By Peter Williams, Guest Blogger I am 87 years old. I live in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. And I have macular degeneration. This medical condition started four to five years ago, and is gradually worsening. Before retirement, I was a maths tutor at The Open University and I always wanted to be an author. So when I retired, I started writing historical novels. Some of my titles include Owain Glyndwr, The Last of Prince of Wales and Llywelyn, The Life and Death of a Warrior Prince. My most recent work, for which I have just signed a contract (to be published soon by Y Lolfa Publishers – www.ylolfa.com), is The Way Things Are, A Collection of Poems and Stories. I first heard about OrCam from The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) on a Radio 4 programme, on which they mentioned the OrCam device. RNIB said that it was currently available in the UK, and provided a phone number. I contacted OrCam and was offered a free demonstration in Newport. I mentioned my eyesight deficiency and age, and that I couldn’t get to Newport. The OrCam representative very kindly said the company would send someone to perform a demonstration of the OrCam assistive technology device in my own home. I bought OrCam on the spot (a few months ago) and have not regretted my decision. When I initially heard about the OrCam device, my first thought was that it was analogous to a bright light illuminating a vast expanse of darkness. I have not been disappointed. After I experienced the OrCam device, my feelings were those of elation because it had lived up to my expectations. The most meaningful functionality which the OrCam device has enabled me to carry out – which I could no longer do – is reading books. My writing requires a great amount of research. I have a house full of books and OrCam’s text-to-speech reading instantly delivers every time I point my finger at a printed page. Although I am a mathematician, I have always found my relaxation in reading and writing literature. My hobbies include reading various types of books, such as autobiographies, novels, audio books, and writing. I also enjoy going to see plays and used to journey to Stratford several times a year to attend Shakespeare plays and experimental theatre, put on by the Royal Shakespeare Company. I’m delighted with OrCam’s artificial vision technology, as the device enables me to regain the ability to do some of my favourite things. OrCam communicates through a natural sounding voice, which I quite like. The primary reason that I use OrCam is to read – and not depending on other people to read for me is something that has helped me achieve a greater degree of independence. As my vision continues to deteriorate, OrCam will become increasingly useful for me. It’s very effective for reading letters, bills and dealing with my post, and has also helped me to read cheques (which used to be very difficult for me before I got my OrCam). The device performs far better than the visual book device I have. OrCam is marvelous, as it takes a photo of the page and reads it all out. Using my OrCam device, I can effortlessly read this blog!
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