Blind woman given ‘life-changing’ visual aid after charity donation

Jolene Whyte received the OrCam MyEye through North East Sensory Services


A Scottish woman has spoken about her joy at being able to ‘read’ a letter from her daughter’s school for the first time after receiving a £3700 OrCam MyEye from North East Sensory Services.

Jolene Whyte, from Aberdeen, was born with a congenital eye malformation in her right eye and has corneal scarring in both eyes.

She has two children, aged seven and three, and previously worked as a carer before having to give it up in January due to her sight.

She has been receiving support from North East Sensory Services (NESS) since November, and received the ‘life-changing’ device via the organisation after a donation from the Rotary Club of Aberdeen.

Whyte has also received white cane training and social work help through NESS.

The OrCam MyEye’s Smart Reading function allows users to use vocal commands to find specific information on a page, and then reads it aloud.

The device can be attached magnetically to any pair of glasses, and can also use facial recognition technology to let Whyte know where her children are in relation to her.

It can also tell her what items are in her cupboards or on supermarket shelves by reading barcodes, and recognises the value of different bank notes.

Whyte said: “I’m still learning about everything the OrCam MyEye can do, but I know it’s going to be life-changing.

“It’s scary having two kids and losing your sight. My son is three, so he is at that age where you really need to know exactly what he’s up to.”

She added: “One of my biggest problems has been with travelling, but now the device will read the boards at the train station and everything will be much easier.

“There are so many different things I can use it for, it really is amazing.”

NESS supports people with visual and hearing impairments across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Dundee, Moray and Angus.

The charity hopes that the OrCam MyEye will help Whyte to increase her independence.

Graham Findlay, chief executive of NESS, said: “Jolene is a busy mum and will benefit hugely from having the OrCam MyEye.

“This came about following a generous donation from the Rotary Club from Aberdeen and we are so pleased to have been able to facilitate it.”

Findlay added: “The main objective of NESS is to increase independence in people with visual and hearing impairments, and to help them participate more fully in society. We’re delighted for Jolene and her family.”