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Blind student can finally see – and read about his beloved football club – thanks to ‘talking glasses’

Jul 17, 2017
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A blind student has been given the gift of sight thanks to an incredible pair of talking glasses.

Lee Harding, 23, was born with a rare condition which has slowly robbed him of his sight, but now his new futuristic glasses have enabled him to recognise faces and read again.

The miraculous OrCam MyEye headset uses technology that allows the camera to recognise faces, speaking the names to Lee, and can identify important objects such as medications and creams.

When text is placed in front of the camera, it is read out as it’s scanned, allowing Lee to read newspapers, books, menus and text on a computer or phone screen, reports the Chronicle Live .

The kit has been funded by Haltwhistle company Kilfrost, which produces deicing and anti-icing fluids for aircraft and speciality heat transfer fluids.

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Lee is much more independent with his new glasses

Lee Harding has a condition which has caused his sight to slowly deteriorate

Lee’s mum Terri said they were “hugely grateful” for the donation, and said the equipment had improved her son’s confidence and independence.

“It’s made a massive difference,” she said.

“Until three or four years ago he could only read print if it was in massive type, but since then he’s had no vision at all.

“Now for the first time he’s able to read the sports pages in his lunch break at college, and he no longer has to have constant one-to-one tuition.

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Lee no longer needs one-to-one tuition thanks to his glasses

The new kit has made him a lot more independent and he can’t stop telling everyone about it.”

When he was three months old, Lee’s heart stopped for seven minutes and the oxygen starvation affected his vision.

This was later diagnosed as the rare Alström syndrome, a condition Lee’s brother also lived with until he sadly died just over two years ago.

Now the football fan is using the technology to overcome his disability – and keep up with the latest Newcastle United news.

Lee, who lives in Jarrow, added that with the glasses he can “read the paper every day” and they also help him read his comics.

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Lee can read the sports pages in the paper again

OrCam MyEye glasses enable him to recognise faces

“He absolutely loves it,” said Terri, 47. “For the first time he can go to the library and borrow proper books. He also enjoys cooking and the kit will read out the recipes to him.”

Kilfrost funded the glasses after being approached by Heather Niven, a volunteer with Soroptimist International.

Its Newcastle branch members work with the Gateshead College Project Choice course to provide job interview skills and practice to young people, including Lee.

Heather said: “He is a very bright lad and has such a positive personality. He’s really well motivated and going to great efforts to overcome his disability, so it’s fantastic the donation has been made and that he’s able to put the equipment to such good use.”

Gary Lydiate, Kilfrost chief executive, said: “We’re delighted that the technology is making such a difference to Lee’s life, and that we were able to help following the approach by Heather.”

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