Hope you’re well. I have been researching sites that provide useful information to people with disabilities and in particular those who are blind, and I came across the LVATUG blog.
I thought you might wish to tell your readers more about Audioboo, the social sound network – there are huge numbers of visually impaired people turning to the platform as their social media site of choice. Most people take using the internet, apps and popular social networks for granted. However for people with sight loss, if a tool isn’t accessible, it can make the difference between being able to benefit from using it or simply not… as I’m sure you well know!
I have spoken to a few users, and you can listen to them telling their stories of how Audioboo has changed their lives and the way they communicate. Or, please find a press release below, if you would prefer to publish the story in a more traditional news format.
On May 8, Jim discussed visual impairment on his radio show.
There are over six point six million Americans of all ages who are either blind or have a significant vision impairment. Slightly more are female rather than male, and slightly more are under the age of 65 than above. Two-thirds of blind or visually-impaired adults do not have even a high school education, and one-third have incomes that place them below the poverty line. Most tellingly, the unemployment rate for blind and visually-impaired adults is a staggering 63 percent. Living a fulfilled, independent life for these people is an uphill battle. However, more and more, technology is helping make the difference in helping the blind live rewarding and independent lives, both at home and in the workplace. We’ll learn more about blindness, other visual impairments, and how technology is helping to level the playing field with two guests: Charlie Collins, who is visually-impaired himself, the founder and CEO of the firm Vision Dynamics and ophthalmologist Dr. Howard Charles, of New York’s Mount Kisco Medical Group.
They discussed telescopic implants, stem cell research, retinal implants, AMD injections, talking books and various assistive technology.
Elias Konstantopoulos gets spotty glimpses of the world each day for about four hours, or for however long he leaves his Argus II retina prosthesis turned on. The 74-year-old Maryland resident lost his sight from a progressive retinal disease over 30 years ago, but is able to perceive some things when he turns on the bionic vision system.
“I can see if you are in front of me, and if you try to go away,” he says. “Or, if I look at a big tree with the system on I can maybe see some darkness and if it’s bright outside and I move my head to the left or right I can see different shadows that tell me there is something there. There’s no way to tell what it is,” says Konstantopoulos.
A spectacle-mounted camera captures image data for Konstantopoulos; that data is then processed by a mini-computer carried on a strap and sent to a 60-pixel neuron-stimulating chip that was implanted in one of his retinas in 2009.
German company Retina Implant, for example, recently completed human tests with its 1,500-pixel implant that does not depend on a camera but instead directly harvests light and transmits that data to remaining neurons (see “Microchip Restores Vision”). A photodiode array replaces the photoreceptors.
Some people with artificial retinas can read large letters, see slow-moving cars, or identify tableware. Other patients experience no benefit.
Using robotics, laser rangefinders, GPS and smart feedback tools, Dennis Hong of the Virginia Tech Robotics Lab is building a car for drivers who are blind. It’s not a “self-driving” car, he’s careful to note, but a car in which a non-sighted driver can determine speed, proximity and route — and drive independently.
Article by Maurie Hill of AI Squared. Selected by Lauren Tappan.
I recently had the opportunity to check out the Samsung Haven cell phone which is more conducive for someone who is blind or low vision. This phone does not have Bluetooth, a camera, GPS, or the internet, so if that’s a deal breaker then it’s not the phone for you. But even just little things make the Haven more blind and low vision friendly than the LG. For example, there are voice commands for checking the time (“Say Time”) and battery level (“Check Battery”). If you have an aging memory like me, you’ll like that when you flip it open, it tells you the time and the function of the major buttons, “left soft key Menu, right soft key Contacts”.
My 7-year-old daughter taught me how to text message on my LG but it’s pointless because I can only read incoming text messages by placing the phone under my CCTV, defeating the purpose of having a portable pocket phone. But because the Haven speaks text messages aloud in addition to menus, alerts, and digits, all its features are fully functional for a person who is blind or low vision.
Zothecula writes “The decidedly low tech white cane is still one of the
most commonly used tools to help the visually impaired get around without
bumping into things. Now, through their project called NAVI
(Navigation Aids for the Visually Impaired), students at Germany’s
Universität Konstanz have leveraged the 3D imaging capabilities of
Microsoft’s Kinect camera to detect objects that lie outside a cane’s
small radius and alert the wearer to the location of obstacles through
audio and vibro-tactile feedback.” In addition, Kinect is being used to “manipulate
medical images during surgery without having to leave the operating room
and scrub back in,” and in more artistic ways as well.
July 3-July 8, 2011: National Convention
Each year the National Federation of the Blind holds its national convention. It is traditionally the largest disability conference of its kind- more than 3,000 blind people participate from across the United States. This year’s convention will be held in Orlando, Florida, at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. Make your room reservation now by calling (866) 996-6338. Preregistration is also now open, so visit www.nfb.org/registration to register for convention and secure your spot at the banquet!