In today’s society, new technologies have become increasingly essential. Technological development contributes to both the digital and social integration of the blind and those with low vision. Mobile apps and support devices can help them to adapt to the environment and their daily tasks, providing them with greater personal autonomy. However, the support they offer varies. Everyone has different needs, according to their situation, age and the characteristics of their condition.
This has given rise to the SilVer (Smart Aids for Visually Impaired) project that connects the Barcelona Macula Foundation (BMF) and the DRJ digital accessibility consulting firm.
SilVer is a pioneering proposal. It is a free-access website resulting from major app and device cataloguing and selection. Parameters like functionality, ease of use, user profile and price, among many other aspects, have been assessed. Following exhaustive evaluation of over 150 technological instruments currently on the market and called “assistive technologies”, 40 TOP Proposals have been selected for the website.
The initiative has been promoted by Dr. Jordi Monés, the founder of the BMF and a Macular and Vitreoretinal specialist and researcher. A professional who boasts international prestige, he is aware of the difficulties faced daily by those with low vision. Dr. Mones’s experience and knowledge has given rise to the need to assess the devices not only in terms of the pathology — which may involve central or peripheral vision loss, with the needs of sufferers being different — but also their age and personal characteristics. The elderly, who for example suffer macular degeneration at a specific time in their lives, often find it difficult to learn Braille and therefore need a different type of device, with the support of voice or sound, that enables them to adapt to their new situation.
Parameters like functionality, ease of use, user profile and accessibility have been taken into account
On the project’s technical side and at the helm of the DRJ consulting firm (also known as Macneticos from the name of their podcast) are two blind people specialised in digital accessibility. Daniela Rubio and José Vicente González form a successful pairing; she is a digital accessibility consultant and is registered as an Apple Distinguished Educator while he is a digital marketing expert. Their different life experiences with blindness, together with those of other members of their team, have helped them to analyse these devices from a dual perspective, the professional and the personal, lending their opinions added value.