Guest post by Ian White alt= eyeIt was around two years ago, while attending a computer course on how to use a screen reader after I lost the majority of my sight, that I was introduced to a video. The video was demonstrating a piece of assistive technology designed to help blind and partially sighted people in their daily living, a piece of assistive technology that was going to raise some eyebrows in a world that assistive technology plays a vital role to millions of us who rely on accessible features on our smart phones, computers and mobile devices daily. Unknown to me at the time, this product was going to play a huge part in my life moving forward. As someone who uses assistive technology daily, I’m not easily impressed by the daily changes in a world that relies heavily on up-to-the-minute technology. However, there was something about this particular product that grabbed my attention. What was this video? Well, I’ll tell you. It was a video demonstrating the OrCam MyEye, an intuitive mobile device, a smart camera that’s mounted to the leg of a pair of eye glasses that harnesses the power to read text to the user through a small earpiece. The device also has the capability of facial and product recognition. It can help blind or partially sighted people with everyday activities. Like I mentioned previously, I’m not one that is easily impressed. However, there was something about this product that intrigued me. The video was demonstrating what the OrCam can do to assist the user and what it will be able to do in the near future. On my return home, I subscribed to the OrCam You Tube Channel and over the next couple of years, I kept my eye on its progress. Fast forward to the present, the here and now, and the strangest thing happened. Again, whilst attending my computer class, my tutor had informed me that she had made enquiries to OrCam about purchasing one of their devices. She informed me that OrCam was looking for trainers to deliver training sessions and demonstrations to potential clients, I took note of the e-mail and wrote off to enquire about one of the positions available as I hadn’t had a job since sight loss in 2011. I won’t go into the details, needless to say I got one of the positions as a trainer to cover Scotland. As part of the job, I get to use the OrCam MyEye and let me tell you, this piece of assistive technology for blind and partially sighted people is actually more impressive than the video gives it credit. After I became an employee of OrCam and I had completed my training to become a qualified trainer, I returned home to see if the device was as good as the company claimed it was. After reading through the user’s guide and trying out some of the OrCams features for myself, I got down to the nitty gritty and got hold of the one books I longed to read for myself- the book I was reading when I began my journey of sight loss. It was a book titled Hockey Stories Part 2 by the great Don Cherry. I opened the book, raised my index finger, pointed it the first page and the OrCam began reading out all the text content on the page. I was a little choked up. I was actually reading my first book, yes an actual book in my hands, and Grapes didn’t disappoint me, his stories made me laugh and when I finished, I went right to Cherry’s first book and began reading it again. Reading a book, letter and newspaper for myself was such a liberating feeling. I know some of you won’t understand this but if you are a partially sighted person, you’ll know all too well where I’m coming from. As someone who volunteered in the community working with blind and partially sighted people for RNIB Scotland, training the visually impaired to successfully use their new OrCam was an easy transition. The immense pleasure I get knowing that I am sharing in a special moment as someone discovers the power of using their OrCam for the first time is remarkable. For example, I had the pleasure of giving Patricia her a hands on demonstration at a RNIB Members forum in Glasgow. Patricia, who is totally blind, was impressed with her short demo, so much so, on her return home she booked a one to one demo at her home. Two days after the demo, I was back in touch to book in her training session as Patricia had purchased an OrCam My Eye. During this training session, Patricia told me that she hadn’t seen the changing faces of her three daughters in such a long time and at times she struggled to work out which of the three she was talking to as they all talked similarly, so she was looking forward to getting to grips with the facial recognition features. I talked her through how to load a facial image. Her daughter Christine took part in this and after naming the image, Patricia sent her daughter out of the room. Upon re-entering the room, and on cue, the OrCam MyEye said, “Its Christine”. Wow, what a moment! Patricia’s joy, her excitement, the overwhelming emotion was a joy for me to be part of. It was one of those “you had to be there moments” !!!… Two days later, and as a matter of routine, I called Patricia to enquire how she was getting on with her OrCam. She was delighted and promptly informed me that she was in a restaurant having lunch and used her OrCam MyEye to read the menu, the first time since sight loss. The above is just one of the amazing moments that I have experienced working with the OrCam and some of our customers but what has OrCam and the company done for me? The OrCam has given me independence, it’s given me back my ability to do lots of things for myself like going into a cupboard and picking out some cuppa soups, or a pot of custard instead of a pot of yogurt. I can now read my own mail, newspapers and most importantly for me, I can now read magazines from my favourite hockey team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. As for OrCam the company, Trudie Strauss, Senior Sales Director in the UK has seen something in me that other companies didn’t and with this I gained great confidence in my ability to hold down a job in a competitive marketplace. I get to travel around this beautiful country, Scotland. I get to meet some amazing people who live in a world of sight loss. And for all of this, I can’t thank Trudie, the amazing OrCam Staff and most importantly, our customers enough…. Thanks for taking the time to read this Blog, you can follow me on Twitter @Scotsman7 or @Proud_Volunteer & its Ian White on Facebook
alt= ian white Ian White is a proud Scotsman. In 2011, he lost the majority of his sight and was diagnosed with a condition known as Ischemic Retinopathy. Within a couple of weeks, he was classed as registered blind having less than 20% of vision left. He was determined to overcome this. Ian became a volunteer with RNIB Scotland and got involved with the Sight Loss Support Charity in various areas especially the Vision Support Services. He got to work across the community offering emotional and practical support to patients newly diagnosed with sight loss. Recently, Ian joined the OrCam team as a qualified OrCam Trainer. He is proud to be a member of the OrCam family and feels that a great sense of pride has been restored!

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