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]
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.
"There is a wonder in reading Braille that the sighted will never know: to touch words and have them touch you back."
"The blind teaching the reader." An interesting interview that looks at how the blind read from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blogger SB Sarah.
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.'"
Playboy in Braille. Yep, since 1970, the Library of Congress has offered Playboy among their Braille conversion services. Of course, none of the images are converted, it's just for the articles. [via coolhunting]
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.)
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."