Assistive Technology
for People with Deaf-Blind Conditions

Notes on Blindness
John Martin Hull (22 April 1935 – 28 July 2015) was Emeritus Professor of Religious Education at the University of Birmingham. He was the author of a number of books and many articles in the fields of religious education, practical theology, and disability. The latter interest arose from his experiences, and personal and theological reflections, on becoming blind in mid-career.

In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Second Sight's retinal implant system, the Argus II, which uses an eyeglass-mounted video camera that sends information to an electrode array in the eye's retina. Users have reported seeing light and dark, often enough to navigate on a street or find the brightness of a face turned toward them. But it's far from normal vision, and in May 2019 the company announced that it would suspend production of the Argus II to focus on its next product.

The company has had a hard time over the past year: At the end of March it announced that it was winding down operations, citing the impact of COVID-19 on its ability to secure financing. But in subsequent months it announced a new business strategy, an initial public offering of stock, and finally in September the resumption of clinical trials for its Orion implant.

The Orion system uses the same type of eyeglass-mounted video camera, but it sends information to an electrode array atop the brain's visual cortex. In theory, it could help many more people than a retinal implant: The Argus II was approved only for people with an eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, in which the photoreceptor cells in the retina are damaged but the rest of the visual system remains intact and able to convey signals to the brain. The Orion system, by sending info straight to the brain, could help people with more widespread damage to the eye or optic nerve.

Six patients have received the Orion implant thus far, and each now has an array of 60 electrodes that tries to represent the image transmitted by the camera. But imagine a digital image made up of 60 pixels—you can't get much resolution. Read more > original article.

Teenage Inventor Brings
Sign-Translating Glove
Ryan Patterson of Grand Junction, CO invented an easily transportable tool for translating sign language and communicating with the deaf when he was in high school.

Now an aero-space engineer, he talks about the process of inventing. Patterson received top honors and a $100,000 scholarship at Intel's Science Talent Search, a competition often referred to as "the junior Nobel prize." Patterson's glove offers a new way in which individuals who sign might express themselves during brief, one-sided conversations with people who don't understand sign language.