Decontextualized product labels: "DirectionsforMe
provides the information that’s on consumer packages or labels in a simple online format for anyone who has trouble reading the small print including people who are blind or visually impaired." [more inside]
Does your cat act weirdly? Does it bump into and occasionally wreck stuff, like your face? Well, maybe it's not just because Grisou* is a jerk, maybe it's because it has crappy eyesight
. [more inside]
Into the Light
Humanity has paused on Jones Street near the summit of Russian Hill in San Francisco. Tourists, businessmen, café workers, the homeless – all seem to have taken a collective breather at this steepest of places, a city peak where stairs are carved into the sidewalks so people don't topple. Only one person keeps climbing, and he's talking, too; he's saying that you can't stop here, that if you just keep pushing, you'll see things no one else will see, that Macondray Lane is just over the hill and that it's the most magical place in all of San Francisco, but you'll never see it if you don't keep pushing, you'll never see Macondray Lane unless you really know how to look.
Accessibility is what allows me to use things like a phone, computer, or an ATM. May 9th is all about this. -Tommy Edison, the Blind Film Critic. (previously)
Global Accessibility Awareness Day
is today. It's a day to consider how people with disabilities experience the web, software, mobile devices, games and so on, targeted towards designers, developers, usability professionals and others without much experience with accessibility. There are public events scheduled
all over the world, as well as other accessibility-related events
. To participate on your own, try one of the suggested activities
: turn off your mouse or trackpad and use only your keyboard to navigate websites, try using a free screen reader, such as NVDA
for Windows or the built in VoiceOver
for Mac and iOS, try watching some streaming videos or movies with captions or add some of your own
to a video you've uploaded. Then relax with a sample of described video
: Katniss, from the Hunger Games, goes hunting. [more inside]
A life well lived.
On October 4, 1973, Josh Miele (4) was permanently blinded in an acid attack by his neighbor (pdf)
. 40 years later, Dr. Miele has worked for NASA on the Mars Rover project, he's helped develop "WearaBraille
", a virtual Braille keyboard interface, and has a new project launching this month: the Descriptive Video Exchange (DVX)
, which will allow "sighted video viewers to seamlessly add audio description to DVDs as they watch.
" [more inside]
A Real World Series: Inside the world championship of blind baseball.
"It’s different this year. I can’t get last year’s Series out of my mind, even though it ended in the last week of July, when Taiwan took two from Austin on a rainy Saturday in Ames, Iowa, to win the title in the 37th annual world series of blind baseball." [more inside]
has been blind since birth. He wants to show
you how he uses Instagram
Six years ago, US Army Captain Ivan Castro was severely wounded in a mortar attack in Iraq that left him permanently and completely blinded. Today, he's one of only three blind active duty Army officers, and the very first to serve in the US Army Special Forces. Thirteen months and 36 surgeries after the attack, Castro ran the 2007 Marine Corps Marathon in 4:14 and the
Army Ten Miler in 1:25. And he's still going: In the last 15 months, he's completed 14 marathons. Why? "Because I still can. Because people need to see what's possible." [more inside]
Atlas for the Blind, 1837:
"From the spectacular David Rumsey Map Collection
, the 1837 “Atlas of the United States Printed for the Use of the Blind
“, embossed heavy paper featuring lines, letters and geographical symbols, destined to help blind children to visualise geography. Here’s the whole book
with zoomable pages." [Via: Socks-Studio]
Recent technologies developed at American universities are making communication easier for the sight and hearing impaired. Last summer a Stanford undergrad developed a touchscreen Braille writer
that stands to revolutionize how the blind negotiate an unseen world by replacing devices costing up to 10 times more. Thanks to a group of University of Houston students, the hearing impaired may soon have an easier time communicating with those who do not understand sign language. During the past semester, students in UH’s engineering technology and industrial design programs teamed up to develop the concept and prototype for MyVoice
, a device that reads sign language and translates its motions into audible words, and vice versa.
plays some of rock's toughest compositions
. Oh, and jazz
too. Impressive, for an eighteen-year-old. Who is blind
In the world of violins, the names Stradivari and Guarneri are sacred. For three centuries, violin-makers and scientists have studied the instruments made by these Italian craftsmen. So far no one has figured out what makes their sound different. But a new study now suggests maybe they aren't so different after all.
"Taking a picture is so easy, you just need a camera, decide at which moment to shoot, press the button and you have your picture. Why can't the blind do this?" (Previously 1, 2)
is a short film (5:17 - in Japanese w/ English subtitles) set in post-nuclear Tokyo. The film may be viewed at the blind website
, at Vimeo
or at YouTube
. Parents please be advised
: although the film features a young child, viewing by young children is not especially recommended, as they may be frightened.
More evidence of brain plasticity:
Some blind people are able to use echolocation to perceive space and objects around them in surprising detail, even though the time differences in echoes necessary to do this are two small to be consciously perceived. An fMRI study by Lore Thaler, Stephen Arnott and Melvyn Goodale revealed that people who are especially adept at this use their calcarine cortex (a.k.a. V1 or primary visual cortex) to process spatial information from the echoes.
The original paper. A shorter discussion.
is a gay
-- excuse me, I mean blind -- climber
, mountaineer and author who counts the Seven Summits and the Nose of El Capitan among his accomplishments.
Erik's recent efforts
have been assisted by the Brainport
, an experimental device
that allows him to sense visual information via his tongue
Pete Eckert is a photographer
who is also blind
. His process is briefly hinted at here
"The blind teaching the reader."
An interesting interview that looks at how the blind read from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books
blogger SB Sarah.
Bart Hickey is an incredibly inspiring blind auto mechanic
who owns his own shop called B.A.T. Automotive. [SLVimeo]
Visually impaired people are riding bicycles
. Andreas Bocelli rides a bicycle
. And then there's this
Something I found last night that I thought was quite wonderful and appropriate for a lazy Sunday.
I was really impressed with the way they handle sense in this, and it made me warm and fuzzy. I hope this isn't too terrible for a first post.
Braille is facing extinction, says Canadian newsweekly Maclean's
, thanks to strained budgets, audiobooks and text-to-speech. "In the 1950s about half of all blind children learned Braille, says the U.S. National Federation of the Blind. Today, that number has fallen to 10 per cent -- and it's about the same in Canada. For some, like NFB director Mark Riccobono, that means we're letting blind children grow up as illiterate as Braille's 19th-century contemporaries. 'If only 10 per cent of sighted children were being taught [to read],' he told Maclean's
, 'that would be considered a crisis.'"
is a pornography magazine for the blind
. While porn for the blind has been done before
, this is the first offering with raised pictures of naked bodies.
You’d have to be blind to drive a bobsleigh.
At least if you want to finish first, second, or third nine times in seven years. Since 2001, U.S. bobsleigh pilot Steven Holcomb has dealt with a degenerative eye condition that left him with 20/500 vision. He drove a sled hurtling down an ice track anyway, often winning. Now that his vision has been restored
via an experimental operation
, he fuzzes over his helmet visor so it’s just like the olden days. Bobsleigh, it seems, is all about feel. [more inside]
, developer of early color tv
technology, is lesser known for a cooler invention, the Highway Hifi
– the first recorded-music player for an automobile. The under-dash system played records
provided by Columbia Records which played at 16 ⅔ rpm even when the vehicle was in motion. It was first released with Chrysler models in 1956 but lackluster promotion of the option by both Columbia and Chrysler led to the option being discontinued
before the 60s. [more inside]
We're familiar with blindsight,
and seen a blind man navigate a cluttered hallway (wmv file
). A blind man with a loaded rifle
seems slightly scarier. But if you see the blind guy driving a 2010 Ford Mustang,
it's probably best to yield.
Recently, a man's sight was returned to him
after losing it for 12 years. How did he do it? Surgeons drilled a hole through one of his canines, put a lens in it, and implanted the construct in his eye. [more inside]
This is a fun little atheistic distraction: The interactive Blind Watchmaker applet
demonstrates how random mutation followed by non-random selection can lead to interesting, complex forms. The Blind Watchmaker algorithm was conceived by Richard Dawkins
and is described in his book of the same name
. The resultant forms (which can begin to look like plants and bugs) are called "biomorphs," visual representations of a set of genes. [more inside]
Blind Justice..... Sir John Fielding
, 1721-1780, brother of novelist/playwrite Henry Fielding
), was a blind magistrate at the Bow Street court (known as the "Blind Beak
of Bow Street"), home of London's first professional police force, the Bow Street Runners
. [more inside]
Snooks Eaglin has died.
One of New Orleans' most authentic and underrated guitar players won't be making his jazz fest
gig this year. Next time you have some red beans & rice
, take a moment to remember the guy who some called the human jukebox
Blind, Yet Seeing
: New research into blindsight
from Harvard University and M.I.T. showing that people who have been blinded by brain injury have resources beyond sight
to do such tasks as navigate an obstacle course
Out of Sight
: Photographer Sarah Wilson
photographs the prom at Texas' School for the Blind & Visually Impaired. [via] [more inside]
is a continually-updated collection of movie reviews based around one very interesting concept -- how accessible they are to the visually impaired. [more inside]
Working on ADA compliance? Wondering how readers for the blind parse your webpages? Feed them into WebAnywhere, an online screen reader.
Unlike other solutions, it is not a browser plugin and is free.
Blind Muslims with guide dogs.
Dogs are usually considered unclean, but one U.K. imam carried out research and determined that a dog in service to, or trained by, a person could be allowed in a mosque. [more inside]
How do things look to colorblind people? Colour Lovers (Prev: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 - all more useful to those who aren't colorblind)
offers some popular websites and iconic art, As Seen By The Color Blind. Luckily humans are smart and have created technology like the Color Blind Web Page Filter. Prev. Wiki.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that the iconic American folk song The Wabash Cannonball
was written as a tribute to an actual train, but in fact, in an interesting case of life-imitates-art, the actual train name was inspired by the song. The Lake Erie, Wabash, and St. Louis Railroad Company was formed in 1852, but there was no train called the “Cannonball” when the song was first sung late in the 19th century. There have
, many wonderful versions
through the years, but I think Roy Acuff
pretty much owns
it, wouldn't you say? [NOTE: See hoverovers for link descriptions] [more inside]
Stemming from a lawsuit
that has gone on for several years
, a recent Court of Appeals ruled that the U.S. government must make bills with distinguishable tactile features to benefit the blind. While the U.S. government disagrees, the judges say: "The government might as well argue that, since handicapped people can crawl on all fours or ask for help from strangers, there's no need to make buildings wheelchair accessible." Not all blind people
agree with the decision. [more inside]
Porn for the Blind
is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to producing audio descriptions of sample movie clips from adult web sites. This service is provided free of charge. [NSFW]
If you thought phone phreaking was a dying art, you may be surprised to read the story of "Li'l Hacker"
, as told by old-school hack/phreaker Kevin Poulsen