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Mercury 12 helps Max at school and at home


mercury 12 magnifier


Max (14), from Castleknock in Dublin, is in second year in Castleknock Community College. Like all of his classmates, Max has been learning remotely via virtual lessons with his teachers since January. For Max, this brings some additional challenges because he has a vision impairment.

Max developed his vision impairment suddenly in June 2020. He began experiencing blurry vision, which deteriorated very quickly. His parents took him to the optician, who sent them to the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital in Dublin. Max’s diagnosis meant that it was unclear whether his vision would improve or not and he was no longer able to read or use a computer without support.

For Max’s parents, the diagnosis was shocking and upsetting, as his mother Nadia explains. “It was so hard to understand how one day you can have perfect vision and then this. We tried to keep positive, but we were distraught. Max is optimistic and sometimes he has had to keep me calm! If it happened to me, I don’t know if I could recover mentally but he is so adaptable.”

On Max’s return to school in September 2020, he was allocated an SNA (Special Needs Assistant) and works with the Visiting Teacher team, who provide support to students with vision or hearing impairments. He worked with Sight and Sound Technology to find the right technology to help him in class and discovered the Mercury 12, which he has been using in school and now at home, to help magnify both at a distance and close-up.

“One of the best features for me is being able to use the distance camera and the camera on the tablet at the same time. It means I can look at the board and write the answers on the worksheet at the same time. Now that we’re not in school, I use it to zoom in on the teacher’s PowerPoint on the screen,” explains Max.

The Mercury 12 is a tablet magnifier with speech, designed to meet the specific needs of a student with low vision. It has a near camera for magnification when reading books and writing notes, and a distance camera for viewing the whiteboard and presentations in the classroom. It can also capture a page of printed information and read it back to the student with its text-to-speech feature.

The Mercury 12 comprises of a Microsoft Surface Pro, software, stand, distance camera and large letter wireless keyboard with touchpad. The Microsoft Surface Pro is capable of running several pieces of assistive technology, as well as the Mercury 12 software. This effectively gives you a Windows system, as well as high quality digital magnification and text-to-speech features, all in one piece of equipment.

Max has a keen interest in science and technology and is a dab-hand at repairing mobile phones, which he is now able to do again thanks to the equipment. “I was always fixing phones before this happened. My iPhone 10 screen broke recently and I was able to fix it using the Mercury 12. It took me a couple of hours, but I didn’t need any help and there’s no chance I would have been able to do it without the magnification.”

Luckily, Max has seen some improvement to his vision with ongoing treatment and he hopes that this continues.

For more information on Mercury 12 visit