Visual Impairment/Kamei/Learning Module/Video Magnifiers/California State University, Los Angeles


Young girl who is Hispanic looking up and smiling as she write using a Perkins Braille Writer

Technology Learning Modules:
Video Magnifiers


    learning module is focused on video magnifiers, sometimes called Closed
    Circuit Televisions (CCTV). The module consists of learning objectives,
    an introduction to video magnifiers, a video demonstration three types
    of video magnifers, an explanation of various uses of video magnifers,
    a summary and an assessment. To complete the learning module, read the
    entire webpage of text and watch the video. Then, respond to
    the assessment questions. 

    * Please
    note: If you are completing this module for a class, your instructor
    may ask that you respond to the assessment questions in a separate
    document and turn in your responses for a grade.


    completing this learning module, students will be able to:

    • Define
      the term video magnifier,
    • Name
      and describe three categories of video magnifiers,
    • Uderstand
      the purpose for using video magnifiers,
    • Describe
      and discuss the various types of settings found on video magnifiers,
      and how one may adjust these setting to meet his or her individual
      visual needs.


    People with
    low vision rely on a variety of tools
    and strategies to help them access their environment. Probably most
    essential is their use of optical aids, such as magnification to assist
    with viewing objects both near and far away. In this segment, we will
    focus on the electronic optical aid known as the video magnifier.

    A video
    magnifier uses a camera to project images that are transmitted to a
    monitor that displays the picture or text. These images can be adjusted
    for brightness, contrast, color scheme, and magnification. Many models
    of video magnifiers exist, ranging from portable hand-held devices to
    larger desktop fixtures. The three main categories of video magnifiers
    are stationary, portable, and a hybrid category that combines features
    from both stationary and portable video magnifiers, as described

    video magnifiers
    contain a large video monitor, camera, and
    tray. An object such as a textbook is placed on the movable tray, which
    allows the user to easily slide the book in any direction. Changing the
    monitor’s settings is achieved by manipulating easy-to-access
    buttons or levers. Because of their larger design, stationary video
    magnifiers are usually permanent fixtures for use in the home, office,
    or classroom. They typically cost between $2500 and $3500, but can
    increase in price when adding HD features and compatibility with a

    video magnifiers
    rely on the
    same video camera technology to magnify
    images, but at a greatly reduced size, weight, and cost. This makes it
    a convenient solution on the go when a stationary video magnifier is
    not available or practical. Simply place the portable device over the
    material to be enlarged and use the buttons to change parameters
    including magnification, color scheme, and freezing the
    monitor’s image. Popular models range in screen size from
    three to six inches and cost between $300 and $800.

    Hybrid video
    have the added
    feature of allowing the user to view distant
    objects such as a classroom whiteboard.
    This is achieved by rotating the camera from its traditional downward
    position to a forward facing position. The ability to shift the camera
    lens from viewing near objects to distance objects is particularly
    useful in classroom settings when a student must attend to the lecture
    notes being presented at the front of the room and textbook materials
    which are on his or her desk. Additional viewing options such as
    changing the magnification, contrast, and color schemes are easily
    adjusted by manipulating buttons on the camera or on a remote control.
    Hybrid video magnifiers range in price from $2500 to $3000.

    we’ll take a closer at three individuals who use video
    magnifiers to accomplish day to day tasks. We will explore the three
    types of video magnifiers, and how these individuals adjust the
    settings to meet their needs. We’ll begin with the stationary




    magnifiers can be used to accomplish
    a variety of day-to-day tasks, such as reading or viewing:

    • Newspapers,
      magazines, and books,
    • Mail,
    • Recipes
      and cookbooks,
    • Instruction
    • Advertisements,
    • Labels
      on various products,
    • Photographs,
    • Phone

    tasks that can be accomplished using video magnifers may include:

    • Threading
      a needle and hand stiching or sewing things,
    • Drawing,
      painting, and doing craft projects,
    • Building
      small models or objects,
    • Grooming
      your finger nails or even painting them.


    Learning to
    adjust the settings, although simple, should be done with special
    attention to the needs of each individual who is visually impaired.
    Some individuals may prefer large magnification, while others may find
    the enhanced size to be more difficult to read, especially when reading
    connected text such as long paragraphs found in books. One trick to
    adjusting the magnification is to locate the object or text in the
    center of the screen using a reduced magnification and place a finger
    on the exact target. Then, using the finger as a locator, slowly
    increase the magnification until it is adjusted to the
    individuals’ liking. As one engages in the task, the
    magnification may need adjusting, and the individual should learn to
    change the magnification as needed while maintaining the specific
    location of the image on the screen. Likewise, some individuals may
    prefer to adjust the color scheme and view the text using reverse
    polarization in which light colored text (e.g. white or yellow text) is
    presented against a dark background (e.g. black or dark blue
    background). The use of reverse polarization may be particularly
    helpful for individuals who find bright light or glare uncomfortable.
    The preferred settings may change depending on the task, size of the
    print, and purpose. Therefore, individuals who use video magnifiers
    should become adept at independently adjusting these settings to meet
    their visual needs, given a variety of tasks and materials.


    In this
    module, three categories of video magnifiers were introduced: 

    We saw a
    video demonstration of three individuals, each who used one of the
    devices. We also saw a demonstration of how and when these individuals
    specific settings to help them see the materials better.
    Lastly, we learned about the day-to-day tasks for which an individual
    may choose to use a video magnifer.



    other learning modules were developed from by
    the OSEP
    Federal Grant Competition: Combined Priority for Personnel Development
    Grant # H325K110410.


    additional information
    regarding the credential program in Visual Impairment and Blindness at
    CSULA, please contact Dr.
    Kamei-Hannan, the program coordinator, at
    323-343-6297 or