Of Note


Vision Hotels in the UK Offer Special Deals


Blinded veterans interested in visiting the United Kingdom during the coming year may wish to consider staying at one of three “Vision Hotels” that are designed specifically to cater to blind or visually impaired guests and their companions or caregivers.

Vision Hotels are run by Action for Blind People, a registered, nonprofit charity in the United Kingdom that also welcomes sighted individuals.

The three facilities also welcome and “cater to a guide dog’s every need” with specially trained staff to ensure that guests enjoy a trouble-free stay.

Courtesy of an arrangement worked out with the hotels by Harvey Godber of Blind Veterans UK (see “Blinded Vets Salute All Veterans”), veterans can enjoy a two-night stay with dinner, lodging, and then breakfast for 79 British pounds between now and March 31, 2015, excluding the British festive period. They can experience the same between April 1 and October 31 for 99 British pounds.

All Vision Hotels, which include The Cliffden Hotel, Lauriston Hotel, and Windermere Manor Hotel, are within easy reach of British rail stations. There are rail discounts for disabled passengers and their caregivers and help at stations can be arranged through “Rail Assist” if booked in advance.

The Cliffden Hotel, approximately three hours from London, is set in seven acres with gardens and a large indoor pool adjacent to the complex. A bus stop just outside the hotel takes guests two stops to the town of Teignmouth, where the railway station, shops, and restaurants are a short walk from the seaside. In addition, there is frequent rail service to nearby Exeter, which has a regional airport and railway connections to every other part of the United Kingdom.

Lauriston Hotel overlooks the seaside at Weston-Super-Mare and is set in fragrant gardens. It is situated 30 minutes by train to Bristol, where the SS Great Britain and the Clifton Suspension Bridge are world-famous attractions. Bath and its famous buildings and spa are another half-hour away. London is some 90 minutes down the track from Bristol and sightseeing buses are always available.

Windermere Manor Hotel, set in three acres of landscaped gardens, features spectacular views across the lake to the hills and mountains as well as trips by boat or coach along the 13-mile lake. Memorable visits to other lakes and attractions are also possible.

For additional details, visit www.visionhotels.co.uk or contact the chosen hotel directly: Cliffden Hotel, phone 01626-770052; Lauriston Hotel, phone 01934 620758; and Windermere Manor, phone 01539 445801.

Voiceye Provides Print Accessibility


Sighted BVA Bulletin readers have most assuredly noted the presence of perfectly square boxes containing a shaded gray design on each page of the publication’s three most recent issues.

The Voiceye solution is a combination of a free smartphone application, a Voiceye code, and software to create the Voiceye codes. Organizations such as BVA wishing to provide accessible documents can easily add a Voiceye code to their documents by running the Voiceye add-in to Microsoft Word or through other Voiceye supported software and systems.

After printing or displaying a Voiceye code from the print version of the Bulletin, blinded veterans can scan the Voiceye code with the free Voiceye smartphone application to easily access the information in several alternative formats directly from their smartphones.

Voiceye is unique in that, unlike Quick Response software (QR), the amount of information stored in a single Voiceye code can exceed two pages of text. This information density allows users to access the text using their phones without Internet or phone connectivity.

Audible Solutions Announces Upgrade


Audible Solutions LLC has introduced a new and improved model of Reminder Rosie, a hands-free, voice-controlled alarm clock with built-in digital voice recordings that play back as reminders.

The new model provides users with greater independence as it allows for sharper voice recognition and faster response times than the previous model. Other features include an increase from 10 to 25 in the number of potential reminders that can be stored, the setting of dates using voice control commands, and the setting of reminders to play back at any given time on any given date.

Reminder Rosie provides reminders to take medicines, make important calls, tune into favorite radio or television programs, or arrange transportation on a recurring basis. It can remind veterans of doctors’ appointments made months in advance, an upcoming bill that is due for payment, or birthdays and anniversaries.

First Round Fruitful for BRAIN 2025 Awards


The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced on September 30 that $46 million in initial research awards would go to BRAIN 2025, formerly known as Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative.

BRAIN 2025 consists of 100 investigators in 15 states and several countries working together to develop new tools and technologies to understand neural circuit function and capture a dynamic view of the brain in action.

The award has implications for Traumatic Brain Injured veterans who experience vision loss. Of the 58 total awards, for example, 18 awards totaling $16 million went to teams with National Eye Institute (NEI)-supported Principal Investigators while another six were vision-centered proposals totaling $6 million.

“Vision did very well,” said Paul Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., adding that NEI also had initial plans to create a Brain Consortium within the Institute that focuses on the retinal and visual cortex and serves to facilitate data exchange among researchers.

Announced in April 2013 by President Obama, the now BRAIN 2025 was proposed to be funded in FY 2014 at $110 million, with $40 million from NIH, $50 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and $20 million from the National Science Foundation in addition to funding from private foundations, private research institutions, and industry.

To read more about BRAIN 2025 awards, visit http://www.eyeresearch.org/leg_updates/10.10.14.html.

Season's Greetings from BVA!