Blind Photographers

Visually impaired people have been taking photographs since the advent of cameras, and many have created art that would seem impossible.  We recommend watching the documentary “The Dark Light – The Art of Blind Photographers” for an in-depth exploration.

BlindSighted contains a series of descriptions from visually impaired photographers of their individual processes for capturing images. Pete Eckert, an award winning photographer, describes his process:

I “see” each shot very clearly, only I use sound, touch, and memory. I am more of a conceptual artist than a photographer. My influences come from my past memory of art and what I now find in the world at large.

With accessibility features built into Apple’s iPhone, even more visually impaired people will be able to enjoy taking photography.  When VoiceOver (the screen reader on iOS) is enabled, the camera application on the iPhone will start performing facial recognition on the images returned from the camera. The current release is able to determine:

  • If a face is in the viewfinder
  • The number of faces in the viewfinder
  • Whether the face is centered, or on the left or right side of the image
  • Whether the face is big or small

As a test case, we decided to try capturing a familiar image—the face of Justin Bieber—to see what the camera would have to say.

As the camera is moved around, “0 faces” is announced periodically, indicating that no face has been detected.  At some point while moving the camera around, Justin will come into the viewfinder.

Face highlighted with square when detected by iPhone through viewfinder

The iPhone voice will speak, “One face, small face, face centered.”  This is our cue to take the picture and capture the image displayed in the viewfinder.

This technology is easy to use, and it will allow more people to share their lives with each other.