EYE Can See, Inc. owner Tom Blackman has a resume filled with experience assisting those with visual impairments. He began his company in 1998 to help bring assistive technology to Indiana and Kentucky, two states that were underserved in the industry.
“We have witnessed the difference these products make in the lives of those with visual impairments, and we are happy to serve this population,” shares Tom’s son Greg, who works with his father.
The majority of the EYE Can See clients have age-related vision loss, such as macular degeneration. Their clients discover that utilizing a magnifier gives them the independence to do what they want to do such as read a book or newspaper, write a check, solve a crossword puzzle, do artwork, knit and needlepoint, among other things found challenging with visual impairment. Occasionally a device is sold to people without vision issues who perform precision tasks like watch repair or have detailed artwork as part of their job.
“We are a small family company that provides local support and education on devices for people with visual impairments,” says Greg. “Ultimately, most of the people that contact us are interested in seeking a tool that will help them do the things they could do before they lost their vision.”
Many younger people experience vision impairment and are able to benefit from a magnification device. With programs through the state, vocational and rehabilitation of those with low vision may be eligible for financial assistance in purchasing an assistive technology device.
“We find solutions for our customers, and we provide support for the devices that we sell,” says Tom.
One client, author and poet Bud Gray, had memorized his own poetry since he was unable to read it any longer with his eyes until Greg set up his new magnification device. “As I was setting up his equipment, Mr. Gray was reciting poetry to me. It was amazing when he could see it again for the first time in years,” shares Greg.
“The impact of one of our devices is immediate. One man hadn’t seen his wife’s face in detail in 10 years,” shares Greg. “It can get rather emotional. The ability to read again, write again and see photos of their loved ones in clarity again is significantly rewarding.”
The assistive technology industry is heading in a new direction with speaking options and portability. With handheld devices, the visually impaired are experiencing life improvements going to church, eating at a restaurant and visiting friends. The devices are the size of a cell phone or sized similar to a laptop to make them portable – the trend is smaller, lighter, more portable and things that speak out to you.
“Advances in technology positively impact our industry tremendously,” says Greg. “Whether someone is totally blind or has low vision, software and tools exist to help anyone with vision issues access a computer.”
Already the machines allow the user to view anything in the room or nearby. Some versions will speak out loud, reading a page or pages. The possibilities can be experienced in the demo room at EYE Can See.
Recently Greg took his young son with him on a business call to Easter Seals Crossroads. While at that appointment, Greg remembered walking those halls with his father when he was a kid. “We are a family business and hope to share this business with my son or daughter,” says Greg. “The most rewarding part is being able to help people and be in touch with many of the same people that my dad has helped.”
Eye Can See has moved to a new location at 61st St. and College Avenue.