[Athen] Comparing iPAD magnification with a video magnifier

Sorensen, Neal B neal.sorensen at mnsu.edu
Mon Mar 11 11:16:11 PDT 2019

I used a few of these to help a student in a Chemistry lab. The student used his own android phone and the "Visor" app, which is free. Visor is now also on iOS. If I recall correctly, he preferred this one to other options. Buttons on Visor are large and bright. We also tried Claro Mag X with an iPad Pro, which was very nice with the large screen. We could zoom in on details, and it enabled him to count dropperfuls of a chemical into a solution. Most days we provided an aide (often myself) to assist in holding the device in place so he had hands free.

The effectiveness of "smart-device" magnifiers depends much on the capability of the camera, size of the screen, etc. Devices with higher megapixel cameras will do better. We checked out a Ruby device to this student, but he ultimately returned it and exclusively used his phone! I think many of the purpose-built magnifiers use similar CMOS sensors, but I'm not sure if they are exactly comparable to what goes into a modern smartphone. The true power of these apps is having to only use one device.

Neal Sorensen
Access Specialist
Accessibility Resources
Minnesota State University, Mankato
132 Memorial Library
Mankato, MN 56001

Phone: 507-389-5242
FAX: 507-389-1199
Email: neal.sorensen at mnsu.edu<mailto:neal.sorensen at mnsu.edu>

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From: athen-list <athen-list-bounces at mailman12.u.washington.edu> On Behalf Of Deborah Armstrong
Sent: Monday, March 11, 2019 11:40 AM
To: 'Access Technology Higher Education Network' <athen-list at u.washington.edu>
Subject: [Athen] Comparing iPAD magnification with a video magnifier

I was asked this question twice this week, once by a parent and once by a counselor.

If a student wishes to magnify the whiteboard and the projector in class on a regular basis, which is better; to use an iPAD or one of the modern video magnifiers with a distance camera?

I have enough vision to see that something is being magnified, but not enough to actualy make an intelligent comparison. I'm looking for feebback here but what I've told students so far is this:

A video magnifier is like a GPS. Just as a commercial GPS is dedicated to giving drivers accurate maps and driving directions, a video magnifier has the single purpose of making it possible to see distant objects in the classroom such as the whiteboard and also magnifying close-up, for reading handouts and books.

On the other hand, there's probably a GPS in your phone. But because your phone can pop up notifications, let you take notes, play games and read books, it's not a dedicated mapping tool. A driver might find using a phone's GPS both convenient and distracting.

For occasional use, magnifying the whiteboard using a modern iOS can be handy. But you won't have the higher power magnifications nor will you be able to magnify from the distance that a dedicated video magnifier's distance viewing camera is designed for. You must remember too that the iPAD's ability to magnify what the camera sees is located under Settings-General-Accessibility-Magnifier; it's not a single button push to turn it on and people do tend to confuse it with Zoom, the feature that magnifies what's on the iPAD's screen. If you use magnifier often, you can add it to the triple-click home accessibility shortcut if you still have a home button, but it's not just a single on switch to enable it.

The iPAD can also snap a picture of the whiteboard, or an instructor's slide. There are high-end magnifiers that can save pictures too, but many do not.

On the other hand, a student's iPAD might always be with him, and iPADS are often loaned by disability services to students. So that convenience might override the hassle of using an iPAD for magnification.

If you think there are better or more accurate ways to phrase this, let me know.


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