Monday, October 10, 2005

Wake Up, Dee 

Telstra gave me a wake up call recently. Not a phone call, like you might expect, but a realisation that I could make a small change for the better. The wake up call came in the form of a freebie I found in the bottom of my BCA conference bag - a business card-sized plastic wallet with a bendy plastic magnifier inside and the Disability Enquiry Hotline number printed on the outside.

Only two months ago I reassured a member of my book group that the small print in our monthly read wouldn't be a problem. My central vision's fine, I said. 'Fine' meaning about half as good as the vision of people with normal sight. If the print's too small I can always bring the book a bit closer was my thinking. In practice, I didn't read that month's novel.

My central vision (the tunnel of vision referred to in the term 'tunnel vision') is quite narrow, so narrow that I can no longer read the headlines on the front of the West. At least, not without leaving the paper on the kitchen table and slowly backing away towards Broome. Large print is not my friend and so I've dismissed magnifiers as useless large print-making tools.

And maybe I thought magnifiers are for old people too. Old people and people who are vision impaired in a different way to me.

I've never considered that if text is in small print, then a magnifier will increase it to a regular print size. That I could read a book or the paper without having it half as close to my face as most people - that if a book could be read a little further away from my face that I might see more of the text in advance (maybe?). At the very least, there's the possibility that I could read smaller headlines and then use the magnifier to read articles without bobbing in and out of magazines and newspapers like I do.

The free Telstra magnifier isn't going to do the job, designed as it is for the White Pages. But it's given me reason to look into (yes, get it?) magnifiers that might help me to read.

If you think Telstra could give you a disability-related wake up call (or perhaps you have a disability-related wake up call for them), you can visit the Telstra Disability Services site.

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