Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Intelligent screen readers ?

It is getting difficult for me to translate these days. For some reasons, full view magnification is no more working on my Windows 7 PC at work. I tried testing several third party accessibility software but I'm yet to find a screen reader which automatically recognizes and switches between two languages on the same page. 

I have to work on a translation tool whose interface is similar to this image. Source text is on the right side and I type on the left side in target segments. I need a reader which can recognize both French and English and swap between the two when I move my cursor from one segment to another. 

Does anyone know any intelligent screen reader tool which can solve this issue? 

I currently work with 200% magnification but I would like to use more and more of screen reader technology if I can to avoid strain. 

Update - Tried ZoomText 10. Nice upgrade from v9. Reader still supports only the language selected during installation. It is still not bilingual, Looks like either I need to adapt to how a tool reads French in English accent or just drop the idea of a Reader completely! :(

Saturday, April 21, 2012


It is always difficult to convince people that we are visually impaired. They look at me and see a healthy young woman who can look at them in the eye at an arm's length. And they think I'm just fabricating stories about SD to get a seat in the front row.

I was late for a theatre performance today and they sent me to the show organisers to check for a front row seat. I had to explain to the director for 15 minutes before he was partially convinced. He kept staring at my eyes. I felt very uncomfortable and I didn't want to speak anymore. I went inside and requested some people in the front row to give me a seat (this time I didn't tell them I'm visually impaired). And I got a seat! 

What do you do in such situations when people refuse to help you because they don't trust you that you are visually impaired? 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Second Patient with AMD treated safely in Stem Cell Clinical Trials

Good News! Advanced Cell Technology Inc. announced treatment of a second patient with  dry age-related macular degeneration (AMD). In a press release, Gary Rabin, chairman and CEO of the company said that the patient is recovering well:  “So far, there have not been any complications or side effects due to the stem cell-derived RPE cells, and we will continue monitoring the patients for safety, tolerability and efficacy of this therapy,” 

The clinical trials are designed to determine the safety and effects of sub-retinal implantation of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE)  cells derived from human embroynic stem cells. ACT trials are one of the four ongoing clinical trials for the treatment of age-related macular dystrophy and Stargardt's macular dystrophy.

Earlier in January, ACT announced safe stem cell transplantation treatment of first patients. Currently, the company is conducting three trials in United States and Europe. Each trial will have 12 people, who will be monitored for safety and tolerability of hESC-derived RPE cells at 12 months.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Google's New Context-based Spell check

Google will soon roll out their new context-based spell check integrated in their browser Chrome. It might be a big relief for people with dyslexia or low vision as it analyzes the context to recommend correct spellings

So if you wrote "Icland is an icland". It will suggest "Iceland is an island". So totally cool!  Here is a link for more details : Smart Spell Check

Update: For Chrome users, a grammar and spell check Ginger extension can be downloaded from here

Saffron supplementation

I've been hearing about the good properties of Saffron and its use in arresting macular degeneration since quite some time now (2008). There is a clinical trial being currently conducted in Italy on people with Stargardt's and the results will be out by July 2012. It seems that saffron does help to reverse or stop degeneration at an early staage of AMD. There is no evidence yet for its application on SD. Minimum dosage recommended is 20 mg per day.

Saffron is seemingly a very good anti-oxidant for eyes. It also has some side-effects and you should check your doctor before taking saffron supplements. Saffron is commonly used as a spice in India and I know that if you consume even two three tiny threads, you end up having hot flushes.

Here is the link to SD related clinical trial for this: Saffron supplementation in Stargardt's Disease

Stem-cell and gene therapy trials are also in Phase 1. But it will take some more years to really understand if they are safe or not.

Self-defense techniques

Last weekend I enrolled myself for jiu jitsu training at a combat sports academy nearby. With more vision loss, I feel I've very less preparation time if I'm attacked in the street. And I may or may not be able to run. Some people suggested using a folded white cane or pepper spray as self-defense measure but where is the time?

After a lot of research on which type of martial arts to choose, most of my SD friends recommended Jiu-Jitsu as it is more about using technique than muscle power. I like the idea. And I'm already very excited thinking about all the moves that I read about and watched online. 

I've told my instructors that I'm visually impaired and they might need to adapt the classes according to my needs. I start in 2 weeks! 

What kind of self-defense training works best for you?