As I wrote in the introduction to edition 20 of this digest, I'm slowly in the process of converting this site from being strictly the blog of Gonz Blinko to being more of a fully featured information service for the blind. I publish the digest that you are now reading every Tuesday morning and it averages 65 articles per edition covering all aspects of blindness and blind people from all over the English speaking world.
Over the past few weeks, I've recruited other writers to join as regular contributors and we'll be covering topics ranging from science and medicine to sports to arts to music to the politics of the blind world, employment issues, do it yourself projects, fashion, culture and as much as we can find that might interest our readers.
The migration of this site from being my blog exclusively is slow going and I chose to focus on content before we started rearranging the look and feel of the site. We're working on a new theme and will be moving quite a few things around. I think our readers, new and old, will enjoy this new way of presenting this information.
To subscribe, go to the item at heading 4 in the sidebar labeled "Subscribe To The New Chris Hofstader" by email, put in your address, hit the button and you'll get the digest and the occasional other article in your email as soon as they're posted.
Subscribing to this site will not generate any spam for you. I don't even know how to access the list of subscribers so couldn't share them with anyone else and only one other person has access to the admin portions of the site and I trust her implicitly as she's the person who keeps everything running properly for me.
Editorial By Chris Hofstader
This is the second consecutive slow week for news about blindness and blind people in the mainstream press. This digest averages roughly 65 stories per edition but this one has only 38. It's still a wide array of subjects but some of our usual sections are not in this one as we got no articles that fit their category. Some of this is also due to finding some sites that contained interesting sounding stories too inaccessible to include here and others that were behind a pay wall and I never include them.
What we do have this week is a short feature article by my old buddy and former employee, Joseph Stephen. Joseph introduces himself in his story but I wanted to tell you more about him than would be proper for an article on how he hacks HAM radio firmware to make it more accessible.
A real long time ago when Freedom Scientific was still Henter-Joyce, we hired a market research firm called Reality Based Marketing (RBM) to help us determine what blind people would need and/or want from a screen reader in the coming decade. RBM did not survey blind professionals, blind engineers, blind entrepreneurs or any other blind people as far as we could tell. Instead, the chose to focus on so called experts and gathered their data from rehabilitation specialists and those who train people to use screen readers, a population that doesn't represent blind people and aren't technology experts but, rather, they are special education specialists. When Eric Damery and I reviewed the results a couple of things jumped out at us as looking very strange. The report told us that less than 2% of all blind people cared to use a spreadsheet and less than 1% cared at all about Macintosh accessibility. As we made a Windows product, we didn't think much about the Apple number but the 2% spreadsheet number jumped out as wrong.
Eric and I called Joseph who had done some contract scripting for us in the past and offered him the enormous sum of $2500 (USD) to "make Excel sing." Joseph would proceed to make the Excel support in JAWS so good that it was unparalleled in any other screen reader. We would then hire Joseph full time and, while I often wrote the spec, it was him who did almost all of the coding that made JAWS the giant in the MS Office apps that it remains today. Joseph's work won us a lot of contracts and is a big part of how JAWS grew to a one time 83% marketshare. If you use JAWS, you are running Joseph's code every day. As this story is about HAM radios, please do not contact Joseph with any questions regarding JAWS, call tech support if you have such a query.
I hope you enjoy this edition of the digest and keep coming back to read it and our long form articles as well.
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.
Hacking Amateur Radios By Joseph Stephen
I am Joseph Stephen. I am a totally blind software engineer. Besides working on JAWS for Windows for more than 25 years, I also work on open source amateur radio projects, adding full 100% accessibility to amateur radio transceivers.
AccessibleGD77 is replacement firmware for the Radioddity GD77, GD77S, Baofeng DM1801, DM1801A and RD5R. This is mature firmware which adds not only better accessibility than the original open firmware, but dozens of other features as well.
I am also contributing to another open source project, still in its infancy, called OpenRTX which will work on a bunch of other radios such as the Tyt MD380, 390, UV380, UV390, MD9600 and Ailance HD1, with possibly more coming in the future.
I am always disappointed when new products purportedly for the blind are released only to find that many are half baked and developed by sighted folk who think accessibility stops at a few voice prompts with heaps of bugs still lurking in the firmware. To be able to completely control the development of a product however, and to add 100% of the features requested by blind folk is a huge step forward in accessibility.
These accessible radios must be purchased from regular outlets and the accessible firmware and voice prompts loaded onto them using software running on your computer.
If you are interested in Amateur Radio, and particularly these accessible radios, please contact me by email.
Digital marketing in 2022 is all about searching for that target market online that a business has not been able to reach before. It’s the endless pursuit of trying to find a new, untapped source of revenue. This story comes to us from: VentureBeat.
Samantha Johnson, bioengineer and founder of Tatum Robotics, vividly remembers meeting a deafblind person for the first time.
She was in her sophomore year at Northeastern University, taking an American Sign Language class, which required her to learn more about the local Deaf community by attending local Deaf events. This story came to us from: News @ Northeastern – Northeastern University.
London-headquartered WeWALK has secured £1.7m funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) for its “smart cane” that uses computer vision to help people with visual impairments move around busy spaces. The capital was awarded as part of the as part of UKRI’s Healthy Ageing Challenge. This story came to us from: UKTN.
Science and Medicine
A team of scientists conducted an experiment in which they asked sighted and blind people a series of questions about objects and their colors. This story came to us from: Indiana Public Media.
VITAMIN and minerals regulate several biological functions in the body. Without adequate levels of nutrients, complications are likely to ensue. Two vitamin deficiencies that can lead to permanent vision loss are easily avoidable with the right dietary additions. This story came to us from: Daily Express.
Prevalence of vision loss, blindness in US at the county level. This story came to us from: EurekAlert.
Positive correlation seen for visual acuity loss or blindness prevalence with percentage of county's population living below poverty level. This story came to us from: Consumer Health News.
Editas Medicine, Inc. EDIT is making good progress with the development … study evaluating EDIT-101 for the treatment of blindness due to LCA10. This story came to us from: Yahoo Finance.
Diabetes is the leading cause of new blindness in the United States. DME is the most common cause of vision loss in people with diabetes. This story came to us from: Very well Health.
Novartis doesn't think optogenetics will completely cure blindness—but its new biotech is going to give it a try
Novartis already bought into optogenetic gene therapy technology last year, but the Swiss Pharma wants more. Enter Arctos Medical, which will now join Novartis with its gene therapy program for vision loss. This story came to us from: Fierce Biotech.
[NewView helping Oklahomans with visual impairments][
NewView offers help to Oklahomans who are blind or have visual impairments. This story came to us from: KOCO.
Students with visual impairments are often shut out of sex education. Here's how educators say they can learn with the help of 3D models
Sex education is almost always taught visually. Students are given worksheets with diagrams of human anatomy and sex organs. They watch videos about the reproductive process. None of that helps blind students much at all. This story came to us from: Northern Public Radio.
Here's a positive story about a project with which NFB is involved. I hope to see more of these in the future.
Louisiana Tech and The National Federation of the Blind (NFB) have partnered in a new innovative program that will train 13 Maryland teachers to better instruct, inspire, and support blind students.
The “Narrowing the Gap for Blind and Low-Vision Students in Maryland Teacher Preparation” program will allow the teachers full funding to attend Tech’s Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindness. This story came to us from: Louisiana Tech University.
For an affordable massage place providing top notch massages, check out Blind Massage Service, which has treatments from S$20. This story came to us from: Confirm Good.
If there’s a piano anchoring the living room of a home around Greenville, it’s quite likely Don Wigent has had his hands on it. A self-described “character,” he’s as memorable for his piano tuning skills as his bass singing talent in barbershop quartets. This story comes to us from: The Daily Reflector.
Employment Symposium is designed for businesses, organisations, and government departments who are keen to make their workplace more accessible and inclusive. We encourage management and HR staff to attend this event, as well as IT staff who would benefit from learning about assistive technology. This story came to us from: Women's Agenda.
Discrimination and Inaccessibility
Desmond Smith, from Broxburn, has said that he felt as though people living with disabilities were forgotten by those in power as the Covid-19 pandemic gripped the nation. This story came to us from: Edinburgh Live.
I've known of other blind people who have or may still deal drugs to make money but this is the first such story we've seen in the mainstream press.
He provided the scale and the drugs. His customers would weigh out what they wanted to buy. That was the honor system employed by a blind man accused of selling drugs out of a northwest side home raided by the Allen County Drug Task Force and Allen County Sheriff’s SWAT team earlier this week. This story came to us from: WANE 15.
A blind man, with a service dog, who is featured in a special report four years ago, says he has once again been denied service by an Uber driver. This story came to us from: Fox 8.
Qantas the guide dog proves his worth by saving Watten woman Caron Jones from being hit By A Speeding Car
Registered blind woman Caron Jones said that shortly after she got her guide dog he pulled her to safety after a speeding car whizzed past her. This story came to us from: John O'Groat Journal.
Web accessibility under ADA is supposed to be enforced by Depart of Justice (DOJ) and, and in the many similar cases, would like also violate the 21st Century Video and Communications Accessibility Act (CVAA) which is supposed to be enforced by FCC. But, President Obama's DOJ and FCC did nothing, President Trump's same agencies did nothing and, thus fr, President Biden's executive branch did have its DOJ publish a set of guidelines for web accessibility that attorneys on both sides of the issue claim is far to vague to be useful. Thus, mostly unethical attorneys are using the most aggressive tactics they can find to cash in as our civil rights are not protected by our federal government.
Two separate complaints were sued on Thursday in the Southern District of New York. The first complaint was filed by Richard Meija against J & M Foods, Inc. (J & M), while the second was filed by Jose Zarzuela against Gather Foods Corporation (GFC). Each suit was a class action complaint against the respective food companies citing violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the New York City Human Rights Law. This story came to us from: Law Street Media.
People with disabilities have a right to equal access under the law, including equal access to voting, education, and protections in the criminal legal system. But too often, policies and practices at the polls, and in schools, jails, and prisons violate our fundamental rights. These violations hinder access to the ballot, risk students’ health and safety, and trap people with disabilities in the carceral system. This story came to us from: ACLU.
Accessibility is important. Everyone should be able to have access to services, facilities, transportation and more. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law to ensure people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else. It also lays out parameters for organizations to follow to be accessible for all. The ADA is not limited to people who use wheelchairs—it includes accommodations for all mobility needs, people who are blind, people who are deaf, and more. This story came to us from: City of Charlotte.
In conjunction with the celebrations of the anniversary of the June 30 revolution, the Alexandria Governor Mohamed al-Sherif inaugurated, on Friday, a beach dedicated for blind people, as part of a larger beach established for people of determination. This story came to us from: Egypt Independent.
In this webinar: Learn some of the basic travel techniques and concepts of orientation and mobility and how you can incorporate those into everyday activities. This story came to us from: Perkins School For The Blind.
“I found out that Willie is wanting to go to the blind conference in New Orleans in July,” Linda said. “He said, ‘I’ve even cut off my cable so that I can afford to go’. The one thing that’s awesome about Willie is that all during the pandemic when he could have stayed at home, and many people did, right. Willie worked." And he’s still working. This story came to us from: WREG.com.
Chef Charlie Doman of Moe Joe's in Plainfield, Illinois is legally blind. His community raised thousands to replace his missing electronic glasses. This story came to us from: ABC7.
Dolan, who is blind, started Golden Groove, a nonprofit designed to provide activities and support for senior citizens. This story came to us from: Longview News-Journal.
Art and Artists
Bruce Horak, the Canadian actor who plays Chief Engineer, Lieutenant Hemmer on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, belongs to a variety of families. This story came to us from: Original Cin.
JJ Lucia-Wright has adapted everything from magic tricks to lap dancing for a deafblind audience. This story came to us from: Cambridge News.
When Michael Hernández Otero was 15 years old, he was diagnosed with the congenital disease VKH, syndrome that would leave him blind. He first lost vision in his left eye and after a few months in his right. At that time, after being depressed and locked in his room for a month, His life took a 180 degree turn. This story came to us from: California18.
“The Braille Legacy” is a musical about the boy who invented a system of reading and writing for the blind. It debuted to sell out crowds in Los Angeles in June, marking the first time the show had been performed in the U.S. — and the first time it was performed by a cast fully comprised of blind actors. This story came to us from: Spectrum News.
According to Lisa Durden, the film explores the lives of Krystle Allen and Naquela Wright-Prevoe, two blind, Black female entrepreneurs. This story came to us from: Patch.
Deafblind UK has teamed up with a teenage artist to create a collection of digital artworks, which are being sold as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to celebrate Deafblind Awareness Week. This story came to us from: Association of Optometrists.
As Wimbledon comes to a close this week, we're taking a look at blind tennis. It's a sport played with a larger, softer ball that makes a rattle. This story came to us from: BBC News.
Kansas State School for the Blind teacher Nicole Drake (middle) plays blind soccer at the June 22-23 USA Blind Soccer Coaching Education Summit in Virginia. This story came to us from: The Kansas City Star.
Today on Louisiana Considered, we hear about a team of blind cyclists who tackled the world's toughest bike race. This story came to us from: WRKF.
A blind man who cycled from Colditz Castle in Germany to West Bromwich has raised more than £75,000 – and says the total left him "completely stunned. This story came to us from: BBC News.
Anthony Ferraro aims to get skateboarding in Paralympics. This story came to us from: WCAX.
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.
Please Contribute A Story
I hope to evolve this site from my personal blog into a more broad news and information service serving the blind community. I cannot do this alone. So, if you have a story to tell about literally anything related to blindness from dating to technology, please pitch me the story through the contact form on this site and we can work together to get your story into the digest if it's a short piece or as a stand alone feature if it's longer. If you've little confidence in your writing skills, I'm an excellent editor and we'll make your story good.