The story of our Optelec digital magnifier giveaway!

Our charity was able to issue a number of Optelec hand-held digital magnifiers to our most vulnerable visually impaired service users, after successfully securing a grant from the Greater Manchester High Sheriffs Fund.
Read on to find out how this assistive technology supported people living with sight loss to regain some of their independence.

Optelec digital magnifiers

The Compact 6 HD hand-held digital magnifier from Optelec is only 14 mm thick, is a pocket-sized, and has a 6-inch touch screen magnifier that you can use at home, in a shop, or at the office.  You can read magnified text in high contrast colours and view objects from a small distance.  It has two cameras and customisable touch screen buttons so you can tailor it to your personal needs.

We felt that this was the perfect piece of technology to provide the service users across Greater Manchester who were in most need; either because they lived alone or needed the most help regaining some of their independence, especially in light of the restrictions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Optelec Compact 6 HD
Optelec delivery

Successful funding bid

We were very fortunate to receive generous funding from the Greater Manchester High Sheriff’s Police Trust, who were offering grants to improve the quality of life of vulnerable groups in communities across Greater Manchester, especially in light of the issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This enabled us to purchase 32 magnifiers in May 2020 – Mark from our Digital Team received the delivery at his home as staff were working remotely due to the lockdown restrictions at the time.

Delivery of the magnifiers

Once our Digital Team had carefully selected the recipients based on their level of need, they donned their PPE and ensured the safe delivery of the equipment to homes across the region.

During the delivery, our staff were able to carry out some socially distanced training to demonstrate how the magnifiers worked.

In this photograph Chris from our Digital Team is explaining to Mary, aged 91 from Manchester, how the magnifier can be used to read her letters as her husband was no longer able to help as he also recently started to experience sight loss.  Mary says she was hoping to be able to do her crossword puzzles again now!

Optelec training with PPE

“Whoever invented it was really clever because it has totally changed my life. Thank you so much. It's amazing how much difference something so simple can make.”

JG, Henshaws service user

Optelec Compact 6 HD

Feedback from the recipients

Our Digital Team carried out follow-up calls with everyone who received a digital magnifier as part of this project, to ensure they were able to use the equipment effectively and to find out what difference it had made to their lives.  This is what they discovered:

  • 100% said that they used the product daily.
  • 90% said that the they were able to use the magnifier to achieve their primary goal (10% partially achieved their primary goal).
  • For ease of use, the product received an average of 4.2 out of 5.
  • For value for money, the product received an average of 4.3 out of 5.
  • For overall satisfaction, the product received an average of 4.4 out of 5.

And here is what some of the recipients had to say:

“You know, that’s the first thing I’ve read in 15 years!” MB, Oldham

“It’s brilliant, thank you so much of thinking of me. I didn’t realise the amount of things I couldn’t do before I got it!” JC, Tameside

“It’s very easy to use and the manual was quite brilliant. Thank you so much for thinking of me, I feel very lucky!” KW, Manchester

Find out more

To find out more about the Optelec Compact 6 HD digital magnifier, give our video a watch to let Mark explain all of its features.  You can also read about it (and even buy one) in our online shop.

Thank you once again to the Greater Manchester High Sheriff’s Police Trust for making this project possible.

If you need advice on any technology and how it may support you if you are living with sight loss, please get in touch on 0300 222 5555 or email

We can't do it without you

Henshaws rely on voluntary donations; our work just wouldn’t be possible without people like you. Your support empowers local people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to increase their independence, achieve their dreams, and go beyond expectations.

Donate now