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Smart phone or no smart phone? Pros and cons of the technology from blind and visually impaired users.
A woman wearing dark glasses holds an iPhone out to the cameraDo you use a smart phone to assist in your daily life? Or are you reluctant to make the switch to an iPhone or other smart phone, remaining with the older models of cell phones?

In this article, four peer advisors from Vision Aware discuss their reasons for using, or not using a smart phone. Some share their experiences on how this technology helps them in daily life, highlighting apps for mobility and voice over assistance that aid with independence. Others discuss why they haven’t adopted a smart phone and don’t intend to. 

If you’re on the fence about getting an iPhone or other type of smart phone, the thoughts in the article might help to clarify some of your questions.

What do you think about using a smart phone to help with independence? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Insights about Using an iPhone: Pros and Cons for Blind and Visually Impaired Users

Posted in Assistive Technology, Living Independently | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
IT careers for the visually impaired and learning Braille: a podcast to educate and update
A microphone is shown close up with a computer in the backgroundThe Assistive Technology Update is a podcast that’s posted weekly and covers topics that are applicable to people living with different types of disabilities.

In the most recent episode, Wade, the host, talks about a gadget that could revolutionize the way people learn Braille. Guest Chris McMillan also talks about IT careers for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Wade’s a fast talker, but the information is great!

To find out more about how assistive technology can help you, visit our Assistive Technology page.

ATU201 – IT Careers for People who are Blind for Visually Impaired (Chris McMillan), Facebook captions, Braille Writing Tutor wins award, Prismatic app from Infiniteach

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Importance of Emotional Support for Family Members of Visually Impaired
Receiving a recent diagnosis of low vision or complete blindness can seem devastating to the individual who now has to live with their vision impairment every day.  Fear of the unknown, denial, depression, confusion surrounding who we are now, and the overwhelming task of having to relearn everyday tasks can take over if you’re not sure where to turn for help or know what to do next.  We understand change is difficult, and that’s why we’re here for you.

Fortunately, we have many resources here at our Center right at your fingertips, helping you move forward with a new plan of action.  San Diego Center for the Blind and Vision Impairment provides assistance in vision rehabilitation, counseling, orientation & mobility training, and technology training all at no cost to the individual who needs our assistance.  We can help you overcome the fear of change so you do not have to be isolated or feel alone – we can provide you with the tools you need to live independently again!

While it’s important for the individual to receive the tools and training from our Center, it’s equally important to educate the friends and family members on what to expect and how to provide support to this person, and we can help with this too!

Many times, the friends and family members are afraid for their loved one - Will they fall and hurt themselves?  How will they cook without burning themselves?  How will they support themselves financially now?  How will they get around?

Sometimes the fear and anxieties the friends and family experience is much greater than the fear of the individual who has to manage their new challenges.  Quite often friends and family’s fears can inhibit the progress of the individual who is trying to live independently.  This happens in a variety of ways, but the core issue seems to be that the friends/families are overwhelmed by their fear and thus do not trust the training we provide or the individual’s ability to learn new methods to live independently.  They prohibit the individual from walking around by themselves, traveling to get groceries by themselves, or cooking for themselves, to name a few examples.  If the individual cannot use the tools we provide to them, their skills will diminish, which can be dangerous to the individual, and is why it’s vital to have the friends and family members on board to give the emotional support their loved one needs.

Just as the friends and family can inhibit someone’s progress dealing with their vision loss on a daily basis, they can also promote their independence. Because of this, we provide an Adjustment to Vision Loss Seminar: How to Help Your Loved One Cope with Changing Vision.  We provide these seminars FREE of charge periodically throughout the year.  The next one is coming up Saturday April 11, 2015, from 10:00am – Noon at our Center, 5922 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego 92115.  It’s free to attend, but we ask that you register so we can plan ahead.  Please register at our website, today!  (And if you missed this one, contact us for the dates of the next one: 619-583-1542)
Posted in Emotional Adjustment to Vision Loss | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
How a deaf and blind lawyer manages her job despite her disabilities
The grey stone exterior of a courthouse is pictured.Haben Girma is a Harvard graduate and successful attorney at Disability Rights Advocates. She’s’ only 26 years old. And to top it off, she’s both deaf and blind.

How does she do it? Haben credits her success to her determination and drive, but says that today’s technology certainly help her complete her day-to-day work.

When asked for technology advice for other lawyers, she said, “approach technology creatively. Sometimes you can find a way of using emerging technologies in a new way… Take time to experiment with various options and explore the possibilities.”

To read the full story, visit the article.

To see how technology can help, visit our Adaptive Aids Page

Today’s Tech: How a Deaf-Blind Lawyer Uses Technology to Represent Her Disabled Clients

Posted in Advocacy for Vision Impaired, Blindness, Personal Stories, Vision Loss, Vision Loss Technology & Products | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Precious has a story to tell: See the Real Me
A stop sign is in the foreground with rolling green hills in the background.In this short commercial for Clean & Clear, Precious, a young student, shares her life with us to show us that her blindness doesn’t define her. Instead, it is just a part of her that doesn’t keep her from living life on her own terms. And she doesn’t let other people’s ideas of her abilities slow her down. She just sets out to prove them wrong.

This young woman is an inspiration!

To see how we can help with independent living, visit our programs page.

See the Real Me – Precious: Rising Above Judgement | Clean & Clear

Posted in Advocacy for Vision Impaired, Personal Stories | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Losing her vision, Laura doesn’t let it stop her from living life
A woman is shown from behind holding a weight bar across her shouldersIn 2009, Laura Lawson Visconti learned that she was losing her vision because of a rare disease. She was in art school and, at the age of 22, was just coming into life as an independent adult. All of that was initially turned upside down by her diagnosis, but in this blog, Laura talks about how her visual impairment has positively affected her life, how she lives now and how her career gives her strength.

Laura also discusses how she gets around now that she doesn’t drive, and the hope that she has for the future because of research studies and new assistive technology.

If you have been recently diagnosed with vision loss, we can help. Visit our First Steps After Vision Loss page to find out how.

Going blind in a sighted world

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Special “glasses” are helping visually impaired people see
A young baby is wrapped in a colorful blanket and held in the arms of her motherNew technology is being developed every year. Recent developments in special “glasses” are allowing many people with visual impairments to see, many for the first time in years.

This gentleman from Minnesota was able to see his wife for the first time in 10 years with the help of an implant and special glasses that some are referring to as a bionic eye.  And this woman, who has been legally blind since she was 11, saw her newborn baby and her husband’s face as he held their child while wearing a headset to improve her vision. 

Though this type of new assistive technology is currently extremely expensive, more development is being done to make it more affordable for people that need it.

We can’t wait to see how future developments work!

Watch: Blind man sees wife for first time in over a decade with bionic eye

Legally blind mom sees newborn for first time through special glasses

Posted in Assistive Technology, Personal Stories, Vision Loss Technology & Products | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
I’m not illiterate. I just choose not to use Braille as my main reading method.
The bottom corner of a leather bound dusty book is shownWith all of the different ways that a visually impaired person can “read”, if she chooses not to use Braille, does that mean she is illiterate?

In this opinion piece, the author, who is a PhD student, shares how she learned Braille and the various reasons that she chooses not to use it as her main source for reading. It’s interesting to read her thoughts on the various ways that a person can learn and how different technological advancements may help different people in different ways.

What do you think of the author’s opinion on Braille? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Walking on the Words: A Reflection on Braille Literacy

Posted in Advocacy for Vision Impaired, Living Blind, Low Vision, Personal Stories, Vision Loss Technology | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
An 18-year-old, a non-profit, and a way to help save the vision of people living with diabetes
An optometrist holds equipment in front of a male patientNiki Mani is an 18-year-old with a non-profit organization that she runs to save the vision of people with diabetes. In the United states, there are 7.7 million people living with the disease and 1 in 10 of them will develop an eye disease directly linked to diabetes.

In San Diego County, where Niki runs her free eye clinics, her clients wouldn’t be able to afford eye exams, medications or other types of treatments necessary to save their vision. So, Niki’s organization, Stop Diabetic Blindness, helps to cover costs. Niki is on hand for every clinic to translate for the large Hispanic population and assist in any way possible.

She’s an inspiration to us not only because she is so young to be running this organization, but because she saw the need in her area and started working to meet it.

To read the full story, visit this link.

Do you know of a person who works to help people living with visual impairments? We’d love to hear their story. Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Teen’s non profit saves diabetics’ vision

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Students with disabilities are graduating from high school at higher rates
A group of graduates dressed in purple cap and cape stand on stageFederal officials say that the number of students with disabilities that are graduating high school is improving. Though still below average, it is encouraging to see the trend improving.

• In 2012-2013, 62% of students with a disability earned their diploma
• The rates differ between different states with Mississippi being the lowest with only 22.5% graduating
• The highest graduation rate for students with disabilities was in Arkansas with nearly 80%

To read the full article, visit this link.

To see how we can help students with visual impairments, please visit our Programs Page.

Graduation Rates Inch Up for Students with Disabilities

Posted in Advocacy for Vision Impaired | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
5 skills in which people with visual impairments excel
3 race cars are shown navigating a race trackNever letting her visual impairment stand in her way, Maribel Steele has even driven around a racetrack in Melbourne, just to say that she’s done it. While reassuring readers that she knows there are limitations and has made adaptions, Maribel lists 5 ways that blind people “do it better”.

In her blog post, she talks about the time management skills of visually impaired skills, they way in which they choose to live life to the fullest and their natural observation abilities. To read her full post, visit her blog.

Do you have another skill to add to this list? Share it in the comment section.

Gateway to Blindness: 5 Key Ways Blind People Do It Better

Posted in Living Blind, Personal Stories | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
New test created to test the ability of computers to recognize relationships
2 young children attempt to roll a very large bale of hay in a field on a sunny dayComputers are now able to recognize objects, people and activities, but how well can they understand the relationships between them? Researchers have recently created a visual ‘turing’ test to see how adept computers are in photo recognition.

The article states, “It's one thing to be able to recognize that an image contains two people. But to be able to recognize that the image depicts two people walking together and having a conversation is a much deeper understanding.”

It may be that understanding what computers recognize will help developers to create future programs that make photo description and recognition much more effective to assist people living with visual impairments.

Do you think that computers currently do an effective job of describing photos? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Visual ‘Turing’ Test Developed

Posted in Research, Vision Loss Technology | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
A personal tale of being diagnosed with glaucoma and learning to live with visual impairment
A white bottle of eye drops is dispensing a single drop against a brilliant blue background.Stephanae McCoy remembers seeing her grandmother use eye drops to combat glaucoma. Forty years later, she was giving the same diagnosis.

In this blog post, Stephanae talks about her personal journey of diagnosis and living with low vision. She explains more about what glaucoma is and what all of us need to be aware of as we get older.

Do you have glaucoma? We can help with low vision skills.

Living with Glaucoma

Posted in Living Independently, Low Vision, Personal Stories, Vision Loss | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Blissfully ignorant can cause offense – a podcast to help us overcome offensive questions and defensive responses
Two cups of cappuccino are sat on a table. One cup is held by a womans hands.In this podcast, The Blind Writer shares a moment of time in which he was asked what could be considered an offensive question. His initial response was to get angry and defensive, but he realized, “He’s not in my world and he never was.” He then goes on to educate the person who asked the question without anger or defensiveness.

The episode might help to convince you that some questions aren’t necessarily meant to be offensive, but that ignorance can certainly be educated to open the door to a world where offensive comments are less common.

The 7-minute episode is worth listening to in order to gain a new perspective, or rethink some of the questions that we’ve previously taken to be offensive.

How do you respond to questions about visual impairments? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section.

An offensive divide by all…?

Posted in Living Blind, Living Independently, Personal Stories | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Overwhelmed with paying bills because of your vision loss? Here are 7 tips to minimize the stress!
A black and white cartoon of a worried looking man holding a long roll of paper that says Bills on itDoes the thought of paying monthly bills create a flood of dread? For many of us, this regular task can cause stress. Just the pressure of the looming deadline can be enough to panic some of us without considering the financial implications and organization needed.

But for many people with visual impairments, paying bills is even more stressful.

This article, from the Center for the Visually Impaired, suggests 7 ways to cope with the monthly bill paying chore including assistive technologies and special requests that you can make to the company that is owed.

Do you have any tips for paying monthly bills that might help others? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Seven Stress Free Ways to Pay Bills with Vision Loss

Posted in Living Independently, Vision Loss | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
The number of Americans with low vision is increasing and becoming a growing public health concern
An artistic picture with a womans eye and half her face overlaid with white scribbled drawings of starsA new report from The Vision Council highlights the increasing number of Americans living with visual impairment and how this affects their lives.

Today, over 39 million people in America have severe vision impairments. Over the next 15 years, that number is expected to increase to 63 million.

The report states that “It is estimated that these impairments cost $68 billion annually in direct health care costs, lost productivity and diminished quality of life.” Vision loss is also the number one cause of age-related disability.

To read the synopsis of this report, visit this link. For the full report, visit this link to The Vision Council’s report.

To see how we can help you adapt to vision loss, please visit our page on First Steps After Vision Loss

New Report Spotlights Low Vision as Growing Public Health Issue
Posted in First Steps After Vision Loss, Low Vision, Research | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Podcast discusses losing sight and become England’s First Blind Fitness Trainer
2 rows of hand weights are shown close up.Jaina Mistery was a sighted child growing up in the UK. But as a teenager, she came down with an infection, had a serious allergic reaction to medication which had serious consequences including the loss of her sight.

In this podcast, Jaina discusses losing her vision, achieving her dreams despite being visually impaired, and becoming the UK’s first blind fitness trainer.

To hear her inspirational story, listen o Bill Kociaba interview Jaina here.

To see the types of support we can offer to you and your family, please visit our program page.

Real World Fitness: England’s First Blind Fitness Trainer

Posted in Blind Living Skills, Emotional Adjustment to Vision Loss, First Steps After Vision Loss, Living Blind, Personal Stories | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Work Life Improvements Made for Visually Impaired People with Assistive Technology, but Still a Long Way to Go.
A man is shown from behind using a laptop at a desk with a cell phone and notebook beside his laptop. According to the National Federation of the Blind, 63% of visually impaired adults are still unemployed. This number is down from an article by the Harvard Business Journal in 1989 which stated that roughly 70% of blind adults were unemployed.

Assistive technologies may have had a hand in helping some people find work, but there is still a long way to go.

This article discusses how assistive technologies are helping in the workplace and what changes are still being made today.

Find out how we can help with Assistive Technologies.

Assistive Technologies Bring Diverse Populations to Work

Posted in Advocacy for Vision Impaired, Assistive Technology, Living Independently | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Easter Eggs for Visually Impaired Children Created by Dedicated Mom
Four pretty and colorful Easter Eggs sit in a glass bowl with fake green straw.This year, 12-year-old Jalen Ballard, who is visually impaired, will be able to hunt for his own Easter Eggs. In past years, he has had to have help from sighted peers. But this year, with the help of beeping eggs made especially for the event with the help of the local bomb squad, Jalen and other visually impaired children will be able to search on their own.

Jalen’s mother, who orchestrated this event after meeting someone who had done it before says “It’s an awesome independent experience for them to be able to locate the eggs on their own, without assistance from other people.”

Read more about this Easter Egg Hunt in this article.

Have you done any Easter activities targeted to children with visual impairments? Share your suggestions in the comment section.

Beeping eggs help blind children join hunt

Posted in Living Independently, Real Life Stories | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
The first five years – finding out your child has visual impairments and moving forward
A young girl dressed in pink leans her forehead against a wall of glass tilesIn this blog post, Mummy Emma writes about her oldest daughter Evelyn who was born with a genetic condition that has severely impacted her vision. Emma takes us through the experience of realizing there was a problem with her daughter’s sight and what they have done in the years since diagnosis.

To read this heartwarming blog, visit this link

To see the types of support we can offer to you and your family, please visit our program page.  

Evelyn! Her journey so far by Mummy Emma

Posted in Blind Living Skills, Living Blind, Living Independently, Real Life Stories | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Parenting Sighted Children as a Blind Person – Podcast
A smiling woman holds a young laughing baby in this close up photoIn this podcast, 2 sets of parents talk about the challenges of parenting as a blind person or couple with sighted children.

They discuss topics such as:
• Safety and organization
• Overcoming limitations and experimenting to find what works
• Products to help with various activities and tasks

To listen to the full podcast, visit this link.

For information about assistive technologies, visit our Guide to Living Independently.

1508 Blind Parenting of Sighted Children

Posted in Assistive Technology, Blindness, Living Blind, Low Vision | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Making art accessible for visually impaired people
The Mona LisaFor many people with visual impairments, art is inaccessible. Galleries and museums request that visitors refrain from touching works of art to avoid damaging pieces with the oil on hands. But a new project in Spain has recreated six masterpieces in multi dimensions to make them accessible through touch for people with visual impairments.  To read more about this project and how the art has been recreated, visit this page.

Would you like to visit this display? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Art revolutionized for the visually impaired

Posted in Living Blind, Low Vision | 9 Comment(s) | Add Comment
A month without internet for a blind person – a personal story
Let’s be fair, most of us are somewhat addicted to the internet. We think we need it. We think we can’t live without it.

But can we?

One visually impaired man decided to find out and spent one month without any internet access of any form.

To read his thoughts of his month off the grid, visit the blog.

Would you be able to live without internet? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

A month off the grid: Living blindly without internet
Posted in Blind Living Skills, Living Blind, Living Independently, Real Life Stories | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
Online images made accessible to the visually impaired with simple descriptions
People living with visual impairments often miss out on the impact of photos and images on a website. Mel Finefrock writes about two simple changes to blogs and websites that can make a big difference to the visually impaired:
1. Use the ALT tags to accurately describe the image
2. Implement In-Text Descriptions to describe the photo and enhance the article

Her article goes into more information on each way to describe a photo and also gives advice on how to come up with the description for each photo.

This advice can even be used on personal social media channels to help our visually impaired friends fully enjoy what we share.

For more information about assistive technologies, visit our Guide to Living Independently.

Making Images Accessible to People Who Are Blind
Posted in Assistive Technology, Blindness, Living Blind, Low Vision | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
An appropriate phrase to use for a person that doesn’t have a disability – and why
It is a constant struggle to know what terminology to use for a person that lives with a disability. Over the past decade, there have been many different phrases used, some discarded quickly while others remain appropriate. But what terminology should be used to describe a person who lives without a disability? The author of this article argues that ‘non-disabled’ is the best phrase to use because it doesn’t reflect negatively on disability.

What do you think of the term ‘non-disabled’? What phrasing would you like used to describe a person without disabilities? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Why ‘Non-Disabled’ is Better than ‘Normal’
Posted in Advocacy for Vision Impaired, Personal Stories | 0 Comment(s) | Add Comment
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