Like any country, our community requires the complex interaction of many components in order to help our citizens thrive. Following is a summary of the parties and technologies involved in helping make Blind Country successful:
Blind or Visually Impaired Individual
The entire Blind Country community exists to serve our blind and low vision members:
- Blind: Totally blind individuals can have the Blind Country personal assistant software talk them them. They can navigate their way around the system using simple keyboard commands, speech or touch screen gestures.
- Visually Impaired: Persons with limited vision can use large, high-visibility fonts for clearer reading, although many still prefer to have the software speak to them as well. In addition there are a variety of high contrast options that work better for specific eye conditions.
Blind Country personal assistant (a.k.a. Becky)
The Blind Country personal assistant is software that is installed on the blind or low vision individual's computer. Her name is Becky. Most people develop a genuine affection for their electronic assistant before long.
- Personalized: A variety of customizable options exist to ensure she meets the specific needs of each person.
- Easy-to-Use: There are several ways to interact with Becky, including simple keyboard commands, voice recognition and/or touch gestures. Help is always available. Most people find her very easy to use, even computer novices.
- Computer: The software is currently designed to run on a Windows-based PC, running Windows 7 or later. In order to use the touch gestures, the system needs to be running on Windows 8 or later with a touch-enabled screen. It will run on a tablet computer that is powerful enough to run the full version of Windows 8, such as Microsoft's Surface Pro.
- Internet: The computer on which Becky is running requires a permanent broadband Internet connection. An interruption to the Internet connection will prevent her from functioning correctly.
- Download: You can download Becky from here. She is free to download and use for 90 days.
The Blind Country solution supports several types of smartphones for people who want to access their information on the go. Selected information - such as contacts and appointments - can be configured to automatically synchronize between Becky and the phone:
- iPhone: These phones contain Apple's intelligent personal assistant call Siri which has proven to be particularly useful for blind people. Becky fills in many of the functionality "gaps" of Siri, so the two technologies complement each other very well. Our community forums provide configuration guides for the iPhone to ensure the blind are able to maximize the benefits of the phone.
- Android Phones: For those who use an Android phone, it can also be configured to synchronize seamlessly with Becky to provide a satisfying user experience. Please see our user forums for Android configuration guides.
- Others: We may be providing thin client applications to run on other phones in the future (depending on demand), so please let us know if other there is a different type of phone you prefer.
Becky stores most of her information "in the cloud", which is just a fancy way of saying she stores information on Internet servers and not the local computer:
- Safe: Dedicated teams back up everyone's Blind Country data to keep it safe. People's data will be automatically protected if their local computers die.
- Accessible: Trusted helpers can help manage certain information remotely.
Sometimes there is just no substitute for a working pair of eyes. Trusted parties - friends, family and work colleagues - can be granted access to manage certain information:
- Remote Access: Known, trusted helpers can have web-based access to appointments, contacts, reminders etc. without needing entry to the visually impaired person's computer.
Blind Country has a number of virtual communities that are accessed through the standard Becky interface:
- Visual Impairment: Certain groups focus on practial tips for living with a visual impairment. Members can get support and encouragement from people who truly understand the challenges.
- Blind Country: There are groups dedicated to disseminating information on effectively utilizing the Blind Country system. Some are also responsible for collating suggestions for future enhancements, delivering announcements and providing feedback on the direction of the country.
- Interest Groups: Interest groups connect to discuss specific topics of appeal, e.g. sport, politics, religion etc.
Outside parties that need to work co-operatively with our blind members can do so via several means:
- Clients: Many blind and low vision workers have clients that need to schedule appointments, e.g. massage therapists or psychologists. Their clients can use a web-based interface to view availability and book appointments directly. Becky will notify the worker of any bookings made in this way. Similiar functionality exists to accept online payments.
- Teachers: Teachers of the blind can use web-based interfaces to supply resources, prepare exams, schedule deadlines and collate results. Information prepared by the teacher is easily accessible to the blind student via the standard Becky interface.
- Aides: Becky can be configured to monitor the well-being of elderly patients. This information is then available online for necessary aides (e.g. nurses or physicians) to remotely keep track of the health and welfare of people in their care.
Blind Country Pty Ltd is an Australian company that designs, builds and maintains the technology used by our Blind Country community. Their aim has always been to have the community self-supporting and independent with our involvement as transparent as possible.
However, their team of dedicated engineers work hard in the background to ensure Blind Country continues to grow and prosper in the direction dictated by its members.
You can learn more about the Blind Country solution by clicking on one of the following links: