Using AI: How, When and Why?

Using AI: How, When and Why?


AI is the latest buzzword, but what exactly is it and where does it fit in your teaching toolkit? Join us for a conversation with Ricky Enger as we explore real-world examples for using artificial intelligence in daily living, on the job, and for recreation. We’ll share strategies for introducing AI in a clear and approachable way and show how it can be used to supplement rather than replace existing vision rehabilitation skills. And because no tool is perfect, we’ll cover potential pitfalls to keep in mind when discovering everything that AI has to offer.

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Ricky Enger:



Jennifer Ottowitz: Welcome to OIB-TAC’s monthly webinars, where our presenters share valuable information and helpful resources to support professionals working with older adults who are blind or vision impaired. Let’s check out this month’s webinar. 

Jennifer Ottowitz: Welcome to Using AI, How, When, and Why. I'm Jennifer Ottowitz, Older Blind Specialist with OIB-TAC, and I'm very pleased to have with me as our guest today, Ricky Enger. Hi Ricky, how are you? And thanks for joining us.

Ricky Enger: Wow. It's wonderful to be here. Thank you so much for the invite.

Jennifer Ottowitz: Sure, and I know artificial intelligence or AI is becoming really popular, prevalent, and prominent in today's world.

I know for myself, when I hear about AI, it can start to get a little confusing and overwhelming. And so I am super excited that you're here with us today to help shed some light on exactly what it is and how it can help people who are blind or have low vision. But before we dive in, I'm hoping you can start by just telling us a little bit about yourself.

Ricky Enger: Yeah, absolutely. So, um, I was born in a small town in Texas, and I think I was the only blind student. Uh, there. And when I was fairly young, I was introduced to technology for the first time, as was my teacher. And so it was this moment of learning together. And I discovered that as I was learning technology and in some ways teaching the teacher about technology. I had a real passion for it. I discovered right away that it could open so many doors that were previously closed. Uh, you know, think about the ability to type your, your homework and correct it. easily because you could review what you had said.

So I think in some ways ever since that time, I've been really passionate about, um, taking technology from something that's really intimidating and frustrating for people because it certainly is. And just giving that glimpse into, okay, yeah, it may be intimidating and frustrating, but if you can get past that phase, it honestly can do a lot of life changing things.

So now I'm, uh, for the past six years, I've been in my dream job at Hadley, where I work with, uh, primarily older adults newer to vision loss and engage with them through various means like podcasts, discussion groups, and just a short tutorials about how to use the technology that has made its way into our daily lives.

Jennifer Ottowitz: Oh, excellent. And I think that your passion for technology truly shines and that's what makes you such a wonderful instructor. And you also have lived experience too. So, I'm excited to, to hear what you have to share with us today. Um, so we'll just get started because generally speaking. You know, what exactly is AI and how can it help us all?

Ricky Enger: So I think this is a really good place to start because it does help us to frame everything that we're going to talk about. I feel like most people don't honestly care about the technical textbook definition of AI and what is AI, what isn't AI, and how do you tell the difference, blah, blah, blah. What people really want to know is, um, how can I use this technology that mimics human intelligence in some way? Um, how can I use that in my daily life? So that's what we're talking about. And it's interesting because if you had asked me this question just a couple of years ago, my answer About AI would have been totally different. So I might've given examples like, uh, optical character recognition, OCR, where you take a picture of text. So you have this image of text and then you give that to the computer. The computer analyzes it and says, I recognize these symbols as letters and punctuation and numbers and such. And so then it would convert that information to text that is, for example, readable by a screen reader or whose font can be enlarged without pixelating, uh, when it's magnified.

So that's an example, of AI as is there were some rudimentary. Uh, applications where you could send the computer a picture of a cat and it would know this is a cat, but it wouldn't know much else. Is this a black cat? Is this a tabby? What is it doing? We have no idea. All we know is this is a cat. Um, so.

Now though, when we talk about AI, there's a couple of phrases that you might hear popping up, like large language models, generative AI, uh, Gemini. Llama, uh, Microsoft Copilot, ChatGPT is a big one. It's a great example of this sort of new AI. And really, its release in late 2022 is kind of what brought AI into the general public consciousness and took it from something that the tech people really cared about to something that everyone cared about.

So, thank you. What makes this sort of AI different than what we had before is that previously what we called AI was trained on a very specific set of carefully chosen data. So if I want to recognize text from an image, I'm giving the computer these of, of text and showing it, this is what an A is, this is what a B is.

So it was very specific. Now, uh, this new AI is pulling from just a vast array of human knowledge. And. Um, you know, it is pulling from that knowledge and it's able to mimic a human more closely than ever before because it has so much data about what we say, how we behave, uh, all of these things. And can not necessarily be obvious that you're working with something that is not human. Um, so before we go on, I just want to say one last thing, which is you're probably wondering, okay, if this is what AI is, how are we accessing it? We might be using it. from an app that has AI built in. This could be an app that is specifically built for, uh, low vision and blind people, or it could be, uh, just a, an app that happens to be accessible, but didn't necessarily have blind or low vision people in mind.

We also might be chatting with AI through a website, uh, AI is coming to smart speakers like Alexa will soon have more AI capabilities. Siri for those of you who use the iPhone is set to get a bit smarter, which is certainly a welcome change of pace. Yes. So those are the ways that you might access AI in one sort of new addition to the field is what we call smart glasses. So, uh, this could again, be something that was built for blind and low vision users, or it could be something that is mainstream, but has the, uh, the capabilities of AI. So an example of this would be the meta glasses from, from, uh, Facebook, the company who owns Facebook.

And actually, chances are that you're probably using AI already, whether you have deliberately made the decision to do that or not, because it's being incorporated into all sorts of places. If you do a Google search, now you're going to see something that's like, AI summary. And it attempts to answer the question that you've posed in your search, um, using this AI or as you're, you're searching for groceries.

Now, not only are you searching for a product, but you can also ask, uh, your Instacart or Shipt or whatever it is for a recipe. So those are the kinds of places that you're going to find AI.

Jennifer Ottowitz: Wow, it certainly is everywhere. It's lots, lots of different ways to access it. And like all technology, it sounds like it's evolved over the years too, so,

Ricky Enger: Oh absolutely.

Jennifer Ottowitz: What are some specific ways that AI is being used by people who are blind or have low vision, whether it's in their homes, maybe it's at work or, or just out in the community? Are there some other, um, more specific ways it's being used?

Ricky Enger: Wow. Okay. So this is a huge, huge list and I'll try not to take the entire time we have here going over that list, but it really is exciting.

So there are some, I guess, universal uses for AI, such as helping us to Uh, to create some writing, sometimes we get stuck creatively and we just need a little bit of help. So AI can help us to generate text. It can be a creative outlet for generating images. But I think mostly what we want to, to talk about is how is AI really useful for our blind and low vision users.

So one way that AI can work is to act as an interpreter for visual information that we might otherwise have to consult someone else about. So think about when you are. You're teaching someone some aspects of cleaning the house, uh, with, with some non visual techniques. So you're teaching the systematic method of cleaning the glass, for example.

Wouldn't it be nice though, if at the end of that cleaning session, you could get a And ask AI, Hey, is the mirror, uh, streaky? Is there, have I left fingerprints behind? Did I get all of the stains out of this carpet? Things like that. Um, so the ability to send an image to AI and get a description and ask specific questions is huge.

This can apply in so, so many places. Think about photographs of people, whether that is, uh, friends and family that may have posted something on social media, maybe it's a picture of yourself. Maybe you need a profile picture for a, uh, a work presentation, or you'd like to post something or. share something that's happening outside the window with other people.

You can snap that picture and then ask specific questions about it. So let's take the selfie, for example. You could take a picture and then And not only get a description of, uh, it's a person with shoulder length brown hair wearing a bright blue top, but you can also ask questions like, is the entire face in the frame?

Uh, is this taken at the traditional selfie angle? What's in the background of this image? So all of these things that would, that you would find very useful. Stepping into a meeting where your video is showing and you don't always know, um, Eye in the frame or are people looking up my nose right now? AI is very useful for that sort of thing.

Shopping, interestingly enough, it's not just the, uh, typing in a question about a recipe into your Instacart app. It can also be, maybe you do know those. techniques for shopping online. So you have that bit of the technology down, but what happens when you find that perfect pair of dress slacks, or you think you have, and the description there is, The color is hazy dream.

Um, what is that? So the ability to send that to AI and it can tell you, Oh, it's a, it's a medium gray with a hint of blue. Um, I like to think of AI as just sort of a companion or an enhancement to tasks that already doing. So think about organizing your closet or labeling your clothes. This is always such a huge undertaking because, you know, a big part of that is figuring out what the garment is before you can determine how to label it or where it belongs in the closet.

So snapping a picture of that, getting a description, and then using that to, uh, to, to label the garment. Makeup, interestingly enough, there is an AI app that will look at your makeup and determine if you have applied it. evenly or not. Um, in the kitchen, AI is really useful in the kitchen, not just for recipes, although that's a big thing.

Think about when you're cooking and you're picking up these non visual techniques. But sometimes you just need that visual confirmation. Have I frosted the cake evenly? Or does it look like a toddler helped me? Is, are my biscuits golden brown or do they still look a little pale? So things like that. And then when we're out and about, AI can really help in several situations here.

When we are at a restaurant, we can take a picture. of a menu. And this is something that we've had for a bit with OCR, but AI can help us take that a step further. So think about having this huge menu, like the cheesecake factory sized menu, that's just ginormous. And what you want to know is, just tell me about the seafood or just tell me what's low carb on this menu and AI can analyze the menu and answer that question.

Even if, for example, there's not a low carb section on the menu, AI can look through all of this information and make guesses about what is, um, low carb. So there is one last aspect, which I never really expected. So the ability to use AI for O&M, and that's a little bit scary to contemplate, but there are a couple of ways that this is useful.

Think about the ability to describe. a scene and how this might be useful. So if you're able to snap a picture of a room AI can tell you this is a large conference room. There is a coffee station in the back left corner. There are eight rows of eight seats. There are double doors along the front and back of the room and in the front.

There is a projector and a podium that's really useful information and it can, you can continue to ask the AI questions in a way that might feel a little bit awkward or time consuming if you're asking a person all of these questions. But when you're talking with an AI, it’s not going to say, you know, I have another meeting to go to, I need to be elsewhere, I don't have time to do this, or whatever the case.

And finally, there is a, an app that will give you information about the, uh, the walk sign. So if you don't have audible pedestrian signals, there is an app that will look at that walk The visual information that's there. So it gives you a way to do that.

Jennifer Ottowitz: Wow. I mean, it really does sound like a true companion in a lot of situations to help give you feedback and even enable you to do some tasks more independently without having to, or if you don't have any, uh, you know, human assistance available.

Ricky Enger: Right. And I think we've just scratched the surface. So as you're thinking about this, think creatively about some, some possibilities that we haven't mentioned, because goodness knows there are lots of them.

Jennifer Ottowitz: Well, and now begs the question, you know, uh, not many things in life are perfect. Unfortunately. So are there any downsides to using AI or just things to be aware of when we're using it?

Ricky Enger: Yes, absolutely. I wish it were perfect and we can strive for that. That's the goal, but there are definitely some things to be aware of. So I think the first thing is that because AI has learned so much from, from data that we generated as humans. It can seem very human itself and in fact it behaves like a very particular type of human.

We've probably all met someone like this where they are just so overconfident and they will give you an answer to any question you ask whether or not they actually truly know that answer. So when people ask us questions, as humans, we might tend to qualify our answers a little bit, like, I think that coffee shop is still on the corner of trade and try on.

I think you could try to cook that shrimp with some lemon juice and butter and garlic, maybe about this much, right? So we, we, um, we acknowledge the room for error. But. An AI is not going to do this. So it's going to tell you something with great confidence, and it will sound absolutely logical even if it's not true.

And the thing is that when it comes to computers. and technology, we tend to think like, Oh, the computer is so smart. You know, it does a billion calculations per second. And some days I can barely add two plus two or it remembers everything. It stores everything. And I forget all the time. So there's kind of this unconscious feeling that the computer or the AI is more powerful than the human brain.

And that can be problematic because if we're talking with this overconfident human and this person, you know, says something, we might be willing to question that. Like, are you sure that the best way to spread peanut butter on toast is to run a hot iron across the bread? Yes. We would ask a person that.

But when the A. I. presents. That information, it can sound just almost believable, like, uh, you know, the, the heat of the iron will make the peanut butter a more spreadable consistency, uh, so that you can get it even. And we're thinking, well, I never thought about that, but maybe I guess that's true. So this is what's called a hallucination.

The AI is making things up and then. It's presenting what it has made up as if that were definitely true. So that's, that's kind of problematic, right? 

Jennifer Ottowitz: Yes, absolutely.

Ricky Enger: The other thing about AI is that because it is built from data that we gave it, it's going to inherit some of those human biases and those biases may be beneath the surface a little bit that you don't notice until you give it some thought.

Uh, I was recently, I'd gotten some photos that my siblings had posted on Facebook and they were photos of our parents. And if I asked my sisters, okay, what's in the picture? Oh, it's mom and dad. Okay. No, I'm going to get a little more detail from the AI. That's going to be great. So I was asking the AI some questions because I wanted to know.

Like, what era was this taken? How old were my parents? Was this back when they first met or whatever? And so I'm asking the AI about the age of the people in the photo. And it is saying, it's refusing to answer. It says, well, it's difficult to estimate the age of the people in the photo because Uh, doing so may be misleading or insensitive.

Yeah. Yeah. So if you think about this, what the AI is really saying is, it's, people find it problematic to look older. So it doesn't want to say, it's going to shy away from this in the same way that people do. Uh, I don't want to guess your age. I don't want to be wrong. Um, but then there's some biases that are really just out.

Out front and center and can be very shocking. There was an instance where someone was asking about a way to do a particular task. So when they asked the AI about this, the first response they got relied on a visual method. to do the task. And so they clarified in their next message to the AI, I'm blind, so can you give me a method for doing this that doesn't rely on vision?

And the AI said, I'm so sorry to hear that you're blind. And then it answered the question, but wow, that is not a morale booster when the computer is feeling sorry for you. So it's worth noting that things like this. May not happen often, but we should be aware that they can happen, right?

Jennifer Ottowitz: Wow. Yes. And I'm, I'm guessing kind of a tip to take away from with this is to double check. Right?

Ricky Enger: Yes. Absolutely.

Jennifer Ottowitz: And not assume that what AI says is gospel.

Ricky Enger: That's right.

Jennifer Ottowitz: I actually had that hallucination, uh, happen to me. I was looking up references to cite in something I was writing and it sounded perfect, exactly like what I was looking for. And I went to search for the article. Couldn't find it.

And I thought, well, maybe it's just me. I'm not, you know, maybe not the greatest at finding out, you know, this and all the vast resources that are out there. Asked a coworker, they couldn't find it. And we just determined that, it didn't exist. It was totally made up.

Ricky Enger: Totally made up. And it sounded so real, right?

Jennifer Ottowitz: It was perfect. Yes. So, um, but you, you also give a good example with the peanut butter sandwiches, sometimes it can, it might, you know, present a technique that's just totally inappropriate, but not give you any indication that this is a joke. It came from a source. That was sarcastic. It was outdated, anything like that.

So, so I guess beware with and double check. So, for sure. Well, I know you've kind of touched on this along the way, but I wanted to ask, because some people, um, kind of have the thinking that AI may replace the need for vision rehabilitation skills. Um, and it sounds like, you know, you've talked about how it can support those skills and really help give that visual feedback.

Is AI a replacement for having good vision rehab skills?

Ricky Enger: Definitely, definitely not, no. And I think, you know, there are some people, and I don't know whether to call this optimism or not, because it sounds a bit scary to me, but there are some people who believe AI will eventually, as it's growing, be able to take the place of so many things, but no, I don't think, either now or ever, that AI is going to take the place of rehab skills. So first of all, it's not going to take the place of you as a professional. It's not going to be able to make those assessments. It doesn't ask those really pertinent, insightful questions to the individual and then, you know, create a method of teaching the skill that works for the individual.

It may be able to give some general thoughts, but what you do as professionals is very much reliant on interacting and doing that active listening with the person in front of you. And then, you mentioned it does give feedback. Yes. Uh, but if you're a person who's trying to learn a skill, so let's go back to that AI makeup app that I mentioned earlier.

Yes, that app can give you information about whether you have blended your foundation or your blush, uh, you know, your lipstick perfectly, but what it doesn't do is teach you those non visual techniques for applying it in the first place. And a lot of that comes from being face to face, whether that's virtually or in person with someone, and you're having this subtle back and forth.

There are questions and answers that are flying fast and furious, where the AI, it's not interacting with you. It's not connecting with in that important way. in the kitchen. Yeah, it can tell you if your biscuits are brown or not, but it didn't go through that process with you of learning to incorporate your wet and dry ingredients in, uh, in a non visual way.

So, labeling, again, you can get those descriptions of the garments that you bought, but then what's your technique for labeling them? You're learning that from a human and certainly with the, the O&M stuff. So when this app is telling you, Hey, uh, the walk sign says go, but you hear a car turning in front of you, uh, maybe that's not the time to walk.

And that's where O&M professionals are going to be invaluable in teaching. Not only how do you use this mobility aid that you've chosen, but also what are the things in the environment to pay attention to In order to keep yourself safe, and AI is just not good at that.

Jennifer Ottowitz: Got it. Well, it sounds like to when, when people are kind of in that transition when they're learning to trust their other senses, maybe moving from low vision to using visual ways of performing tasks to non visual, it can really help give that feedback to help boost confidence as they're learning to trust those other senses too.

Ricky Enger: Yes, for sure.

Jennifer Ottowitz: Excellent. Well, so, for professionals, then, who may be teaching the use of whether it's a device or an app, or a service, certain programs on the computer, are there any prerequisite skills that a person should have or any other things to keep in mind as professionals whenever they're teaching the use of AI?

Ricky Enger: Right, right. So yeah, I feel like there are two parts to this. And the first part is the tech part. So, uh, learning to use and be comfortable with the device itself that you're accessing AI from. So. What might that look like? That's, um, you know, for now, we are primarily interacting with AI through typing on the keyboard or perhaps doing dictation, uh, from the device.

This is coming more to smart speakers. So if you do have people who are just using smart speakers. They don't have a smartphone. They don't have a computer. Um, more functionality is coming for that. But for now, let's say that we are talking about using this from a phone or from a computer, and So what you're looking at then is, um, the ability to type on the keyboard or do that dictation to find that button and initiate it.

Certainly, the ability, to get the AI app or service that you're hoping to use. So that, means looking at the app store for your particular phone or device, uh, getting that installed, and then knowing how to open it once it is available on the device, uh, how to, to navigate then when you have asked your question, how am I going to read the answers that AI gives me?

So, knowing how to operate the device itself, and also knowing the assistive features on that device that make it usable in the first place, whether that's voiceover or talk back or enlarging fonts, changing contrast, things like that. So all of, the accessibility features, right? And then, uh, we've talked several times about using the camera to interact with AI. So, just being able to teach some basic things about using a camera. What kind of lighting do you need for a good picture? How does distance affect, uh, the picture that you're getting? Um, where is the camera on the phone? Because that's not always obvious too.

So those things will really help. And you don't have to teach someone to be a highly skilled photographer. You really just need these basic ideas about, uh, if you take a picture in the dark, it's going to be very dim, and you're not going to have the same details. If you take a picture from, uh, you know, six inches away, that picture is going to be very different than if you take it from two feet away.

So things like that. So that's the tech knowledge portion of this, but I think the second part doesn't have such a clear roadmap, but I think it. is the most important thing. And we did allude to this already. And that is how to use AI responsibly, right? So how do we know when there's a hallucination and when there isn't?

There's a story, which is kind of funny. You might have heard this. There was someone had made a pizza, and it was a homemade pizza. So, they went through all the things and, uh, put their cheese and toppings and all of that on. They took it out of the oven and cut it and got ready to eat. And the topping slid off the pizza. Ah, that's so annoying, right?

Jennifer Ottowitz: Oh yeah.

Ricky Enger: So, okay, let's go to Google then and say, there has to be a way to, to keep these toppings from sliding off the pizza, right? Well, yes, Google is very enthusiastic to tell you that all you need to do is just simply mix about an eighth of a cup of Elmer's glue or any toxic glue into your pizza sauce.

Before you spread it on the pizza, so that's not a great idea, um, eating a nice rock each day to get your vitamins and minerals. This is not a good idea. But I think things like that, you know, common sense is going to kick in and say, No, no, no, that, that's not a good idea. What about if it's something a little bit more subtle?

When we talked about reading the restaurant menu we said, okay, let's ask about seafood. That's one thing if you just feel like eating seafood, but what if you're asking about the things on the menu that don't have shellfish because you have an allergy? If the AI, you know, it might avoid the shrimp and stuff, those very obvious things, but what about that dish that has the fish sauce in the broth or whatever?

Are we going to trust AI implicitly and say, whatever you say, I will take my life into my hands and eat this dish, even if there could be shellfish in it. No. So what we really need is to know that a person has both the ability and the discernment, I guess, to know when it's time to check other sources.

So that may look like, uh, if I'm designing a logo for my business, I can get AI to generate that, that content based on things I tell it. I want something that incorporates candles, AI can generate that. Now, do I rush right out and put that logo on business cards or do I consult with other people, um, to get an opinion.

So trusting AI as your only tool in the toolbox is not a great idea. The ability to do these online searches, like you were just talking about, Jennifer, where you, you were researching a topic and AI came out with something that seemed so believable, but turns out it wasn't real at all. Do you know that the people you're, you're teaching can do that?

And once again, back to the O&M skills, how much do you depend on the AI to tell you when it's time to walk or not? And how much do you just use that as an enhancement to your skills? To the skills that you already have. So I think it can be a bit of a balancing act, figuring out when it's appropriate to introduce AI, which may be after you've already taught some of these foundational skills so that people can then use it as An enhancement to what they already know, rather than as the only tool they have.

Jennifer Ottowitz: Lots of great things to consider, and it may be true that AI may not be the best, you know, solution for everybody if they're not able to discern, right?

Ricky Enger: Mm-hmm, yeah.

Jennifer Ottowitz: So, and yeah, and I, I know I've heard the term human-assisted AI, and it's nice to know that AI can be a nice companion, but doesn't always replace.

A human or human reasoning or thinking and again, I like that word discerning. So, all right, well, is there anything else that you'd like to share with us to help us better understand or learn more about AI? Are there some resources that would be helpful? Um, I know that we're going to put some links up that you're sharing with us on our website, but I didn't know if you wanted to talk about any of them in the time we have left too.

Ricky Enger: Yeah, I want to go through a couple of things. And before I do that, I just want to say that this space is moving incredibly quickly. And it's one reason that I've hesitated to mention specific tools or specific techniques for, um, kind of the logistics of it. We tried to keep things general because It's changing so, so fast.

So in a couple of months, there might be different tools and different terminology that we're using, but I hope that the underlying principles remain useful, right? So the ability to get these visual descriptions or to get that assistance with writing, uh, things, you know, maybe designing a PowerPoint, getting some of the visual aspects of that, getting AI to help you with those things, those are things that you can, can do.

Um, they, they may change, but those underlying principles of don't trust AI completely, always be a little bit skeptical, that I think doesn't change. Um, but some of the tools that I did mention, I do want to sort of call them out by name because you might be wondering, okay, where is a good place for people to start?

Uh, there are some free options, Be My Eyes is a great option. And I like this because it is, as you say, human assisted AI. So there's a section in the Be My Eyes app that will allow you to either take a picture or send photos that you already have in your camera roll. And it will be described, it will be described by the AI, but then you have the option to verify that with a human so you can call a volunteer directly in that Be My Eyes app and say, the AI said my makeup looked good, does it really?

So that's nice. And it's available for iOS, Android, and now on Windows. And once again, totally free. So it's a nice place to dip your toe into the water for all of the things that AI might be able to do for you. And you've got the human assistance right there if things happen to go off the rails a bit.

The OKO, O K O app is the one I mentioned for looking at the walk sign and telling you when it says go and when it doesn't. It also has built in GPS navigation. It too is free, so it might be an interesting thing to download and play with. There are two sets of glasses I want to give a shout-out to. One is the glasses from Envision AI.

These are built specifically for blind and low vision users, so they have different modes that would be common tasks that you might want to do. For example, reading short text as you're going through your mail, snapping a picture of documents, where you get sort of a more detailed, accurate look at that text and you can export it, uh, describing a scene.

So as we talked about walking into that conference room, snapping a picture, you can do this from your, your phone, but having something that's hands free on your face will then give you that freedom to use your cane and carry your coffee, but still have that AI right with you. The Meta Glasses, uh, from the company who owns Facebook.

This is a brand new entrant to this market. And these are not specifically built for blind and low vision users, but you can do things. Not only can you take video and, uh, share it with people, but You can do things like look around and tell me what you see, and that would be an example of getting that scene described, giving you information about your environment.

You might not know that there's a park bench nearby, uh, unless you, you know, can get that information from these AI things. So those are just a few examples. Uh, lastly, the makeup app I mentioned is from Estee Lauder and it's called ELVMA, and that too is free. So there's a lot that you can do with very little capital outlay to just see what AI can do.

What kinds of questions can you ask it? What do its responses tend to be? And I think that's a great way to prepare yourself as you're going to teach people. And then when you find those people who you believe are ready to to enhance the skills that they already have by incorporating AI. These are some tools that you can give them to say, have a play around with this and let's talk about what you found.

Jennifer Ottowitz: Excellent. Wonderful resources. Thank you for sharing. And it brought to mind something as you were talking that I know we haven't brought up yet, but, um, just as a professional, you, you know, whether You have vision loss or not, you may be able to use in your teaching. I know folks that are using it to create like a word list, um, controlling vocabulary, controlling for certain contractions.

If they're teaching Braille, and then they can give that word list, put that in, create that in Braille or give it to their, to their clients or consumers. So, so even as a professional, there are ways you can incorporate, uh, but again. Beware, check the results.

Ricky Enger: Yes.

Jennifer Ottowitz: Always be skeptical. Always be skeptical a little bit, right? Um, but thank you so much. I mean, this is, as you said, a very fast moving, uh, field. Lots of new things on the horizon that I'm sure have not even been, have not even been considered yet, um, that that will pop up quicker than we can imagine. And you just helped really break it down, make it understandable.

We hope that all of you listening have found it helpful, whether you're using AI to just gain inspiration to help you be creative or you're, you're getting that, that visual feedback or that answer to the question that you're, you're hoping to find. We hope that that you'll really, um, Not only begin to use AI, but also reap the benefits of it, uh, as you incorporate it in with all of your other non-visual skills and just, um, your own human thinking and, and, and creativity.

So, um, it can, can and will likely be a part of our world for a while. Um, if not forever now moving forward, and we hope that this, this, uh, talk with Ricky has helped make it a little easier to understand. So thank you, Ricky. We appreciate you being here.

Ricky Enger: Yes. Thank you so much. I've had a great deal of fun and I would just, uh, echo what you've said, Jennifer.

Don't be afraid to explore where AI can fit because I don't think it's going anywhere. And if you approach it with, uh, both excitement and a little bit of skepticism, I think that's a perfect balance for figuring out how it can, can help you in so many ways. so much.

Jennifer Ottowitz: Fabulous. Well, thank you so much, Ricky, and thank you everyone for joining us.

Jennifer Ottowitz: This has been OIB-TAC’s monthly webinar. Thanks for tuning in. Find recordings of our past webinars on our YouTube channel, and discover all of our many resources at O I B hyphen T A C dot O R G. That’s Like us on social media and share our resources with your colleagues and friends. Until next time. 

Funding statement: The Older Individuals who are Blind Technical Assistance Center (OIB-TAC) is a development of the National Research & Training Center on Blindness and Low Vision (NRTC) at Mississippi State University, focused on agencies serving older individuals who are blind. This grant, H177Z200001, is funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) under the U.S. Department of Education.  

Contact us: To contact the presenter, Ricky Enger, email For more information about OIB-TAC, please visit our website, Also, visit our other NRTC websites, and Visit NRTC on Facebook at and on Twitter/X at Our mailing address is P.O. Box 6189, 205 Morgan Avenue, Mississippi State, MS 39762. Our phone number is 662.352.2001. 


AI Apps and Resources

Be My Eyes: free service with human volunteers and AI component   

Microsoft Seeing AI: app for reading text, identifying objects, and AI for photo and scene description  

Envision AI: Glasses-style wearable designed for blind/low vision users. Free app also available   

Oko: app for navigation and recognition of pedestrian signals  

Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses: wearable with text and product recognition  

Chat-GPT: large language model from OpenAI  

Microsoft Copilot: subscription for adding AI features to Microsoft Office   

AI Weekly: newsletter with cutting-edge info about advancements in AI technology  




Headshot of Ricky Enger, a white woman with brown hair and bangs. She is wearing a purple blouse and smiling.

Ricky Enger

Ricky Enger has been passionate about assistive technology since she was introduced to it at nine years old and has been talking about it to anyone who would listen ever since. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from West Texas A&M University and has worked in the assistive technology field for over 25 years. Through training, podcasting, and community engagement, Ricky is dedicated to demystifying technology and making it easy and approachable for everyone. She currently serves as Practice Leader in Assistive Technology for Hadley, where she develops technology workshops and other community initiatives with a focus on older adults new to vision loss.