My good experience with a Tablet

July 20, 2014

The following is by Lauren Tappan:


I was recently in the San Francisco airport looking at the new Samsung Galaxy tablet. This tablet is similar to an IPad. As I was standing in the retail kiosk, I could not read the signs around me. I took a picture of the signs with the Samsung Galaxy tablet, froze the image, and then magnified the text. At that point, I was able to read each sign in the kiosk. This got my attention so now I am arranging for a couple private sessions with an AT vender for smartphone and IPad solutions.

I was recently in the San Francisco airport looking at the new Samsung Galaxy tablet. This tablet is similar to an IPad. As I was standing in the retail kiosk, I could not read the signs around me. I took a picture of the signs with the Samsung Galaxy tablet, froze the image, and then magnified the text. At that point, I was able to read each sign in the kiosk. This got my attention so now I am arranging for a couple private sessions with an AT vender for smartphone and IPad solutions.

Diagnosing Macular Degeneration: The Tests that Tell

July 19, 2014

The following is from

Initial tests for AMD typically simple and consist of a visual acuity assessment and a dilated retinal exam. If signs or symptoms of AMD are discovered during these tests, an eye care professional will usually take photos of a patient’s retina for future reference or conduct other diagnostic tests to help determine the state of the retina. Some of the tests that eye care professionals use can include:

Fundus Photography

Fluorescein Angiogram

Optical Coherence Tomography

Macular Pigment Density Testing

Amsler Grid

It’s extremely important to have regular eye examinations, particularly if you’re over 65 years old, or have risk factors associated with macular degeneration such as a family history of AMD, poor diet or history of smoking. Getting appropriately diagnosed and receiving early intervention for AMD can be the difference between stabilizing –or even restoring some eye sight- and losing your central vision. You don’t have to go blind!

For more info:



Treatment for Depression and Vision Loss

July 12, 2014

With aging comes a host of associated problems. One of them is age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the primary reason for vision loss among people older than 50. Progressive decline in vision can often leave the patient confused, and depression is a major risk in such cases.

In order to reduce this risk, a new study has suggested a novel intervention, which combines low vision therapy with psychological rehabilitation. The study, called Low Vision Depression Prevention Trial (VITAL), funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, estimates to cut the risk of depression by 50 percent.

“Our results emphasize the high risk of depression from AMD, and the benefits of multi-disciplinary treatment that bridges primary eye care, psychiatry, psychology, and rehabilitation,” said Dr. Barry Rovner, a professor of psychiatry and neurology at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. The findings have been published in the journal, Ophthalmology.

For more info:



The Dangers of Electric Vehicles

July 7, 2014

The Following is by Lauren Tappan.

Dialogue recently printed an article by the European Blind Union.

In a matter of months, accidents involving pedestrians, cyclists and visually impaired
people have risen. It is time to take action.It is virtually impossible to audibly detect an
electric vehicle or gauge its distance and the direction it is travelling accurately or quickly
enough to avoid being knocked over. Silent vehicles therefore pose a hazard for the
blind and other vulnerable road users.

In concrete terms, all pedestrians and cyclists are at risk, particularly  blind and partially sighted
people, but also other pedestrians such as the hearing impaired, those with limited cognitive
abilities, children and the elderly. This threat is even greater when there is a combination of
silent vehicles – electric and hybrid cars – and conventional engine cars on the road.

All vehicles, whether electric or hybrid, should be equipped with a special acoustic vehicle alerting system (AVAS)
if they are considered to run near silently.

AVAS installation should be compulsory, and not left to the discretion of car manufacturers.

The noise generated by the AVAS should be emitted automatically until the noise of the actual vehicle (noise of the tyres, etc.) is audible and becomes the dominant source of noise (40 KmH).

It should be impossible to manipulate or deactivate the system independently, except during legal
vehicle maintenance operations.
The noise generated by the aVaS clearly and
easily indicate the vehicle’s mode of operation
(acceleration, deceleration, reverse and
manoeuvring). The reverse signal must be diff erent
to the forward signal.

The aVaS emit a sound when the vehicle is temporarily stationary but with the motor running, such as at traffi c
signals. Blind pedestrians must be alerted to the presence of silent vehicles to enable them to make the right decision
and to cross with ease and confidence.

Many roads, particularly in small towns and rural areas, but also at many junctions in our cities, do not have pedestrian crossings or audible traffic signals for visually impaired people.  Blind and partially sighted people  therefore rely on the ‘noise’ of cars to guide them. In addition, as blind and partially sighted people have diffi culty travelling in a straight line, they often enter the parallel stream of traffic. This problem is even greater at roundabouts, of which there are an increasing number.

Electric and hybrid vehicles are twice as likely to be involved in accidents with blind and partially sighted
people in urban settings.

For more info:


Treatment for Macular Degeneration in Raleigh-Durham NC Area

June 29, 2014

There are several highly qualified Ophthalmologists in the area trained to treat Wet Macular Degeneration.

The Duke Eye Center
2351 Erwin Rd,
Durham, NC 27705
(919) 684-6611

The Raleigh Eye Center
3320 Executive Dr
Raleigh, NC 27609

NC Retina Assoc.
5107 Southpark Drive
Suite 201-B
Durham, NC 27713

Kelly Eye Center Brier Creek
8851 Ellstree Lane
Suite 200
Raleigh, NC 27617

Remember to discuss the comparative value of injections of Lucentis and Avastin. Pazopanib, a new drug still under development, can be administered as topical eye drops. The active molecule in Pazopanib works to prevent irregular blood vessels and subsequent bleeding under the macula. If this medication is proven effective in subsequent clinical studies and is approved by the FDA, patients with macular degeneration may be relieved of the nightmare of receiving monthly eye injections.

Currently there is no effective medical treatment for Dry Macular Degeneration. Special vitamin cocktails such as AREDS2, not smoking and wearing Amber tinted glasses can sometimes help. But the best help comes from various assistive technologies, such as electronic magnifiers. The NC Assistive Technology Center can give advise, demos and perhaps loaners. Since Medicare does not provide monetary support, check before you buy. There are many alternatives.

NC ATP Center
2801 Mail Service Center
805 Ruggles Dr.
Raleigh, NC 27699-2801
Lynne Deese, 919-855-3519

Smartphone App Could Replace Seeing Eye Dogs for the Visually Impaired

June 21, 2014

LONDON, June 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — EYEBRIDGE ( ), a first-of-its-kind mobile app from EyeBridge Limited, will provide 27/4 on-demand remote visual assistance for people who are blind or otherwise visually impaired. Within thirty seconds of opening the EYEBRIDGE app, a live operator connects to the customer and his or her smartphone’s rear-facing camera, ready to provide video assistance with everything from navigation and product identification to written word interpretation or device operation. As a blind EYEBRIDGE beta tester commented:  “I travel a lot and locating power outlets or figuring out climate controls in hotel rooms is often tricky, and EYEBRIDGE could be a very useful solution.”

The EYEBRIDGE app in development will be available on both Android and iOS platforms and connect via Wi-Fi and mobile networks. Individual customers and corporate employers will have a variety of subscription plans from which to choose starting from £19 ($29) per month for sixty minutes of remote visual assistance. EYEBRIDGE technology is also forward-thinking: the app is fully compatible with Google Glass, and will no doubt be adaptable to further advancements in wearable devices.

EyeBridge is a Silicon Roundabout start-up founded in 2014 to provide on-demand, remote visual assistance for blind and visually impaired customers via their mobile device. Using the EyeBridge platform customers can connect via mobile video with trained staff who can assist with tasks such as internal and external navigation, product identification and product operation. The WHO estimates there are 285 million blind people worldwide.

For more info:

Frustration at the Apple Store

June 15, 2014

The following is by Lauren Tappan.

 I am still in search of a small, hand-held, portable AT unit.  I want to be able to take a picture of text and have it read to me. The Smart Phone screen is too small for me to read so I thought that I would have a better chance reading an I-Pad screen.
I went to our local Apple store and was told that our local Apple store has a blind employee who can help me with Apple AT solutions.   It was almost impossible to find out this gentleman’s name and when he planned to be at the store.
After much effort,we met him at the Apple store only to discover that he was not able to demonstrate the AT aps for low-vision users as they are not installed on the floor models.  The only recommendation he could make was that I purchase an I-Pad costing
around $499 and then come to ther classes for I-Pad users.
It is hard for me to consider paying $499 and somehow downloading an AT ap and then struggling back to the store for classes when
I don’t know  if I can read the text and the navigational tool bar. I don’t know unless I can see the screen in person
read Whether I can the text or not,  transportation is always an issue for people with low-vision and the thought
of trying to make it to store on a regular basis is daunting.
The Apple Store staff were very accommodating and did the best they could with what limitations were imposed on them. It seems that Apple is missing the boat for us low-vision customers.  It would be very helpful if Apple could  make their blind employee
more accessible to potential low-vision  customers.  It would have been more helpful if  this young gentleman was able to show
me his  I-Pad aps and demonstrate to me how easily he is able to navigate through the system. I think that  any informed AT program has to include Apple products along with other Vendor devices but how do we do it when it is so impossible to see them in person?


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