What are CCTV digital magnifiers and can they help me read?

Published on
January 5, 2022

One of the common magnification devices for people with low vision is what is called a CCTV or closed circuit television. Basically, what this does is it utilizes a camera to project the image onto a screen. So imagine you have something that you're trying to read like a newspaper, and the individuals able to place the newspaper underneath the camera on a table, the camera then takes the print from the newspaper and projects it onto a monitor, the patient can then turn the magnification, so we may be able to magnify it 5,7,9,12 times. You can also change the contrast. So if it was newspaper print, which is a kind of gray writing on a lighter gray background, the individual can change that to where it looks like it's black on white, so kind of an enhanced black and white contrast. Or they can do what's called a reverse contrast where it makes the text look white and the background look black. 

CCTVs are great devices for patients to use. When they were first available, they were all available in a desktop version. While they were extremely functional, they were quite large for many patients, and they weren't portable at all. Now what we see as the technology continues to emerge is that they became more portable. Now we have devices that have those same benefits of digital projection and ability to change contrast, but now we can also put them in our pocket-book and take it with us to church, grocery store, or wherever the patient may be going. 

Another feature of the CCTVs that are great is the ability to not only help a patient read themselves, but also having the text automatically read to the patient. Many of the latest models of CCTV have what is called OCR capability, or optical character recognition. What OCR means is that the device is able to recognize text on the page within that image and then read that out loud. So for a patient who maybe has difficulty sometimes using their vision, they can now listen to any text that they want being read to them.

Learn more about portable digital magnification here


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