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Blind genius creates visionary app

NEW TECHNOLOGY: The app is designed for smart phones (PA)

A UNIQUE smart phone application invented by a Londoner which could revolutionise the lives of blind and visually impaired people all over the world went up on the Google Playstore this week in what was the first of a five-day trial.

Long-serving patient of Moorfields Eye Hospital, Chris Telesford, 32, was born with the rare sight condition, coloboma of the optic nerve.

A coloboma is a gap in part of the structure of the eye, which is caused when a baby’s eyes do not develop properly during pregnancy.

Out of discontentment with available applications, Telesford sought to develop an answer to expensive, none portable and inadequate apps.

After years of research, he came up with a product that could be linked to an android tablet by scanning texts and then reading it aloud to the user – from food menus and shopping labels, to books and small print on contracts, or even emails.

Former director of the RNIB, Chris Collins, told The Voice: "This product has been recognised as having massive potential both in the UK and overseas, in terms of enabling the client group to finally embrace modern mobile communications, especially to access the internet and email.

“The app especially allows those with visual impairment the ability to gain independence, as it is completely voice controlled and able to read printed text back to the user.

"It also allows those with some degree of sight the ability like never before to browse the internet, and have things read back to them by touching the section they choose to have read.”

He added: “I have been particularly impressed by both Chris’s technical knowledge and tenacity in both developing the concept and bringing it to the market. This much needed product will be particularly attractive to children and young adults who quickly grasp the use of smart phones and tablets."

Being blind himself, the technology innovator was uniquely placed to create this outstanding "sight app".

Telesford, who studied information technology at East London University, told The Voice: “Anytime I have looked at the technology available today, it has been obvious to me that there is a better and more sophisticated way to make the lives of blind people a lot easier.

“The gaps and the solution just stare me in the face, I don’t know exactly how I know the way forward, but I just do. I have manipulated existing technology in a way that will bring remarkable results for blind and visually impaired people.

"The technology I have created will certainly revolutionise the way those with visual impairment use technology. The technology is even beneficial to normal sighted people."

The specialised app was created in conjunction with Oakley, who are partners with Telesford’s company, AME (Availability Made Easy).
John Gladman, managing director of Oakley, told The Voice: "Oakley are delighted to have been given the opportunity to partner with Chris Telesford and his company, AME communicate to develop and deliver a world class solution to those with visual impairments.

“Every now and again you come across someone with a project that inspires you to help change the world. With the advances in technology, Chris is determined to push the boundaries and never accept there isn’t a better way of doing things, something we are proud to support at Oakley.

"During my first meeting with Chris, I was instantly captivated and motivated to support Chris with the resources to make a real difference to people’s lives."

The Voice learned that the RNIB has arranged for the app creator to personally demonstrate the use of his software to them. The software has also been sent to Kate Russell who presents BBC's Click for a review on the show.

His software now up on the Google PlayStore will be trialled free of charge for fivedays, after which it would be put on sale at £9.99.

Telesford is only the second blind person to ever invent an app to help blind and visually impaired people. He said: "The first app was created by a Chinese blind person and was like a CCTV to help blind people get on the bus. The one I have created is in my humble opinion miles more advanced than that one, with multi-dimensional functions."

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