Target: Kyle Rector, Ph.D. Candidate
Goal: Commend Ph.D. student Kyle Rector for inventing a successful yoga program for the blind
Ph.D. candidate Kyle Rector recently invented something called Eyes-Free Yoga, a program which uses audible commands to help teach yoga to the blind. Her program runs through the motion sensing technology of Microsoft Kinect, which allows users to interact without having to touch or see the screen. Commend her for her research and innovation in making yoga infinitely more accessible to those without sight.
The Kinect uses cameras and skeletal-tracking technology to guide blind users into correct yoga positions. Rector’s program starts by checking and analyzing the person’s core, one of the central focus areas in yoga. From there, it tells users where to adjust to help align themselves into the right position. It can even offer specific guidance to the user with phrases like, “Bring your left foot closer to your arm,” or, “Rotate your shoulders to the right.”
With the help of two colleagues, Rector’s program is equipped to teach the six main yoga poses. For each of these poses, she built in about 30 different commands designed to help easily guide the user into the right position. Every decision regarding the program was made based on factors Rector considered the most important for the program: it had to be accessible, yogic, encourage confidence, target new users, ensure accessibility features did not compromise learning, and create a challenging workout.
Beyond the technological brilliance of her work, a lot of Rector’s own sweat and effort went into this program. As part of her research, she enrolled in five different foundational yoga classes to study the process and instructors. She also worked with 10 yoga instructors from day one to ensure accuracy, and invited 16 blind volunteers–ages 13 to 60–to try the software before it was released.
Eyes Free Yoga widens the world of accessibility to those without sight. Rector hopes her work will help give people confidence and ultimately encourage them to interact with the world in a different and broader way. Commend Kyle Rector for her intelligent software design and social change in making yoga infinitely more accessible to the blind.
Dear Kyle Rector,
I discovered you created the Eyes-Free Yoga program which helps blind people learn yoga. Your innovative program has helped open the door towards making the world a more accessible place and I wanted to thank you.
Eyes-Free Yoga is the first of its kind to help make a traditionally sight-based activity completely open to those without vision. Utilizing the skeletal-tracking technology and cameras to help track the user’s moves and guide them into the correct position is an impressive idea that you made a reality.
Thank you for your efforts to increase confidence in the sights-impaired community, and for proving that we can make activities like these accessible to all.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Image via www.makemedicinebetter.org