Editorial By Chris Hofstader
This is the twenty first edition of Gonz Blinko's Blind News Digest and, as always, it contains articles about blindness and blind people from all over the world. This digest functions as a single source to find nearly every story written in English and published online in any given week.
This week, the continued discussion about problems with surgical implants to allow blind people to see and the problems with overlays for web accessibility are the stories that most caught my attention. We have now seen substantial evidence that various sensory substitution technologies perform as well or better than do the implants, the don't require surgery and the only cost involved is owning a smartphone which you probably already do. Overlays, software like AccessiBe, claim to provide full ADA compliance for one's web site with a single line of code – this is not true and, based on my own experience with the BetterHelp.com site which employs AccessiBe, sometimes it makes the accessibility even worse on a web site.
Over the coming weeks, I am going to merge my blog with the news digest. The digest will be published every Tuesday (barring disaster) and other articles about any number of subjects, some serious, some entertaining will be published when they are ready. I have been actively recruiting guest writers from around he blindness community to write both short articles we can include in the digest or full length features which will be published on their own. This week, you can look for an article about sensory substitution from our friend Pranav Lal on Thursday.
So, please do subscribe to the new merged ChrisHofstader.com and you'll be well informed about the world of blindness and enjoy some feature articles about all sorts of subjects. The subscription box is at heading level 4 in the sidebar.
How It's Organized
Gonz Blinko's Blind News Digest is a very simple page to read. The categories are at heading level 2 and the stories are links at heading level 3. So, navigation to the sections and stories you find interesting is quite simple.
It takes roughly three months for a book to be translated into Braille and the easing of this laborious process now lies in the hands of the constitutional court. On Thursday, people living with visual disabilities chanted “Zizojika izinto! [Things will change]” outside the constitutional court in Johannesburg, as the court heard an application to confirm the unconstitutionality of the Copyright Act of 1978. This story came to us from: The Mail & Guardian.
If you are at all interested in the discussion about overlays as web accessibility remediation tools, you should really read this article. This one is followed by just such an unethical piece of "false journalism" discussing the AccessiBe overlay with which I have personal experience and my experience (on BetterHelp.com) is miserable. AccessiBe nor any other overlay can achieve WCAG 2.x AA but they sure make you think they can.
Among the most notable anti-competitive behaviors exhibited by overlays is their interference with the operation of testing tools. WAVE, by WebAIM, is one of the most popular web accessibility testing tools in the market and is available via a few delivery methods including a browser extension or a web service. Using the web service, a user needs only to enter the URL they want tested on this page . Upon doing so, the WAVE service will assess the code on the URL that was submitted and display the results of its automated assessment. As shown in the image example below, overly product UserWay interferes with WAVE, displaying a brightly colored message declaring "Scan Error. This story came to us from: Overlay False Claims.
First, this article reads like a press release written by the AccessiBe people as it contains no critical journalism whatsoever. Also, AccessiBe is not a solution that provides full accessibility as it claims. In US, the standing precedent is that a web site must conform with WCAG 2.x AA and almost all of these cases end up being settled and costing the company with the accessibility problems on their site to spend about $300,000 on legal fees and remediation. If you would like more information about AccessiBe and overlay technologies in general, look up the work Karl Groves has been doing on this as his papers include real statistics and hard data.
One way of handling ADA lawsuits is to get help from web accessibility company accessiBe’s Litigation Support Package. This story came to us from: Business Matters.
During the Peloton Homecoming Keynote, Matt Wilpers shared that Peloton would be adding Google’s TalkBack Screen Reader functionality to the Peloton Treadmill. They are doing this in order to make the Tread (and most likely the Tread+) more “accessible to the blind and low vision communities”. This story came to us from: Buddy.
The Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) has become the first airport in the country to utilize technology that helps blind and visually-impaired users navigate indoors.
The airport is working with GoodMaps, a Louisville-based startup, to enable travelers with low vision to safely, efficiently and independently move through the Jerry E. Abramson Terminal. This story came to us from: biz journals.
In the coming weeks, Google will begin beta testing a feature for Android 13 that makes it easier for users of braille displays to get up and running.
Google announced in a blog post on Thursday that the next Android 13 beta will include “out-of-the-box support” for braille displays. Braille displays are used to create pin patterns to touch-read on-screen text and also type in braille. The display allows people with deafblindness to use smartphones and people who are blind to silently use mobile phones without screen readers or voice commands. This story came to us from: The Verge.
Apple has unveiled a host of new accessibility solutions for users with disabilities. These include a new feature that allows blind and visually impaired people to detect and analyse the attributes of a door, including information on how to open it. This story came to us from: Malay Mail.
The web is more accessible than ever, but Sam Seavey of 'The Blind Life' admits magnifiers and screen readers aren't enough. This story came to us from: Yahoo Finance.
Science and Medicine
A flexible contact lens that senses eye pressure and releases a drug on-demand could help treat glaucoma, the second leading global cause of blindness. This story came to us from: ScienceAlert.
There was a 'remarkable improvement' in eyes treated with a special compound. This story came to us from: Wales Online.
A seven-year-old girl who doctors believed would never see, walk or talk due to an "incurable" condition has miraculously recovered, leaving her doctors stunned. This story comes to us from: Daily Star.
Campbell had used Second Sight’s Argus II for four years before the tool, which was externally linked to dark glasses, gave up the ghost. The Los Angeles-based company was unable to repair the approximately $150,000 implant that the patient received during its clinical trials. After the incident, the blind woman discussed removing the implant with her doctors. Ultimately, she decided that the risks of having another surgery weren’t worth it. This story came to us from: California18.
A medical lecturer at Mahidol University’s Faculty of Medicine has successfully treated a hereditary disease that causes blindness in a laboratory experiment using a diabetes drug, he announced. This story came to us from: Nation Thailand.
I’m asked to put two fingers from my right hand into a styrofoam contraption fitted especially for them. My fingers are placed on top of plates inside the device. I hear the sounds of a forest. This story came to us from: NoCamels.
AN eye expert, Professor Adeola Onakoya, says illiteracy and poverty can increase the chances of going blind from glaucoma. She also noted that the genetic make-up of Igbo people make them more susceptible to the eye defect than others. This story came to us from: tribune Online ng.
I'm quite public about my own marijuana use but, although I have a medical card and buy from medical dispensaries, I must also say that scientific literature and the state of research into using marijuana as a medicine for nearly any malady is mostly superficial. It works for me but I do wish we could get more research done on medical marijuana so health care professionals could have a better understanding if it would be useful for their patients or not.
The appropriate glaucoma medicine may make all the difference in controlling symptoms and keeping your eyes healthy. However, choosing the correct treatment plan might be difficult at times. Unfortunately, some individuals are allergic to their medications or have adverse effects while they take them it's not always simple! One method to prevent these issues is to begin carefully; Try one new medicine at a time so you know what works best without any unpleasant surprises waiting around every corner (or eye). Marijuana has long been used for both medical and recreational uses. Most people think of marijuana as having medical advantages. People contemplate marijuana usage for a variety of causes, including anxiety, sadness, stress, and sleep difficulties. Medical marijuana is often used to treat pain-related ailments such as glaucoma. This story came to us from: Big News.
Two German neuroscientists mistakenly discovered that a single mutation that damages one of the synaptic proteins causes not only blindness in affected people, but also above-average intelligence. This story came to us from: R&R Magazine.
[A step closer to treatment for the most common form of blindness][
A step towards finding a treatment for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common form of adult blindness in the developed world. This story came to us from: Medical Xpress.
RD is an ocular condition associated with blindness, which requires prompt treatment to restore function. This story came to us from: Cureus.
As she read the newspaper to her friend, her eyes would sometimes feel strained, and she would lose her place. She dismissed this thinking it was simply eye fatigue or old age. After visiting a new ophthalmologist a few years later, she was told she had macular atrophy, an early form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Five years later, in the Spring of 2020, she had a sudden and dramatic loss of vision in one eye and was told she had geographic atrophy (GA), an advanced form of dry AMD. She now has GA in her other eye as well. GA is a leading cause of blindness that impairs visual function, and therefore, independence and quality of life for the more than 5 million people who are diagnosed with the disease. This story came to us from: Herald Community Newspapers.
… But they can still cause serious medical problems such as blindness. This story came to us from: Verve times.
Russian troops have been rounding up disabled Ukrainians to fight on the frontline as Moscow continues to take heavy losses on the battlefield, a Ukrainian report claims. This story came to us from: The Mirror.
NCDE Promotes International Education at the National Federation of the Blind Conference in New Orleans
The NCDE will participate in the 2022 NFB convention from July 5 through July 10 to educate members about its services and tips for blind people to study or volunteer abroad with organizations like Fulbright, Peace Corps and Rotary. Staff are looking to partner with blind exchange alumni who will also be at the conference, so if you plan to be in New Orleans, get in touch. This story came to us from: miusa.
And yet despite his intrepidation, Schafebrook is the captain of the Lebanon team that will be rappelling again June 10. All in the name of vision awareness. This story came to us from: Lebanon Daily News.
The National Council for the Blind of Ireland has launched a voice-based platform for Google and Amazon smart speakers that provides information on sight loss, and access to support and technology services. This story came to us from: Irish Times.
A local library took home a top honor on Wednesday for its "outstanding service to readers with visual, physical or print disabilities." This story came to us from: komonews.
Assemblywoman Buttenschon designated CABVI Champion, volunteer presented with Appreciation of Service
The Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI) presented its third CABVI Champion Award to Marianne Buttenschon, State Assembly Member District 119, at CABVI’s Vision Health & Wellness Center. This story comes to us from: Oneida Dispatch.
The Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind – Opelika Regional Center is now open to serve Chambers, Lee, Macon, Russell and Tallapoosa counties. This story came to us from: WSFA.
China will promote the cross-border exchange of accessible-format publication copies through cooperation with international organizations such as the World Intellectual Property Organization, an official has said. This story came to us from: official.
Silverman, who has been blind her whole life, is an author and activist. She founded a consulting company in 2016, Disability Wisdom, which provides researched-based services, such as trainings to help foster understanding toward people with disabilities. This story came to us from: jewishaz.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), in collaboration with the Primary Healthcare Corporation (PHCC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), recently organised a workshop in preparation for the national visual impairment and blindness survey in Qatar. This story came to us from: The Peninsula Qatar.
Alexandra Adams, 28, from Cardiff, revealed she is still on track to become the UK's first deaf-blind doctor. This story comes to us from: Daily Mail.
She is now enabling children with visual impairments to receive a STEM education through her non-profit, Vision Empower. This story came to us from: YourStory.
We should all congratulate this hard working woman.
McReynolds was born legally blind. Though there were times she could barely see her classwork and materials, she passed every portion of the GED exam. This story came to us from: Spectrum News.
May 19 was graduation day for students at the Foundation for Blind Children in Phoenix. It was a special day for the families and the students at the foundation, as preschoolers walked the stage to receive their honors. This story came to us from: FOX 10 Phoenix.
Paying people with disabilities less than the minimum wage was made illegal first in Vermont and a few other states have followed. Under US Department of Labor rules, it is illegal here to pay employees in a manner that will allow them to continue receiving benefits, I know a private company that hired a lot of blind people that was sued and lost over this practice. Plain and simply, Dallas thinks were are less than complete people and will insist on paying less than even their minimum wage. Just imagine if Dallas chose to pay any other minority a salary under minimum wage, wouldn't that cause outrage?
A city requirement that contracted workers be paid at least $15.21 may be waived so federal disabled benefits aren’t impacted. This story came to us from: Dallas Morning News.
This story would also fit in the Blindness Organizations section but as it's about employment, I put it here.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 70% of working-age Americans who are blind are not employed. Meanwhile, 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs in March of this year alone. The Great Resignation is still alive and well — meaning U.S. employers cannot afford to overlook or exclude talent on the basis of disability, says Kevin Lynch, president and CEO of National Industries for the Blind, an employment resource for the blind and visually impaired. This story came to us from: benefitnews.
Thirty-year-old Rwandan woman Rosette Uwifashije, who lost her sight in 2000 due to illness, can skillfully pass a thread through the eye of a needle. This story came to us from: Big News Network.com.
'It should be a top priority': Houston County man advocates for public transportation in Warner Robins
Armando Vias was born prematurely, leaving him blind. He often finds himself relying on others to get around. This story comes to us from: 13WMAZ.com.
Discrimination and Inaccessibility
When people hear the term “accessibility” in the context of disability, most will see images of ramps, automatic doors, elevators, or tactile paving (textured ground which helps vision impaired people navigate public spaces). These are physical examples of inclusive practice that most people understand. You may even use these features yourself, for convenience, as you go about your day. However, such efforts too create an inclusive physical world aren’t being translated into designing the digital world. This story came to us from: The Conversation.
CHESHIRE East rang a 94-year-old deaf and blind woman asking her to read out details for her new disability badge even though the council itself had certified her blind. The council has apologised for the blunder which left Hilda Bates distressed and embarrassed because she was unable to provide the answers. This story came to us from: Knutsford Guardian.
Barbara Ryan, a 57-year-old paraplegic who is also legally blind, was kicked out of her lifelong home one Winter afternoon even though she had already owned the home. Sheriffs from Mecklenburg County arrived at her door and removed her from her house and to make matters worse, filed a petition with the court to have her involuntary committed to a local psychiatric unit. After the initial 72-hour hold at the hospital, Ryan found herself homeless and on the streets with nowhere to turn. She recalls spending that first night on a parking deck in the dead of winter without food, money, identification, or a working phone. This story came to us from: NewsBreak Original.
A blind man fell off the subway platform, and two officers rushed to the rescue. This story came to us from: NBC New York.
Police say a man attacked and sexually abused a blind Phoenix woman he met on a dating app. This story came to us from: Arizona's Family.
Several blind women have fallen prey to sexual assaulters in Bajhang but the families’ apathy and society’s behaviour towards sexual assault victims have kept many of them from claiming justice. This story came to us from: Kathmandu Post.
A blind Milwaukee man was murdered Monday night, May 16, near 37th and Burleigh. He's another victim of gun violence that plagued the city this week. This story came to us from: CBS 58.
Depending on the state in which you reside, rules regarding service animals can vary quite a bit. I knew a woman in San Francisco who had an adorable pet dog, the landlord said he had a "no dogs" policy, she brought her dog to the city agency tasked with certifying service animals and within 24 hours was able to tell her landlord that it was a service dog and he had to allow her to keep it in her apartment. While this dog was tiny, playful and got along with our guide dogs, it had zero training to be a service animal and, in my never humble opinion, this animal should not have been certified as a service dog.
It has come to our attention that there may be some businesses that are not familiar with the legal protection for people with disabilities who have service animals by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). The Human Rights Commission of Muncie is reaching out to educate area businesses on the correct procedures in addressing an individual who comes to your business with a service animal. This story came to us from: The Star Press.
A blind executive at the charity Guide Dogs said he felt ‘publicly humiliated’ after he was told to leave a Marks & Spencer shop with his dog. Dave Kent said a security guard ‘curtly’ told him to take his golden retriever, Faldo, out of the shop in Mortlake, west London, last Friday. This story came to us from: Daily Mail.
As a guide dog handler myself, I am grateful to all of the volunteers involved in bringing us these wonderful animals but, more than any other, my heart lives with the puppy raisers. These wonderful volunteers take a small puppy into their homes, do all of the basic training work and then have to give a puppy they've loved for a year and a half back to the school for further training and assignment to a blind person. These are terrific people.
Guide dogs help people who are blind or visually impaired navigate the world around them, but before they can do that they must go through training. This story came to us from: KXAN.
Who: A legally blind man is suing Dell under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). This story came to us from: Top Class Actions.
Plaintiff Kimberly Miller, who is blind, claims Colgate is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (RA) by not making its website independently usable for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. This story comes to us from: Top Class Actions.
InMoment Demonstrates Commitment to Disability Inclusion With the Industry’s First Accessibility Compliance
InMoment®, the leading provider of Experience Improvement (XI)™ solutions, announced today that it has achieved compliance with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), becoming the first experience management solution to achieve this milestone. This story comes to us from: Yahoo Finance.
We have been following this story in this digest for a couple of months now. The Second sight Argus 2 implant cost $150,000 and that didn't include the surgery nor the large amount of time one needs to train to learn to see using it. There are roughly 350 people in the world with one of the Argus 2 devices installed in their heads and they no longer have any support. Maybe they should have tried a sensory substitution system like The VOICe (www.seeingwithsound.com) as the only cost involved is owning a smartphone which you likely already have and you do not need to endure any surgery or the possible complications that come with such.
Regaining sight by this process requires a relatively long period of learning and frequent software updates. The electrical pulsations are indeed controlled by an AI model. However, Second Sight patients had a first disappointment in 2020 when they learned of the end of the production and development of the prosthesis. Since then, Second Sight customers no longer receive any updates. This is already causing in some cases the anticipated obsolescence of equipment and the return of customers to blindness. This story came to us from: HiTech Wiki.
Assistive Technologies for Visual Impairment Market In 2022 : Increasing Demand In Blind People, Low Vision People Driving the growth
Assistive Technologies for Visual Impairment is an umbrella term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with Visual Impairment and also includes the process used in selecting, locating, and using them. This story came to us from: Xaralite.
It is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13. 5% from 2021 to 2028. The report highlights trends prevailing in the market and factors driving the market growth. The medical lasers systems market’s growth is attributed to the increasing prevalence of eye disorders and the significant rise in the elderly population. This story came to us from: Yahoo Finance.
Medi-Tech Insights: Increasing prevalence of visual impairment & blindness, growing prevalence of eye disorders, rising awareness regarding assistive technologies for the visually challenged, and growing government initiatives for awareness & funding for the advanced devices are the key factors driving the global vision impairment devices market. This story came to us from: GlobeNewswire.
Global Vision Impairment Devices Market is expected to grow at a decent rate of 8% to reach $5.5 billion by 2026
Vision Impairment is the limitation of one or more eye functions or visual systems. This can range from mild vision impairment to total blindness. The most common causes of visual impairment are uncorrected refractive errors, cataracts, and glaucoma. In such situations of visual impairment, assistive technologies for visual impairment can be used. This story came to us from: Benzinga.
The report studies the key segments in global Screen Reader industry, their growth in past few years, profiles and market sizes of individual segments, and gives a detailed overview of the profiles of various segments. The report also presents key products and various other products in the global Screen Reader industry along with its market size and growth in study period. The major demand drivers for the global Screen Reader industry products and services are outlined in the report. The Screen Reader report details some major success factors and risk factors of investing in certain segments. The Screen Reader report studies in detail the innovative products, technological changes, manufacturing practices, regulatory models, newer and sleeker products, distribution models, pricing patterns of competitive products in the Screen Reader industry. This story came to us from: The Daily Vale.
Blind South Africans took to the Constitutional Court to challenge an apartheid-era law that prevents books from being easily printed in braille. This story came to us from: voanews.com.
I would take this story with a grain of salt as it refers to no solid peer reviewed research of any quality.
Vision loss is a casualty of the aging process but it can be spurred on through poor dietary decisions, according to contact lens optician Sharon Copeland of Feel Good Contacts. She highlighted the dangers posed by specific items in a recent interview with Express.co.uk. This story came to us from: Express.co.uk.
Two grants will be available, each offering $150,000 to scientists focusing on glaucoma research who have already received their first independent federal National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant and are collecting new and novel data to apply for a second R01. This story came to us from: Ophthalmology Times.
Researcher receives funding support from Research to Prevent Blindness. This story came to us from: Washington University School of Medicine.
Uganda got a shot in the arm that will boost the capacity to diagnose and treat a rare but increasing-blinding disease known as Retinopathy of prematurity. 70 health workers from various hospitals who recently trained in managing the disease which affects premature babies were passed out at Nsambya hospital where the Stop Infant Blindness in Africa (SIBA) volunteer group of ophthalmologists also provided diagnosing equipment. But as Walter Mwesigye reports, the country is still short of key eye specialists to help in treating Retinopathy of prematurity. This story came to us from: YouTube.
Ricky Reeves hopes the day will come when driverless cars are commonplace so he can travel around independently. The Christchurch man was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2006 when he was 9. The operation to remove it left him legally blind. This story came to us from: co.nz.
Because of his diminishing vision, Brown had to find a new way to work and live. He signed on with a local organization that serves people with vision impairment to pursue a new career and received training in the food industry to become a manager of any kind of eatery. “This program required those of us interested in management in that field to take cooking classes, even though we wouldn’t be doing the cooking. We had to know the work of all our employees to better manage them,” he said. This story came to us from: Bay to Bay News.
This blind man has a huge home library packed with serious books and is widely read. This story came to us from: Daily Monitor.
A man who lost his sight during the pandemic has launched a TikTok account with his brother dedicated to supporting those with blindness. Yahya Pandor, 27, from Gloucester lost his eyesight over 19 months after being diagnosed with macular degeneration.
He and his brother Isa, 22, started posting videos during lockdown and have amassed more than 10,000 followers. This story came to us from: BBC.
Having been diagnosed with glaucoma three years earlier, McDaniel was on eye drops, but when his job changed so did his health insurance, and he no longer had access to the drops. “I had a massive headache one night, and the next morning I woke up and couldn’t see,” McDaniel said. This story came to us from: egcitizen.com.
I really didn't know how to categorize this story as we haven't a section about caregivers nor do we about being drunk at work.
Dundee care worker Karen Harper has been struck off for being under the influence of alcohol while she helped a blind and paralysed man. This story came to us from: The Courier.
Art and Artists
Legally blind since he was infant, the Calgary-born actor is joining the cast of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds after decades of theatre work. This story came to us from: CBC.
The vocalist spent 14 years with the celebrated outfit after an already lengthy career working in soul, gospel, and R&B. This story came to us from: Rolling Stone.
Nearly 30 years ago, Luther Williams lost his eyesight. While life hasn’t always been easy for him, he says it’s been one worth living. When asked what it was like for him to lose his eyesight, he said it was a dark time. This story came to us from: Spectrum News.
Brad Snyder had a clear definition of manhood when he put on the U.S. Navy uniform to work as an officer in its bomb disposal squad. But once he lost his vision after stepping on an improvised explosive device, that certainty about his role in the world dissolved into darkness. This story came to us from: International Paralympic Committee.
Weighing 250 grams compared to the 550-gram balls used in adult blind football, it is the brainchild of Elias Mastoras, International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Blind Football Chairman and founder of the NGO Youthorama, based in Thessaloniki, a port city in northern Greece. This story came to us from: China.org.
Melanie Barratt is aiming to become the first blind woman to swim the English Channel solo, after falling in love with open water swimming. This story came to us from: Planet Radio.
A Gloucester man who lost his eyesight 19 months ago has teamed up with his brother to make dark humoured yet hilarious TikTok videos that shed light on living with the disability. After Yahya Pandor had been given the diagnosis he walked out of the eye clinic and straight into a lamppost – instantly he realised the irony of the situation and chose to laugh off what had happened. This story came to us from: Gloucestershire Live.
About The Digest
Welcome to Edition 21 of Gonz Blinko's Blind News Digest. This edition has 76 stories about blind people and blindness from all over the world. We're certain you will find articles that you think are interesting, informative and, in some cases, funny.
As we do in every edition of the digest, we'd like to acknowledge our friend in the UK, Leon Gilbert. He practically invented blind news and he has a terrific Twitter feed which you can follow at @leongilbert.
If you missed it, you can read edition 20 of the news digest at Gonz Blinko's Blind News Digest – Edition 20. We'll include links to the previous edition in this section of each week's version.