edited by Sharon Strzalkowski
The announcement of products and services in this column does not represent an endorsement by the American Council of the Blind, its officers, or staff. Listings are free of charge for the benefit of our readers. “The ACB E-Forum” cannot be held responsible for the reliability of the products and services mentioned. To submit items for this column, send a message to [email protected], or phone the national office at 1-800-424-8666, and leave a message in Sharon Lovering’s mailbox. Information must be received at least two months ahead of publication date.
Partnership for Vision
BostonSight® and the LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) recently announced a global partnership to manufacture and distribute BostonSight scleral contact lenses.
LVPEI will manufacture and distribute BostonSight scleral lenses to ophthalmologists and optometrists to prescribe to their patients in India, southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa. This is the first time that BostonSight® PROSE (prosthetic replacement of the ocular surface ecosystem), and SCLERAL lenses will be made outside of the United States. Both organizations serve and subsidize under-privileged populations who benefit from access to this unique treatment solution.
New Glucometer Requires No Blood, But …
Abbott Diabetes Care recently launched a new continuous monitor/blood glucose meter called the FreeStyle Libre. Its claim to fame is that it requires no blood for testing. It is also completely inaccessible to blind users.
Former ACB president Chris Gray has created a couple of podcasts to heighten awareness of and provide information about this meter, called “Let’s Talk Libre.” To hear the first podcast, go to https://www.spreaker.com/user/chrisgray/libre-podcast1. For the second podcast, go to https://www.spreaker.com/user/chrisgray/libre-podcast2.
Touch of Genius Prize Winner
This year’s Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation went to Innovision, a company from India that created the BrailleMe refreshable braille display, which will offer an affordable option for getting braille into the hands of as many blind people as possible. The BrailleMe uses a magnetic actuation with only one moving part to raise and lower braille dots.
Honorable mentions include: LightHouse for the Blind San Francisco for their improved developments with TMAP, software that produces tactile maps, and American Printing House for the Blind for the BrailleBlaster, a free braille translation software to help get more braille textbooks to children across the country.
Louisville Airport Gets Wayfinding System
APH recently introduced wayfinding mobile technology that uses Bluetooth and beacon technology to help blind and visually impaired travelers navigate the Louisville airport. The system, which was created with funding support from the James Graham Brown Foundation, uses more than 140 beacons placed every 30 or so yards to give users turn-by-turn directions and describe to them what is nearby.
People can use the new technology by downloading the Nearby Explorer mobile application. Users can either get directions to a specific location or use the compass feature to identify places in a given direction. The application uses the beacon’s latitude, longitude, floor number and signal strength to figure out where the user is.
Montana Adds More Recording Capacity
The Montana Talking Books Library (MTBL) recently added a second soundproof booth to increase its recording capacity. Titles being recorded include those by Montana authors and books about Montana. To fund the new booth and other improvements, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs of Montana raised money through a statewide two-year campaign. The remaining funds came from MTBL patrons, their family members and memorial donations.
Perkins Collaborates with Aira
Staff, students and visitors to Perkins School for the Blind will now have access to a new level of accessibility thanks to an exciting collaboration between the school and tech company Aira. Anyone with an Aira subscription will be able to use the service at no additional cost while on Perkins’ 38-acre campus.
Bressler Prize Recipient Is …
The recipient of the 2018 Bressler Prize is Dr. Botond Roska, Director of the Institute of Molecular and Clinical Ophthalmology Basel, Switzerland. Dr. Roska’s research interests are focused on understanding the structure and function of visual circuits. His work seeks to restore photosensitivity to retinas in retinal degeneration using cell type specific targeting of optogenetic tools. The overall objective is to find ways to repair visual dysfunction for patients with retinitis pigmentosa and other retinal diseases.
Ducking into UEB
“Ducking into UEB” is a braille curriculum that teaches Unified English Braille. It contains assessments, exercises, activities, rules, and more! The student textbook is free with purchase of the teacher’s edition. Additional free materials are also available with the purchase of the teacher’s edition. To learn more, visit https://www.amazon.com/Ducking-Into-UEB-Anita-Adkins/dp/1983579203.
In collaboration with the American Council of the Blind, Apple has developed a new emoji proposal to include disability-themed emoji in the global standard. This proposal was submitted to Unicode and has been moved to the public stage. Unicode is the non-profit organization responsible for establishing uniform standards so characters can be used universally around the world, regardless of device or platform.
ACB and Apple feel it is important to make emojis more inclusive by adding a selection of characters to express basic categories of disabilities. This will give users a simple and accessible means of expression across multiple assistive needs.
For more information, visit https://www.unicode.org/L2/L2018/18080-accessibility-emoji.pdf.
Braille Greeting Cards
Shadows in the Dark has a wide variety of cards, from anniversary, birthday, new baby, graduation and wedding to Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. You can have your own personalized message put in the cards, too! The company also has braille invitations, announcements, business cards and playing cards, as well as a wide variety of gift items, from candles and bath sets to inspirational items. For more information, contact Shadows in the Dark at 22627 Mathis Rd., San Antonio, TX 78264-9581; phone (210) 376-0017; email [email protected]; or visit the website, www.shadowsinthedark.com. The company is also on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
New Album by ACB Member
Rich DeSteno has released his first album, entitled “Cracking the Shell.” It features a blend of electric and acoustic rock. It is available at the link below as an MP3 download for $9.99, or as individual song downloads. To hear clips of the songs, visit https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/richdesteno and choose “preview all songs.”