Donated reading machine ‘a life changer’ for Geoff
GEOFF Cornish suffers from a condition called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which over time has reduced his vision to the point where he can only make out large shapes.
Geoff started suffering the effects of AMD after an operation in 1999, and since 2000 his vision has gradually deteriorated.
His inability to see a detailed picture of the world around him has made reading letters and numbers, or even watching television, virtually impossible.
With the passing of his wife around six months ago, whom he would rely on to read for him, Geoff had no way of reading the bills, books, newsletters, newspapers and magazines that would come through the door.
That all changed a few weeks ago, when the Bowerbird Op Shop in Euroa was donated a strange looking device called an ‘Optelec Reading Machine’.
About the size and shape of a portable radio, the reader was taken home by op shop volunteer Chris Nixon for further research.
It was found that the machine was used to scan pages of text that would be converted to audio for people of low vision.
This particular piece of equipment can read an entire page containing multiple stories- including punctuation-in 45 different languages, various voices, and at whatever speed the operator prefers.
To operate, you simply hold the page under the photo arm, take a picture, and it will read out the text.
Quite coincidentally, Geoff Cornish is a neighbor of Chris’, and so he was approached to see if he had any interest in using the machine.
From that point onwards the machine has changed Geoff’s life.
“I’d never heard of a reading machine before the Nixon’s came and asked me if I was interested in having this one,” Geoff said.
“I’ve just been amazed at how well it works. Being able to read again has completely changed my life for the better.
“You don’t appreciate how difficult things can be if you can’t read letters or books until you can’t do it, and this has just made a world of difference. It really is a godsend.”
Geoff, who wears a talking watch to keep track of time, and uses an iPad with an increased size keyboard and darker text, is now looking into other technologies to help him manage as his eyesight worsens.
“I’ve spoken with my daughter who is an associate professor at Macquarie University, about other voice activated devices which will help me continue to communicate once using the phone or a keyboard becomes too hard.
“She told me that new phones come with the ability to be able to record what you’re saying and send it as a message or as an email, which is something I hope to look into.
“As technology improves it’s making life a lot easier for people like me with poor vision.”
With Geoff Cornish, the reading machine that was kindly given to the Bowerbird Op Shop has found a home where it is making a real difference, demonstrating the enormous potential value of donation.
A GODSEND: Geoff Cornish with the reading machine that was donated to the Bowerbird Op Shop. The machine has made a tremendous difference to Geoff’s life.