In Beep Baseball (length 4:48), there are two bases, the pitcher is with the hitting team, batters are allowed 4 strikes, and the ball beeps. Oh, and all of the hitters are visually impaired. [more inside]
"In the winter of 2014, students at Iowa State University received emails asking them to volunteer for an experiment. Researchers were looking for women who would eat bananas that had been genetically engineered to produce extra carotenes, the yellow-orange nutrients that take their name from carrots. Our bodies use alpha and beta carotenes to make retinol, better known as vitamin A, and the experiment was testing how much of the carotenes in the bananas would transform to vitamin A. The researchers were part of an international team trying to end vitamin A deficiency. The emails reached the volunteers they needed to begin the experiment, but they also reached protesters. “As a student in the sustainability program, I immediately started asking questions,” said Iowa State postdoc Rivka Fidel. “Is this proven safe? Have they considered the broader cultural and economic issues?” ... Fidel told me she and her friends had found it nearly impossible to extract information from researchers, or from the Gates Foundation, which is providing funding for this project. Too often conversations about these kinds of issues simply reverberate within their respective echo chambers. So to bridge the gap I took the gist of the students’ questions to people at the Gates Foundation, scientists working on the banana, and the one person who may have done the most to fight vitamin A deficiency — an ophthalmologist who has no interest in either promoting or bashing GMOs." [more inside]
Daniel Kish is blind. He navigates the world without a cane; he climbs trees; he even rides a bicycle. NPR's new show/podcast Invisibiilia took over This American Life for the episode Batman, which explores how, perhaps, it is society's expectations about blindness which limits their ability to see. Transcript is available, but listening is the best way to really get the full impact. [more inside]
"... now, my sight and my world and my life have all returned." Vision: Healing the Blind in Ethiopia [vimeo, 10m] [more inside]
Motion-Induced Blindness plus 105 other Visual Phenomena & Optical Illusions.
Tommy Edison, who has been blind since birth, explains his perception of things that are intangible including the sun, sky, fog, Great Wall of China, Grand Canyon, and space.
[slyt | via]
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.[via Slate]
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]
“When I’m in clinic,” Dr. Tarini said, “and I tell parents their child has scarlet fever, I see their eyes widen. In my mind, it’s no different than a strep throat with a rash, but the specter of history colors their reaction.” Those emotional words describing Mary’s lost vision still carry weight with the parents who read and remember “By the Shores of Silver Lake” and all the books that came before and after it.But it turns out Mary Ingalls probably didn't have Scarlet Fever after all. [more inside]
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]
Director and/or star of many of the greatest films ever made including The Great Dictator (2:05:16) [Globe scene and the eternally goosebump providing Final speech], The Immigrant (20:01), The Gold Rush (1:11:49), City Lights (1:22:40), Modern Times (1:27:01), and Monsieur Verdoux (1:59:03), Charlie Chaplin's movies have entered the public domain in most countries. Below the fold is an annotated list of all 82 of his official short and feature films in chronological order, as well as several more, with links to where you can watch them; it's not like you had work to do right? [more inside]
A very special South Korean version of "The Miracle Worker" (Part 1, Part 2), featuring music purloined from the shows Bat Boy and Legally Blonde.
The Amazing Flo Fox. A look at the interesting life of New York street photographer Flo Fox.
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.'"
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]
Does it cause hairy palms? (No, that is a myth.) Will it make you go blind? (No, though zinc deficiency can be detrimental to one's vision, and semen contains a small amount of zinc.) Are you going to hell for it? (Maybe, maybe not.) But what if it helps with conception? (well, the men doing it, anyway)
"I'm photography's degree zero." Evgen Bavcar takes interesting photos despite being blind. "Naturally there are certain adjustments I have made to the camera" [quicktime]. He's also far from alone. [first link via the Athanasius Kircher Society] [more inside]
Echolocation : bats use it. So do whales and dolphins. And humans? The 14-year-old profiled here and here is using it. Learn more about how blind people are employing perception and processing of the auditory environment: where words like flash and tags have an altogether different meaning.
'Twas blind, but now I see? — Virgil surgically regained his sight after nearly 50 years of blindness: "On the day he returned home after the bandages were removed, his house and its contents were unintelligible to him, and he had to be led up the garden path, led through the house, led into each room, and introduced to each chair." In the end, he and others like him [PDF] would have rather stayed in the Country of the Blind. (A happier ending was the more recent case of Mike Mays, previously posted here.)
The Australian cigarette health warnings have pretty much filtered down to every retail packet that's bought now. They're pretty gruesome and some smoking acquaintances cover them up with stickers. I thought I'd have a look around and see what other countries warnings were like. None of them were pulling any punches except for Uruguay.
At Dans Le Noir ? you can "experience the unique interaction between clientele and guides as your food and wine are served in total darkness". Is it really a pitch-black dining room? "Yes it is ! The room where the dinner takes place is completely dark! We aren't used to completely dark environment since you hardly find this level of darkness in daily life as, we are used to small rays of light from the streetlights or moonlight but in the Dans le Noir ? restaurant there is no light at all!" Worried about going to the loo? Don't be, because "the toilets are fully lit".
New hope for blind hamsters. According to the Guardian, scientists at MIT have repaired brain damage and restored eyesight to rodents using nanotechnology. In the study, minute particles were injected into damaged parts of the brain, and subsequently arranged themselves into a "scaffold" gel throughout the damaged area. The scaffold allowed severed nerves to regrow and form new connections. 75% of test animals' injuries were improved with the new technique. (The article did not note if the test subjects offered any resistance to the therapeutic measures.)
Porn can make you go blind. Kinda.
Detached a gorgeous comic based on the author's experiences with having a detached retina and going through eye surgery.
Blind student earns M.D. A fascinating article about a guy who overcame innumerable obstacles, not the least of which was people's preconceived notions about what a visually impaired person is capable of. [via linkfilter.]
MetaFilter: Stop it or you'll go blind.
Heavy computer users risk glaucoma - Toho University study.
Heavy computer users risk glaucoma - Toho University study.
The UN recently posted a list of the ten stories they wished the world knew more about. One of them is about trying to ensure proper care and equal treatment to persons with disabilities in other countries. Unrelated to the UN, but to the point, this photojournalist's images of preventable blindness in Asia connects the faces of those affected to the issue.
The gift of sight is easy to take for granted. Not for Mike May, blinded in infancy, Mike had partial vision restored at the age of 43. This is his journal, written with infectious delight for his new gift and documenting the unexpected problems that the miracle brings. There's much, much more to vision than just the data and Mike is an unprecedented opportunity to better understand how perception works. [via the Guardian and previously mentioned here]
'Bionic eye' breakthrough can allow the blind to see. One by one the miracles of Jesus are replaced by science.
Virtual light - "...the wires plug into Patient Alpha's head like a pair of headphones plug into a stereo. The actual connection is metallic and circular, like a common washer. So seamless is the integration that the skin appears to simply stop being skin and start being steel." Cameras that jack into a blind man's brain, allowing him to 'see' may soon be here.
Sightless dining. The world of the sightless is a world I don't often explore. In high school, I had two classmates who were brothers and both sightless. I was amazed at the "tricks" they used to cope in day-to-day tasks we take for granted. Dining at Blindekuh (Swiss German for blind man's bluff), where you eat in complete darkness, would be quite an 'eye-popping' experience. There's a four month waiting list for a table.
North Dakota Blind man gets weapons permit : FARGO, N.D. (AP) - Carey McWilliams has a concealed weapons permit from the state of North Dakota and isn't afraid to use a gun - even though he's blind...
The BBC, working with the Royal National Institute for the Blind, has created a perl script that reparses a page, stripping out the text from tables and reorganizing it on the fly. It creates a pretty good visually impaired-friendly version of your pages instantly. I don't know how well it does on complex page layouts, but compare the BBC News site in its typical state to the parsed 'text-only' version, and you can see they are pretty close in terms of content.