New glasses incorporate AI to help the visually impaired

Anyone who is blind or visually impaired can instantly list the everyday tasks that cause them frustration. Reading a menu at a restaurant, determining who is in a room when you enter, finding an open seat when boarding a bus or train, and telling the difference between various denominations of money just to name a few. What if there was a new product available that could do all of those things and more? The new glasses from Envision incorporate AI and a smartphone app to allow the low vision user  new way to experience their environment.  

Built for expandability

Envision glasses utilize Google glass enterprise edition 2, and AI to scan, read and OCR text in over 60 languages. In videos demonstrating the technology, the user activates a function on the glasses to take a picture of the text, which is then read out loud. This is good for paragraphs of text, but the glasses can also read small amounts of text in near real-time. The glasses and companion smartphone app are being developed like a platform allowing for quick updates and addition of features. So, other than reading text, what else can the Envision glasses do?

Basic features

The glasses offer scene description, including object detection, color and light detection and face recognition. The feature set of the glasses seem to tick many of the boxes that visually impaired users are looking for in this type of product.  The combination of the AI powered glasses and smartphone app seem to incorporate functions from several apps for low vision into one platform, with the promise of further development and feature addition.  

Call for help

The glasses can also handle video calling, allowing users to contact a trusted party to see what the user is seeing from their perspective and allowing them to offer assistance in real time. This can allow the user to navigate difficult situations which are outside of the functionality of the Envision glasses feature set. 

Tech Specs

From the Envision website:

  • Camera: An 8-MP camera with a wide field-of-view.
  • WIFI and Bluetooth
  • Battery: 5-6 hours with regular usage. USB-C supported fast charging.
  • Audio: Directional Mono Speaker, USB audio and Bluetooth audio.
  • Robust and Light: Water and Dust resistant. Weighs less than 50 grams.

What do they cost?

Assistive technology can often come with a bit of sticker shock in terms of cost. The Envision glasses cost $3500, and part or all of that cost may be covered by insurance depending on your plan. 


From the preview articles and videos I have reviewed, the new Envision glasses appear to have the features needed for daily use in a work or other environment. With a 5-6 hour battery life with regular use, and fast charging, users should be fine to get through a day, especially if they bring a battery pack just in case. The cost does not seem out of line for a specialty product, given that users may be able to offset that initial cost through insurance or other agency. For me personally, being able to walk in a room and have the scene described to me including who was there and the objects in the room would be a big benefit. In terms of travel, I can see the Envision glasses being invaluable when traveling to new destinations. I can see the usefulness for this product when finding your gate at the airport or train station, and being able to eventually use the self check-in kiosks unassisted. 

At the request of many of my readers here and on social media, I have reached out to Envision to see if I can procure a review unit so I can create a full breakdown of the functionality of the unit for you all.   


If you would like more information about the Envision glasses, here is a link to the manufacturer’s website, and a link to a California based news channel with a video preview of the glasses in action.

News Story

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Traceability codes for guide dogs get their debut at the 2022 Paralympic Games

At the 2022 Beijing Winter Paralympic Games, 68 guide dogs were selected as special volunteers to help the athletes. These dogs all have a new identification QR code, which, when scanned provide important details about the guide dog. The new  identification system is integrated into China’s product quality traceability system, which is used for tracking many kinds of products and was created using big data, cloud computing and blockchain technologies. With these technologies, the new identification system makes the traceability code the dogs wear immune to counterfeit.   

U.S. Implications

As a guide dog user, I have long wished for a national system for identifying legitimate service animals. A program such as this would allow hotel and travel providers to scan the unique code for a service animal and determine if it is legitimate, it’s vaccine status and more.  Implementation of a system such as this would take care of one large problem with fraudulent service animal use in the travel and hospitality industry. At present, those who can’t bear to leave their dog at home, can easily obtain fraudulent identification cards which are easily purchased from a myriad of internet companies. The result of this is often misbehaving or nuisance animals masquerading as service animals do little more than give legitimate service animals a bad name in the eyes of the travel and hospitality industry workers.  I’m not sure if this kind of system would ever be implemented into the United States because of the fears surrounding government tracking and overreach. I for one would welcome a national registry, and it could start as simply as each service animal user being required to register the animal and obtain an identification card. 


During the early days of COVID, China implemented an identification and tracing system which tracked the user’s vaccination status, and helped to trace infections and exposures of the virus. I remember so many news stories about people being upset with the system and hated the fact that the scanning of the QR code would give a detailed profile of the user’s movements around the country, and those they interacted with. With the divisiveness of our country today, I can’t even imagine a similar system being implemented for any cause, even the identification of service animals. 

False Identification

A nationwide system to identify legitimate service animals of some sort would be a great benefit for service animal users, especially if there was a way to make it immune to counterfeit. There have long been talks about a national registry or service animal identification system. This would be a good first step, though I fear there will still be internet doctors willing to prescribe service animals to anyone willing to pay.  


The second head of the fraudulent service animal monster is lack of training. Those who obtain false identification for their dog so they can bring them on flights and into hotels often own the animals who are the least trained, or afraid of people and traveling. They put their poor pets into a situation where they are prone to bite, bark and be a nuisance to those around them. I don’t think the uninformed understand how much training, and socialization a guide dog goes through before it even is considered for the guide dog program. I cannot tell you how many times I have been exiting a restaurant and the hostess or wait staff will tell me they didn’t even realize my guide dog was under the table. They often relay a story of someone bringing in a small biting-prone dog which sits under the table and barks at everything that goes by the table. They relay that it is a true treat to see an animal with impeccable training in their establishment. 

Knowledge is key

Everywhere I go I love to take time to talk with and educate the public about the role my guide dog plays and what she has had to accomplish to become part of a guide dog team. It is through education legitimate service animal users can start the process of changing the mindset of service industry workers away from the eye rolling and bemoaning the fact that someone is bringing an ill-trained faux service animals into their establishment and toward seeing the legitimate service animal as a valuable asset to the handler. 

What do you think?

Do you believe people should be able to purchase vests and identification cards for faux service animals? What are your ideas for a national registry for legitimate service animals? I’d love to hear your opinion on this, and any ideas about how we can move our government forward with some sort of program – it doesn’t have to be all encompassing, it can be a first step.  

More information

If you would like more information about the identification system China put in place during the early days of COVID, you can read this article,

If you would like to see a short video about the guide dogs that were used in the Beijing 2022 Paralympics, and learn about the new identification system, you can go here.–18oGdiYlBdK/index.html

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Accessible educational materials

Timely access to accessible educational materials for students who are blind or visually impaired is a constant concern at every grade level. Arguably, in grade school, where instructors may have more flexibility in class assignments, the lack of accessible class materials can be less of a problem than in High School and College level courses. Because of the variability of vision problems, there is not an easy solution to the problem. How does the lack of accessible learning materials affect students? Let’s talk about it.  


When instructors choose books and other content for the new school year (or semester), little if any consideration is usually given to the accessibility of the materials for blind and visually impaired students. This is not the fault of the teachers, and I am sure it is never done with malice toward low vision students, rather these decisions tend to come from a general lack of understanding of the needs of visually impaired students.  This is an inherent issue throughout the education system.

If a visually impaired student has taken a class previously, there is a decent chance that the materials are available in large print or audio format. Depending on when the visually impaired student before you took the class, new students may have to struggle with previous versions of the book if there is no one available to re-record the material. This delay in the student receiving the class materials in a useable format can cause the visually impaired student to fall behind in the class from the onset. Imagine trying to navigate the first couple weeks of a new college class when you can’t read the book or see the assignments.  

Nearly all colleges and lower-level schools have student support services, which coordinate acquiring the needed materials for disabled students. As you might imagine, the beginning of a new year or semester are havoc around these departments, with everyone racing to get students the materials they need as quickly as they can. There are many issues that can cause this delay to be even worse. Some instructors choose older books which are not readily available in digital format, therefore causing the student support staff to break down a book, and scan and OCR (Optical Character Recognition software which converts the pages to useable text.) each page for the student. This is a time-consuming process as it needs to be done page by page.

If teachers do not turn in their list of materials they require for the semester in a timely manner, the student services will not always have time to order them ahead of time so they can be made accessible. There still may be a delay, because some students need audio versions of the content, while others just need a large print version of the material, and there is no guarantee that the student services made both large print and audio versions for a previous visually impaired student taking that course.

General Education Classes (required for a degree) generally tend to amass a decent number of accessible materials, because more students are required to take them. Problems arise when students get to higher level classes. Since these classes tend to be more specific to a degree program, there could be less chance of a visually impaired student previously taking them. In higher level classes, instructors tend to change their materials to ensure that students are getting the most current information as they finish their degree programs.

Lastly, instructors often copy a page out of a book or other source to hand out to the class. Unless the teacher is savvy enough to create a large print version of the document at the same time they are making the ones for the rest of the class, the visually impaired student is stuck not being able to read the materials until an accessible version can be created. In my years in college, I had a total of one instructor who made it a common practice to offer a version of class materials in large print.


With all that being said, I can understand the frustration of students Roy Payan and Portia Mason, both blind, they and the National Federation of the Blind filed a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Community College District, alleging discrimination under federal laws that guarantee equal access to education for those who are disabled. The students say they needed help from their community college: audio recordings of texts, computer screen reading software, and classroom materials in a format they could understand.


As a former student, and being visually impaired myself, I am acutely aware of the difficulty these students face when trying to keep up with a college level class when materials needed for the work are unavailable. Change starts at a local level, and their case is being considered for the Supreme Court. College staff struggle with dwindling budgets to support all disabled students, but things have not improved. It is time for legislation to determine solutions for the issues surrounding accessible class materials. Unfortunately, it feels like it is not as easy as installing an accessible ramp, and that is why the system is where it is. Changes are going to be difficult if they come and having to ensure that materials are available in accessible format will inherently change the way some instructors choose the materials they require for a class. They my feel they are bending over backwards for a small portion of the population attending college classes, but blind and visually impaired students have as much right to attend and succeed in classes as anyone else does.

More Information

You can read more about the legal case mentioned here in this article.

National Federation for the Blind Home

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Ambutech No-Jab mobility cane with Graphite/Carbon Fiber shaft

Let’s face it, its time for a new white cane. I bet you are still rocking that old cane you got when you first completed Orientation and Mobility training all those years ago, aren’t you? The tip is probably all worn down and I bet you never gave buying a new one a second thought, even though you use it every day. A ton of you have been messaging me all over my social media asking me to do a review of the new Ambutech No-Jab carbon fiber cane to see if it lives up to the Luxury, Comfort and Quality advertising. I contacted the folks at Ambutech, and they were nice enough to send out a review unit for me to run through its paces. I’ve had the cane for a couple weeks now and been using it as my everyday cane.

Build Quality & Features

The Ambutech No-Jab mobility cane has a Graphite/Carbon-Fiber shaft, and a double internal cord holding it all together. Anyone who has ever “popped” a cord while away from home will appreciate that the cane can still function on one cord. The No-Jab segment of the cane, which is located just below the grip is spring loaded and compresses nearly five inches when striking a solid object. My review unit included a rolling marshmallow tip, and the cane clocked in at a svelte 11 ounces.   

The cane has a 10-1/2″ ergonomically designed grip made of  genuine sheepskin leather with breathable, perforated holes for extra comfort.

Personalize it

The Ambutech No-Jab mobility cane has a hook type tip system, with a sturdy cable lock. Replacing the cane tips is as easy as pulling out the tip until the cable lock engages, then hooking a new tip in place. A quick flip of the cable lock and the whole assembly slides back into the bottom of the cane and you are ready to get back on the road.

The hook style cane tips are available in a variety of options through Amazon and Ambutech’s website.  Depending on how you like to use the cane when walking, a variety of tips are available ranging from the included rolling marshmallow tip to the classic pencil style, roller ball, disc, ceramic and metal glide tips and more. If those are not enough, Ambutech offer an Aluminum adaptor which allows hook style canes to use 8mm Thread On tips.


If you are a frequent cane user, you already understand the importance of a mobility cane that folds and unfolds quickly and effortlessly. If the joints are too tight, they tend to build a vacuum, making it difficult to pull the cane apart and fold once you have reached your destination. The Ambutech No-Jab mobility cane uses a new Conical Joint, which has a bit of outward flair, making it easier to quickly unfold and go on your way. In my testing, a quick wrist flip allowed the cane to snap together perfectly. It feels like the combination of the new joint and double-cord design makes this possible.

Using the cane

A luxury product comes with a level of expectation when it comes to quality, comfort and use. In my testing, the Ambutech No-Jab mobility cane does not disappoint in any of these categories. From the first time I unfolded the cane, I appreciated the light weight of the cane, and comfortable handle grip. Before trying out the cane, I (and many of you) had concerns about the Conical Joint technology, I was afraid that the joints would allow too much movement in the cane shaft during use, reducing the sensitivity, but this was not the case. In comparison tests with other canes, the Ambutech No-Jab cane Conical Joints delivered superior sensitivity for ground texture and smaller objects encountered while walking.

If you have not used a No-Jab style cane, you really need to experience it for yourself. The top segment of the cane compresses into the handle nearly five inches, allowing you time to stop when encountering an object – like a raised segment in the sidewalk. I usually hold my cane a bit lower and cannot tell you how many times I have bruised myself when hitting an object with my old cane.  

The double cord design allows the cane to be sturdy, but still easy to fold and put away. I used the cane in light rain, and snow and found the texture of the handle grip comfortable when traveling. The grip felt similar to a tennis racket and the leather gives a premium feel.


There is no such thing as a perfect mobility aid, and the Ambutech No-Jab Graphite/Carbon Fiber cane does have a couple faults worth mentioning. First, the cane does not fold as flat as other canes do. This is because the premium handle grip is a bit thicker than many other canes, and the marshmallow tip keeps the cane from folding flat. Neither of these is a real concern, it is the nature of the marshmallow type tip that keeps a cane from folding flat. The only other issue I experienced with the cane was an odd burnt smell from the section of the cane where the No-Jab spring was located. It took a few days for the smell to dissipate and was likely something to do with the manufacturing process. Were any of these issues cause enough for me not to give the Ambutech No-Jab cane an excellent review? No.


The light weight, sensitivity and luxury feel of the Ambutech No-Jab Graphite/Carbon Fiber mobility cane make it a joy to use daily. The grip is comfortable and easy to hold even in harsh weather conditions and the addition of the No-Jab feature means no more bruised hips and abdomen from unexpected bumps in the sidewalk or other obstructions.

It can be difficult to get excited about a mobility aid. The Ambutech No-Jab mobility cane is comfortable to use and has a well thought out feature set. Topping the package off is the price – at reasonable $65.99 (USD). 

Additional information

While putting this article together, several of my readers on social media inquired about other handle options for the No-Jab cane, and if Ambutech offered replacements for the interior cord of the cane. According to Ambutech, there are no other grip options available, and they do offer reasonably priced cord replacements, but they are not available for direct purchase on their website. If you need cord replacement, customers can contact Ambutech at their Order by phone number at: +1 (800) 561-3340.

Amazon Listing


Ambutech No-Jab Graphite/Carbon Fiber mobility cane

Ambutech Website

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Edmonton International Airport has become easier to navigate for the visually impaired

We here at Blind Travels are huge supporters of the visually impaired traveling solo whenever possible. Finding the proper tools to be able to effectively and safely travel solo is important. Whether you use a Guide Dog, or a White Cane, companies which aid accessibility are still a must for efficient travel. Aira (link and end of article) pioneered visual interpretation, a service which utilizes the camera on a user’s smartphone to allow an agent to direct and interpret visual information.  Aira has an ever growing network of airports which are supported by their service. Recently Edmonton International Airport (EIA) teamed up with Aira to offer live, real-time assistance to people with visual impairments at the airport. 

As of this writing, the following airports are part of the Aira Airport Network

  • Austin-Bergstrom International Airport
  • Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)
  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
  • Broward County Aviation Department
  • Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF)
  • Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport (STS)
  • Columbus Regional Airport (CMH)
  • Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL)
  • Dane County Regional Airport (MSN)
  • Denver International Airport (DEN)
  • Edmonton Regional Airports Authority
  • El Paso International Airport (ELP)
  • Gatwick Airport (LGW)
  • General Mitchell International Airport (MKE)
  • George Bush Intercontinental/Houston Airport (IAH)
  • Greater Rochester International Airport
  • Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport (GRB)
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
  • Indianapolis International Airport (IND)
  • JFK
  • JFK International Air Terminal (JFK-T4)
  • John Glenn International Airport (CMH)
  • LaGuardia
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT)
  • McCarran International Airport (LAS)
  • Memphis International Airport (MEM)
  • Metropolitan Transportation Authority
  • Miami Int’l Airport (MIA)
  • Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport (MSP)
  • Newark
  • Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority
  • Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG)
  • Omaha Eppley Airfield (OMA)
  • Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  • Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
  • Port of Portland
  • Rickenbacker International Airport (LCK)
  • Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)
  • San Antonio International Airport (SAT)
  • San Diego International Airport (SAN)
  • Seattle-Tac International Airport (SEA)
  • Sonoma County Airport
  • Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW)
  • Spokane International Airport (GEG)
  • St Louis Lambert International Airport (STL)
  • St. Pete-Clearwater International Aiport (PIE)
  • Sydney Airport (SYD)
  • Syracuse Hancock International Airport (SYR)
  • Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ)
  • Tucson International Airport (TUS)
  • Vancouver International Airport (YVR)
  • Wellington International Airport (WLG)
  • Wichita Dwight D Eisenhower National Airport (ICT)
  • William P. Hobby Airport (HOU)
  • Winnipeg Airports Authority
  • Worcester Regional Airport (ORH)

The list is continually growing, check the links below for more information on the Aira, their services and an updated supported airports list. 

Visual Interpreting – Get Live, On-demand Access to Visual Information

Aira Airport Network

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That one thing to pack for your next trip

Packing for your next trip can be an exciting but daunting process. The first thing that always goes in my suitcase is a collapsible white cane, even if I am traveling with my guide dog. A white cane can be invaluable asset while traveling for a couple reasons.


If you are traveling to a destination where the residents do not not speak your native language, you may find yourself having trouble asking for assistance from those around you. A white cane in hand will clearly identify you as a visually impaired traveler and can make those situations where you might need some assistance easier to navigate.

If I am not traveling with my guide dog, I always at least carry my cane, in case the person traveling with me needs to excuse themselves for a short time.  

Down with the sickness

Imagine traveling to a foreign destination and your guide dog or traveling companion falls ill. It is for this one reason alone that I always have a cane with me when I travel. It allows me the freedom to venture out on my own even if the worst case scenario happens. 

Use caution

No matter where you travel there will always be those with nefarious intentions. The white cane can also be a double-edged sword of sorts, while it clearly identifies you as visually impaired, it can also clearly identify you as a perceived easy target for muggers. I always carry my money and passports in waist belts/wallets and have a wallet with a small amount of cash for easy access. I only put what I would be willing to lose in the wallet. If someone grabs my wallet then I’m only losing a small amount of cash, the thief gets what they came for and I can go about my business with my documents and money safely carried on my person.

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New device uses haptics to allow the visually impaired to sense their surroundings.

Using 3d printed goggles holding stereo infrared sensors, scientists have developed a system for the visually impaired to navigate more effectively.  Users wear arms receptors which inform the user of objects in their path, according to the developer: “Distance information from the camera is mapped onto a 2D vibration array on a haptic feedback sleeve on the forearm which communicates the information to the wearer as sensations of touch“. Since the user wears the haptic sleeve, the hands are left free, unlike when using a cane.  The prototype of the system is said to work well and users could avoid objects and navigate an internal course. The study (and system?) is yet to be peer reviewed, so this technology could be a ways off but seems very promising. 

This reminds me of the backpack from years ago, where the user would get a vibration sensed feedback of their surroundings delivered to their back. Technology has of course come a long way since them, it would be great to have a sleeve that could deliver object notifications and object identification (which is slated for a future release of the system.).  It would not take much to get used to a haptic sleeve which could give feedback about your surroundings. 

Image of black goggles sitting on a wooden surface and Image of a person wearing black goggles

New device uses haptics to allow the visually impaired to sense their surroundings.

Link to original Yahoo article:

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New York becoming more friendly for the visually impaired!

While it is a great thing to see cities making their streets safer for the visually impaired to travel, it is certainly sad that it has to be by court order. According to the article in the New York Times, the ruling will fundamentally change the face of the city. Until now, the pedestrian crossings were predominantly flashing red lights and the walk symbol. I for one hope that this case rolls out to other cities, making them safer for their blind and visually impaired inhabitants. From the article: 

A federal judge on Monday ordered New York City officials to install more than 9,000 signal devices at intersections to make it easier for pedestrians who are visually impaired to safely cross the streets.

What do you think? is this a good use of city funds? Do you think that making the streets safer for the blind and visually impaired pedestrians will impact the population at large? 

Here is a link to the full article:

Why New York City May Soon Be More Walkable for Blind People – The New York Times (

Winter World Book 1 by A.G. Riddle Audiobook

We love reviewing audiobooks, here’s our latest: 

Winter World Book 1 by A.G. Riddle Audiobook – in-depth review of the story and performance for Winter World book 1 by A. G Riddle


Winter World (audiobook) by A.G. Riddle


CVS expands it’s accessible prescription labels program

CVS is rolling out it’s accessible talking prescription labels program to all of it’s nearly 10,000 locations. The program is available in-app and users must be enrolled to access the feature. This move is great news for those who use CVS and are visually impaired. According to CVS: 

The solution, called Spoken Rx, was designed in collaboration with the American Council of the Blind. Patients enrolled in the program can scan the labels on their prescription containers and have their information, including the medication’s name and directions for use, read out loud to them in either English or Spanish

I always love to see companies taking accessibility seriously, especially when it comes to prescriptions. I use another pharmacy but would love to hear your thoughts about this new program and how it is working for you. A program that tells you the prescription name, when it is to be taken and perhaps the shape of the pills would be great (and if it doesn’t have these features it should!). Having to rely on the sighted when it comes to mixed up prescriptions can be a pain. Readers certainly help but having official accessibility features like this is a great idea. Come on other pharmacies, time to step up your accessibility game!

Before you go…

I love to hear from my readers, feel free to drop me a note on my social media links below or right here on blind travels. follow me and I will happily follow you back. 

My Photography:

Twitter: @nedskee

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