Devices Offering Great Solutions (DOGS)

Electronic Magnifiers

Machines to make text and pictures bigger.

What does it do?

Magnifiers come in many different shapes and sizes. They can make reading mail, paying bills, or enjoying hobbies easier for people with low vision.

This page will tell you about electronic magnifiers. You may also be interested in learning about non-electronic optical magnifiers.

Electronic magnifiers use a camera to capture and zoom in on the image in front of you. They come as upright desktop systems or portable models. Both types allow for either a preset magnification level or a zooming feature much like a zoom lens on a camera. Both types can offer additional features such as contrast settings, color modes and other visual settings. Some models also include the ability to take a picture of the text under the camera and have it read back using a computer voice.

You can buy these devices from companies like Freedom Scientific, Enhanced Vision, Optelec, or Humanware.

What kinds of electronic magnifiers are there?

Desktop Magnifiers

Desktop magnifiers are sometimes called CCTVs or video magnifiers. These machines frequently have a monitor and a camera mounted above a movable tray where material is placed. Some desktop models have cameras that are on an extended arm in front of the monitor which can be rotated downward for reading papers, backwards for viewing distant objects, and front-facing to provide magnification for personal care. Desktop models come in various monitor sizes and configurations. Electronic magnifiers can also be connected to a computer and use the computer monitor as the display screen and can switch between computer screen and magnification screen.

Portable Magnifiers

Portable and handheld electronic magnifiers include a camera located on the back face or on the bottom of the device and a display screen where the magnified view will appear. The portable devices range in size of approximately 3 inches to 10 inches depending upon the model. The larger the screen the more can be viewed or the higher the magnification power.

Computer monitor displays magnified text from the open book in front of it. A Video Eye camera is positioned to the side.

How do I see what's new?

Technology changes all the time. To find out about the latest options for these, you can type keywords into a search engine such as Google, Safari, Firefox, or Bing on a computer or tablet. These are the keywords for this type of item:

electronic magnifiers, digital magnifiers, video magnification, CCTV for the blind

How do I find out more?

If you live in the US outside of Pennsylvania you would need to find your state's AT program.

If you live in Pennsylvania:

  • you could contact TechOWL to work with a specialist. We can meet with you and sometimes demonstrate this equipment. We can also help with different ways to get one for your own.
  • you might borrow this equipment to try out. Do we have this in our lending library?


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Jule Ann Lieberman

Jule Ann Lieberman has earned her Master of Science in Low Vision Therapy, is dual certified by Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Education Professionals ( as Low Vision Therapist and Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist. Jule Ann began her work in assistive technology instructing blind and low vision adults in the use of assistive technology in 1998. She joined TechOWL, Institute on Disabilities at Temple University (formerly known as Pennsylvania’s Initiative on Assistive Technology) in 2013 as Assistive Technology Specialist and continues to provide information and assistance, consultation, demonstrations, and public awareness training in the use of assistive technology. Jule Ann has presented educational sessions at national and regional assistive technology conferences for many years. She has been legally blind with a progressive vision impairment since age of 16 and enjoys learning new technologies and how it meets the needs of those with vision loss and blindness.

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