Explore the latest gadgets at the technology fair

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By The Staff

Betty Ehart Senior Center volunteer Mary Venable began a monthly support group for those facing macular degeneration and hearing challenges more than three years ago.

The group often acquired a guest speaker, then with the help of community organizer, Karen Edwards, held a low vision expo several months later.

“Macular Degeneration and hearing loss are of epidemic proportions and so much denial, even in our beloved community,” Venable said, who herself has some challenges.

The success of the support group, with the added issue of hearing loss challenges and a rise in interest, encouraged her to hold a technology fair this weekend.

The 2009 Technology Fair will be held from 10 a.m.-                 3 p.m. Saturday, taking up both floors of the Betty Ehart Senior Center.  

“I’m excited that we are able to bring vendors with products to our community that you normally have to travel hours to see and try,” said Pauline Powell Schneider, Los Alamos Retired and Senior Organization director. “I’m also pleased to showcase local services from which people in all age brackets can benefit.”

The technology fair will include locals such as Dr. Timothy Johnson of Eye Associates and representatives from Los Alamos Visiting Nurses and Mesa Public Library.

Businesses throughout New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona will be on hand for the event including: Dr. Ballachanda of Premier Hearing Center, Cliff Phillips from Sandia Hearing Aids, the New Mexico Commission for the Blind, who provides local and statewide publications to volunteers, the New Mexico Library for the Blind, AGA representing Telesensory, Humanware, Vision Technologies, ViewFinder Low Vision Resource Center, Home Instead and ATS Resources of Albuquerque.

The hearing aids of 20 years ago are not the same as those in use today. Often seniors will go without the use of technology aids for reasons ranging from financial to fear and can stem from the inability to easily acquire the needed products.

The variety of vendors will offer hands-on opportunities to experience hearing and vision gadgets and supplies for all age groups.

“There is so much new, helpful technology out there to help people with diminishing vision and hearing. Making face-to-face connections with providers can sometimes make it easier to ask for help when you need it,” Powell Schneider said.

Low vision issues make tasks such as reading the mail, dialing a phone, ordering from a catalog or trying to see the words on a menu a frustrating experience.

Similarly those that experience challenges with hearing are often frustrated by making requests for those nearby to speak louder or repeat parts of a conversation and sometimes give up altogether.

If vision or hearing problems seem to be an inevitable part of your future, this is the perfect chance to be educated about available products. If a family member or friend exhibits self-seclusion, it may be that they find it easier to avoid situations than to deal with them.

“I would encourage not only those with existing challenges, but if you have a family history of these disabilities and you think you’ll have a chance of developing vision or hearing loss, come and learn how to be prepared,” Powell Schneider said.

To learn more about the technology fair this weekend or Venable’s support group, call the Betty Ehart Senior Center at 662-8920.