CCTV music for seniors

Composer Josef Tal checks a composition using a CCTV desktop unit.

The 2018 National Health Interview Survey found that approximately 32.2 million adult Americans (approximately 13%) reported they either have trouble seeing, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses, or that they are blind or unable to see at all. Of those numbers, 23 million were between the ages of 18 and 64, and 9.2 million were 65 years and older.

As technology continues to evolve, so do tools and techniques to help those with vision impairment.

The Forum at Rancho San Antonio resident and Town Crier subscriber Bill Karras recently shared a few tips he finds useful in dealing with his own visual impairment.

He said that when possible, he reads magazines and newspapers online so that he can magnify them. On an Apple computer, press Command + to magnify whichever window is open.

On his iPad, he has an app that speaks the written word, but he said he doesn’t care for the “computer talk” it employs.

Karras visited Palo Alto’s Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired at 2500 El Camino Real, Suite 100, and purchased keyboard stickers printed in yellow and black. (These are also available from a number of sources online.) They stand out better than Apple’s standard gray type on white keys, he said.

Because he lives at The Forum, he also makes use of an electronic large-screen magnifier (CCTV) in the library that projects printed material onto a screen. Vista Center offers low-cost rentals of CCTVs.

Karras also noted that on an extended Apple keyboard, clicking Command-fn (function key) enables a microphone.

“You speak at that point and it transcribes it into writing,” he said. “I use that function to write emails, in place of my own typing. I always had a secretary who did that – I never learned to type very well.”

To set up the microphone, instructs: “Choose Apple menu > System Preferences, click Keyboard, then click Dictation. Click the pop-up menu below the microphone icon, then choose the microphone you want to use for keyboard dictation.”

From an iPhone or iPad, Support.Apple directs users “to enter text, tap the microphone button on your keyboard, then start speaking. As you speak, the text appears on the screen. To finish, stop speaking, then tap the keyboard button.”

For more information on Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, call (650) 858-0202 or visit

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