Posted by Calvin Roberts, MD, Lighthouse Guild for AbleNews
Technology has transformed so many aspects of our world and for people with visual impairment technological innovations can be the key to living even more productive and independent lives.
New and emerging technologies and developments in areas such as artificial intelligence, spatial orientation and virtual reality are changing the approach to solutions for vision loss.
The audio world can now be translated to the visual world connecting people with vision loss to the environment around them with devices that use audio technology for this purpose.
Touch and sound together can create spatial awareness through the use of smart canes, enabled with smart technologies for people who are blind.
Technology is being used to remap sight for people with vision loss with devices that combine smart phones and a virtual-reality headset to modulate the visual field and help people see better. Such devices not only remap vision but can lead to renewed social connections for people with visual impairment.
The technology used in instruments that extend human vision into space is being utilized by vision technology developers in devices that help people with vision loss with everyday tasks here on earth. Augmenting senses has allowed scientists across many fields to continue to work without the use of sight. Devices designed to help people with low vision, stimulate the remaining functioning vision to improve the quality of life for users.
Cutting-edge advancements in ocular bionic prosthetics are having an impact. Bionic eyes, are electronic implants that use a camera and a chip to stimulate the retina and send signals to the brain.
Software driven smart glasses, navigation systems, and smart phone apps are other examples of technologies that can expand the world for people who are visually impaired. People may have a hand magnifier that they use for reading, but they may not know about screen readers for their computer or accessibility features for their phone.
Each person’s situation is unique, and it is important that people who have visual impairment ask their own doctors about which technologies are most suitable for them. The good news is there are a lot of innovative devices available to help people with mild, moderate, severe vision loss or blindness. Organizations such as Lighthouse Guild are now the connecting rod between evolving technology and the people that can benefit from it.
There are also podcasts and other resources for people who would like to learn more about technology that is changing the world for people with vision loss. For example, Lighthouse Guild’s podcast, “On Tech & Vision with Dr. Cal Roberts,” explores big ideas about how technology is helping people with vision loss. “Blind Abilities” produces podcasts dealing with accessibility, technologies and devices for people who are blind, visually impaired and deaf/blind, and “That Real Blind Tech Show” is a podcast that discusses the good and bad of assistive technology for people who have low vision and blindness.
The Blind Tech Guys podcast discusses all things related to tech with a focus on Android, iOS and mobile devices.
Dr. Calvin Roberts, is President & CEO of Lighthouse Guild.