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Smart Daring Different | Featuring Ron Klein

Header image is described in the body of the post.


Editor’s Note:

When I met Ron Klein the first thing that stood out to me was how easy he was to talk with. The fact that he has an amazing sense of humor doesn’t hurt either. Picture this: You’re on a Zoom call frantically looking for another headset because yours died. Without missing a beat Ron says “here, I’ll let you borrow mine” as he holds out his headphones towards his camera. Since I’m not as quick on my feet, for a mere millisecond I almost reached out my hand towards my monitor. And just like that, I was quite taken with Ron. At 85 years of age, I could hear the excitement in his voice when he told me he failed three times at retiring. And today, like the Energizer Bunny he still keeps going.

We have exciting news on the technology front which Ron will talk about in his interview. The transcript follows, then below that is another interview Ron recently did. Enjoy! ~Steph

Introducing The Grandfather of Possibilities

Ron Klein and Nasreen Bhutta Talk Technology


Nasreen Bhutta:

Welcome to Bold Blind Beauty and our Cane EnAbled segment, which is found in Beyond Sight Magazine, which is an online community. In addition to celebrating all things related to the white cane, including safety and usage, personalization, this monthly series focuses on sharing broad perspectives from those in the field. Also parents of blind and visually impaired children, advocates, and exciting news on the technology front. Cane EnAbled is published on the fourth Monday of each month.

This month, technology will be our focus, and we are going to be featuring this month the grandfather of possibilities, Ron Klein, who is an ordinary man, but accomplishes extraordinary things. He’s a problem solver. His innovative ideas have changed the world, and he’s very well known for a great invention, which you all out there have probably seen and used many, many times. And that is the magnetic strip that’s found on the back of your credit cards. And he’s also designed and invented a few other nifty inventions out there, including a handy dandy invention for the disabled community, which is the programmable QR codes known as the ELI Technology project. And you can find and read up more about this at That’s So let’s give a big welcome to our featured guest this morning, Ron, how are you?

Ron Klein:

I’m fine. And thank you for that intro. That was very, very nice. And I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Oh, you’re welcome. You’re welcome. So the grandfather of possibilities, where’d that come from, Ron?

Ron Klein:

Well, a lot of it came from when I was a young boy. My grandfather was a great inventor, my mother’s father, and my dad was just a postal worker, and my mom worked in a department store. But they were very supportive, but my grandfather very early in his lifespan, he invented the steam propulsion mechanism for steam ships. And then during the first world war, he invented the torpedo detector for submarines. And then he invented the pressing machine for the tailor shops that press your clothing. And then when the television first came out, he invented the rabbit ears that sat on top of the television that were the antennas.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Oh, wow. I think I had a pair of those, at some point.

Ron Klein:

Yeah, and he was a great inspiration to me, and he was my mentor. I stayed by him all the time, and I loved him. So I followed him, and I guess most of my talent came through him.

Nasreen Bhutta:

So you have these programmable QR code in the ELI technology. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about this?

Ron Klein:

Well, actually I did invent the magnetic strip on the credit card, and during my younger years, I developed the MLS, multiple listing for real estate, and voice response for the banking. And then I automated the New York Stock Exchange and created the bond trading system. And then as I got older in my years, I have a great interest, I always had a great interest to help the blind. And I happened to have an impediment myself where I’m partially blind. So I was having breakfast with one of my people one day and I asked what was on their wishlist. And they said, “It would be great if you could come up with something that would be simple, that could help us identify everything we come in contact within our daily lives.”

And I thought about that for a few weeks. And I was very familiar with the QR code, which really wasn’t used to the ultimate, and I figured if I can do a little modification there and write an app, a free app that could be used on a cell phone that everybody carries around, and it’s so prevalent with blind too because they use it for so many things. And the little programmable QR code would be programmable to the point where you don’t have to throw it away. You can change what it says. So let’s say if you take a little code, it’s the size of your thumbnail, and it’s an adhesive, little adhesive book that I make, and you pull one out and paste it on your medication, the things that you keep in your pantry, your peanut butter, your jelly, and you always put it in the same place and then put your finger on top of the code. Then put the camera portion of your cell phone on top of your finger, slide your finger away slightly, and then start raising the phone.

It actually beeps on the QR code and you can tell it what it is. For instance, once you bring your medication home from the drug store, you can say, “This is my heart medication,” and the date that I ordered it. And now every time you turn your cell phone on and sweep it through your medicine chest, you’re not going to take your aspirins instead of your heart medication or your other medications because it’ll tell you what it is. And then the nice thing is, as it gets close to expiration, you can go back and change the code for that. And say, “By the way, this has to be reordered in 30 days because it expires,” anything to that point. So it’s very, very helpful. It can help you identify your clothes, what’s on your hanger, your CDs, your peanut butter jar from your jelly jar.

And what’s so nice about it is that once you download the free app, you never need the internet again. So it’s not internet sensitive. It’s just the iPhone or the Android phone and the little labels. And we were providing the little labels in a little package that you can carry in your purse or your pocket. And you just peel one off, paste it in a familiar spot where you always know you’re going to look, and that’s how it works. For instance, if you’re going to identify your books, it’ll be on the front cover in the upper left hand corner, and you know that’s where it’s going to be. You feel the label, put your phone on top of your finger, pull your finger away, just raise it, and it tells you what it is. And it’s always in your language because it’s in your voice. So that was the latest ELI invention. And then it carries on further than that. I hope I wasn’t too wordy.

Nasreen Bhutta:

No, that’s fantastic. I think our listeners will really get a good, really deep dive into this technology and to kind of understand how to use it. And I love how you explained the day to day.

Ron Klein:

I have a suggestion, Nasreen. If they go on the website and click on where it says low vision or low vision tab, there’s actually a point that you can download the app, the free app on your phone. By the way, the logo for the free app is a green ‘eye’ with the braille characters inside of it that say ELI, E-L-I. So you know you’ve got the right one.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Oh, fantastic. Fantastic.

Ron Klein:

Then once they download the free app, on that same website is a sample label and they can just use that label to record and try it and play with it. And it’s great. So there’s a perfect example. What I feel is so important is how people should constantly be smart, daring, and different. And being smart means not a PhD from Harvard. It means pay attention, learn something new every day, listen to everyone and filter that out and use that as knowledge. And then to be daring, don’t be afraid to make mistakes because if you painted something the wrong color the first time, paint it a different color. And then the last thing, whatever you do must provide a benefit. And if it doesn’t provide a benefit, it’s no more than a hobby. So I’d like to leave them with that message. And also I’d like to inspire them that at 85, I’m a senior Olympian, senior Olympian in cycling, and I did take the gold medal in the Sarasota County Olympics.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Wow, Ron. Those are some amazing words of wisdom for our listeners. I mean, hats off to you and kudos, being so sharp and still going at it at 85. I wish for all of us to kind of be at that sort of longevity and strive when we’re at your age. So I love those words of wisdom. Thanks so much, Ron, for being here with us today and sharing of yourself and your technology with us today. If you want to learn more about Ron and his segments, you can find this feature and many other great articles and innovative information. You can visit the Cane EnAbled page in the Beyond Sight Community at Thanks for listening, everyone.

Innovative Problem Solver

TEMA TALK: Let’s Get Inventive – Guest Ron Klein

Connecting With Ron:

Featured Image Description:

  • Featured image is the Beyond Sight Magazine cover. A headshot of Ron is on the cover, he is wearing a jacket over a light shirt. The masthead is teal with “Beyond Sight Magazine” in black text. The dot on the ‘i’ in ‘sight’ is the eye used for our 2020 Year of Vision Campaign (described HERE). There are 2 lines of black text that say “The Blind Guide.” In the bottom right corner is a teal circle with an illustration of Abby Bold Blind Beauty’s fashion icon who is walking with her white cane in one hand and handbag in the other. She is wearing heels and a stylish dress made of panels resembling overlapping banana leaves. The dress panels gently curve from her nipped-in waist to just above the knee. She’s also sporting her signature explosive hairstyle and “Cane EnAbled” is in yellow text under the circle.
  • A clear light bulb with two green leaves inside representing innovation.
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Inclusive Online Shopping & Fashion Technology

Inclusive Online Shopping featured image description is in the body of the post.

 Inclusive Online Shopping & Fashion Technology

“Create inclusion – with simple mindfulness that others might have a different reality from your own.” 

~Patti Digh
Abby is on the job sitting cross legged in her PJs (gray bottoms & white top with a gray collar) with a teal Abby logo laptop on her lap. Sporting her signature explosive hairstyle, she is wearing a headset with microphone and her white cane is propped up next to her.

Recently Steph was asked to take part in a project on the accessibility of online fashion shopping. Collette Costello, creator of Kiku Girl Accessibility Fashion Technology Blog spoke with Steph and two others for comments. From the responses she received, Collette made a video on what makes a good inclusive online shopping experience.


Abby: Hi Collette, it’s a pleasure to meet you. Can you tell our readers what Kiku Girl Accessibility Fashion Technology Blog is about?

Collette: My blog and Kiku Girl You-Tube Channel are about making the future of fashion and wearable technology more fun and accessible to young people. I started by looking at new technologies like 3D printed dresses and machines that fold your clothes for you. When I recognized a gap, I began to focus on how to make the world of fashion more inclusive by using technology. Ultimately a more inclusive fashion environment will lead to improving the online shopping experience for everybody.

Abby: I noticed on your ‘About‘ page that you educate women interested in STEM. What was the driving force behind your decision to work with this particular group?

Image is a simple black and white photo of a silver key approaching a black keyhole
Image #1

Collette: I’ve spent many years working in and lecturing about the fashion industry with an interest in the future of fashion and wearable technology. I found many of the designs for fashion technology clothing are not fashionable. There seemed to be this divide between the technology people and the people most interested in fashion—young women. This is because lots of young women don’t choose STEM careers and are more interested in creative subjects. I wanted to show that fashion technology could be fun, exciting, and inspiring. Should they desire, they could have a future career in STEM.  

Inclusion In Fashion & Beauty 

Abby: Historically the beauty and fashion industries are not inclusive. Have you noticed a shift in how these industries are looking at people with disabilities (PWDs) as a market segment?

Collette: The fashion industry is all about making money with mainstream products, and advertisements. The majority of which target the masses, not the individual. We’re beginning to see more niche markets with PWDs included in fashion advertisements. While this still more about making a statement, meanwhile, a quiet revolution of ordinary people is occurring. Beauty and fashion bloggers living with disabilities are defining what it means to have an interest in fashion and beauty.

A big issue is the more specialised an item of clothing the more expensive it is to make. With technological advancements such as 3D printing, it’s becoming cheaper to make more personalised products. Because of this,  we may see more fashion items for PWDs in the future.

Technology In The Lives Of PWDs

Abby: Technology is making a dramatic improvement in the lives of PWDs. Do you envision more employment opportunities within the field of fashion for PWDs because of some of the technological advances?

Collette: The focus at the moment is more about what fashion technology can do, like your bracelet turning into a phone. I began to feel the needs of the consumer were being compromised because everyone was so focused on the future. They weren’t looking at how the technology we have now can be used to benefit the user. This is the reason I made the “How Accessible is Fashion Shopping On-line?” video to highlight this issue.

I see accessibility as being the future of technology and it is this which I think will create employment opportunities for PWDs within fashion. Imagine PWDs working with fashion companies to make sure their websites, shops, and products are accessible and usable. Also, I think companies will gain a better understanding of disabilities and break down some of the prejudices around the hiring practices of PWDs.

Fashion Resource Recommendations

Abby: Can you recommend a few fashion resources for PWDs such as books, websites, designers, etc.?

Collette: A great blog that is giving style and beauty advice in the form of podcasts is Inclusive Style, they are pioneers in this area as I have never heard an audio fashion blog before. Blue Badge Style is another blog dedicated to highlighting accessible venues and products that are also stylish and fashionable. Open Style Lab is an organisation that design innovative clothing personal to each person’s disability, projects include speakers built into clothing to help people with speech problems, other ideas are using conductive fibers so wearers can control their wheelchairs by touching their pocket.

Abby: Thank you, Collette, for stopping by and taking the time to chat with me.

Inclusive Online Shopping Featured Image Description:

The image is twelve online shopping cart icons in various shades of blue and green. Each of the icons are square, circle and hexagon shaped.

Image #1:

The image is a simple black and white photo of a silver key approaching a black keyhole.

You can connect with Collette on:

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Virtual Beauty For Blind & VI Women

Abby's Corner image is described in the body of the post.
Created by Jessica Marano

Hello My Friends,

Can you believe another week has passed? It seems like it was just yesterday we were moving into this past week.

One might think that life as a cartoon character is boring but I have to say my life pretty phenomenal. I mean, think about it, who I am, what I do and who I become is only limited by my creator’s imagination. So if the imagination is boundless there is absolutely nothing I cannot do.

If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it.” ~Muhammad Ali

Technology has made what was once impossible possible. Take clothes shopping, for example, gone are the days where we have to go to a physical store to fulfill our retail therapy goals. Don’t get me wrong I still enjoy shopping excursions with my gal pals but with such a busy schedule it can be just as convenient to shop online.

As technology continues to evolve it’s my hope that retail websites will become more inclusive from a disability standpoint. For example, many of us who are blind or visually impaired use special tools to assist us in navigating the internet however if a site is poorly designed, inaccessible or there is only minimal description these things make the buying experience less than ideal.

A dream product of mine is a “Mirror Mirror” like in Snow White. Once programmed with data needed to produce a verbal output it could help blind and visually impaired women with the ability to become as adept at makeup application as they so choose.

With adjustments to make them more accessible, virtual dressing rooms like tri Mirror or Dressing Room by Gap, can, in the long run, be beneficial to everyone. Being able to create a personalized avatar, inputting measurements, then trying on clothes, makes the tri Mirror an interesting tool but I’d love to hear input from my totally blind friends. Afterall if verbal feedback isn’t an option this will be an opportunity for us to make our mark.

Image Description: The Abby’s Corner illustration was created by Jessica Marano. I’m sitting cross-legged on the floor with my laptop (complete with my Abby logo on the cover) in my jammies and slippers. On my head, with signature explosive hairstyle intact, is a headset and microphone to allow me to use my accessibility features on my laptop.  My white cane is propped up next to me.

Au revoir! ~Abby


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How Do You Use A Computer When You Can’t See?

“I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.” ~C.G. Jung

#1 - Screenreading & Magnification Tools located on my bottom toolbar.
#1 – Screenreading & Magnification Tools

One question I’m frequently asked as it relates to my sight loss is how I’m able to do some of the things I do like; work on the computer, read, watch tv, cook, grocery shopping, travel independently, walk my dog, makeup application, coordinating outfits, to name a few. The short answer is with training I’ve learned how to accomplish day-to-day tasks with low-tech labeling tools like fluorescent bump dots or Ott lamp to high-tech gadgets like video magnifiers or CCTVs (closed circuit televisions).

#2 - Magnification Controls
#2 – Magnification Menu

#3 - Magnified page
#3 – Transparent Magnifying Glass

Several decades ago when I first heard the term “paperless office” I thought there’s no way this will work. I couldn’t comprehend what would happen to my paper filing systems I mean I had many years worth of pay stubs, bank statements, health records, financial records, household data and on and on.

#4 - Full Page Magnified View
#4 – Full Page Magnified View

Thankfully as technology evolves I do too. I went from someone who had to keep every scrap of paper because “you just never know when you’ll need it” to a shredding maniac and transferred my paper filing skills to digital. Today, I do everything online and I have no need for paper other than to scan it to my computer if need be.

#5 - Magnification Options (full, lens, docked)
#5 – Magnification Options (full, lens, docked)

Since my life literally revolves around my computer I felt the time was right to show you how I use it especially in view of the fact that my magnifying/screen reading software of choice is not compatible with my system. Windows has built-in accessibility or “Ease of Access” which includes a narrator, magnifier, high contrast, closed captions, keyboard, mouse and other options.

#6 - Magnification Lens
#6 – Magnification Lens

My laptop is connected to a 32-inch flat screen television which I use as a monitor. With such a nice size screen, I have more desktop real estate to manage multiple programs with increased magnification. I’ll describe each of the screenshots in this post to give you an idea of how I use Windows 10 built-in accessibility.

#7 - Narrator Options (general, voice, commands, minimize)
#7 – Narrator Options (general, voice, commands, minimize)

  1. I’ve pinned the narrator and magnifier tools (highlighted) to my taskbar at the bottom of my screen. This way I don’t have to hunt for the settings.
  2. When I open the magnification tool the control menu pops up. In this screenshot, the plus and minus signs allow for an increased or decreased view. There are 3 optional views from which to choose (full screen, floating lens or docked lens). The magnifier goes up to 1600% however at this setting there is very little on the screen.
  3. No matter what optional view is chosen (this is full screen) there is a transparent magnifying glass (arrow highlight) that I can click on at any time to change my settings.
  4. When I click on the magnifying glass the magnification menu appears so I can alter my adjustments.
  5. This screenshot shows the available viewing options and keyboard shortcuts.
  6. The highlighted circle shows what the lens option looks like. It will magnify wherever the mouse is moved.
  7. The narrator menu has a number of options such as voice, speed, pitch and volume. In addition, you can select how the narrator starts, navigation and create keyboard shortcuts.

Life is different after you develop a disability, but when the focus is placed on what you can do, with some adaptations, life continues onward.