VIP set to open low vision tech lab

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 12, 2005

Area residents who have low vision will soon have a nearby place to go to learn about the wide range of products and services available to help them see the world more clearly.

The Visually Impaired People (VIP) organization recently received a $1,000 donation from the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Caring Foundation to purchase equipment for a low vision technology lab.

Primary Eyecare Associates also donated office space for the location of the lab.

William Bowman, president and founder of VIP, said the lab would be used to showcase some of the tools commonly used by the visually impaired and information how these items can be obtained.

“I’m not going to be doing any sales,” Bowman said. “This lab is just to help people figure out what assistant technology would be good for them.”

Bowman said he plans to install a computer in the lab equipped with software that magnifies items on the monitor, along with a kit of hand-held magnifying glasses.

One company donated two types of close circuit TV (CCTV) magnification systems for display in the lab. The CCTV is a video camera connected to a monitor. The camera is equipped with a zoom feature that allows the user to magnify anything placed in the camera’s view.

Bowman said the VIP lab would feature a stand-alone CCTV and a smaller portable device.

“Independent Living Aids, Inc.,” a catalog of products for the visually impaired, donated boxes full of items to be displayed in the lab, including large number clocks and large print games.

“We are also going to purchase some things in Braille as well,” Bowman said.

Bowman said his lab would be the first of its kind in Dallas County.

“There are some in Birmingham and Montgomery, but that is a long way to go for someone who is visually impaired,” he said. “We are centrally located in Dallas County and we hope to help out people who live in the surrounding areas.”

Dr. Benjamin Harris, of Primary Eyecare Associates, said the lab would be a “life-saving asset” to the visually impaired community.

“We are going to have good stuff here,” he said. “This lab would be ideal for the people of the Black Belt. We are going to have a lot of information here that people can use.”

Once it is fully stocked and ready, Bowman said he hopes to have an open house for people to see what the lab has to offer.

“We want to show people these devices that can help them in a lot of ways,” Bowman said. “As long as they got hope, we can help them.”

Primary Eyecare Associates is located at 3007 Citizens Parkway.

Bowman said the VIP organization is currently accepting donations to its low vision technology lab and other community projects.

For more information about the lab and VIP, contact Bowman at 875-1244.