Artificial intelligence technology helps blind people to hear text


A mum who lost her sight has started using artificial intelligence technology to help her understand text so she can use magazine.

Sarah Matthews from Forest Hill lost her sight after a head injury damaged an optic nerve.

She studied art and design at university, before going on to work as a freelance illustrator for magazines and newspapers.

Sarah has struggled adjusting to losing her sight and started learning Braille and trying various screen readers, as well as listening to podcasts about the technology available to help blind and partially-sighted people.

That is how she heard about the OrCam MyEye 2, a wearable device that uses artificial intelligence technology to read any printed text, as well as recognise faces, products, barcodes, currency notes, and colours.

The device does not improve eyesight. The information gathered is translated into speech which Sarah can hear using the accompanying earpiece.

Sarah said: “I was tired of having to rely on other people to come around and read letters or other printed documents for me, so I was really excited to be able to use my OrCam device to read by myself.

“Another goal I had set myself after losing my sight was to be able to read magazines again.

I used to love reading magazines, particularly as I used to work in the industry, but after I lost my sight it became impossible.

“As soon as I got my OrCam device I started trying to read magazines again and now I can use it to read them cover to cover. One of my favourite things is sitting outside in the summer and reading a whole glossy magazine.”

Sarah began using the Orcam device in 2015 and was one of the first in the UK to do so.

Sarah said: “It’s really good to be back involved with my son’s reading and development. When he gets home from school I read his books and when he gets stuck I can help him.

“It’s really nice to be able to share those experiences again.”

Sarah added: “When you have had sight your whole life it is very difficult to adjust to suddenly not having any sight.

My OrCam device has definitely helped me to adjust because it lets me do lots of things that I used to be able to when I had sight.”

Sarah has started working as a volunteer for a local charity called Listening Books, which provides audio books to people with a range of disabilities who struggle to read printed books.

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