Bendigo's low vision and blind community samples technology to make their lives easier

Technology and gadgets to aid people who are blind or have low vision were on display in Bendigo on Monday.

Vision Australia hosted two sessions showing off apps and objects that would improve the lives of the clients.

Assistive technology specialist Steve Monigatti said there were more than 2000 Vision Australia clients in central Victoria.

He said holding the technology expo was important.

“We are doing it because there are some new devices available,” he said.

“We're showing things like iPhones and Google Home that have some good accessibility features that help our clients.

“Then there is some specific pieces of technology like the OrCam and IrisVision that help the blind community. 

OrCam a device that clips on to the frame of someone’s eye glasses.

It recognises words on page and reads it back to the user. Or Cam can also recognise up to 100 faces and objects.

For Sarah Hocking, OrCam would be life-changing.

The primary school teacher lost her sight three years ago after having surgery to remove a benign tumor on her optic nerve.

Ms Hocking said before she lost her vision, she loved reading to students.

“The most important thing is reading to kids before they go to school. If I can read text to them, It's amazing,” she said. 

“I was surprised (at OrCam). I thought I would be worried about the accuracy of what it could read but it was great. I’m looking forward to hopefully getting some n the future. 

“Each day I rely on my iPad and iPhone for voice over technology as well as some clunky apps. Some are better than others, but I make do with them. They are a little bit frustrating at times.”

Mr Monigatti said IrisVision had also proved popular.

IrisVision is a wearable device – similiar to a virtual-reality headset – with powerful magnification capabilities for people with low vision.

“It's great. We had a lady today who put the Iris Vision glasses on and was able to see her guide dog's face for the first time. She said it was magic,” Mr Monigatti said.

“Another bloke, who was an artist in his youth, took it to the art gallery and could see the brush strokes on the canvas.

“Where it falls down is the price. It’s $4000 for IrisVision and $7000 for the OrCam. It's certainly expensive stuff.”