Assistive technology and visual aids

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There is a growing range of assistive technologies available to improve the lives and opportunities for people with sight loss. Whether you or a loved one are living with LHON, here are some available technologies and aids that may help with day-to-day life.

Screen readers

Screen reading software can allow people with low or no vision to access all content and features on their electronic devices by hearing what a sighted person would see on the screen. Some popular screen readers include:


Magnifiers can allow people with LHON to read using their remaining peripheral vision. Some examples include:

  • ZoomText — this software can be used for screen magnification and visual enhancements, and can be purchased as a package with the JAWS screen reader
  • SuperNova — magnifier, screen reader and braille software for Windows PC
  • CCTV (closed-circuit television) magnifiers — these devices magnify printed materials to display a large, magnified image on a high-definition monitor

Funding low vision aids

People with LHON should be able to get a GP referral to a low vision aids clinic. This involves a discussion with a specialist who can help you find the best visual aids to meet your needs. Some aids can be loaned out to you by the clinic, but others you may have to pay for yourself.

The Access to Work scheme may be able to fund the cost of any aid or adjustments you need to do your job. Alternatively, charities or your local Social Services may help provide or fund aids.

Low vision aids can be very expensive, so it is a good idea to try them out first. Researching different types of aids, using free trials for new software and visiting places with aid demonstrations, such the RNIB and QAC sight village, can be a useful place to start.

Touch typing

Touch typing is a muscle memory method to find keys on a keyboard. Learning to touch type can take a little time, but can make a huge difference to people with low vision.

Touch Typing Study is a free, user-friendly self-study website that is designed to help you learn, practice and improve your touch-typing speed and accuracy.

Useful apps to download

Some apps that may be useful to download include:

  • The Passenger Assistance app by Transreport to help with rail travel
  • Be my eyes — a global app to connect blind and low-vision people with a sighted volunteer for real-time, virtual assistance over video call
  • Audible for a collection of audio books and other content