Editorial By Chris Hofstader
This was a bit of an odd week for news about blindness and blind people from around the world. Every day, the GoogleAlerts I use to find the articles we include in this digest were packed with stories. Unfortunately, they were filled up with lots of duplicates. It's my policy to only run one article about a particular story lest our readers will find dozens or more articles that are essentially all paraphrased from the same press release and say nearly exactly the same thing.
This week, we continued to get a lot of articles about the new artificial cornea that is made from something the scientists extract from pig skin. We ran this story when it first broke in edition 32 of the digest but must have seen a couple of dozen more articles, all nearly identical, in the weeks since. The unfortunate story about the blind woman being sexually assaulted on the platform of a rail station in UK was caught on video and the story ran in articles all over the world. And, there were a number of other stories about which we got a dozen or more versions of and I only included one of them.
This edition still has more than sixty articles and, as always, the stories cover quite a wide array of subjects related to blindness and blind people and we hope you find many of them interesting.
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.
Braille Man of India, Swagat Thorat, translates popular Marathi and Hindi literature and news into Braille for the visually challenged. This story comes to us from: Outlook India.
Menglan stands up and walks slowly to a window. She cannot see the view outside, but can feel the sun's warmth. Yin, 33, who has been a proofreader at the China Braille Press, or CBP, for 11 years, works by touching a Braille pad linked to a computer. The computer converts regular text on her pad into Braille. This story came to us from: china daily.
After losing his sight to “retinitis pigmentosa” at the age of 37, the first thing Timothy Monaghan did was attend a school for the blind. This story comes to us from: WWNY.
To be a loco pilot, a movie star or someone rich and famous may be the stuff of childhood dreams. But it was the noble thought of writing a book for the visually challenged that drove Ashwin Thomas, a Class VIII student of Petit Seminaire Higher Secondary School, to bring out his first work in braille.
This story comes to us from: the Hindu.
Science and Medicine
The Snellen eye chart is the classic chart of big and little letters you'll typically see used by eye care professionals, in schools, and in other settings where vision testing is done. This story comes to us from: Verywell Health.
Eyesight impairment is a purely natural result of aging. In accordance to the Countrywide Library of Medicine, although there are considerably less than 20 for every cent of folks above 50 several years of age globally, more than 80 for every cent of them are dwelling with blindness. This Earth Senior Citizen’s Working day, medical practitioners say that ‘age-related macular degeneration‘ (AMD) — a retinal condition — can bring about long lasting vision decline. This story comes to us from: Clear Publicist.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in people over 65. Dysfunction of energy-producing mitochondria and damage to mitochondrial DNA in the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) have been implicated in the pathogenesis of AMD, but current in vitro models have limitations. This story comes to us from: VUMC Reporter – Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
In late June, the White House announced expanded testing options for people who are blind or have limited vision, collaborating with the COVID-19 test manufacturer Ellume on their at-home antigen tests. Ellume connects its tests with a smartphone app to provide audible, step-by-step instructions and test results, per a July company news release. This story comes to us from: KXAN.
Roche Australia has announced the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has registered Vabysmo (faricimab) for the treatment of neovascular or ‘wet’ age-related macular degeneration (nAMD) and diabetic macular oedema (DMO). Both eye conditions are leading causes of vision loss worldwide and present a growing health issue as populations age and experience increased prevalence of diabetes. This story comes to us from: Insight.
When postdoc Matthew Guberman-Pfeffer wants to read a journal article, he has to run through an obstacle course of potential problems. First, the Yale University physical chemist downloads the PDF and copies it into a separate text file. Then, he uses a screen reader to read each sentence aloud, going slowly because the reader often doesn’t recognize complicated scientific terms. Sometimes the column formatting doesn’t copy over correctly and the reader ends up dictating a jumbled mess. Sometimes it includes every single reference number; sometimes it stops midsentence to read out an advertisement. But the biggest struggle is always the figures. There’s nothing a text reader can do to help him visualize them. He has some vision, so by magnifying a graph or diagram up to 1000% he can see one tiny fragment of the visual at a time, eventually piecing together a patchwork picture in a process he compares to the story of the blind men and the elephant. But usually it isn’t worth the effort, and he hopes whatever text description the authors gave of the figure is enough. All that might be about to change. In collaboration with sighted Baylor University biochemist Bryan Shaw and his team, Guberman-Pfeffer and fellow optically impaired scientists have developed an easy way to convey visual data by 3D printing them in minutes. This story comes to us from: Science.
For three decades now, scientists have tried to treat blindness by implanting healthy light-sensitive cells into failing eyes. This story comes to us from: BGR.
A little over 100 years ago there were no telephones, planes, TV, antibiotics, computers. Today, knowledge and science make it possible to do things that not even the freest and most fertile imaginations of science fiction would have conceived. But there are still barriers that not all the scientific knowledge developed in this period was able to overcome. Still. That’s because an article published last week by the specialized journal Nature raises a debate that will not fail to attract attention. Researchers at the University of Utah (USA) have identified the conditions to “revive” (in the expression used by the authors themselves) the activity between nerve cells present in eyes taken from donors a few minutes after death. This story comes to us from: Play Crazy Game.
Shelley Allen is a 50-year old Charlotte woman who suddenly began losing her sight due to a rare condition. She's been legally blind since June. This story comes to us from: Raleigh News & Observer.
The CMS program allows government personnel to focus on mission-critical functions and creates career opportunities for people who are blind. This story comes to us from: SHRM.
The Luxembourg Foundation for Blind People currently employees 32 people suffering from blindness or visual impairment. This story comes to us from: RTL Today.
August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Month, and Beyond Blindness – a local nonprofit dedicated to serving children with visual impairments and other disabilities and their families – has received a $15,000 grant from the Ueberroth Family Foundation, based in Newport Beach. This story comes to us from: Newport Beach Independent Newspaper.
A BLIND veteran from Caerphilly has urged eligible veterans to contact Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-service men and women, and to grab their help with both hands. Seventy-year-old Noeline Charlesworth is starring in the charity’s campaign to recruit more beneficiaries. She served for two years with the Women’s Royal Army Corps and was a laboratory technician in the Medical Corps. This story came to us from: South Wales Argus.
Jo Haas, pictured at the Kentucky Science Center in 2015, is the new head of museum advancement at American Printing House for the Blind. This story comes to us from: The Business Journals.
Blind, self-proclaimed math nerd from Jefferson County officially moved into her Harvard dorm this weekend. This story comes to us from: YouTube.
We have created websites on a range of topics where we share practical ideas for use in the classroom or at home. If you are an educator or family member interested in the education of students who are blind, visually impaired, deafblind or have multiple disabilities, we invite you to sign up and receive notifications when new posts are published. Additionally, we encourage you to share your own activities and ideas with our community. This story came to us from: Perkins School For The Blind.
Diederich was born legally blind, which among other restrictions, means she can’t drive a vehicle, and that in itself stacks the cards against a student intent on going to classes at Waubonsee, where its main campus is in Sugar Grove. Speaking of which, it was a tragedy at the college on Route 47 that, perhaps even more than her disability, first threw Diederich off course. In April of 2010, her “very good friend” Brandon Utley, 19, along with Ryan Sherrod, 18, was killed when the car Sherrod was driving collided with a garbage truck at the north entrance of the college. This story comes to us from: Chicago Tribune.
When tax associate Kaleem Khan, who is registered blind, received feedback from a senior partner to improve his visual checking of documents, he had one thought. “Are you kidding me?" Travers Smith lawyer Khan lives with a genetic eye disorder called Cone-Rod Dystrophy, as a result of which his vision started to deteriorate when he was four years old. Speaking to Law.com International, he recalled being made to feel like a “burden” by his colleagues when he started out as a trainee at another global law firm several years ago. This story comes to us from: Law.com.
“On my first day, I couldn’t see what I was being asked to do”: A writer on going blind in corporate Toronto
What’s the thing about yourself that makes you feel the most insecure? Your pinky finger is longer than your pointer, you have bony knees, your ears stick out—whatever. I want you to think about that thing and hold it in your mind for a second. Now imagine that, in order to do your job, you have to remind everyone of that insecurity multiple times a day: every time a co-worker shares their screen, every group project, every email. You have to mention the insecurity over and over. How long do you think you’d last at that job? This story comes to us from: Toronto Life.
The man was not born blind as he only lost his eyesight in 2006 but despite that, he still completed his education. This story comes to us from: Legit.ng.
Thomas Pocklington Trust (TPT) has launched a unique partnership with a major recruitment consultancy, Michael Page, to help match live vacancies with blind and partially sighted jobseekers. This story came to us from: charity today.
Electric vehicles that emit little noise are a danger to blind people, a campaigner has warned. This story comes to us from: Newstalk.
‘I’m not in a wheelchair. I’m blind.’ Locals worried after blind awareness sign removed from neighborhood
After City officials removed a sign that read “Blind Person in Area” due to violation of codes, community members went to City Commissioners with disdain on Tuesday. Neighborhood resident Birdie Coleman challenged commissioners to go outside and cross the street with their eyes closed and ask themselves if it was safe. “When you leave here tonight and when you go out front and you have to cross, close your eyes and listen. Listen to the traffic zooming by and keep your eyes closed and ask yourself, ‘Is this safe? This story comes to us from: The Owensboro Times.
A blind woman was sexually assaulted while waiting for a train, police said.
British Transport Police have released an image of a man they believe may have information after the assault at Rugby train station in Warwickshire.
The force said the woman was stood on the platform with her white cane at about 17:00 BST on 26 July when a man approached her and touched her inappropriately. This story comes to us from: BBC.
Paul Nicol, 45, assaulted the pair at his former home in Glasgow's Cardonald between January 2019 and February 2020. Court papers state the first girl was seven-years-old when she was repeatedly struck on the body. The second girl was nine-years-old when she was struck on the body. Matters came to light after the girls reported Nicol, now of Falkirk, Stirlingshire, to their head teacher. This story comes to us from: Yahoo News UK.
A woman has spoken of her "humiliation" and "upset" after claiming she was asked to move from a pub lounge because she was with her guide dog. This story comes to us from: Express & Star.
A blind man was left humiliated and angry after he was told to leave a restaurant with his guide dog. Keith Valentine, 55, booked a table with his wife Carolyn and two friends, and stated on his reservation that black labradoodle Dottie would be with him – but they were still stopped at the door. The CEO of Fight for Sight has dined at Amber Palace, in Broadstairs, Kent, before without problems, only this time they were forced to head home hungry after staff said no dogs were allowed. This story comes to us from: The Mirror.
As he walked across the stage to collect his degree, Riley Yeomans wasn’t alone. By his side trotted loyal guide dog Yashka, who, Riley says, he owes everything to. “Yashka is the reason I’ve come this far, everything I’ve achieved is thanks to her,” says Riley. “She came into my life at the end of my first year of university and since then has graduated twice with me, and is currently supporting me while I study for my PhD. This story comes to us from: Daily Record.
Congress ordered agencies to use tech that works for people with disabilities 24 years ago. Many still haven't
The "enforcement" of Section 508 was given to the US General Services Agency (GSA) which, having worked with many different government agencies, seems to me to be the least competent so their lack of enforcement of 508 is no surprise.
The Senate Aging Committee is conducting oversight to get agencies to comply with the rules.
Proofreader Georgie Sydnor runs her fingers over braille.
Congress made a portion of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act known as Section 508, which asks federal agencies to make technology accessible, mandatory in 1998. But nearly a quarter century later, they are still failing to do so. This story comes to us from: Politico.
Modeled after the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the ADA is described as an “equal opportunity law for people with disabilities.” One quarter of all Americans report the ADA has improved their life. The ADA makes a remarkable impact, but people with disabilities still face barriers to housing, employment and health care. This story comes to us from: Inside Indiana Business.
A Michigan Supreme Court justice visited Escanaba Monday. Richard Bernstein has been traveling the U.P. and talking with attorneys and judges to see what concerns or ideas they have. He is the first blind justice ever elected to the Michigan Supreme Court. This story came to us from: WLUC.
The City of Winston-Salem has a new policy in place on how officers handle people with service animals. “It’s a good day if you’re a service animal user," said Disability Rights North Carolina (DRNC) staff attorney Chris Hodgson. Nearly two years ago, Wilmer Oliva alleges that Winston-Salem police officers forced him to leave Jimmy Jazz in Hanes Mall because he was accompanied by his guide dog. This story comes to us from: WCTI.
Most people have some understanding of what the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is and why it’s so incredibly crucial for the advancement as well as equity of disabled individuals across the country. Passed in 1990, the federal law restricts discrimination of any kind on the basis of one’s disability, be it cognitive or physical, also requiring employers to make all necessary accommodations for employees’ disabilities. As one decade morphed into the next, the breadth of the internet and access to personal computers only grew more widely accessible for general consumers and companies alike, leaving lawmakers questioning the overall scope of the ADA and how it can be revised to aid disabled individuals in a tech-driven world. This story comes to us from: Best Lawyers.
Goldman Sachs and L’Oreal have each been hit with class action lawsuits alleging their websites are not accessible to visually impaired people using a screen reader. The plaintiffs say the inaccessibility is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Plaintiff Marina Iskhakova filed her class action lawsuit against L’Oreal USA, Inc. Aug. 15 in a New York federal court. Plaintiff Alexandra Hobbs filed her class action against Goldman Sachs & Co LLC and The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Aug. 15 in a different New York federal court. This story comes to us from: Top Class Actions.
Gap and Lane Bryant have failed to make their websites fully accessible and independently usable for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, a pair of new class action lawsuits separately allege. Plaintiff Bryan Velazquez, who is legally blind, claims in separate complaints against Gap and Lane Bryant that their websites are not compatible with screen-reading software used by himself and other visually impaired individuals to access the internet. Velazquez argues that Gap and Lane Bryant are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by allegedly not having websites which are “equally accessible to blind and visually impaired consumers. This story comes to us from: Top Class Actions.
The Global “Screen Reader Market” Report provides a detailed analysis in 116 Pages of global market size, regional and country-level market size, segmentation market growth, market share, competitive Landscape, sales analysis, impact of domestic and global market players, key trends, market drivers, challenges, standardization, recent developments, opportunities analysis, strategic market growth analysis, product launches, area marketplace expanding, and technological innovations. This story comes to us from: the sports forward.
Proceeds from the event go to Orbis Canada, which is dedicated to ending avoidable blindness around the world. This story comes to us from: CTV News Calgary.
The Accessible Pharmacy Blind Health Expo will be the largest virtual expo of healthcare information, products, services, and medication for individuals who are blind, DeafBlind, or have low vision. Join thousands of other attendees and register now for free! This story came to us from Accessible Pharmacy.
Molly Burke, a social media influencer, shares life as a blind woman. Loves fashion, makeup and tattoos. Dispels myths about blindness. This story comes to us from: TODAY.
A video from Victoria Memorial School for the Blind in Mumbai has been winning hearts. In the footage, visually impaired students of the school can be seen successfully breaking a hanging clay pot as part of this year's Dahi Handi celebrations. The clip was shared on Twitter by Harsh Goenka, Chairman of RPG Enterprises. Dahi Handi is celebrated to mark incidents from Lord Krishna's childhood when he, along with his friends, made a human pyramid to reach an earthen pot filled with butter. Lord Krishna successfully breaks it and distributes the butter among themselves. This story comes to us from: Firstpost.
How can we lead a team? And we lead ourselves if we do not have the sense of sight? This story comes to us from: Zyri.
Using one hand to grip the top of his white cane and the other to hold the arm of a conductor, Ian Perrault exited the train that had just arrived in Portland from Boston and walked slowly toward the city’s bus and train station. Inside, he wanted to absorb everything around him. He asked: What was to his right? His left? “Is there a self-serve ticket kiosk? An information desk?" Perrault is blind. He has been since birth. He is skilled at navigating the world around him, which is largely unsurprising. At 38 years old, he has almost four decades of practice and the help of technology that has increased accessibility for people who are blind and visually impaired. This story comes to us from: The Portland Press Herald.
Ebony Uamaki was bullied as a child for her blindness – but would have thought she left that behind her when she entered adulthood. But that was nothing compared to what doctors first said to her when she fell pregnant. Rather than congratulating her, her doctor actually questioned her ability to be a parent. This story comes to us from: Vigour Times.
Along with blindness comes fear. And it’s not just fear of actually being blind. It’s fear of tripping over something, stumbling into danger and tackling an unfamiliar environment. While guide dogs, white canes and supportive friends, family and even strangers are helpful, taking the big step into a completely new environment is daunting. As a blind person, I know my way around my home and office without any assistance and am completely comfortable. But anxiety ramps up in a new environment. This story comes to us from: Sun Sentinel.
[85% of people who are legally blind can see some light, here's what sight is like for them][
This story is primarily shown as a video.
People who lose their sight over time might be defined as legally blind though they can often still see some light. This story comes to us from: The Irish Times.
Born blind and with cerebral palsy, 22-year-old Dylan Sebastian will never see the beautiful cherry red Ford Mustang GT convertible he was given. This story comes to us from: WVTM.
Ms. Shortt has retinitis pigmentosa, a disease that causes progressive loss of sight. She can see some things some of the time, depending on various factors, including the amount of ambient light, her distance from the object and the object’s location in her field of vision.
In this short film, Mr. Robinson simulates what it’s like to be Ms. Shortt, navigating her world with progressively declining eyesight. This story came to us from: The New York Times.
There was a time when braille books weren’t available in the Greenville County Library. Tameka Diaz helped change that. Diaz, a mother of three, including a daughter who is blind, is now working to see braille in restaurants, on playgrounds and on signs. This story comes to us from: Greenville Online.
Being blind has not stopped Getty, as she likes to be called, forging ahead in life. (She was born in 1957.) She has dedicated her adulthood to advocating for women with disabilities. She was recently elected to a third term on the committee that monitors the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD), which was adopted in 2006 and aims to change attitudes and approaches to people with disabilities and establish their rights. This story comes to us from: PassBlue.
Art and Artists
Michael Gregory of Beaumont occupies a space toward the top of the list of amazing people I have met who lived with a physical disability and serious hardships, and whose story is both regular and remarkable—he just went about life like most other people, while leaving his unique, creative stamp on the world. Michael was blind, but he rode a bicycle around Beaumont, using his ability to sense the difference between light and dark. One day, the owner of an art gallery found Michael, homeless at the time, sleeping in the dumpster behind his shop. The gallery owner invited Michael inside, gave him a lump of clay, and told him to do with it what he wanted. This story came to us from: Texas Monthly.
[Blind scientists adapted a centuries-old art to make data that can be touched and seen][
Before photography, there was the lithophane. It’s a thin slice of porcelain or plastic, adorned with a shallow engraving. Hold it up to a light, and the translucent relief turns into a shadowy image. Europeans first began making lithophanes around 1800, though East Asians had been doing similar tricks with ceramics centuries earlier. For a time, artisans and primitive factories pumped out lithophane nightlights, lampshades, and drinking vessels. Even lithophane portraits were once fashionable. Lithophanes haven’t entirely vanished from the modern world. Today, you might find them as fun decorations or 3D printing tutorials. Now, the fact that lithophanes can play dual roles as picture and engraving has given them a new purpose: making science more tangible for those with vision difficulties. This story comes to us from: Popular Science.
Sports and Athletes
Kolby Garrison is an avid NASCAR fan. The only thing that separates her from most other fans is that she's blind. Kolby has been blind since birth. This story came to us from: Yahoo! Sports.
For the better part of the last four decades, this meditative mantra, uttered no louder than a whisper, has allowed Monmouth County native Michael Benson to shutter his limited vision, activate his senses and preserve vivid memories of sites only partially seen. Benson was born in 1961 with glaucoma, an incurable, degenerative eye disease that attacks the optic nerve and worsens a person’s ability to see, sometimes to the point of total blindness. “As a young man, I was in a dark place, because when there’s no cure, you’re lost,” Benson said. “I was hitchhiking around, turning to alcohol to cope, and thinking ‘If I go blind, my life is over.’ Because if you can’t see, how would I make a living? Who could love me? I couldn’t have been more wrong. This story comes to us from: Two River Times.
When equestrian Wren Zimmerman gets into a new ring, she creates a mental map of the course that other show jumpers don’t need to have. She walks the perimeter of every new arena, making note of every quarter line and half line. Next, her aide holds her hand at every jump so she can get a sense of where she is in relation to the center of it. Then she’ll walk the course again. Why does she have to learn a course in such an unconventional way? She’s legally blind. This story comes to us from: Lexington Herald Leader.
Fay Al-Juaid of the Saudi Arabian women’s judo team has won gold at the first Arab Open Championship for the Blind at the Cairo International Stadium in Egypt. Al-Juaid finished first in the 48kg category after beating Egyptian opponent Zahwa Mahmoud in the final on Sunday. This story comes to us from: Arab News.
He has been the subject of a documentary film and he was the first blind person to kayak solo on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. Team River Runner works with disabled veterans to offer opportunities just like this. This story came to us from: WRBL.
One of the more bizarre and truly unfortunate stories in NFL history is that of former Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Orlando Brown, also known as Zeus. What started out as a typical NFL Sunday for the star blocker ended in horror after he was inadvertently struck by a weighted penalty flag. It was thrown at the spot of an infraction but managed to land between Brown’s face mask, It ultimately ruined his promising career. This story comes to us from: FanBuzz.
A blind woman has left TikTok users in fits of laughter after she recorded her screen reader describing a man's nude photo as a "mushroom". Claire Sisk, who posts under the username @canseecantsee, explained that she relies on a screen reader to tell her what's on her phone – whether that be words or pictures. So, when a man sends her a picture of his appendage, her phone will verbally tell her what it sees in the image – and sometimes it comes up with the wildest descriptions. This story came to us from: Daily Star.
There’s no stopping these sickos. A woman has claimed that she’s bombarded with pictures of penises, sent by suitors to her cell phone — despite the fact she’s legally blind. This story comes to us from: New York Post.
Tjarda is almost blind and popular on TikTok: "I'm getting the weirdest video requests from followers
“Hey, I’m a Tjarda and I’m almost blind.” Tjarda Struik (36) begins almost all of her TikTok videos with this sentence. On the catwalk, a mother of two shows how she lives her life with an eye condition that only makes her see 5 percent. It turns out there is a gap in the TikTok market: her videos are a hit among her 60,000 followers. “People even want to know how I wear my shoes. This story comes to us from: SHSU Houstonian Online.
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.
This web site has ben evolving from being my personal blog into much more of a community effort. Our team and I have decided that it should be two separate web sites. The new one will be called World Blind Herald and will carry this digest and articles by a wide variety of writers. WBH intends to cover as wide a spectrum of the blindness experience from around the world as possible and we plan on it launching officially on January 4, Louis Braille's birthday and, coincidentally, the anniversary of my posting edition #1 of this digest. I will continue using this older site as the home for my creative writing, my occasional piece of fiction and wot not.
Over the past few months, I've recruited other writers to join as regular contributors and WBH 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.
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.
Please Contribute A Story
If you're blind or have something to say about blindness, please pitch us a story you would like to write. When the WBH site goes live, it will also appear there. We're looking for all kinds of writers with as many different interests as we can possibly find. We've run quite a few already this year and they will all move over to the new site when it goes live.