If you have difficulty seeing what's on your computer screen or you just want to be able to read labels or written material, then you may need to resort to some kind of magnification technology. This could be either hardware or software. This page is just a brief overview of what's available in terms of hardware. For software solutions, visit the magnification software page.

Electronic Magnifers Part I

Electronic Magnifiers Part II


Image of flatbed scanner

The most common in homes and offices. Originally used for copying documents into digital format they have developed into devices capable of helping someone with a vision impairment to read articles on a computer screen.

A scanner allows you to capture documents that are printed on paper and turn them into digital or online format to be viewed on a computer. Then they may be edited using applicable software and/or added to existing digital documents for both online and print publishing. Set up in the right way a scanner can also be used as a magnifier. There are a variety of scanners now available on the market and they are becoming ever more sophisticated:


Image of a typical CCTV scanner unit

This is often a computer monitor mounted on a stand above a flat moveable plate. The material to be scanned is placed face up on the viewing plate and the image is captured on a digital camera which is mounted underneath the monitor. Controls on the front of the monitor or viewing plate can be adjusted for optimum magnification and image quality. There are many different types of CCTV scanner available today some are like the image on the right and others are just digital cameras mounted on a separate stand and connected to the computer via a USB cable. More . . .

Topaz Video Magnifier by Freedom Scientific

Hand held mouse

TVi Scanner by Visual EyesThis looks like a traditonal computer mouse but it has a small digital camera mounted on the underside. The user runs the mouse over a piece of text or an image and it is reproduced in magnification on the computer or television screen. The magnified image is displayed in full colour or enhanced black and white. The mobility of such a device allows difficult to read items such as medicine bottles cooking instructions etc. to be magnified easily

Bierley Mouse magnifierBierley mouse
Images source: Bierley
The Bierley magnifying mouse.
Designed to help you read schoolwork office work magazines books documents check your watch and much more all in full colour. The mouse has a small CCTV camera mounted on the underside. They come in mono or full colour versions and all have scart connections as well.

Works with any desktop or notebook PC using USB 2.0 and XP or Vista. More information about Bierley Mouse . . .


Hand Magnifiers Part I

Hand Magnifiers Part II

SenseView Duo Magnifer

Opal Magnifier by Freedom Scientific

Onyx Video magnifiers
Visualeyes Quicklook Electronic Magnifier

The iPhone

Why spend hundreds of pounds on an electronic magnifier, when the chances are, you already have one in your pocket !

The iCanSee on-screen magnification controls even adapt to varied environmental situations including low-light. Once the application is launched, iPhone then magnifies anything held in front of it by as much as four times the original size, helping users read the fine print on labels, menus, contracts, books or other materials discreetly without the need for separate reading glasses.

iCanSee - Magnifier App demo

iCanSee - Magnifier App

iMagnify - up to 4x magnification

Pen Scanner
Designed to be swiped across a word or a line of text which then appears on the computer screen. Some manufacturers offer models which will also read out the text like a screenreader. When you slide the pen featured in the picture opposite over a line of written text or numbers the makers claim that it can also give you an instant foreign language translation which you can then modify yourself. Handy if you want to learn another language.

Pocket Reader 2 and Colour Pocket by VideoSpec.

VideoSpec pocket reader 2
PR2 Mono
VideoSpec colour pocket magnifier
Colour Pocket