Gonz Blinko's Blind News Digest – Edition 29
- Blind programmers who create screen readers
- Making chemistry accessible to blind students
- Voting accessibility for disabled people
- First blind fashion designer to make an NFT wedding dress
- And, about 70 more articles about blindness and blind people from all over the English speakaing world
Editorial By Chris Hofstader
This was quite a big week for blindness stories and we have 76 in this edition. At the same time, we didn't get as many of our sections filled in as one would expect in a week with so many blindness related articles getting picked up by my GoogleAlerts. This edition has more than usual about technology, a real lot of science stories, the blindness organizations section has more than I can remember it having before and we've lots of other good stories in sports and the art and artists section. We get far too few articles about braille which is incredibly important so, if anyone can think of a way I can phrase a GoogleAlert that might find us more stories about this important subject, please use the contact form to tell me about them.
This edition also has a short feature by our new friend Michael Bayus. He is an older gentleman who is mostly retired but plays organ for a church in Sarasota, Florida. His story describes a pair of events that happened while he was in graduate school that I think will sound very familiar to all of our blind readers.
How It's Organized
Gonz Blinko's 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.
I really enjoyed this article but I also know Ted Henter, Jamie Teh and Mick Curren personally and think the work they've done is remarkable. I've been following the screen reader business closely since I joined Henter-Joyce in 1998 and, as anyone can observe by looking around the market, the only two third party screen readers left standing are JAWS and NVDA; not coincidentally, these were the only two that were led by blind people from day one.
No matter what screen reader you're using today, you owe its existence in part to Ted, Mick and Jamie. I do, however, wish the article contained a bit more mention of our sighted friends who helped so much along the way, Blazie (who is mentioned in the article) was very important but so were people like the late Jim Thatcher and Eric Damery but I suppose they couldn't include everyone in an article of this length.
For a long time, a good, reliable screen reader was simply not an option for the majority of blind or partially sighted people around the world. It was only in 2019 that an open-source alternative — NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA) — finally overtook JAWS in popularity. This story came to us from: The Verge.
If you want to learn the full story of how these overlay technologies are ruining accessibility online, I recommend you check out the work done by our buddy Karl Groves (@karlgroves) as he's been the person leading the charge against them. I'll also take a quick moment to recognize that Patrick Purdue is featured in this article, when I was a VP at Freedom Scientific he was just a teen and he and our mutual friend Derek Lane would call me at my desk and present some of the funniest recordings in the history of access technology.
Patrick Perdue, a radio enthusiast who is blind, regularly shopped for equipment through the website of Ham Radio Outlet. The website’s code allowed him to easily move through the sections of each page with his keyboard, his screen reader speaking the text. That all changed when the store started using an automated accessibility tool, often called an accessibility overlay, that is created and sold by the company accessiBe. Suddenly, the site became too difficult for Mr. Perdue to navigate. The accessiBe overlay introduced code that was supposed to fix any original coding errors and add more accessible features. But it reformatted the page, and some widgets — such as the checkout and shopping cart buttons — were hidden from Mr. Perdue’s screen reader. This story comes to us from: The New York Times.
New Windows 11 Insider Build 25145 Brings Braille Driver Solution and OneDrive Storage Alerts to Dev Channel
Narrator Braille driver solution: This change allows Braille devices using Windows 11 to continue to work when switching between Windows Narrator and third-party screen readers, with Narrator now having the ability to automatically switch Braille drivers. You will need to make some configuration changes, see the Windows Insider blog post to learn more. This story came to us from: oi Canadian.
Alt Text Reader bot is one of several accounts that have popped up in recent years, largely run on a volunteer basis. The accounts work in a variety of ways, from private reminders to public prodding, but they have the same goal: to fill in accessibility gaps on the platform. THE BOT HAS ANALYZED OVER 51,000 TWEETS IN 18 LANGUAGES
Fynn Heinz, a software developer in Berlin, created the Alt Text Reader Twitter bot in 2018 after he saw other users express disappointment that there wasn’t an easy way to identify alt text. Prior to recent updates on Twitter, alt text was difficult to find, even when added by the tweet author. This story came to us from: the verge.
Science and Medicine
Disulfiram is the oldest drug out there to treat alcoholism, but new research might be giving it a second life in a very different field. The drug is designed to inhibit the enzymes necessary to metabolize alcohol, which is what makes drinking while taking it so unpleasant. But disulfiram also decreases the body’s ability to make retinoic acid, which is linked to vision loss. This story came to us from: Fierce Biotech.
[Blinding eye disease is strongly associated with heart disease and stroke]13]
"For the last three decades researchers have suggested an association between AMD and cardiovascular disease, but there has been no conclusive data on this until now. Our retinal team answered this important question by focusing on two different varieties of AMD that can be seen with advanced retinal imaging. We discovered that only one form of AMD, that with subretinal drusenoid deposits, is tightly connected to high-risk vascular diseases, and the other form, known as drusen, is not," explains lead author R.Theodore Smith, MD, PhD, Professor of Ophthalmology at the Icahn School of Medicine. This story came to us from: ScienceDaily.
Scientists have developed a new, experimental human cell line from retinal pigment epithelial cells. Called ABC, these cells so closely resemble and retain the properties of native retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, the research team has shown that they are a reliable cell system to study retinal degenerative diseases. This story came to us from: ScienceDaily.
The afferent visual system is one of the most common structures involved in patients with craniopharyngioma, and the manifestations include deficits in visual acuity, color vision, and visual fields. Here, we report a case of craniopharyngioma that presented with acute blindness in an elderly man. A healthy 54-year-old man presented with an acute progressive blurring of vision and became blind in six weeks. He developed symptoms of increased intracranial pressure only a week after becoming blind. This story came to us from: Cureus.
This story is somewhere in the middle of the page so you may need to search for it.
The Optometric Association has raised concerns over what it described as the massive brain drain of eye care professionals from Nigeria to other countries. This story came to us from: TVC News
Clinical trial results from the DRCR Retina Network suggest that a specific step strategy, in which patients with diabetic macular edema start with a less expensive medicine and switch to a more expensive medicine if vision does not improve sufficiently, gives results similar to starting off with the higher-priced drug. The main complication of diabetic macular edema, fluid build-up in the retina that causes vision loss, is commonly treated with anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) drugs. This story came to us from: News-Medical.
[Aurion raises $120M in bid to scale cell therapy for form of blindness][
To treat corneal endothelial dysfunction, a condition that causes the outer layer of the eye to swell and go hazy, doctors generally rely on cell transplants. A highly-trained surgeon rolls out an incredibly thin scroll of cells — around the width of a single strand of hair — from a donor into the patient’s eye, holding it in place with a tiny air bubble. This story came to us from: Endpoints News.
RP is a group of inherited diseases causing slow and progressive retinal degeneration and loss of vision, for which there is currently no treatment. This story came to us from: Labiotech.
The National Optometric Association has called for proper implementation of the National Eye Health Policy and the report of the National Eye Health Committee set up by the Federal Government to oversee equitable access to quality eye care services in the country. This story came to us from: punchng.com.
There's another cluster of eye infections, some causing blindness, in patients using Avastin for macular degeneration. This time, the cases cropped up at a Veterans Affairs facility in Los Angeles; 5 people who were injected with Avastin lost vision in the treated eye. This story came to us from: Fierce Pharma.
Eximore reduces the risk of vision loss and improves patient outcomes for various ophthalmic conditions. This story came to us from: The Jerusalem Post.
Dr. Yerxa will deliver a company overview as part of the Innovation Showcase to discuss Opus’ unique model of combining validated science and commitment to patient need with wholly owned programs in inherited retinal diseases. This story came to us from: Yahoo Finance.
More patients suffer vision-threatening emergencies after assaults with paintball guns, research finds
University of Chicago Medicine researchers reviewing two years of data on assaults with paintball guns found more patients than expected suffered vision-threatening emergencies after being struck in the eye, with several experiencing a rupture of the eyeball or even permanent blindness. This story came to us from: News-Medical.Net.
Surgeons have successfully implanted the first keratoprosthesis that utilizes a polymeric scaffold for biointegration within ocular tissue, according to an Eye (Lond) publication. The device, the CorNeat KPro implant, is a synthetic cornea designed to treat corneal blindness. This story came to us from: Dermatology Advisor.
Months ago, Pfizer made a grim announcement that it would stop manufacturing phospholine iodide, its decades-old “miracle drug” for a rare form of glaucoma. The pharma said its inventory would run dry by May 2021, leaving some patients with few options short of surgery. But after snagging the rights and the rest of Pfizer’s supply, a small New York biotech is looking to give phospholine iodide new life. This story came to us from: Endpoints News.
If damage occurs to cells in the macula, individuals may experience a blind spot in their central vision. The resulting condition is called MMD. This story came to us from: Medical News Today.
Your doctor is likely to prescribe a week's course of antiviral medication, which will be more effective the earlier the infection is caught. This story came to us from: The Mirror.
Personally, I wouldn't recommend injecting anything without proper medical supervision but people will do what people do.
The quest for “beauty at all costs” can sometimes be fatal. Injections of hyaluronic acid, an act of aesthetic medicine which can degenerate into serious side effects, must absolutely be carried out by doctors, warned this Monday, July 11 the drug agency, worrying about a growing number of problems. Following unauthorized procedures. This story came to us from: OI Canadian.
The Nigerian Optometric Association has said that nearly seven million Nigerians are blind. The association also said Nigeria presently has close to 50 million persons that have some form of visual disability or the other, limiting their ability to work, learn or play. This story came to us from: Punch Newspapers.
Botswana will conduct national eye screenings for all school children starting July 25, said a government official Thursday. The project is a way of identifying school children with vision problems, said the National Eye Program Coordinator Alice Lehasa with the Ministry of Health, during a live broadcast on Botswana Television in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana. This story comes to us from: China.org.cn.
Government has launched a mass vaccination drive against trachoma in some parts of the country, aimed at eliminating preventable blindness among communities. The mass drug administration campaign is being headed by the Ministry of Health and Child Care with partners; SightSavers, World Vision, Basilizwi Trust and WelthungerHilfe. “A ten-day mass treatment campaign will run in the districts of Shamva, Bindura, Rushinga, Binga, Marondera, Nyanga, Mutasa and Gweru beginning on the 11th July of 2022. This story came to us from: ZimLive.
Another story about the good things NFB does. I hope to see more of these in the future but, if you notice, this article came from a press release from their non-profit on this project and I think they need to do a better job telling the story of blind people in America.
Synergies Work, an Atlanta nonprofit that supports entrepreneurs with disabilities, announced today that it has entered into a partnership with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), the transformative membership and advocacy organization expanding opportunities for millions of blind Americans. The partnership will empower blind and low-vision entrepreneurs across the country to launch new businesses and grow existing enterprises. This story came to us from: PR Newswire.
The American Council of the Blind announced on July 4 that Wright Brothers National Memorial was awarded the 2022 Achievement in Audio Description Award in the Visual Art/Museums/Visitor Centers/Organization category. Accessible exhibits were installed in the National Historic Landmark visitor center at Wright Brothers National Memorial in 2018. The exhibits were designed with a heavy emphasis on universally accessible experiences, including audio description, Braille brochures, tactile models, manipulative interactive exhibits and expanded audio description of the memorial grounds through the National Park Service Mobile App. This story came to us from: the coastland times.
The East Kilbride Visually Impaired Bowls Club now has 13 members. This story came to us from: Daily Record.
Caregiver Action Network – A non-profit organization providing education, peer support, and resources to family caregivers across the country free of charge. This story came to us from: Access Washington.
Washington State Department of Services for the Blind (DSB) provides services for people of all ages who are blind. This story comes to us from: Access Washington.
[LATS, Lawton Council of the Blind partner for special needs training for drivers][
The Lawton Council of the Blind is training Lawton Area Transit System drivers to offer better assistance to those who are disabled. This story came to us from: KSWO.
Prevent Blindness, the nation's leading volunteer eye health and safety organization, has announced that Dr. Jacqueline Herd, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FACHE, Chief Clinical Officer at Odyssey Clinical Leadership Consulting, LLC, has been named to the Prevent Blindness Board of Directors. This story came to us from: Yahoo Finance.
Baylor Chemist Leads $1.3 Million Research Project to Make Chemistry Labs and Concepts Accessible to Blind and Low Vision Students
Dr. Bryan Shaw’s lab at Baylor University is equipped with high-tech robotics that will enable students from the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired to program and perform lab functions in a safe environment, including precisely weighing powder, dispensing liquid and heating and cooling test tubes in a blast-proof, airtight glovebox. This story came to us from: Baylor University.
Today announced it has received a prestigious one-million-dollar Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant from the Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences (IES), to bring to market the Kasi Learning System. SBIR grants are awarded to startups building game-changing technologies with the potential for positive impact on society. Kasi is a system which uses multi-sensory augmented reality to create pathways for all students, and especially those with blindness or low vision (BLV), to explore and learn chemistry and science. This story comes o us from: Yahoo Finance.
He began selling candles from a cart, and later, took a loan for Rs 15,000 under a special scheme for people who are blind. This story came to us from: The Better India.
He is on a mission to change the stigmas that people who are blind and/or deaf face. For him, it's about removing the “dis” from disability. This story came to us from: Revolt TV.
Yin Tianbao, a 23-year-old blind man in Shanghai, had long dreamed of becoming a full-time barista. And that dream finally came true on Saturday. This story came to us from: China Daily.
Julia Murray is deaf and blind, but she hasn't let it stop her from hitting the slopes and ABC News Live's Kyra Philips talks with her. This story came to us from: ABC News.
What sets Lamont apart as a bicycle repairman, is the fact, he can’t actually see the bike. He’s blind and has been since birth, using his other senses to fix tires, shifting systems, and brakes. This story came to us from: CTV News London.
Despite a résumé that includes a master’s degree and a previous position as executive director for a deaf and blind advocacy organization, Monthei’s low vision disability proved to be a hardship. “I was either overqualified … or I was so niche in the field that I was in, even though I had budgeting and other skillsets that could be transferred anywhere,” she said. Monthei is now executive director of Outlook Enrichment, yet her experience before her current position is far from unique among those afflicted with blindness or low vision. This story came to us from: Daily Nonpareil.
A homeless teen trying to get his life back on track goes door to door seeking food. Everyone slams the door in his face except a blind woman who is extremely generous to him. The boy never forgets her kindness and repays her years later. This story came to us from: AmoMama.
The accused, who was a family friend, entered the home and went into the woman’s bedroom. During the trial, the court heard the victim say she had recognised the voice of the accused. The woman’s son, after finishing the washing, walked into the house to hear sounds of a struggle. When he entered her room, he found Mokoena raping his mother. This story came to us from: IOL.
The KwaZulu-Natal Society for the Blind has made a plea for the harshest sentence to be handed down to a man who was recently convicted for the rape of his blind neighbor. This story came to us from: IOL.
Note: This article isn't the most accessible one out there. You may need to use the search facility in your browser or screen reader to find the meat of the story.
Mr Bennett said it became to clear to police by January 2021 that Wass was lying. This story came to us from: Daily Mail.
Paul Nicol, 45, assaulted the pair at his former home in Glasgow's Cardonald between January 2019 and February 2020. Court papers state the first girl was seven-years-old when she was repeatedly struck on the body. The next charge says the second girl was nine-years-old when she was struck on the body. This story came to us from: Glasgow Times.
Hundreds of puppies-in-training and volunteer puppy raisers were celebrated on Saturday at the annual Guide Dogs for the Blind California Fun Day. This story came to us from: KTVU.
This story is presented in a video and is about an elder blind woman going to the polls to cast her ballot in Pakistan. This story came to us from: YouTube.
UNC Health will pay a $125,000 settlement to two blind patients who said the system did not provide billing and health information in Braille or any other accessible format. This story came to us from: Durham Herald Sun.
… Death complaint where the arbitration papers had been signed by the deceased woman when she was blind, on medication and in severe pain. This story came to us from: Insurance Journal.
Popular outdoor equipment retailer REI does not make its website accessible for legally blind people using a screen reader, in violation of the law, a new class action lawsuit alleges. This story came to us from: Top Class Actions.
Voting is one of our nation’s most fundamental rights and a hallmark of our democracy. Yet for too long, many people with disabilities have been excluded from this core aspect of citizenship. This story came to us from: Daily Hampshire Gazette.
I'm very dubious of anything Second Sight says or does. The retinal implant mentioned in this article has been discontinued and its patients are left without any support and some of the devices are going bad and they've nowhere to turn for help.
Clear eyes, full pockets, can’t lose. Not long after chalking up nearly $60 million in proceeds from a public offering last summer, visual prosthetic maker Second Sight Medical has set its sights on expanding into new types of medical implants. First to catch its eye is Nano Precision Medical, or NPM, which is in the process of building out a pipeline of devices placed under the skin to continually deliver drugs for chronic diseases such as diabetes. This story came to us from: Fierce Biotech.
This story seems very strange to me. Second Sight is the company who developed the Argus II retinal implant and announced earlier this year that it was being discontinued. This left the people who had an Argus II implanted in their eye without any support and some of them are starting to fail. Can we trust such a company to produce a product that requires brain surgery to install with a track record of abandoning patients?
Second Sight Medical Products, Inc. (NASDAQ: EYES) (the “Company” or “Second Sight”), a leading developer of implantable visual prostheses that are intended to create an artificial form of useful vision for blind individuals, today announced that the Company received notice from the National Institutes of Health (“NIH”) of the release of year four funding for its Early Feasibility Clinical Trial of a Visual Cortical Prosthesis (the “Orion Trial”), grant 5UH3NS103442. The NIH released $1.1 million of the $6.4 million planned five-year grant. This story came to us from: Business Wire.
Adverum Biotechnologies saw its shares down more than 51% after-hours Wednesday night after a patient it was testing a gene therapy on for a common eye condition went blind in the treated eye. This story came to us from: Fierce Biotech.
The synoptophore market is projected to register a CAGR of around 4% during the forecast period 2022-2031.
The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused healthcare services to lead to a reduction in eye care activities. This is because the examination procedures related to ophthalmology involve close interactions with the patient which increases the risk of infection. This story came to us from: Digital Journal.
The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center has received an unrestricted grant from Research to Prevent Blindness for $575000 over 5 years. This story came to us from: Ophthalmology Times.
The word ableism is relatively new — it’s been in use for the past three or four decades — though what it describes is not. It is a broad term that covers behaviors, social norms or laws that demean or devalue disabled people — and ableist language is one of the more persistent and ingrained versions of it. And it’s not just nondisabled people who use it; disabled people, evidently including me, can be ableist in their speech. This story came to us from: The New York Times.
A blind girl with rare condition that causes 'droopy' tumours on her face says she is determined to find love. This story came to us from: Lancs Live.
A 63-year-old man, Aniedoabasi Aniefiok Inyanguwem, who is going blind for his inability to pay for his surgery because his bank accounts were frozen by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has pleaded with the agency to unfreeze his bank accounts. This story comes to us from: The Guardian Nigeria.
"My biggest pain now na say I no get eyes to take see wife wey I marry recently and even siblings wey my parents born afta me I no know how dem look and we dey together everyday." This story came to us from: BBC.
As Trevonne shared with BGN, “I chose, at that point, to just enjoy the rest of my life as a blind woman and enjoy the value of life.” This story came to us from: Black Girl Nerds.
Phoebe Groves may only be seven years old, but she has already had her share of triumphs and victories. Phoebe was born with a cleft palate which was surgically corrected. What her parents couldn’t imagine was that she would also face being blind. This story came to us from: Now Habersham.
Art and Artists
James Tate Hill is the author of a memoir, Blind Man's Bluff (W. W. Norton, 2021). His fiction debut, Academy Gothic, won the Nilsen Literary Prize. This story came to us from: Literary Hub.
Burrows, who is blind, had shown up to the meet and greet with her guide dog, Tami, saying it was “terrifying” being in such an overcrowded area without knowing how he’d react to the dog. Although they didn’t get much time to speak, the 33-year-old said Quinn was “extremely gracious and attentive,” even taking a photo with her and the dog. This story came to us from: Los Angeles Times.
The Tam Viet “xam” singing club, the first of its kind for the blind, was officially launched this month. This story came to us from: YouTube.
Hong, who is 44, is the third blind man to climb Everest, after Erik Weihenmayer and Andy Holzer. He spent five years training for the moment. This story came to us from: The Daily Beast.
This story is largely presented as a video and this site isn't the most accessible out there. You may need to poke around a bit to get the entire story.
Hunters in Michigan have to apply for tags that gives them permission to hunt different animals. Certain tags are harder to get than others, and one West Michigan hunter says he hit the jackpot. Korey Freeland has been hunting as long as he can remember.
"My family's always been big hunters," says Freeland, whose mother operates a hunting gear shop online. This story came to us from: WCCM 13.
This isn't really a "sports" story but, as it happened at an event put on by a sports organization, I put it into this category.
Tralee woman Mairead O’Mahony, who has been blind her entire life, has this past week had the chance to experience – for what was just the third time in her 39 years – the experience of driving a car. This story came to us from: Independent.ie.
This year he's looking to break another Guinness World Record as the fastest blind man on four wheels, competing against two other blind car racers. He'll travel to America and have the whole event showcased in a documentary. This story came to us from: Blue Mountains Gazette.
Coach Sheena Hager of the Chicago Skyhawks NWBA Basketball League, along with several other coaches and athletes from across the U.S., hosted the Blind Soccer ID Camp in Rock Hill, S.C. The event took place from July 8-10 and was organized by the United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) in conjunction with the Charlotte Independence Soccer Club. This story came to us from: The Chicago Crusader.
Though it’s been a Paralympic sport for almost twenty years, blind soccer didn’t catch on in the United States until recently. This story came to us from: Queen City News.
Francisca began to compete with the Andalusian Blind Sports Federation about 12 years ago and at present she is the only woman in the region to do so. This story came to us from: Sur in English.
The cycling group, which consists of blind and visually impaired riders between the ages of 21 and 75 as well as front-volunteer cyclists, is currently traversing the Israeli National Trail. This story comes to us from: Jerusalem Post.
A Ontario woman who lost her sight at the age of 50 is taking part in a tandem bike ride to help raise funds for further research. This story came to us from: PTBO Today.