Clearing things up: NATRC provides vision-aiding devices

“Oh wow,” Katryna Hemp said as soon as she placed the glass dome over the paper. “I like this.”

Hemp, a 21-year-old education major at the University of Nevada, Reno, was reading through the lens of a globe magnifier.

Hemp has difficulty seeing and devices, such as the half circle of acrylic that makes up a globe magnifier, magnify type and other things to help her out.

Today, in the offices of the Nevada Assistive Technology Resource Center (NATRC), Hemp was trying out new tools. She had been using the magnification systems powered by her laptop’s standard operating system and a globe magnifier that doubled sizes and was about 2 inches across.

She would leave with a lot more.

Hemp’s exclamation came after Scott Youngs, a Project Director for NATRC, handed her a globe magnifier that could have eaten her old one for breakfast. It was four and a half inches across and magnified text four times larger.

Hemp's old and new globe magnifiers side by side on a piece of paper. The new magnifier is larger in size and has more power.

“You have more real estate, but this one’s heavier and a load to carry,” Youngs said. “It’s all about you and what you’re doing.”

Hemp carried the new magnifier over and put it over a piece of paper next to her old one.

“Oh wow.”

Hemp left with the new globe magnifier and an Optelec FarView (a device that uses a camera to capture documents which can then be zoomed in on) leased to her for free through NATRC’s lending library.

Youngs and Hemp check out the magnifying capabilites of the Optelec FarView.

The FarView could fulfill an important function for Hemp after today: Seeing the whiteboard in class. Hemp is starting her final year studying elementary and special education and said her difficulties with the board in class were what brought her to the NATRC.

“I was referred here,” Hemp said. “The whiteboard has been a major issue. I had a notetaker, but that’s been a big hassle. I did not know all this stuff existed. It’s very nice. It was nice to come here and see that people actually care.”

The Optelec can capture text, like this sample Youngs and Hemp saw, and magnify it.
Youngs demonstrates how the captured sample text looks on the Optelec’s screen.