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The Cassia Life: How to Read When You Can't Anymore

January 22, 2020

The Cassia Life
By Jesse Watkins, Cassia’s own resident blogger

Amazing. But there it was.

Sitting at my desk, hands on the computer keyboard roaming the internet, I stumbled onto the website of MaxiAids, a Farmingdale, New York, company that, it turns out, sells high-tech computer hardware and other machines that can light up your life.

“Yes, the Eye-Scan Reader scans any 8½ X 11 or smaller printed item and reads it back to you aloud,” according to Barry Greenblatt, director of sales at MaxiAids. “Many of our customers are seniors, and are blind, of course,” he said. “Customers often tell me they want to read their daily mail themselves, not have to depend on someone else."

“Also they want to read newspaper and magazine articles, which you can fold down to fit the scanner’s copier-type lid. "

“One model can store material it has read, like a computer with its hard drive does. There are several models, offering different features. Each provides an easy to use keypad. "

“The reader voice can be male or female, and the user increases or decreases reading speed.”

Greenblatt invites readers of this blog to contact him directly for more information or for buying help. The telephone number is (800) 522-6294, and his extension is 802.

List price of the Eye-Scan Reader Basic (Model SKU: 803937) is $1,995 plus shipping, which is about $100. Shipping of new orders takes place in a week or two. The eye-Scan Reader Plus (SKU: 803933) reads aloud like the Basic model, plus stores up to 20 pages in its memory. Price is $2,195 plus the shipping.

Obviously, the reading aid described above isn’t low-cost. But if reading is a major aspect of your life and you have little else to do, it might seem like a bargain. You have to have the money, too, and your hearing needs to be adequate.

Note that some computers read aloud from content, but they don’t scan.

Many of us with a few years under our belts and eye problems that hang around can read some of the time. It’s a matter of how long one can sustain reading—maybe an hour, maybe several hours.  Significant reading daily is needed to keep up with the current reading stack.

An eye affliction that I have that’s fairly common and that handicaps sustained reading is the dry eye syndrome. Usually if I read a while, especially when reading small type, the words first begin to blur, then my eyes tire, and finally I can’t make out the words at all due to severe blurring and even some pain.

The partial answer for me, then, is large print. I prefer 14- to 18-point type. But you won’t find much large-print material lying around my office and home or at the library.

There simply isn’t much large print, especially in non-fiction. The reason is the audio book, says Paul McHugh, a retired librarian. People seem to prefer it, says McHugh. And, after all, isn’t it easier just to sit and listen than to tax your eyesight to the point of eye strain? And the large print daily newspaper or popular magazine hardly exists.

A more useful system for me in trying to achieve sustained reading without eye strain is my Nook tablet. Sold by Barnes and Noble, the book seller with large retail stores at major shopping malls, the newer Nook is programmed by Comcast. It accommodates an app that enables it to read audio books, aloud of course.

For reading visually, type size is adjustable and most importantly it is backlighted. My eyes seem to like that system better in that they don’t tire as readily.

Another reason why I like my Nook is its quickness in downloading whole books, usually from B&N. It takes just minutes. I like its capacity to hold a great number of long and short books, which in turn makes the Nook a great travel companion.

Also it’s a computer on the go, containing Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other software. Living in the information age as we do, retaining the ability to read seems imperative to knowing what’s happening around us.

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