Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New low-cost handheld device offers independence for millions of Americans with low vision

HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA: Enhanced Vision, America’s leading manufacturer of magnifying solutions for people with low vision, launched a powerful new lightweight hand-held device today that can bring affordable independence to the 15 Million+ Americans with low vision , such as macular degeneration. At just $295 and weighing less than 4 ounces, “Pebble-mini” is an exciting new vision device that gives users the freedom to read menus, check price tags, write checks, and much more while on the go.

Pebble Mini
The Pebble features:

•Bright, 3.0” high resolution LCD display that magnifies words and objects from 2-10X the normal size
•Choice of 28 viewing modes
•“Freeze image” feature with capability to magnify and change modes
•Image capture with save and recall
•Adjustable brightness
•Charge with USB into outlet or pc and
•Protective pouch and neck strap
•Hands-free reading stand
•2 year warranty

Currently, more than 15 million people in the United States are diagnosed with low vision, such as Macular Degeneration which makes everyday activities like reading, writing, and ordering at restaurants a real challenge. And with America’s aging population, this number is expected to double by 2020. Leading eye care specialists have discovered that video magnification is a solution for these individuals to regain and maintain their independence.

“With the Pebble-mini, we’re giving people the confidence to do everyday activities again with a single, simple device,” said Barron Javaheri, President at Enhanced Vision. “Instead of carrying around multiple magnifiers, Pebble-mini adapts to a wide range of situations, so it grows as a user’s condition changes. And at a price that’s hundreds of dollars less than competing products, it’s the ideal solution at this challenging time.”

Swiss company develops app for blind people to recognize products

Europe Apr 30, 2012
Codecheck, the Swiss company has developed app that help people who are blind and low vision to recognize products. The app detects and reads what is written on the package.

By filming the barcode on the packaging, the app recognizes the product. The bar code contains the unique number by which each product can be identified worldwide.

The checkcode database has 9 million products baring this number in it.

Since it is difficult for people who are blind and low vision to find the barcode on the package, Codecheck has collaborated with the Swiss Federation for the Blind and people who are blind and low vision and developers to augment Scandit barcode scanning SDK with a function called “ScanGuide,” which guides the user through the barcode recognition process from start to finish.

Once the user’s camera has reached an ideal position, the Codecheck app scans the barcode and walks the user through the process of accessing product information such as ingredients, quality labels, environmental impact, and reviews. The auxiliary function guides the user with an artificial voice and gives him directions to find the bar code on the package.

Codecheck’s app is free and available for Swiss users, and the new “ScanGuide” feature is available for the price of 24,99 Euro.

By Aqeel Qureshi

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What’s in a definition? Everything when it comes to a diagnosis of autism.

By Guest Blogger Taryn Williams, Policy Advisor, Office of Disability Employment Policy, U.S. Department of Labor

A recent debate among mental health professionals, families and disability advocates is flaming passions about what it means to be an individual with autism. The American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (D.S.M.), the standard reference for mental health professionals, is in the process of being updated. The APA, which defines autism, is proposing a new and more restrictive criterion for the disorder. That process, and the potential for a narrowed definition, is pitting families and advocates against the experts who traditionally work with them.

During the period of public comment, experts and parents revealed high levels of concern about the new definition, including that some children may not exhibit all of the behavioral and social interaction deficits necessary to meet the new standards. The intensity of the debate is indicative of the level of emotion surrounding the need to ensure that every individual has access to the supports and services he or she need to become successful. Underlying these concerns are worries by parents that their children will not be deemed autistic, and therefore will be ineligible for the specific services that can help ensure future success. What this means: Parents may be forced to emphasize the functional limitations of their child’s particular behaviors in order to access services and supports.

While there has been an abundance of media coverage detailing the concerns of parents, numerous articles explaining the concerns of mental health professionals, few describing the implications to youth. Recently Temple Grandin shared her concerns about the “downside of Autism Awareness.” In an article published earlier this month on, she says, “I visit people in [autism] meetings, and a 9-year-old will come up and want to talk about his autism. I’d rather talk about his science project. You get fixated on your favorite thing as a kid, and now kids are getting fixated on autism instead of dogs or medieval knights. I’d rather get them to fixate on that something that could give them a career.”

Further, what impacts might a continued focus on functional limitations have on the expectations that are so critical to later success? What message do we send to youth with autism when we are forced to focus not on what they can do, but on what they struggle to do?

Research conducted by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth and its funder, the Office of Disability Employment Policy at the U.S. Department of Labor, suggests that there are a series of supports and services that all youth, including youth with disabilities such as those with autism, need in order to successfully transition. These supports, which include strong academic preparation; career and work based learning; youth development and leadership; connection to outside supports such as healthcare, transportation and housing; and family involvement, are the keys to the transition into adulthood for all youth.

In the past few decades, a number of strategies have been identified that enable individuals with disabilities to obtain and maintain competitive employment. One such strategy is customized employment, which pairs an individual’s strengths, skills and interests with an employers needs in the workplace.

As the debate rages on, I hope that the conversations broaden to include a focus – beyond the label – on what steps can be taken now to prepare youth for future self sufficiency no matter if they are on or off the spectrum.

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