Magnification and optical aids

Adaptive technology in this period included magnification and enlarging devices to help people with low vision to read. Enlarging the fonts of printed matter with simple key strokes still lay in the future for readers with low vision in the 1950s, '60s, and '70s.

The Optiscope was a portable illuminated optical enlarger.  It magnified text onto a screen, and cost $295 (US).  A brochure for the device in the CNIB archives calls it “a new medical instrument for the legally blind,” and shows a screen with the words “See any print as easily as large type.”

There were many other types of optical aids coming on to the market: “hand-held, stationary and illuminated magnifiers, pocket telescopes, monoculars, lenses of all types, light-occluding devices.”  As well, in the mid-1960s, photo-enlarging and offset printing techniques made large print economically viable, and the first large-type books for adults began to be available.