Envision Names Jing Xu Next Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in Low Vision  

Envision announced today that it has awarded a new fellowship for postdoctoral research studies involving low vision and blind rehabilitation to Jing Xu, who will explore how to help adults with vision loss continue to drive safely. Beginning in July, her research will be based out of the Gigi and Carl Allen Envision Research Institute (ERI) and sponsored by Bosma Enterprises.

“Breakthrough technologies such as Advanced Driving Assistance Systems (ADAS) and autonomous vehicles (AVs) can minimize human error and greatly improve driving safety for people with vision loss,” said Ronald Schuchard, executive director of the ERI. “To our knowledge, however, no driving assistance system has been specifically designed or evaluated for drivers with vision loss, nor has there been any systematic investigation of the effects of ADAS or AVs on the safety of drivers who are blind or visually impaired. We are therefore delighted to offer Dr. Xu a postdoctoral research fellowship and to facilitate her investigation into the potential benefits and risks of these driving technologies.”

Dr. Xu is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard University. She completed her Ph.D. in industrial engineering in August 2017 at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. Alexandra Bowers, an associate professor of ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School who specializes in mobility enhancement and vision rehabilitation, and Rui Ni, an associate professor of psychology at Wichita State University who specializes in aging, driving and autonomous vehicles, will serve as her mentors. Dr. Xu’s research will focus on:

  • Designing and evaluating a collision warning and assistance system to support hazard detection and avoidance for drivers with vision loss due to AMD
  • Using a simulated driving experiment, investigating the effects of different levels of vehicle automation on hazard detection for drivers with vision loss due to AMD

Dr. Xu’s fellowship is being funded by Bosma Enterprises, an Indianapolis-based manufacturer and provider of job training, employment services, rehabilitation and outreach for people who are blind or visually impaired, and a sister agency to Envision through National Industries for the Blind based in Alexandria, Virginia.

The ERI has established Envision as a hub of low vision and blind rehabilitation research and attracts fellows from around the world. It was created by Envision in 2013 to raise the standard for low vision and blind rehabilitation patient care and to remove barriers by investigating the functional implications of vision loss, early screening and access to treatments, optimizing rehabilitation therapies and developing accessibility technology. Postdoctoral fellowships at the ERI provide an educational and research environment where appointees identify solutions to improve the quality of life for people who are blind or visually impaired.

Dr. Xu is part of the fifth class of fellows to conduct studies at the Envision Research Institute. She joins Susanne Klauke and Marco Tartantino, the fourth class of fellows who are in their first years, as well as Güler Arsal and Rajkumar Raveendran, the third class of fellows who are both in their second years.

Dr. Susanne Klauke’s project, sponsored by Pitt Plastics in Pittsburg, Kansas, investigates “Developing rehabilitation for interactions between visual impairment, voice recognition, social impairment and depression."

Tarantino’s project, sponsored by National Industries for the Blind in Alexandria, Virginia, studies “Experiences of Blind and Low Vision Individuals at Different Stages of the Employment Cycle as These Relate to Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 Regulations Implemented in 2014.”

Dr. Arsal’s project, sponsored by ibMilwaukee in West Allis, Wisconsin, centers around “Navigation and Wayfinding Expertise of People Who are Blind or Visually Impaired.”

Dr. Raveendran’s project, sponsored by LCI in Durham, North Carolina, focuses on “Non-Invasive Brain Stimulations & Visual Rehabilitation.”

Additional details about the ERI and its postdoctoral fellowship program can be found online here.

Recipient of The San Francisco Lighthouse's Holman Prize Launches Website for Blind Travelers

In June 2019, Holman Prizewinner Stacy Cervenka launched the Blind Travelers’ Network, an online platform to connect blind and visually impaired people with information and resources for non-visual accessibility in countries around the world. The platform hosts blog posts, reviews, discussion boards and event listings to help users expand their horizons, leave their comfort zone behind and explore new places. To learn more, visit this page.

Now in its second year, the Holman Prize was launched by the LightHouse for the Blind in San Francisco as a means of enabling legally blind people from around the world to make their dreams a reality, and to demonstrate to the public at large that in an accessible world, blind people are capable of doing anything that their sighted peers can do. Visit the Holman page for more details.

US Department of Labor Announces Funding to Support Employee Policy Development for Youth with Disabilities

The US Department of Labor announced the availability of approximately $4 million for a four-year cooperative agreement for a youth-focused disability policy development center. The solicitation is a re-competition of an existing cooperative agreement. The deadline to apply is July 23, 2019.

Administered by the Department’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP), the funding will support continued work on ODEP’s National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD/Youth). This youth policy development center will conduct research, engage with the workforce system and its partners, identify effective policies and practices that support youth with disabilities, and provide resources and training to help support the transition of youth with disabilities to employment.

“Like their peers, youth with disabilities should grow up expecting to work and succeed. We must ensure they are supported in meeting this expectation at every turn,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Office of Disability Employment Policy, Jennifer Sheehy. “Our youth-focused disability policy development center will play a key role in helping educators, service providers, family members, employers, and others support youth with disabilities as they transition from school to adulthood and the world of work."

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