A Personalised Message from one of our Special Customers: Buddy Brannan​(Ham Radio Operator)

​An Interesting Electronic Travel Aid A couple weeks ago, something came to my attention that, if it really lives up to what they promise, could finally be something actually innovative in electronic travel aids.For a while now, we’ve all seen that next great new thing that will promise to reduce or even eliminate the need for a white cane or guide dog, or so the popular press surrounding such announcements would usually have it. These things always had one really glaring problem. Well, a couple of them, but one huge problem. They would detect obstacles, but that didn’t help much for things like steps, curbs, dropoffs, holes, and terrain changes, things that a cane, or a guide dog, alert to in the natural course of their use. I’ve said that whole time that if someone can crack that particular problem, I’d be interested in listening, but until then, I didn’t consider any of these supposedly helpful products terribly interesting. Especially since many of them would take up a hand, and you’re already using one of those for a cane or guide dog.A couple weeks ago, a startup in India started following me on Twitter, and I started looking at what they were doing. Oh, look, it’s another electronic travel aid. But, wait, they claim what? That you can *run* without the need for a cane? Color me skeptical. I asked for more information, and got it yesterday. I also called and managed to have a chat with the CEO of the company, Live Braille (or Embro…I see both names, but it’s livebraille.com). Here’s what I’ve found out.For the past year, this company has made a wearable electronic travel aid called Live Braille Mini. Very like other similar things, it uses sound to detect obstacles at up to 3.5 meters away in long range mode, or 1.5 meters in short range mode. That’s close to 12 feet and about 4.5 feet, respectively. But then, it gets interesting. First, it really is wearable, as it’s a ring you wear on your finger. I expect it’s a rather large ring, but nonetheless, a ring, massing 29 grams, or weighing just a smidge over an ounce, according to Google. Using various vibration patterns, they claim something like 117 distinct patterns, and sensing at 50 times a second, the company claims one can not only detect the distance from an above ground obstacle, but also its speed, and even what kind of obstacle it is, as you can get an idea of your environment by waving your hand. There’s apparently a video of a blind kid chasing a sighted volunteer using only the Live Braille Mini. Pretty impressive, especially for $299.But here’s the really interesting bit. I’m told a newer product will ship in July. The Live Braille Walk Pro is also a ring. It’s smaller than the Mini, runs for two hours on a charge, but comes with a charging case that extends that by quite a lot. Like the mini, it uses vibration to indicate speed, distance, etc. Unlike the Mini, however, it uses light rather than ultrasound. This means it’s water resistant, perhaps even waterproof, and, I’m told, the performance should not degrade over time as a device using ultrasound would. It also will detect ground level obstacles like steps, holes, curbs, and the like. The cost for the new device is considerably higher, at a retail of $1499 and a preorder price of $1199, but it comes with insurance and a lifetime warranty, as well as a personal setup and orientation call. “Think of it as like buying a high end luxury car”, said Mr. CEO.So, putting my money, literally, where my mouth is, after saying that an ETA that would detect steps and such would be worth something, I bought one at the preorder price. I’m the ninth person to order one, so this is pretty new. The company tells me that there are 10,000 or so Live Braille Minis out in the world, in the hands of blind people inIndia, the UK, and South America. If you’re the adventurous type and want to buy either a Mini or preorder a Walk Pro, you can, and you can even get a discount. There’s a bit of a misprint if you select to preorder a Walk Pro. Payment is through Paypal, which means you can use Paypal Credit if you want to pay it off over time. If, on the other hand, you’re justifiably skeptical but are interested in what happens when it releases, I’ll definitely be sharing my experience with the Walk Pro when it gets here.By the way, no, I’m not planning to give up my guide dog. This does, however, appear to be the year for technology, since I’m also getting Aira in June, and then there are these low cost braille displays. And also the Tap virtual keyboard. … 

POLITICAL JOURNALIST

 Gary O’Donoghue is not your ordinary journalist. He calls himself “that blind bloke you sometimes see on the news.”Gary lost his eyesight at a young age of 8. That did not deter him from getting educated at Oxford University and pursuing a career in journalism. The highly regarded political correspondent started his stint with the media at BBC which remains his workplace still. Defying all odds, he covered everything from the Kosovo war to British government. He is currently posted in Washington DC for covering the American political climate. According to Gary, BBC’s first disabled correspondent, being a blind journalist is “hard, but important.” “It’s important to have people like me doing the job though, if journalism is going to properly reflect how Britain is. Otherwise, all stereotypes will be perpetuated, and the world won’t move on in its understanding of disability.”​

PAINTER WITHOUT EYESIGHT

 A painter without eyesight, UK based Keith Salmon is a man of wonders. As a blind artist and an adventurer who has climbed more than a hundred Munros, he is a source of inspiration for all of us.Originally trained and worked as a sculptor, he set up his first studio in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Around this time, he was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy. This debilitated his eyesight very quickly and soon made him a registered blind.This didn’t deter him from pursuing his passion. Keith kept thinking of alternate ways of artwork by experimenting with painting and printing techniques as well as looking at sculpture through a variety of mediums.Gaining confidence over time, he again started exhibiting his paintings. His paintings have been recognized and awarded at different exhibitions and platforms. ​

ALL TIME LEGEND

Lord David Blunkett needs little introduction. A prominent face in the British political circuit, he served the British government as Secretary of State for Education and Employment (1997-2001), Home Secretary (2001–04) and Secretary of Work and Pensions (2005). Blind by birth, Lord Blunkett grew up from very humble beginnings. His emergence as politician of great eminence has been possible through sheer grit and determination. He was the first blind person to hold a ministerial berth in Great Britain. Lord Blunkett represented the Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough constituency in the Parliament for 28 years through to May 2015 when he stepped down at the general election. He turned to becoming an academician by taking up professorship in Politics in Practice at the University of Sheffield. He also became Chair of the Board of the University of Law. In addition to his other work with charities he also agreed in June 2015 to become Chairman of the David Ross Multi Academy Charitable Trust.In September 2015, he was bestowed with a peerage in the dissolution honours lists. He was created Baron Blunkett, of Brightside and Hillsborough in the City of Sheffield.Blunkett’s life has been an inspiration for disabled community and the rest alike. He is also a writer and has authored or co-authored several books including ‘On a Clear Day’ (1995), an autobiography, and ‘The Blunkett Tapes: My Life in the Bear Pit’ (2006), a diary of his life in the cabinet. ​

STAND OUT FOR DISABLED

  Haben Girma holds a special place in the history of legal education. She is the first deaf blind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, the preeminent center for studying law in the world.Girma’s family originally hails from Eritrea and moved to California when she was 6. The decision to move was triggered by her parents resolve to give Girma access to quality education. Girma’s learning heavily relied on Braille technology, audio transcriptions, and other assistive devices to empower her. Fortunately, Girma embraced the opportunities, thrived in them and eventually transcended all boundaries of human capabilities.Harvard Law School is not the only feather in Haben’s cap. She has earned recognition as a White House “Champion of Change”, Forbes 30 under 30 leader, and BBC Women of Africa Hero. President Barack Obama, President Bill Clinton, and many others have honored her.She is now an advocate for civil rights for people with disabilities. She constantly works to change attitudes towards disabled around the globe and highlight the importance of accessible technology. She is grateful to the American education system and American Disability Association for providing her an environment where she could learn and grow. She wishes the same for millions of visually impaired people who can be given equal opportunity like her.Her priority right now is to ensure that the digital world is as surf-able to the disabled as to everyone else. In an interview to the NPR, Girma said, "Digital information is just ones and zeroes. It can be converted into any kind of format. And those people who develop these services — programmers, technology designers — they have an incredible power to increase access for people with disabilities. And I hope they use it."They say that people need only watch Haben to know where the deaf-blind or those with other disabilities can reach when given the right environment and opportunity.​

SEEING THE WORLD FROM THE EYES OF A BLIND​

From an early age, I've said there are two things I could never do: go into brain research or turn into an instructor. Be that as it may, I am presently getting my masters in brain science and will be a teacher! Before I can start classes that will set me up to be an teacher of visually impaired understudies, I will wear a couple of rest shades for eight hours a day through the span of ten weeks to learn braille, travel using canes, non-visual cooking, and assistive technology. I'll be posting about my experiences occasionally, and I'm anxious to have a discussion with you through the online journal's remarks. My mother and father are both visually impaired; he's a college teacher and she is the President of the Canadian Federation of the Blind. At the point when individuals hear this, they frequently shout, "Gracious, you must do so much at home!" (In reality, I just refuse to do work!) What many people don't understand is that I don't think about my parents as visually impaired or having any disability; to me, they're only my parents. I'm continuously calling my mother for formulas or to figure out how to do things around the house pretty much as some other little girl likely does. I graduated a couple of years prior with my college degree in Linguistic Anthropology, which is the investigation of how dialect influences and speaks to culture. I cherished it, yet—as you may figure—it's not something that you can do full-time and still stand to live easily. All around, individuals in the field work with minority gatherings and First Nations people groups. That is unless, obviously, you turn into a college teacher, and that was something I totally was not going to do! I needed to be in a hands-on employment that inhabited. I like scholastics, yet I don't care for the prohibitive, office-based environment of scholarly research. I very much want being all over the place with general society. Since the age of 12, I generally had "support for the visually impaired" on my résumé, in light of the fact that I experienced childhood in a general public that saw blind individuals as awkward and ward. As a youthful child, I used to get as irritated as my mom when supermarket assistants would anticipate that I will sign the charge card receipt. "Huh?" I'd say, "I don't have a clue. It's her card." This, obviously, would leave the clerk with no other reaction than what he or she ought to have done in any case. Most instrumental in my way to Louisiana Tech, I believe, was my occupation as a swimming teacher for as far back as nine years—from six-month-olds to 95-year-olds—makes gigantic steps. Some of them needed to swim over the lake, a couple required the certainty to get in a pool by any stretch of the imagination, and others simply needed to learn enough to not suffocate. I simply cherished instructing the methods that would help individuals' certainty, and—as I comprehend it—that is a major part of the part for teachers of visually impaired understudies. As I was get ready to start my submersion preparing, a few of my companions asked how I could keep my eyes shut throughout the day. "Uhhh, I'll wear rest shades," I would say. At that point, practically in quick fire progression, individuals would start to share stories that they had caught wind of little children who had been mishandled and secured away dim cells for a considerable length of time to the point that they couldn't see. Alternately individuals would say that, while I likely wouldn't go absolutely visually impaired, I won't not have the capacity to see too until kingdom come on the off chance that I didn't utilize my vision for long stretches. At first, it was anything but difficult to forget about these considerations, however then as individuals in the doctoral level college started raising fears, I really began to stress: would i say i was accomplishing something hindering or arrogant? My teacher father, of course, acted the hero. His range of skill is in the investigation of discernment and observation, so—with a heap of exploration before him—he disclosed to me that my eyes are as created as they will ever be. Generally as it takes a couple of additional seconds to move from a dull room to a brilliantly lit restroom amidst the night, the same would be valid for me. Since I grew up with two, blind guardians, I had a smart thought of what drenching preparing would resemble, and—while I can see—there are still a lot of things that I do non-outwardly in light of the fact that that is the way I was taught. I can't wash dishes and know whether they're spotless without touching them (much obliged, mother!), yet in the meantime, despite the fact that my folks had braille on everything in the house, I am really figuring out how to peruse it surprisingly. In my first couple of weeks here in Ruston, there have been a lot of difficulties and numerous shocks. I'll leave those for my next post. I’ll go along strong Blind, education, disability, eyes, assistive technology,vision aids,mobility aids​

RAISING A VISUALLY IMPAIRED CHILD

After Christian was conceived and we understood that he was visually impaired, it was decimating no doubt. The reason was believed to be congenital glaucoma. Our underlying response was total deplorability. We didn't comprehend what we were going to do or how we were going to oversee raising up a child who couldn't see. We had no experience or foundation in bringing up children, let alone a blind child. We spent the initial few days contemplating every one of the things that Christian wouldn't have the capacity to do, similar to comprehend what hues were, or see our appearances, or drive an auto, or play football. We in the end came to the heart of the matter where we understood, in any case, that we couldn't invest all our energy concentrating on what Christian couldn't do. We invested our energy now concentrating on helping Christian do every one of the things he can do, and doing them well. So we have moved our center, and we plan to show Christian where to keep his core interest. Many individuals have gotten some information about Christian's eye and his vision in light of the fact that there has been a little perplexity on regardless of whether he can see a few. In my video I expressed that Christian was conceived without eyes. I said "They simply didn't shape. They simply weren't there." Christian's condition with his eyes is referred to in the therapeutic world as "Micropthalmia." Micro means little. Opthalmia implies eyes. Christian has "some" eye underneath the conjunctival tissue that is seen. We were told at first by Vanderbilt Hospital that Christian was totally visually impaired, yet it got to be evident decently fast that he is not 100% visually impaired. Being just a couple days old, Christian would hop when we would take his photo and the camera's glimmer would go off. He would wake from a tranquil rest when a light was turned on in his dim room. He dismissed his head from daylight every so often. He even turned his head toward it. At the point when Vanderbilt did an underlying CT Scan of Christian's head, they demonstrated to me his eyes and clarified that there were odds and ends of a retina, understudy, and all the parts that make up the eye, yet they were not in any request that would create useful vision. His optic nerves look genuinely typical, be that as it may. With all that he can see, it is evident that Christian does not see well. He doesn't respond to outward appearances (grinning at him won't make him grin.) He likewise doesn't respond to things like a TV, or articles moving close him like a passing auto. There have been various times that I have watched Christian look about for toys that are close to him and miss a few times before discovering it. To the extent we can tell, Christian has some light and dim observation, best case scenario. His visual impairment causes him to have formative postponements, and when you consider it, it will bode well with respect to why. The reason that children build up the way they do comes down to immaculate inspiration. They figure out how to creep since they see a toy they need to get, or so they can get to mom. Christian wants those toys, and he needs to get to me, but since there is nothing for him to take a gander at, he doesn't get a handle on the idea of the space around him like others. Moreover, how to move about in that space is a concern too. So he must be taught that connecting or advancing will get him the fancied results, where as different infants make sense of it all alone. Christian has done a lot of things without being taught that absolutely shock me, however. He figured out how to connect for a toy with almost no exertion. It practically came characteristic. It appears like such a basic idea to us, however consider a 3 month old who can't see. How on the planet do they know not their arm and get a toy? I'm not certain of the answer, but rather I do realize that Christian caught on quickly! He additionally figured out how to pull up to remain all alone. This was likewise an inspiration thing for him. Christian is adapting increasingly about limits and space around him. Furthermore, he has discovered that he jumps at the chance to investigate his general surroundings to discover things to bite on. So he figured out how to draw to stand without anyone else's input while in his lodging so he could bite on the bunk rails. Yes, he is silly.There are considerable measures of things that go into raising Christian that I have needed to learn in the course of the most recent 14 months also. We need to converse with Christian continually. All things considered, we don't need to, however in the event that we ever need him to talk and comprehend things, we have to. Each time we make a commotion we let him know what it is. Each time we change his diaper, or wipe his hands, or whatever it might be, we need to disclose it to him in however much detail as could be expected. The more we converse with Christian the more he talks back (positively.) We are still in the beginning of raising Christian. Regardless we have numerous more honored years to come in raising our little man who will one day be a major man. In all that in the middle of time, I am petitioning God for direction in helping Christian to wind up a God dreading, God respectful, fruitful, upbeat, profitable, adoring grown-up. We are additionally consistently petitioning God for mending in Christian's life and that he will have the capacity to regain his vision. We have no clue how it will happen, however do the subtle elements truly matter with a result that essential? :)Visually impaired, challenged, blind, glaucoma, conjunctival,technology for the blind,low vision aids​

EXPERIENCING BLINDNESS

This happened in the summer of 2016. I was interning at a company which made assistive technology products for the blind. The vision of the company is to remove the dependence of the blind from canes by the help of a device which can be worn in the finger!Vision disability can be caused due to various reasons like Glaucoma, Cataract, macular degeneration etc. This may cause complete or partial blindness which compels the blind to rely on walking sticks for mobility. The company has devised a product which uses haptic feedback for alerting the user about objects around them using vibrations. The frequencies of vibrations are such that the user can differentiate between the distances, type and speed of different objects. At first, I could not digest the fact that the product will be able to replace the use of canes, something which the blind have been dependent on since ages!Shortly after joining, they took the interns for a visit to the blind school. There the students were trained on how to use the device. What followed after this was unbelievable. I was told to run and one of the visually impaired students was told to catch me. He was wearing the obstacle sensing product. I thought that I should take it easy on him since he might face difficulties so I started jogging. To my utter surprise, the child exactly followed my trail and caught me within few seconds! Next, I was told to run as hard as I could. So I started sprinting and dodging him, moving from side to side trying my best to not get caught. But his response rate to my turns was spot on! Without any lag time, he could sense my turns and caught me again in mere 7-8 seconds. I was flabbergasted and didn’t know how to react. This was something that I was experiencing for the first time. The episode took few minutes to completely sink in.Technology is moving at a really fast pace, indeed. But seeing a product like this made me realize that the world of innovation is concentrated towards making the lives of the privileged like us much more comfortable. I believe that if this focus can shift from entirely profit seeking to assist the disabled, the true meaning of technological innovation will be realized. Live Braille is doing that. I hope we see more such companies.Glaucoma,Cataract,blind aid,visual impairement,technology for the blind​

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