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Aberdeen woman who lost sight in freak accident given life transforming device

Donna Shinnie
Donna Shinnie

A woman’s life has been transformed by a state-of-the-art device after losing her sight in an accident on a night out.

Mother-of-one Donna Shinnie, 42, was severely injured after a fall in Aberdeen five years ago.

She spent 10 months in hospital and mysteriously lost her sight and is now registered blind as a result.

Her story was highlighted in the Evening Express in February, where it was revealed she was hopeful of being able to access new technology – known as the OrCam MyEye Pro – to help her gain more independence.

It is a voice-activated device that attaches to the side of glasses and is activated by an intuitive pointing gesture or simply by following the wearer’s gaze – allowing for hands-free use without the need for a smartphone or Wi-Fi.

Donna wearing the OrCam, and her sister Linda Croll

The device can instantly read text from a book, smartphone screen or any other surface.

It also recognises faces and banknotes, helping wearers shop on their own, work more efficiently, and live a much more independent life.

The device is being used by tens of thousands of people across the globe, in more than 40 countries and 20 languages, with users ranging in age from 6 to over 100.

And it is now being used by Donna in Aberdeen who can now read books and text on the screen of a mobile phone.

The Mastrick-based family raised the funds to buy Donna the device with the help of local charity North East Sensory Services (NESS).

And her mother, Linda Girling, said it is already making a huge impact on her life.

Linda said: “The things the OrCam MyEye can do are just amazing. Even in the early days of getting used to the device, it’s making an incredible difference.

“Donna knows where she is, what’s around her and now the device even recognises all of our faces.

“This will give her back so much of the independence she lost after the accident. It’s great news for us as a whole family – it’s life-changing for her.”

The latest device Donna uses costs over £4,500 and she is one of more than 20 people in the north-east who owns one.

Graham Findlay, chief executive of North East Sensory Services, said: “I am very proud of the hard work of NESS staff who, as always, have gone the extra mile for Donna in helping her gain independence and supporting the fundraising efforts.

“Increasing the independence of blind and deaf people is the focus of all our work, and we’re delighted for Donna and her family.”

Tsachi Moshinsky, UK director at OrCam Technologies added: “Our founding principle at OrCam Technologies has always been transforming the lives of people with vision challenges with sophisticated ‘AI-as-a-companion’ technology that is used easily and intuitively.

The OrCam is being used by tens of thousands of people across the globe

“The OrCam MyEye will help Donna gain increased independence following her accident, enabling her to carry out everyday activities that sighted people often take for granted.

“We’re looking forward to following Donna’s story as she achieves the ability to enjoy things that she never imagined she’d do again.”

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