Blind ambition

 In #zerobarriers, Motivational Monday
A woman who is visually impaired navigates around in a large building.

Chieko Asakawa navagates a large building with the help of navigation software. Photo credit: Poughkeepsiejournal.com

Think of a time when you needed to meet someone in a building but have never been inside it. How did you find where you needed to go? Was there signs telling you which direction to go?  Now, close your eyes. Enter the building again with nothing but a white mobility cane. Were you able to find your meeting?  Did you make it on-time?  Not only would this be difficult, it would be nearly inaccessible without guidance.

Fortunately for those who are visually impaired, there is someone working to make the last scenario accessible.  Chieko Asakawa lost her vision at age 14 in an unfortunate accident.  Since that time, Chieko created the first web-to speech browser, giving blind internet users access to more information than ever before. That was 20 years ago. She also developed a smartphone app called NavCog that helps people who are visually impaired navigate inside complex indoor environments. Today Chieko is working on a light-weight suitcase robot that will help users navigate inside of the most complex of floor plans. Read about it here.  Assistive technology can make life’s journey accessible.  Last month we talked about tools that can help navigate a kitchen here. Think of something you do everyday that would not be possible without assistive technology. We want to know how this has impacted your life. Tell us about it here.

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