Health care professionals, particularly those working in the care industry, often define personal independence as having a dedicated personal assistant available so that those with any impairment can perform every day tasks without having to rely on the mercy of strangers.

Chieko Asakawa refreshingly defines and strives for a level of independence that means doing something unassisted by another human being and having the freedom to truly be independent.

She is working on a new cutting edge technology called ‘cognitive assistance’ that help people who are blind or have a severe visual impairment to navigate the world with greater independence.

It is currently in the early stages and in the video below she includes a short demonstration of how it works. It is an open community program with the hope to accelerate research activities so that this technology can be fully developed and implemented. She also points out that assistive technologies have often inspired innovations that everyone has benefited from.

I can definitely see that a voice-over for reality as described below can have far reaching use and benefits for many people in different circumstances facing different situations.

“How can technology help improve our quality of life? How can we navigate the world without using the sense of vision? Inventor and IBM Fellow Chieko Asakawa, who’s been blind since the age of fourteen, is working on answering these questions. In a charming demo, she shows off some new technology that’s helping blind people explore the world ever more independently … because, she suggests, when we design for greater accessibility, everyone benefits.”