New iPad Retina Display and Zoom Feature

iPad 2 ZoomedNew iPad ZoomedThe much heralded Retina Display on the new iPad may seem to be of advantage purely to those viewing films or editing photos.  However when looking at the iPad’s accessibility this display is a major advantage.  One of the functions in the iPad’s Accessibility Options is Zoom.  This magnifies the entire screen and allows you to turn it on and off with a three finger double-tap.  You can also change the level of zoom very easily without having to return to the settings.

While Zoom is a great feature, the further you zoom in, the more ‘grainy’ the images on screen become.  I only have an iPad 2 and while I was hopeful that the retina display on the new iPad would improve this graininess, I had no proof.  After a  few futile attempts to get answers out of new iPad owners on Twitter I was forced to go to the Glasgow Apple Store to find out for myself.  Armed with a camera I managed to avoid all the blue-shirted staff and change the settings on an iPad to see if my theory was correct.

The evidence is shown in the pictures above.  On the left a zoomed in Maps icon on my iPad2.  On the right, same icon, same level of zoom on a new iPad.

As you can see the zoomed image on the new iPad is much sharper and the text much easier to read.  For someone with a visual impairment, this significant difference might make that extra £70 worth it.

Fil McIntyre

Assistive Technologist, BRITE

Seen at BETT – Hardware

BETT logoLast week I spent one and a half days at BETT; the biggest education technology exhibition in the UK.  There are many large exhibitors (Google, Microsoft etc.) who have spent thousands on their stands and are all amplifying their presentations so they can be heard over each other.  However the really interesting stands – as far as Assistive Technology is concerned – are tucked away up on the balcony or in the SEN Zone which is right at the back of the hall.

This post will focus on interesting new hardware developments and I’ll write in the near future about software developments.  Click on any images for a larger view. Continue reading

Event review: Sight Village Scotland 2011

April’s Sight Village events in Edinburgh and Glasgow saw a number of key suppliers and service providers come together to create informative days for anyone with an interest in technology and support for people who are blind or have a visual impairment.

Exhibitors included: Calibre Audio Library; Concept Northern; Dolphin Computer Access; ForceTen; Guide Dogs; Humanware; Optelec; RNIB; Sight and Sound Technology and Zychem.

It was reassuring to note that some reliable products have not seen major changes. For instance, Humanware’s MyReader2 digital magnifier-reader and Zychem’s tactile diagram kit, both items that are popular with users of BRITE’s Equipment Loan Bank, have not changed.

A couple of new developments on show at the exhibition worth noting included the Transformer portable digital magnifier and the Eye Pal SOLO scanner and reader, further details of which follow below.

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Free VI Technology Events in April

HumanWare VictorReader Stream Sight Village Scotland presents an opportunity to learn about the latest technology for people who are blind, or who have low vision.

Key suppliers will be demonstrating a range of technology suited to different tasks and needs.

Typically, the technology featured includes screen reading software, digital talking book players, screen magnification, digital magnifiers, and tools to produce Braille.

Suitable both for people who are completely new to this technology, and those who have some background wishing to update their knowledge, these events are FREE to attend and will be held at the following venues:

  • Edinburgh – Hilton Hotel, Grosvenor Street, Edinburgh, EH12 5EF between 10 am and 3:30 pm on Tuesday 5th April.
  • Glasgow – Hampden Park Stadium, Glasgow, G42 9BA between 10 am and 3:30 pm on Wednesday 6th April.

Image above is of a VictorReader Stream Digital Talking Book device, taken from the Humanware UK site. This item may be borrowed for evaluation purposes by members of the BRITE Equipment Loan Bank.

Sight Village visits Scotland March 2010

Sight Village is a FREE exhibition featuring a wide range of technology for people who are blind or who have low vision. Suitable for those new to this area of technology, as well as more experienced practitioners seeking an update, the latest in Braille, screenreading, magnification and alternative format technology will be available. Key suppliers will be on hand to provide demonstrations and answer questions.

Exhibition times

  • 2nd March 2010 – 10.30am – 4.30pm
  • 3rd March 2010 – 10.30am – 3.30pm


The Assembly Rooms 54 George Street Edinburgh EH2 2LR

BRITE Needs Assessors’ Forum June 09

The 2nd BRITE Needs Assessors’ Forum took place mid-June, and was full to capacity with BRITE-links who have either graduated with the full PDA, or who are currently working through module 4.

The first part of the morning was taken up with an opportunity for the participants to share in small groups their process of needs assessing and implementing support. The groups were tasked with identifying 4 aspects: Common Practice; Differences; Strengths; and Challenges. This proved to be a really useful chance to learn from sharing good practice, and was further developed through a feedback session at the end of the small group work. Each participant was able to gain an understanding how other colleges were operating, and the chance to delve deeper into the workings of different practice.

Before lunch, Lucy Naismith from Humanware came in to spend 45 minutes updating participants with very impressive magnification devices for people with a visual impairment. This was a very informative session, with an opportunity for ‘hands-on’ and 1-1 discussions over lunch. Our thanks go to Lucy for taking the time to be with the forum. Further information on Humanware products is available at or from Lucy at

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What’s new in magnification and digital-audio technology?

Lucy from Humanware popped into the BRITE Centre recently to demonstrate some new technology. The popular MyReader automatic reader and magnifier has been updated. MyReader2 incorporates additional features which are very useful to students who have a lot of reading to do, including the ability to store pages. If you already have a MyReader, it’s just a case of having the software upgraded, so get in touch with your local Humanware rep for information about that. If you’re new to the unique functionality of MyReader, check out the BRITE comparative evaluation, Magnification on the Move, for an introduction.

‘Take Note’ – our article about a range of note-taking solutions has recently been updated and expanded to include the latest news about digital voice recorders. This technology can be extremely useful to students who have difficulty taking notes. No sooner had that article been updated, when Lucy showed us another exciting new player and recorder designed specifically for people with a visual impairment, the VictorReader Stream!

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