[access-uk] Re: Are CCTVs that useful?

  • From: "Ray's Home" <rays-home@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <access-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 4 Aug 2004 12:05:38 +0100

Thanks Tristram.  Good to have an historical perspective on CCTV.

The hobbiest and working on electronic components is one aspect I'd
forgotten, and a thing that I could imagine using a portable and easily
placed CCTV camera to help me with.

The tremendous drop in price of scanners, OCR software and the developments
in screen magnification software also effectively limit the usefulness of
CCTV, accept in the case of hand writing.  That problem is as much to do
with the legibility of individual hand-writing for me as it is to do with
the size of it.

One company has, of course, amalgamated a CCD camera with reformatting of
text and auto-scrolling, which could be a decided advantage.  As usual, this
comes at a price, a whapping price £3,000 I think.  When you consider that
much of what is being done there in software as been around in similar
fashion in Zoomtext, it seems O.T.T. to say the least.  True, the camera's
an innovation, but I could foresee AISquared building in image capture to
Zoomtext.  In fact, they've been threatening to do just that for years,
although its never materialized as yet.

Given the limited usefulness of CCTV nowadays, I'd encourage people who can
see enough to read print at all to consider the alternatives for reading
printed text.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Tristram Llewellyn" <tris-l@xxxxxxxxxx>
CCTVs today may seem rather less useful than perhaps they had done in the
past, but this is somewhat to do with developments in technology over the
last 30 years.  Today there are a great variety of other methods of
accessing print material, scanning with computers being one of the major
developments, screen magnifiers etc.  All of these give an alternative
access to print which was not available then.

A less well understood change has been in the field of very powerful LVA
optics like handheld magnifiers with build in lights etc.  That sort of
thing did not get going until the early to mid seventies.  The first CCTVs
date back to the late sixties and would predate some of those developments.
Indeed when I was in a school for the partially sighted CCTVs were very much
in evidence, some of which were already years old.  The capacity of the CCTV
to magnify text far beyond factors that optics of a comparable era meant
that it was the only way for some to practically access print with sight.
If you fell below this threshold it was the opticon or braille.

I haven't operated a CCTV in years, but there is something of a skill to it
which has to be acquired.  Even so it will never be as immediate as reading
print directly, I don't think any technology is really going to sort this
out anytime soon.  Though not all who have CCTV use them for print, I heard
of someone using one of the new breed of LCD portable magnifiers to
investigate electronic circuit boards and parts, it has it's own build in
light which I imagine is rather handy.


Tristram Llewellyn
Sight and Sound Technology
Technical Support

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Ray's Home" <rays-home@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
This question is, of course, prompted by tonight's In Touch.  Maybe the
worth of training, and what Goverment or large charities can do to ease the
affordability of access equipment will be commented on further.  It's CCTVs
that are occupying my thoughtsjust now though.  I apologise again if this is
pretty rambling, but I hope it may get a little response.

I'm sure some will answer 'Yes!' to my question.  Maybe, as in so many
things, I'm the odd one out;  but I am someone who might be thought to be
your stereotypical user, of CCTV if amount of eyesight is the prime
consideration.  Yet I've never felt a great urge to have one.

My accuity is around 2-3x20.  Certainly registable as blind, which I have
been since age eight.  I've always made good use of the little sight I have.
I taught myself to read print using an x10 glass, given me by an optition
who was belwildered about what to offer me.  It was just what I needed.
From then on I read Practical Wireless, comics and anything that took my
fancy, including, sometimes, newspapers.

At first CCTV seemed a brilliant idea.  But when I realised how cumbersome
they were, both in size and in use - moving that table around all the time,
and trying to find what you wanted - I was much less impressed.  By the
price too!  I mean, a thousand quid or more for a camera a CRT and a few
controls, not very different from a TV, to twiddle?

I've modified my opinion since, but still do not see, (smile) the big deal.
Not for me.  I still read a lot with an x10, these days with in-built LED
light.  I read whole novels, quite slowly of course, but quickly enough to
get great enjoyment.  I also use audio books from time to time too.  Not to
mention BBC7 and Oneword.  OK, the last two radio options do not give you
what you want, when you want, but still I get a good deal from those

So who is the clientel for these marvelous CCTVs?  Older people who have
lost a fair deal of eyesight is one group.  I suspect many are very quickly
disappointed though  as they never get anywhere near the ease and speed of
reading they were used to when they had normal sight. Judging by the numbers
of used CCTVs I used to see in New Beacon, I think I might be right here.
Maybe some younger people have been steered in the CCTV direction and also
maybe resist the ways of the blind in tackling reading, as though its the
final admission of defeat to use audio.  I suspect too that some helpers and
professionals feel much more at ease with a group and a method coser to
their own visual way of doing things.

Maybe I am forgetting that some want this method to deal with short
corespondence and the like.  As for using them to fill in forms, even here I
do not get the point.  I often use my magnifier for that too.  Or sometimes
I am happy for someone else to do it if its not urgent.  I suppose a more
fomfortable posture is an advantage.

So folks, who uses CCTV?  For what?  And, do you feel its worth the often
considerable outlay?  I would say that some of the more reasonable offerings
from New Vision and one or two others may help change my mind.  Much more
compact, much less desk hogs.  And I could see myself using such devices
maybe for map reading, or a little copy typing.  But for reading novels,
give me my trusty x10 any day.

Oh, did I mention, I also read Braille?  Well, very little these days, but I
can read it fluently enough to enjoy using that medium too.  Aren't I a
lucky so and so?


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