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Saturday, 26 July 2014

Legally Blind - What does that mean? Can you see or not?

Have you heard the term "Legally Blind" before? What does that mean? Is the person blind or not? Can they see? If you can see then you are not blind? By definition "blind" means not to see anything so surely a blind person cannot see at all?

What does it mean Legally Blind mean?

Generally the term "Legally Blind" is a term used to describe a person whose best corrected eyesight is at such a low level that their eyesight isn't deemed satisfactory to see properly. You can think of this as the gray area between actually seeing and seeing at such a poor level that the quality of sight isn't acceptable for most duties and task.

Some people in the legally blind category may detect light and shadows. Others may only see objects but couldn't read writing regardless of the size although some may be able to read with low vision magnifying glasses. So a legally blind person could possibly see people if close enough and know roughly where the head is but wouldn't be able to see your facial features etc. Very few people are in the total blindness category meaning they have no light perception.

The this isn't so clear then perhaps the following chart that I drew would help explain things more clearer.

How to measure Legal Blindness?

Legally blind is conducted by one of the two methods (which ever ends up being true):
  1. In Australia, North America and most of Europe legal blindness is defined as visual acuity (vision) of 20/200 (or 6/60) or less in the better eye with best correction possible. This means that a legally blind individual would have to stand 20 feet (or 6 meters) from an object to see it with the same degree of clarity as a normally sighted person could from 200 feet (or 60 meters). This is the threshold / tipping point in order to be classified as Legally Blind.

    So a normal sighted person can see an object 60 meters away that a legally blind person would need to be 6 meters away.
  2. Another test performed to determine legal blindness is the eyesight range that you can see when looking straight (i.e. determining whether you have tunnel vision or not). In general when people look straight ahead, they can normally detect objects to either side, or above or below the direction in which they are looking. This measurement is called the visual field. In normal sighted people, this is measured as 170 degrees. A person is "legally blind" if the combined visual field for both eyes is less than 10 or 20 degrees depending on the country. For Australia it is 20 degrees.
Some people may claim they are legally blind if they are tested without their prescribed glasses or any corrective measures to their eyesight. This would be incorrect as you would need to measured by the best eye limits with the prescribed glasses or any corrective measures to your eye.

So if you were totally blind in one eye (no light perception) and with your other eye you can hardly see but with your glasses you perform better than visual acuity (vision) of 20/200 (or 6/60) and have better than 10 or 20 degree visual field then you wouldn't be classified as legally blind.

Why have the term Legally Blind?

Governments generally want to determine the "Legal Blindness" to determine the eligibility of social security benefits that a person may be entitled to because a person in this category would generally would find it difficult to work and generate an income to support them self. Such benefits is offered in most Western countries.

The above helps determine road safety too as clearly having tunnel vision or unable to see objects that normal people see at 60 meters away that you can't see 6 meters away would make driving cars etc a real hazard and dangerous on the road.

Please let me know if you spot any errors in the above and I will correct it.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Three Inspirational Blind People that Inspire me!

When my son Huey finally lost his eyesight at the age of 4 it was the day where I really felt I hit the bottom. No amount of words can explain the feelings for that moment and the impact it had on the whole family.

Yet at the time we were immensely grateful as Huey was alive as he just had life and death surgery and we weren't sure what the prognoses would be over the next few weeks. As events would show the doctor's saved his life but were too late to save his eyesight.

Did I give up hope for Huey? In all fairness I would say: absolutely not! There was no question that Huey was part of our family and still will be treasured and loved. However, I was more worried with Huey's future and how to survive given that life is full of challenges. Adding the loss of eyesight is one big challenge to overcome in addition to the other challenges that life brings to us. As father we want the best for our children knowing that one day they would lead their own life and follow their own dreams, hopes and goals.

I do recall having questions such as do blind people work? What careers do they choose? In a hindsight these may have been ridiculous questions. I do recall searching on the Internet for people who are blind. Might sound pathetic but in doing so I did find blind people that were highly inspirational to me and provided all the hope that I needed.

Over time the these are the three inspirational blind people that inspire me.

Kevin Kern: is an American pianist, composer and recording artist of New Age music. He was born legally blind. I must say I am a big fan of his music as it is presented in a style that relaxes me particularly in the early hours where I am burning the midnight oil. My favourite is the "beyond the sundial" and this is simply a beautiful piece of work!

Jacob Bolotin: fought hard to change the perception people had towards understanding the capabilities of blind people. And he went on to become the world's first totally blind physician that was fully licensed to practice medicine. And this going way back to the early 1900's. Truly inspiring!

Huey Springer: who is my son inspires me. Together we've formed a project based on his idea which is all about improving readability and making the Internet more user-friendly. Our story and project is about living with blindness, disabilities empowerment, learning and being inspired to start a project to help my son and others who are legally blind or vision impaired. In many ways Huey inspires me to be a better father by sharing his hopes, dreams and journey through the project to help others.

Thank you for reading.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Kickstarting the Hueyify Fundraising Campaign

It has been a very hectic preparing to kick off for the Hueyify fundraising campaign. It has been a long time coming however we wanted to be sure that the entire Hueyify concept works before sharing the story with you. We've already done the hard work researching, investigating, designing and proving that the concept is viable. This includes producing a small software program to validate the concept in practice. Thus, the Hueyify Project had started long ago...

What is the Hueyify Project?

The Hueyify project is a project dedicated to making the Internet more user-friendly and is based on a blind boy's vision on how the Internet could be. It is free product and service for those who are legally blind / blind or has Autism regardless of their location. We believe there is a void in this area and our cause is dedicated to helping those who are blind or have learning differences or has Autism.

Who is Huey?

Hueyify is is based on a blind boy's vision on how the Internet can be. The boy's name is Huey. I am his father and also an experienced software engineer who is inspired by his Huey's idea and driving the project to make it a reality.

The Hueyify Story?

Like all projects they have a story. Our project isn't any different. I guess it would be fair to say the project resulted out of frustration when mixing blindness together with the Internet. You can read Our Story at the official Hueyify website.

It would be greatly appreciative if you can spare a few moments to read our story and share the story with your family members and friends as well as donate to support our cause. We currently need funding to complete the project. We need your help to make it happen.