Solutions for persons with vision impairment

Research states that there are about 36 million people in the world who are blind, and a further 216 million who live with moderate to severe visual impairments

Today, technology is playing a vital role in bridging gaps and artificial intelligence is making strong headway in improving accessibility. 

Assistive technology improves daily performance, and independent living, thereby enhancing the quality of life among persons with disability. For persons with vision impairment, assistive technology bleeds into almost all aspects of lives - from mobility to education to leisure.

Here are examples for 5 assistive aids that ensures dignity of persons with vision impairment by facilitating independence.

  1. AI for the eye- Microsoft’s Seeing AI2 is an app designed to help people with low vision or who are blind. It enhances the world around the user with rich audio descriptions. It can read a handwritten note or scan a barcode and then tell the user what the product is. Point a camera at something and the app will describe how many people it can see and where they are in the image – center, top left and so on. 

  1. 3D sound maps- Microsoft Soundscape enables people to build a richer awareness of their surroundings, thus becoming more confident and empowered to get around. Unlike step-by-step navigation apps, Soundscape helps build a mental map and make personal route choices while being more comfortable within unfamiliar spaces.  

  1. Beacons of change - Bluetooth beacons, such as those created Foresight Augmented Reality3, act like highly precise, personalized guides for people who are blind or partially sighted. While basic GPS technology can take users to a location, beacons mounted in a store, restaurant or public building can guide them to the entrance of the building in question. And when the user is inside, other beacons can direct them to the bathroom or other important facilities. 

  1. Multilingual solution- Trestle Labs has developed a solution – Kibo4 – that translates and digitizes printed, audio, handwritten and digital content in 60 global languages, including 12 Indian languages. Their vision is to empower persons with vision impairment to access any kind of printed handwritten or digital content independently through audio in real-time.  

  1. Echoing inclusion- Amazon’s Show and Tell5 is a new feature that helps users with vision loss more effectively navigate their own cupboards. With Show and Tell, customers who are blind and have low vision can hold up an item to the Echo Show camera and ask, ‘Alexa, what am I holding,’ and Alexa helps identify the item through advanced computer vision and machine learning technologies for object recognition. 

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