A horseshoe-shaped device that can help those without sight explore the world better than ever.
True
Toyota

"I don't think I'm different. I think how I interact with the world is different."

So explains Belo Cipriani, who was born with sight but lost it in adulthood. Like millions of Americans and people all around the world, he's learned to thrive in his new normal, savvily using the right tools to help him on his journey. A guide dog and sometimes a white cane help him get through his day.


All GIFs via Toyota USA/YouTube.

But what would an even more accessible world mean for him? How could he be provided with even more mobility and connectivity? What would that look like?

Hearing Belo discuss how he interacts with the world points us toward the true heart and soul of accessibility. Listen to him and then check out more of the story below.

The term "accessibility" is a common one. It is a sterile word that often conjures up images of ramps and chair lifts, parking spots and building codes. While it is indeed those things, it is also so much more.

Making the world accessible is about doing whatever can be done to ensure people with different abilities can be their full selves with the same freedom, confidence, independence, safety, and ease as everyone else.

It's about more than the occasional closed captioning and braille options or doing the bare minimum to ensure people with disabilities have subpar, insecure, minimally inclusive participation in the day-to-day activities of life.

It's about pushing the limits of what is and rethinking the status quo to give everyone the opportunity to participate in as much of the human experience as possible.

And if there's one sector that understands the value of pushing those limits and possibilities, it's technology.

That's where Toyota's Project BLAID comes in.

Their engineers in the Toyota Partner Robotics group have collaborated for more than four years with leading organizations and members of the blind community to better understand the mobility needs of the visually impaired and develop solutions to meet those needs.

Translation: They're creating technology to fill in the blanks left by current tools for the blind.

How innovative? Well, this new product is a hands-free, horseshoe-shaped device that sits on a person's shoulders. It’s easy to wear and comes with cameras, voice recognition, buttons, speakers, and vibration — all calibrated to help a blind or visually impaired person better explore and interact with the environment around them. Bluetooth technology pairs it with a smartphone.

With a push of a button, it helps identify signs for bathrooms, exits, elevators, stairwells, and other important places — giving people with limited sight a new level of accessibility so they can do more with greater independence and confidence.

Belo, who was invited to check out the product in its early stages of development, is quite excited about the potential and possibilities.

But he's just the first of many to come. Keep an eye on The Toyota Effect for more information.

Toyota's Project BLAID and other technology that is pushing the boundaries isn't a win just for Belo and others with visual impairments.

It's a win for anyone who believes that society is better when every person is able to freely contribute what they believe they are capable of giving to our world.

True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

Keep Reading Show less