The partnership between FITA and ADVICE continues to make available new technology solutions to persons with disability in the Maltese Islands. Thanks to the support of suppliers and sales agencies, we are able to try out and demo the very latest products, for the benefit of our clients, many of whom get a chance to try out the technology for themselves before opting to buy it.
Two recent products which are being made available at the ICT Lab at FITA are the C-Pen Reader and OrCam device.
We published a video review of the C-Pen back in February 2017. Scanning pens, such as the C-Pen Reader, are a popular and relatively inexpensive form of assistive technology which help people with literacy difficulties access printed text. Different pens have different combinations of functions available. Among these are: read back, dictionary definitions, scanning and storing and data transfer to PCs. These features make scanning pens especially handy for anyone with dyslexia as they can read aloud text from books, labels and documents.
This tackles literacy difficulties surrounding reading that many children and adults with Dyslexia, face on a day to day basis. In very practical terms, this means that students with literacy difficulties can independently take their exam knowing that they can read and understand each question. Other portable scanner pens include the Exam Pen Reader from C-Pen, IRIS Pen and the Wizcom Reading Pens. Please note that only the C-Pen Reader is presently available for you to try out at FITA. For more information on these products contact FITA or visit http://www.dyslexic.com/product-category/hardware/portable-scanners/
At the time of writing, the OrCam comes in two flavours. The MyReader which is designed specifically to read printed text and the MyEye which goes a step further by also identifying people’s faces and different everyday items or products.
If you already visited FITA and tried out the desktop or tablet based magnifiers and OCR readers, you shall realise that the OrCam pioneers similar OCR technology but in a compact and portable format. With the OrCam you can hear any text, appearing on any surface. Recognize the faces of people in your life. Identify supermarket products and money notes. For people who are blind, visually impaired, or have dyslexia, aphasia or other conditions. OrCam MyEye gives a good deal of independence.
During our testing at FITA we confirmed that most of the capabilities covered by the marketing videos of OrCam are true and work quite well. It takes some time and patience to teach it to identify new products. However it learns faces quickly and identifies both products and people quite reliably once it learns them. Reading books, magazines, small phone screens and shop signs requires good lighting conditions. When it works and this happens quite consistently, it delivers a big sense of freedom and independence.
On the downside, battery life though respectable, is less than we expected. With regular moderate use it lasted about 3.5 hours. The manual needs some corrections, as it feels like the product continued to develop beyond the level described by the manual. For example, the menu system as described in the manual is organised differently from that on the device. Some gestures like reading time, by simply pointing at your wrist was also not covered in our copy of the manual. However this detracts little from the overall experience, since the product is relatively easy to use once you master the first few commands, which mainly involve pointing at any text around you and having the device automatically read it out for you.
We invite you to visit us at FITA in order to try out the different products we have on display. You may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 25992048 in order to set up an appointment.