Using the OrCam MyEye to Make the World a Better Place: The Story of Ken Jessup

2016-06-04 | By Orcam Staff

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Using OrCam to Make the World a Better Place: Ken Jessup's Story

Being a lobbyist, Ken Jessup has no problem speaking to audiences. “I speak off the top of my head,” he says. But when it comes to reading, it is not as easy for Ken. Well, that all changed when he received his OrCam MyEye.


Ken Jessup, from Virginia, was born completely blind. Diagnosed with congenital glaucoma, he had his first eye surgery when he was 6 months old. Over the years he had several more surgeries including 2 corneal transplants. He currently has a good field of vision but he can only see about 20 feet in front of him when fully sighted people can see about 100 feet away.


It was at an Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) conference where Ken was exposed to the OrCam MyEye for the first time. He noticed one of the staff members from Envision Technology, a provider of assistive technology for individuals with learning difficulties and visual impairments, wearing the little camera on her glasses. Ken was intrigued so when he went back to his house he started researching.  After reading all the articles and watching the YouTube videos with the “cute girl” using the OrCam MyEye at the super market, he knew he found what he was looking for. He called up Envision and said “the OrCam is unbelievable, I want it!”


Before having the OrCam MyEye, Ken used to use electronic magnifiers to read text. “I bought this 7 inch magnifier to help me read, but it doesn’t do what the OrCam does,” he says.


Ken really enjoys using the product recognition feature of the OrCam MyEye “I have already taught my OrCam to recognize  Fiji water, Breyers ice cream and Crown Royal whisky – you know, the important things,” he says. Ken can’t read small print so going to the supermarket was always difficult for him as he couldn’t read the expiration dates on the food products. “ I used to drive my wife crazy asking her to read them to me…now all I do is press the button and the OrCam reads right to me”


The OrCam MyEye has really helped Ken with his job.  Ken uses his device during meetings to read paper work and legislative bills to help him prepare for what he is going to present to the politicians. Ken mainly lobbies for environment protection and disability issues. Some of his clients include Virginia Voice, AER, and Virginias’ Growing. Whether he is fighting to stop blowing up mountains for coal or advocating for cleaner water, Ken is passionate about his job and helping make the world a better place. “My job is to get the politicians to do the right thing,” he says.


Although he has yet to use the face recognition feature, Ken has already told a few people that he plans to program them into his device. “I speak in front of political committees and I can never see who I am speaking to,” he says “now I will put their faces into my device and when I slowly turn my head during a speech, I will hear who is in front of me”


Because Ken represents clients in multiple states, he is always traveling. The OrCam MyEye helps him read what gate to go to and the status of his flight. Ken’s coworker is also visually impaired and after hearing about the OrCam MyEye from Ken, he wants one too!


Ken is still getting used to the device as he has only had a short amount of time. “It’s going to take a while for me to learn the OrCam and for the OrCam to learn me,” he says “but I am so satisfied with the independence this device has given me!”

ken jessup behind podium
Ken representing the American Council of the Blind at the US senate. It is also the cover shot of Ken’s first book, “It Was Just A Phase.”

Ken representing the American Council of the Blind at the US senate. It is also the cover shot of Ken’s first book, “It Was Just A Phase.”