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New York City
May 2002

The VisAble Video Telescope
By Andrew Schiff

Over the last decade educators have paid great attention to students with disabilities, particularly those with learning disabilities like dyslexia and attention deficit disorder. Less attention, however, has been spent on students with severe visual disabilities. For those who are visually handicapped, Betacom, a Canadian company based in Ontario, has developed the right elixir.

The VisAble Video Telescope is a slickly designed hand-held visual aid which can easily be mistaken for a camcorder. Its resemblance to the camcorder and its ergonomic design is one of its great advantages, simply because it contrasts so strongly with modern day, but akward looking, visual aids. Its blue shell and colorful buttons that control the inner mechanisms of the device make it highly user-friendly. Another strength is its small size (small enough to fit into the palm of oneís hand) and light weight. Simply lifting a product alone can be an obstacle to better vision, but because of the VisAble Video Telescopeís lightness, students will find it easy to lift and put down.

Of course, the main benefit of the Betacom product is its ability to aid sight. The VisAble Video Telescope allows for minification and magnification for near, mid and long-range tasks, image capture for detailed inspection, and natural rate auto-focus. Another important feature is that it can also brighten the object in focus: if the classroom is dark, a student with the VisAble Video Telescope simply has to press the yellow button located on the top of the product to brighten the subject in focus. All these points allow students who canít see the blackboard to see and work with great effectiveness in the classroom

The practicality of the VisAble Video Telescope also enables an individual to apply the product to a wide variety of uses, not all educational. For instance, the VisAble Video Telescope, in cases of near range tasks, can be used like a magnifier for reading drug labels, store receipts or even restaurant menus. For mid range tasks it can be used to identify faces across the room; to find products in a grocery store aisle; or to read signs at the theater or stadium. For long range tasks, it can be used to independently navigate unfamiliar environments; to survey your surroundings; see and read street signs, and/or to watch sporting events. Other features include polarity reversal and contrast enhancement.

The VisAble Video Telescope runs on a lithium-ion 7.2 volt rechargable battery (the same one also used for Hitachi camcorders) which slides into the bottom of the hand-held unit.

All in all, with its ergonomic design and ease of use and, more importantly, features which aid the severely visually impaired, the VisAble Video Telescope makes a wonderfully effective product and a great boon for learning.#

 

Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel: (212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: ednews1@aol.com.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2001.




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