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Overview of magnification devices for students with low vision, including hand-held magnifiers, video magnifiers or CCTVs, screen magnifiers and additional resources

There are numerous magnification devices available, ranging from simple hand-held magnifying glasses to video magnifiers (such as CCTVs) and screen magnifiers for use with a computer.  While many of these are commercially available, it is best to work with a low vision specialist to determine what is optimal for an individual student. 

Many people use more than one of these optical devices, depending on the specific task.  For example, someone may choose to use a hand-held magnifier when out shopping to check prices, labels, and money.  The same person may then choose to use a CCTV to read a recipe from a cookbook or to write a check, and then a screen magnifier to read email or to look at an article online.

The selection of an optical aid will depend on various factors, such as:

  • the size of the object to be viewed
  • the viewing distance from the object
  • the length of time of the activity
  • whether or not both hands are required for a given task

Hand-Held Magnifiers

Hand-held magnifiers are portable and lower cost than most high-tech options.  They can have a small light or can be mounted on a stand.

Picture of handheld magnifiers

Video MagnifiersPicture of CCTVs

A video magnifier uses a video camera to project a magnified image onto a screen or monitor.  They can be used to assist with reading, writing, examining photos, and a wide range of other activities.

For more information, see:

Screen Magnifiers

Activities to Promote Magnification Skills

Tips and Tools for COMS and TVIs

Collage of Magnification tips

A boy using a video magnifier
Tips and guides

Video Magnifiers or CCTVs

Illustration of desktop computer monitor
Tips and guides

Steps for Completing the Screen Magnification Software Assessment

A girl with low vision examines an iPad at close range
Tips and guides

Considerations For Low Vision Students In A Classroom