When Alex Lee discovered that an inherited condition was causing sight loss, his life changed profoundly. He also began to explore the array of different assistive technologies available to help blind and visually impaired people read, communicate and find their way around. In this six-part series, Alex dives into the history of assistive technology, from long before computers to the latest AI. He asks why Braille took so long to become popular, how the simple white cane has been hard to improve on, what people might be able to see that machines never will, and who is responsible for the parlous state of audio description in the UK’s cinemas.
A History of Assistive Vision
Life before assistive technology
When an inherited condition caused Alex Lee’s vision to deteriorate, he began to discover the technologies that would help him navigate the world around him. Here he describes how his life began to change.
The sweet sound of synthetic speech
After Alex experienced a serious deterioration in his sight, he came to rely on artificial voices to help him with everyday tasks. Find out how synthetic speech came to be developed.
Bringing Braille back to the modern world
For anyone who thinks Braille is so last century, read on. New tech is helping dust Braille down and bring it to today’s visually impaired people.
The unimprovable white cane
Recent technological additions to the white cane aim to make the world easier for visually impaired people to navigate. Alex Lee explores whether new is really better.
The joys and failures of audio description
Audio description enhances the experience of watching a film or TV show for people with a visual impairment, but it's not widely available in the UK. Alex Lee explains why.