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VisionWorks Monthly Musings...

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Has Braille Died?

Posted on October 1, 2013 at 4:50 AM

Has braille died?

There was a time when we used to write with pens and not use computers. A time when a typewriter was the only way to ‘word process’. A time, when braille was not only written by hand but was also used far and wide. Computers and our need for new technology put a stop to that in western society – or so some people believe.

How has the computer changed things for people who have a visual impairment? Well it now allows anyone, regardless of disability, to access more, far quicker and intuitively thanks to assistive technology. Braille used to be the way that visually impaired people communicated with the world but now a computer is.

So has braille died...

The short answer is no, in fact the long answer is no too. Braille is still around; in fact it is one of the most recognised communication tools worldwide, technology is just helping it. Technology has put a new face to braille and the cumbersome and sometimes ugly tools used to communicate. Newer tools like braille displays that use ‘refreshable’ pins to allow a message to be read, braille note machines, braille outputs for mobile phones and even braille computers which have no screen and relay all of the information via a braille output or an audio output are the new image of braille.

It is all incredibly clever! In my mind, and in the minds of many others who work with assistive technology, technology will never ‘kill’ braille off, it will just make it more intuitive, smaller and quicker. Who knows, Louis Braille’s communication may still be around in 200 years and maybe we will all have an ‘app’ that will translate it for us?

Could you read braille, have a look at the alphabet below and see if you can work out your name?

Many thanks to the fabulous Scott Douglas for writing this weeks' blog for us, hopefully we'll be hearing a lot more from him in the future.

National Eye Health Week

Posted on September 17, 2013 at 4:35 AM

What would your world be like if you couldn’t see? Unfortunately this is a problem faced by 1.8million people daily in the UK, sadly though with simple eye check and new glasses 53% of those people could be helped.

This week is national eye health, don’t become a statistic.

Follow these simple steps to help maintain your vision:

• Have an eye test every two years – not only will this detect sight problem, but often general health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure will be identified.

• Early detected and treatment is key to preserving useful vision in conditions such as glaucoma and age related macular degeneration. • Take regular breaks when working at a screen to help avoid sore, itchy and tired eyes. Remember the 20/20 rule - 20 minutes working, 20 seconds looking around.

• For healthy eyes, eat well, don’t smoke and wear eye protection in bright sunlight:


Smokers are 4x as likely to development age related macular degeneration (the leading cause of blindness in the 1st world) than none smokers

Eat well? How does that help my eyes?

Studies have shown that nutrients in omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and vitamins
C and E may help to prevent age-related vision problems such as macular degeneration and cataracts.

Foods containing eye- friendly nutrients include green leafy vegetables, oily fish such as salmon and citrus fruits. It’s all relative Talk to your relatives about your family eye health history as some eye conditions have genetic links such as glaucoma or squint.

Sunglasses aren’t just for summer:

Protect your eyes when it
is sunny or when you’re in high glare areas such as near snow or water. Cumulative UV exposure can increase your risk of developing cataracts or macular degeneration. When choosing sunglasses make sure that they are safe as well as stylish! Look out for the CE or BS EN 1836:2005 marks – this ensures that they provide a safe level of protection from the sun’s damaging UVA and UVB rays.