The Latest in Accessibility News from TED

If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll know that I'm a passionate advocate of accessibility, having worked in the field for over 10 years, and a strong proponent of the power of TED, just this year joining the core team for my local TEDxSanJoseCA and managing its social media presence.

I'm still blown away by the outstanding quality of everything TED does. The range of topics is vast and cutting edge. Videos are captioned for people who are hearing impaired, English-as-a-second-language learners, or temporarily disabled (in an airport or coffee shop where the sound can't be heard). TED Talks are always 18 minutes or less, and I learn something new and amazing from every single one. My only complaint is that I can't keep up with all of the amazing content TED uncovers and shares.

TED is continuing their reputation for excellence and expanding the theme of "Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world", with these wonderful essays, blogs, and talks on blindness and vision.

Fittle: An accessible learning toolset for visually challenged kids  

The shape of things: Fellows Friday with Anthony Vipin Das, on FITTLE, a toy that helps blind children read includes an essay written by TED Senior Fellow Dr. Anthony Vipin Das, an ophthalmologist who is working with Tania Jain, a designer from National Institute of Design, Gandhinagar, on FITTLE, a toy to help blind children learn to read Braille while getting a sense of the shape of the world around them.

As Dr. Vipin Das says in his essay, "This new toy, which we call FITTLE (“fit the puzzle”), helps children learn individual letters of Braille, construct words, and understand the form of objects, all through a playful game. Essentially, we are changing the way that blind children at a young age are going to perceive the world around them."

"We wish to help spread this idea as far and wide as possible. With current technology, FITTLE can be downloaded through open-source platforms and the pieces can be 3D printed by anyone who wishes to do so."

 A TED Celebration with a Playlist of Talks on Blindness and Sight

The second TED feature that made me sit up and pay attention was a blog post, The second amazing Looking into the future: A stem cell development to cure blindness, plus a playlist of visionary talks.

It references a BBC report, 'Big leap' towards curing blindness in stem cell study, that reveals how a research team in the UK has created a technique to transform stem cells into photoreceptors and inject them into the eyes of mice.

The TED blog then shares a playlist of TED talks on blindness and sight, including:
  • Pawan Sinha on how brains learn to see
  • Dennis Hong: Making a car for blind drivers
  • Sheila Nirenberg: A prosthetic eye to treat blindness
  • Neil Harbisson: I listen to color
  • Beau Lotto: Optical illusions show how we see 
Once again, TED lives up to its tagline "Ideas worth spreading".