March Newsletter 304.

Scent kits created to bring the Gruffalo to life for visually impaired children

A charity supporting children with visual impairments has released “scent kits” to accompany The Gruffalo book as a way of making reading more inclusive for families. Guide Dogs UK created the nasal inhalers to go with the main characters of the book – including the Gruffalo, Mouse, Fox, Owl and Snake. Mouse smells like cupcakes, Fox has the scent of cut grass, Owl has a cup of tea aroma, and Snake has a smoky scent. The Gruffalo has a leathery barnyard smell that evokes the deep, dark wood.

New tech to test children’s eyesight at home

School children who have missed out on crucial eye tests during lockdown can now be screened using a new app’ developed by Cambridge experts. Undertaken in the first year of school, screening enables detection of poor vision (which affects one in every five UK children) at a time when it can be successfully treated with glasses or patching. If these problems are detected late, life-long sight loss can result.

Scientists develop retinal implants that could give artificial vision to the blind

A retinal implant with more than 10,000 electrodes has been developed which could give blind people a form of vision.

A new personal assistant powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) has launched to deliver news and entertainment content to blind and visually impaired people

Developed by RealSam, the Smart Speaker solution will provide news updates, over 27,000 books, the latest official coronavirus information podcasts and information from sight loss charities on one platform. The solution was trialled ahead of the launch by members of the blind community. One member who is registered blind, Roger Wilson-Hinds, commented: “The RealSAM Speaker is the companion in the home that blind people need. And to be able to access specialist information from sight loss organisations really is the icing on the cake’’.

Calibre Audio – the national charity providing an audiobook service for anyone with a disability that makes reading print difficult – will be accessible via RealSAM, making it the UK’s first audiobook library for blind people on smart speakers.

What it is like to be blind in the digital age

Life is quite different for people who are visually impaired. They have to resort to assistance from others just to carry out some of the most basic tasks that normal people can do themselves. However, the world has come a long way in terms of technology and digitization. Just as there are innovations to improve the daily lives of able people, disabled people also get a fair share of innovations to make their lives easier. Here are three apps and an innovative device that helps to improve the lives of blind people in the digital age. Details listed in the following link:

RNIB talking book service

RNIB has a library of over 30,000 titles on offer free of charge to those who are registered blind. The RNIB has stressed the importance of reading, saying it has been a “bigger part of most people’s lives than ever” over the last year. The charity believes that people with sight loss should have the same access to books as everyone else.