Yesterday I visited Perkins School for the Blind. A highlight of the visit was meeting Sara, a teenage girl who was born blind. In addition to sharing her enthusiasm for chemistry and one day being a camp director, she showed us her BrailleNote computer. Using this machine Sara can connect online and browse websites. The experience of watching her share her experience was out of this world. Questions like what does her mind's eye see? Which finger is more sensitive to the braille dots? How is her experience visiting website different or similar than mine? The whole experience was completely foreign and for me highlighted another instance where technology is improving lives.
Another technology that is making a difference in daily life for visually impaired people is the Tap Tap See app. It is a photo recognition software that can identify what is in a picture and then reports out with an automated voice. We tested it and it called me a tall man wearing a gray sweater. We tried it on someone else and it said what we was wearing and included her smile. Pretty cool! For teachers who have visually imparied students in their classroom I highly recommend it. For non-visually impaired students this app can also be a conduit for exploring how blind people navigate the world and I bet there are other discovery oriented activities this app could play a role in as well.