In a short video and accompanying article, David Pogue profiles a little known but highly useful iOS feature called VoiceOver, which helps visually impaired people do anything and everything on their iPhones.
A few years ago, backstage at a conference, I spotted a blind woman using her phone. The phone was speaking everything her finger touched on the screen, allowing her to tear through her apps. My jaw hit the floor. After years of practice, she had cranked the voice’s speed so high, I couldn’t understand a word it was saying.
And here’s the kicker: She could do all of this with the screen turned off. Her phone’s battery lasted forever.
It’s possible that people using VoiceOver to control their phones are more efficient at many tasks than those who use the default interface.
This was very cool: “If I’m in my office and put my headphones on, I’m hearing the phone call and I’m hearing what VoiceOver is saying, all through the headphones. But the person on the other end cannot hear any of the VoiceOver stuff. You don’t know what I’m reading, what I’m doing. I can do all these complicated things without you hearing it. That’s what’s really incredible. If you and I were working together on a three-way call, and you were to text me, ‘Let’s wrap this up’ or ‘Don’t bring that up on this call’-I would know, but the other guy wouldn’t hear it.
Joe showed me how he takes photos. As he holds up the iPhone, VoiceOver tells him what he’s seeing: “One face. Centered. Focus lock,” and so on. Later, as he’s reviewing his photos in the Camera Roll, VoiceOver once again tells him what he’s looking at: “One face; slightly blurry.”
See also how blind people use Instagram and iPhone: a revolutionary device for the blind.
When Ashley was a kid, she was legally blind. Her friends and family described colors to her in a wonderful way.
Yellow. I didn’t touch anything for this, they just told me that whenever you laugh so hard you can’t stop, that that happiness is what yellow looks like.
Green. I held soft leaves and wet grass. They told me green felt like life. To this day it is still very much my favorite color.
I love this list. (thx, nicholas)
Tim Doucette is a legally blind astronomer. A pair of surgeries when he was younger to help improve his vision left him with a superpower: because his pupils were permanently dilated, he could see in the dark better than other people. He built an observatory and with the aid of his telescope, he can see details of far-off stars and nebula that no one else can, including UV and infrared light.
Meet Joe Bollard. Joe lost his eyesight at the age of 2. In this video, he talks about his experience of being blind and the great difference having a guide dog has made in his life.
Tommy Edison shows how he uses Instagram on the iPhone.
So we’ll just take a picture of the crew. Why I’m holding the thing up to my face like I can look through the thing is beyond me, but here we go.
His Instagram feed is available here. (via ★precipice)
The Atlas of the United States Printed for the Use of the Blind, published in 1837 before Braille was widely used, used embossed printing of lines, words, and symbols to be finger-readable.
Without a drop of ink in the book, the text and maps in this extraordinary atlas were embossed heavy paper with letters, lines, and symbols. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first atlas produced for the blind to read without the assistance of a sighted person. Braille was invented by 1825, but was not widely used until later. It represented letters well, but could not represent shapes and cartographic features.
Austin Seraphin, who you may remember from his review of the iPhone, recently learned how to use echolocation to navigate his physical environment in a new way.
We started out in the hallway outside of my condo. They turned an old school into lofts, so the hallways and stairwells look and sound like a school. He had me walk down the hallway without touching the walls by using echolocation. Just to make it clear: echolocation does not normally replace the use of a cane, but for this exercise I did not use a cane. I could hear the hard surfaces, and gradually the walls came into focus. I could actually do it. The walls provided the shoreline, and I could actually see them on either side and keep in the center.
I began to understand that this required a whole new way of thinking. Justin gave constant instruction to help me learn. “Scan left. Scan right. Now scan straight ahead. You have to start thinking like a sighted person.” In deed, the muscles in the back of my neck would start to hurt because I did not need to move my head as much before. Now the direction of my gaze actually meant something.
We then journeyed to the stairwell. Now I would really begin to understand what thinking like a sighted person really meant. I scanned left, and saw a set of stairs going up like I had in my loft. I scanned right, and saw a set of stairs going down, which made sense. I scanned up, and saw something extend above and going back. What the hell? It took a minute to realize with Justin’s help that I saw the set of steps above me on another stairway. I had never experienced that kind of vivid three dimensional emersion before. My brain flipped.
See also Daniel Kish and Ben Underwood. (via waxy)
Clinical trials are about to begin where embryonic stem cells will be injected into the eyes of people with Stargardt’s macular degeneration.
Robert Lanza, the company’s chief scientific officer, said that the first patient could receive the stem cell transplants early in the new year and although the trial is designed primarily to assess safety, the first signs of visual improvement may be apparent within weeks. “Talking to the clinicians, we could see something in six weeks, that’s when we think we may see some improvements. It really depends on individual patients but that’s a reasonable time frame when something may start to happen,” Dr Lanza said.
A blind man buys an iPhone and it changes his life.
The other night, however, a very amazing thing happened. I downloaded an app called Color ID. It uses the iPhone’s camera, and speaks names of colors. It must use a table, because each color has an identifier made up of 6 hexadecimal digits. This puts the total at 16777216 colors, and I believe it. Some of them have very surreal names, such as Atomic Orange, Cosmic, Hippie Green, Opium, and Black-White. These names in combination with what feels like a rise in serotonin levels makes for a very psychedelic experience.
I have never experienced this before in my life. I can see some light and color, but just in blurs, and objects don’t really have a color, just light sources. When I first tried it at three o’clock in the morning, I couldn’t figure out why it just reported black. After realizing that the screen curtain also disables the camera, I turned it off, but it still have very dark colors. Then I remembered that you actually need light to see, and it probably couldn’t see much at night. I thought about light sources, and my interview I did for Get Lamp. First, I saw one of my beautiful salt lamps in its various shades of orange, another with its pink and rose colors, and the third kind in glowing pink and red.. I felt stunned.