A Quick Look into Innovations for the Visually Impaired
With the world being on lockdown for two years due to COVID, travel restrictions were imposed in most countries, if not all. Once these constraints were lifted due to the pandemic finally easing up, most people had traveling as their first item on their to-do list. However, since the majority of people all had the same intentions, traveling post-pandemic whether as individuals or as families often doesn’t go as smoothly as they were pre-pandemic. For some who had to deal with constantly changing flights, cancelled flights at the last minute, crowded airports, and lost baggage, the experience turned into a nightmare.
However, nothing can compare of the experience of a visually impaired couple traveling with their baby who came from a holiday in Greece. On their way back home, they were refused boarding by an airline unless they come with an escort. However, doing so meant that they had to pay for another seat, so they declined. It wasn’t until a fellow passenger offered to be their escort that they were allowed to board.
Such is only one of many stories of discrimination faced by the visually impaired population. Thankfully, with the evolving social climate, things are gradually starting to change, and there are more efforts to ignite changes that can further improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. With the World Braille Day on January 4th in honour of the birthday of Braille’s inventor, Louis Braille, there is more awareness for the need of these efforts. Let’s take a quick look below.
First, a bit of history…
As a kid growing up in France, Louis Braille lost his eyesight when he accidentally stabbed himself in the eye with his father’s awl. By the time he reached 10 years old, he spent time at the Royal Institute for Blind Youth, where he worked on a system of raised dots that eventually became known as braille.
Braille is a code based on cells with six dots representing letters and numbers. This made it possible for the blind to feel the whole cell unit by touching them with their fingertip and moving from one cell to the next. Unfortunately, Braille didn’t live to see how his invention changed the world as he passed away in 1852, only two years before the Royal Institute began teaching braille.
MINIVISION2 CELL PHONE
This cellphone was especially made for the visually impaired. Its most recent edition comes with a new physical keyboard with large-spaced keys with textured relief markings and a good grip, plus voice commands to enable users to make phone calls or send text messages. It also features a built-in premium speech synthesis, camera and photo gallery, MMS, light detector, “Where am I?” geolocation function, and a physical SOS button on the back—all of which make it a truly useful device.
There’s no shortage of apps that cater to the visually impaired to help them in their daily lives. However, there’s only a few that works for both Android and iOS devices, and one of them is TapTapSee. All you need is to point the cellphone camera and it will take a photo at any angle. Afterwards, you will hear the description of the object read back to you.
While cellphones and apps can provide the visually impaired with the right directions if they need to go somewhere, it’s best to have an actual physical device that aids them in their mobility. This is where Hearsee Mobility comes in, a relatively new invention that started in 2018. This is a smart cane that’s specifically for those with vision loss at varying degrees. The cane is capable of sending signals to an app so that users can hear audible navigation and wayfinding prompts.