Inclusive Voices competition

Calibre are launching a short story competition called “Inclusive Voices” created as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations. The competition is for all ages and abilities and the only criteria is that it needs to be 550 words or less and must feature a character with a print disability. It can be submitted in any format too. The competition runs until the end of August.


Fact Factory reading kit

The world’s first audio-print magazine series (that comes with a reading pen) for children with print disabilities, so they can read, read along with or listen to every page of the series. It has been created in collaboration with the Dyslexia Association of Ireland and the National Council for the Blind of Ireland. Each Fact Factory magazine contains specially adapted tactile points that enable blind readers or children with visual disabilities to independently activate the audio content on every page through touch.

More information from: https://audiomagmedia.com/

What vision problems are more common in older adults?

Common vision problems in older adults include AMD, cataracts, glaucoma, dry eye, and diabetic retinopathy. Regular eye tests can help people detect eye conditions early and protect their vision. The risk of eye problems and vision loss increases with age. Vision problems can make reading small type, seeing at night, and telling objects apart from the background more difficult. It may also take longer to see different colours and adjust to changes in light. Many of these vision problems are manageable with improved lighting, prescription eyewear, and contact lenses. However, the risk of certain eye diseases increases with age, and some can cause severe vision loss.


Cholesterol-lowering drug slows progression of eye disease in people with diabetes

A trial has demonstrated that fenofibrate, a drug usually used to lower cholesterol, reduces the risk of progression of diabetic retinopathy by 27%.



New Apps (courtesy of Eye2Eye 80):

Good Food Talks App: Good Food Talks empowers people with visual impairments and other reading difficulties to access and browse restaurant menus on their smartphones, in the way that most suits them and their vision.

This is an app that can speak the menu out loud to users. It provides an accessible menu right in your pocket.

There are over 5000 restaurants to choose from throughout the UK so you can independently use the app to browse the menu at your favourite restaurant. (The list of restaurants is growing all the time.) The service is free to access for all users. Available to download from the App Store or Google play.

Be My Eyes new features 2024: Available on the free Be My Eyes app that is available for Android and Apple devices is the Be My AI option. Using Be My AI in your everyday life is quick and simple. Install and open the Be My Eyes app, if you are doing this for the first time you will need to set up a free account, after that you won’t need to login every time as it remembers who you are.

At the bottom of the screen once you have opened the Be My Eyes app is a tab bar, select the ‘Be My AI’ tab which is the second one on the left as you face the screen.

You can now take a picture of whatever you like by aiming your phone towards the place you want to get a description of, now tap on the blue button on the screen or use talkback or voiceover to find the take a picture button then double tap with one finger.

Be My AI will now play a little tune while it gets the information for you, it will then give you a detailed description about the photo you have taken.

You can also chat and ask Be My AI further questions to get more information.

You can use Be My AI 24/7 in all those situations when you want quick visual assistance without necessarily calling a human volunteer. Be My AI is perfect for all those circumstances when you want a quick solution, or you don’t feel like talking to another person to get visual assistance. You may be amazed that Be My AI knows more than just what’s in the photo – just ask for more context and discover what it can tell you.

Be My AI also will give deaf-blind users a new way to get information if they use, for example, a braille display. Be My AI’s written responses are user-selectable in 29 languages.

For all of its advantages, though, Be My AI does not and should not replace a white cane, guide dog, or other mobility aid that provides for safe travel.

Open AI on Be My Eyes

With the new visual input capability of GPT-4, Be My Eyes has begun developing a GPT-4 powered Virtual Volunteer™ within the Be My Eyes app that can generate the same level of context and understanding as a human volunteer.

GPT-4 has the ability to have a conversation with you as you ask it questions about your surroundings, giving you in-depth information, in the demonstration video on you tube, the man who is visually impaired walking through the streets of London using Open AI as a tester, asks the app if there is a taxi nearby that he can thumb down and the app replies like a human conversation that there is a black cab heading his way so the man is able to signal the taxi to stop for him.

During the demo video the visually impaired man asks the app what is in front of him, it then describes his surroundings and when the man is outside Buckingham Palace, he asks the app if the King is in residents, to which the app replies in detail that the flag outside is out so is showing the king is at home.

This amazing breakthrough of AI technology is likely to be a massive game changer to many Visually impaired and blind people, giving much more independence of travelling, work and even leisure.

Innovative app that provides visual assistance for visually impaired people now available on Windows PCs

Be My Eyes, a firm that creates accessible products and services for visually impaired and blind people, has announced that its AI visual assistant app is now available on any Windows 10/11 PC through the Microsoft Store, for free.


Charity scheme offering free Alexas to those with sight loss

People living with sight loss in the UK can now apply for a free Alexa, thanks to the British Wireless for the Blind Fund (BWBF). People must have an internet connection at home in order to claim their Alexa. BWBF has teamed up with digital accessibility charity, AbilityNet, to ensure that those receiving a device have the help they need to set up and familiarise themselves with the technology. Support could include setting up an Amazon account and activating the new device.