Blindness Briefs – Edition 53

What's Inside

  • Celebrating World Braille Day
  • Accessibility is what makes a phone "smart"
  • Do games like Pokemon Go discriminate against blind?
  • Blind BBC reporter catches thief who stole his phone
  • Goop and others face web accessibility lawsuits
  • Open announced for blind golfers
  • And, about 40 more articles about blindness and blind people from all over the world

Editorial By Chris Hofstader

First, I'd like to wish Louis Braille a happy birthday. His writing system for blind readers is possibly the most important invention in the history of blindness and definitely the most important invention related to literacy and education of blind people ever. And, let's not forget our deaf-blind friends who, without braille, are isolated entirely and, matched with modern technology, have far more interaction with the outside world than ever before.

You may have also noticed that we changed the name of the news digest to "Blindness Briefs." I think this is the fourth name we've had for the news digest and that this will be the one going forward. The edition numbers continue to be consecutive as that's helpful behind the scenes.

In this edition, my favorite article is the one about the BBC reporter who had his phone stolen by a thief on a bicycle and was able to knock him down and get his phone back. The police in London told him he shouldn't have taken on a criminal but I'm glad he did. Sometimes, you need to take action and this BBC reporter did what he had to do and is my hero of the week. We only included a single story on this event but it appeared in dozens or more publications around the world.

I hope you enjoy this week's Blindness Briefs.

How It's Organized

Blindness Briefs 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.


World Braille Day celebrates the language that your read with your hands

Editor: Being pedantic, braille is not a language, it is a writing system. In English, every braille symbol translates to either a letter or abbreviation that forms words identical in spelling, grammar, syntax, etc. to printed or spoken English, thus braille, like any other alphabet is a writing system used by blind people to read in the language of their choice.

One Braille user is encouraging all New Zealanders to think about the magic of a language that requires touch this World Braille Day on January 4. This story comes to us from:

Temora in NSW puts Braille stickers on shops to raise awareness of vision impairment

Like most kindergarten children, Paddy Wallace is learning to read. But unlike the other kids in his class, he's blind and uses Braille. Braille was invented almost 200 years ago but is still a vital tool for people who are blind or vision impaired
A community-driven event has put Braille stickers on more than 100 businesses in Temora
It is believed to be the first regional "Braille bombing" and follows an event in Melbourne in May
It has prompted his hometown of Temora in southern NSW to do the same. This story comes to us from: ABC.


Neuralink Unveils Controversial AI Allowing Monkey to Type Using Its Brain

The technology is intended to help people with paralysis and blindness. Musk pushed it further, hinting that he wanted one himself and stating that he would use the prototype to help his own children if they were in a serious accident. The device is currently awaiting FDA approval before testing in human brains. This story comes to us from: TwistedSifter.

How Doctors Are Using AI to Help Prevent Blindness

After years of considering the future of artificial intelligence (AI), researchers have made inroads in using technology to find practical solutions to problems in a variety of fields. This includes healthcare, which, arguably, has the most near-term potential to impact the quality of life for many individuals. Ohio-based Kettering Health has recently announced new efforts to use AI as a way to actually prevent blindness caused by diabetic retinopathy — the leading cause of preventable blindness in working-age people. This story comes to us from: Thomasnet.

New Video Series Improving Access for the Blind and Visually Impaired

In collaboration with DETR’s Rehabilitation Division, BlindConnect has released a video series, talking about etiquette and support when interacting with a person who is blind or has low vision. The series explains life skills such as walking with a cane, using a dog guide, signing documents and being independent in public. The goal is to provide the individuals themselves, their friends, family members, service providers, and medical persons real-life, hands-on ways that individuals who are visually impaired can be independent and their support system can provide appropriate help and support. This story comes to us from: KTVN.

Becoming disabled-friendly is what makes phones truly smart. Manufacturers are listening

accessibility isn’t fashionable, but it is a critical aspect of modern-day gadgets enabling millions of people to stay connected and get things done despite some kind of physical impediment. It is also broad-ranging and expansive. But modern smartphone manufacturers have done a great job with these features. Both on Apple’s side of the fence and Android, accessibility has been a keen area of focus. Apple goes as far as to say that accessibility is a human right. And for both Android and iOS, it is something that is baked into their platforms from the moment they get on the drawing board to finalise the design. A laser focus on these features also makes life easier for the elderly. This story comes to us from: ThePrint.

How a Blind God of War Ragnarök Player Improved the Game's Accessibility

Following the success of its 2018 soft reboot, God of War Ragnarök has been called a critical success for its gameplay, writing and huge set pieces. However, it also made history with its accessibility, which received invaluable input from a gamer without sight. As reported by Sky News, Ben Breen, a.k.a SightlessKombat, an accessibility advocate for the video game hobby, helped improve the game. That's because he showed developer Santa Monica Studio how he plays video games and advised the team on how they could make the game more accessible. His collaboration led to a huge addition of settings including the option to automate certain tasks, adjust visibility through alternative camera angles and contrasting colors, and remap the controller to fit an individual's needs. As for the end result, Breen stated, "All of these combined mean that, aside from puzzles and some menu navigation that require sighted assistance, or other workarounds, I can play large stretches of the game without any need for secondary input." He added, "It's a brilliantly freeing experience." This story comes to us from: CBR.

Blindness Organizations

Lighthouse Central Florida helps children living with blindness

We are the only nonprofit organization that serves the visually impaired and blind in Osceola, Orange and Seminole counties. This story comes to us from: WESH.

Oklahoma achievers: Francis Tuttle students win; School for the Blind contest winners

Three OKC residents earned top medals at OK School for the Blind’s (OSB) Cane Quest competition, a national program of the Braille Institute of America, based in Los Angeles, California. This story comes to us from: The Oklahoman.

Prevent Blindness Invites Patients and Caregivers to Join The Glaucoma Community as Part of January's National Glaucoma Awareness Month

Prevent Blindness, the nation's leading voluntary eye health nonprofit organization, is offering a wide variety of free resources to help glaucoma patients and their caregivers find the support they need to address the many aspects of the eye disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 3 million Americans have glaucoma. And, it is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes loss of sight by damaging the optic nerve. Those with glaucoma begin to lose patches of vision, usually peripheral vision. Prevent Blindness offers "The Glaucoma Community," supported by Responsum Health, providing users with a free toolkit of helpful, community-oriented features. This story comes to us from: Yahoo Finance.


Vision beyond sight: Meet Suraiya, the first Bangladeshi blind woman to get a PhD from the US

Suraiya became the first blind woman to get a PhD from the University of Illinois, Chicago after graduating from Jahangirnagar University. This story comes to us from: The Business Standard.

Holy site where Jesus healed blind man will be opened to the public in Jerusalem

A historic biblical site believed to be where Jesus healed a blind man and Jewish pilgrims took ritual baths for purity will be fully excavated. This story comes to us from: Christian Post.


Blind worker told by hotel that applying for promotion is 'waste of his time,' feds say

A blind Ohio employee interested in promotion at Red Roof Inn was told not to “waste time” applying, feds said in discrimination lawsuit. This story comes to us from: The Kansas City Star.


Blind woman calls for U-turn on cruel plan to remove train station guards and close ticket offices

A blind woman has urged the Transport Secretary to drop a “cruel” plan to remove all guards from train stations, calling the move discriminatory. This story comes to us from: Leicester Mercury.

Discrimination and Inaccessibility

Does Pokémon GO discriminate against the blind and visually impaired?

A North Bergen man is suing the company behind Pokémon GO on the grounds that the mobile game and the company website discriminate against blind and visually impaired people. This story comes to us from: Hudson Reporter.

Blind man and guide dog refused taxis over 30 times

A blind man who uses taxis and private hire vehicles to get to work says he and his guide dog have been refused trips by some drivers over 30 times.
Stephen Anderson, 32, who works as an organist at a London church, has been filming the incidents involving him and his dog Barney and sending them to Transport for London (TfL).
His actions have so far seen a dozen successful prosecutions.
TfL says it acts against minicab drivers who refuse to take guide dogs.
Under section 170 of the Equality Act, it is a criminal offence for private hire drivers to refuse access to a guide dog and its owner. This story comes to us from: BBC.

Blind lady 'shut out' from Asda rewards scheme

A LOCAL woman and loyal Asda customer has found herself unable to take advantage of the supermarket’s new rewards scheme because of her disability. Sylvia Godsalve of Kingskerswell has been a regular shopper at the Newton Abbot store since its opening. When she found out that Asda was releasing a new rewards scheme in the summer, Mrs Godsalve was eager to sign up. The loyalty programme, ‘Asda Rewards’, is available at all 633 stores across the UK and online. Customers can earn pounds, rather than points, by building up a Cashpot to spend, simply by doing their usual grocery shop. However, as the new system does not give the option of a physical card, it is only available to those with smartphones and access to technology. Mrs Godsalve is visually impaired, and also has no access to or knowledge of tech. This story comes to us from: Mid Devon Advertiser.


Navigating Edinburgh's Leith Walk 'like playing Russian roulette' for the blind

Responding to claims Leith Walk is a "no go area" for the blind, the council accepted there were "genuine concerns" but said the layout provides "clear segregation for visually impaired pedestrians. This story comes to us from: Edinburgh Live.


Poverty causing eye diseases, blindness in North-East —Medical director laments

The Chief Medical Director (CMD) of Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Azare in Bauchi state, Dr Abubakar Dauda Katagum has lamented the prevalence of blindness in the North East subregion of the country. This story comes to us from: Ripples Nigeria.


Blind BBC News correspondent Sean Dilley defeats mugger who stole his phone

Editor: The Crime section of this digest so often contains real horror stories about terrible events where blind people are victimized, this story is one of a blind person who turned the tables and I found it inspiring.

A blind BBC reporter says he "instinctively" leapt on a mugger who had stolen his mobile phone – and managed to get it back.
Sean Dilley was targeted on Tuesday while on a break during a night shift at London's New Broadcasting House.
A person riding a bike snatched the phone – but Dilley did not give up easily and instead made a split-second decision to try to detain his attacker.
He said afterwards he suspected he was targeted because of his blindness.
A member of the public is allowed to attempt an arrest if they suspect a serious criminal act is taking place and they intend to deliver the suspect to the custody of police as soon as possible.
The news correspondent took his opportunity when he sensed that his attacker was still next to him so jumped in that direction and managed to get them onto the ground. This story comes to us from: BBC.

Blind escort pays P1,000 fine for violating Cebu City's anti-mendicancy ordinance

AN ELDERLY woman, who was among 62 persons apprehended Monday for violating the anti-mendicancy ordinance of the Cebu City Government, paid the fine of P1,000. Dr. Lucelle Mercado, chairman of Cebu City Anti-Mendicancy Board (CCAMB) and former city administrator, said the elderly woman, who was escorting a visually impaired male senior citizen, was caught begging for alms near the traffic lights along the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (Tesda) compound on Salinas Drive. This story comes to us from: SUNSTAR.

Brockton Man Who Shot and Killed Blind Man Paroled

A man convicted of killing a blind man with a shotgun at point-blank range in Brockton in December 1986 will be released on parole — again. This story comes to us from: 1420 WBSM.

Guide Dogs

Blind Elk Grove boy has new best friend in guide dog

The guide dog school is known for providing service dogs for the blind and visually impaired, but it also offers the gift of a best friend. This story comes to us from: CBS News.

Retired guide dog finds new home with president on Christmas

A retired guide dog found an unexpected new home on Christmas Eve, joining the presidential couple and their 10 other pets. President Yoon Suk-yeol and first lady Kim Keon-hee adopted nine-year-old Saeromi from Samsung Guide Dog School, in Yongin, Gyeonggi, on Saturday afternoon, said the presidential office. This story comes to us from: Korea JoongAng Daily.


Bell faces human rights complaint over alleged inaccessibility for blind customers

Bell Communications Inc. is facing a human rights complaint over allegations that it's failing to provide full service to its blind customers. The company's set-top boxes don't include the screen-reading technology that enables blind people to navigate through menus, use applications or discern what channel they're on, Toronto lawyer David Lepofsky alleges in submissions to the Canadian Human Rights Commission. This story comes to us from: Yahoo News Canada.

Bradford Exchange class action claims website not accessible to visually impaired, blind visitors

Bradford Exchange failed to make its website fully accessible to individuals who are blind or visually impaired, a new class action lawsuit alleges. Plaintiff Mykayla Fagnani claims Bradford Exchange failed to design, construct, maintain and operate its website so that it is independently usable by individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Fagnani argues Bradford Exchange ultimately denies full and equal access to its website to individuals who are blind or visually impaired in an alleged violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). “Defendant deprives blind and visually-impaired individuals the benefits of its online goods, content and services—all benefits it affords nondisabled individuals,” the Bradford Exchange class action states. This story comes to us from: Top Class Actions.

Goop class action claims website not accessible to visually impaired, blind visitors

Jovan Campbell filed a class action lawsuit against Goop, claiming the company’s website design is incompatible with software that helps blind people. Campbell, who is blind, claims she wanted to buy Goop brand face cream but could not due to the access barriers she encountered on the website. These barriers violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Goop class action claims. The complaint explains that blind consumers access websites by using keyboards (not a mouse) in conjunction with software that vocalizes content that is on a computer screen. Unless websites are compatible with this software, they exclude blind customers. What this means for website design is that all information on a website must be capable of being rendered into text, according to the Goop website class action. This story comes to us from: Top Class Actions.


Bionic Eye Market to Witness Huge Growth 2022-2027

According to IMARC Group's latest report, titled "Bionic Eye Market: Global Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2022-2027", offers a comprehensive analysis of the industry, which comprises insights on the market statistics. The report also includes competitor and regional analysis, and contemporary advancements in the global market. This story comes to us from:

Inside a deal: How an RTP startup is stepping up the fight against blindness

Opus Genetics, a clinical-stage gene therapy company in Research Triangle Park devoted to treating retinal diseases, has acquired the rights to two pre-clinical product candidates from Iveric Bio, a New Jersey biopharmaceutical company also focused on treating retinal diseases. Opus will develop the novel gene therapy candidates to address bestrophin-1 (BEST1)-related inherited retinal diseases and rhodopsin-mediated autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (RHO-adRP). “The addition of these innovative BEST1 and RHO-adRP programs significantly increases the patient population that could benefit from Opus therapies and complements our existing pipeline of gene therapies for inherited retinal diseases,” said Ben Yerxa, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Opus and a board member of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. This story comes to us from: Opus Genetics.

Meet the Neuralink Cofounder Who Left and Started a Competitor That's Now Rapidly Catching Up

Max Hodak started Neuralink with Elon Musk. But he later left the company and started Science Corp — and now he's rapidly catching up. This story comes to us from: Futurism.


How Visually Impaired People Ease Social Awkwardness

The paper also outlines strategies people with visual impairment use to navigate these situations. “This work validates the lived experiences of people with visual impairment,” says Lynsey Romo, corresponding author of the study and an associate professor of communication at North Carolina State University. “It also provides tangible ways blind and visually impaired individuals, as well as sighted people, can use communication to create more positive social interactions. This story comes to us from: The Good Men Project.

Mom Disowns Daughter after She Adopts Blind Baby Not Knowing Boy Will Become Rich

Her parents disowned Sienna after adopting a blind boy from a shelter. Years later, Sienna's parents would need help from the very boy they rejected. Sienna was very shy as a child, and she struggled to make friends. So, when she met Jenny, it was one of her greatest childhood joys. Jenny and Sienna were from completely different worlds. Jenny was from a poor family, while Sienna was from a wealthy family. They met by complete chance at a park one day and instantly clicked. Jenny was always an outcast, but Sienna made her feel she had a place in the world. This story comes to us from: AmoMama.

Teacher, cricketer & pageant woman hopes to inspire other persons with disabilities

She also found support through the Guyana Council of Organisations for Persons with a Disability and the West Indies Female Blind Cricket team. This story comes to us from: News Room Guyana.

Meet the woman whose 4 children and husband are blind

While a lot of married women are enjoying the very best of their lives with their families, Madam Akua Serwaa is unhappy. She is blessed with four kids, but they are visually impaired. Her husband, who should've been able to help with caring for them, is also blind. For this reason, she is at a loss for work since she takes care of these five visually impaired people. This story comes to us from: GhanaWeb.

Best Santa Ever' Gets Down on Floor So Blind Boy Can 'See' Him through Touch for the First Time

A blind little boy from Watauga, Texas, had a memorable Christmas experience thanks to a kind Santa. This story comes to us from: AmoMama.

Art and Artists

13 Awesome Blind Piano Players (Best Blind Pianists

Being blind comes with a great number of challenges for people trying to go about their everyday life, but it’s also a major obstacle when it comes to learning a skill. Music can be especially challenging, as there aren’t a lot of braille resources out there to allow musicians to read music off of sheets. Despite the challenges and barriers to entry, there have been many virtuoso blind musicians in history, especially on the piano. This story comes to us from: Music Grotto.

How I wrote my first novel while going blind – and kept it a secret

Eye2Eye is a Rutgers University program that provides peer support for the visually impaired. This was the tao of validation I'd been waiting for. This story comes to us from: The Guardian.

Despite blindness, Medina becomes talented drummer for Zapata's band

I love this place,” Charlie said. “I love music and playing it. I can hear it and remember it, and that is what I like about it." Charlie was born blind but that has never deterred his motivation to learn music. He loves playing the drums for the Hawks Mighty Band and every Friday night this past season he was there motivating the football team with the sounds of his drums. This story comes to us from: Laredo Morning Times.

Blind Edmonton woman uses art to bring colour to dark world

An Edmonton grandmother who went blind at the age of 30 as a complication of Type 1 Diabetes shares how her diagnosis pushed her into becoming an artist. Sarah Ryan has Kim Hammond's story. This story comes to us from: News Videos Online.

Sports and Athletes

Open day launched for blind golfers

One of the UK’s leading golf centres has partnered with the governing body for blind golf to offer opportunities for those with sight loss. PGA professionals at Trafford Golf Centre in Manchester have linked up with England & Wales Blind Golf to organise an open day for golfers who have lost or are losing their sight. This story comes to us from: Bunkered.

'Nothing can stop this kid': USA blind soccer team frontman Ahmed Shareef

The traditions were almost religion in Ahmed Shareef’s home in Baghdad. When soccer was on television, everything stopped. His father, siblings, uncles, cousins, whoever was in the vicinity gathered around the table and watched the beautiful game, each viewer loyal to their own squad. For the young Shareef, Barcelona was his team, and his loyalty was unwavering. One day he would play, making his name internationally like his heroes on the pitch. “I used to play soccer, way early, and my dream was to be on a professional team, but losing my sight didn’t give me that dream,” said Shareef, now 25. In 2004, in the heat of the United States-Iraq war, one of many bombs went off in Baghdad. Seven-year-old Shareef was in the crossfire as he walked home from school. He heard the explosion, turned the wrong way, and lost his sight and right arm. Eighteen years later, Shareef, now an American citizen living in Staten Island, New York, was named to the first ever USA blind soccer men’s national team. This story comes to us from: The Guardian.

WATCH: The Perfect Vision | Blind Ice Hockey In Connecticut

Keith Haley and Sietska Morgan are both legally blind. Yet they don't let that disable their lives. “Most people are like, How is that possible? This story comes to us from: Connecticut Public.

Blind fight, youth bouts spice up 2022 Nakawa Inter-Parish Boxing & Kickboxing championship

The Blind fight between Juma Miiro (blue corner) and Ramathan Bashir, a blind boxer. Miiro was blind-folded but he managed to win 2-1 by a split decision. This story comes to us from: Kawowo Sports.

UFlex offers Rs 51 lakh to promote cricket for the blind

Flexible packaging and solutions provider UFlex has given a CSR grant of Rs 50 lakh to promote cricket for the blind in India in the year 2023. This story comes to us from: Packaging South Asia.

Man without sight could play one of the biggest games of the year

But never mind its storytelling and graphical prowess, Ragnarok – the latest in a franchise dating back 17 years – was perhaps most notable for its success in the innovation in accessibility category. It was recognition of how it allowed a whole new community of players to experience it to the max for the first time, finding an audience used to having to compromise or miss out entirely. This story comes to us from: Dunya News.


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