Tiny camera helps blind mum ‘read’ world around her

Donna Shinnie lost her sight after an accident five years ago, now a special device is helping her enjoy life again.

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Five years ago, everything changed for Donna Shinnie when she was severely injured in a fall and lost her sight.

Now a tiny camera is helping her enjoy simple pleasures once again – like reading a magazine or recognising a familiar face.

The OrCam MyEye device scans text and reads it out loud. It also has face recognition, so Donna can identify people in front of her.

Her sister, Linda Croll, told STV News: “She’s always stopping and trying to find out what’s in front of her and clicking to see.

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“Now she just looks and finds us. She can read texts if her daughter texts her. If letters come through for her she can read them herself.”

The advanced technology can read barcodes and objects, as well as money, helping Donna when she’s out and about in Aberdeen.

The device works by a single finger point or by following the user’s gaze.

As well as helping the 42-year-old with things like reading, it also makes it much easier for her to carry out everyday tasks like picking up her shopping.

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Linda said: “It has made a lot of difference… even when her daughter comes up she knows where her daughter is sitting, so she doesn’t have to say ‘where are you’ it will pick up and it will say ‘Brooke’.”

A charity helped Donna raise the money to buy the OrCam MyEye.

Libby Hillhouse, North East Sensory Services, said: “Very simple things like recognising people, seeing when you are, being able to pick up obstacles, being able to identify things round about you is very difficult if not impossible if you’ve got no vision.

“Having the technology that gives you that information can help you get on with your life and do the normal things we all do.”

“Anything that helps somebody to feel confident and safe day to day and that gives them the independence to get on with their life is great.

“That’s what we’re here for, to give people that little bit of help and support so they can continue to live their life as independently as possible.”

Donna and her family hope many more people will be able to benefit from the technology –  making the little things so many of us take for granted, that bit easier.

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They say the way the mum has handled everything is remarkable.

Linda said: “I’m proud of Donna ever since this all happened. The achievements, and the fact we were told when she went home she wouldn’t do anything. She couldn’t eat, walk, speak…now she’s walking, she’s eating, she’s speaking.

“She does a treadmill every morning. So yeah, everyone’s very proud of Donna and how much she’s achieved.”