Archive for November, 2009

Blind Actor Tim Gebbels to Star in TV Series

By Francesca Bardsley © Oxford Mail, England — A blind actor hopes his role in a spoof reality TV show will dispel stereotypes about disabled people. Tim Gebbels, of Kenilworth Avenue, East Oxford, stars in new Channel 4 series Cast Offs, which follows six people with different disabilities who are left on a remote British island. Mr Gebbels has had parts in shows including The Bill, William and Mary and Torchwood, but has never taken a leading TV role before. The 41-year-old plays Tom in Cast Offs, which will be screened for the first time at 11pm tomorrow night. He said: “I think the intention is to show that, okay, you have got six disabled people here, but once they are on this island, they squabble, and get on with each other, and get off with each other just as any other six people would…. READ ARTICLE

Frankfurt’s DialogMuseum Exposes Visitors to World of the Blind

By Mark Abramson © Stars and Stripes European edition — The phrase “the blind leading the blind” takes on a whole new meaning at one site in Frankfurt, Germany. The place is the DialogMuseum, an interactive museum whose main attraction is Dialogue in the Dark, offering a labyrinth of rooms in total darkness in which visitors are guided by a blind person whom they never even see. The experience is an eye-opener into what it is like to live in a pitch-black world where you must rely on your senses of touch and hearing to get by. People going through the maze get the same canes that blind people use to navigate everyday life and they are given a quick lesson in how to use them…. READ ARTICLE

First Braille Workshop at Kanglung

By Kinga Dema © Kuensel Newspaper, Bhutan — In an attempt to standardise braille application and make the writing system for visually impaired people systematic, braille users across the country came together for the first time and discussed various applications of braille. The four-day workshop that ended on November 21 at Kanglung focused on the introduction to braille, application of rules in transcribing printed text into braille, learning readiness activities, learning of braille science and math code were discussed at length, said the focal person, Pema Chogay, a visually impaired teacher with the national institute for the disabled…. READ ARTICLE

Publishing Innovator ReadHowYouWant Bridges Kindle Gap for Blind and Visually Impaired Readers

Business Wire/News Blaze, Sydney, Australia — Amidst complaints of Amazon’s Kindle inaccessibility for blind readers, ReadHowYouWant, a new technology publishing company from Australia, is leading the way in accessible publishing by using proprietary XML conversion software to repurpose books into a number of formats to meet the varying needs of readers who are blind, visually impaired, or have print or learning disabilities. Now readers can choose between as many as ten different formats before they buy a book at, including electronic braille, synthesized audio MP3; optimized, large print, 24 point bold EasyRead print-on-demand books, and DAISY-a talking book format that produces audio along with the written text. DAISY books play on DAISY players, which are either standalone units or computer applications…. READ PRESS RELEASE

Blind Woman Trains As Massage Therapist

© KETV-TV, OMAHA, Nebraska — Mandy Somer guided black fabric through her sewing machine like she’s an old pro. It’s with that same ease that she’s lived every aspect of her life: going to college, taking on new interests and trying to earn a living. “I feel like a rule breaker sometimes. I’ve never done what was expected of me, ever,” the young woman said, laughing. Somer recently created a broomstick skirt at her sewing machine, and showed off a closet full of her sewing handiwork, including laced trimmed dresses she sewed for her other hobby, Civil War re-enacting. Her passion for trying new projects and pushing herself outweighs her disability. “I went blind when I was 12,” Somer explained. The 30-year-old was born with congenital glaucoma. Her retinas detached on Christmas Day, 18 years ago. She has no vision at all. “I get hooked on something. If I get a hold of something that I feel passionate about. I don’t let it go. I don’t let it go,” she said. Her current passion is massage therapy. She’s a student at Omaha’s Universal College of Healing Arts where she’ll graduate next spring as the first blind student of the school…. READ ARTICLE

Guide Dogs for the Blind to Update Facilities

By Jennifer Upshaw Swartz © Marin Independent Journal, California — San Rafael-based Guide Dogs for the Blind has embarked on an ambitious effort to update its Terra Linda campus. The national organization headquartered in Marin has begun working with city planners and the San Rafael Design Review Board on a project to demolish, relocate and reconstruct the administration building and residence hall. The buildings are out of date and struggle to meet building and fire code regulations, officials said…. READ ARTICLE

Inspiring retired prof inducted into Hall of Fame Leaders and Legends in the Blindness Field

By Mike Peters © Greeley Tribune, Colorado — A letter from a child probably tells the best story about Dean Tuttle’s sight: “I’m glad you’re blind,” the boy wrote. “So you could talk to us about it.” That’s what Tuttle, a retired University of Northern Colorado professor, believed about blindness. What he believed he could share with others who were trying to adjust to life without eyesight. Because of that sharing and insight, Tuttle was elected to the Hall of Fame Leaders and Legends in the Blindness Field…. READ ARTICLE

Art Exhibition Caters for Blind

© BBC News, Wales — A professional artist is staging an exhibition of landscapes, seascapes and street scenes that cater for people who are blind or partially sighted. Mark Cox has made 3D scale wooden replicas of some his paintings so people can feel the subjects as well as view them. He will also be on hand at Carmarthen Library to describe the images when the exhibition opens later this month. He worked with members of the town’s Blind Society to trial the reliefs. Mr Cox, a retired policeman, has been painting professionally for six years and although he has exhibited widely this will be his first in his home town. He said: “I got to thinking how I could make it as accessible as possible so everyone could go there…. READ ARTICLE

Bonded by Bowling: Blind Athletes Knock Them Down

By Patti Mengers © The Delaware County Daily Times, Pennsylvania — At a national bowling tournament in Cleveland, Ohio, last Memorial Day weekend, Ron Stanchak noticed a woman who repeatedly got gutter balls. He decided to offer her some insight. “I said, ‘Listen, stand on the heavy dot in the middle, walk toward the second arrow, throw it over the second arrow and it’ll hook right into the 1-3 pocket.’ It did and she got three strikes in a row,” recalled the 60-year-old Springfield resident. His random act of kindness earned him a hug from the woman and sneers from his teammates. As it happened, she was playing for the opposing team. “If I knew she was gonna do that good, I wouldn’t have taught her how to bowl,” said Stanchak with a laugh. The fact that she was sighted and he is legally blind was of no consequence to him. Stanchak is among a dedicated band of 32 members comprising the Delaware Valley Blind Bowlers League and nothing, not even impaired vision, is going to deter his passion for the sport…. READ ARTICLE

Robot joins NZ retirement home staff

© Sydney Morning Herald, Australia — Residents of an Auckland retirement village now have a robot helper, thanks to new research into inexpensive robotic assistants for the elderly. The Korean YUJIN robot will work alongside human staff at the Selwyn Retirement Village in Pt Chevalier, where its tasks will include taking vital signs and giving reminders. The robot is on trial following a University of Auckland study into older people’s attitudes towards robot helpers…. READ ARTICLE