Blind People Reading Print They Can’t See? There’s an App for That!

I am a legally blind individual with an eye condition called Bardet Biedl Syndrome and have difficulty reading printed materials. Typically, I read using electronic magnifiers such as a Close Circuit TV or Freedom Scientific’s Ruby magnifier. But, these have downsides. A CCTV, especially a desktop version, is not portable, and the Ruby, though it’s portable, is generally for quick reading and it is just one more item for the user to carry with them.

Now, thanks to the advances of mobile technology, there is another way! The National Federation of the Blind has made the dream of reading print for blind, visually impaired, and print-disabled individuals into a reality with the KNFB Reader, a fast, accurate, and easy to use app for an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. You can now also use KNFB Reader on any Windows 10 computer, phone, or tablet. The KNFB Reader mobile app reads print aloud and can be used to read just about any printed material accurately and almost instantly.

It’s so easy. You simply take a photo of the words with your mobile device, and the app reads these aloud with high quality text-to-speech through optical character recognition (OCR). The KNFB Reader has tilt guidance and a field of view report to tell you if you are getting the right photo. It doesn’t matter if you can see that you have the whole page in range or even if it happens to be upside-down. Talk about the miracles of technology!

The KNFB Reader app is really a great tool. I have used it to read my pay stubs and the printed mailing addresses on envelopes. KNFB Reader reads the text flawlessly. I first use the field of view report to make sure I have as much of the document captured as possible, then take a picture. You can also use the tilt guidance feature to make sure the camera is level with the document. If you are scanning a lot of documents, I recommend purchasing a stand to rest the phone or tablet on. The National Federation of the Blind’s Independence Market sells one for $12. We all have smartphones with us all the time these days, so this app gives you the ability to independently read printed material wherever you are, which is very convenient!

The KNFB Reader can be used to read bills, class handouts, PowerPoint presentations, business cards, song listings on CD cases, books, and so much more. The original device, which was invented in the 1970s by Ray Kurzweil, was the size of a kitchen freezer and it was not portable! Now it is portable and can be downloaded onto any device.

The KNFB Reader is available for Apple, Android, and Windows 10 devices for varying prices. You can visit the Apple AppStore, the Google PlayStore, or the Microsoft Windows app store to find current pricing. The manual for KNFB is posted on the home page of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey, www.nfbnj.org, the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois, www.nfbofillinois.org, and the National Federation of the Blind of Delaware, www.nfbde.org. The manual is also available within the app itself. Step-by-step instruction videos can be viewed at www.knfbreader.com. If you have any questions regarding KNFB, please direct them to the KNFB Reader Liaison for New Jersey, Rick Fox, at 973-743-6107 or richardfox1@comcast.net.

You can live the life you want with KNFB Reader!

Some of the above material originated from www.nfb.org/knfbreader.

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The Meaning of “Blind With Vision”

When most individuals learn that someone is blind, they believe that individual has complete or partial loss of vision. What they don’t realize is that the blind individual has only lost their physical vision, and still has the use of mental and tactile vision.

An example of mental vision is imagining something you want done through your mind’s eye. This is possible regardless if you have vision or not.

An example of tactile vision is using your hands to feel tactile objects or text. Some tactile objects or texts include LEGO bricks, 3D photos, and Braille.

As stated in the National Federation of the Blind’s one minute message, “blindness is not the characteristic that defines a blind person and their future.” Through learning how to use nonvisual tools and techniques, having a positive attitude in life, and willingness to think outside of the box to accomplish tasks, they are able to live the lives they want. This has been the NFB’s philosophy since its founding in 1940.

 When I was looking for a tagline for my company, Mackey Enterprises, I asked several individuals for their ideas and suggestions. During one of my workout sessions with Steve Murray of Rezults Never Lie, he reminded me that even though I might be blind, no one can ever take away my vision. That was when I came up with the tagline “Blind With Vision”. It falls in line with the NFB’s philosophy.

So what does “Blind With Vision” really mean? The best way for me to explain it is by giving you an example. A blind individual needs to take notes independently. So the best way for him to do so is by using a slate and stylus to write notes in Braille. Another method is by using a note recorder and type up their notes on a computer with the aid of a screen reading program. The individual is using his nonvisual vision to “see” this task from another perspective. Many blind individuals do this in their jobs, self-employed businesses, and personal lives.

So I encourage you to live the life you want by “seeing” things from a different perspective. It doesn’t matter if you are blind, sighted, deaf-blind, deaf, hard of hearing, Autistic, or whatever. Be willing to embrace having a “Blind With Vision” attitude to see whatever you are doing.