RERC on Blindness and Low Vision
Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, San Francisco
Goal: We propose a five-year program of research and development to impact the problems faced by blind and visually impaired people.
Objectives: We will focus on three main areas of need. 1) Access to Education and Information. Objectives are to develop and evaluate new applications of audio-tactile maps and graphics; leverage AI for a human-in-the-loop approach to video description; and develop and conduct a Summer Institute program to provide tools for blind and visually impaired students to enter STEM courses and careers. 2) Navigation and Spatial Interactions. Objectives are to make digital maps accessible to mobile blind users via an audio interface; quantify and improve training methods for passive and active environmental cues; and develop AI-based tools for micro-navigation tasks. 3) Optimizing Function with Residual Vision. Objectives are to develop a practical mobile questionnaire app for identifying cerebral visual impairment (CVI) and suggesting interventions; and develop practical binocular training tools for individuals with central visual field loss to improve task performance and reduce falls. We will also conduct International Symposia on Topical Issues such as Advanced Mobility Options (rideshare, autonomous vehicles, etc.) and Smart Assistants to bring industry players together with consumers and stakeholders highlight and address accessibility issues.
Outcomes & Products: Outcomes will include the availability of new knowledge and technologies that address pressing problems for blind and visually impaired individuals that are not receiving wide attention. Products will include new tools and mobile apps addressing the specific objectives outlined above.