Ailmemts & Remedies

Congenital Blindness

Vision plays a very important part in the early development of a child. Impaired vision at birth will cause serious delay in development and is likely to lead to learning disabilities, particularly when associated with other problems, such as congenital deafness.

………………………………………………Jyotindra Mehta
Congenital blindness due to Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) took away Jyotindra Mehta’s power of sight at a very young age. Emigration to the US on scholarship, coupled with a readiness to take up any challenge, resulted in Jyotindra’s quick success there.

and Nevy George
Congenital blindness due to Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) took away thir eye sight at very early age.

About 9 in 10 children who are considered blind from birth have some vision, even though it may be only recognition of light and dark or shapes…..CLICK & SEE

There are several causes including microphthalmos, cataracts, bilateral pseudogliomatous retinal detachments, and phthisis bulbi. OPPG is usually not suspected until fractures occur, frequently after seemingly minor trauma.

In the developed world, half of all cases of congenital blindness run in families and therefore may be due to a genetic disorder. another important cause is congenital infection such as the protozoal infection toxoplasmosis and the viral infection rubella. These infections are transmitted from the mother to the developing fetus during pregnancy and may lead to impaired vision in the newborn baby. congenital rubella is now rare in the developed world due to routine immunization. The baby’s eyes may also be affected by cataracts, in which the lenses are opaque, or glaucoma, in which the optic nerve is damaged due to increased pressure in the eyes. Congenital blindness may also be caused by damage to the brain as a result of lack of oxygen during birth.

Parents usually become aware that their have a vision problem within a few weeks. he or she may less responsive than other babies, lying quietly to make the most of his or her hearing. parents may also notice that their baby:

· Is unable to fix his or her eyes on a close object.
· Has random eye movements.
· Does not smile by the age of 6 weeks.
· Has abnormally large, cloudy eyes if glaucoma is present.

Parents may find it difficult to bond with a quiet baby who does not smile.

If congenital blindness is not suspected by a baby’s parents, it will probably be picked up during a routine examination in infancy. A child suspected of having an impaired vision will be referred to a specialist for an examination and tests. His or her hearing will also be tested because, if the child is severely visually impaired, he or she will rely more on hearing.

It is possible to improve vision in only a smaller number of babies, such as those with cataracts or glaucoma. Early treatment of these conditions is important. cataracts are usually removed surgically within the first month of life. glaucoma may also be treated surgically to allow fluid to drain from the eye.

If vision cannot be improve, much can be done to help a child make maximum use of other senses or what little vision he or she has. if your child is diagnosed as blind, a team of specialist, including a teacher for the blind, will be able to give you and your child support and care. You will also be given advice on how to stimulate your child, by using your speech, sounds, and touch and how to adapt your home so that your child can explore it safely and develop self-confidence. Some children will require special schooling to learn braille, a system of raised dots that allows blind people to read.

Genetics counseling is available for parents of an affected child who wish to have more children or for prospective parents who are blind.

Click to see :

Preventable Causes of Congenital Abnormalities
Enzyme Responsible For Congenital Blindness
Prognosis :
Children treated for cataracts or glaucoma will probably still have impaired vision but often have enough sight to perform most activities unaided. Many blind or visually impaired children with no other disabilities go on to have successful personal and professional lives.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose


Ailmemts & Remedies


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Blindness is the condition of lacking visual perception due to physiological or neurological factors.

Various scales have been developed to describe the extent of vision loss and define “blindness.” Total blindness is the complete lack of form and light perception and is clinically recorded as “NLP,” an abbreviation for “no light perception.” Blindness is frequently used to describe severe visual impairment with residual vision. Those described as having only “light perception” can see no more than the ability to tell light from dark. A person with only “light projection” can tell the general direction of a light source.


In order to determine which people may need special assistance because of their visual disabilities, various governmental jurisdictions have formulated more complex definitions referred to as legal blindness.[2] In North America and most of Europe, legal blindness is defined as visual acuity (vision) of 20/200 (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 (6 m) from an object to see it with the same degree of clarity as a normally sighted person could from 200 feet (60 m). In many areas, people with average acuity who nonetheless have a visual field of less than 20 degrees (the norm being 180 degrees) are also classified as being legally blind. Approximately ten percent of those deemed legally blind, by any measure, have no vision. The rest have some vision, from light perception alone to relatively good acuity. Low vision is sometimes used to describe visual acuities from 20/70 to 20/200.

By the 10th Revision of the WHO International Statistical Classification of Diseases, Injuries and Causes of Death, low vision is defined as visual acuity of less than 6/18, but equal to or better than 3/60, or corresponding visual field loss to less than 20 degrees, in the better eye with best possible correction. Blindness is defined as visual acuity of less than 3/60, or corresponding visual field loss to less than 10 degrees, in the better eye with best possible correction.

Legal blindness:
In 1934, the American Medical Association adopted the following definition of blindness:

“Central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with corrective glasses or central visual acuity of more than 20/200 if there is a visual field defect in which the peripheral field is contracted to such an extent that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees in the better eye.” The United States Congress included this definition as part of the Aid to the Blind program in the Social Security Act passed in 1935. In 1972, the Aid to the Blind program and two others combined under Title XVI of the Social Security Act to form the Supplemental Security Income program[4] which currently states:

“An individual shall be considered to be blind for purposes of this title if he has central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the use of a correcting lens. An eye which is accompanied by a limitation in the fields of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees shall be considered for purposes of the first sentence of this subsection as having a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less. An individual shall also be considered to be blind for purposes of this title if he is blind as defined under a State plan approved under title X or XVI as in effect for October 1972 and received aid under such plan (on the basis of blindness) for December 1973, so long as he is continuously blind as so defined.”
Kuwait is one of many nations that share the same criteria for legal blindness.

In 1987, it was estimated that 598,000 people in the United States met the legal definition of blindness. Of this number, 58% were over the age of 65. In 1994-1995, 107.3 million Americans reported legal blindness.

In November 2004 article Magnitude and causes of visual impairment, the WHO estimated that in 2002 there were 161 million (about 2.6% of the world population) visually impaired people in the world, of whom 124 million (about 2%) had low vision and 37 million (about 0.6%) were blind.

Causes of blindness:

Serious visual impairment has a variety of causes:


Most visual impairment is caused by disease and malnutrition. According to WHO estimates in 2002, the most common causes of blindness around the world are:

click to see
………………. Artist’s depiction of blind people

People in developing countries are significantly more likely to experience visual impairment as a consequence of treatable or preventable conditions than are their counterparts in the developed world. While vision impairment is most common in people over age 60 across all regions, children in poorer communities are more likely to be affected by blinding diseases than are their more affluent peers.

The link between poverty and treatable visual impairment is most obvious when conducting regional comparisons of cause. Most adult visual impairment in North America and Western Europe is related to age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. While both of these conditions are subject to treatment, neither can be cured. Another common cause is retinopathy of prematurity.

In developing countries, wherein people have shorter life expectancies, cataracts and water-borne parasites—both of which can be treated effectively—are most often the culprits. Of the estimated 40 million blind people located around the world, 70–80% can have some or all of their sight restored through treatment.

In developed countries where parasitic diseases are less common and cataract surgery is more available, age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy are usually the leading causes of blindness.

Abnormalities and injuries:
Eye injuries, most often occurring in people under 30, are the leading cause of monocular blindness (vision loss in one eye) throughout the United States. Injuries and cataracts affect the eye itself, while abnormalities such as optic nerve hypoplasia affect the nerve bundle that sends signals from the eye to the back of the brain, which can lead to decreased visual acuity.

People with injuries to the occipital lobe of the brain can, despite having undamaged eyes and optic nerves, still be legally or totally blind.

Genetic defects:
People with albinism often suffer from visual impairment to the extent that many are legally blind, though few of them actually cannot see. Leber’s congenital amaurosis can cause total blindness or severe sight loss from birth or early childhood.

Recent advances in mapping the human genome have identified other genetic causes of low vision or blindness. One such example is Bardet-Biedl syndrome.

A small portion of all cases of blindness are caused by the intake of certain chemicals. A well-known example is methanol , found in methylated spirits, which are sometimes used by alcoholics as a cheap substitute for regular alcoholic beverages.

Willful actions:
Blinding has been used as an act of vengeance and torture in some instances, to deprive a person of a major sense by which they can navigate or interact within the world, act fully independently, and be aware of events surrounding them. An example from the classical realm is Oedipus, who gouges out his own eyes after realizing that he fulfilled the awful prophecy spoken of him.

Blindness prevention:
There exist a number of organizations, such as International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, ORBIS International, and Seva Foundation, who have developed programs aimed at preventing blindness.

On September 10, 2007, in a 6-year study, researchers, led by John Paul SanGiovanni of the National Eye Institute, Maryland found that Lutein and zeaxanthin (nutrients in eggs, spinach and other green vegetables) protect against blindness (macular degeneration), affecting 1.2 million Americans, mostly after age 65. Lutein and zeaxanthin reduce the risk of AMD (journal Archives of Ophthalmology). Foods considered good sources of the nutrients also include kale, turnip greens, collard greens, romaine lettuce, broccoli, zucchini, corn, garden peas and Brussels sprouts.

Adaptive techniques:

Visually impaired and blind people have devised a number of techniques that allow them to complete daily activities using their remaining senses. These might include the following:

click & see
.A tactile feature on a Canadian banknote.

  • Adaptive computer software that allows people with visual impairments to interact with their computer via audio or screen magnifiers.
  • Adaptive mobile phones that allows people with visual impairments to interact with their phones via audio or screen magnifiers. These mobile phones uses software called Mobile Speak a screen reader from Code Factory It provides audio feedback to every functionality on the phone.
  • Adaptations of banknotes so that the value can be determined by touch. For example:
    • In some currencies, such as the euro, and pound sterling,the size of a note increases with its value.
    • Many blanknotes from around the world have a tactile feature to indicate denomination in the upper right corner. This tactile feature is a series of raised dots, but it is not standardBraille
    • It is also possible to fold notes in different ways to assist recognition.
  • Labeling and tagging clothing and other personal items
  • Placing different types of food at different positions on a dinner plate
  • Marking controls of household appliances

Most people, once they have been visually impaired for long enough, devise their own adaptive strategies in all areas of personal and professional management.

For corrective surgery of blindness, see acquired vision.

Designers, both visually impaired and sighted, have developed a number of tools for use by blind people.

Many people with serious visual impairments can travel independently assisted by tactile paving and/or using a white cane with a red tip – the international symbol of blindness.

A long cane is used to extend the user’s range of touch sensation, swung in a low sweeping motion across the intended path of travel to detect obstacles. However, some visually impaired persons do not carry these kinds of canes, opting instead for the shorter, lighter identification (ID) cane. Still others require a support cane. The choice depends on the individual’s vision, motivation, and other factors.

…………………………… & see
………………………...Watch for the blind

Each of these is painted white for maximum visibility, and to denote visual impairment on the part of the user. In addition to making rules about who can and cannot use a cane, some governments mandate the right-of-way be given to users of white canes or guide dogs.

A small number of people employ guide dogs. Although the dogs can be trained to navigate various obstacles, they are not capable of interpreting street signs. The human half of the guide dog team does the directing, based upon skills acquired through previous mobility training. The handler might be likened to an aircraft’s navigator, who must know how to get from one place to another, and the dog is the pilot, who gets them there safely.

Orientation and Mobility Specialist are professionals who are specifically trained to teach people with visual impairments how to travel safely, confidently, and independently in the home and the community.

Reading and magnification:
Most blind and visually impaired people read print, either of a regular size or enlarged through the use of magnification devices. A variety of magnifying glasses, some of which are handheld, and some of which rest on desktops, can make reading easier for those with decreased visual acuity.

The rest read Braille (or the infrequently used Moon type), or rely on talking books and readers or reading machines. They use computers with special hardware such as scanners and refreshable Braille displays as well as software written specifically for the blind, like optical character recognition applications and screen reading software.

Some people access these materials through agencies for the blind, such as the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped in the United States, the National Library for the Blind or the RNIB in the United Kingdom.

Closed-circuit televisions, equipment that enlarges and contrasts textual items, are a more high-tech alternative to traditional magnification devices. So too are modern web browsers, which can increase the size of text on some web pages through browser controls or through user-controlled style sheets.
Access technology such as Freedom Scientific’s JAWS for Windows screen reading software enable the blind to use mainstream computer applications. Most legally blind people (70% of them across all ages, according to the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind) do not use computers. Only a small fraction of this population, when compared to the sighted community, have Internet access. This bleak outlook is changing, however, as availability of assistive technology increases, accompanied by concerted efforts to ensure the accessibility of information technology to all potential users, including the blind. Linux distributions (as Live CDs) for the blind include Oralux and Adriane Knoppix, the latter developed in part by Adriane Knopper who has a visual impairment. The Macintosh OS also comes with a built-in screen reader, called VoiceOver. Later versions of Microsoft Windows include an Accessibility Wizard & Magnifier for those with partial vision.

The movement towards greater web accessibility is opening a far wider number of websites to adaptive technology, making the web a more inviting place for visually impaired surfers.

Experimental approaches in sensory substitution are beginning to provide access to arbitrary live views from a camera.

Other aids
People may use talking thermometers, enlarged or marked oven dials, talking watches, talking clocks, talking scales, talking calculators, talking compasses and other talking equipment.

Social attitudes towards blindness:
The story of the Blind Men and an Elephant uses blindness as a symbol of limited perception and perspective. Stories such as The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens provided yet another view of blindness, wherein those affected by it were ignorant of their surroundings and easily deceived. H. G. Wells’ story The Country of the Blind explores what would happen if a sighted man found himself trapped in a country of blind people to emphasise societies atttitude to blind people by turning the situation on its head.

The authors of modern educational materials (see: blindness and education for further reading on that subject), as well as those treating blindness in literature, have worked to paint a different picture of blind people as three-dimensional individuals with a range of abilities, talents, and even character flaws.

The Moche people of ancient Peru depicted the blind in their ceramics.

Young mammals:
Statements that this or that species of mammals are “born blind” refers to them being born with their eyes closed and their eyelids fused together; the eyes open later. One example is the rabbit.

In humans the eyelids are fused for a while before birth, but open again before the normal birth time, but very premature babies are sometimes born with their eyes fused shut, and opening later.


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Ailmemts & Remedies

Color Blindness

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Alternative Names : Color deficiency; Blindness – color

Definition: Color blindness is the inability to see certain colors in the usual way.Color blindness, or color vision deficiency, in humans is the inability to perceive differences between some or all colors that other people can distinguish. It is most often of genetic nature, but may also occur because of eye, nerve, or brain damage, or due to exposure to certain chemicals. The English chemist John Dalton in 1798 published the first scientific paper on the subject, “Extraordinary facts relating to the vision of colours”,  after the realization of his own color blindness; because of Dalton’s work, the condition is sometimes called Daltonism, although this term is now used for a type of color blindness called deuteranopia.…………....CLICK & SEE

Color blindness is usually classed as disability; however, in selected situations color blind people may have advantages over people with normal color vision. There are some studies which conclude that color blind individuals are better at penetrating certain camouflages. Monochromats may have a minor advantage in dark vision, but only in the first five minutes of dark adaptation.

Color blindness occurs when there is a problem with the color-sensing materials (pigments) in certain nerve cells of the eye. These cells are called cones. They are found in the retina, the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the inner eye.

If you are missing just one pigment, you might have trouble telling the difference between red and green. This is the most common type of color blindness. Other times, people have trouble seeing blue-yellow colors. People with blue-yellow color blindness almost always have problems identify reds and greens, too.

The most severe form of color blindness is achromatopsia. A person with this rare condition cannot see any color. Achromatopsia is often associated with lazy eye, nystagmus (small, jerky eye movements), severe light sensitivity, and extremely poor vision.

There are many types of color blindness. The most common are red-green hereditary (genetic) photoreceptor disorders, but it is also possible to acquire color blindness through damage to the retina, optic nerve, or higher brain areas. Higher brain areas implicated in color processing include the parvocellular pathway of the lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus, and visual area V4 of the visual cortex. Acquired color blindness is generally unlike the more typical genetic disorders. For example, it is possible to acquire color blindness only in a portion of the visual field but maintain normal color vision elsewhere. Some forms of acquired color blindness are reversible. Transient color blindness also occurs (very rarely) in the aura of some migraine sufferers.

The different kinds of inherited color blindness result from partial or complete loss of function of one or more of the different cone systems. When one cone system is compromised, dichromacy results. The most frequent forms of human color blindness result from problems with either the middle or long wavelength sensitive cone systems, and involve difficulties in discriminating reds, yellows, and greens from one another. They are collectively referred to as “red-green color blindness”, though the term is an over-simplification and is somewhat misleading. Other forms of color blindness are much more rare. They include problems in discriminating blues from yellows, and the rarest forms of all, complete color blindness or monochromacy, where one cannot distinguish any color from grey, as in a black-and-white movie or photograph.

Most color blindness is due to a genetic problem. About 1 in 10 men have some form of color blindness. Very few women are color blind.

The drug hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) can also cause color blindness. It is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, among other conditions.

If your clothes don’t match, someone might have teased you about being color-blind. But some people really are color-blind. It doesn’t mean they can’t see any color at all, like a black and white movie. It means that they have trouble seeing the difference between certain colors. (Check out the image on the right to see how well you see colors.)


Being color-blind can make it tricky to match your shirt and pants, but it’s not a serious problem. People who are color-blind can do normal stuff, even drive. Most color-blind people can’t tell the difference between red or green, but they can learn to respond to the way the traffic signal lights up. The red light is generally on top and green is on the bottom.

Cones and Color:
To understand what causes color blindness, you need to know about the cones in your eyes. Cones in your eyes? Yes, but they’re very small. These cones are cells on your retina, an area the size of a postage stamp that’s at the back of your eye.

You have “red,” “blue,” and “green” cones, which are sensitive to those colors and combinations of them. You need all three types to see colors properly. When your cones don’t work properly, or you don’t have the right combination, your brain doesn’t get the right message about which colors you’re seeing. To someone who’s color-blind, a green leaf might look tan or gray.

Color Blindness Is Passed Down:
Color blindness is almost always an inherited (say: in-her-ut-ed) trait, which means you get it from your parents. You get inherited traits through genes (say: jeenz), which determine everything about your body, including how tall you’ll be and whether your hair will be straight or curly.

…………....CLICK & SEE

Eye doctors (and some school nurses) test for color blindness by showing a picture made up of different colored dots, like the one above. If a person can’t see the picture or number within the dots, he or she may be color-blind.

Boys are far more likely to be color-blind. In fact, if you know 12 boys, one of them is probably at least a little color-blind. So girls, the next time a boy asks you if something matches, you’d better lend him a hand!

Symptoms :

Symptoms vary from person to person, but may include:

  • Trouble seeing colors and the brightness of colors in the usual way
  • Inability to tell the difference between shades of the same or similar colors

Often, the symptoms may be so mild that some persons do not know they are color blind. A parent may notice signs of color blindness when a child is learning his or her colors.

Rapid, side-to-side eye movements and other symptoms may occur in severe cases.

Exams and Tests:
Your doctor or eye specialist can check your color vision in several ways. Testing for color blindness is commonly done during an eye exam…..….CLICK & SEE


Outlook (Prognosis) :

Possible Complications :

When to Contact a Medical Professional :
Make an appointment with your health care provider or ophthalmologist if you think you (or your child) have color blindness.

Click to learn more about Color blindness


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News on Health & Science

Why desire drives us wild

A new brain study has pointed out why most mammals experience moments of overwhelming desire – be it for food, sex or other things – that can be followed by seemingly magical feelings of satisfaction. But the find suggests we are often likely to be left wanting rather than satisfied.

According to a study recently published in the Journal of Neuroscience, wanting and liking are separate urges in the brain that are controlled by different circuits.

When these urges occur in sync, the impact on the brain is very powerful.

But there’s a catch. Mammal brains appear to have fewer mechanisms for pleasure than they do for desire.

“Our results suggest we all are inherently susceptible to wanting more than we’ll actually enjoy, at least in certain situations,”co-author Kent Berridge told Discovery News.

Berridge, a University of Michigan psychology researcher, added, “If separable brain circuits exist for liking and wanting, then a person who had selective activation of the wanting circuit would want more without liking more.”

Such want/like dissociations can lead to addictions with drugs, sex, food, gambling and more, the researchers believe. Some people also appear to be prone to experiencing the out-of-sync phases.

For the study, Berridge and colleague Kyle Smith used a painless microinjection technique to deliver droplets of an opioid drug into a pleasure hotspot within the brains of rats.

The drug caused the rats to want to eat three times their normal amount of food – in this case, sugar – while liking it twice as much as usual.

The scientists measured the “like” degree in rats by studying their facial expressions and behaviours while they ate. These included lip and paw licking.

The researchers then turned off a rat pleasure circuit by microinjecting an opioid suppressant into another part of the rodent’s brain. The rats reacted by still wanting sugar, but exhibited no extra signs of liking it.

Finally, the scientists used a technique called Fos mapping, which shows activated portions of the brain based on colour changes due to proteins that affect certain neural circuits.

This, and the other experiments, revealed the separate want and like “hedonic hotspots”in two areas deep within the brain. Rats, humans and other mammals share these same regions and related circuitry, so rat desire can be comparable to human desire.

Source:The Times Of India


Living with Vision Loss > Getting Around

Not all people considered blind use a long white cane or dog guide. People who are visually impaired and do not use long canes or dog guides often rely on their remaining sight and auditory and tactile cues in their surroundings for orientation and travel.

How Can You Make It Easier To Move Around Your Home?..

1. Replace worn carpeting, and remove area rugs. Move electrical cords away from walkways.

2. Use nonskid products to clean and polish floors.

3. Use contrasting colors to make doors and stairs easier to see.

4.Move furniture out of the main traffic areas in your home, and keep desk chairs and table chairs pushed in.

5.Keep cabinet, closet, and room doors fully open or fully closed—not half open.
Make sure that lighting in hallways and stairwells is bright and even.

6.Use railings when climbing stairs.
7.Make it easy to locate electrical outlets and light switches, oven dials, hot pads, and doorknobs by using color contrasts.
Are You Concerned About Traveling Safely Outside Of Your Home?

Wear comfortable and supportive shoes.
Plan your route before you go. Identify landmarks that are easy for you to detect and use them as reference points.
Cross streets only at crosswalks. If you are uncertain about when it is safe to cross, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
When walking with another person, it may be helpful to hold onto his or her arm slightly above the elbow and walk about a half step behind. This will allow the person to guide you comfortably.

Dog Guides:……..CLICK & SEE

Dog guides are carefully trained service animals used as travel tools by people who are blind.

Dog guides and their masters undergo rigorous training to work safely and effectively as a team.
People who are blind are responsible for the health and well being of their dog guides at all times.
Dog guides should always be kept under control by their masters.
Dog guide users are trained to relieve their dogs regularly and to clean up after their dogs.
Dog guides work most effectively with persons who have very little vision. It is likely that most of the dog guide users you will meet are totally blind.
Dog guides move only in response to directions from their masters. They disobey commands only to avoid danger.
Concentration is essential when a person travels with a dog guide. Petting, feeding, or distracting a dog guide disrupts concentration and can cause serious danger.
Public and private organizations are required to admit dog guides and all service animals into their facilities.

Long Canes..…...CLICK & SEE

Some long canes are made of a single piece of metal, fiberglass, or similar lightweight conductive material. Other canes can fold or collapse like a telescope. Not all long canes are white; some are silver-grey.
People who are blind learn how to use and store their canes safely. It is their responsibility to do so at all times.
To assist a person using a long cane, always announce your presence and ask if your assistance is needed before reaching to help.
When guiding a person who uses a long cane, do not interfere with the arm used to hold the cane.
Always inform a person who is blind where you have stored his or her cane if it is necessary for you to take it for even a brief period of time.

Accessible Mass Transit.……..CLICK & SEE

Why Is Access to Mass Transit Important for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired?

Public transportation is a major key to independence, productivity, and community participation for people who are blind or severely visually impaired–most of whom are not able to drive a motor vehicle because of their visual impairment. Mass transit services such as buses, trains, or special paratransit vans are frequently the only options blind or visually impaired people have for traveling independently to school, work, health care facilities, shopping centers, and a host of other places in the community.
What Do People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired Need to Access and Use Mass Transit?
People who are blind or visually impaired need to gather information about their physical surroundings and about the visible information that appears at transit stops, terminals, on transit vehicles, schedules, maps, and directories in order to use mass transit safely and effectively. Because of the visual nature of most transit information, people who are blind, severely visually impaired, or who have poor sight cannot use readily the wealth of information provided in mass transit environments for general information, wayfinding, and safety. For people who are blind or visually impaired, this visible information can be a barrier to using mass transit   barrier that can be addressed by providing information in ways that blind or visually impaired people can use.
What Kinds of Transit Information Present Barriers to People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired?
*Route, timetable, fare, and customer service brochures available only in print formats.
* Print or graphic messages on signs, monitors, or maps displayed in transit terminals, on transit vehicles, and inside transit vehicles.
*Bus stop locations that are not clearly marked, and bus stops whose placement varies within a transit system, that is, some bus stops are placed just before the corner, some are mid-block, and others are just beyond the corner.
*Ticket vending machines that have only visible or touch screen operation controls.
Safety or hazard signs and warnings that are only visibly displayed.

What Is Being Done to Improve Transit Accessibility for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired?
In 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law. This broad civil rights act bans discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, transportation, public services, public accommodations, and telecommunications in the public and private sectors. The U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Justice have issued regulations implementing the ADA’s requirements for public and private transportation vehicles, facilities, and services. The ADA transit regulations are complex, addressing a wide range of areas including the design of transportation vehicles and facilities, paratransit services, training of transit staff, compliance requirements and timeframes, and a host of broad reaching issues.

It is important to note that transit agencies have unique obligations under the ADA as well as concurrent obligations under state and local statutes and codes. Transit agencies are advised to consult legal counsel for meeting Federal, state, and local requirements. The information contained in this fact sheet is not intended to address in whole or in part the obligations of transit agencies with regard to the ADA and other Federal, state, and local requirements. The Department of Transportation regulations for publicly operated mass transit are found in the Code of Federal Regulations (49 CFR Parts 27, 37, 38).

In general terms, the ADA requires transportation systems to remove barriers to mass transit for persons who are blind or visually impaired, primarily by making visible information accessible and usable. The following list illustrates some of the ways that transit systems have begun to do so:

Providing large-print, high-contrast, and non-glare informational signs in terminals, at bus stops, and on transit vehicles.
Placing braille and tactile information regarding available service at consistent locations near the entrances to and within transit stations.
Installing a tactile domed high-contrast warning surface along platform edges.
Making stop announcements inside transit vehicles at main points along a bus or train route.
Providing external speakers that announce vehicle identification information.
Providing ticket vending machines with braille and large-print markings, or audible output devices.
Training transit personnel to meet the specific needs of persons with visual impairments who use public transportation.

What Does Innovation and Technology Hold in Store for Transit Accessibility?
In the years since the passage of the ADA, rapidly evolving technology has led to innovations that promise to enhance transit accessibility for people who are blind or visually impaired. Computer screen interfaces are being developed that read aloud information displayed on video screen monitors, information kiosks with tactile maps that “talk” to those who seek information about the location of key places in transit stations, multimedia interactive software allows users to query a map to plan routes, and global positioning satellite (GPS) technology enables people to use a portable computer to monitor their progress as they travel from place to place.

This same GPS technology can be used to drive automatic digitized stop announcements and can be linked to external bus speakers that will announce vehicle identification information to those waiting at vehicle stops. And, infra-red signals and radio transmitters can be programmed to broadcast the visual messages displayed on print signs so signs can then be “heard” by people who use special voice output receivers.

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