The World Sight Day is the most important advocacy and communications day in the eye health calendar. Yesterday, Google introduced new updates to its Google Assistant. The updates will help people with disabilities gain more independence in controlling smart devices and appliances around their homes.

It’s World Sight Day 2020, according to the National Health Portal of India, 80% of blindness is avoidable. 4 out of 5 people have avoidable visual impairment. This day provides a platform for organisations to support individuals and communities to initiate various preventive measures to eliminate avoidable blindness and visual impairment.

The World Sight Day falls on the second Thursday of October every year. The call action for this year is “Vision First!”. The main aim is to draw attention to eye examination so that everyone has access to good vision and eye health.

More than a billion people in India cannot see well because they do not have access to glasses. This World Sight Day, the National Health Portal is working on finding solutions to ensure that everyone, everyone has an access to sight.

Reduced eyesight can be caused by several factor. These include diseases like diabetes and trachoma, trauma to the eyes, or conditions such as refractive error, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration or glaucoma. 

The majority of people with vision impairment are over the age of 50 years; however, vision loss can affect people of all ages.

What is Vision 2020?

‘VISION 2020: The Right to Sight’, is a global initiative to eliminate the main causes of all preventable and treatable blindness as a public health issue by the year 2020. It was launched on February 18, 1999 by the WHO together with IAPB.

In 2017, the Vision Loss Expert Group found out that, 253 million people were visually impaired in 2015. 36 million people were blind. 217 million people have severe  or moderate visual impairment for distance and 55% of visually impaired people are women.

The National Programme for Control of Blindness and Visual Impairment is a completely central sponsored scheme. It is funded by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Introduced in 1976 for prevention of blindness and visual impairment through the provision of comprehensive eye care services and to enhance community awareness on eye care in India. 

Various activities and initiatives are targeted towards achieving the goal of reducing the prevalence of blindness to 0.3% this year. National Prevalence of Childhood Blindness/ Low Vision is 0.80 per thousand.

Cataract, Refractive Error, Corneal Blindness, Glaucoma are the main causes of blindness.

Apart from the government, some organisations like Sightsavers are working to eliminate avoidable blindness and helping in bringing out equality for people with disabilities. the Sightsavers India have organised a free eye health check-up camp at the Okhla Industrial Estate Association premises in Okhla Phase III from 10 am to 6 pm.

The services offered will include – Comprehensive eye screening exam, which will check the visual status of the eye and also screen for diseases such as cataract, glaucoma, etc., instant blood sugar test to check for diabetes and possibility of diabetic retinopathy, prescription of lens power and medication if required, medical consultation on any other eye-related problems, eye care tips to deal with computer-stress and other common visual problems.

Google’s new feature for enhancing accessibility for the disabled

Google has been working on its features for quite some time now, with the aim of making technology more accessible to a larger section of people. In May, Google introduced its ‘Action Blocks’ feature which makes the use of Android phones and tablets easier for people with cognitive disabilities with the help of Google Assistant.

Action Blocks is a feature that lets the user create big, customised buttons for complex actions like playing music or for making calls.

Now, just a day before the World Sight Day, Google introduced new updates to its Assistant that will help people with disabilities gain more independence in controlling smart devices and appliances around their homes. For International Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Awareness Month, Google has brought Assistant to US company Tobii Dynavox’s applications and services.

Google has also added Tobii Dynavox’s library of Picture Communication Symbols in Action Blocks, which aims to help users with cognitive disability to use Android-based devices through personalised buttons. According to Tobii, the inclusion of PCS will make it easier for millions of users to communicate.

In order to make it work, a user needs to create a Google account. Then set up a smart speaker or smart display in the Google Home app on Android or iOS. After providing access to the Snap Core First app, the user can then configure tiles by selecting a button in edit mode, tapping on “Add action” and then tapping on “Send Google Assistant command.”

By Team

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