Barb DeVore simply lived with her macular degeneration, adjusting and coping as her vision worsened. But this Christmas, she hit a wall. “My husband set up the Christmas tree in a darker place in the house, and when I went to decorate the tree I couldn’t see the branches,” she remembers. “I just had a meltdown. The doctors can treat the eyes, but they can’t help you learn how to deal with it.”
When Barb was diagnosed about two years ago, her doctor said “light is your friend.” She would need excellent and direct light to continue cooking and crafting, two pastimes critical to her quality of life. “I kept dragging home lights from the second-hand store, and I got all this stuff from Amazon, but nothing helped,” she explains. “It wasn’t enough.”
Then Barb and her husband spent a couple of hours with MonTECH’s ATP (Assistive Technology Professional) Michelle Allen, trying light-up magnifiers and other devices. “I don’t need magnification all the time, but I do need light all the time,” Barb says.
The couple found several devices useful, including a bump dot to stick on their microwave ‘Start’ button (the dark lettering on their microwave is hard to see) and a rolling floor lamp with magnification. Barb borrowed the lamp to use at home for about a week. “Right away, I ordered it from Amazon, because I KNEW it would work!” Michelle also taught Barb how to use inverted-color contrast on her computer and her phone – she can see white letters on a black ground far better than black on white.
Barb’s husband is hard of hearing, so the team showed her the Live Transcribe feature on her Android phone. Now Barb can press an icon on her screen while she’s speaking, and he can read a live transcription of everything she’s saying. “They knew stuff that nobody, in two years, had been able to help me with,” Barb explains. “There was nothing I needed to be techy about. The girls knew what I needed. They were kind, and there was no pressure and no rush.”
For 30 years, Barb enjoyed weaving, sewing, and crafting beautiful cards. Her vision loss put a stop to these joyful pursuits – temporarily. MonTECH was delighted to receive a beautiful handcrafted thank-you card from Barb a few weeks after her appointment.
[MonTECH is Montana’s assistive technology program. Contact us for free 1:1 help and free loans of equipment: (406) 243-5511, firstname.lastname@example.org.]