Chapter 12 of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) details the different types of reading devices for the blind and visually impaired. It specifies the maximum limits for the amount of light that may be directed at the user. For example, a reading lamp is designed to provide low-level lighting which can improve reading for the blind and improve their comfort. These low vision aids should also make it possible for the user to adjust the level of light.
Chapter 12 also helpfully defines the different types of reading products for the blind and visually impaired. The various products fall into one of four categories:
- Braille products;
- Discrete laser reading products;
- Interactive whiteboards;
Chapter 12 also clarifies that visual impairment is covered under each of these categories. There are other important aspects of these chapters, which can be referred to by customers. The following discussion provides a brief overview of the different types of products in relation to the ADA.
Braille reading devices
Braille reading devices for the blind are specially made to read Braille print. They are constructed so that the text is Brailleized using invisible lines arranged in proper sequence. This enables visually impaired people to identify characters and words easily. Many stores offer specially designed Braille-printed books and products for people with low vision conditions.
Certain Braille reading devices for the blind include:
- a pointer;
- a Braille keyboard;
- an electronic fingerboard.
This enables the visually impaired people to move the pointer or the finger anywhere within the text. The electronic fingerboard makes it possible for blind users to type without turning their eyes away from the page. Most such Braille products are available in the market at affordable prices. This means that low-vision products can be obtained even at the lowest price.
Scanners as readers for the blind
High contrast, low light, high resolution, and total document analysis (TCDA) capabilities of scanning devices like digital cameras and scanners are advantageous. They allow users to extract information from any kind of print media including photographs, reports, manuals, web pages, business documents, and audio and videotapes. In this way, low contrast, low light, and high-resolution capabilities of scanning devices make them suitable for use in any environment including offices, classrooms, and homes. Such scanning products are more versatile as compared to binaural audio and video recognition methods.
Optical reading devices for visually impaired
Optical readers, on the other hand, are suitable for individuals whose reading difficulties are not so severe. These low vision aids use the latest technology-optical scanning technologies to help improve the reading experience of the readers. One example of an optical reader is the e-Ink. This is a portable, battery-powered, multi-functional reading device that allows users to scan printed text and images, process them instantly, and then store them in a specialized memory. Other reading devices, such as laser printers, offer similar functionality with the addition of faxes and digital camera functionality.
A variety of technological innovations have made it possible for readers to decode many different types of visual signals, such as monochrome (black and white), infrared (red and green), or ultraviolet (UV). Some readers are also capable of performing a binaural stereo effect, a condition where two sound waves are delivered to the left and right eye via headphones. The output from the right eye is interpreted by the left eye through a binaural signal, which produces a stereo effect. Monochrome readers, which consist of a black and white display, and ultraviolet readers, which consist of a black and monochrome display, both utilize this binaural technology.
All reading devices for visually impaired people, regardless of the type of technology they use, offer convenience. Some devices allow users to adjust their focus automatically, allowing them to better read or select what to read without having to think about it. Some are touch-sensitive, while others are readers that are used with a pen or stylus. Other technological advancements enable devices to be used with portable computers and handheld computers. In many cases, all reading devices for visually impaired people are available for purchase at a local electronics store.