Monday, April 15, 2013

A Step in the Right Direction: Braille Burgers

I'm all for when companies strive for inclusion. The mentality is to provide the best experience for each of their customers no matter their circumstance. These altruistic goals should be celebrated but sometimes the execution of them aren't up to par. I'm testing out a new series of post entitled A Step In The Right Direction which will showcase the inclusion efforts of companies and how they can improve upon them.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Driving With Low Vision

The feeling of lost independence is a common experience among people dealing with vision loss. Many of us take for granted the privilege of driving until we no longer have the ability to do so. For many people who do not live in urban areas with mass transit having access to a car and the privilege to drive can make life difficult. Driving influences so many aspects of modern life. It lets us decide where we live, where we work and so much more. So think about what this experience must feel like for those of us dealing with vision loss.

There are several low vision specialists who actually want to give some of this sense of independence back to people with low vision. Many people with low vision have difficulty with their central vision. Our central vision only makes up about 3 to 5 percent of our overall visual field. In driving situations we mostly use our peripheral vision. Central vision allows us to see details like reading road signs and peripheral vision allows us to see bigger details.

Bioptic glasses picks up the slack for central vision loss while driving. The glasses help bring into greater detail road signs, traffic lights and other driving situations that need to be brought into detail. The Low Vision Centers of Indiana has the most comprehensive resource on Bioptic Driving in the US and maybe even the world. (website link below) The video above produced by the company gives a general introduction to Bioptic Driving.

More Information on Bioptic Driving:

Low Vision Centers of Indiana  - This website is a comprehensive resource for information on bioptic driving.

State Driving Laws - See if your state has laws regarding bioptic driving.

Driving With Stargardt's Disease - This is a post from the Low Vision Help blog written by low vision specialist Dr. Armstrong who is based in Virginia.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April Is...

Photo Credit: Essceejulies
So my fascination with awareness campaigns
continues into the month of April which actually has the least campaigns... well according to Like I've stated previously in other posts about awareness campaigns they are great as a mass educational tool but should be looked at as a first step in helping to improve society.  

Below I highlight a few awareness campaigns that are being observed this month and their relationship to the visually impaired.

Monday, April 8, 2013

TED Talk - Dr. Francis Collins: We need better drugs

If you're a regular follower (why aren't you?) of the blog you might remember a post entitled A Different Perspective On: Introverts where I sang the praises of the TED Talks. Read the post to find out more. Basically the TED organization motto is "sharing ideas worth spreading." So I came across the above video of a talk featuring Dr. Francis Collins who is  a physician and geneticist. In the video he discusses the need to have better drugs to treat diseases especially rare ones like Stargardt's. There are over 4000 recognized diseases but only drug treatments for 250 of them. Dr. Collins theorizes that if drugs could be redesigned they can treat diseases more effectively. I personally think this is a great first step in improving people's lives as we continue on the path to cures. He also calls for the need for various stakeholders including doctors, scientists, investors and most importantly patients to work together. It's refreshing to hear that there are those individuals and groups in the medical and scientific community who are thinking progressively about solving problems. This is why I love the TED organization because it offers different perspectives to contemplate.

For a transcript of the video click the read more link below.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Teachers of the Visually Impaired Get Schooled

In the above video Ed Summers who is a visually impaired Software Accessibility Specialist at SAS Institute and Diane Brauner a Certified Orientation & Mobility Specialist conduct a workshop with teachers. These teachers work with visually impaired students and are being taught how to use the accessibility features of the Apple iPad to better serve their students. Ed himself who is visually impaired has made it one of his goals to make sure that the visually impaired have every chance to succeed in the world that is heavily being shaped by our technology usage.

Ed and Diane also wrote a brief manual on using the voiceover with Apple ios software here.

(Video Source: BloombergTV)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Artist Yvonne Felix Thriving With Stargardt's

 Photo 1 Attribution: Yvonne Felix Arts | website:

It seems that I keep on finding people with Stargardt's who are some how involved in the arts. Well the trend continues with artist Yvonne Felix who I met via Twitter.
Yvonne is a Canadian public and community artist, an educator, an advocate, wife and a mother of two. Oh and she also has Stargardt's Disease which hasn't stopped her from pursuing her goals. 

eSight Eyewear for Low Vision

The above video is from the AMI (Accessibility Media Incorporated) documentary A Whole New Light and features the ALIVIOS eSight Eyeware glasses.
The video features Julia Lewis who is an executive with Stargardt's Disease. She's visiting with a low vision specialist who is showing her how to use the device.
The eye-ware looks like a pair of goggles but there more than that. They have a camera embedded in them that processes images that can be tailored to the specific needs of their users. In the video Julia is shown a picture of members of her family that are brought into focus for her. With the nature of low-vision its difficult for people to make out details such as those of people's faces.
The Ottawa Citizen wrote an article of another patient Yvonne Felix using the AVILOS eye-ware device. She was able to make out the faces of her two children using the device and even was able to complain about how ugly her carpet was. *smiles* You can read the article at the following link:
What is also interesting about the eSight Eyeware company is that it was developed by someone who is personally affected by vision loss. Conrad Lewis' wife, sisters and himself all have some form of visual impairment. So he combined his experience working in the tech industry with his desire to help improve the lives of those with visual impairment to create this revolutionary company.

Friday, March 8, 2013

International Women's Day: Visually Impaired Women Worldwide

If you caught one of my previous post February Is... I express my love/hate paradoxical feelings toward awareness campaigns. I love them because they do bring awareness to causes but sometimes can further marginalize the groups that they are trying to help. The longer I think about it I'm starting to... dare I say it 'LOVE' them. My love/hate feelings arise from the fact that I can already perceive (in my mind at least) this global society where everyone is treated equally with their differences. Then I look around and realize that this isn't happening for everyone. My logic jumped from straight A to Z without considering all the other letters in between. When I look around a second time the seeds of change are sprouting and still are being planted. Sometimes I forget that CHANGE is a PROCESS not an event. Not everyone who is exposed to awareness campaigns will become a change agent but if they can affect at least one person then the are worthy. Awareness campaigns are the first step in making a better world for everyone. People have to be reminded that just because we take a day or a month to bring awareness for many people this is their daily lives.