March 8, 2014
A man blind since birth is taking up a surprising new hobby: photography. His newfound passion is thanks to a system that turns images into sequences of sound. The technology not only gives “sight” to the blind, but also challenges the way neurologists think the brain is organized.
In 1992, Dutch engineer Peter Meijer created vOICe, an algorithm that converts simplegrayscale images into musical soundscapes. (The capitalized middle letters sound out “Oh, I see!”). The system scans images from left to right, converting shapes in the image into sound as it sweeps, with higher positions in the image corresponding to higher sound frequencies. For instance, a diagonal line stretching upward from left to right becomes a series of ascending musical notes. While more complicated images, such as a person sitting on a lawn chair, at first seem like garbled noise, with enough training users can learn to “hear” everyday scenes.
In 2007, neuroscientist Amir Amedi and his colleagues at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem began training subjects who were born blind to use vOICe. Despite having no visual reference points, after just 70 hours of training, the individuals went from “hearing” simple dots and lines to “seeing” whole images such as faces and street corners composed of 4500 pixels.
Amedi’s team recently released a successor to vOICe, called EyeMusic, as a free iPhone app. The new algorithm produces more pleasant tones and can even provide color information.
For more info: http://news.sciencemag.org/biology/2014/03/computer-program-allows-blind-see-sound
February 24, 2014
The following is a note from Lauren Tappan
Here is another potential note for the blog. What do you do when your CCTB is starting to fade? I’ve owned my telesensory CCTV for 8 to 9 years and the camera is finally losing its focus. It would cost me 1400 dollars to have the camera repaired. I could buy a used CCTB for less than this. There has recently been an explosion of low vision apps for Apple products. I heard that the Ipad 3 has an app called voiceover and zoom reader. Voiceover will let you tap on the icon and it will read you the name of the icon. Zoom reader will also read and magnify text that is displayed on the Ipad screen. Both of these apps cost around 20 dollars a piece. I also heard that there is another app for the apple products that acts like a CCTB and again this app costs about 20 dollars. The Ipad 3 also has a camera that will allow you to click on an object or text and then read it to you. This is not as easy as it sounds. There is a stand that you can put the Ipad 3 on which will stabilize the pad and help you to take a clear picture of the text you want to read. It also seems to be very difficult to find staff at the Apple store that understand how these apps work. There doesn’t seem to be an ability to go to the Apple store and try out these apps on an Ipad. The Apple store’s staff has said that the best thing to do is find someone with an Ipad and ask them to help you with it. So again, this is rather a mysterious adventure, but it might be worth the effort. More on this later.
February 17, 2014
- What type of macular degeneration do I have?
- What lifestyle changes can help to manage my condition?
- Will supplements help improve my vision? What kind of formula do you recommend?
- Are there drusen present in just one or both of my eyes? Is it sure to progress to my unaffected eye?
- How can I ensure my condition is maintained and doesn’t get any worse?
- What is the role of low vision and vision rehabilitation in AMD care? How can I go forward with low vision rehab?
- Should my close family be tested for the disease? If so, when?
Bring a friend.
Write it down.
Ask your doctor is he or she has any extra materials, brochures or one page informational sheets that you can keep.
For more info: http://www.amdblog.org/macularation/diagnosed-with-macular-degeneration-7-questions-to-ask-your-doctor/r-degene
February 17, 2014
StemCells, Inc. (Nasdaq:STEM) announced today that it has completed enrollment of the first of two planned patient cohorts in the Company’s clinical trial of its proprietary HuCNS-SC® product candidate (purified human neural stem cells) for dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). This cohort consisted of eight subjects, four of whom each received 200,000 cells and four of whom each received 1,000,000 cells. The last patient in this cohort was transplanted by Dr. Ted Leng, M.D. Director of Ophthalmic Diagnostics at the Byers Eye Institute at Stanford.
“Our immediate goal for the study in the next quarter is to complete enrollment of the second cohort. The eight patients in this stage of the trial will have better visual acuity than those in the first cohort,” said Stephen Huhn, M.D., FACS, FAAP, Vice President, CNS Clinical Research at StemCells, Inc. ”
For more info: http://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2014/02/12/609637/10068003/en/StemCells-Inc-Announces-Completion-of-the-First-of-Two-Cohorts-in-its-Dry-Age-Related-Macular-Degeneration-Trial.html
February 17, 2014
New research shows that exercise may have a protective effect against blindness related to retinal degeneration and disease, providing a possible strategy to delay conditions like age-related macular degeneration.
Dr. Machelle Pardue, a researcher at the Atlanta VA Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation and senior author of the new study, said in a press release that the findings offer an unprecedented look at the relationship between exercise and retinal disease. Previous studies have found a similar effect on neurodegenerative disease and injury, but comparatively few have looked at how fitness influences a person’s vision. “This is the first report of simple exercise having a direct effect on retinal health and vision,” she said. “This research may one day lead to tailored exercise regimens or combination therapies in treatments of blinding diseases.”
For more info: http://www.medicaldaily.com/prevent-macular-degeneration-exercise-one-hour-day-treadmill-could-prevent-blindness-causing-disease
February 17, 2014
This article is from Lauren Tappan.
55th National Achievement Awards:
Submission Deadline Is March 1, 2014
Each year, Learning Ally offers two endowed awards programs for outstanding students with visual and learning disabilities. The recipients of these awards are role models of success and inspiration to students from across the country. The three top winners from each program receive $6,000 scholarship award and participate at the national celebration in Washington, DC.
If you’re a member of Learning Ally… this could be your year to win!
Each year, Learning Ally awards over $50,000 to outstanding students with visual and learning disabilities through our National Achievement Awards
Our scholarship programs include:
The three top winners from each program receive a $6,000 scholarship award and join us in a
national celebration in Washington, DC.