As technology has evolved, it has become lighter, smaller and more portable. For most people, that makes it more convenient. For millions of blind and vision-impaired people, it’s anything but. Jay Leventhal, who is blind, still fumbles with the tiny controls on his iPod but has given up on the kiosk in his New York office building that lists all the tenants. Blind people need a way to communicate with the machines that surround them, he says, from automated tellers to ticketing machines at train stations and airports.
Leventhal and other experts on assistive technology say there’s no reason that can’t happen. The technology exists in voice chips, image processors, cell phones, cameras and personal digital assistants. Someone just needs to put it all together. That’s the principle behind the Levar Burton Vision Enhancement Technology Center, a fledgling venture in Morgantown, West Virginia, that will pair the resources of West Virginia University and Georgia Tech with private-sector partners like Motorola Corp.
Levar Burton, who played blind Lt. Geordi La Forge in Star Trek: The Next Generation, is lending his name and star power to fund-raising efforts for the center. Though he’s not blind, he wore a visor on the set that impaired his vision by 75 percent for nearly 12 hours a day.
Read the rest of the article at wired.com.