To celebrate Women's History Month, the BeSpecular team has chosen to highlight the lives of visually impaired, blind and deafblind women who played notable roles in history. As the month passes we'll add more profiles of remarkable women. We have put effort into recognising women from different fields, countries, eras, and levels of impairment. We hope this article will educate the public on the achievements of successful women in history who happened to be visually impaired, blind or deafblind (whether from birth or due to an accident or illness later in life).
This article is written by Chris Venter, one of BeSpecular's blind users. The views expressed below are solely his & we at BeSpecular are tremendously grateful for his contribution.
The theme for World Sight Day 2016 was: Stronger Together. The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB) championed the cause under the VISION 2020 Global Initiative. We at BeSpecular support the call to action and brought together various individuals, organisations and members of the press to highlight how important our relationships, partnerships and friendships truly are.
Ask any swimmer about the trials and tribulations of swimming and the full athlete experience. They will gladly inform you of their gruelling routine which is religiously followed with an eager heart whilst chasing a goal, a dream, in short, their vision of success. A typical day of training starts with an early morning session about two hours, a gruelling gym session, followed by the notorious evening three-hour sets. Not to mention, while everyone else enjoys their weekends, swimmers still dedicate themselves to Friday and Saturday sessions, and if they are lucky a Sunday recovery session might be the reward for the hard work of the week. All of this done for the love of the sport and the personal victory of achieving a goal. This routine is repeated all year round, by all swimmers - from the blind and visually impaired (VIP), disabled and able-body swimmers. The emotional, mental and physical endurance necessary to clock all those hours on the pool indicates the strong will and character developed by the sport.
The BeSpecular app will be released on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store on July 1st! Since January we’ve been conducting our private beta test with Sightlings and VIPs from around the world. It’s been an incredible 6 month journey of learning, growing and developing. The BeSpecular app is now ready to move into its public beta phase. We’d like to encourage everyone to download the BeSpecular app from July 1st and #ShareYourVision!
The first golf club I ever held was at the age of 8. It seemed like an impossible task to ever be able to hit the ball as high and as far as all the older guys. Equipped with a sawn off 8 iron and a pink grip, my obsession began for chasing this tiny white ball around some of the most scenic places around the world.
I was born in Harare, Zimbabwe on the 30th of January in 1977. I had only been alive for a very short period of time before both my parents and the doctors realised that something was very wrong with me. Not only did the doctors discover that I had no sight in both eyes, but that I also had two tumors behind retinas. I was given three to maximum five months to live, and my right eye was removed at the age of three months to try and slow the cancer down. The doctor didn't hold out much hope, but despite the pain and discomfort, I survived the odds...
I began cycling competitively on-road and off-road in high school. This was a great way to stay fit and socialise with many people sharing a common passion. On-road and off-road cycling are very different in nature and require fairly different levels of fitness and technical ability. My hunger to master both began to grow and I found myself entering many races. I was privileged enough to have ridden alongside Mauricio Soler and Robbie Hunter (Tour de France athletes) during a friendly cycle race.
We are kicking off our Accessible Sports blog series with an interview with a world champion athlete. We asked her to tell us about a typical day in her life, who she looks up to, and if technology plays a part in her day. We hope you enjoy getting to know our incredible friend: Ilse Hayes.
The radio has been a fantastic channel for BeSpecular to get its voice heard around the world; you never know who might be listening to one of our interviews! Many of us in the visually impaired community enjoy listening to the radio and it's always great to find radio stations which cover topics particularly relevant to us. Since many of these radio stations are online, it enables just about anyone to listen irrespective of the country they're based in. Here is BeSpecular's journey over the airwaves and across 4 continents.
You might have stumbled upon our BeSpecular YouTube channel www.youtube.com/bespecular. We've recently uploaded 3 videos that demonstrate just how you, our visually impaired friends, would use the BeSpecular mobile platform. In each video we learn a bit more about what BeSpecular can do: from enabling a visually impaired girl to ask if her outfit is suitable for her job interview, to a blind and hearing impaired man being able to check if his milk has expired before pouring it into his coffee. The last video is of an elderly man who can't read the label on his medication and because he's added contacts to his Buddy List, he's able to get an answer within a few seconds. How would you use the BeSpecular app and what else can you expect from BeSpecular as a VIP?
While browsing the web, you've probably encountered these weird combinations of letters and numbers that many websites use to check that you're human, and not a web robot or spammers. The idea behind it is that a human, in theory, can decipher those fuzzy characters and enter them in a form to prove he or she is not a computer, which would not be able to recognize those distorted letters. This method has been devised by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and they called it CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart). A Turing test, named after the computer scientist Alan Turing, is a type of test with the purpose to differentiate a human from a computer.
Each year TechCrunch Disrupt takes over London for the most epic showcase of revolutionary startups, game-changing technologies, and discussions that pick the brains of the tech world's key innovators. BeSpecular found itself at TechCrunch Disrupt 2014 Startup Alley:
As a sighted person you're probably wondering how a visually impaired person (VIP) uses a smartphone if its screen's totally flat. There's actually a lot of functions built into your iPhone that as a sighted person you didn't even know were there! Apple has been at the forefront of commercial smartphones that are user-friendly for the blind and visually impaired. Because of the fact that a VIP can unpack their iPhone and begin using it immediately makes it a great device favoured by VIPs worldwide!
You could be reading this blog post on your laptop, or through text-to-speech on your mobile phone - whichever way, we're happy you're reading! Modern technology has changed the way in which people communicate, work, and live. Assistive technology is a space in which we, BeSpecular, love to work.
There are 1 billion people with disabilities in this world, of which 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired. What you might find to be more shocking is that 90% of visually impaired people (VIP) live in low-income households. That's 256 500 000 people who are either blind or have low vision and are living in conditions that can't support them. Only 16% of all visually impaired people living in Italy are employed, and this number goes down to 3% for South Africa.