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.
The Blind Boy Who Sees. After losing his eyes to cancer Ben Underwood discovered that he could "see" the physical world around him using the technique of human echolocation. He is not the only one.
"In 1947 Life Magazine asked some famous comic strip artists to to draw their famous characters while wearing a blindfold. The results are interesting..." Via
Compelling (if somewhat brief) videoblog featuring an artist describing his job, crafting & painting glass eyes for folks in need of prosthetics.
"America's First Sightless Gunslinger" is upset that Minnesota denied him a gun permit. After all, he has permits from North Dakota and Utah. Carey McWilliams, the shootist, is also worried that North Dakota will lower standards for issuing a permit, but luckily Tucker Carlson is on the job. Videos, explanations of his shooting technique, and links to purchase his autobiography "Guide Dogs and Guns: America's First Blind Marksman Fires Back" (his is also the author of "Moonlight's Meridian: Nuclear Terrorism And the Undead ") are all posted on his personal website. But can we trust this guy? Is he really the first Sightless Gunslinger? Ringo Star and Armand Assante may have something to say about it.
Seeing Beyond Sight: Photographs by Blind Teenagers is the product of Sound Shadows, a literacy-through-photography class taught by Tony Deifell, Shirley Hand, Dan Partridge and Jessica Toal from 1992 to 1997 at the Governor Morehead School for the Blind.
The one dollar bill: 2.61 inches wide, 6.14 inches long, 0.0043 inches thick. Wait - that's all of them. What happens if you just can't see the bill? Some 180 other countries have non-visual ways to determine what denomination a bill is, but the USA does not. The ACB has twice tried to introduce resolutions to fix this, with no results. A recent lawsuit, however, may finally make the change happen. After all, It's Our Money, Too.
"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.
James Patten creates interactive works in diverse media with themes including performance and social commentary. Projects include Tactile Photography and, most impressive to me, The Audio Pad.
'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.)
Assistive Media is a non-profit organization dedicated to offering audio access to literary works for the blind. They have placed an extensive archive of downloadable magazine articles in mp3 format online, including selections from The New Yorker, Foreign Affairs, The Atlantic and American Heritage.
Moon type, an embossed typeface invented by Englishman William Moon in the middle 1840s, seemed to have won the fight to bring reading to the blind. Online Moon type generator here. It was based on simplified Roman text, was easy to use by all, and once enjoyed the status as the most popular embossed typeface in the world (failed night writing system withstanding). Until Louis Braille developed his system, that is.
The Bumpy Yet Finger-tingling Road to God Arriving in 17 volumes, and taking up 76 inches of shelf space, who needs the mp3? These nice folk print and distribute Bibles in braille. (Please use this link for good and not evil. Abuse this service and go directly to Hell. Do not pass Purgatory. Go directly to Hell.)
The 10 year long civil war in West Africa's Sierra Leone may have concluded in the last couple of years but rehabilitation of the country is painfully slow. War crime trials are under way but are underfunded and there's only scant attention paid by the western press. Naturally, the most vulnerable are at greatest risk. Pep Bonet has photographed children at the hospital for the blind, a war amputees soccer team and the rather disturbing conditions at Kissy mental hospital in Freetown. There is only space for about 150 of the estimated 50,000 people left psychotically disturbed by the war. These lucky ones are held in chains by way of treatment control. (via) [aid]
The Simpsons as read by WGBH. WFMU's Station Manager Ken discovers an extra audio track on the Simpsons that describes the visuals for blind people. He even provides a 21 MB, 23 minute MP3 of a recent episode that is surprisingly listenable. Sure it's missing all the sex and drugs, but your iPod is a handy way to take the Simpsons with you. Are podcasts of TV show audio tracks next? Will we be listening to Family Guy and the Daily Show during our commutes?
Esref Armagan is an accomplished painter, and has been blind since infancy. Brain scans show he uses his visual cortex while drawing, but not while imagining an image (as a sighted person does.)
Blindfold Blog. One of the first steps to becoming a guide dog instructor is to spend ten days blindfolded, living in a guide dog school dorm with a class full of blind students who are there to learn how to use their new dogs. [via links clips notes etc.]
Three Blind Phreaks, See How They Scam ... The Badirs pulled off Mamet-worthy phone cons, employing cell phones, Braille-display computers, ace code-writing skills, and an uncanny ability to impersonate anyone from corporate suits to sex-starved females. On the phone, the brothers morph into verbal 007s, intimidating men, seducing women, and wheedling classified information from steely-voiced security personnel [...] An intense cat-and-mouse game developed: the Badirs on one side, with fraud investigator David Osmo and prosecutor Doron Porat on the other [...] his car's GPS system and email were repeatedly hacked. "There was a message waiting for him with his password in it," says Ramy, sounding quite pleased. "After that, he changed his password every hour before giving up on email altogether and using a typewriter."
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.
The Appalachian Trail is a continuous marked footpath that goes from Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia, a distance of about 2160 miles. It passes through 14 states and takes about 5 to 7 months to hike through. Hey, if a blind man could do it, so can you. If you are not actually up for hiking right this moment, you could always...(more inside)
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.
''Tim,'' said Spitzer with a laugh, ''just slaughtered them.'' What's so special about one geek slaughtering other geeks in a game of Quake? Tim is blind and a company named ZForm is developing videogames to help blind people compete fairly with sighted people. Way cool.
Guide dogs are cool. The connection between a guide dog and his/her blind master is amazing. If you want to read some touching and heartwarming stories about raising guide dogs, check this link. There was even a guide dog among the heroes at the WTC on September 11th, as many have heard. These dogs are so smart and noble.
Live audio description of Bush inauguration If you get PBS and if your PBS station broadcasts in stereo, you will likely be able to hear only the second-ever attempt at audio description of a live event - the inauguration of Bush. (The other live-described event was Clinton's inauguration.) This of course is audio description, ostensibly for blind viewers. Set your TV or VCR to SAP and compare the approaches of the standard announcers, who call the event assuming the viewer can see, and the describers, who don't. (No sexy Web page for this event.)
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.
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