Forty-two-year-old Kyle Bergum has been legally blind since birth. He believes his vision is 20/200 corrected, but he is not sure what it is not corrected. He works for Microsoft in Redmond, WA and is an Operations Manager/Desktop Management Group. His responsibilities include Global Service Offering for Microsoft and Microsoft managed desktop customers for one-half million desktops globally.
Low vision assistive technology products from Enhanced Vision are valuable tools in his work, and Bergum uses the Merlin, Jordy and Amigo.
The Merlin is a desktop unit that consists of a camera, monitor and movable XY table. Its features include auto focus, tactile controls, brightness controls, a screen that pivots, tilts and swivels in many direction, built-in controls that move with the screen and an integrated 17” or 19” flat panel monitor. It costs about $2,600.
The Jordy can improve vision as poor as 20/400 to a near-normal 20/40. Though it produces an effect similar to binoculars, it is much more high-tech. A tiny computer chip placed in the center of the glasses captures and projects images via a liquid crystal display, directly onto the patient's retina at 25 to 60 times their normal size.
The Jordy isn’t for everyone. It's for individuals with central vision loss, who wish to regain some parts of their independence. Bergum can’t drive or walk with the glasses because the magnification throws off their depth perception. But the glasses, which magnify 25 times for distance viewing and 50 times for up-close viewing, can ease activities such as reading, writing, watching TV and playing cards. Bergum uses the Jordy to play dominoes with his children. The Jordy costs about $3,000.
The Amigo is simple to use--just place it directly on the material and adjust the magnification by a turn of the dial. This product incorporates a 6.5 inch viewing screen with a wide field of view. It costs $2,500.
Bergum estimates he uses all three of these products a total of 8 hours a day.
Microsoft purchased the Merlin and Jordy and Bergum purchased the Amigo . What do they mean to him personally and being able to work? He says, “They build not only my self esteem, but I couldn’t do my job without them.”
Bergum uses these products at home to read, while attending sporting events and his children’s’ school events, when visiting museums and shopping.
Bergum has been using low vision products for six years. A friend introduced him. According to Bergum, his friend who is not blind, is always looking for products that Bergum can use to increase his independence.
A dreamer, Bergum wishes for a feature that these products lack. What is it? He answers, “Portability recording integration with computers.”
What? Translated, it means he would like to have a better way to take pictures at events and then download them so he can see them clearly on a computer screen.
Meanwhile, he happily does his work and lives his life using his assistive technology products.