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Read Mumsnetters’ feedback on OrCam assistive technology device for learning difficulty or visual impairment

(17 Posts)
JustineBMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 14-Dec-17 18:01:11

This is the feedback thread for the 8 Mumsnetters who have been testing an OrCam assistive technology device, designed to help with learning difficulties and visual impairment with their children.

Here’s what Orcam has to say: “OrCam has introduced the world’s most advanced artificial vision innovation to the UK, which is enabling a growing number of people with vision or reading difficulties to regain their independence. OrCam discreetly communicates visual information by utilizing a small, intuitive smart camera mounted on the wearer’s eyeglass frame. The unobtrusive and lightweight device relays text and other visual information by audio, in real time, through a tiny speaker positioned toward the ear.

With OrCam, any printed text, from any surface – newspapers, books, computer and smartphone screens, restaurant menus, labels on supermarket products and street signs – becomes instantly accessible. OrCam's assistive technology helps support the learning process of children who read at a slower pace than others in their class as well as adults with reading difficulties resulting from dyslexia.

Additional functionality for people who are blind or visually impaired include the announcement of family members, friends and co-workers as they approach the OrCam wearer. Furthermore, favourite supermarket items, credit cards and denominations of pound notes are seamlessly recognized.”

Testers, please answer the below questions, as well as giving any other feedback you might have:
1. What were your thoughts when you first heard about the OrCam device?
2. What was your child’s reaction after they started using the OrCam device?
3. What are some of the challenges that you child faces due to their vision loss/dyslexia, and how has the OrCam device provided assistance?
4. With what activities has your child used the OrCam device at home/school/university/workplace?
5. Can your child use OrCam for their hobbies?
6. What do you like most about the OrCam device?
7. If anything, what is the biggest thing that the OrCam device allows your child to do that they couldn’t do before?
8. Has OrCam helped your child become more independent?

All testers who give their feedback on the thread will be entered into a prize draw where one MNer will win a £300 voucher.

Thanks and good luck!


Standard Insight T&Cs apply

stayathomegardener Thu 14-Dec-17 22:14:57

Oh my goodness I wondered where this thread went.

I'll start.

When I first read about the opportunity to trial this device I couldn't believe the timing, DD was due to start University in September and if I'm honest neither of us were confident she would cope without family support with reading.
DD's first reaction on finding out she had been selected... " it's the holidays PLEASE don't make me read"
However after Orcam trainer Judy's first session things quickly changed. That first night DD voluntarily read the first chapters of a book. This. Has. Never. Happened. Before!

DD is dyslexic and has severe Irlens which quickly leads to migraines.

I'm going to have to jump a few questions and come back as I need to speak to DD about how the Orcam device has helped her specifically and the amazing thing is, I need to ask her in person because she is now thanks to Orcam independent!
So I guess that answers the final question that is the biggest thing, independence.

stayathomegardener Fri 22-Dec-17 09:47:35

Right the following from DD.
Orcam helps me to obtain information independently without reading which reduces the migraines, allowing me to study for longer periods. Previously I could only manage about 20 minutes which was quite limiting when working at degree level.

I also love that Orcam can proof read my essays, when I try reading it myself my brain overrides what is actually written and I "see" what I thought I wrote. When Orcam stops making sense I know I need to check that section word by word as I've usually skipped or mixed words.

Orcam is also brilliant when working on Photoshop, I can work on an image on one page while Orcam repeats the instructions from another, again and again so I don't miss anything out. It's a great checklist and speeds things up.
DD also mentioned that she appreciates how discreet is and the long battery life.

StuntNun Wed 10-Jan-18 20:10:12

1. What were your thoughts when you first heard about the OrCam device?

I thought it sounded absolutely perfect for my DS2 who has learning difficulties (basically dyslexia) and is still around two years behind his age in reading. He has struggled with reading for years, to the point that it seems painful to him. He reads without understanding because he guesses any words that he doesn’t know. This reduces his enjoyment of books and makes school work very difficult because he can’t read comprehension passages, and he can’t always understand written questions, even in maths which is a subject he excels in otherwise.

DS2 said “Excited, and couldn’t wait to try it out.”

2. What was your child’s reaction after they started using the OrCam device?

He took to it quickly, he was practically showing the instructor how to use it! To be honest I think he saw it as a new toy, he was very keen to get to school the next day to show it to his friends. When he turned up at school with the camera on his glasses he was the centre of attention. His mates thought it was a camera for recording YouTube videos. He said they didn’t believe it could read for him and they were amazed when he demonstrated it for a few of them. This was a big relief because I had a slight concern that it might be a cause of bullying but in this tech-centred world, apparently an OrCam is really cool!

DS2 said “I thought it was pretty cool and it would help me a lot during reading tests. It was pretty easy to use although sometimes I would mix up the buttons. It was tricky to gauge the distance and angle to hold the text I was reading.” The camera has a fixed field of vision so you have to hold the text in the correct position which took DS2 a little time to get used to.

3. What are some of the challenges that you child faces due to their vision loss/dyslexia, and how has the OrCam device provided assistance?

Reading takes a lot of effort for DS2. He enjoys reading but I was never sure that he understood much of the stories he was reading. It’s hard to buy age-appropriate books for an 11-year-old with a much younger reading age. We have bought specialist simplified versions of books for him, but he has been missing out on a lot of the books that his peers are reading. Schoolwork has been a much bigger issue for him. With year 6 SATs fast approaching he is expected to be working at a certain level, regardless of whether or not that is appropriate for him. In exams he is accompanied by someone to read for him. In his recent SATs practice exams he was able to use the OrCam for most of the reading; he only needed assistance because it was difficult to get the OrCam to pick out the exact part of the paper with the question on. It is possible to pick out individual parts of a piece of text with the OrCam but I think the pressure of being in an exam made it a little harder for him than it would normally be.

DS2 said “Reading and comprehension are extremely difficult. When we have comprehension in class (once a week) it helps me a lot by reading the text and that makes me understand the words a lot more easily. I also use the OrCam for reading for pleasure at home if it’s a book I can’t read on my own. When I read books I sometimes find it difficult to understand what’s going on so the OrCam enabled me to read books I wouldn’t have been able to on my own. Now I have read them with the OrCam I’m able to re-read them on my own.”

4. With what activities has your child used the OrCam device at home/school/university/workplace?

DS2 has found the OrCam invaluable for reading comprehension. When reading on his own it takes so much effort to simply read the words that he often can’t also get a thorough understanding of the content. One the OrCam has read the passage for him then he is able to use his own reading skills to re-find parts that he is looking for.

DS2 said “Reading books, and for literacy work at school.”

5. Can your child use OrCam for their hobbies?

DS2 said “I really enjoy reading books and that’s one of my hobbies.”

6. What do you like most about the OrCam device?
It seems pretty sturdy. The only problem we have had is the camera mount on his glasses comes off sometimes but there’s a spare one included in the box so it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he lost it. That problem depends on the glasses, on his current pair the mount sits very close to the hinge and it’s catching. Next time he chooses glasses we will take the mount with us to find a pair that it fits better. For people that wear glasses all the time, it might be easier to have two pairs so you can keep the camera mounted on one pair all the time.

DS2 said “It isn’t big and bulky so I can keep it on for the entire lesson. It has a long battery life that lasts for the whole school day. I like the adjustability of the sound levels so it doesn’t disturb my other classmates.”

7. If anything, what is the biggest thing that the OrCam device allows your child to do that they couldn’t do before?

DS2 has been able to read age-appropriate books that he wouldn’t have been able to manage on his own. He says that when he has read a book once with the OrCam then he can read it on his own on subsequent occasions.

DS2 said, “Read hard books. Having enough time to check my answers after finishing work rather than only just being able to finish in time.”

8. Has OrCam helped your child become more independent?

Definitely. He is more confident at school because he can use the OrCam in situations that were very difficult for him before. I also like the fact that he is less dependent on a reader in exams. I think the OrCam will really come into its own in September when he starts high school and he is given more to read, textbooks to refer to, etc. I honestly think it will make the difference between him struggling and him being able to cope with the work in year 7.

DS2 said, “Yes. Now I don’t need help with my homework when I get stuck on a word.”

madwomanacrosstheroad Sun 14-Jan-18 21:05:54

My daughter is eleven years old and has severe dyslexia and is also waiting to be assessed for aspergers. With this comes anxiety and low self-esteem.
In addition she transferred from primary school to post primary school in September 2017.
I applied to become a tester for the orcam as I hoped the immerse aspect of using it would help her to gain confidence in her new school environment. I also hoped that with post primary school a higher level of assistive technology might help my daughter to compensate for some of her difficulties and create a more level playing field.
After applying I promptly forgot about it and when the company contacted my by phone in july to advise that we had been chosen as testers, I was possibly a bit unfriendly thinking it was some unsolicited tele-marketing.
My daugher was intrigued by the idea and after some initial apprehension started to really look forward to trying it.
Her special interest is history and she genuinely loves books, however her literacy problems are so severe that when she tries to read the decoding of written words takes so much effort that the content largely gets lost.
With the orcam she was able to listen to the book while trying to follow the words with her eyes.
She states that with doing that for a while she has been able to swap between using the orcam and then reading a bit without.
We have been able to arrange with the school's special needs coordinator that she can use the orcam in school as part of her individual education plan.
This appears to have worked really well and she is coping well to date.
It has also helped with both her confidence and anxiety.
So far using the orcam has been an incredibly positive experience. I am awaiting the parent teacher meeting to hear more about the schools experience with the orcam which they had not come accross before.

witwootoodleoo Wed 17-Jan-18 22:48:58

I tested the Orcam for myself rather than for a child, so I guess I’ll just adapt the questions accordingly.....

1. What were your thoughts when you first heard about the OrCam device?

I thought it sounded really exciting - a great way of accessing text that I can’t otherwise read. I particularly hoped that it would be good for accessing text on the go. I have other technology and adaptations in place to deal with large chunks of text and things I use regularly, but things like reading the back of a packet or accessing materials that I’m given in client meetings etc can be a real challenge for me. I hoped that the Orcam would assist with this. I also hoped that it would make the other technologies I use redundant and allow me to rely on a single product.

2. What was your reaction after you started using the OrCam device?

I was excited to get started but unfortunately I found it quite frustrating to use. I’m pretty good with technology generally, but I found it difficult to get the camera to read information on the go. For example, I’d hoped to be able to use it to read menus, but in practice I found it often couldn’t - due to light conditions, shiny paper, choice of font etc.

I also found that it wasn’t very comfortable to wear. Possibly my head is too wide, but even when I tried attaching it to my own pair of glasses I found that the unit pressed up against my head and gave me a headache after a while.

3. What are some of the challenges that you face due to your vision loss/dyslexia, and how has the OrCam device provided assistance?

I cannot read normal sized print so it can be a real challenge both in my personal and work lives to access information that others take for granted. In certain situations the Orcan can help with this, but I find it works best in very controlled environments that can be hard to achieve in practice.

4. With what activities have you used the OrCam device at home/school/university/workplace?

I’ve tried using it for cooking at home to read labels and instructions. Sometimes it works well, but it does depend on things like the font used, how shiny the packet is etc so can be a bit hit and miss.

At work I have tried to use it to read printed information that is given to me by clients and to access textbooks for research.

Unfortunately it isn’t sufficiently accurate for me to use at work. My job is one where the exact word used can be crucial, and unfortunately I found that it made mistakes with words which meant I couldn’t rely on it.

It’s a real shame - I think the technology is a great idea and the product has a lot of promise, but I think it may perhaps need a few more years to develop. I was told at the end of the trial there was a new update that hadn’t been installed on my Orcam at the beginning, but that it was too late now the trial had ended. Perhaps the updated software would have performed better?

5. Can you use OrCam for your hobbies?
Not really.

6. What do you like most about the OrCam device?

The potential to access text on my own if the Orcam can read it.

7. If anything, what is the biggest thing that the OrCam device allows you to do that they couldn’t do before?

I have other assistive technologies to help me with reading inaccessible text.

8. Has OrCam helped you become more independent?

Not really - I was already very independent! But I can imagine it would help a child.

newtlover Mon 22-Jan-18 13:28:00

how much does this miracle device cost?
is there a picture of it somewhere?

StuntNun Mon 22-Jan-18 14:26:13

Newtlover it looks like this. As far as I remember the cost is about £1400 for the MyReader, I assume the MyEye is more expensive.

LoverOfCake Mon 22-Jan-18 16:29:22

It’s interesting because this device was originally designed for the VI market (in 2014) and it was also originally aimed at the over eighteens only market.

I’m guessing that it hasn’t been considered widely useful for people with visual impairments (I have quite a lot of involvement in the VI sector) and they appear to have changed their market to consider it useful for people with other reading/learning difficulties in order to improve the scope of their success.

Incidentally, I have seen reference to this product in many other places and when the cost has been brought up it is suggested that people start crowd funding projects to raise the (over £2000) it costs.

newtlover Mon 22-Jan-18 17:00:09

Thanks, stuntnun. It's a lot of money if you don't know how it will work for you. A hire scheme would be good.

StuntNun Mon 22-Jan-18 17:39:08

LoverofCake I think it's more a matter of OrCam expanding their market into learning difficulties. I have worked with adults with dyslexia who would find the MyReader useful in their jobs.

StuntNun Mon 22-Jan-18 17:42:40

NewtLover it is a big cost although I'm sure the price will come down as the technology develops. To put it in context we had to pay £700 for an Educational Psychologist assessment to get the learning difficulties diagnosis for DS2.

Twogoround Mon 22-Jan-18 19:07:03

I am so sad I miss this . I have vision loss and dislexa have not read a book since 2004 and I was a big reader .

Voice0fReason Tue 23-Jan-18 22:46:48

I paid £1800 for mine.

It is absolutely brilliant at reading clear printed text in perfect conditions. I love it for reading books which are always too small for me to read.

It's pretty good at reading clear printed text in ok conditions, so it's worked fairly well for reading printed signs and information boards.

What it is utterly rubbish at is any kind of fancy font, shiny paper, reflections, limited lighting and anything that isn't clearly printed.

It takes time to get the hang of it and it can be frustrating to get your head position just right so it's capturing all the information you want it to read to you.

I wouldn't recommend it for young children. I think from about age 10 it could be very useful. Although not its original market, I suspect that it will offer more to people with reading difficulties than it will for visual impairments. It's not suitable for people with no or almost no vision. I have lots of other tools I can use to enlarge things, whereas there are fewer options for people who struggle with reading.

DrDiva Fri 26-Jan-18 19:03:14

My husband is a teacher of the vision impaired. He does not feel that those who have used the Orcam have got the most out of it. If you are simply reading text with it, then “Prizmo Go” is a phone app that will do it for you for around £7 to unlock all of its features. “Seeing AI” is a free app that will recognise scenes and describe them. It sounds as though if you are dyslexic, there are far cheaper alternatives out there. However, if you are vision impaired, then it is a fantastic tool as it can be programmed to recognise a set number of people and everyday objects as well as read different texts on things from books to medicine labels.

StuntNun Sat 27-Jan-18 07:01:11

They do sound useful (and cheaper) DrDiva but might be disruptive at school and probably wouldn't be allowed in exams. I suppose it depends on how you are using the technology.

Faintlinesquints Thu 22-Mar-18 04:56:59

@MMHQ could you check if I have had my post removed from here please?

I haven't had any feedback and thought I'd check back to this but I can't see my review post. I've had some glitches with posts lately so I'm wondering if it never uploaded, or if you had to remove it for some reason?

Many thanks.

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