Of Note

OrCam and BVA presents OrCam 2.0 Devices to Blinded Veterans

OrCam and BVA presented two blinded veterans with the OrCam 2.0 MyEye along with lifetime memberships in BVA following their appearance on the Dr. Phil Show on 8 October. 

Retired Army Major Scotty Smiley was severely wounded in Iraq and he tells Dr. Phil the MyEye was an important component on his path to recovery.  He appeared on the show along with his wife Tiffany.

The OrCam MyEye is a small device, about the size of your finger, which can be attached to glasses. The device scans text in front of it and reads it out loud. It can identify any type of text, money and even people’s faces. Scotty has been using the device for a year. The couple has partnered with OrCam to help other families get access to the device.

Scotty told Dr. Phil it changed his life. He said it not only helps him work, but it allows him to read to his kids. On the show, he demonstrated how the device works by reading a poem to his 9-year-old son Graham. Tiffany said this was her favorite part of the segment.

"It’s a cool bonding experience that they've had and they just love it,” Tiffany said. “He saw his dad and he holds his dad's hand the whole time.”

OrCam MyEye can cost a few thousand dollars. The Department of Veteran Affairs does offer free devices to those who qualify. According to OrCam, if you have VA health coverage and are low vision or legally blind then you should be eligible for an OrCam device. They encourage people to contact their optometrist.

In the audience, two veterans David and Greg received OrCam devices along with lifetime memberships to BVA. 

 

A Home for Our Troops

by Steve Baskis

A veteran in a wheelchair referred me to an organization three or four years ago. I was reluctant to pursue the opportunity and benefit because I was single and did not feel I qualified.  After some thinking I made a decision to call and ask some questions. At first I didn’t believe I was going to be selected, but they came back and said they would really love to work with me. Fast forward three years and now I am in my new home here in Montrose, Colorado.

 

The home is designed for wheelchair use but I do not have roll under counters or stove tops.  They worked with me and provided a home that would suit me best for my visual impairment and blindness.  I have technology built into the house to give me a great special awareness and the ability to interact with the technology through my mobile device. I have camera systems that have motion detecting capabilities, these come in handy when I want to know if a vehicle is entering my driveway and whether or not someone is approaching my front door. I can video conference with a person at my front door remotely or physically at my house through my mobile device.  I can also share the camera systems to family and friends anywhere in the world and they can talk to people standing in from of the cameras all located around my home.  I have the ability to operate my thermostat independently and control the climate of my home.  The house has zero thresholds which makes it easy to walk in and out of main doors without tripping.  The house also sits on a concrete pad and is a ranch style build house, which means I don’t have to deal with staircases. In my master bedroom, they provided a safe room for me, which can withstand hurricane or tornado winds.

 

I look forward to helping Homes for Our Troops better understand how to best serve blind and visually impaired veterans.  I am only one of a few blind veterans who has received a specially adapted home from the organization.  Moving forward I plan to communicate what works and what does not work to them.  I also plan on integrating and setting up brand new technology as it becomes available.  Right now, I am truly excited to organize my home and make it my own over the next few months and years.  Homes for Our Troops is truly building homes and rebuilding lives.