Ever wondered what it would be like if we weren’t able to see all of a sudden? Being born blind and facing blindness and low vision at a later stage are very different experiences. When you first feel the loss of vision, the panic and the helplessness are real. It’s that feeling of losing something important that we took for granted.
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate that we can read this all thanks to our healthy eyesight.
Visual impairment and blindness are conditions that affect a significant number of people living in the United States. According to research, about 7 million Americans are living with uncorrectable vision loss, including 1 million Americans with blindness.
What exactly do we mean by blindness? It’s defined as a visual acuity loss group whose vision with correction is 20/200 or worse. While visual acuity loss refers to the best-corrected visual acuity of 20/40 or worse.
Vision loss and blindness can be the result of various common eye problems, diseases, conditions, or accidents. Some eye conditions are congenital (present at or near birth). Others are caused by disease or infection, accidents, or exposure to damaging UV rays (sunlight) or chemicals.
Even though there are some visual impairments that can be corrected using glasses, contact lenses, or surgical and medical interventions, some conditions are beyond help.
Vision loss not only affects the person experiencing it, but also the people around him. The complete loss or deterioration of existing eyesight is, no doubt, a frightening and overwhelming experience.
It makes you wonder whether you’ll ever be able to maintain your independence, pay for medical care, retain employment, and provide for yourself or your family.
Vision loss is not just about the eye and visual system of an individual; it takes a toll on a person’s quality of life, independence, and mobility, which leads to falls, injury, and worsened states of mental health, cognition, employment, and education.
When something bad happens to us, we are often left dealing with the adverse impact it has on things we may have taken for granted. In the same vein, those with vision loss or low vision are often faced with feelings of depression after losing their independence.
These feelings and experiences are further reinforced by other losses as a result of vision loss, like losing their jobs, experiencing relationship difficulties, and increasing dependence on others.
But vision loss does not mean the end of the world.
You can learn to adapt and acquire new skills and strategies, which ultimately results in increased confidence and less reliance on others. This has a positive impact on the mental well-being of a person with visual impairment and facilitates the process of accepting the loss of vision and its consequences.
Though the individual’s ability to be safe, productive, and independent at work may be affected, it doesn’t mean they cannot work. The levels of vision and how it affects work vary based on:
Due to blindness or low vision, an employee may have difficulty reading, operating a computer, driving vehicles, operating machinery, handling money, or navigating around the workplace. But with the latest technology and coaching, these can be easily overcome.
It is no secret that the unemployment rate for the blind and visually impaired is higher than the average population, even within the disability community.
According to 2016–2017 data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate of visually impaired individuals is more than twice as high as the unemployment rate of the general population. 37 percent of working-age individuals (ages 16–64) with vision loss participated in the U.S. labor force, with a 12 percent unemployment rate. In the general population, 73 percent of working-age people were active in the labor force, with an unemployment rate of just 5 percent.
The misconception that people with low vision and visual impairment can do limited things is a bogus concept. They can do nearly any job!
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 bars discrimination against disabled people, including those with visual disabilities. Although getting a suitable job and progressing through a career is difficult, there are many options for the visually impaired, like sales and marketing, teaching, counseling, coaching, social work, etc.
Digital technologies are advancing more rapidly than any innovation in history. In only two decades, they have reached around 50 percent of the developing world’s population and transformed societies. Technology can be a great equalizer. It can increase connectivity, financial inclusion, access to trade, and public services.
The current wave of technological change is likely to have profound impacts on the labor force, creating new forms and patterns of work, making others obsolete, and leading to wider societal changes.
How does all this impact the low-vision community? Simple… the rise of assistive technology in visual aids.
The rise of technology and digitization has had a positive impact on the lives of people with low vision. Many assistive technologies have been developed to make their lives easier. Some of these technologies are:
In the current business and economic climate, data is essential for making smart decisions. Those who make decisions based on data are more likely to succeed in a competitive market.
Countly offers advanced analytics solutions to help businesses digitize and drive their strategy forward. The company provides services to a variety of customers in different industries, such as finance, healthcare, telecom, and media.
Technology has the potential to greatly improve the lives of those with disabilities by providing them with tools to bridge the gap created by their condition.
IrisVision is one of the leading technology companies working to provide such tools, with low vision aids like IrisVision Live and IrisVision Inspire. These smart wearable products were designed in collaboration with telehealth development companies to greatly improve the quality of life for users, giving them the independence and peace of mind they need to live their lives to the fullest.
IrisVision uses Countly for analytics to help with customer experience, customer retention, and to reach new customers. The data from devices is used to gain a customer-focused analysis, which in turn improves the customer experience.
Amy Dixon is a Paralympic triathlete who lost 98% of her vision to an autoimmune disease, but because of IrisVision, she can train and perform better.
Organizations often face challenges when enabling inclusiveness in the workplace, with enhanced productivity and wellbeing. Several companies and startups are working towards addressing these challenges and making it easier for organizations to ensure increased inclusivity.
Countly’s product analytics can have a profound effect on the development of the research process as well as product development. By leveraging analytics like customer demographics, behavior, and usage patterns, products and services can be enhanced and tailored to suit customer needs.
Analytics helps identify the shortcomings of a product’s features and allows organizations to come up with solutions to fulfill customer expectations. Patterns to make the product better than the competition are uncovered, allowing you to create brand loyalty.
As the de-facto industry standard, product and customer analytics are used as the foundation for exceptional product management. Countly offers features to help manage the product life cycle and drive a successful customer journey, helping the product stand apart from competitors. This makes Countly trusted by hundreds of customers around the globe.
This article was written in partnership with IrisVision. Find out more about how they are revolutionizing vision health and improving the lives of people with visual impairments here.