Blindness Briefs – Edition 79

What's Inside

  • AI can fight blindness.
  • Celebrating the 33rd anniversary of ADA.
  • Jobs for 200 blind people in Delaware.
  • Nepalese doctor runs free clinic for impoverished eye patients.
  • Church run and attended by blind people in Nigeria.
  • Art gallery run by blind people displays art by blind artists.
  • An action packed sports section.
  • And, about 45 stories about blindness and blind people from all over the world.

Editorial By Chris Hofstader

Welcome to the July 4 edition of Blindness Briefs. Coincidentally, today is my birthday and I thought I'd use this space to reflect on the technological advances in blindness that I've observed and, in many cases, enjoy using over the decades since I lost the last of my vision back in the late 1990s.

I joined Henter-Joyce in autumn 1998 and it was my first real exposure to the world of blindness. I had lost the last of my vision a year or two earlier but had never worked with nor knew any other blind people other than the late Joe Lazarro, a great guy at Massachusetts Commission for the Blind who turned me down for a job for being "massively over qualified." Joe and I would become friends and I was very sad when I heard of his death.

When I started at HJ, I had a Gateway Pentium class laptop that was running Window-Eyes and a JAWS demo. I had spent more than 20 years before that in mainstream software development and to say that getting into the blindness business was a culture shock is an understatement. In the mainstream world where I'd worked on contracts for really huge companies like Microsoft, Lotus, IBM, Novell, WordPerfect,, Borland and others, competition was fierce and unrelenting, software engineers worked really long hours, we had formal processes and did every contract with the intent of destroying our competitors. At HJ, I found that the blindness biz was much more collegial and that competitors pretended we were all on the same team. Ted henter asked me to help change this and we started playing the game not just to succeed but to dominate the industry. As JAWS is the last commercial screen reader left standing, I can accept some of the credit for turning access technology for blind users from a mom and pop industry into one that behaved a lot more like the mainstream technology companies but with little innovation outside of HJ/FS/whatever it's called now as our closest competitors didn't get the memo that we were dropping the gloves and competing to win.

In my six years at HJ/FS, we did a tremendous amount of innovation in the screen reader sector. We invented the virtual buffer, we invented single letter navigation on Internet sites, we invented using the CapsLock key as a modifier, we did far more with Office apps than any other company in the game and we invented the speech and sounds manager. Sadly for them, our competitors refused to compete and we'd hold an "Another One Bites The Dust" party every time another screen reader company would go out of business. JAWS is the only commercial screen reader still standing and NVDA, a great project that came along after I got chucked out of FS, is now the most widely used screen reader on Earth and all of the other ones that were around when I joined HJ are all gone and mostly forgotten.

In the years since my FS days, we've seen a real lot of progress but most of it comes from mainstream companies. With an estimated 90% share among blind people in US, the iPhone, beginning with the 3GS, changed the world for blind people and mobile computing and is probably the most significant advance in the past 20 years for blind people. With the iPhone, we've seen things like mobile OCR and all sorts of apps for navigation, orientation and mobility. Most recently, Microsoft extended its iOS app called Seeing AI to include indoor wayfinding in a no cost app and, while the feature is still experimental, it's far more impressive than anything we had predicted would be available this soon.

We've also seen a lot of advances in web technologies that are accessible. While a lot of web sites ignore accessibility, more and more have become very useful to blind people and this has been a terrific step forward. There are many that I enjoy and many more that I'm told I might like if I had the time to check them out.

Perhaps the biggest step forward is that virtually all operating systems now include their own accessibility. These vary in quality and, excepting Apple's VoiceOver on iOS, none have reached the feature sets of JAWS or NVDA but they all seem to improve on a regular basis. Also, accessibility to consumer electronics has come a real long way, Peter Korn and his crew up at Amazon built the software that we have on our television and it's an incredibly good user experience. Our friend Lucy Greco is working on advocating for more accessibility on appliances and she's made some real headway with companies like LG so the future is looking even brighter.

We still have a lot of work ahead of us with the goal of universal accessibility via inclusive design but the progress continues and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next.

I can only say that my life as a blind person, because of the advances in technology, has become easier

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.


More People Are Going Blind. AI Can Help Fight It

Between the ages of 18 and 65, the main cause of blindness is diabetic eye … Scientists are getting closer to understanding the neurology behind the problem. This story comes to us from: Wired.

Blind Nigerian Man Who Can Use Smartphones Stuns People on Social Media

A young Nigerian man who is blind but who can use a smartphone has stunned many people. This story comes to us from:

Blindness Organizations

Celebrating the ADA's 33rd Anniversary Through a Focus on Assistive Technology

This year marks the 33rd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was signed into law on July 26, 1990. This story comes to us from: NC DHHS.

New Clackmannanshire deaf and blind hub opens doors

A new community hub that brings support services directly to people with sight and hearing loss in Clackmannanshire has opened its doors. This story comes to us from: Third Force News.

AFB Annual Report 2021

AFB Research Tackles the Big Questions · First Class of Blind Leaders Graduates · Partnering to Make Disability Inclusion a Reality. This story comes to us from: American Foundation for the Blind.

Bikers at Kalida Lions Poker Run raise money for blindness

Bikers headed out on a sixty-mile loop on Sunday to help raise money to prevent and treat blindness. This story comes to us from: Hometown Stations.

Prevent Blindness Declares July as Dry Eye Awareness Month to Educate Public

Medical conditions such as diabetes, thyroid eye disease, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjogren's syndrome, and certain other autoimmune diseases can lead to blindness. This story comes to us from: Yahoo Finance.


During summer, educators learn how to better work with blind, visually-impaired students

To an existing education with blindness or vision impairment emphasis. … Orientation and mobility instruction, or O&M. This story comes to us from: Springfield News-Leader.

Orbis and FedEx Team Up To Train Eye Care Professionals in Vietnam

… surgical program since 2020 on board the Flying Eye Hospital -a … … causes of blindness and visual impairment in their own communities. This story comes to us from: Yahoo Finance.


Blindsight Delaware Enterprises expects to give jobs to up to 200+ blind Delawareans

A $2.3 million medical scheduling center will be placed in Wilmington after being chosen by Blindsight Delaware Enterprises. BSDE's move will create 227 jobs for economically vulnerable individuals that are blind or are visually impaired, have other disabilities, and/or live in economically disadvantaged areas in the state by the end of 2025. This story comes to us from:


Blind London Underground passenger explains how he travels alone on Tube safely

“Thankfully, the doors on the trains do make beeping sounds so that blind people can locate the buttons and open them. This story comes to us from: MyLondon.

Discrimination and Inaccessibility

Gaps in support services must be improved for deafblind people to thrive

This week is Deafblind Awareness Week. Ask most people what they know about deafblindness and they’ll likely think of Helen Keller. But what’s it like to be deafblind in modern Australia? This story comes to us from: Monash Lens.

Israel's Ein Gedi nature reserve denies entry to blind man's guide dog

A 53-year-old blind man says he was denied entry to Ein Gedi because of his guide dog. This story comes to us from: The Jerusalem Post.


Blind spot: 35 children in crumbling school; NGO writes to LG, edu dept

NEW DELHI: An NGO has written to lieutenant governor VK Saxena and the education department, seeking repairs to the Institution for the Blind, one of the country's oldest schools of its kind, which is in poor condition. This comes to us from: Delhi News.


In Nepal, surgeon runs free treatment camps for impoverished blind people

Nepal has one of the world's highest rates of cataracts and subsequent blindness, with devastating consequences for the country's poor subsistence. This story comes to us from: YouTube.


Blind Woman Raped In Anuppur Village

A 45-year-old disabled woman was raped by 34-year-old man in Anuppur district. The survivor is blind and with other psychological issues. This story comes to us from: Bhopal News – Times of India.

Blind San Francisco homeless man found not guilty after panhandling 'assault

A blind San Francisco homeless man who was accused of kicking a woman in the leg for refusing to give him $1 was found not guilty. This story comes to us from: – KRON4.

Guide Dogs

Israel's Ein Gedi nature reserve denies entry to blind man's guide dog

A 53-year-old blind man says he was denied entry to Ein Gedi because of his guide dog. This story comes to us from: Jerusalem Post.

Blind Nanaimo woman says she was kicked off bus due to her guide dog

A blind Nanaimo woman is upset after running into problems accessing BC Transit with her guide dog. Donna Hudon says it happened twice. This story comes to us from: CHEK News.


Blind man's wife facing deportation after INZ rejection

New Zealand resident Alamoni Langi relies on Mele, his wife of six years, who is his constant companion. This story comes to us from: 1News.


Accessible Pharmacy for the Blind offers free services in GA

Because, you know, as a blind person, we can't look down and see what the numbers say. This story comes to us from: WJBF.

US FDA declines to approve Regeneron's higher-dose Eylea, shares tumble

U.S. health regulators on Tuesday declined to approve a higher-dose version of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals' (REGN.O) drug Eylea for treatment of a disease that is leading cause of blindness among the elderly, the company said as shares fell on the setback to its effort to defend the blockbuster treatment against a fast-gaining rival. Regeneron's shares closed down 8.6% at $715.9. This story comes to us from: Reuters.


Can fashion be more accessible? Pariah Farzaneh thinks so

As one of London's most radical designers, Farzaneh is using her diffusion line Blind Foresight to make the industry feel less elitist. This story comes to us from: The Face.

Blind Girl Becca Believes She Will Get Her Sight Back

She shared the story of when she was in the car with her mother and they listened to a worship song about Jesus healing the blind man. This story comes to us from: God TV News.

Camp Spark season starts for blind, visually impaired youth

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Northwest Association for Blind Athletes is excited to announce the start of its seventh-year hosting Camp Spark for children, youth and young adults who are blind and visually impaired, through the summer and winter seasons. This story comes to us from: The News-Review.

Watch: Saudi security guard helps blind pilgrim circumambulate Kaaba during Hajj

In a video that has been widely shared online, a Saudi security officer was seen helping a blind woman circumambulate the Kaaba. This story comes to us from: Al Arabiya.

"Have you ever been to a blind church?" Viral video shows congregation of blind people

A video posted on TikTok shows a congregation of blind people singing and worshipping God, and everyone, including the instrumentalists are blind. This story comes to us from:

Art and Artists

The Only Art Gallery by Blind Individuals, for Blind Individuals

Because as we all know, art in galleries is meant to be observed, and not touched. This story comes to us from: Thrillist.

Check out blind photographers' exhibit 'Sight Unseen' in Walnut Creek

Vision is a slippery word that in application slides beyond the human eye’s physiological capabilities to reach the more allusive way of seeing referred to as “visionary. This story comes to us from: East Bay Times.

Comedian and travel show host Chris McCausland: 'A blind bloke chucking axes was a health and safety nightmare'

What do the blind community make of your success? This story comes to us from: The Guardian.

Seattle artist who went blind keeps creating, regains some vision

Sketch by Kathy Paul featured in her one-woman art show. "She was declared legally blind. She could not see her way to find the door. This story comes to us from: King 5 News.

Sports and Athletes

Blind hockey players hit the ice in Winnipeg

CBC went to the Hockey For All Centre to check out a hockey camp for blind and partially sighted young people. This story comes to us from:

US men's national soccer team preparing for Gold Cup match in Charlotte

Mooresville man debuts as assistant coach of US Men's Blind Soccer Team, celebrates two victories. This story comes to us from: Yahoo News.

Saskatchewan-made TV show features the outdoor adventures of a blind man

“I'm 64-years-old, I'm an outdoor person that went blind,” said Walsh. “I still love the outdoors. I canoe, backpack, cross country ski." This story comes to us from: CTV News.

Years after losing his vision, Oregon man makes history in dragon boat racing

Blind athletes are nothing new; whether they are hobbyists or even Olympians, there is a large selection of sports for the visually impaired to choose among. This story comes to us from: KATV.

Blind Westmore Woman Recounts Her Cross-State Bike Ride

Ferdinand Lauffer and Martha Steele ride along on the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail in Cambridge. This story comes to us from: The Caledonian Record.

Three North Texans attending Second Annual USA Blind Soccer Coaching Education Summit in Virginia

Angel Olvera (Celina, Texas), Abigail Page (Lewisville, Texas) and Mark Slavin (Prosper, Texas), representing the North Texas Blind Soccer Association, are among 16 coaches and educators from across the United States attending the inaugural USA Blind Soccer Coaching Education Summit this week in Staunton, Va. This story comes to us from: North Texas e-News (USABA].

Two-Day Cricket event for the visually impaired concludes in Srinagar

SRINAGAR : The J&K Cricket Association for Blind in association with J&K Handicapped Association organized a cricket tournament at Bakshi Stadium. This story comes to us from: India Education.

USA Blind Soccer National Team Hosting Clinics at Angel City Games

USABA, the National Governing Body for the Paralympic sport of blind soccer in the United States, named the first-ever USA Blind Soccer Men's National team. This story comes to us from: Endurance Sportswire.

In Memoriam

Mamie Mason Obituary (1950 – 2023

She joined several groups and associations for the blind, and eventually joined the NFB (National Federation for The Blind). This story comes to us from: Legacy Remembers.


This Woman Designed a Unique Camper Van That Keeps Her Blind Dog Safe and Comfortable

Every part of the van was specially modified to accommodate the dog, now deceased. This story comes to us from: Autoevolution.