What Is A CCTV And How Does It Help Me To See

What is that big computer screen thingamajig set up on your table?”  That’s what they ask.

“It’s one of the most important pieces of visual assistive devices in my house. It helps me to see!”  That’s what I say.

So what is it? It’s my CCTV magnifier! Actually, it’s my Optelec ClearView C + Speech CCTV. I’ve had it for 2 years and It’s awesome (Watch video demo below)!! I remember the day I first saw it. I knew I had to have it from the moment I touched it. It was just beautiful as it sat at a technology trade show in all it’s high definition glory! It’s magnification was absolutely magnificent. The way it spoke to me, with the touch of a finger, would make any blind girl swoon. I had to have this gorgeous thing in my life! Why? I wanted independence. Yup. MY. Independence.

What is a CCTV Magnifier?

First, let me say that CCTV magnifiers are generally for people with “low vision“. Meaning, if your eye doctor tells you that your vision cannot be fully corrected with ordinary prescription lenses, medical treatment, or surgery, and you still have some usable vision, you have  low vision. Now that we’re all clear on that… Let’s talk about the CCTV! A CCTV is a combination of a camera, a mount arm for positioning of the viewing monitor, lenses that have the ability to zoom/enlarge, and viewing modes with color choices and contrast options for best visual assistance. Many have  a touchscreen, and can have scanning and speech capabilities. Most come with a movable platform underneath the camera to place any printed material or photos on. This is a pretty basic description. They can be much more elaborate or simpler depending on your needs.

What types of activities can be done with the use of a CCTV?

With a CCTV’s ability to assist with reading, people with low vision, like myself, can read the mail, important papers, labels, books, Packaging, or a card from a friend. You can view yourself writing checks, notes, lists, addressing envelopes, or filling out simple forms. I know someone who uses her CCTV to do needlepoint and paint artwork. Speaking of paint… you could also paint your fingernails under it. Yeah, no thanks. I don’t have the visual patience for that. Just wanted to mention it, in case you do!

How do you know which CCTV is right for you?

With the variety of magnifiers and a range of capabilities available nowadays, you really need to narrow your choices down to what will work for you and your visual needs. I came across 4 points you may want to review from the Enhanced Vision website. They may help determine which CCTV you may want to check out, or request from a state agency or organization, or purchase on your own.  Good luck!

  1. Is a CCTV (video magnifier) a helpful tool for the needs I have?
    The time to consider a CCTV magnifier may begin when you need more than standard eyeglasses and possibly even require more than a traditional magnifying glass to see, read, and write with maximum available visibility.
  2. What features and flexibility options do I need and want?
    These options can be as simple as color viewing with a black and white contrast-viewing mode, or as advanced as computer connectivity, split screen monitor viewing, and multiple focus/magnification settings.
  3. How simple and easy to use and operate are the model(s) I am interested in?
    Discover what video magnifier is easy to navigate and choose a device that will allow you the freedom to use with confidence, as well as meets the visual and desired purpose needs.
  4. Seek the advice and experiences of others who know the products available. By seeking the advice and experiences of peers and vision specialists, you will be well prepared for choosing the right CCTV magnifier for your lifestyle.

Check out the Optelec “ClearView C” demo video below and visit the Optelec website for more information and recommendations on assistive tools and equipment.

GGB NOTE: I received my CCTV from the California State Department of Rehabilitation 2 years ago. I am not endorsingAny product or website. All experiences and opinions are mine.

10 Comments on “What Is A CCTV And How Does It Help Me To See

  1. I love my CCTV. I use it to put my makeup on, tweeze brows, watch tv, read and write. It’s just awesome!


    • LOVE THAT Charlene!!! I need to figure out if mine will do front facing. My eyebrows would appreciate it!!


  2. Hi Maria,
    Will any of this type of equipment be available at the LHON conference in June?


    • Hi there! Possibly… We are working on it!! I take it you’re coming to the conference?!?


    • Yes, we are coming and very much looking forward to meeting with you and the other attendees.
      I have been teaching German at the DeustchSkol at the British American School in Charlotte and also English to Hispanics at Borealis language Center. Last year in May I began to loose my vision, after several months we determined the cause – LHON’s. The Deutch Skol was kind enough to give me a job teaching conversational German, which was great but we are looking for ways to get back my work as a regular language teacher. The device you displayed could be a key to that dream.


      • Johanna… I am thrilled to hear you are going & I’m so looking forward to meeting you! We are having a speaker from an organization called “Job Accommodations Network (JAM.org) at the conference and you may benefit greatly from what they have to offer! Look them up!! xx


  3. Hi Maria. I like your website. I don’t use a CCTV since I only have light perception, but I did get a hands-on look at one several years ago at a rehab-training facility here in downtown Chicago which I attended. I forget which brand it was, but it was one of the heavier ones.


    • Hi Jake!
      Thanks for reading my blog and I appreciate the comment. And I can tell you, CCTVs are still heavy!


  4. Question about your FB page. Could you put captions on your pics? All it says is “text not available”. Thanks from another blindy!


    • Hi Colleen…
      Thanks for the comment! As you may already know… If the image description simply says”text not available” it’s most likely just a box With Colored type of some sort in it. I always Transcribe whatever is written in the image box. If there is something more to describe besides the text… I’ll do that as well. If I haven’t, I apologize. If it’s a photo that I have attached to the post… I definitely describe the photo. When possible, I will try to be more descriptive for my Blindy girls! xx


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