The Outlook from Here

April 2, 2017

The following is by Lauren Tappan:

I was recently alerted to a new blind/low-vision blog for individuals living in Wisconsin. It seems that they are willing to accept submissions from other locations. The blog is called “The Outlook From Here.” Check this out as another blog source.


Small Text Scanner for AT

March 26, 2017

from FeedBlitz

The C-Pen Reader Packs A Lot of Features in a Small Package

When I came across the C-Pen Reader at the FETC conference this past year, I knew that I had to request a review unit to test it out. After contacting the company, they approved my request and

C-Pen Reader

provided me a C-Pen Reader for the review. The opinions reflected in this blog are my own. I have been in the field of assistive technology for over 25 years and over these years have looked at a number of portable hand held reading solutions that promised to make the reading process easy and quick from scanning to reading text.

for more info:

AMD Stem Cell Treatment – Pro & Con

March 26, 2017

These are from Lauren Tappan:


Macular degeneration affects more than 10 million people in the U.S., and is the most common cause of vision loss. It is caused by the deterioration of the middle of the retina, called the macula. The macula focuses central vision and controls our ability to see objects in fine detail, read, recognize colors and faces, and drive a car. Until now, the disease has been considered incurable.

An octogenarian with the condition is now the first person to receive successful treatment with induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. The progression of the woman’s macular degeneration was arrested by new retinal cells made in the lab. Unlike embryonic stem cells, iPS cells can be created from regular adult cells. In this case, the cells used to repair the damaged retina from macular degeneration came from the woman’s skin.

The team at Kobe, Japan’s RIKEN Laboratory for Retinal Regeneration, led by Masayo Takahashi, created iPS cells from the patient’s skin cells. Then, they encouraged them to form cells to patch the retinal pigment epithelium. These cells help nourish and support the retina, allowing it to capture the light the eye needs to see.

The Impact of Stress on AMD

March 16, 2017

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss among older adults in the United States, is often associated with psychological stress. A simple stress rating scale (the Perceived Stress Scale) is a valid and useful way to evaluate the connection between stress and progressive vision loss from AMD, reported Bradley E. Dougherty, OD, PhD, of The Ohio State University College of Optometry.

Patients with vision loss in AMD experience high rates of stress, anxiety, and other problems, including depression. Less is known about the relationship between the stress that AMD patients experience and the severity of their disease — for example, whether stress can cause AMD to worsen or not.

The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) is a well-established stress rating scale that can predict objective biological markers of stress, as well as the risk of stress-related diseases. In previous studies, the PSS has been shown to be predictive of general markers of inflammation, including C-reactive proteins. In the new study, Dr. Dougherty and colleagues extend the use of this survey to determine how well it measures perceived stress in patients with vision loss due to AMD.

For more info:

Vertical Reading to Aid Macular Degeneration

February 24, 2017

Individuals with macular degeneration often develop a Preferred Retinal Locus (PRL) used in place of the impaired fovea. It is known that many people adopt a PRL left of the scotoma, which is likely to affect reading by occluding text to the right of fixation. For such individuals, we examined the possibility that reading vertical text, in which words are rotated 90° with respect to the normal horizontal orientation, would be beneficial for reading. Vertically oriented words would be tangential to the scotoma instead of being partially occluded by it.

For more info:

Early Detection of Macular Degeneration

February 22, 2017

Dr. William Hart at Hart Eye Center in Lake Charles spends his days looking at patients’ eyes. One of the conditions he treats the most is macular degeneration, a progressive eye disease with both aging and genetic factors.

“That tiny spot that receives the light most clearly because of the way the retina is structured is called the macula,” explained Dr. Hart.  “Because of the anatomy of the macula, it’s vulnerable to vascular disease or degeneration of the macula.”

That can be seen most clearly through OCT or Optical Coherence Tomography, using infrared light waves to take cross-section pictures of your retina.

“It’s a laser scanner essentially,” said Dr. Hart. “The patient puts their head up against the instrument and the technician then can center the patient’s eyes onto the machine and then hits the process to start. The scanning begins and the images produced.”

Dr. Hart dais what makes this technology so incredible is the power to see through the retina, which is like a window to the body’s blood vessels and undiagnosed vascular diseases.

“This allows us to look at the person’s retina if we’re starting to be even mildly suspicious and look at the blood vessel structure under the retina,” he said.

If a problem is detected, special vitamins can be prescribed, along with other therapies.

“We increase therapy or even use in some cases laser or injections of medicine that will stop the new blood vessel growth,” said Dr. Hart.

The biggest warning sign of macular degeneration is blurred vision. If left untreated, central vision loss typically occurs within 15 years. It is something that can be slowed with monitoring and treatment.

Macular degeneration generally begins in people between the ages of 55 and 65. It is important to have routine eye exams as you age, to stay on top of any vision changes.

For more info:

Orange County NC Library News

February 22, 2017

The following is by Jason Richmond, Librarian

Subject: Accessability Grant

As we head towards a New Year, I wanted to share with all of you the progress that has been made with the Accessible Library Project. The State Library awarded us funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to make our services and collections more accessible and to hold programming raising disability awareness. Many of the big, visible parts of the plan haven’t been implemented yet but the foundations have been laid for an exciting start to 2017.

In October, the Triangle Disability Awareness Council led a great training on awareness and customer service for all library staff. Our librarians valued the chance to ask questions and learn about more ways they can assist all those who may come through our doors. Thank you again to all the trainers that made the trek up to Hillsborough!

November brought a makerspace to the library that showcased ways tinkering and technology can be leveraged to help others in our community. Participants in our workshops adapted toys by adding accessible switches and learned about creating prosthetic hands using 3D printers.

Assistive technology hardware has arrived at the library and will become available to the public by February. Library staff will be training on our new video magnifiers and assistive listening kits over the next couple weeks. For Disability Awareness Month in March the library will be working with the Triangle Disability Awareness Council again to hold educational and engaging programs.

A big thank you to each and every one of you! All of your support in time, encouragement and expertise has made this possible. Thank you to all the library staff who are making disability services part of their daily commitment to our community. And thank you to the library’s leaders, Lucinda and Andrea, who have made disability services a priority of the library and supported this initiative from the start.

The library will be sharing more information about our activities throughout the coming months as more services become available. If you have any questions please reach me at my contact information below.



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