BRYAN — During Deaf-Blind Awareness week, which is now through Saturday, the Williams County Board of Developmental Disabilities (WCBDD) is celebrating advances in technology that enhance independence, mobility, communication, and self-determination.
From cell phones to personal emergency response systems, assistive technology continuously makes life safer and more convenient for many individuals with disabilities.
For Landon Smith of Bryan, technology is helping him see the world in a new way. Smith has albinism and he explained, “My vision is absolutely terrible.” However, he recently received a pair of bioptic driving glasses, made at The Ohio State University, that will enable him to drive.
The bioptic glasses have prescription lenses and a circular cut out in the left lens to accommodate a 10-times magnification monocular, which Smith uses with a simple downward tilt of his head. The use of tinted lens covers helps protect his eyes, which are extremely light-sensitive.
On June 16, Smith traveled to Columbus for his first driving lesson with his new glasses.
“Having the ability to drive will be life-changing,” said Smith.
Smith described the benefits he has already experienced with his new glasses. In the classroom, he can now see the board from the back of the room for the first time ever. Smith shared with his teacher that he found an excerpt from the book, “Glass Castle,” where a character gets glasses and describes seeing the leaves on a tree for the first time very relatable.
In the past, when friends would say, “Look at that deer over there in the field,” Smith would share his inability to see the deer. With his new glasses, Smith wants to go to the zoo to see all the animals, and share these new experiences with others.
The WCBDD promotes technology to help increase independence and connection in the lives of the individuals they serve. Technology, like automated medication boxes, helps people achieve independence with managing their own medication. Remote technology supports, like a wake-up call for work or assistance preparing a meal, are tailored to meet each person’s specific needs.
“One of the most useful forms of technology recently has been platforms like Zoom, that have helped many people stay connected to their family, service providers, friends and community, when they were unable to meet in person,” said Heidi Hull, WCBDD director of community services.