An assistive technology device which uses artificial intelligence to read text has allowed a Royal Artillery blind veteran to rediscover his love for reading in time for World Book Day on March 7.

Cyril Saunders, 87-years-old and from Ipswich, first lost his sight through a torn retina in 1998, and then had further sight deterioration due to macular degeneration starting in 2008.

Blind veteran Cyril reading using OrCam

As a result, he hasn’t been able to read a book for 20 years. However, last year, Cyril visited the Blind Veterans UK rehabilitation centre in Brighton and had the opportunity to try the OrCam MyReader, a wireless device which allows him to read printed and digital text from any surface.

Cyril has now received a MyReader of his own through Blind Veterans UK and said:

“After 20 years this little camera has given me the chance to settle down with a cup of tea and a book on a rainy afternoon and for that, I will be eternally grateful. I’m excited to start getting into the adventures of Jack Reacher in the books by Lee Child.”

World Book Day is a registered charity on a mission to give every child and young person a book of their own. It’s also a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and reading. It’s designated by UNESCO as a worldwide celebration of books and reading and is marked in over 100 countries all over the world.

Blind Veterans UK was founded in 1915 and the charity’s initial purpose was to help and support soldiers blinded in the First World War. But the organisation has gone on to support more than 35,000 blind veterans and their families, spanning the Second World War to recent conflicts including Iraq and Afghanistan. For more than a century, the charity has been providing vital free training, rehabilitation, equipment and emotional support to blind and vision-impaired veterans no matter when they served or how they lost their sight.

Blind Veterans UK currently supports more blind veterans than ever before in the charity’s history, but it knows there are many more who still need its support to rebuild their lives following their sight loss. The charity has a dedicated community team in Suffolk who provide support including training, equipment and social events for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women in the local area.