Visually Impaired? There’s an App for that.

Want to know how much money you’re holding? How about the color of your shirt? Or maybe you just want to curl up with a book? If you’re one of the over 20 million adults in America alone who suffer from vision loss, these everyday actions can be cumbersome and difficult. What can you do to help with these daily tasks while retaining your independence?

Reach for your iPad, of course.

As technology becomes increasingly intuitive and user-friendly, more and more visually impaired people are embracing high-tech solutions for their everyday needs. And while of the 20,000 apps developed each month, many are, shall we say, less than useful (for only $1.99, “Melon Meter” uses the iPhone’s microphone to measure the ripeness of watermelons!), several developers are using the capabilities of modern technology to aid visually impaired individuals in innovative ways. We’ve taken a look at just a handful of such apps now available for iOS (most of which you can get for the low, low price of FREE!): Continue reading

Why You Should Always Wear Clean Underwear

Post by Benjamin “Tracy” Minish

Benjamin “Tracy” Minish holding a NASA sign in front of an artificial space backdrop.

Benjamin “Tracy” Minish

I have been married for over thirty-six years and have three wonderful sons. My wife is totally wonderful too – let’s just say I married above my pay grade!  I’ve worked for NASA for over thirty years and plan to keep on this amazing rocket ride for at least five more. I have a BS in Computer Science from the University of Georgia (go Dawgs!) and I currently serve as the Chief of NASA’s Mission System Operations branch.  Ouch, I had to pinch myself to see if it was true, and dang if it’s not.  I am uno lucky man and I fall asleep each night counting my blessings.

And, oh yeah, I also only have about five degrees of my field of vision remaining, and those five degrees stink, but I believe my vision loss has made me stronger.

It does lead to some interesting situations, though. One day I told my division chief I was stinkin’ tired of running the ISS Recon branch and was in need of a change.  He came back a few days later and asked if I was interested in traveling the world as the ISS Ground Segment Control Board Chair.  He knew I was legally blind, but still provided me the opportunity.  I strongly believe this is the way the world should spin: give people with physical challenges the opportunity to make their own decisions.  I went home and prayed it over with my wife, and took him up on his offer.

No, no, that ain’t the story – that’s just the intro, so fasten yourself in for warp speed:  I arrive in Moscow after a very long trip – about 18 hours between stepping out of my house and arriving at our hotel.  The hotel is like a maze and has step-ups and step-downs in every room. A nightmare for the “walking dead” – and I’m dead tired!

I wake up several times, trying to adjust to “rocket lag,” and at one point I stumble to the bathroom, half asleep.  I see myself in the mirror and step closer.  Strangely, my image in the mirror turns and briskly walks away.  I do that pinch thing again, and nope, I am not sleeping.  I look around and notice my bathroom is incredibly large, so large it could be… A HALLWAY.  Yikes! Continue reading