Reading Machines for the Visually Impaired

The Plymouth Lions Club has been providing numerous services to the community for over 5 decades, including services that align with Lions International’s 100-year history and advocacy for helping those who are blind or visually impaired. One of the ways our club puts that mission into action is by providing Reading Machines to those in need.

A Reading Machine is a special device consisting of a TV monitor, closed circuit camera, and a viewing platform. The user places reading material on this platform, then the camera projects the image of what the user wishes to read on the large screen. The machine has adjustments of various magnification levels allowing users with macular degeneration conditions the ability to read again. The latest technology in Reading Machines has technology which converts text to audio, allowing people with total blindness the ability to hear what’s on the written page.

One of our reading machine users, who is totally blind, demonstrates how she uses her reading machine.

The Plymouth Lions started the Reading Machine project back in the 1990’s with a very basic, black & white machine. In 2001 we began to add 1-2 machines per year at an average cost of $2,000 each. Today, our club has 30 machines of various types.

We loan our machines out to people in the community who primarily have some level of macular degeneration. There is NO COST to the user. The Plymouth Lions provide delivery, training, and maintenance of the equipment. When the user is done with the equipment, we take the machine back and look for its next home.

Lion Michael Dimig delivers a traditional style reading machine and trains a new user with macular degeneration.

The Reading Machines go beyond just assisting with reading – it really allows people to maintain an independent lifestyle. The machines help people read their mail, books & magazines, recipes & food labels, medicine instructions, write checks, even help thread a needle. Since the beginning of the project, we have helped over 65 community members.

If you or someone you know might benefit from a Reading Machine, please e-mail Lion Michael Dimig or Lion Jason Covaleski.

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