Unusual Ways Technology Helps the Blind

Blind App – The Power of the Smile

Image taken from Morguefile.com Royaly Free Photography
Image taken from Morguefile.com Royaly Free Photography

35-Day Blog Challenge – Day 16

A smile is a simple gesture that anyone can do. I love this quote by Phyllis Diller, a comedian that often made me smile when I was growing up: 

A smile is a curve
that sets everything straight. 

I like that.  The double meaning / play on words. How opposites describe a smile so aptly. It must be the wordsmith in me. 

I never really thought about how visual a smile is.  There is that phrase, “Smile and the world smiles with you.” How do I know that the world is smiling if I don’t have the ability to physically see it? Communication is often so much more visual than people realize. But I do know that non-verbal communication lends a hand, or in this case, two lips and teeth. One of my tips that I always share with people is how much non-verbal communication is used when speaking with vision-impaired individuals. That’s context-reduced so much of it may be missed or misinterpreted. 

As someone losing both my vision and hearing, I often wonder how losing these senses will affect my relationships. My friendships. Our day-to-day interaction.

Although I’m legally  blind and can’t see a lot of detail, I still have enough sight to see or guess at expressions. This video keyed in on these little things that I’ll miss when I lose more vision. But the message of this video doesn’t dwell on those losses. Instead, it focuses on the gains. 

And wow! Is that hope or what? 

Completely blind or near blind individuals can infer that someone is smiling by the tone of voice or sometimes, touch. I read a blog the other day about a blind mother who often touched the faces of her two young boys, a toddler and a five-year-old, to key in on how they were feeling, what they were looking at (their focus). The mom used that tactile method and said how blessed she was with her sons, who weren’t naturally touchy-feely but allowed their mom to touch them as they accepted that was her way to interact with them. At least for now, that worked for her.

I have heard the expression “changing the world one smile at a time,” likely through a toothpaste or ad for dentists.  

Amazingly,  one company has been working to create that positive change. 

Such a small detail yet not at all small. In fact, a breakthrough!  

Listerine has done its own research and used its ingenuity to create  a brand new app for the blind that allows them to experience a smile in a completely different way.

Click this link to watch the video –>  To see a smile

Today’s technology brings more hope than ever before for the blind. These kinds of apps and any technological stride such as this comfort me. If developers can look at the details of helping one to feel a smile, even bigger innovations are on their way. Smart cars for the blind are already in the testing phase. 

Interestingly enough, in the ad, I noticed there was one word that appeared first in Braille and then the printed word showed up. I thought it was really cool which word they chose to pull out for this ad. Did you see it? 

We live in such a fascinating age! My fears about losing my hearing are replaced by hope with the cochlear implant, if it comes to that. The biggest development of all in my lifetime will be in finding a cure for hereditary vision loss and eliminating even the app that was invented to feel the touch of a smile. 

What was most surprising to you about the app? What kind of app would you like to see created? 

You have just read, “Unusual Ways Technology Helps the Blind” by Amy L. Bovaird. Copyright September 28, 2015. I’d so love it if you took a moment to leave a comment! Thanks!

Blind App – The Power of the Smile
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4 thoughts on “Blind App – The Power of the Smile

  • October 1, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    I have an essay I wrote last Christmas about the ways I can detect when a person is smiling, but it can be the hardest thing also.
    This looks like an interesting idea for an APP.

  • October 1, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    I would love to read your essay on how to detect if people are smiling or not! It sounds both interesting and informative. I know that it would be educational for me and probably was for many others.
    Would you mind sharing it with me?

  • October 2, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    Hi Kerry,
    It’s wonderful! I liked how you mentioned that their voices changed and visually described their facial expressions through your hearing.
    Thank you so much for sharing it!

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