Israel Antonio is a five-time Boston marathon qualifier and a Paratriathlon USA National Champion. He is also an accomplished writer, playwright, and screenwriter with wide-ranging interests in performance and the arts. After losing his sight at 14 years old, Israel has continued to set high goals and challenge both his own limits and the assumptions of his fellow athletes. Craig Pearson talks with Mr. Antonio about running with guides, the value of a creative community, and what it means to be a blind screenwriter.
After the September debut of the KNFB Reader app, a smartphone application that enables users to take photos of printed text and listen to immediate audio playback of recognized words, the tool was hailed as a “game-changer.” Indeed, the app represents another incredible leap forward in accessible technology, which has seen character recognition and text-to-speech tools evolve at a pace that has in many ways reshaped the landscape for people with low vision.
Jim Gashel, the national secretary of the National Federation of the Blind, has been at the forefront of these advances. His collaborative efforts with tech entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil led to the formation of KNFB, which has spent years developing and preparing the KNFB Reader mobile app for the market. Below, Craig Pearson discusses with Jim how changes in accessible text-to-speech devices have created a more inclusive and connected environment for individuals across the visual ability spectrum, as well as what’s next on the horizon for real-time mobile technology.
Maribel Steel is a writer, speaker, blogger, mother and vocalist. She lives in Melbourne, Australia and has been legally blind since the age of seventeen with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). She says her passion is to write and dispel some of the myths held by others about living with a disability – and shares her life experiences through presentations and insightful short stories. Exceptions editor-in-chief Craig Pearson spoke to Ms. Steel about her background and her inspirations.
Kristen Witucki is a writer and teacher based in West Virginia, where she lives with her husband James, her son Langston, and her Seeing Eye dog, a black lab named Tad. Witucki’s fiction has been featured in numerous publications, including Exceptions, where her story “Test Run” was spotlighted in our Fall 2013 issue. Click here for that story, and click here for Part One of our interview with Kristen, in which she discusses her experiences, her influences, and how blindness has shaped her art. Read below for Part Two of our interview.