Two fairs to highlight new vision technology

  • Freedom for the visually impaired: Vince Godber, certified vision rehabilitation therapist, with Dionne Glasford, office administrator for the Bermuda Society for the Blind, highlighting a PENfriend, one of several pieces of techology to be showcased at the society's technology fair on Saturday (Photo by Owain Johnston-Barnes)
  • The OrCam, a new device which can help visually impaired persons read, shop or recoginse faces

Vision Bermuda will put the spotlight on new technology to help the visually impaired as part of World Sight Day.

Vince Godber, a vision rehabilitation therapist, said the charity aims to celebrate the event with a week of activities, including two tech fairs.

Mr Godber said: “We have got a tech fair on Saturday at Mariners Club, where we will demonstrate equipment and the new technologies that are coming out.

“On Friday and Saturday, we will have the Dining in the Dark with the City of Hamilton. They are running two sessions for people to buy a ticket and eat a meal in the dark.

“The following Saturday we will have another tech fair here at Vision Bermuda. This is all to really promote sight awareness and preventable sight loss.”

Both of the tech fairs will be held between 10am and 4pm, while Dining in the Dark will be held at Pier 6 with sittings at 6pm and 8.30pm.

The charity will also host a special Vision Talk on Monday afternoon at St Andrew’s Church to discuss the link between visual impairment and depression.

Among the technology to be highlighted are the next evolution of the Amazon Alexa, which can help those with visual impairments identify household objects.

Mr Godber said: “Now you can hold an object in front of it and it will identify the object and even read the print on it.

“They are looking to market that for about $200, so for anybody in the kitchen you can hold a tin up and it can read it out to you basically.”

The fair will also feature the OrCam, a new device which can be placed on a user’s glasses.

Mr Godber said: “You can point at a sign or a piece of print and it can read it. It will read a computer screen.

“They have also added features such as facial recognition — you can programme in 100 faces, so if you are out and about and see someone you know, it will say they are standing in front of you.

“It also reads bar codes and has a colour detector, so if you are out shopping you can point to a garment and it will tell you what colour it is.”

Mr Godber said Vision Bermuda has been at work to help those with visual impairments embrace technology through a computer lab at the charity’s Cedar Avenue home.

He said: “The take-up of the computer lab has been fantastic. We have a teacher who is vision impaired, and she has been teaching lessons on how to access computers.

“We have five or six persons for each sessions. Some of them are quite experienced now and some of them are just picking it up, but the oldest one is in her 80s, and she wants to write a book.”

Mr Godber noted that the City of Hamilton recently carried out improvements outside of the charity’s office, which has opened up further possibilities for Vision Bermuda.

He said: “They have still got to put in the final fixed lights, but the junction is going to be a major improvement for people to safely access the centre.

“We can also use it as a teaching aide for the rest of Hamilton.”

He added: “We also now have a brand new wall outside.

“We are still trying to figure this out, but our plan is to put a Vision Bermuda mural up on the wall and brailing it out with glass marbles so people can touch the wall as well as have the visual thing.

“So if anyone who is an expert in murals wants to help out with that, reach out.”