February’s Tech News Update on Low Vision Awareness Month, Blind Vet Tech Monthly Teleconferences Announcements, VFO Becomes the One Ring, and AIRA’s #AIRABowl and Site Access Expansion

After the maelstrom of news and concerns we covered in January’s Blind Vet Tech News Update, we are happy to provide hope and optimism for February. First an administrative note. We will continue to post the Blind Vet Tech News update here on the main Blind Not Alone blog. Followers will now receive all of our content when they subscribe here at Blind Not Alone. Secondly this action enables us to evolve the Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides and Tutorials podcast into the Blind Vet Tech Quick Guides, News and Reviews podcast channel. This enables us to advance our mission bringing you more relevant content to assist you in bridging the technological divide we each face when living with a visual impairment. Now time for the news.

February’s Low Vision Awareness Month

did you know February is Low Vision Awareness Month? Low Vision encapsulates a very broad set of visual impairments. The World Health Organization describes Low Vision as an individual with a visual impairment impacting normal functioning even after corrective lenses or medical treatment and is able to use, residual vision for the planning and execution of a task. The American Academy of Ophthalmology describes common low vision symptoms as blurriness, night blindness, restricted fields of view, hazy vision, glare, or blind spots. These are commonly noted in age related conditions like Glaucoma, Diabetic Retinopathy, or Macular Degeneration; childhood and adult conditions like Retinitis Pigmentosa, or Stargardt Disease; or trauma to the lens, cornea, retina, optical nerve, Traumatic Brain Injuries, or strokes.

Low vision symptoms serve as the canary in the coal mine alert for blindness. Early diagnosis and treatment may stop and even reverse the progression of the disease. For this reason, we each need to be aware of what Low Vision is and trust in a hope for a brighter future.

If your vision is not correctable, talk with a low vision clinic, like state blind rehab services, Department of Veterans Affairs eye clinics, ophthalmology or optometry clinics, or Lighthouses for the blind. These entities may discuss with you some rather simple low tech solutions to innovated technological devices. If your field of view is restricted, as with central field loss or blind spots, prism lenses to the eSight glasses will aid in expanding your sight. If you struggle with reading things up close or seeing distant objects, magnifiers and telescopes offer simple ways to focus on newspapers or signs. Alternatively digital magnifiers, Cyber Eyez smart glasses, or the JORDY will enable you to watch your favorite team or read a wonderful book. IF you are tethered to a computer, integrated accessibility options will allow you to increase the size of the text, reduce glare, and improve contrast. If you require screen magnification, Windows users will wish to check out ZoomText, while Apple MacOS users rely on Zoom. Similar items may be found on any iOS or Android smart phones and tablets.

Blind Vet Tech February Teleconferences

If you have any questions with life with a visual impairment or methods to address barriers associated with low vision and blindness, join us on one of our Blind Vet Tech Monthly Talks. Our Monthly Talks provide visually impaired individuals the chance to learn and share information about their favorite devices. Below is a list of our calls for February and how to connect via your computers, smart phones, or landline phones. We rely on Zoom for our teleconferencing platform, which is very usable. More information may be located by clicking here.

VFO Becomes the One Ring

In relatively surprising news, VFO acquired Enhanced Vision. VFO already owns Freedom Scientific, ZoomText, and Optelec. This places the leading stand alone optical character recognition devices, digital magnifiers, and Windows screen reader and magnification software under one financial holding group. This concerns many within the visual impairment tech world, including myself, for concerns best classified as conspiracy theories.

AIRA’s Virtual Super Bowl Party and Site Access

Finally, AIRA executed the best virtual Super Bowl party with the #AIRABowl. AIRA quickly developed into my favorite assistive tech device/service, having relied on it for reading charts and graphs for research articles, following my daughter as she cycles and I run behind her, finding the front door for various establishments, and many more reasons. During the Super Bowl, they hosted the first ever Super Bowl party for the blind with full audio descriptions of the game, stands, commercials, and halftime show. As a long time Chicago Bears fan with a great love for the game, Al Michaels and every other telecast’s announcers simply provide horrendous descriptions during their broadcasts and no one ever provided audio descriptions of the commercials. AIRA’s agents resolved this issue with the tremendous #AIRABowl party.

Sticking with AIRA, they recently announced the site access program exists in the Louisville and Minneapolis airports. Site access enables an AIRA explorer to use the AIRA service at no cost to oneself, as the location picks up the tab. This service needs your assistance to roll. It out in other airports, universities, and metropolitan areas. Click here to learn more about how you can make this happen.

Stay Informed

Stay up to date with the latest news and announcements from the Blind Vet Tech team, by doing one of the following:

If you have any questions, comments, or requests, feel free to send us an email here. All of our podcasts and other information related to Veterans, blindness, acceptance of a disability, and other resources may be found at BlindNotAlone.com

Don’t miss another Blind Vet Tech teleconference, click here to see a list of our teleconferences and others we support.