Blind Bargains

#CSUNATC19: The 10 Year Challenge For Product Diversity In A.T.

This article is something I ve spoken about with J.J. a few times before we boarded our respective jets westward for the yearly pilgrimage to CSUN. But it wasn't until the beginning of this year, when that 10 Year Challenge thing blew up on social media, did I feel I had a good framing reference for this story.

First, a little background for those who don t know my Assistive Tech history. This year marks my 20th in the industry and 9th for podcasting. Before the audio adventures began, I worked for the Division for Blind Services, back when we called it the Texas Commission for the Blind, in two roles. I started as an Employment Assistance Specialist helping Texans maintain, and obtain, employment through various means. In late 2004 I moved to Austin to join the ATU, or Assistive Technology Unit, which held one of the largest collections of A.T. stuff outside the international Braille Technology Center in Baltimore. And, as you'll read from the list below, it was amazing!

A technical evaluation was needed to gain the ability to purchase higher end, or expensive, technology at TCB. That meant, 10 years ago, you needed to come see us in Austin or head off to the San Antonio or Houston lighthouses for this service. Basically, you were empowered to come in and be a kid in the candy store for a day. We showed you multiple products in various categories of A.T. and then worked with you to find out which one would be the best tech for the job or classes you were taking in college. We then wrote up a report and sent it back to the field for purchase considerations. For almost 6 years my job was to talk to people and show them Assistive Technology. I needed to work with various companies that made said technology, assist in finding new A.T. and then test it all until my head hit the keyboard from exhaustion. Each day I walked into a room with more than $250,000 of modern tech and toys. And did I mention it was amazing? I did? Well, yeah it was and now I pinch myself because in my foggy memory it seems now like a dream.

With this all said, and with CSUN returning to a near L.A. location, I thought it would be fun to look back at some Assistive Technology from 10 years ago. I unearthed one of my old reports that contained almost all the equipment we were showing publicly in ATU in the early portions of 2009. Then, I ran a simple Google search using the name of the device, the maker of the device and then both with the type of device it was classified under. So, for example, I would do a search for "Topaz 19 inch LCD" unit. Followed by another search for "Topaz 19 inch LCD" and add "Freedom Scientific: to the search criteria. Lastly, I d search for :Topaz 19 inch LCD Freedom Scientific" and add "Video Magnifier". Or, on older models, I d change that to CCTV as that was the old school term for them before security systems asserted themselves. I then read only the first page of the results from each search and copied the most interesting links down for this article.

In some cases, I had to ignore newer products that are sold under the same brand name because that kind of defeated the intent of the challenge, and the purpose of this article, which means some of the products listed below have a :Revised"prefix before the product named. Also, and this should not have shocked me, but it really did, I did my level best to ignore the number of links for these older than dirt A.T. products being sold on eBay, Amazon or internationally for near or at 2009 list prices. After picking up my jaw which was bruised from hitting the floor several times in disbelief, I compiled the list of products and links below for this article.

What s cool is, if you allow it of course, someone else will get an entirely unique list when using various search engines and personalized results. Sure, many companies do a lot to obfuscate results for the best marketing bang for the buck. Yet these older ghost products still come up because of their oddly spelled names, looking at you mPower, on general searches. Industry contractions and mergers can pose a problem as well. Products going by their old names at new places will give you more of a 2010s search. Not to mention it will remind you how there are fewer players on the field now than there were in 2009. And bless the teams at Able Data and AFB for keeping the torch lit on ancient internet pages in 2019.

If you decide to take on the 10 Year A.T. Challenge yourself, be sure to send us the odd or the most informative links you find in the comments section below, on Twitter Or send along an email to

Desktop Video Magnifiers

My Reader by Humanware
Presto by Ash Technologies
Super Zip by Low Vision International
Vertex Pro with 17 inch attached monitor
MSE C-14-SL by Magnisight
Aladdin Elite with 14 inch CRT Monitor by Telesensory Inc.
Affinity Supreme with 17-inch Monitor
Revised, Clearview+ 17TFT by Optelec
In Sight Pro 17 by In Sight
MSE-ACF17 by Magnisight
Apex with 17 inch LCD Monitor by Telesensory Inc.
Xtend Module 1 with 19 inch attached monitor by Humanware
Journey 17 inch LCD by Magnisight
Revised, Merlin Panel with 19 inch LCD by Enhanced Vision
Revised, Topaz with 19 inch LCD by Freedom Scientific

Clearview+ 19TFT by Optelec
Journey 19 inch LCD by Magnisight
Clearview+ 22 TFT by Optelec
Revised, 19. Topaz with 21 inch LCD by Freedom Scientific
Revised, Merlin with 22-inch LCD by Enhanced Vision
VTI 1820 with 20 inch monitor by Vision Technology Int.
MSE AC-20-SCLW by Magnisight
Flex Mate by Clarity
Revised, Acrobat with 20 inch Television Monitor by Enhanced Vision

PC Access Video Magnifiers

Smartview Xtend Module 3 with Keypad and attached 22 inch monitor
Revised, Merlin Plus Panel with 22 inch attached monitor by Enhanced Vision
Revised, Clearview + PC by Optelec

  1. VT900 Series by Vision Technology Int.
    Aladdin Genie Pro by Telesensory
    Magnilink X Reader PC access by low Vision International
    Clarity PC Mate by Clarity
    Zoom EX by ABiSee
    iDex by FOCI
    Revised, Magnilink S Student Addition OCR by Low Vision International
    ZoomTwix by ABiSee

Hand held and portable Video Magnifiers

Sense View by HIMS Inc.
Nemo by Enhanced Vision
Smartview Pocket by Humanware
Smartview Nano by Humanware
Compact Plus by Optelec
The Looky by Rehan Electronics
QuickLook Focus by Ash Technologies
Sense View Duo by HIMS Inc.
Amigo by Enhanced Vision
Fusion by Ash Technologies
Revised, Traveller+ by Optelec
12. Strix by FOCI
Olympia by Telesensory
Slider by Assist Vision
Liberty Solo by Ash Technologies
Flipper Panel with 12 inch display by Enhanced Vision
Jordy Spectacle Mount by Enhanced Vision

Screen Magnification programs

MAGic v11.5 by Freedom Scientific
ZoomText v9.14 by Ai Squared
SuperNova v9.03
Lunar Plus v9.03 by Dolphin Computer Access
ZoomWare (formerly BigShot) by Ai Squared

Screen Readers

JAWS v10.0 by Freedom Scientific
Window-Eyes v7.1 by GW Micro
HAL v9.03 by Dolphin Computer Access


OpenBook v8.0 by Freedom Scientific
Kurzweil 1000 v11
Eye Pal by ABiSee
KNFB Mobile Reader portable N82 version
Extreme Reader XR1 by Guerilla Technologies Inc.
ScannaR by Humanware
ZoomTwix by ABiSee


VoiceNote mPower QT Keysoft V7.3 by Humanware
VoiceNote mPower BT Keysoft v7.3 by Humanware
PAC Mate Omni BX400 v 6.1 by Freedom Scientific
PAC Mate Omni QX400 v 6.1 by Freedom Scientific
PAC Mate Omni BX4-20/40 v 6.1 by Freedom Scientific
PAC Mate Omni QX4-20/40 v 6.1 by Freedom Scientific
BrailleNote mPower QT Keysoft 7.3
BrailleNote mPower BT Keysoft Version 7.3 by Humanware
BrailleSense Plus by HIMS
VoiceSense by HIMS

Braille Displays

Satellite 544 by Optelec
Easy Braille by Seeka/Handytech
Revised, Brailliant 24, 32, 40, 64, 80 by Humanware
Revised, Focus 20, 40 by Freedom Scientific
Braille Connect by Humanware
Braille Voyager by Optelec
Braille Connect 40 by Humanware
Trio by Papenmeier

Braille Embossers

Juliet Pro by enabling Technologies
Index Basic D by Index
Romeo 25 by enabling Technologies
Tiger by View Plus
Romeo Attach by enabling Technologies

Braille Translation software

Duxbury for Windows version 10.7

Special request item

Apple Computer/Mac OSX 10.4 Tiger/10.5 Leopard

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Joe Steinkamp is no stranger to the world of technology, having been a user of video magnification and blindness related electronic devices since 1979. Joe has worked in radio, retail management and Vocational Rehabilitation for blind and low vision individuals in Texas. He has been writing about the A.T. Industry for 15 years and podcasting about it for almost a decade.

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