The winner of a Hungarian beauty pageant for wheelchair users says she advocate for increasing accessibility in the country, the Associated Press reports. Katalin Eszter Varga, 26, a perfume saleswoman who has been using a wheelchair for four years, won the Miss Colours event, which was the first of its kind in Europe. “It’s hard to access many buildings, bathrooms for the disabled are badly designed and there are few domestic hotels offering wheelchair access,” Varga said. “I have many hopes that all this will change.” The first Ms. Wheelchair America pageant was held in 1973.
Dame Judi Dench’s recent revelation that she has macular degeneration led to an interesting moment in the media. When the 77-year-old actress told the Daily Mirror that her sight has already gotten so bad that she couldn’t read scripts, the headlines were as dramatic as some of Dench’s roles: Judi Dench reveals she is going blind, Veteran actress Judi Dench battles to save her sight, Actress Judi Dench says she’s battling blindness, etc. But Dench quickly sought to clarify her condition: “In response to the numerous articles in the media concerning my eye condition — macular degeneration — I do not wish for this to be overblown,” Dench said in a statement emailed to Reuters. “This condition is something that thousands and thousands of people all over the world are having to contend with. It’s something that I have learnt to cope with and adapt to — and it will not lead to blindness.” This move led to more nuanced reporting on the condition, such as a Good Morning America story that explains the difference in the two types of macular degeneration (wet and dry) and discusses incidence of and potential risk factors for the condition.
New gadgets equipped with screenreaders are increasingly letting blind people listen to text. Is this contributing to “Braille illiteracy”?, The Week asks:
It’s too early to say, although Julie Deden, director of Colorado Center for the Blind, says smartphones are masking and encouraging the problem of “Braille illiteracy” by making it easier for young blind people to get by without learning Braille. But there’s a twist: New gadgets like iPhones and iPads also have the potential to make Braille more accessible than ever. Compact electronic “Braille Displays” (connected to a screen via Bluetooth) can translate digital characters into Braille using grids of plastic nubs that rise and fall as the text progresses. “The iPhone is the official phone of blindness,” one blind woman tells Britain’s Guardian.
Interestingly, though, Mashable has a take on an app called BrailleTouch that isn’t available for the iPhone but is ready for Android smartphones. Researchers created a mobile keyboard that “borrows the six-key system of the most common typewriter for Braille, the 60-year-old Perkins Brailler. The idea is that people who already know how to type Braille on a typewriter won’t need to learn a new system in order to type on their phones.” One test subject, “a 57-year-old visually impaired man who learned Braille as a child, was able to type 32 words per minute with 92% accuracy after just 20 minutes of practice.” Check out the app in the video below.
- Zimbabwe’s blind commentator is on the ball
- U.S. government charges Bank of America with discriminating against three disabled borrowers
- Muhammad Ali, who has Parkinson’s disease, celebrates his 70th birthday
- Obama’s Alzheimer’s plan focuses on treatment and care
- Las Vegas Businessman builds a brain-research center
Tags: Android, Blind, Blindness, Braille, Braille Displays, Hungary, iPhone, Judi Dench, Katalin Eszter Varga, Macular degeneration, Miss Colours, Ms. Wheelchair America, smartphones, wheelchair pageant