left, he dearly misses the ability to read printed text. He was able to get by for some time with magnifying glasses and other basic aids but now even those do not help. Recently, a local clinic which specializes in treatment for low-sight and blind individuals made him aware of and showed him several assistive reading devices that successfully allowed him to read. He mentioned this to his family members, and when I was told about it, I thought that these devices sounded like they were not much more than a camera attached to an LCD monitor or television with a little bit of special software thrown into the mix." (Read on below for more.)RulerOf continues: "Some investigation online turns up products such as these, and their prices are so prohibitively high ($2400-$3000) that the manufacturer won't even list them on their website. Furthermore, the effects that these devices can apply to the pictures they output look awfully similar to the effects filters built into many webcams, and the ability to zoom and pan a live view of the screen is something that I've done effortlessly for years on OS X, and that I know exists in many Linux desktop environments. My current plan is to try to build something like this with a used Mac Mini, a Logitech HD Webcam with a full-screen view of the camera always up, and a Magic Trackpad to control zoom level and screen position, plugged into a huge LCD TV that he already owns. Have any of you ever built something like this? Am I wrong in thinking that the ease of use would be comparable to the purpose-built devices when configured correctly? Is this something that might work better with a newer nettop device, a digital camera or camcorder, and Windows (where I'm skilled at automating things) or Linux at the core instead?"

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I built an assistive First Post device. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054184)

Unfortunately somebody stole it so I have to do this manually.

Re:I built an assistive First Post device. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054246)

88 years old, going blind, no doubt collecting Social Security that some unemployed young person could also use... have you ever thought of euthanizing him?

Re:I built an assistive First Post device. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054380)

Why not euthanize the "unemployed young person"?

Re:I built an assistive First Post device. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054410)

Why not euthanize the "unemployed young person"?

Because they have their whole life ahead of them, have not lived a full life to an old age like this geriatric, and are probably honestly trying to find work and cannot help that a combination of government incompetence and banker malfeasance has led to a shit economy with few job opportunities? Just a thought.

I mean, did you take even a moment to think about the differences in situations there? Or did you just emotionally knee-jerk like most idiots do?

Re:I built an assistive First Post device. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054518)

You're one of the foul-smelling "Occupy" retards, aren't you?

Re:I built an assistive First Post device. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054614)

You're one of the foul-smelling "Occupy" retards, aren't you?

So, I take it some kind of stereotyping and group affiliation is your substitute for explaining why you disagree?

God damn, do you have any idea how pathetic that is? Try forming your own position based on truth as you perceive it. See if that doesn't work out better for you than assuming I am a member of some group I never even mentioned.

Sounds like when I asked "or do you just emotionally knee-jerk like most idiots do" your honest answer would be "fuck yeah I do, that's SO MUCH EASIER than actually putting forth my own ideas and explaining why I think they're better!" You are everything that is wrong with public discourse. Congratulations, you fucking lemming.

Now go wet your finger so you can hold it up and determine which way the wind blows, you soul-less ball-less piece of follower shit.

Re:I built an assistive First Post device. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054632)

Thank you for proving my theory.

Re:I built an assistive First Post device. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054690)

Thank you for proving my theory.

Only if you live in some insane place that exists only in your head where no confirmation with reality is necessary. Then your "theory" is great.

Truth is, I have never taken part in any Occupier movement nor do I plan to. That would totally falsify your little "theory" though somehow you will assume that confirms it, by some twisted emotional rhetoric that you, in your advanced state of delusion, think is equivalent to logic. So be it, you sick bastard.

You still haven't explained why you think I am wrong and why you think your own way of seeing things is better and more correct. You cannot or else you would. You fucking coward. Try actually manning up and subjecting your pet "theories" to a test of truth sometime. Try actually finding a flaw in the other guy's reasoning before you declare him wrong and yourself some kind of victor.

You can't do it. You don't have the skill. You don't have anything but a bunch of branding, pigeonholing, and name-calling on your side. How pathetic. You're a tragic insecure little man with nothing to back up what you so passionately think is right. When you grow a nutsac and manage to put some testicles in it and feel ready to take me on on reasoned debate, you just let me know.

Re:I built an assistive First Post device. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054804)

You forgot to put a </nerdrage> at the end of your post. Always close your tags or it'll mess up Slashdot's formatting.

Re:I built an assistive First Post device. (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 2 years ago | (#38056262)

You're one of the foul-smelling "Occupy" retards, aren't you?

So, I take it some kind of stereotyping and group affiliation is your substitute for explaining why you disagree?

God damn, do you have any idea how pathetic that is? Try forming your own position based on truth as you perceive it. See if that doesn't work out better for you than assuming I am a member of some group I never even mentioned.

Sounds like when I asked "or do you just emotionally knee-jerk like most idiots do" your honest answer would be "fuck yeah I do, that's SO MUCH EASIER than actually putting forth my own ideas and explaining why I think they're better!" You are everything that is wrong with public discourse. Congratulations, you fucking lemming.

Now go wet your finger so you can hold it up and determine which way the wind blows, you soul-less ball-less piece of follower shit.


Yeah, sounds like the OP pegged you.

Re:I built an assistive First Post device. (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055376)

The people funding the Occupy and Tea party movements really don't want to talk about cuts to the high quality US medical care.
UK style age based medical care withdrawal is really harmful to a lot of peoples interests in the US.
Think of the age care specialists, the nursing homes, all the workers, the hospitals warehousing wings.
A lot of funding flows in to keep "one" person alive and local communities get to enjoy the trickle down funding.
All that quality infrastructure that could end up like parts of Detroit if easy 'flip the switch' laws are passed.

Re:I built an assistive First Post device. (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38056330)

Or you could you, just a thought I'm throwing it out there, actually give them assistance BEFORE they get sick as dogs then they wouldn't cost a tenth as much as they do? how about that?

My mom worked her whole life as an RN and I don't know how many times she told me about some poor person getting a total valve replacement because they had a bad tooth and the infection had spread to the heart and destroyed the valves. Now which do YOU think is less expensive, paying to pull a tooth or a quadruple valve replacement? Or times when they wouldn't give a dime to have a relative take care of someone but WOULD pay to have home health drive out there, even if the relative was completely qualified to do the job at hand. Again which do YOU think was the least expensive option?

The problem with health care in the USA is NOT the services but the "penny saved pound foolish" attitude that infects it like a cancer. Little things that would cost a pittance are disallowed while insanely expensive things are routine. Its not for the doctors, frankly it frustrates the hell out of them, its just bean counter Dilbert PHB bullshit.

As for TFA, why not a nice fat tablet or eReader? Why do you want to go through all the work when the new eReaders have frankly insane font sizes on them and one can get a nice 10 or 12 inch droid based for pretty cheap. nearly all have an easy to use magnify option, it'll let him get all the news he wants from the web, not to mention huge amounts of books from Amazon or even free from Gutenberg project.

When it doubt, go for the simplest route. It would be easy for him to handle, give him the WWW at his fingertips, you can load it with family photos, books, even movies, seems like a perfect solution to the problem to me.

Re:I built an assistive First Post device. (1)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38057022)

I mean, did you take even a moment to think about the differences in situations there? Or did you just emotionally knee-jerk like most idiots do?

In fairness, he replied in the spirit of "fuck that sort of person, give their resources to this other sort of people" found in your original post.

I'm all for "when I start to get too senile to be useful, please let me perform an orderly shutdown" but that is my choice and is not something I would want enforced on others (or myself for that matter). What you are suggesting (offing people based upon their perceived utility to society and/or resource draining potential) is a particularly unpleasant slippery slope.

In some places for every young person would has a full life ahead of him/her being useful to society there is one who take whatever they can and give sweet FA, using up a damn sight more resource from the social security net than that 88 year old ever has and ever will. I'm assuming you don't want to go there.

I know someone you should talk to. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054224)

One of my work colleges is working on an identical project. You two should talk. Email me at jasonmac404 atsymbol gmail .... and I'll put you two in contact.

Re:I know someone you should talk to. (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054316)

One of my work colleges is working on an identical project. You two should talk. Email me at jasonmac404 atsymbol gmail .... and I'll put you two in contact.

Much appreciated! I'll keep on top of the comments here for the next few hours and then get in contact.

Re:I know someone you should talk to. (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055624)

Well, if you want to replicate one of this solutions, all you need is a joystick, a PTZ (PTZ means Pan Tilt and Zoom) camera with at least 4x optical zoom, and a very cheap computer (atom will do) with a nice LCD display.

You should be able to find a nice PTZ camera for well under 300 bucks.

If you want, I can provide you with the source code to control a Pelco-D camera using a standard joystick in GNU/Linux, just email me: almafuerte (at) gmail (dot) com.

Anyway, I think that's not the best idea. You are spending a lot on the camera, when just about anything he wants to read will be available in digital. You can just use digital zoom and high contrast, or even TTS. Going through the pain of capturing an actual physical book seems pointless.

Re:I know someone you should talk to. (2)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055918)

My wife's granddad had an old computer. We went for a cheap solution. I pointed a cheap web cam down towards the desk. Added a second monitor. Put some "tap" lights to illuminate the area. And set the software to be really big.

He's got one screen for his work (Excel, etc.) and the second monitor shows whatever is in view of the web cam. It only cost me about $30 to get the lights, web cam, and cheap second monitor.

Re:I know someone you should talk to. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054472)

I set one up. The lady who was my customer was very knowledgeable about some technology but had not thought of this particular use. Once I'd shown her the basics of it with a crappy camera and a mostly working 40" salvaged TV she had herself a reading desk built with a mount for a pricey high resolution camera and a then state of the art Hitachi 50" projection. I also built her a remote out of surplus aerospace push buttons, an aluminum box and tediously soldered connections to a second new remote for the Hitachi. The buttons are cool, they were lighted though for the lights to work she had to plug it into a wall wart. She donated the old camera and the salvaged TV to the local blind school and I received several calls from them on how to do that. I wrote up a how to and took pictures of her setup and sent that to them. I did for a time build the remotes but the supply of the really good buttons dried up and several companies finally started making suitable large button ones. Anon, no credit for this on the plaque in church or the internet good deeds club.

Re:I know someone you should talk to. (1)

PRMan (959735) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054660)

Going for the reward in heaven I see...

No good deed goes unpunished. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054950)

In our litigious society he will probably end up getting sued for patent infringement.

Re:I know someone you should talk to. (2)

anubi (640541) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054920)

May I suggest a laptop with a USB microscope?

http://www.saelig.com/product/VI021.htm [saelig.com]

Re:I know someone you should talk to. (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054958)

All the same, thanks for doing awesome stuff. Have you considered publishing diagrams or a how-to guide at Instructables.com or for Make magazine?

How about Audible books ? (5, Informative)

sandhill (1873262) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054244)

If the goal is to be able to read beloved old books that he already has etc, then sure, go for it. But if it's just the desire to be able to enjoy books, then the library available on Audible.com (and others), is fantastic. They're not your old 'books-on-tape' ... great selection, very good readers, and it's very satisfying to have someone read to you. If you've already got the computer and internet service, please check it out.

Re:How about Audible books ? (3, Informative)

egranlund (1827406) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054250)

Also, Librevox the free alternative - doesn't have nearly as large of a selection though.

Re:How about Audible books ? (2)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054418)

Also, I find far too many librevox volunteers sound like they're doing it as practice in an ESL class.....

Re:How about Audible books ? (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055472)

Could be worse. I once downloaded an audiobook that sounded like it was narrated by Zapp Brannigan. That got real old real fast.

Re:How about Audible books ? (1)

eulernet (1132389) | more than 2 years ago | (#38057256)

It's librivox:
http://librivox.org/ [librivox.org]

Re:How about Audible books ? (4, Informative)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054308)

Audio books are a good alternative for certain, but when I brought up the idea, his desire is specifically to read printed material. I suspect that, when even assistive devices no longer cut it for him (if it gets to that point, of course) that audio books may be more amenable at that time.

I'll bring it up again though, because it is still a very good point. Thanks!

Re:How about Audible books ? (2)

Jim Hall (2985) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054786)

As another poster has mentioned, MD will eventually result in total loss of vision. So do encourage him to explore audio books.

But I think I know where your girlfriend's grandfather's is coming from on the audio book topic. Not every book is released in audio format, so you're kind of tied to only those titles that have an audio version. The latest cool book may take months to get an audio version, if at all. Also note that magazines, product instructions, medicine labels, etc. do not have audio versions. So having an assistive reading device is part of maintaining his independence.

Re:How about Audible books ? (1)

Mycroft_VIII (572950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054956)

Actually audio books might NOT be a good idea.
I'm a voracious reader and can read quicker than most, but audio books are useless to me. My hearing is fair and without modern materials my glasses could double as deep sea/space craft widows.
        It depends on the how a persons brain works, some people learn and retain and focus better with the printed vs the spoken work.
      One professional (Doctor, plus other assorted degrees) learned to write VERY fast in collage because she had even worse ability to recall the spoken word vs written than I do.

Mycroft

Re:How about Audible books ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38055442)

Agreed, as long as other options are open. Like you, I am an avid reader, and wear serious corrective lenses. Audio books are a poor substitute for me at this stage of my life. As I watched my mom (also an avid and voracious reader) deal with her Macular Degeneration, I learned audio is not one of many options - it becomes the only course left open. Mom, like many, is now legally blind, with no corrective options available. Her vision is gone, and nothing is bringing it back.
At that point, audio is the only choice, so it becomes less frustrating, and more attractive. Given a choice, most of us learn to adapt to our physical limitations and make the best of what ever options are available.

Re:How about Audible books ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38055374)

We went through this with my mom - set her up 5 years ago with a PC displayed on a 46 in CRT television so she could keep doing email and cruising the internet, and playing card games. She still uses it, although font size is set to humongous (only three or four words per line - 46 inch screen - my eyeballs melt every time I have to do any support on her machine!)
We also purchased an assistive reading device so she could keep using her cook-books and other reading - given the quality of consumer digital equipment today, you should be able to pony up an adequate replacement for significantly less money than we spent, but, as mentioned previously, it is only a stop-gap method. Mom missed the mobility of a book from the first, and seldom uses it anymore as her condition has worsened.
A good guideline are the hand-held magnifiers - once you're past 6X, print is not going to be an option much longer. For reading (and entertainment) mom now uses a Kindle to play audio books - print on the Kindle *and any other e-reader or tablet, or even netbook or smaller laptop) display , even at the largest font size, is just too small for anyone with serious macular.

Re:How about Audible books ? (2)

hazem (472289) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054538)

It's also worth checking the local library to see what they have. Mine has thousands of audiobooks (mostly on CD/mp3-cd) at the main branch and many many more through other branches in the system, plus free access to libraries on worldcat.

I only ever have to buy the audiobooks I want to keep for myself.

If you're on a budget, the library may be a better option than audible.com, especially with the DRM that doesn't allow use on anything but Windows (and probably Mac).

Re:How about Audible books ? (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#38057006)

The sound quality on audible.com is not that great. There are many other sources of better audiobooks than audible.com.

Kindle DX (1)

egranlund (1827406) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054260)

If he's looking to purchase new books to read - what about a Kindle DX with the font size jacked all of the way up?

Re:Kindle DX (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054364)

If he's looking to purchase new books to read - what about a Kindle DX with the font size jacked all of the way up?

When I first started thinking about it, a tablet or an e-reader such as the kindle was my very first suggestion. The problem with it was that, on a 10" screen, he needs things zoomed so high that he may only be able to view a single sentence at a time. The camera/monitor approach preserves the dead-tree look and feel (and the UI, hehe) but adds the ability to enlarge the text.

Wouldn't be a bad idea if there was a 24" kindle, though :)

Re:Kindle DX (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054474)

If he's looking to purchase new books to read - what about a Kindle DX with the font size jacked all of the way up?

When I first started thinking about it, a tablet or an e-reader such as the kindle was my very first suggestion. The problem with it was that, on a 10" screen, he needs things zoomed so high that he may only be able to view a single sentence at a time. The camera/monitor approach preserves the dead-tree look and feel (and the UI, hehe) but adds the ability to enlarge the text.

Wouldn't be a bad idea if there was a 24" kindle, though :)

How about the Kindle App on a PC plugged into a big monitor (where "big" is anywhere from a 22" to a 60" or larger LCD or Plasma TV)?

Add a wireless keyboard and/or Mouse for control.

Re:Kindle DX (2)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054520)

If he's looking to purchase new books to read - what about a Kindle DX with the font size jacked all of the way up?

When I first started thinking about it, a tablet or an e-reader such as the kindle was my very first suggestion. The problem with it was that, on a 10" screen, he needs things zoomed so high that he may only be able to view a single sentence at a time. The camera/monitor approach preserves the dead-tree look and feel (and the UI, hehe) but adds the ability to enlarge the text.

Wouldn't be a bad idea if there was a 24" kindle, though :)

How about the Kindle App on a PC plugged into a big monitor (where "big" is anywhere from a 22" to a 60" or larger LCD or Plasma TV)?

Add a wireless keyboard and/or Mouse for control.

Oh, and one more Kindle suggestion:

Depending on his tolerance for monotone computer generated speech, try the Kindle text-to-speech function to read books to him. Not nearly as good as a human voice with emotion and pacing that match the text, but I've used it to "read" some books on long car drives.

Re:Kindle DX (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054764)

As far as e-books go, I actually like that suggestion. It may even work well with the magic trackpad (which I'm eyeballing as a way to eliminate a traditional keyboard from the equation) for things like page turning and zooming. I'll bring that up and see what they say.

Re:Kindle DX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054490)

You (and he) might be surprised at how readable it is even with only one sentence (or less) at a time. My vision is round about the 20-400 mark (can see at 20 feet what a normal person can see at 400 feet) and my Kindle (non-DX) has brought back the joy of reading to me. Normally I'm using either of the largest two fonts, on a really good day with a good light I get down one notch. A heck of a let of page turning, but I seem to tune that out.

Re:Kindle DX (1)

femto (459605) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054992)

What about a head mounted display [wikipedia.org] or virtual reality goggles? These would allow a huge image to be formed, without the need for a bulky display. If you want to DIY, such a beast could probably be built with an ipod/kindle/... and a few lenses (from binoculars or a View-Master [wikipedia.org] ?)

Getting really funky, there also seem to be people experimenting with drawing images directly on the retina [wikipedia.org] of Macular Degeneration patients. Not recommended for DIY!

Re:Kindle DX (1)

Forbman (794277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054484)

probably still not big enough. Thus, displaying the magnified text on a full-size TV screen...

Re:Kindle DX (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054730)

Indeed. [slashdot.org]

EyeClops (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054288)

I have an EyeClops, basically a toy microscope that hooks up to a TV. This is cheap but would let you get as close as you want to anything. Amazon Link [amazon.com]

Re:EyeClops (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054546)

EyeClops is good for what it does, but it's essentially hand-held. What's needed here is something with pan/scan controls, good control of magnification, possibly filters for contrast or colour inversion or whatever, that you can sit the book in and occasionally turn the page.

HD Webcam (or two - open the book to 120-150 degrees rather than flat, better for the spine and easier to keep open), 42"+ LCD TV and a 7"-10" tablet as a fancy remote control would be excellent, along with some software put together specifically to boot up a reading environment . Crank up the font size all the way on the tablet and you'd also have a good portable reading device.

I see a great opportunity for an affordable (by first-world standards) piece of open-source hardware that can be put together by a home carpenter in a weekend, with a few hundred dollars worth of computer and cameras hooked up to the kind of TV everybody will have by 2015. Tablets are getting cheaper, and depending on how hackable it is something like the new touchscreen Kobo could even be a good starting point for a special-purpose remote (high-contrast mono display, hack an induction charger into the back of it for when it's resting on the coffee table so you never have to worry about plugging it in, that kind of thing).

Commercial devices are expensive because of R&D, low-volume manufacturing and profit margins. I see open assistive devices as an area that's ready for *massive* growth as the population ages and old people decide they don't want to let their brains rot away while they wait to die.

This may help..... (3, Informative)

i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054310)

It might be worthwhile to post this over at makezine.com [makezine.com] . Nothing those crazy makers love more than a challenge. Good luck! Maybe some enterprising person can get something mass produced via kickstarter.com [slashdot.org]

Re:This may help..... (1)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054424)

I knew someone who had Advanced Macular Degeneration and she had a device that was like what you said. It was a camera mounted facing down towards the table and it had a sliding platform where you could sit a book or paper on and slide around to read. This one interfaced with the computer monitor and she could split-screen the computer and the camera so she could easily work with printed documentation and office productivity apps.

Apple devices (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054332)

iPhone, iPod Touches, and iPads are pretty good for people with disabilities.

http://www.apple.com/accessibility/

Re:Apple devices (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054570)

Don't know why this has been modded down, it's very true. Much as I (20-400 vision) would prefer an Android device, this is something that Apple have done a pretty good job on, and my iPhone has been an invaluable accessibility device to me. The iCanSee app has become my magnifying glass that I take everywhere, with the added advantage of being able to invert the colours.

Reading devices. (1)

G4Cube (863788) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054382)

You need to check out IRTI.net

Re:Reading devices. (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054412)

That's the kind of product that I'm finding online, and their prices [irti.net] seem to be about the same as the ones I've already seen. The key point behind my post is that it seems that I can build something similar for significantly less money. And it would be a fun project :)

Re:Reading devices. (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055352)

So is an iPad too small? If a plastic frame with a magnifying lens were constructed such that the light and camera from the iPad illuminated and recorded the book, and you could vary the magnification to display from a whole sentence to a word or two and just scan the iPad around over the book page (the plastic frame would flatten the page and keep the iPad at the appropriate distance for focus) would that be a clear, clean, workable solution for what, perhaps $40?

Better yet, there is already a design for a quick home-brew 2-page book copier using inexpensive cameras (which are now pushing 15 megapixel.) At 400+ DPI for a full sized hard cover or 800+ DPI for a smaller paperback, you should be able to do the rest in software (including contrast control, line scanning and magnification settings.) From what I recall, they said it took about 10 minutes to scan a book, seems like a small effort to give Dad back something he loves :-)

Lighthouse (3, Interesting)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054398)

http://lighthouse-sf.org/ [lighthouse-sf.org]

Surely his doctors have mentioned these people?

Re:Lighthouse (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054438)

http://lighthouse-sf.org/ [lighthouse-sf.org]

Surely his doctors have mentioned these people?

Possibly, but I couldn't say for sure. Browsing their products appears to yield a rather impressive array of optical magnifiers. Do they happen to have anything more along the lines of what I'm talking about in the summary?

old time radio (2)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054416)

This isn't reading, but for entertainment he should look at old time radio. Old Time Radio [archive.org]
 
Thousands of marvellous radio plays as mp3's, no reading required.
 
Just the thing for long trips in a car or commuting, too.
 
Westerns, detective stories, comedies, it's all there. And it's free and legal, too.

classroom tech (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054436)

The big crazy right now in classrooms is document cameras (glorified webcams on stands with lights) you can get a basic model that should work just fine for about $300-$400, avermedia makes a pretty good one. Then just hook it to a TV, large screen or projector with a VGA cable. Plus when that time comes and you need to figure out what to do with the device when the time comes, just donate it to your local school (tax write off).

LED Projector? (1)

guyfawkes-11-5 (1583613) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054454)

How about one of the new LED projectors and a pdf ebook? Granted you have to read off the wall, but it may be a relatively cheap workaround. Books on tape are an old standby also, I use them while commuting.

Re:LED Projector? (1)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38057354)

I kinda like the sound of that, also, since the projectors shine at the wall, not directly into the reader's eyes like a device would, it wouldn't hurt his eyes.

Big-ass display, easy to set-up and operate (just paint a wall beige or whatever that droll colour is), and anyone in the family could operate. He could zoom onto whatever size he wanted, and it wouldn't be displayed in a disjointed fashion.

Also, another thing, I have heard it's easier on the eyes to see farther up than close up, so he wouldn't have to tax his eyes.

Damn, now I want this set-up :p

Smartphone OCR Application (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054460)

Why not get an OCR picture to text application for the ipad? You can then probably use an application to read that text as well, or zoom as far in as you need.

Ebooks on a dedicated laptop (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054500)

When my dad got macular degeneration, I got hold of an old laptop, put linux on it, and set it up so that it loaded fbreader on booting. My dad had never used a computer in his life, couldn't see the keyboard, and wasn't interested in learning how to use a PC. But I put sticky red rubber buttons on the keys he needed to navigate fbreader. After some experimentation, we figured out big white writing on a black background worked well, put a load of ebooks on it, and away he went. He found it very easy to use, and never needed to worry about how the computer worked. He used it a lot, and although he started listening to audio books too, he much preferred being able to read on screen. My dad was into science fiction, and we took up Baen Books' offer of free ebooks for the disabled (see http://www.webscription.net/t-disabled.aspx) so he didn't even have to pay for books.

Re:Ebooks on a dedicated laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38056580)

I agree that Baen's webscription.net is a great option. I started using this several years ago. They have the books in several formats and on a computer / tablet / eReader I can make the text as big as needed. Another good source of free books is Project Gutenberg at Gutenberg.org. Again, thousands of books in many formats. Might want to look at memoware.com. What I like about these 3 sites is that the books are text that can be easily manipulated and not just scanned images like Google Books.

Re:Ebooks on a dedicated laptop (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#38057018)

For Sci-fi, I recommend 'Escape Pod'. It's a great podcast series with over 300 podcasts, with a new one appearing every week, and it's completely free.

ereader (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054514)

A decent android with the largest screen and add FBREADER (FONTS, colors everything adjustable) and read EBOOKS
I didnt want any other ebook reader because I couldnt adust the settings to please me
I have FBREADER on my PC and ANDROID phone & tablet for reading (bought the tablet purely for fbreader :)
I also use CALIBRE to convert anything that FBREADER cant handle

Tablet-based device? (1)

Keramos (1263560) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054552)

What about an iPad or android tablet? They tend to have a "downward" facing camera and already have a screen. You could use it as a portable magnifier, for general use, as well as a reader. They have the capacity to do OCR on a book, and could present the text one word, or even one letter, at a time. I'm sure a book holder with a frame to support the tablet wouldn't be too hard to rig up - you could probably make it fold up and portable (fit inside a briefcase, say) with a little bit of thought.

Re:Tablet-based device? (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054694)

So along those lines, I'm thinking of something like an iPad 2 in a fixed stand, probably with the home button covered up (prevent accidental presses). From there, mirror the display out to an Apple TV 2, attached to the LCD TV. Without using a system of mirrors though, the tablet would have to lay perfectly flat, but there's room in there for hardware hackery.

The real question from there, I suppose, is, "What's the killer app that makes it work?"

Re:Tablet-based device? (0)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055586)

iPhone, the iPhone 4 has an excellent macro mode. Build a sled for the iPhone, couple with custom written app that takes camera input and sends picture to TV via AppleTV. The sled would be hand-sized so very mobile, wireless and easy to scan by moving the hand. Zoom level could be regulated by pinching gestures on the upward facing screen. As an added bonus controls would be easy to use because of iOS assistive technologies.

Re:Tablet-based device? (1)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055926)

The more I think about this the more I'm surprised this hasn't been done before. An iPhone based solution could replace several of the products on the linked page:
- just iphone app with zooming display on screen for mobile reading of small print (eg. in stores)
- small iPhone caddy with built in leds with output to TV for more mobile reading in house.
- iPhone held in stationary reading post outputting to large attached monitor, with lots of illumination.

You don't need the computer to do processing, basically all that's needed is the casing to hold the phone and the software written for iOS.

Magnification is not the answer (4, Insightful)

audacity242 (324061) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054624)

The long-term result of macular degeneration is that he will lose the ability to focus on anything in the center of his vision, and will eventually hit the point where he only has (blurry) peripheral vision. When this occurs, he will not be able to read at all. Any items which magnify text will be a very temporary solution for him.

Focus on finding audio solutions that work, spend time researching them and then becoming familiar with using them, because anything you create now that magnifies text will be very quickly obsolete.

Re:Magnification is not the answer (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055222)

The long-term result of macular degeneration is that he will lose the ability to focus on anything in the center of his vision, and will eventually hit the point where he only has (blurry) peripheral vision. When this occurs, he will not be able to read at all.

That wasn't my impression. I thought they usually preserve peripheral vision. It is true that vascular problems in the retina can cause a lot of damage and even total blindness, but I don't know how common it is.

Review Article
Medical Progress
Age-Related Macular Degeneration
Rama D. Jager, M.D., William F. Mieler, M.D., and Joan W. Miller, M.D.
N Engl J Med 2008; 358:2606-2617June 12, 2008

Although most people with advanced age-related macular degeneration do not become completely blind, visual loss often markedly reduces the quality of life and is associated with disability and clinical depression in up to one third of patients, even if only one eye is affected.

Look no further - knfb reader and JAWS (4, Informative)

synthespian (563437) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054742)

Check this out:

I just checked the facts now, and Ray Kurzweil (AI + future-tech guru/genius/entrepreneur/benefactor/cyborg ) has a whole company specializing in assistive reading technologies.

K–NFB Reading Technology

http://www.knfbreader.com/ [knfbreader.com]

The original OCR reader for blind people he developed is presented here:

http://www.knfbreader.com/products-classic.php [knfbreader.com]

This product is no longer in development, because they have moved to using cell-phones (you just gotta love this cell-phone age we're in). BTW, don't waste your time looking at products made by people without the expertise in this field of AI and assistive technology. You need a real solution for a real problem...

For reading and using the computer, advanced software exists (Windows platform - don't let anyone make you waste your time with open source, it's not for grandpa - yet). If he can identify elements in the screen and is able to locate where text is, he can just use something like TextAloud.

As macular degeneration progresses, though, he will want to move into software specifically tailored for the blind. In fact, I would suggest getting acquainted with the following software before total blindness. JAWS is the major-league player in this category.

http://www.freedomscientific.com/products/fs/jaws-product-page.asp [freedomscientific.com]

I wish all the best for your girlfriend's grandfather. Tell him he's not the only in that situation and that there are solutions out there.

I hope this helps.

May you score many Internet Points points with your future father-in-law, too ;-)

Re:Look no further - knfb reader and JAWS (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055276)

That's true, but the Kurtzweil and other reading machines are fairly expensive, $3,000 and up, I believe. JAWS is also fairly expensive. I think they mostly sell them to people who are eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.

A lot of that cost is for tech support and development, which they do well, but here the poster is capable of providing his own tech support.

Re:Look no further - knfb reader and JAWS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38055534)

You didn't answer the question at all. The OP is looking for magnification devices, not audio reading devices on phones or screen readers. Ever taught an 88 year old how to use Jaws? Good luck with that.

Kindle Audiobooks (1)

fortapocalypse (1231686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054758)

Could get him a Kindle with audiobooks. Also, call Amazon and talk to a rep and ask to speak with someone there with experience in the blind using Kindles. It may be a small number of users, but they really need to support it, even if they can't read text books without getting into fights with the audiobook people. Or better yet, just an ipod shuffle. Good luck. The world can be quite an awful place for the blind, and they get shafted while other minority groups (of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion or lack of, drug legalization advocates) get all of the attention these days. It is sick, imo, that they get treated so poorly.

Re:Kindle Audiobooks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38057266)

A Kindle changed my father's life. He's got MD, and the Kindle is pretty good with zooming text. He doesn't use the audiobooks feature much. Plus, he finds the screen very easy to read. (He struggles with reflective screens on tablets and phones)

gh, LLC. (1)

Ded Bob (67043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054778)

I used to work in the same building as these people. I even worked with a couple of them on different products.

While I have not used/seen their products, they may offer something useful.

http://www.gh-accessibility.com/ [gh-accessibility.com]

BIERLEY MONOMOUSE (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054782)

I used to work for these folks. Their products are quality, have a good warranty, and they have a 30 day return policy they honor well. Order one directly from them, if the product doesn't work well for your needs, just send it back (Shipping costs to return the item are on you.)

Bierley Inc [bierley.com]

The device is $198 and comes in two mag levels and there is a color model. Check out their website. I will also email you too.

Their basic, entry level product:

Bierley Monomouse [bierley.com]

Center for Indepenent Living (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054874)

Check with the "Center For Independent Living". Look them up on google. They know what works and can provide advice and assistance.

Maybe there's an app for that. (1)

Shag (3737) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054900)

The smartphone of his choice (iOS pretty definitely, Android probably) should apps available that will let him image some text, OCR it, and then either zoom in on it or speak it to him.

Still your girlfriend after all these years? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38054930)

"A few years ago, my girlfriend's grandfather was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration. Ever since, he has had progressively more trouble...

She's still just your girlfriend after all these years? Time to marry her and start fucking her in the ass.

Re:Still your girlfriend after all these years? (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055116)

"Time to marry her and start fucking her in the ass."

You are clearly inexperienced if you think the first enhances opportunities for the second.

Cheap Digital Camera (1)

thoughtfulbloke (1091595) | more than 2 years ago | (#38054990)

I know some who basically did this with a cheap digital camera that had a Camera to TV set cable. I think, from memory it was a Kodak Camera. Put the camera on a stand with a lot of lighting, and enough shielding that the lights used to illuminate the book are not going to interfere with someone with poor eyesight being able to see the TV screen clearly.
That said, I also know several people with strong levels of visual impairment who have found the various iDevices to be game changers for them in the past few years, particularly when on the go. In this case, if electronic texts of favorite works are available I can think of ways of scripted conversions to movie files to play via an Apple TV. Basically compiling a movie file of text (sized and fonted for easy reading) playing at an appropriate reading speed.

Is he a vet? Library for the blind (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38055020)

My father (a Vietnam vet) has had Macular Degeneration for years and gets tons of freebies from the VA. They can get him pretty much whatever is useful to him at no cost. He's received one of those overhead cameras, and numerous lighted magnifying lenses, even replacing them when they wear out. He's tried other things that he didn't get because he didn't find them useful.

Also, check out the Library for the Blind. Your local public library should be able to get the contact for your local branch (there are regional centers throughout the US). They send out a special player that plays digital cartridges-like things that contain entire books and magazines. It is much easier for the blind to operate compared to dealing with the accessibility features on commercial products. And yes, I've tried out the Kindle, iPad, Playaway,and various other computer based things, all of whose accessibility controls are more hassle than their worth when compared to things created for that purpose.The Library for the Blind can also provide a special radio that has particular band that picks up people reading current magazines and the days newspapers as designated times.

Some people who have been blind all their lives find using the accessibility features on commercial devices the way to go, but I've found that when dealing with the elderly, they need something much simpler because there is already such a big learning curve to learn any new technology.

Macular degeneration != focus issues. (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055042)

The general problem here is that parts of the visual field are missing in the affected person. There is no direct analogue to other experience, but it is somewhat like you have a lace curtain in front of your eyes, so that some areas of your vision are OK, some are poor quality, and some are missing.

Ideally, what you want is something that warps the visual field around these areas, while preserving the missing content. To a person with negligible degeneration, the displayed image would look horribly distorted; however if it contains all the information, the mind of the affected person will learn to re-integrate it into a sense of normalcy (or so the theory goes).

The second bit of technology is determining the geometry of the lace curtain. The geometry of this is, necessarily, tied to the distance they are viewing from - be it disco-bondage-headgear, lcd screens or projections.

So, yes, the commercial offerings may be little more than a camera, a screen and some software; but that description covers everything from ipods to medical imaging equipment. There is some straining in the quality and application.

No offense intended, but why don't you get your gf's grandpa the best of what is available in your budget, then take a look at making a better one. It would be quite sad if you came up with a reasonable replacement two days after he died.

needed followup (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055210)

The "lace curtain" analogy is that the lace curtain is glued to your eyes - shifting your eyes does not affect the relative positioning of the curtain. To affect it you have to shift your head.

That is the purpose in distorting the visual field to map around these 'holes' - so your eyes can pick up everything in front of them.

Blind OSS users use orca. (3, Informative)

Detaer (562863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055118)

Open source screen reader http://live.gnome.org/Orca [gnome.org] This package can be used to operate a computer for people who are totally blind, read content etc etc.

VoiceOver in Mac OS X? (2)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055178)

You already mentioned Mac OS X for screen magnification, but maybe he can learn to use VoiceOver, which is also built in.

the best website for print disabilities (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38055186)

http://bookshare.org

Talking books (1)

jbizzle (2507698) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055286)

I know you said audio books were not your preferred solution but you should checkout the talking book program from the National Library Service, http://www.loc.gov/nls [loc.gov] . The materials and equipment are provided free of charge to US residents and citizens living abroad. Another good source of information is the daisy consortium, http://www.daisy.org./ [www.daisy.org] Daisy has developed standards and tools for accessibility. There are commercial products as well Humanware is probably the best known manufacturer but as I'm sure you are finding out these solutions can be quite expensive. A less expensive Android device could be another alternative as there are apps now being developed for assitive reading. Although, honestly iOS curently does a much better job of being accessible. I have heard the next version of Android will offer accessibilty improvements but that is probably 6-12 months away.

AccessWorld Magazine (3, Informative)

nbauman (624611) | more than 2 years ago | (#38055416)

Here's a magazine about assistive devices for the visually impaired that's having a special on-line Q&A event this very week:

http://www.familyconnect.org/calendar.asp?EventID=2955 [familyconnect.org]

Ask the AccessWorld Experts! Special Online Event November 14-18

Dates: 11/14/2011 - 11/18/2011

AccessWorld iconFamilyConnect and AccessWorld Magazine are excited to announce a special opportunity for families to interact directly with some of the foremost authorities on accessible technology—from cell phones to ebooks, screen readers, classroom adaptations, and more.

Simply visit FamilyConnect's Ask the Experts blog anytime from November 14-18 (Monday-Friday) and leave your questions or concerns in the comments. Our team will be on hand to respond to your inquiries.

AccessWorld's accessibility experts include:

        Lee Huffman
        Tara Annis
        Brad Hodges
        Janet Ingber
        Deborah Kendrick
        J.J. Meddaugh
        Ike Presley
        John Rempel

This one-of-a-kind opportunity allows families to have their questions and concerns about assistive technology addressed by leading experts. Join us November 14-18 for this exciting online event!

Contact: Lee Huffman

E-Mail: accessworld@afb.net

URL: http://www.familyconnect.org/experts [familyconnect.org]

And here's AccessWorld:

AccessWorld
Technology and People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

http://www.afb.org/aw/main.asp [afb.org]

I knew some people at the American Foundation for the Blind. At that time, they had a research department of a couple of engineers creating assistive devices. You might contact the AFB or other blindness organizations and find an engineer to talk to. You might well find somebody who will be enthusiastic about your project.

You can do this! But a projector might be better (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38055612)

Rather than using an LCD, get one of those small projectors that is capable of projecting an image to cover the entire wall. Less scrolling will be needed, and you will also likely need less image enhancement.

If you work with him on this, and I mean spend a lot of hours experimenting, you will probably find that his brain has compensated by erasing an irregular shaped patch from its visual field because it knows that the info in that patch is either missing or wrong. The result is that his brain thinks that the image just left of the patch is right beside (butted up against) the image on the right of the patch. You could make software which distorts the image so that there is no information in the missing patch, and after a while, his brain will learn to correct the distortion and form a reasonable facsimile of the image. You might need to have eye-tracking software to do this right.

This would also be useful to those people with high blood pressure who have a burst artery in the retina which causes part of the visual field to distort or disappear.

Try using grids of parallel lines, (horizontal or vertical) along with a few carefully postioned movable bright spots to map the missing patch and the distorted patch.

Assistive Technology Options (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38055772)

The Lighthouse has a great description of the AT otions available:

http://www.lighthouse.org/services-and-assistance/computers-and-technology/help/magnification/

Also, it's helpful to know that legislation world wide is mandating government sites ( and pressuring private businesses) to make their websites accessible to people with disabilities

http://www.access-board.gov/sec508/refresh/notice.htm

closed ecosystem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38055916)

One of the most revolutionary developments for visually impaired individuals has been ios devices. As compared to Android the user interface is standardized and has an accessible feature on all devices that has been very well received. Best development option will likely be App development of unmet needs with ios. (There are lots of unmet needs btw in this community)

The Veterans Administration has incredible low vision resources. Better than anything anywhere.

It is very rare to lose all vision with AMD.

Library of Accessible eBooks and iOS/Android Apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38056116)

I recommend that you look into http://bookshare.org, the largest library of accessible ebooks for people with print disabilities. Non-students pay a membership fee and have access to books for free due to an exemption in copyright law for people with print disabilities. The books can be read with various assistive technologies, but I recommend using Read2Go on iOS devices. We are also developing an open source Android ebook reader that uses TTS at http://github.com/benetech/fbreaderj.

Use another sense. And get a shrink. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38056144)

My father in law has fairly advanced macular degeneration, along with color blindness. But I think geriatric depression is giving him the most pain.
His kids have tried giving him things like the cam based magnifiers. They refuse to take the time to sit down with him to make sure he can operate them and that the colours and contrast work best with his color blindness and his remaining visual field. I try, but there are limits to how much I can visit and how much I can accomplish.
He could still be reading if he'd started learning braille or if he tried something like the Brainport "lollipop" (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/182815.php). He's too damn proud to make the best of what he has left. And that leads to depression, and that's where a shrink comes in to play.

Prizmo on an iPhone? (1)

pshanks (472134) | more than 2 years ago | (#38056520)

I've had some success with scanning and OCR software on my iPhone... http://www.creaceed.com/prizmo/iphone/ [creaceed.com]

Intel Reader (1)

LUNAR_Matt (2507902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38056584)

Have you looked at the Intel Reader [careinnovations.com] ? It's a fairly affordable OCR/TTS handheld device with a custom camera and strobe, targeted to blind, low-vision, and dyslexic users. It also comes with a transforming briefcase that turns into a docking station for capturing entire books. I had the privelidge of working on the team that developed it and would be happy to answer any questions about it offline.

Audio options (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38056610)

Hi. I thimk that some others here are correct. As his condition will eventually get worse to the point of not being able to read, now is the time to explore audio solutions. A legally blind friend of mine uses a computer and screen reader software. He is able to do pretty much anything he wants or needs to do.

Another solution might be a Kindle or similar ereader that has text to speech capabilities, and can speak menu prompts as well. Many will play audio books as well. I have listened to several Libervox audio books, and the quality of the reading so far has been good.

Learning to use the above solutions now while he has some vision left will be a big advantage later on. Also, with a computer, colors and font sizes can be adjusted. Ad a camera and TV card, and you have a system very similar to what you are wanting to build.

I have some vision problems myself. I find that for me white text on a black screen is much easier to read than black text on a white screen. I do have a Kindle Keyboard ordered, partly because of the text to speech, and spoken menu options.

Maybe I can help (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38056686)

Howdy, my name is Marion Stevens, and I'm a university AT specialist, so hopefully I can help you out. I can't tell you how to build what you want, but I'll try to direct you to some services he should look into.

First, if he wants books in alternative format, I'd suggest setting him up with a Bookshare membership. It's free, and they have a good number of titles in DAISY format. DAISY is a specialized format for both print and audio that allows for very easy navigation to specific parts of the book. You need either a software or hardware player, but you can get a basic piece of software with your membership, and more feature-rich products can be purchased, including units that will convert the text into audio. Check out www.bookshare.org

Learning Ally is another service worth checking out. Like Bookshare, it encodes its books in DAISY format (well, most of them), but it uses human-read audio, which he may like better. However, unlike Bookshare, Learning Ally isn't free--memberships are $99/year. www.learningally.org

Now, on to hardware. It sounds like what you saw was a CCTV, which contains a platform on which you place text, a camera to grab images, and a monitor on which to display them. Yes, they are expensive, but you have to understand that they are very specialized devices, and you can do some neat processing tricks on the video, such as changing colors, contrast, and doing things like bracketing a single line of text, which helps people with tracking disorders focus on what they need to read. Granted, a computer can do this, but a CCTV is a single-use device, so it is extremely stable, doesn't have a long boot-up time, and is dead simple to use. That's what you're paying for.

However, I really don't think that's what he needs, at least not in the long term. Macular degeneration is usually degenerative, and, if his is, that CCTV is going to become more and more difficult for him to use. Instead, you might want to look at something like the Intel Reader. Basically, it's a little unit about three times the size of an iPhone that can quickly capture text and convert it to any of several formats, including speech. There is also a capture station you can get as an accessory that allows you to mount it at the optimal height so you can easily place printed material under it and quickly capture page after page. Captured text can be transferred to a computer for further processing, if yoou need to do that.

I know you're wanting to build him something, and I respect that, but remember that this is something he has to use on a daily basis, so it has to work and work well. If it's complicated and/or flaky, he's going to get frustrated and not use it, and then your money will have been wasted.

Obviously, I don't know where you're located, but I'm guessing you're not too far from a college or university. Give their disability services office a call and see if you can talk with their Assistive Technology Specialist. Even though your dad isn't a student, most any of them will be happy to talk with you. And if you want, you can call me at The University of Alabama Office of Disability Services. Just don't do it this week, as I'm at a conference on...you guessed it...assistive technology.

Audio books (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38058008)

This is the same problem I've just been through with my grandmother, who originally had dry MD in one eye but now has wet in both. She's been having semi-regular injections in order to slow it down, but is now at the point where she's got some blurry peripheral vision left only. A few months ago I showed her text on a laptop screen to try and gauge whether it would be of use to her as a reading device, sadly not - I suspect it would have been useful a year ago but it is well beyond that now.

Each person varies in their response to treatment of course, but in this case visual aids are no longer enough. Ultimately we've come to realize that an audio book solution is the only way to go now, though she's not a huge fan as she admits that they have a tendency to put her to sleep!

Try Compiz Fusion/eZoom under F123 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38058090)

For ready-to-go books get a membership at:
http://www.Bookshare.org/

For ready-to-go software get:
http://F123.org/en

F123 also has a paid version with high quality speech for when he needs
that in the future.

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