Do­nated read­ing ma­chine ‘a life changer’ for Ge­off

Euroa Gazette - - NEWS - By WILL MUR­RAY

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.

PHOTO: Will Mur­ray

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.

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