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It was just one year ago when Sandra Richardson, a 34 year old active working woman, began to notice that her vision was becoming blurred. A month after seeking medical attention, her doctors diagnosed her with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Unable to use the computer at the real estate office where she was employed, Sandra left her job. Ironically, Sandra’s life now revolves around her computer.
Some low vision people have the luxury of easing into their visual limitation. Not so for Sandra as her vision impairment progressed rapidly. Soon after the initial onset of blurred vision, it was determined that the best case corrective lenses would give her only 20/200 vision. Sandra’s case is unusual, as it is rare for someone with MS to become legally blind. Optic neuritis or inflammation of the optic nerve is at the root of her vision impairment.
Upon a visit to the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), her counsellor explained to Sandra that blind and low-vision individuals can in fact use a computer. Sandra felt a sense of hope. She followed up by calling Ai Squared to request a free trial of ZoomText Magnifier/Reader. A few days after that phone call, Sandra’s life was enhanced when the CD was delivered to her home in the Detroit suburb of Redford.
Unable to read the instruction manual, Sandra was nervous about installing and using the ZoomText trial; but soon she discovered she didn’t need to read the manual. With the large print and audio prompts, the installation was a breeze. After a reboot, ZoomText came up and Sandra was on her way back to a computer-centric life.
MS can be a roller coaster disease with good days and bad. On a good day, when the symptoms of her disease are taking it easy on her, Sandra can comfortably run ZoomText at 8 times magnification. But when she’s experiencing a flare-up, she must increase the magnification to 10 times. Luckily, a simple hotkey command allows her to quickly change the magnification to suit her needs.
Sandra, who lives with her little dog, Dolly, speaks proudly about learning to live with her vision loss. Sandra explains, “When a lot of things change at once, it’s difficult not to be fearful. I spent a month wondering if I had brain tumors or MS, I lost my vision, I gave up driving, and couldn’t go to work each day. Living through the fearful times and discovering how to live as well as I can with my disease has brought me a sense of accomplishment. When I start down the road of ‘what if’, I try to remember how far I’ve come and take joy in the fact that I’m alive!”
Soon after she began using ZoomText, Sandra wrote to Ai Squared. Her letter ended with heartfelt thanks to our developers, “I don’t know who made this program but I want to thank your company for giving me part of my life back.” With ZoomText to help her access her computer, Sandra searches for jobs, finds low vision aids, researches MS-related medical issues, shops for gifts and of course, emails friends and relatives. Further explaining that without ZoomText, she just couldn’t do the things she gets done, Sandra remembers another computer use: looking up telephone numbers. “If I had to call information each time I make a call, I’d be bankrupt.”
We at Ai Squared appreciate the thanks from Sandra and all the users who write us. We have great admiration for the accomplishments of our users. We’re pleased and proud to be able to give people life via their computer.