LightHouse for the Blind is at the forefront of accessible technology, and part of our work is dedicated to enabling blind people to make their own accessible tools. Dr. Joshua Miele was recently interviewed for an article in the EE Times (Electronic Engineering Times) about developing Arduino platforms, an important mechanism to making certain devices more accessible.
In the EE Times article “Developing an Accessible Arduino,” Dr. Miele explains, “Many devices that blind people would want to have—‘accessibility devices’—aren’t necessarily available on the market and could be built from these components.”
Dr. Miele, who heads up the LightHouse Arduino Project, is a research scientist at Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute and is tapped into the latest trends and emerging technologies for the blind. For those of us unfamiliar with Arduino, it “is an open-source prototyping platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. Arduino Boards are able to read inputs – light on a sensor, a finger on a button, or a Twitter message – and turn it into an output – activating a motor, turning on an LED, publishing something online.”
The LightHouse’s new headquarters at 1155 Market Street in San Francisco will offer Arduino classes to blind youth and developers in our state-of-the-art STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) lab. A Blind STEM lab is critical because many blind aspiring STEM professionals do not have accessible science and engineering tools, despite living in Silicon Valley. Dr. Miele’s Arduino project is just one example of the many STEM offerings LightHouse will host, emboldening blind scientists to pursue their scholarly and career aspirations.
“Blind kids are not offered equal opportunity to participate in [robotics-focused] classes because of the accessibility issues around being able to build and program these devices,” Dr. Miele told EE Times. Dr. Miele is currently working with a team of blind and sighted scientists to make Arduino products more accessible, including creating fully-accessible open-source Arduino training materials and design prototypes for blind scientists to access.
Do you know a youngster who is blind or has low vision and is interested in learning how to hack their way into making accessible mechanical and electrical devices? They might be interested in learning Arduino during the STEM session at Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind, July 13 through 16.
If you’re interested in learning more about LightHouse Labs or Arduino programming at the LightHouse, please contact LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin at 415.694.7346 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To sign up for the Youth STEM session at Enchanted Hills Camp, contact Taccarra Burrell at email@example.com or 451-694-7310 for an application or with any questions.