“It is all about quality of life.”
That's what retired nurse Peggy Green, 67, said about coping with severe vision loss caused by Uveitis, an inflammatory eye disease that destroys eye tissues. “I really didn’t know much about assistive technology, or how it could help me. I just knew that it was getting harder to read, and I didn’t know who to turn to.”
Peggy called Perkins Solutions for help and was relieved to learn about the free consultations in its assistive technology lab in Watertown for people with vision loss. “That first call made all the difference," said Peggy.
At the lab, Peggy tried out a range of desktop magnifiers and found one, a Topaz XL HD, which enabled her to read again. “That machine has changed my life. I can actually read and see pictures of my grandkids when I want to," she said. "Before, I couldn’t.”
Of course finding what you need and affording it are two different things. So staff at Perkins Products advised Peggy to contact the Mass Commission for the Blind (MCB), where with their assistance she was finally able to get the magnifier that worked for her.
Shortly after her visit to Perkins, Peggy returned to attend a Vision Awareness Day, a public event hosted jointly by Perkins and Freedom Scientific, a company that develops accessible technology like video magnifiers and screen reader software. While she was there, she learned about other assistive technology devices that make it easier to live with Uveitis. Even better, she won a portable handheld magnifier, the Ruby, in a raffle held during the event.
Two years later, Peggy is still singing the praises of her magnifier. “The Ruby, oh my God, I always have it in my handbag and I never go anywhere without it,” she said.
Peggy’s trip to Perkins in 2012 introduced her to assistive technology and community services that allow her to cope with Uveitis, giving her the ability to be more independent. She only wishes more people knew what was out there.
This blog post was contributed by Ellen Hall, who works in Business Development, Assistive Technology for Perkins Solutions.