Magnifiers

Overview

Magnifiers are meant to increase the size of texts and objects in order to increase visibility. The term ‘magnifiers’ encompass various types of devices, usually broken down into 1) classical magnifying lenses and, 2) closed-circuit television systems, or video magnifiers. Magnifying lenses are becoming less common in North America as the physics of optics limits their usefulness. There is an inverse relationship between how much a magnifying glass magnifies and how large in diameter it is. This means that it is impossible for a large magnifying glass to have a high magnification. This relationship was overcome by the invention of video magnifiers. The use of a camera and a screen allows for both a large field of magnification as well as a high level of magnification at the same time. These systems essentially show live video stream of objects with optical zoom.

 

While these technologies have been used in a variety of fields for decades, their introduction to the classroom was fairly recent. Accordingly, no systematic studies of the implications and usefulness of magnifiers have been completed. There was however one randomized study comparing desktop magnifiers versus portable magnifiers that found that reading rate was significantly faster on desktop models than using handheld models (Matchinski & Winters, 2016), furthermore, of the portable models, participants had faster reading rates when using the models with larger displays compared to models with smaller displays. 

 

Research Rating: Although the research has been done in other domains (engineering, optics, etc.), there have been no randomly controlled trials of these techs in the classroom. The information above could benefit from further studies to ensure the common uses of magnifiers extend to a classroom setting. 

 

Advantages:

  • Optimized for tangible documents and objects.

 

Disadvantages:

  • Are not optimized to be used on resources being read on a screen.

 

To Consider

Exact prices change frequently, which is why only approximate ranges are listed. 

$ - Under $5

$$ - Between $6 and $50

$$$ - Between $51 and $250

$$$$ - Over $250

References

Matchinski, T. t., & Winters, J. j. (2016). A Comparison of Subjects' Reading and Writing Performance and Preference While Using Various Portable Electronic Magnifiers. Journal Of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 110(6), 454-460.

Academic Intervention Lab

Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Toronto, ON M5S 1V6, Canada
     Email: academicinterventionlab@utoronto.ca

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