"... now, my sight and my world and my life have all returned." Vision: Healing the Blind in Ethiopia [vimeo, 10m] [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.[via Slate]
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]
'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.)
Porn can make you go blind. Kinda.
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]
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.
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.