Your eyes are absorbing this webpage. They're passing over this, this, then this word, right now. That's how reading works, online: you take this for granted. But what if you couldn't?
We grant our gaze to electronic screens for most of the day, and in return, they give us anything we want. We stare; they glow. We rarely speak, and neither do they.
And this makes sense! The internet is a boundless collection of text, images and video, channeled to flat pieces of glass and plastic, beamed through lens, retina, and nerve, all the way into our brains. It can show us anything, and for most web users, that's exactly what it does.
But for millions of others—those who are unable to see—the web is a wildly different place. Characters become sounds. Layouts are meaningless. Images are, at best, words, and at worst, blank spaces. And yet the blind browse the same internet as everyone else, every day. They use the same gadgets the sighted do, and happily. But how?
There are all kinds of gadgets and gizmos and for the visually impaired, and thanks to designer Chueh Lee at Samsung China, those who can't see might soon be able to take pictures. The Touch Sight camera doesn't come with an LCD, instead displaying snapshots as a three-dimensional image by embossing the surface of a built-in Braille display.
"Touch Sight is a revolutionary digital camera designed for visually impaired people," said Lee. "Simpe features make it easy to use, including a unique feature which records sound for three seconds after pressing the shutter button. The user can then use the sound as a reference when reviewing and managing the photos."
Visually impaired photographers are advised to hold the camera up against their forehead, similar to having a third eye, as the best way to stabilize and aim the camera. Once the pictures are snapped, the touchable photos are saved to the camera and the ones worth sharing can be uploaded for other Touch Sight camera owners to download and feel.
Kudos to Lee for one of the grooviest gadgets we've seen recent times.
The University of Washington has developed a new tool called WebAnywhere that allows the blind and visually impaired surf the Web on the go. It turns screen-reading into an Internet service that reads aloud Web text on any computer with speakers or headphone connections. For the past month that WebAnywhere has been available, Bigham, has received inquiries from librarians and teachers who struggle to find the time to locate free software, get permission to install it and then maintain the program. They plan to continue to update the program and make improvements.