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Guiding Blind: Mobility Canes - Using a Dakota Disk Cane Tip, Episode 2

Hiking or walking on grass, dirt, fields or snow can be a challenge for visually impaired people. Using a Dakota Disk Cane Tip, which glides over uneven terrain, you will be able to traverse those outdoor bumpy or rough environments.



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Posted in Assistive and Vision Loss Technology and Products | View Post

Guiding Blind: Mobility Canes - Joni - What is a mobility cane? Episode 1


Mobility aids are important for people with vision loss. They help them maintain their independence and safety while walking and traveling. Learn more about mobility aids.



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Posted in Assistive and Vision Loss Technology and Products | View Post

10 Blind Musicians Who Inspire With Their Talent and Bravery

10. Art Tatum

Art TatumArthur Tatum Jr. was born October 13, 1909and became one of the great American jazz pianists.  Arthur had impaired vision as an infant, likely related to cataracts.  In his early twenties he was attacked, leaving left him completely blind in his left eye and with  limited vision in his right eye.  He consistently downplayed his blindness, not wanting to bring any attention to it.  In fact, when he performed, he made sure he did not need to be led on stage to his piano.

Arthur's technical ability was deemed outstanding by his fellow. Many pianists attempted to emulate him.  He was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.  In addition he was posthumously awarded the 1973 Grammy for Best Jazz Performance by a Soloist.

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Posted in Blind and Vision Impaired - Famous | View Post

10 Blind Musicians Who Inspire With Their Talent and Bravery

 

9. Diane Schuur

Diane SchuurDiane Schuur is an American jazz singer and pianist, born in 1953.  Retinopathy of prematurity caused her to be blind from birth.  She has performed with several other blind singers in this blog, including Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and Jose Feliciano.  She has also performed at the White House.

Diane's album she recorded with B.B. King reached #1 one on the Billboard Jazz Charts.  She appeared 11 times on NBC's The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

In 1996 she appeared with Elmo on Sesame Street explaining how blind people can cope and thrive in a sighted world.

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Posted in Blind and Vision Impaired - Famous | View Post

10 Blind Musicians Who Inspire With Their Talent and Bravery

8. George Shearing

George ShearingGeorge Shearing is a British jazz pianist who was born with congenital glaucoma and later emigrated to the United States. George lost his sight completely when he was a teenager, and he started to play music when he was a child. George was signed by a record label when he was 19, and he released his debut album “Piano Solos with Rhythm” in 1950. Since the release of his debut album, George has achieved much success, recognition, and many awards, and he is considered to be one of the most celebrated jazz pianists ever. George wrote jazz standards including:
  1. Lullaby of Birdland
  2. Conception
In 2007 he was given the OBE award and knighted by Queen Elizabeth.  He pioneered a piano technique known as "The Shearing Sound".  He passed away in New York City at the age of 91.


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10 Blind Musicians Who Inspire With Their Talent and Bravery

7. Nobuyuki Tsujii

Nobuyuki TsujiiNobuyuki Tsujii is a Japanese musician who was born with poor eyesight from microphthalmia. Nobuyuki lost his vision completely when he was a child, and he started to play the piano when he was a teenager. Nobuyuki was signed by a record label when he was 21, and he released his debut album “Journey” in 2001. Since the release of his debut album, Nobuyuki has achieved much success, and he is considered to be one of the most successful musicians in Japan. Some of Nobuyuki’s most popular songs include:
  1. Arabesque 1 & 2
  2. Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1

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Posted in Blind and Vision Impaired - Famous | View Post

10 Blind Musicians Who Inspire With Their Talent and Bravery

6. Andrea Bocelli


Andrea BocelliAndrea Bocelli is an Italian singer and a composer who was born with congenital glaucoma. Andrea started to play music when he was a child, and he started to sing with a music band when he was a teenager. In the 1990s, Andrea started to pursue a solo career, and he has achieved a lot of success and recognition ever since. Andrea has earned a lot of prestigious awards, and his album “Canto” is considered to be one of the best-selling albums of all time. Some of Andrea’s most popular songs include:
  1. Time to Say Goodbye
  2. Vivo Per Lei

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Posted in Blind and Vision Impaired - Famous | View Post

10 Blind Musicians Who Inspire With Their Talent and Bravery

5. Gilbert Montagne


Gilbert MontagneGilbert Montagne is a musician and a composer who was born with congenital glaucoma. Gilbert lost his vision completely when he was a child, and he started to play music when he was a teenager. Gilbert was signed by a record label when he was 20, and he released his debut album “Voyage” in 1967. Since the release of his debut album, Gilbert has achieved a lot of success and recognition, and he is considered to be an influential figure in the French music industry. Some of Gilbert’s most popular songs include:
  1. The Fool
  2. Ce Qu’il Faut Pour Vivre
  3. Un Homme Heureux
  4. C’était Pas Prévu Dans Le Programme

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10 Blind Musicians Who Inspire With Their Talent and Bravery

4. Ronnie Lee Milsap

Ronnie Lee MilsapRonnie Lee Milsap was born almost completely blind due to a congenital disorder. Ronnie started to play music when he was a teenager, and he learned to play the guitar with his own method of music notation. Ronnie was signed by a record label when he was 22, and he released his debut album “Ronnie Milsap” in 1971. In the following years, Ronnie achieved great fame and recognition, and he is considered to be one of the most successful American country music singers. Ronnie had 40 #1 hits on the Billboard country chart.  Some of Ronnie’s most popular songs include:
  1. (There's) No Gettin' Over Me
  2. Lost In The Fifties Tonight (In The Still Of The Night)
  3. She Keeps The Home Fires Burning

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10 Blind Musicians Who Inspire With Their Talent and Bravery

3. José Feliciano

Jos FelicianoJosé Feliciano is a Puerto Rican singer and musician who lost his vision at the age of five. José used music as a means of expression when he grew up, and he was inspired by the protest songs of Bob Dylan. José published his first studio album “The Rhythm and the Blues” in 1968. In the following years, José achieved much success, and he became a respected figure in the world of music. Some of José’s most popular songs include:
  1. Light My Fire
  2. California Dreaming
  3. Feliz Navidad
  4. Chico And The Man

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Posted in Blind and Vision Impaired - Famous | View Post

10 Blind Musicians Who Inspire With Their Talent and Bravery

2. Ray Charles

Ray CharlesRay Charles was a musician, pianist, and a composer who was born with poor eyesight, possibly due to glaucoma. Due to his poor vision, he was unable to attend school, so he had to educate himself by listening to the radio. Ray published his first single “Confession Blues” in 1950. In the following years, Ray became one of the biggest figures in the world of music, and earned the nickname “The Genius”. Ray released a large number of acclaimed albums, and his album “Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music” is considered to be one of the most influential albums in the history of music.

Some of Ray’s most popular songs include:
  1. "I Can’t Stop Loving You”
  2. “Georgia On My Mind”
  3. “What I’d Say”
Ray has been awarded 18 Grammys. The 2004 biopic "Ray" was a testament to his life and accomplishments.  His honors include:
  1. Kennedy Center Honors
  2. the National Medal of Arts
  3. the Polar Music Prize
In 1986, he was one of the inaugural inductees at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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Posted in Blind and Vision Impaired - Famous | View Post

10 Blind Musicians Who Inspire With Their Talent and Bravery

In the field of music, it’s not only the musicians who can see that achieve success. In fact, there are many blind musicians who have paved their way to fame and recognition with their amazing performances and compositions. These musicians have managed to use their lack of sight as a means of inspiration and an advantage rather than a roadblock. These artists have displayed remarkable courage and perseverance in spite of all the difficulties they face on a daily basis...

1. Stevie Wonder

Stevie WonderStevie Wonder, who is a true icon in the world of music, was born with an eye condition which left him completely blind after the age of six. Although Stevie had grown up with the fear of being an outcast due to his disability, he overcame all these fears by the time he turned 21. Stevie has achieved enormous success in his career, and his album “Songs in the Key of Life” is ranked as the 34th highest-selling album of all time. His most popular songs include:
  1. “I Just Called to Say I Love You”
  2. “Part-Time Lover”
  3. “You Are the Sunshine of My Life”
  4. “Superstition”
  5. “Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours”

Stevie is a respected figure all over the world, and he is also known for being a great philanthropist.

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Posted in Blind and Vision Impaired - Famous | View Post

Understanding Blindness

Understanding BlindnessAs you might suspect, there is an enormous amount for the lay person, especially one who is not blind or visually impaired, to learn and understand about blindness.  Mark Hollins' new book "Understanding Blindness" provides insightful answers to questions many of us have, such as:
  1. Do congenitally blind people have mental images?
  2. How are they sometimes able to detect an object without touching it?
  3. Is the visual part of a brain doing anything in a blind person?
This book delves into such questions, plus examines how blindness affects the eye, brain, perception, cognition, attitudes, emotions, and more.

Understanding Blindness

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Posted in Research and Medical Advancements | View Post

12 Blind Leaders

 
Helen Keller and Robert IrwinEver wonder who among our society's leaders are blind or visually impaired?  Well, the list is long, but here are 12 of them.  Among them is Dale Chihuly, the world-famous glass artist whos works are featured in his very own museum in the shadow of Seattle's Space Needle, as well as the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas, the Atlantis Hotel in the Bahamas, and many more installations throughout the world.

Also included is Robert Irwin, pictured to the right with Helen Keller, who was the first Executive Director for the American Foundation For the Blind.  He was also a pioneer of the Braille system.


12 Blind Leaders You Should Know (Who Aren’t Helen Keller)

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Posted in Blind and Vision Impaired - Famous | View Post

Where In The World Is Blindness The Worst?

  1. World map of blindnessIndia and China represent 49% of the world's blindness and vision loss, while comprising 37% of its population.
  2. The only country with more than 27% of its population suffering from vision loss is Nepal, a neighbor of both India and China.
  3. Virtually every country in the Western hemisphere has fewer than 15% with vision loss.
  4. The U.S. has 3.7% vision loss.
  5. The only major country with a lower rate of vision loss than the U.S. is our neighbor Canada.
Country Map & Estimates of Vision Loss

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Posted in Blindness and Society | View Post

What Is Diabetic Retinopathy?

Bearded manDiabetic retinopathy results in vision loss and blindness those with diabetes. Diabetic retinopathy affects blood vessels in the retina (the light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of your eye).

Diabetes patients should get a comprehensive dilated eye exam annually. Diabetic retinopathy may not display any symptoms initially — but finding it early can help you  and your doctor take actions to protect your vision. 

Learn more about Diabetic Retinopathy

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Posted in Eye Disease - Diabetic Retinopathy | View Post

What Is Macular Degeneration?

Elderly coupleAge-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the U.S.' most common cause of legal blindness. AMD's most common symptoms are blurred vision and vision loss. AMD has two main types
  1. dry macular degeneration, typically caused by the center of the retina deteriorating
  2. wet macular degeneration, typically caused by leaky blood vessels growing under the retina

Learn more about Macular Degeneration

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Posted in Eye Disease - Macular Degeneration | View Post

World Health Organization's Fact Sheet on Blindness and Vision Impairment

Student in AfricaThe WHO has created a useful fact sheet on blindness and visual impairment.  It includes interesting facts, definitions of visual impairment, prevalence, causes, impact, and more.

Here are a few useful facts:
  • 2.2 billion people are visually impaired
  • Most of these people are over 50 years old
  • The economic impact of visual impairment is about $244 billion
Blindness and vision impairment fact sheet

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Posted in Blindness - Vision Impairment | View Post

Tech For The Visually Impaired

Blind man with phone and caneHere are some cool technologies to help those with blindness or visual impairment:
  1. VoiceOver: A screen reader app which verbally describes your screen's contents.
  2. Siri:  A very popular voice recognition system that lets you speka to your phone and have it speak to you.  You can text, call, surf, and much more.
  3. TalkBack:  A screen reader app.
  4. Google Assistant:  an AI “virtual helper”.  Navigate your phone with voice.

Complete list of 30 Apps, Devices and Technologies for People With Vision Impairments

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A Man with a Different Kind of Vision

60 Minutes - A Different Kind Of VisionImagine a sport where NO one can see where they are going. That sport is rowing … and Chris Downey especially loves it because it puts him on equal footing with his fellow crew members. That’s because Chris is blind.

We learned about this blind architect back in 2019  and now, Lesley Stahl from 60 Minutes, is back with an update.

One thing in particular impresses us about about Chris: he’s ADAPTIVE. For every situation, he finds a way to adapt, to turn lemons into lemonade.

That’s why Chris never accepted that he’d have to give up his career after he became blind. He decided with the right “tools” that he’d be just fine. For example, he found a tactile printer that can read and emboss drawings, so he can read the plans almost like braille. But what is really fascinating is he started to “hear” buildings. Similar to bat echolocation, Chris can hear and feel his surroundings. He believes this makes him a much better architect.

Of course, it wasn’t easy getting to that point. After brain surgery, Chris went from being fully sighted to totally blind. But, with some soul searching, he made up his mind to set an example for his son that if you want something, you really have to work at it. And Chris wanted his life, blind or not.

Chris also needed to learn how to navigate to be independent:
  • how to safely work in the kitchen
  • how to navigate public transportation
  • how to use screen reading software
  • how to get around in the world on his own

The best part of his story is the unique twist his career took after he ended up losing his job during COVID. Miraculously, his blindness became an asset. Watch this amazing video to learn what happened.

If you live in San Diego and you are blind, recently blind, or are experiencing vision change, contact the San Diego Center for the Blind. We can help you to live an independent life. Contact SDCB


Posted in Blind and Vision Impaired - Heroes Stories | View Post

Mobile Technology For The Visually Impaired

Woman with phoneMost smartphones now have an extensive array of accessible features.  YOU can speak to your phone, and have it speak back to you.  You can even adjust the voice's tone, speed, accent, and gender.  Your phone likely has a magnifier, with adjustable magnification and lighting.

Phones with exceptional accessibility include:

  • Kyocera Kona
  • Kyocera Verve
  • Odin VI


Cell Phones, Tablets, and Other Mobile Technology for Users with Visual Impairments

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Posted in Assistive and Vision Loss Technology and Products | View Post

Social Etiquette With Blind And Visually Impaired People

People being socialMany sighted people are uncomfortable or confused about how they should communicate with people who are blind or visually impaired.

Here are a few helpful guidelines:
  1. Introduce yourself. Not everyone recognizes voices or remembers them.
  2. Don't shout. Visually impaired or blind does not mean hearing impaired.
  3. Don't leave a person who is blind, talking to themselves. Let them know when you are leaving.
  4. Don't use hand signals. People with severe visual impairments can't see waving or pointing hands.
  5. Don't omit words like, "See" or "Look". People with visual impairments are not offended by these words and understand that these words are part of normal conversations.
  6. Do feel free to photograph someone who is blind or visually impaired. Everyone likes to capture special moments to save and show to others.
  7. Do speak directly to a person who is blind. Don't speak to a family member or friend and ignore the person who is blind. Remember they can speak for themselves.
  8. Don't push, pull or grab a person who is blind. This can cause accidents and is often embarrassing.
  9. Do offer your arm for assistance. A person who is blind would rather take your arm than have you take their arm.
More social etiquette tips

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Posted in What Is Vision Impairment Like and Social Etiquette | View Post

The Only Blind Nobel Prize Winner

Jose SaramagoJosé Saramago is the only blind Nobel Prize winner.  In 1998, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his "parables sustained by imagination, compassion and irony [with which he] continually enables us once again to apprehend an elusory reality."

Saramago has sold over 2 million books in his native Portugal alone, and his books have been translated into 25 languages.

In one of his books, "Blindness", Saramago uses absolutely no proper nouns.  Rather, he refers to characters simply by a unique characteristic.

More about José Saramago

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Posted in Blind and Vision Impaired - Heroes Stories | View Post

What Does It Really Mean To Be Legally Blind?

BlindfoldIt's actually not your doctor who defines whether or not you are legally blind.  It's the United States government.  This designation is critical to the ability to receive disability benefits and other accommodations.

Whereas normal vision is 20/20, blindness is legally defined as having 20/200 vision (or worse) in your better eye, or having a field of vision under 20 degrees.

Incidentally, of people with eye disease, only 15% are totally blind, meaning they can see no light at all.

What Does It Mean to Be Legally Blind?

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Posted in Blindness and Society | View Post

Can Medical Marijuana Help Glaucoma?

Medical marijuanaThe American Glaucoma Society does not consider medical marijuana to be an acceptable form of treatment for glaucoma.  Nevertheless, 25% of glaucoma specialist surveyed reported a role for patients' use of medical marijuana (MMJ).  Even more are routinely asked about MMJ by their patients, or are requested to provide prescriptions.

76% of glaucoma specialists would welcome further information and education on the role of MMJ in treating glaucoma.

Attitudes and Perceptions Toward the Use of Medical Marijuana by Glaucoma Specialists

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Posted in Eye Disease - Glaucoma | View Post

50 Best Movies with Blind Characters

50 Best Movies with Blind CharactersEvery one of us, sighted or not, have our favorite movies we've watched with blind characters.  So many of these films have main characters who provide inspiration to the blind, visually impaired, and everyone else.

Here are the top blind films of all time:
  1. Ray (2004)
  2. A Patch of Blue (1965)
  3. Scent of a Woman (1992)
  4. The Book of Eli (2010)
  5. Wait Until Dark (1967)
Click below for the rest of the list...  How many have you seen?

50 Best Movies with Blind Characters

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12 Cool Gadgets For The Blind

Blind gadgetsImagine being blind or visually impaired and having access to these amazing products.  Well, they all are available now:
  1. Braille smartphone
  2. Braille Rubik Cube
  3. Safe mug
  4. Smart walking stick
  5. Tactile flash cards
  6. Tactile wristwatch
  7. And more...
12 Ingenious Gadgets & Technologies Designed for the Blind

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Posted in Assistive Technology | View Post

17 Braille Innovations That Don’t Exist Yet… But Should!

17 Braille innovationsThere are so many assistive technology devices available to help the blind and visually impaired.  With many more to come.  Here are some idea on Braille-related innovations we'd like to see hit the market soon.  Some are already in development or testing, while other are simply ideas at the moment.

Some of these devices revolve around converting text to Braille.  Others relate to Braille functionality, like Braille tape or blood pressure monitor.

17 Braille Innovations That Don’t Exist Yet… But Should!

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Posted in Braille | View Post

60 Minutes Profiles An Amazing Blind Architect

60 Minutes - A Different Kind Of VisionSee the inspirational story of an architect, husband, and father who went blind as a result of surgery to remove a brain tumor.  He turned the lemon into lemonade, and now is a nationally-renowned architect who uses his blindness as an asset to help him design blind-friendly buildings for nonprofits, government agencies, and companies.

He created techniques to read other's architectural drawings (similar to Braille), modify them (using children's wax sticks), and guide blind people throughout his structures (groves and different textures to the concrete floors).  In fact, if he were to somehow have the opportunity to regain his sight, he would decline!

Architect goes blind, says he's gotten better at his job

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Posted in Blind and Vision Impaired - Heroes Stories | View Post

10 Marvel Characters Who Are Blind

Marvel blind charactersDid you know that ten Marvel characters are blind?  These characters provide ample inspiration of what can be accomplished, even with partial or no sight:
  1. Daredevil
  2. Blind Al
  3. Casandra Web (mentor to Spiderman)
  4. Julia Carpenter
  5. Alicia Masters
  6. Stick
  7. Blindfold
  8. Shroud
  9. Milla Donovan
  10. Libra
Daredevil & 9 Other Marvel Characters Who Are Blind

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Posted in Blind and Vision Impaired - Heroes Stories | View Post

Interesting Statistics About Blindness and Visual Impairment (in the US)

  • 3D bar graph12 million people over 40 in the US are visually impaired.  This includes1 million who are blind, 3 million who have vision impairment after correction, and 8 million who have vision impairment due to uncorrected refractive error.
  • 4.2 million people over 40 have uncorrectable vision impairment.
  • 6.8% of kids under 18 years have a diagnosed eye and vision condition.
  • 2,000 workers per day sustain job-related eye injuries that require medical treatment.
  • 93 million adults are at high risk for serious vision loss, but only half visited an eye doctor in the past year.
  • Major vision problems among those over 40 costs our economy $145 billion per year.
  • Vision impairment is one of the top 10 disabilities among adults and one of the most prevalent disabling conditions among children.
  • 90% of blindness caused by diabetes is preventable.

Fast Facts of Common Eye Disorders

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Posted in Research and Medical Advancements | View Post

How Do Brightness and Glare Affect The Visually Impaired?

GlareA recent study showed that most visually impaired participants required a higher degree of brightness in order to be able to  see the images they were presented on a monitor.  Surprisingly, though, about 25% actually saw better with lower brightness.  Most people had better vision with lower glare, and with more uniform lighting.  Also, visually impaired people did better with a higher degree of contrast between foreground and background colors.

An Investigation of the Implications of Visual Impairment for Illumination Requirements

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Posted in Research and Medical Advancements | View Post

How Can A Prescription Med Bottle Affect The Ability Of The Visually Impaired To Read It?

Prescription medsResearch shows that visually impaired people have an easier time reading prescriptions on flat surfaces than round ones.

In this study, typical, cylindrical prescription medicine containers took significantly longer for visually impaired people to find and read.  It also took longer for them to locate key pieces of information on the label, relative to a flat label.  Round labels also resulted in decreased reading accuracy.

Effect of Container Shape, Age, and Visual Acuity on the Readability of Prescription Label Information in Persons With Visual Impairments

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Posted in Research and Medical Advancements | View Post

How Has COVID Affected Research Into Blindness?

COVID moleculeResearchers who study blindness and visual impairment, as a result of the pandemic, now have a harder time interviewing patients, examining them, observing them, and measuring them in person.

Moreover, there is a significant time lag between when research is conducted, and when it is published, particularly in scholarly journals which require adherence to rigorous standards, peer review, editorial review, and more.  Since so many health care facilities were closed or restricted during COVID, and to a lesser extent may continue to be, this means that less research may have been conducted, leading to a relative shortage of articles available for publication now and in the near future.

How the Current Pandemic Has Influenced Future Published Research

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Posted in Research and Medical Advancements | View Post

The 5 Leading Causes Of Blindness

Woman with folded caneHere are the 7 main causes of blindness:
  1. Uncorrected refractive errors:  These can include myopia, hyperopia or astigmatism, and can often be corrected with eyeglasses.
  2. Cataracts:  These typically affect those over 65 years old, but can also be a common side effect of conditions like diabetes. Cataracts happen when the lens of your eye becomes less transparent and can cause your sight to appear cloudy.
  3. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD): This causes you to lose central vision as the macula in your retina deteriorates.
  4. Glaucoma:  This occurs when fluid builds up in your eye and causes pressure.
  5. Diabetic retinopathy:  As the name implies, this stems from diabetes.
WHAT ARE THE LEADING CAUSES OF BLINDNESS?

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Posted in Blind | View Post

What Is Blindness?

Man with caneTotal blindness typically connotes someone who has a complete lack of light perception, also known as "no light perception" (NLP). Only about 15% of people with eye disorders are totally blind.  Most visually impaired people have some vision.

Low vision refers to people whose vision cannot be completely corrected by glasses, contact lenses, medicine, surgery, magnification aids or assistive technology.

Visual impairment refers to people whose decreased visual function interferes with their ability perform their activities of daily living (ADLs), such as reading, driving, and watching TV. Visual impairment includes those who have low vision or who are blind.

Learn more about blindness, it's etiology, treatment, and management options

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Posted in Blindness - Vision Impairment | View Post

An Introduction To Assistive Technologies For The Blind and Visually Impaired

Seeing eye service dog.pngThere is some amazing technology available to help folks who are blind or visually impaired -- more each year.  If you're new to these products, read this article by the University of Illinois.

It reviews items that can help with mobility, from seeing eye dogs to canes and electronic mobility aids.  It also covers products that can assist with reading, like screen readers and refreshable Braille displays.

Blind/Visual Impairment: Common Assistive Technologies

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Posted in Assistive Technology | View Post

How You Can Prevent Macular Degeneration

AMD imageAge-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness.

An early referral to ophthalmology and early treatment are critical.  Not smoking, or quitting, is also imperative.  Beyond that, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy body weight can help ward off AMD.  Related to that, one should strive for a healthy diet.  Even wearing good sunglasses helps.

Macular degeneration is a leading cause of blindness. Here’s how to prevent it

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Posted in Eye Disease - Macular Degeneration | View Post

Family Travels Around The World Before Their Children Go Blind

Blind children in watering holeCanadian couple Edith Lemay and Sébastian Pelletier have three of their four children with retinitis pigmentosa, an incurable degenerative disorder.  All three of them will become blind in the next few years.

So, Edith and Sébastian decided to travel the world with their children to emblazon rich, vivid memories of our planet before they lose their ability to see it.  Their trip was delayed by COVID, but last month they left their home in Montreal for Namibia in Southern Africa.  And that's just the beginning...

Canada family tour world to store rich memories before children go blind

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Posted in Living Blind | View Post

Blind Farmer Achieves His Dream

Pig farmerMike Duxbury became blind at 6 years old due to infantile glaucoma.  Being from a family of farmers, Mike was determined from his early childhood years not to let his blindness interfere with his goal of one day becoming a farmer himself.

Mike got a degree in agricultural business management from Warwickshire College of Agriculture in 1990.  Today, he is not only a farmer, but trains others with disabilities on how they, too, can become farmers.

The blind farmer: ‘It’s all I ever wanted to do. Now I can help others do it’

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Posted in Living Blind | View Post

Guiding Blind: Cooking - Christine Ha Ep 1

At San Diego Center for the Blind, we have programs to help you learn the basics of navigating your kitchen when you are either blind or vision-impaired. Our goal is to help you be confident in your cooking skills and independent in your living.

In this guide, we're going to be diving into both tips and inspiration ... so, to help you get inspired, let's meet a few blind or visually-impaired folks that relish (pun intended) their time spent in the kitchen.

Christine Ha
In 2004, Christine was diagnosed with Neuromyelitis optica (this happens when your immune system attacks the optic nerves and spinal cord). By 2007, she was nearly blind.

That didn't stop her, though! She was the first blind contestant of MasterChef and, in 2012, was the winner. Today, she is an American chef, writer, and TV host. Christine has lots of content we think you'll love:

Besides all Christine's great cooking related content, she has more personal things like:
Watch for Ep 2 of Guiding Blind: Cooking!

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Posted in Independent Living Skills | View Post

Medical Needs? Here's Your Prescription for Savings

Courtesy of SDG&E, our trusted community partner

if you have disabilityCertain medical needs may qualify you or someone in your home for savings every month on your gas and electric bill. Apply for the Medical Baseline Allowance program if you need to use more energy due to a qualifying medical condition or to prevent an existing condition from getting worse. Examples include:

A requirement for permanent space heating or cooling due to paraplegia, quadriplegia, hemiplegia, multiple sclerosis, scleroderma, a compromised immune system or a life-threatening illness.  

Required use of a life-support device, such as an aerosol tent, apnea monitor, kidney dialysis machine, motorized wheelchair or respirator (devices used for therapy don’t qualify; only medical devices that sustain life or are needed for mobility).

To get a Medical Baseline Allowance application and more information, visit sdge.com/medical. Eligibility requirements include having a physician sign your application to certify the medical need.

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Posted in Research and Medical Advancements | View Post

Water Heater Tips Put Safety & Savings on Tap
(Courtesy of SDG&E, our trusted community partner)

Water heaterDid you know that when you use water, you are using energy? The U.S. Department of Energy found that water heaters account for about 18% of your total energy bill. Here are some water heater tips to help keep you safe and lower your energy bill.

1.    Set your water heater thermostat to 120 degrees or less. You’ll save energy and avoid scalding your hands and body. Lower temps also slow mineral buildup and corrosion in your water heater and pipes.

2.    Insulate your storage tank and the first 6 feet of both the hot water and cold water pipes connected to the unit. This helps prevent fires and conserves heat so your system doesn’t have to work so hard to reheat it.

3.    Install a timer to turn your water heater off when you go to bed. It conserves energy and can add years to the unit’s life.

4.    If your water heater is more than ten years old and in good condition, consider installing a heat trap. Most modern water heaters have a built-in heat trap.

5.    Make sure your water heater restraints are secured to the wall studs to prevent movement or toppling over during an earthquake.

6.    Using cold water for laundry and basic grooming helps reduce your bill.

7.    Keep the area around the water heater clean, free of items around it and well-ventilated to prevent it from working harder.

8.    It’s a good practice to drain your water heater every year or so. It helps remove sediment that can impede heat transfer which lowers the efficiency of the unit.

Visit sdge.com/winter for more safety and energy-saving tips.

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Posted in Businesses - Organizations - Products Supporting Blind | View Post

The World's Oldest Person Is ... Blind! (And A Nun)

World's oldest personYesterday, a 119-year old Japanese woman, the world's oldest, died.  As a result, the new title holder is 118-year old Lucile Randon, a French nun.  Sister Andre, as she is known, is blind.

She resides in a nursing home in the Mediterranean city of Toulon.  She was congratulated by newly-reelected President Macron.

Her ultimate goal is to become the oldest human in history by surpassing the 122-year mark attained by another French woman.

The cocktail-loving French nun who is now the world's oldest person: Blind 118-year-old who celebrates birthdays with port-and-chocolate tipple claims title after death of Japanese woman aged 119

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Posted in Blind and Vision Impaired - Heroes Stories | View Post

How To Make Websites Accessible For The Blind And Visually Impaired

Color circlesMaking a website accessible enables users with physical or visual disabilities to more easily navigate, read, understand, and use the site.  Good websites, and web designers, understand how to make a website accessible and incorporate those techniques into the site.  They may even get the site certified as "accessible".

Here are just a few of the ways to make a site accessible:
  1. Ensure lots of contrast between foreground and background colors.
  2. Every image should have an image tag (i.e., alt text).
  3. Avoid only using color for emphasis.
  4. Enable control via the keyboard, not just the mouse.
  5. Links and buttons should be accurately described.
  6. Ensure that each page has a descriptive title
Improve Accessibility for Users Who are Visually Impaired with These 9 Tips

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Posted in Accessibility | View Post

European Union Requires Electric Cars To Make Noise

Electric carElectric cars are an important answer to the question of what we can do about climate change.  But they can also pose a danger to blind and visually impaired people nearby who cannot hear them approaching.  Even fully sighted people can be taken by surprise by silent electric vehicles.

But now the EU is requiring all new electric vehicles to emit a sound, similar to the sound a car engine typically makes, when backing up or driving below 12 MPH.

EU requires carmakers to add fake engine noises to electric cars

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Posted in Assistive Technology | View Post

Microsoft's "Seeing AI" Describes Surroundings To The Visually Impaired

Seeing AIMicrosoft offers a free app called "Seeing AI" for blind and visually impaired people.  It enables them to read text, identify currency, "see" their surroundings, describe objects, identify product labels, and even decipher colors.

This amazing app has expanded from English to now include Dutch, French, German, Japanese and Spanish.

Bonjour! ¡Bienvenidos! Seeing AI expands to 5 new languages

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Posted in Assistive and Vision Loss Technology and Products | View Post

Smart Glasses Being Developed in United Arab Emirates

Smart glassesResearchers at Ajman University in the United Arab Emirates have developed sophisticated, artificial intelligence-based glasses which can revolutionize the lives of visually impaired people.

These glasses enable the wearer to read, navigate from place to place, and even recognize faces.

The glasses work through a smartphone app, but do not necessarily require an Internet connection.  They can not only recognize people, but objects as well.

Ajman University Develops Smart Glasses for people who are blind and Partially Sighted

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Posted in Assistive and Vision Loss Technology and Products | View Post

60 Minutes Features Story on Legally Blind 15-Year Old Freeride Skier

Jacob Smith - legally blind freeride skierCBS' long-running news show "60 Minutes" recently ran a compelling story about 15-year old Jacob Smith, a legally blind 15-year old who skis on such hazardous terrain that most black diamond experts -- fully sighted -- wouldn't dare to try them.

Learn how Jacob does these amazing feats, and what motivates him.

Watch the full 60 Minutes piece

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Posted in Blind and Vision Impaired - Heroes Stories | View Post

What is Low Vision?

Eye examLow Vision is a term used when traditional eye care can no longer help. So, when do you need low vision services?

Typically, individuals seek out Low Vision Services when they are told by their doctors that they have no medication, procedures, glasses or contacts to help their vision. This conversation can be a scary one, but we're here to help!

Common causes of low vision

According to the CDC, the most common causes of blindness and low vision in the United States are usually age related, however, low vision is associated with any of the following:
  • Macular degeneration
  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Retinitis pigmentosa
  • Amblyopia
  • Retinopothy of Prematurity (ROP)
  • Retinal detachment
  • Acquired (traumatic) brain injury
  • Eye cancer
  • Albinism
  • Genetic eye disorders

What it is like living with Low Vision?

There are millions of people living with low vision. These videos tell the stories of what it is like living with low vision, why there is hope, and ways you can keep your independence. See Videos.

Getting help

The good news is with specialized services and assistive technology options, you can get help! To get more information, visit Low Vision Services.


Posted in Low Vision | View Post
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