We’re excited to welcome Brandon Biggs to the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute. Brandon arrived in August to collaborate with Dr. Coughlan, Dr. Shen and Dr. Fusco to work on accessibility research and development. This collaboration started last year, when Brandon met Dr. Coughlan at the Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) International Conference in Reno, Nevada. Brandon was then enrolled in a Master’s program in Inclusive Design at OCAD University in Toronto, Canada, which he completed in June.
On May 18, 2017, in honor of the sixth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), Smith-Kettlewell relaunched the award- winning YouDescribe with new features, expanded capabilities, and exciting possibilities for the future of audio description. YouDescribe is a free web-based platform for adding audio description to YouTube videos to improve accessibility for the blind. Conceived in 2011 by Smith-Kettlewell scientist Dr. Joshua Miele in 2011, YouDescribe is a unique platform that allows sighted describers to add audio description to any YouTube video and share those descriptions with blind viewers.
Congratulations to Senior Scientist, Preeti Verghese, Ph.D., who was awarded a four-year grant from the National Eye Institute to study ways of assisting patients with age-related macular disease (AMD) in the performance of real-world tasks. Dr. Verghese’s research lab examines the neural processes, strategies, and adaptations that humans use to interact with objects in the real world and apply these to visual adaptations in clinical populations.
On January 26, 2017, in San Francisco, the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute’s Rehabilitation and Engineering Research Center (RERC) hosted DescribeAthon 17 -- an event that used the Institute’s YouDescribe technology, developed by scientist Dr. Josh Miele, to raise awareness about video accessibility on the web for blind viewers. YouDescribe is an enhanced video program for YouTube in which recorded voices describe what cannot be seen.
SKERI scientists Drs Preeti Verghese, Lori Lott, and Natela Shanidze were featured on the Research! America blog for AMD/Low Vision Awareness Month.
Remote Infrared Signage (also known as “Talking Signs”) was invented at The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco. This powerful system used infrared beams to provide blind travelers with information about the location of transmitters marking bathrooms, bus stops, businesses, buildings, and beyond. Users could point hand-held receivers to accurately locate and identify the “signs” in that direction.
James Coughlan, PhD, Senior Scientist at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, San Francisco, California, was recently awarded a four-year grant from NIH-NEI (R01EY025332) entitled, “Enabling Audio-Haptic Interaction with Physical Objects for the Visually Impaired Summary".
Arvind Chandna, MD, joined The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco on November 1, 2015, as a Senior Clinicial Researcher in pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus.
Work by Drs. James Coughlan and Ender Tekin on bar code readers as an accessibility tool is discussed in Scientific American. The work with using these tools is specifically focused for people who are blind or who have visual impairments.
Congratulations to Dr. Suzanne McKee who was awarded the 2015 Davida Teller Award by the Vision Sciences Society (VSS).