3D printing is adding a new dimension to the understanding of objects by those with blindness and vision impairment.
Just think how a person with blindness might get a better understanding of an object such as a building or a wild animal, if they could feel the shape of it. Now computers can print things out in three dimensions, giving such people a chance to feel what objects are really like. Printers lay down plastic which builds up to form 3D shapes. Those with blindness could feel a certain type of car, the shape of their own house or the face of a friend. Not too many people know about this in Australia yet, but the future is exciting.
Social media like Facebook and Twitter is a great way to keep in touch with friends. But it is also used in other important ways. Facebook is used to show support for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Disability organisations use it to let people know about important issues and events. Social media can also be a great way for people with a disability to get their opinions heard. In Britain thousands of people used Twitter to show they were unhappy with the government which was thinking about making payment cuts for people with a disability.
I live in Wangaratta in country Victoria and often feel isolated. I wish there were more people who thought like me, and more opportunities, in Wangaratta. Luckily, the World Wide Web reduces this isolation. I use the web to work, study, express my views and shop. I have joined campaigns on subjects like climate change. I feel like my opinion matters. Most of all I use the web to write and connect with other writers. I write science fiction and am a member of three online writing groups. I have become very dependent on the web.
I enjoy a game called Words with Friends. You play it on the internet. It is the same as the board game Scrabble. You must make words out of available letters. You can play the game on iPads, iPhones and Facebook. I become very competitive when playing Words with Friends. I don't like losing. I play against a person who I have never met. When I win I feel great. But when I lose I sulk and study where I went wrong.
Blind Citizens Australia holds a monthly computer users group. The group is held in the Melbourne suburb of Kooyong. People can also log in from anywhere to participate online. The group was established in 1987. It offers information to people with a vision impairment lacking confidence with computers. It helps people to make decisions when buying computers and software. Group members say they find the information very helpful. They also enjoy the social aspect. Speakers have covered topics like mobile phones, screen readers and mentoring.
Games can feature graphics that appear almost photorealistic
A team of independent developers is making a video game without graphics. People with a vision impairment will be able to enjoy the game. It will rely on people using their hearing and imagination. The developers want to give players a new experience. Early feedback has been very positive. Gamers like 19-year-old James are looking forward to playing. The team uses two microphones at once to record sounds. The technique allows them to create sound with the perception of space and depth. People can then navigate the 3D world using just their hearing.
Your old television might soon not work anymore without a set-top box.
Your old television might soon not work anymore. Those with old televisions might need to add a set-top box. The new digital format is an improvement. It offers better quality pictures and sound. There are also new channels to watch. But digital television also presents barriers to some people with a disability. Digital television uses on-screen menus and electronic program guides. The menus rely on people having sight. A trial scheme has tested talking set-top boxes to solve the program. The talking set-top boxes can read out information on the screen.
Choosing between a plasma or LCD television can be difficult
If you want a new television it is hard to choose between plasma and LCD. In general, get a plasma if you plan on having a home theatre system with a huge screen and darkened room. But LCD is usually best if you want a small or medium-sized screen. LCD screens are also better if you want to use the television in sunlight or with the lights on.
Do your research when buying a personal video recorder
Personal video recorders are becoming increasingly popular now Australia has digital television. Personal video recorders are usually easier to use than old video cassette recorders. Personal video recorders can let you watch one show and record another at the same time. One of the easiest machines to use is TiVo because of its remote control. The IQ devices for Foxtel pay television subscribers are also good. Other brands to look at include Beyonwiz and Topfield. The PlayStation 3 can also now record television using the PlayTV box.
Apple's App Store has over 420,000 software applications to download. The applications are for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. There are a lot of great applications for people with a disability. But it can be hard to find them. One of the best I have found is Proloquo2go. It is a tool for people who have difficulty speaking. Good free applications for fitness and health include Physiotherapy Exercises and RaceYourWorld. I also like Draw for iPad. It lets you draw pictures and play games.