Blind Man "Sees" Color with iPhone App: His Personal Story
Story contributed by blogger Austin Seraphin.
(CBS) Technology allows people to do things they have never done before, in my case it was eye opening.
I became blind at birth, and have always tried to find new technologies to help overcome my disability. Recently, the iPhone changed my life forever by allowing me to see in ways I never imagined possible.
The iPhone has a screen reading program called VoiceOver built right in, and I learned to use it within moments of first picking it up. I quickly learned how to check the weather and stocks. To my delight, I could partially read the stock charts, something which I have needed and something to which I have never had access. My Mom tried sending me a text message. I simply swiped my finger and it read it: Hi Austin. She almost cried..
I began playing with my new toy as soon as I got it home. That night, I had an idea: what if my iPhone could call out the colors in the world around me.
Turns out there is an app for that, more than one actually.
The idea isn't totally new. Devices for the blind to speak the names of colors already exist, but they cost hundreds of dollars. IPhone apps like Color Identifier from GreenGar Studios and Color ID from Winfield and Co., cost only $1.99 and fit in your pocket.
My eyes can actually see single shades of colored light, but actually having a small device I can point at an object and hear a range of colors gives me a whole new level of awareness.
When I first tried the app in the middle of the night, I heard nothing. Then I remembered you actually need light to see. I decided to try looking at a light source. So I looked at one of my beautiful Solay salt lamps, with its many hues of reds and oranges.
I felt dazzled, for the first time seeing in my mind's eye the many colors sighted people could hardly describe to me.
The next day, I went outside, and looked around my yard. A friend called me on the phone. "What are you doing?"
"I'm looking at my blue flowers!" I joyfully reported. He later told me that moment made a lasting impression on him.
After the flowers, I looked at my lemon-ginger pumpkin plants, and eventually made it back to my wood-brown house, all by just hearing the colors. I felt alive in a vibrant world I had never known. That night, I did something I had always wanted to do, I watched a sunset, hearing the colors of the sky gradually darken. My mind felt overloaded with colors I could have hardly imagined. I could not speak.
Since that fateful night, my explorations have only continued. I quickly began researching various navigation aids. Now when I get into a car, I can ask a sighted driver: "Do you know where you're going? Do you need directions?" I can point my iPhone or iPad at the night sky and hear the constellations. For the first time in my life, I can get a sense of something all sighted people can see, but which none can describe.
Other apps help too, such as image recognition apps, which are handy for identifying unknown packages and items, including currency.
This sense of liberation has carried over to all areas of life, becoming a new feeling of independence. Having a suite of communication and visual aids in my pocket at all times gives an unparalleled feeling of security. Technology like the iPhone makes it all possible.
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