Kansas Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (KABVI) will be hosting with the assistance of American Counsel of the Blind (ACB) an online convention Friday, November 20th and Saturday, November 21st.  This is the ACB’s annual meeting but it is also a celebration of KABVI’s 100 year anniversary.

Friday’s agenda is scheduled 10:00am-5:00pm and Saturday’s 9:00am to 4:00pm.  Agenda items include: myself, Mandy Smith with iKan-RCIL information; KSDS Assistance Dogs, Inc.; Kansas Talking Books; Assistive Technology for Kansans and Telecommunications Access Program; Nanopac; Audio Reader; Kansas State School for the Blind; and much more.  Both days will be hosted on Zoom along with streaming live on Facebook and internet radio.

KABVI is asking for $10 registration fee that includes two days worth of knowledge along with entered into drawings for door prizes.  For information on how to register please contact Ann Byington, KABVI President, abyinton@cox.net (785) 235-8990 or (800) 799-1499.

 

October 15th is White Cane Safety Day also known as Blind Americans Equality Day.  Which is a day to celebrate and raise awareness about the white cane, that people who are blind or have low vision use to help with mobility.  A white cane’s purpose is to identify objects on a traveler’s route and to identify the traveler as a person with vision loss.  Kansas has the white cane law (KSA 8-1542) that states “The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to any blind pedestrian carrying a clearly visible white cane or accompanied by a guide dog.”

A white cane is made up of three parts: a grip to make it easier to hold; the shaft that is reflective and white; and a tip that can be a heavy duty plastic or metal material.

White Cane Safety Day started in 1964 and the Lions were a big part of getting it started.  A Lions member is also who came up with the cane being white.  Many celebrate White Cane Safety Day by telling their story of why they like/love their cane or going to the Capitol to have the Governor sign a proclamation.  Due to COVID-19 most people celebrated via Zoom but Governor Kelly and President Trump signed proclamations today as usual.

I get questions many times about available apps for people who have vision loss. I thought I’d write a brief description of 5 apps that have great features for people who are blind or visually impaired.

  1. LookTel Money Reader – This app uses the camera on the back of the phone/tablet and then says out loud along with large print on the screen what nomination the bill is. This allows easy money identification at home or while out.
  2. Tap Tap See – This app also uses the camera to take a picture of an object the person needs to identify. Using an internet search Tap Tap See will give an audio description of the item.
  3. Be My Eyes – Be My Eyes is similar to Tap Tap See, it uses the camera but you connect to a live person. This person is a volunteer so they do not have any training with working with people with vision loss. The person with the vision loss uses their camera to show what item they need identified or read and the volunteer assists them.
  4. KNFB Reader – While this app is not free like the others it has a purpose most would find priceless. This app converts text to speech and/or Braille for users. It can read documents long and short by taking a picture using the camera on the phone/tablet and using ocular character recognition (OCR) can read the document out loud.
  5. Seeing AI – This is one of my favorite apps. Seeing AI has multiple purposes again using the phone/tablet’s camera. This app can identify text such as KNFB Reader using OCR for short and longer text. And unlike any other OCR it is able to read some handwriting! It can also identify money like the LookTel Money Reader. It has a bar code reader to give product description and read labels. It can also give a description of people and the scene/surroundings indoors.

These apps are not a one size fits all or needed for everyone but a great tool for a person’s tool kit. If you have questions on how to download or anything else please contact Mandy Smith at (785)528-3105.

 

RCIL’s Mandy Smith will be hosting the following events:

  • Low vision fair April 7th at the Parsons Public Library from 1:00-3:00pm
  • Low vision independent living classes April 23rd and 30th at the Riley County Senior Center in Manhattan from 1:00pm-3:00pm
  • Low vision fair May 13th at the Marion Senior Center from 12:15pm-2:15pm

Please look for more information in the future or call Mandy at (785)528-3105 if you have questions.

I’m a few days late but National Braille Day is celebrated on January 4th, which is Louis Braille’s birthday.  As most know, Louis Braille created Braille at a young age after going blind from accidently poking his eye out and obtaining an infection that affected his second eye.  Louis created Braille after learning a form of night writing the France military was using.

It is important to celebrate National Braille Day or at least discuss it after the fact (LOL) as it is a reminder of how important Braille is.  Braille allows those with vision loss the ability to access print and allows independence.  Louie Braille died in 1852, before he was able to see how great his invention was for future generations.