Blindness Briefs – Edition 62

What's Inside

  • Eric Bridges appointed as new AFB president and CEO.
  • New job training program for blind announced by Florida DBS.
  • 15 blind farmers receive award.
  • Leadership lessons from UK's only blind CEO.
  • More controversy about MrBeast.
  • Partially blind man arrested for pulling gun on stranger.
  • Fashion designers putting braille on clothing.
    Blind horseman hoping to compete in rodeo.
  • John Boyer, pioneer in braille software, dies in Madison, Wisconsin.
  • And, about 55 articles about blindness and blind people from all over the world.

Editorial By Chris Hofstader

Welcome to edition 62 of Blindness Briefs. This edition has more than 50 articles about all things blindness and blind people from the entire world.

One of the most interesting things about curating Blindness Briefs is that I get to see how different mainstream media covers blindness related issues than I and the many other blind and deafblind people I know actually experience life. One of the most interesting aspects of this is how differently blindness is reported by mainstream outlets in the US (where I live), in the UK/EU and in the rest of the world. Americans seem to focus mostly on the happy stories, the inspirational stuff and celebrities, we get a lot of heartwarming articles that don't truly reflect the blind experience. We also get a lot of celebrity stories about blind people like Molly Burke. In UK/EU, I find we get a lot of stories similar to those in the US but they also include a lot of stories that are more realistic and include problems with blind people and safety, discrimination, employment and problems with education. Often, I find the most interesting articles come from Africa, Asia and South America as they tend to deal with blind people solving very real problems in very creative manners. I'm inspired when I read about a blind person finding a way to earn a living in a far less afluent nation than I do when I read about an American blind mountaineer or Canadian YouTube sensation who tend to inspire sighted people far more than they do this blind person.

I hope you enjoy this edition and please subscribe to WBH so you don't miss anything in the future.

How It's Organized

WBH Weekly Blind News Digest 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.

And get a weekly digest from World Blind Herald.


Be My Eyes: How to Help a Visually Impaired Person From Your Smartphone

Whether you're legally blind or just need some extra assistance with small print, apps like Be My Eyes, Aira, and Lookout can help people maintain independence. We check them out. This story comes to us from: PCMag.

New sound navigation technology enables the blind to navigate

Sequence of tasks in fMRI experiments in virtual and real navigation training with the EyeCane. (A) The paradigm within the scanner; there were three types of blocks on which both groups were tested, while the training was performed only on one block and only by the blind group. The 3 blocks were maze 1 training (on which blind were trained), maze 2 no training (on which blind were not trained), and a scrambled task (used as control task). Each block was repeated 4 times per run, and there were 2 runs on each scanning day. (B) The experimental protocol consisted of a pre-training fMRI scan, followed by 3 days of training in both real and virtual environments and a post-training scan. (C) The EyeCane device, a unique visual to auditory sensory substitution device (SSD) that maps distance information into sounds. (D) Setup of maze 1 training; numbers correspond to errors rate and are based on deviance from the correct path. (E) Setup of the novel maze 2 no training; numbers correspond to errors rate and are based on deviance from the correct path. (F) Heatmaps of the path taken by the CB pre-training, CB post-training, and sighted groups in maze 1 training during the scan for each of the groups. The heatmap represents the amount of time spent by each participant in the different areas of the maze for both the PRE (pre-training) and POST (post-training) conditions. The time spent in each point was defined by calculating the time between 2 key strokes (a key stroke represents a step), see STAR Methods. Hotter colors indicate that on average, participants in that group spent more time in that location. The heatmaps show that in the post-training condition, the blind participants were able to find the exit to the maze similarly to the sighted. Credit: Current Biology (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2023.02.025
A new study by researchers at Reichman University's Brain Cognition and Technology Institute directed by Prof. Amir Amedi has shown that visual navigation areas in the brain can be activated using sound. By traversing mazes using sound information instead of visual information after training, visual navigation areas were activated. This finding has numerous exciting implications, among them the findings chip away at the Nobel Prize winning theory of critical periods and provide new avenues for cognitive training to potentially detect and prevent Alzheimer's disease. This story comes to us from: Medical Xpress.

Blindness Organizations

AFB Trustees Appoint Eric Bridges as New President & CEO

the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) has appointed Eric Bridges as its new President and CEO. This story comes to us from: PR Newswire.

Iowa Department for the Blind lacks enough commission members to meet legally

the Iowa Department for the Blind, aren’t filed as of Thursday. According to the Iowa Department for the Blind, state law at least two members to make a quorum, which means legally making formal decisions. The department said this includes topics related to hiring, staff training, purchasing and a wide range of policy areas. This story comes to us from: KCRG.

Seattle nonprofit provides jobs, support for people who are blind

The Lighthouse for the Blind has provided support for people who are blind since 1918. This story comes to us from: King 5 News.

Feature: People suffering from cataract in Djibouti regain sight thanks to Chinese doctors

Local patients and their company queue up to consult doctors at Peltier General Hospital in Djibouti City, Djibouti, on Feb. 28, 2023. Early in the morning, about 20 people suffering from cataract gathered at two mobile eye treatment centers at Peltier General Hospital in Djibouti City, the capital of the Red Sea country, to register and have examinations before a Chinese medical team conducted surgery for them. This story comes to us from: Xinhua.

Prevent Blindness to Hold 'Eyes on Capitol Hill' Advocacy Event March 7-8

The group will bring together patients, care partners, allied personnel, and medical professionals to speak with elected officials. This story comes to us from:

Florida Department of Education’s Division of Blind Services (DBS) Announces First in the Nation Job Apprenticeship Program

Today, the Florida Department of Education’s Division of Blind Services (DBS) announced a first in the nation, state agency led registered apprenticeship program to create employment opportunities for blind and visually impaired individuals, training them to enhance website accessibility for internet users for all disabilities. The Department’s new Web Accessibility Specialist Registered Apprenticeship Program combines on-the-job training with educational instruction to progressively increase workers’ skill levels, wages and career options. This story comes to us from: Miami's Community Newspapers.


Edinburgh teacher told she is going blind after noticing difference in classroom

A former Edinburgh primary school teacher with major sight loss is to tell inspiring stories to children after getting a devastating eye disorder diagnosis. Anne Dignan, 68, Edinburgh resident was diagnosed with macular degeneration in her 40s after seeing ‘a major difference’ in her eyesight which forced her into an early medical retirement. This story comes to us from: Edinburgh Live.

Rwanda: Govt Urged to Enforce Implementation of Special Needs Education Policy

The Rwanda Union of the Blind (RUB) is urging the Ministry of Education and the National Examination and School Inspection Authority (NESA) to enforce and monitor the implementation of the special needs and inclusive education policy. This story comes to us from:

Colorado Launches Tool to Improve Government Accessibility

The state will now offer constituents a digital tool, AIRA, to help people who are blind or have low vision navigate physical government locations and digital services in an effort to improve accessibility. This story comes to us from: Government Technology.

GOP lawmakers try again to change who runs NC schools for deaf and blind students

North Carolina Republican lawmakers are making another effort to change who runs the state’s three residential schools for deaf and blind students, as well as how their students are selected. The state House voted 71-45 on Wednesday to pass a bill that shifts oversight of the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in Raleigh, the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf in Wilson and the North Carolina School for the Deaf in Morganton from the State Board of Education to newly created boards of trustees. This story comes to us from: The News & Observer.

(LEAD) First lady visits school for blind

First lady Kim Keon Hee on Thursday visited a school for the blind and congratulated new students on their first day of school. Kim visited the Seoul National School for the Blind to attend the entrance ceremony for some 40 new students. In congratulatory remarks, she talked about Saeromi, the retired service dog she and President Yoon Suk Yeol adopted in December, saying living with Saeromi has helped her gain a deeper understanding of the everyday lives of blind people. This story comes to us from: Yonhap News Agency.


$100K Raised for Blind Man Who Sells Mops Roadside

Things are looking up for a man who has been down on his luck. Sebastian Ibañez was getting by on his own, running a small business to support his family of five. He says no one would hire him because he’s blind and partially deaf. So he started a small business. All of his merchandise—mostly mops, brooms and other cleaning supplies—fits into a barrel and he sells his goods on the streets of Mesa, Arizona. This story comes to us from: YouTube.

Disability awards: COCOBOD honours 15 blind farmers

The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), has honoured 15 visually impaired cocoa farmers from three cocoa-producing regions for their immense contribution to the success of the cocoa industry in Ghana. This story comes to us from: News Ghana.

Blind singer Alfred Ho ‘not eligible’ for Socso pension

PETALING JAYA: Blind singer Alfred Ho has been held to be ineligible for a Sosco invalidity pension because of insufficient contributions to the scheme. This story comes to us from: FMT.

[Overcoming blindness: Philadelphia man fulfills vision for career in media][

Born and raised in North Philadelphia, Jones had a mild visual impairment as a child. This story comes to us from: USTimesPost.

Sandi Wassmer: Leadership lessons Britain's only blind CEO learned from going blind in her 40s

Today, Wassmer is the only blind female CEO in Britain. She tells Fortune, what she learned about leadership throughout her unique journey. This story comes to us from: Fortune.


Caring Herefordshire Council's parking ticket for community transport

Caring parking warden slaps parking ticket on blind man's transport. This story comes to us from: Hereford Times

E-scooters dumped on pavements ‘are tripping up blind people’

Charity warns that riders are causing hazards for the visually impaired by not parking eco-friendly vehicles properly. This story comes to us from: the Telegraph.

Discrimination and Inaccessibility

The Human Condition: Ableism

Recently Youtube megastar Jimmy Donaldson (aka “Mr. Beast”) took it upon himself to “cure” 1,000 people of their blindness, in other words pay for their unaffordable cataract surgeries. Young or old, Donaldson helped them regain their sight, and realize their dreams: seeing their loved ones’ faces again, learning to drive, gaining the use of previously unused eyes, and so on. And, in his usual fashion, he all made it entertaining: giving away thousands of dollars, and even buying a car for a young patient. But in this day and age, of course some had to complain about it, accusing Donaldson of being an “ableist” who exploited the blind to increase his viewership and personal wealth. Of course, free speech allows for people to say whatever they want about Donaldson (short of slander or hate). But this argument does not hold up. This story comes to us from: Medicine Hat News.


Student falls to death

Hyderabad: In a tragic incident, Goutham Laxmi Srikar, a 12-year-old visually challenged boy, accidentally fell from the fourth floor of Devnar School For The Blind at Mayuri Marg and died, Begumpet police station on Thursday. This story comes to us from: the Deccan Chronicle.

Warning over obstructive parking outside school in Baildon

A police officer has warned there will be consequences for nuisance parking after a blind man was forced to walk on the road. This story comes to us from: Telegraph and Argus.


Partially blind man, 69, pulls gun on 24-year-old mechanic (+VIDEO

A 69-year-old visually impaired man told the court he mistakenly pulled his gun on another man who he thought had stolen his cell phone. This story comes to us from: Searchlight.

Guide Dogs

Man Refuses To Let His Friend's Service Dog Over To His House Because He's 'Not A Dog Person'

One common misconception people often have about service dogs is that they are not pets. They are loyal, life-saving animals that humans with complex medical conditions heavily depend on in order to complete everyday tasks. One man demonstrated his ignorance regarding service animals after he forbid his friend’s service dog from coming over to his house so he wouldn’t have to deal with the dog’s shedding. This story comes to us from: YourTango.


Voters With Disabilities Still Face Hurdles in Chicago

To be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, polling stations were supposed to be fully accessible by last November, but just 36 percent of voting places met the standards for the Feb. 28 election. This story comes to us from:

Touching Video Of Blind Girl's Crying And Praying For Peter Obi's Victory Goes Viral

Emotional video of blind girl praying for Peter Obi to become Nigeria's next president goes viral, capturing the hearts of many. This story comes to us from: Mandy News.


Moleskine class action claims website not accessible, usable to blind, visually impaired users

Papermaker Moleskine does not make its website accessible to blind and visually impaired people using a screen reader, in violation of the law, a new class action lawsuit alleges. This story comes to us from: Top Class Actions.


Wireless Visual Cortical Stimulator Market Report 2023 Is Set For Global Lead With Immense Development Trends By 2028

… organization initiatives to raise awareness among patients and promote blindness treatment through campaigns and diabetes awareness programs. This story comes to us from: Medgadget.


These fashion designers are putting Braille right on their clothing

When Alexa Jovanovic was in her last year in the Fashion Communications program at Toronto Metropolitan University, she knew she wanted her final project to look at disability inclusion, but she wasn’t quite sure what to focus on. The answer came while she was shopping. She pulled a beaded jacket from a rack and was struck by how an article of clothing could be both beautiful and utilitarian. It made her think of braille, which she was also studying in school, and a business idea was born. This story comes to us from: Fast Company.

Blind man shows the reality of what people with different eye conditions can actually see

“A big misconception about blindness is that everyone who is blind sees pitch black,” Mulligan said. This story comes to us from: Indy100.

Reading service for the blind needs volunteers to fill Rochester void

— When a decades-running radio reading service for the blind ceased its Rochester operations, it left a big hole for thousands of blind and visually impaired people who depended on it. Now, a Buffalo-based group is expanding its service to the Flower City — but it needs plenty of help. This story comes to us from: Spectrum News.

[Seeing Beyond Sight

As I read the news story about visually-impaired woman on a solo world tour, I realized that blindness is not a mere lack of sight, but a unique way of experiencing the world. This story comes to us from: Greater Kashmir

"Her Spiritual Eyes Are Working": Blind Little Girl Walks Around the House without Help

A mother has shared a video on TikTok revealing how her little blind daughter walks without being aided. In the inspiring clip, the toddler walked around the house and even climbed steps without bumping into anything. Social media users have reacted massively to the video with many people applauding the kid for her smartness. This story comes to us from:

Blind social media star Molly Burke shatters stigmas: 'Show the person behind the blindness

Molly Burke explains how she experiences fashion as a blind woman. "What I'm wearing right now, it has a lot of details that are textured. This story comes to us from: FOX 10 Phoenix.

Art and Artists

Baluji Music Foundation launches 'Blind to the Facts' survey

The survey will gather data to give an accurate picture of the issues facing blind and visually impaired people in the UK music sector. This story comes to us from:

This legendary Black pianist died a forgotten man in New Jersey: the story of 'Blind Tom

In the early 1900s, residents living in the vicinity of an apartment building near 12th and Washington streets in Hoboken could hear the sound of piano playing most of the day. What they did not know was that one of the most famous and exploited musicians of the time was living among them — much of the time out of view. He was Thomas Wiggins, aka "Blind Tom." A blind Black man, originally from Georgia, who was the first African American musician to perform at the White House, Wiggins earned devoted fans such as Mark Twain and made millions for his exploiters while seeing very little for himself. This story comes to us from:

Why In the Dark ended after season 4 (and why it still hurts)9

In the Dark premiered on The CW in April 2019 and starred the incredible Perry Mattfeld as Murphy Mason, an abrasive blind woman who finds herself in the center of a crime. This story comes to us from: Netflix Life

How blind youngster Taaliyah's dream came true on Huddersfield stage

A blind Huddersfield girl who always wanted to learn how to Irish dance left the audience deeply moved at a famous Huddersfield music festival. This story comes to us from: the Huddersfield Hub.

Columbus honors Thomas “Blind Tom” Wiggins

COLUMBUS, Ga. A local library hosted an event highlighting a Columbus man who became a musical prodigy after being born into slavery. This story comes to us from: WRBL.

LCC Presents Blind Visionaries

Learn more about what it means to truly “see” when the Lakewood Cultural Center presents “Blind Visionaries,” a captivating musical performance inspired by the works of visually impaired photographers. This story comes to us from: City of Lakewood.

WebXtra: Blind artist prepares to teach visually impaired East Texas students

KLTVs Jamey Boyum talks with visually impaired artist John Bramblit about how he dealt with blindness and continued his passion for painting. This story comes to us from: KLTV.

Visually impaired East Texas children find new ways to create art at Kilgore workshop

Forty-six visually impaired students from 20 area school districts attended a workshop led by Denton artist John Bramblitt, who also is visually impaired. This story comes to us from: Longview News-Journal.

Sports and Athletes

Local horse-riding blind man hoping to compete in Tucson Rodeo

Editor: This story is told entirely in a video.

This story comes to us from: YouTube.

Namita was all smile at the 32nd edition of the 'Car Rally for the blind' at Savera Hotel in Chennai

A car rally for the visually impaired on Sunday evening saw a host of Chennaiites, including celebrities, turning up to support a more inclusive society, particularly for the visually challenged. This story comes to us from: Times of India.

Watch: Blind Surfer Matt Formston Gets Towed into Nazare

Legally blind para-surfer charges big-wave spot in Portugal for upcoming documentary. This story comes to us from:

Blind skateboarder amazes netizens with unbelievable flip trick mastery

The 'Monday motivation' video was shared by 'GoodNewsMovement' on Twitter and has gone viral with over 83k views. This story comes to us from: India TV News.

In Memoriam

John Boyer, blind software engineer in Madison, Wisconsin, dies

Born blind and becoming mostly deaf, John Boyer couldn't find enough Braille books to read, so he developed braille translation software. This story comes to us from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.


Eamonn Holmes 'nearly went blind' as stress of £250k tax row sparked 'scary' health scare'

Eamonn Holmes could have gone blind after he was struck down with Shingles, which he believes was bought (sic) on by a "stressful" tax row. This story comes to us from: The Mirror.

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