Monday, December 26, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Genetic disorder CdLS brought into spotlight

Teaching the blind to see through sound

[This is an old but interesting article. I found it hiding in one of my files. ~K.]

Teaching the blind to see through sound.
 Written by Karin Kloosterman. Wednesday, 26 August 2009.

JERUSALEM – Israeli researcher Dr. Amir Amedi has devised a new
technology  that uses sound to help the blind to see. A new soundscape language has been created by an Israeli researcher that allows blind people to 'see' objects in much the same way a bat does. Sounds can delight the ears and the soul, but according to Amedi, sounds can also give sight to the blind. After all, if bats can echolocate and 'see' with sound, then why not people, too?

Amedi, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has an eye-opening approach. Using sounds that can be associated with the basic shapes of physical objects,  Amedi and his Dutch colleague Peter Mejeri have effectively trained a number of congenitally blind people to 'see.' The patients do not 'see' via the optic nerve in the eye, but use their visual cortex directly. The sounds that Dr. Amedi's new software and algorithms  teach to the blind are, in effect, a new language called 'soundscapes.'  Soundscapes could enable those blind from birth, or newly blind, to 'see' who and what is in a room.

Hopefully, in time, those who have trained their brains will even be able to see objects that they haven't been trained to see, such as paintings. Seeing like a bat.

 "Theoretically, it could be possible to create high-tech audio glasses that convert visual information into audio signals that the blind can  interpret," says Amedi.
 "Instead of being 'blind as a bat,' one would effectively 'see' like a bat – using sound instead of vision to guide you on your way," he explains to  ISRAEL21c.

The Soundscape language works with the help of a webcam and a microphone. AmeAdi plays a sound signal for his blind subjects and presents them with an object – something simple like a thick diagonal bar.

The person is asked to feel the object and draw it. The resulting picture represents one letter of the new alphabet. He then introduces various sound-object combinations together, such as two diagonals crossing.

"The most attractive thing we found, and already published in Nature Neuroscience, is that there is a division of labour in the brain," Amedi says.

 "There are different parts of the cortex, which are devoted to different functions in the temporal lobe, occipital lobe, etc.," he says, adding that within each lobe there are sub-lobes, devoted to different tasks such as localizing objects and colour vision.

Waking up the brain.

"What we found in congenitally blind people who never saw, when we started to work on this, is that new languages, these auditory soundscapes, are  being activated in the auditory cortex. After they start learning, they start to recruit their visual cortex. In someone who hasn't seen in two decades, the visual cortex starts to recover.

 "It's like waking them up after all these years. They can retrain their visual cortex," Amedi says.

 "The blind use a webcam to transform what we see into sound. Learning an algorithm that converts the pictures to sounds is the trick," reveals  Amedi, whose lab is in the Department of Medical Neurobiology, Institute for  Medical Research Israel-Canada, at the Hebrew University.

In effect, the tool functions as 'artificial vision.' Once they master it, blind people should eventually be able to read and write and locate objects in their immediate environment. It wouldn't be unreasonable to imagine a day when they could walk into a room and 'see' how many people are in it. So far, the researchers have taught blind subjects to recognize objects in room such as shoes and to read short words like 'dad.' In theory, they could trickier," says Amedi.
The new universal language?
 Depending on a person's motivation and ability, the basis for the new 'seeing through sound' language could be learned in as few as 10 to 20 hours.  Amedi is already working with about 10 people in Israel and is awaiting permission to work with children who are blind. Those under six especially, have the ability to quickly learn and retain new languages.
Amedi is constantly working to improve the algorithms and streamline the tool. But he confesses that it is sometimes an uphill process and not just
> a
> technical point of view: "It's challenging in itself to have a
> with the
> blind, to get them involved and to convince them to invest their time,"
> tells
> ISRAEL21c.
> "It's not like a flick of a button and that's it. They need to learn
> another
> language. It's challenging in the beginning, but when you get it, it
> be very
> useful and has a lot of potential."
> If the tool becomes commercialized, along with the business plan Amedi
> intends
> to include an outline for a training camp so that people can learn the
> soundscape language together, in groups.
> Amedi maintains that unlike sign language or Braille, the soundscape
> language
> could be a universal language. He says that it can be taught to people
> from any
> culture, race or religion. Who knows? We may find that it's the only
> language
> that blind people – and maybe all of us – have in common.
> Reprinted with permission from ISRAEL21c. For more than 3,000 stories
> how
> Israel adds value to life in Canada and around the world, visit
> <>
> Last Updated ( Wednesday, 26 August 2009 )
> Source URL:

Mrs. Kathy Michael
Visual Impairments Specialist
Westminster Elementary School

AFB Press Offers Free Shipping for the Holidays!

AFB American Foundation
for the Blind
Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Books Make Great Gifts!Enjoy FREE Shipping for the Holidays!

A gift-wrapped box of books.
To extend a special year-end gift for our valued customers, AFB Press is offering FREE SHIPPING for products purchased in our online bookstore through Friday, December 30, 2011. Use coupon code HOLIDAY11 and start shopping now at!

Here are some of our most popular gift ideas:

Learning to Listen/Listening to Learn: Teaching Social Skills to Students with Visual Impairments is new from AFB Press and an essential resource for teachers and everyone who works with or cares about children who are visually impaired. It is the first book to address the development of skills used to interpret auditory information. The regular price is $59.95, but it can be purchased for $49.95 until December 31, 2011.

Out of Sight, Not Out of Mind: Personal and Professional Perspectives on Age-Related Macular Degeneration is also new from AFB Press, and a great gift for professionals and family members alike. 93-year-old Lindy Bergman and the experts from The Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired present cutting-edge information about the psychological, physical and medical aspects of AMD and how they impact treatment. $29.95

To Love This Life: Quotations by Helen Keller is a beautiful, hardcover book suitable for gifting. This memorable collection of quotations from Helen Keller brings words of wisdom, courage, and inspiration from a remarkable individual. The book is also available as an audio CD, narrated by Patty Duke. $21.95.

The Braille Trail Activity Book with Slate and Stylus provides fun activities and tools to help sighted children interested in braille learn to read and write their own "secret messages." $24.95

For FREE shipping, use coupon code HOLIDAY11 during the check-out process. Happy Holidays from AFB Press!

Order now from the AFB Press Bookstore!

Visual Impairments Specialist Scotlandville Elementary



Optician Online - educating and informing eye care professionals site

RNIB targets Christmas charts

on Optician Online - educating and informing eye care professionals with the following message:

I saw this on the website and thought you might be interested.

To view the item, visit:

Retinopathy of prematurity

Plus disease is an important prognostic indicator in advanced retinopathy of prematurity (ROP).1 However, recognition of the pathology is highly subjective,2– 5 ...


Neighbors Come Together to Light Up Randall Park Neighborhood, Raise Funds — Downers Grove news, photos and events —

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sale at Bob's Store

Bob has a 20% off sale. The profits go to help keep up my main web site dedicated to blind children. Use this code: THREESK1203

Monday, December 12, 2011

A article from Kathy Batten's Disease

Batten's disease; 'Our son won't live past ten': Four-year-old is being poisoned to death by his own brain Read more:

'Our son won't live past ten': Four-year-old is being poisoned to death by his own brain

Blighted by a fatal neurological disorder, four-year-old Morgan Mawson is unlikely to make it to his tenth birthday and is unable to walk or talk.

Full Story:

10 November 2011

Bob on Royal Blue and Red
MsKathyssLogo2.gif picture by mskathy0724
Ms. Kathy's Kids Blog:

Batten's Disease

News 1 new result for Batten's Disease
Special award for fundraiser Matt
Tavistock People
Money raised goes to the Huntington's Disease Association, Parkinson's UK and the Batten Disease Family Association which all work with conditions which ...

Sunday, December 4, 2011

[The vOICe] Implant gives new hope to the blind

Implant gives new hope to the blind.
By Tom Avril, Inquirer Staff Writer.
At first, sitting in church one Sunday, Michael Adler couldn't tell what the
whitish glow in front of him was.
Adler, 49, had been legally blind since childhood, and his vision eventually
deteriorated to pretty much zero.
But now, on the back of the pew in front of him, he saw something. And then he
realized: It was the pages of a hymnal. His new "eye" was starting to work.
Two months earlier at Wills Eye Institute, surgeons had implanted a small array
of electrodes in the back of Adler's left eye - a speck of metal no bigger than
the word eye on this page. In the last few weeks - with the aid of a small video
camera in his sunglasses that transmits images to his retinal implant - he has
begun to gain some limited vision.
"Every day, I can make out more than I could the day before," he said after a
round of follow-up tests at the University of Pennsylvania. "It's very weird
trying to get used to it."
Surgeons have implanted the devices in the retinas of 32 people around the
world. All have a severe form of retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited disease that
causes retinal degeneration.
Much like a cochlear implant enables a deaf person to perceive sound, the
retinal implant bypasses damaged cells in the eye, transmitting signals to the
same part of the brain that registers images in people with normal vision.
"It's sort of like, all the phone lines are in place and you didn't have the
phone," said Julia Haller, ophthalmologist-in-chief at Wills. "This replaces the
The resulting black-and-white images are very low-resolution, consisting of just
60 pixels - far too fuzzy for users to pick out letters on an eye chart. To
Adler, a massage therapist who lives in Mantua, Gloucester County, the face of
his 9-year-old daughter looks like a bright, featureless oval.
But he can see the outlines of doors and sidewalks, and he can pick out plates
on the dinner table.
This type of surgery is just one of several futuristic techniques that
scientists are exploring to help the blind, advances that until recently were
only a dream.
In younger patients with another type of blindness, researchers have had some
success with gene therapy, restoring a modest amount of vision by injecting
corrective genes. Two such efforts are under way at Penn: one in collaboration
with Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, the other with the University of
Florida at Gainesville.
Elephant on a typewriter.
Other methods under scrutiny include stem cells, which would regenerate the
eye's rods and cones, and cortical implants, which are a bit like what Adler has
in his eye, but which are placed directly in the brain, bypassing the eye.
"The progress is remarkable compared to what it was five years ago," said Andrew
Mariani, a program director in the National Eye Institute's division of
extramural research. "What it will be in another five or 10 years, we can just
Along the way, scientists are starting to learn new things about the brain's
plasticity - its ability to adapt.
In blind people, especially those who lose their sight at an early age, parts
of the visual cortex are commonly borrowed to enhance other senses, said the
University of Southern California's Mark S. Humayun, a leader of the
retinal-implant project.
So a big question is, when some sight is restored, are those parts of the brain
borrowed back? Humayun, a biomedical engineer and an ophthalmologist at the
Doheny Eye Institute at USC, plans to use brain scans to answer that question.
Another puzzle is why people with the implants are able to see much of anything,
because the implanted electrodes, though gossamer-thin, are still much thicker
than the natural machinery they replace.
In the center of a healthy retina, the signal from each light-sensitive cone
cell is transmitted to one ganglion cell, and ultimately through the optic nerve
to the brain.
In blind people with the implants, on the other hand, each electrode stimulates
10 to 20 ganglion cells at once, Humayun said.
"It's sort of like an elephant typing on a typewriter," said Tim Schoen,
director of preclinical research at the Foundation Fighting Blindness, which has
funded Humayun's work in the past.
But it seems to work.
Yet in a limited way, it seems to work. Some patients do better than others, but
so far all 32 have been able to see something, according to Second Sight Medical
Products, the California maker of the device.
It is called the Argus II, after the 100-eyed guardian of Greek myth.
It was designed with the help of the U.S. Department of Energy, which has
contributed $51 million and technical expertise from its national labs. DOE
scientists are now working with the company to make a higher-resolution device
with more than 200 electrodes.
The goal is to build an implant with 1,000 electrodes, though the department has
not committed funding beyond next year.
Even the current 60-electrode device is a feat of engineering, not the least
because of where it has to perform: the warm, salty surroundings of the human eye.
Adler learned of the trial from the physicians at Penn's Scheie Eye Institute,
where he had been going for years.
They felt that Adler had the motivation to cope with what would likely be a
bewildering new stimulus, and the energy to return for years of testing.
But they warned him not to hope much.
"Repeat after me: I don't have any expectations," ophthalmologist Samuel G.
Jacobson told him.
The three-hour surgery was performed June 29 by Allen Ho and Carl Regillo,
surgeons at Wills Eye and professors of ophthalmology at Thomas Jefferson
Once Adler was under anesthesia, they opened his eyelids wide and deftly cut
through the conjunctiva, the membrane that covers the white of the eye. They did
that so they could place a thin belt, called a scleral buckle, entirely around
the eyeball.
The buckle is used to hold a disk-shape receiver on one side of the eye.
Eventually, the receiver would accept signals from the camera and electronic
circuitry outside Adler's body.
Then the surgeons performed a vitrectomy, making a tiny incision in the white
of the eye, suctioning out the jelly inside and replacing it with a saline solution.
Finally, they made another small incision in the eye and inserted the electrode
implant, which was connected to the receiver by a thin cable.
The implant was then fastened to the center of Adler's retina with a microtack.
It took several weeks for his eye to heal.
On Aug. 12, he returned to Penn to try on his custom sunglasses, equipped with a
camera the size of a pencil eraser.
The switch was turned on, and at first, the sudden new stimulus was a bit much.
"It looked like I was staring into a flashlight," he said.
The device was fine-tuned, and he returned the next week, Aug. 19, to take home
the glasses for good.
By Aug. 22, he had started to get the hang of it, picking out blurry objects on
the dinner table, though he couldn't tell exactly what they were. The next day
he saw the hymnal at church.
At Penn's Scheie building, where the circular concrete walls evoke the form of
a giant eye, he has been returning each Wednesday for tests with Jacobson and
Artur V. Cideciyan, a research associate professor of ophthalmology.
In one test, he must find a white square measuring three inches across that pops
up in various spots on a computer screen.
Most of the time he gets it right, successfully touching the square with his
finger, though his hand-eye coordination is a bit rusty from years of disuse.
The implant device is small, providing only a 20-degree field of view, and so
he must swivel his head to see things. He is fully aware that the implant is
experimental, and that it may not ever make much difference in his day-to-day life.
Still, he is delighted. And Cideciyan said his performance may improve as his
brain trains itself to make sense of the newfound information.
Last week, vacationing in Ocean City, N.J., with his wife and daughter, Adler
could see the lights on the boardwalk at night.
As he walked to dinner one evening at Clancy's by the Sea, he saw what he
thought was the restaurant's dark doorway, though he had to ask someone to make
"This is all new to me," he marveled.
Source URL:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Writers and their Illnesses: Milton | Varsity Online

Club shares its fundraising fruits

Club shares its fundraising fruits
Several groups and individuals have shared $30,000 in donations from the Rotary Club of Timaru South. ... Read More

Alumna offers tool for understanding albinism

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Alumna offers tool for understanding albinism

Albinism. Some have heard the word before, but few people fully understand the difficulties a person with albinism faces. Individuals with albini...

The resume of Christ Jesus

The Resume of Jesus Christ Address: Ephesians 1:20
Phone: Romans 10:13
Website: The Bible
. Keywords: Christ, Lord, Savior and Jesus
My name is Jesus -The Christ. Many call me Lord! I've sent you my resume because I'm seeking the top management position in your heart. Please consider my accomplishments as set forth in my resume.

· I founded the earth and established the heavens, (See Proverbs 3:19) · I formed man from the dust of the ground, (See Genesis 2:7) · I breathed into man the breath of life, (See Genesis 2:7) · I redeemed man from the curse of the law, (See Galatians 3:13) · The blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant comes upon your life through me, (See Galatians 3:14)
Occupational Background

· I've only had one employer, (See Luke 2:49). · I've never been tardy, absent, disobedient, slothful or disrespectful. · My employer has nothing but rave reviews for me, (See Matthew 3:15 -17)
Skills Work Experiences
· Some of my skills and work experiences include: empowering the poor to be poor no more, healing the brokenhearted, setting the captives free, healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind and setting at liberty them that are bruised, (See Luke 4:18). · I am a Wonderful Counselor, (See Isaiah 9:6). People who listen to me shall dwell safely and shall not fear evil, (See Proverbs 1:33). · Most importantly, I have the authority, ability and power to cleanse you of your sins, (See I John 1:7-9)
Educational Background

· I encompass the entire breadth and length of knowledge, wisdom and understanding, (See Proverbs 2:6). · In me are hid all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, (See Colossians 2:3). · My Word is so powerful; it has been described as being a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path, (See Psalms 119:105). · I can even tell you all of the secrets of your heart, (See Psalms 44:21).
·Major Accomplishments
I was an active participant in the greatest Summit Meeting of all times, (See Genesis 1:26). · I laid down my life so that you may live, (See II Corinthians 5:15). · I defeated the archenemy of God and mankind and made a show of them openly, (See Colossians 2:15). · I've miraculously fed the poor, healed the sick and raised the dead! · There are many more major accomplishments, too many to mention here. You can read them on my website, which is located at: www dot - the BIBLE. You don't need an Internet connection or computer to access my website.

· Believers and followers worldwide will testify to my divine healing, salvation, deliverance, miracles, restoration and supernatural guidance
In Summation

Now that you've read my resume, I'm confident that I'm the only candidate uniquely qualified to fill this vital position in your heart. In summation, I will properly direct your paths, (See Proverbs 3:5-6), and lead you into everlasting life, (See John 6:47). When can I start? Time is of the essence, (See Hebrews 3:15).
Send this resume to everyone you know, you never know who may have an opening! Thanks for your help.

Enter Our Essay Contest

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Win a TRIP TO NEW YORK when your students tell us
what they think about

225 CASH PRIZES for students in the 2011-2012

Help your students earn LOTS of great prizes by entering them in Stossel in the Classroom's essay contest, for students aged 13-18! And we have super prizes for teachers, too!

ESSAY TOPIC: Why do you think politicians make promises? When they try to keep them, why are there often unintended consequences? Describe a promise made by a current politician or political candidate from any party, and discuss whether or not they will be able to keep that promise and what, if any, are some potential unintended consequences from that promise. Please use at least one example from the Stossel special or other Stossel report to support your response.

225 students will receive CASH PRIZES totaling $23,000.

1st and 2nd place students will also win an all-expense-paid trip to New York City for themselves, a chaperone, and the teachers who submitted their essays to see a live taping of STOSSEL.

Teachers whose students receive at least an honorable mention will receive an autographed copy of one of John Stossel's best-selling books.

Each teacher may submit an unlimited number of student essays (500-1000 words) on our web site between now and the Feb. 6th deadline.


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Visual Impairments Specialist Scotlandville Elementary

Half of Vets Returning From Iraq and Afghanistan Need Medical Attention

Half of Vets Returning From Iraq and Afghanistan Need Medical Attention