book coverThis powerful book is a must for anyone who has personally experienced Macular Degeneration or other degenerative eye diseases. No one has told the story of vision loss more personally or poignantly than Mr. Grunwald.

"Twilight: Losing Sight, Gaining Insight" is now available in paperback, digital audio and eBook formats.

Purchase the paperback.

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Dorrie Rush, Marketing Director, Accessible Technology at Lighthouse International, has read the newly released e-book format on several digital devices: iPad, Kindle and Nook in time for AMD week, September 22nd-30th. We hope that you enjoy Dorrie’s personal review. We'd very much like to hear other comments. Please write to Dorrie at drush@lighthouse.org to share any other experiences and reviews.

Henry Grunwald was Managing Editor of Time Magazine and Editor In Chief of all Time, Inc. publications. His love for the written word was in his heart and soul. As a side effect of aging, Mr. Grunwald began to experience the slow, progressive loss of central vision caused by macular degeneration.

“Twilight: Losing Sight, Gaining Insight” speaks of a world millions are living in, yet few are willing to discuss; Mr. Grunwald felt as if he was involuntarily joining a “secret society.” If you know someone with macular degeneration, this is a must read. He takes us into the dimming and distorted reality of central vision loss and leads us directly to the gifts of his gained insight.

I first read the book shortly after its publication in 1999 and was taken aback by the many experiences Henry and I had in common. I too was diagnosed with a degenerative disease of the macula and my eyesight was changing. I knew what it was like to stare in the face of an old friend and not recognize them; to ask someone a question then realize it is a statue I have spoken to; to leave my seat at an event and have trouble finding it again; to put on black socks and later discover they are brown; to pick up a book and not even be able to make out its title.  

As his vision declines his thoughts “shift between optimism and worst case scenario.” Even in the face of vulnerability and embarrassment, he does not lose his sense of humor.  Henry acknowledges that worse things could happen and begins to take nothing at all for granted. He reports he can see everything “if only through a scrim.” He gets help at the Lighthouse to maximize his remaining vision, with magnifiers big and small, computer software, and counseling.

Henry tells us, openly and authentically, “how it feels” to have macular degeneration --- and in doing so lessens the sense of isolation and stigma for others. His story has the potential to help more today than ever before, as the population affected by macular disease has nearly doubled. Medical treatments have advanced somewhat, but still only for a small number of those impacted by age-related macular degeneration.

He was frustrated by the very limited options available for reading. There was finicky computer software, audiobooks on tape or CD, and there were human readers. Today we have many more options than Henry did, thanks to the digital revolution. So it was fitting that I venture once again into “Twilight” in the newly released e-book format on several digital devices: iPad, Kindle and Nook. The book holds up beautifully thirteen years later. The devices each have a story of their own.

Henry would have marveled at the idea of these reading devices. Like his book, they go a long way to bridging us back to normal. I have read “Twilight” now for the third time and it lifts me up again and again. It will do the same for you and for someone you love. Pick your favorite format and get reading! 

 

iPad 

I downloaded “Twilight” directly into my iPad, touched one finger to the screen and it began reading to me in VoiceOver (the accessibility setting that turns text-to-speech). This voice is so good that I forget it’s computerized. In VoiceOver mode the pages turn automatically. I touch the screen to start the speech and then swipe down with two fingers so it will continue reading until I touch the screen again with two fingers to pause or stop.

To my delight, I discovered iCloud automatically synched the book to my iPhone as well and it was turned to the exact page where I left off on the iPad.

At this point, I am most comfortable reading books in audio formats. If you are a visual reader, you can enlarge the text size from 20 to 56 points, and with the Zoom feature you can magnify the entire screen, making the words even bigger. It doesn’t hurt one bit that the screen is nearly 10 inches and the brightness is adjustable.

Kindle

The Kindle has a 6 inch screen and an e-Ink display, which is designed to simulate paper and ink, to conserve battery, and to be easy on the eyes. On my eyes it simulates reading in the dark.
  
I use Kindle’s “spoken menus” to move from my homepage to Kindle Store. Once in the store, I am (always) perplexed when the speaking comes to an abrupt halt and I must resort to reading the new age Kindle the old fashioned way --- with a magnifier.

I find the book easily with a search in the store and check to confirm that the Text-to-Speech (TTS) is enabled, and it is. TTS is restricted on the Kindle and available only when authorized by the publisher. The easiest part is when I click “Buy” and “Twilight” is loaded on to my Kindle in a few quick minutes.

I open the book and click the text button to select Text-to-Speech and the voice begins reading my book. TTS in the Kindle must be turned on and off by going into the text menu and there isn’t much flexibility in navigating forward or back in this mode. But still, it beats the hell out of not reading the book at all.

For the visual reader, the Kindle text button also offers choices of typeface and 8 increases in type size in the content of the book. Unfortunately, you don’t get the option to increase font size in the Kindle Store, menus, or home page. 

Kindle Fire

I would like to tell you that the Kindle Fire, Amazon’s first tablet version, goes to the next level in terms of accessibility --- but I can’t. It actually has less. There are no spoken menus and no built in text-to-speech. I’ve heard you can add a third party speech app – and I wish you good luck with that.

Nook

There is no way, by hook or by crook, that I am able to read with a Nook. It has no spoken menus, no text-to-speech, no voice whatsoever. Like the Kindle, it has an e-Ink display and enables increased text sizes. Unlike the Kindle and iPad, it will not read audiobooks.

Nook Tablet

No advanced access for people with impaired vision (yet) on this tablet either, however on this one you can read audiobooks.

 

 

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