91-year-old Inventor with Visual Impairment Designs for Her Generation

ski poles modified with red and white tape to be used as mobility canes

91-year-old Barbara Beskind is the toast of Silicon Valley as well the toast of the media, with interviews on National Public Radio and the Today Show. In the high tech industry where youth reigns, Beskind has a coveted job as a designer at IDEO, a world-renowned consulting firm perhaps most famous for designing the first Apple mouse. Beskind is living her dream, though it was a dream deferred. As a resourceful 8-year-old during the Depression, Beskind built a hobby horse from old tires for her friend who couldn’t afford one. By high school, Beskind knew she wanted to be an inventor, but her counselor told her flatly that women couldn’t go to engineering school. Beskind earned a degree in Home Economics and enlisted in the army towards the end of World War II. She trained as an occupational therapist and helped badly burned soldiers regain the use of their scarred hands. After twenty years, Beskind retired as a Major and opened the nation’s first free-standing occupational therapy clinic in 1966. Known for her innovative rehabilitation techniques, she has published textbooks under the name Barbara Knickerbocker. Beskind has several patents, including one for an inflatable therapeutic device that assists children with balance issues.

Read the entire story about this remarkable woman with macular degeneration.