As the World Becomes More Visual, Technology for the Blind Expands

It may butcher the English language at times, replacing simple words with a series of abbreviations, but for better or for worse the internet and mobile technology have reintroduced literary media to the masses. With talk of Apple’s new iPad perhaps saving print publishing, interacting with your line of sight may have never been more important. But even while technology has changed how we interact with what we see, it has also revolutionized the lives of those without sight.

For some time, any discussion of the blind has eventually dealt with the vital role of music. With a number of schools encouraging the cultivation of that musical ear and even more academics examining the role of music among the blind, the issue of technology hasn’t really been raised. But the new digital revolution has also directly influenced this aural world with Caketalking. The new software bundle, which has already been put to good use by musician Raul Midon, allows blind musicians to record and mix their own songs.  With technology revolutionizing this one area of blind culture, what other contributions are being made to a group for whom new media hasn’t always been accessible?

Google has already taken part in bringing the Web to the blind, recently contributing to work at the University of Manchester on a prototype screen reader that would allow the blind to navigate online. This comes on the heels of groundbreaking work from T.V. Raman, a blind Google engineer who has built a number of software applications specifically tailored for blind users.

Another giant of Silicon Valley, Oracle, has partnered with the National Federation of the Blind to encourage blind youth to pursue a future in technology and science. In fact, the past few months alone have seen a number of advancements in media for the blind, ranging from the crass to the innovative.

But what about the development of technologies that can help people regain their sight? It’s here that we may have seen our most-drastic advancements. Since stem cells research has kicked into high gear, scientists have seen major advancements with the blind. Stem cell infusions have even helped some subjects regain considerable levels of vision. Other scientists have also developed bionic retinas that can be implanted into the eye.

It all adds up to a wave of development for the visually impaired. Considering how the world has become increasingly visual and interactive, the timing couldn’t be better.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

What’s behind our appetite for self-destruction?

Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Each new year, people vow to put an end to self-destructive habits like smoking, overeating or overspending.

Keep reading Show less

34 years ago, a KGB defector chillingly predicted modern America

A disturbing interview given by a KGB defector in 1984 describes America of today and outlines four stages of mass brainwashing used by the KGB.

Politics & Current Affairs
  • Bezmenov described this process as "a great brainwashing" which has four basic stages.
  • The first stage is called "demoralization" which takes from 15 to 20 years to achieve.
  • According to the former KGB agent, that is the minimum number of years it takes to re-educate one generation of students that is normally exposed to the ideology of its country.
Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less