By Julie Aufdenkamp
For some blind people with usable vision, a handheld CCTV may prove to be a valuable tool at work or home or anywhere in between. I recently acquired one of these pocket-sized video magnifiers, called a Ruby made by Freedom Scientific.
A CCTV is a video magnification device that takes printed text, pictures, or diagrams and projects them onto a screen. An image can be manipulated to enlarge it, change its colors, switch it to a negative image, or a combination of the above.
My Ruby is about the size of a hand-held magnifying glass (4.3 inch screen); however, it offers so much more. I haven’t been able to effectively use a standard magnifying glass for years. I simply cannot see through one.
I use the Ruby to read bills, letters, checks, receipts, labels, menus, maps, directions, diagrams, phone book listings, memos, price tags, report cards, etc. I have found that it is very simple to operate, even for those of us who are not technologically inclined. There are some features that I particularly like, including a flip-out handle.
I typically use the unit by setting it on the printed material I want to read. The flip-out handle allows me to use the Ruby like a conventional magnifying glass, meaning that I can hold it above a page or object.
Another feature I particularly like is the Freeze Frame button. It allows me to freeze an image that is at an arm’s length away. I can then bring it closer for easier reading. I can even change the enlargement setting while the image is frozen.
The option to change the colors of the image and background colors improves my ability to read more efficiently. I can choose to use the Ruby’s full-color mode, which is helpful in looking at pictures. If I want to read text, I can select one of the four enhanced contrast modes: black text on a white background; white text on a black background; yellow text on a blue background; or yellow text on a black background.
Hand-held CCTVs like the Ruby can be a very valuable and effective tool for short-term use in reading text, looking at diagrams, or viewing pictures. They are not efficient for use in reading textbooks, novels, or other lengthy materials. As with any tool on the market, there are limitations as well as beneficial uses. What works for me may not work for you. As a result, it is important to research the product and, if possible, get a hands-on demonstration before you buy.