Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 21, 2011 / 16 Shevat, 5771

Tech helps those with limited vision; Apple leads in ‘assistive technology’

By Mark Kellner



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | If there's anything that can scare most of us - and with good reason - it's the prospect of losing one's sight, or having it severely damaged. It's not just total blindness; diseases such as macular degeneration, in which damage to the retina causes a loss of vision in the macula, the center of vision, often strikes older people, but it can also affect young adults and others.

(That anxiety is, apparently, widely shared: according to an October 2010 poll by Harris Interactive, 82 percent of Americans fear losing their vision, the highest proportion among the five senses, and more than ten times the next-nearest fear, loss of hearing at 8 percent.)

The introduction of the Braille alphabet, which lets people "read" by touch, has been an advancement, but as then-Gov. David A. Paterson told The New York Times on Dec. 26 of last year, "You can't Braille the daily newspaper."

How can those with limited vision, or even no vision at all, be mainstreamed in today's tech-intensive world? Mark Ackermann and Dorrie Rush have some answers. He is president and CEO, and she is director of marketing for assistive technology at Lighthouse International, www.lighthouse.org, a New York-based agency helping those with vision loss issues.

The 105-year-old Lighthouse is widely known in New York City, having provided education, job training and living assistance for those who need it. The group has a massive facility on East 59th Street in Manhattan that has served thousands.

Today's distributed world needs distributed solutions, however: people can live and work just about anywhere, and, as Ms. Rush's example would suggest, even thrive, despite her having Stargardt's Disease, which, she writes, "results in progressive loss of central vision."

But Ms. Rush uses an iPhone and an iPad, both from Apple, Inc. She works on a Windows-based personal computer at her office, and an Apple iMac at home. She's a blogger (http://dorriessight.blogspot.com/) and an enthusiast.

"I'm 52 years old and I want to be like the other kids," Ms. Rush said in a telephone interview on January 14. Having assistive technology which either greatly enlarges the screen display or reads aloud text on a computer screen is vital, she said: "It means I can continue a relatively normal life; I can work. It is something that everyone dealing with vision loss fears losing, which is his or her ability to work."

More important, Ms. Rush's iPad and iPhone look just like yours and mine would. Instead of carrying something which shouts "I'm using a special product," users can fit in with the crowd, and that's a plus.

Apple's adaptive technologies are built into the Mac OS X operating system, including "VoiceOver," which can tell users which program they're using, which window is open, and what menu options are available. In certain productivity applications such as NisusWriterPro and OpenOffice, it'll read back the on-screen text to you; Microsoft Word 2011 for Mac is not, apparently, compatible. Another OS X built-in, "Zoom," will magnify a screen up to 20 times normal size with just a couple of clicks, another plus for those with vision impairments.

In Microsoft Windows 7, you can set the operating system to magnify a given portion of the screen up to seven times; for larger magnifications, separate software is needed. AI Squared in Manchester, Vermont, offers ZoomText at $395 with magnifications up to 36-times the original. Another $200 will buy you a screen reader as well.

The advantage here seems to be with Apple; the company doesn't really crow about this, but making a computer accessible to users has long been a goal of the firm and its CEO, Steven P. Jobs, who announced he was taking a medical leave on January 17. Mr. Jobs' search to make computers easier to use led to the graphical user interface at the heart of the Macintosh, and the firm has had 27 years of experience in refining those technologies.

The importance of all this to the thousands of Americans (and others) struggling with vision issues can't be understated, Mr. Ackermann insists: "As people lose their vision, whether they're 3, or 13, or 30 or 80 - this is a very big trauma in their lives," he said. "They just want to feel normal, these new technologies are really helping this particular set of disabled people be more able."

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.

Archives

© 2009, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles