Score one (more) for budding innovative technologies in Israel: at Beit Ha’iver, the Center of the Blind, in Herzliya, a photography teacher conducts a class for visually impaired students.
According to Chueh Lee, the designer of the camera:
“The instructor found the visually impaired have no problems estimating distances, since their sense of hearing is especially sharp. Every rustle of wind in the trees catches their attention and can be used to judge distances. Other senses come into play as well. The heat of the sun or a lamp in a living room, for example, signals a direct source of light. They regularly use their non-visual senses to feel the world and manifest it into a mental photograph.”
Whether blind people are required (or eligible) to say the blessing “Thank You, God…for giving me eyes to see with” is a matter of debate. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, the preeminent sage of our generation, held that not only should they say the blessing, but that blind people can be called up for an aliyah (others hold that the blesser has to actually be able to see the words of the Torah) and (I don’t even know why this was up for debate, but) seeing-eye dogs are allowed on the bimah. (Thanks, Jason!)