Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

(See the end of this page for subscribing via email, RSS, browsing articles by subject, blog archive, APH resources, writing for Fred's Head, and disclaimers.)

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Crafty Graphics: Stencil Embossing Kits

Crafty Graphics Stencil Embossing Kit

Kit contains stencils, embossing tools, and other items needed to create tactile graphics by dry pressure embossing. You supply your own light source to place underneath sheets to be embossed (for example, APH's Mini-Lite Box or natural light).

The types of graphics you can create are almost infinite, including graphs, clock faces, cards, flash cards, street maps, flowcharts, etc.

Kit Includes:
  • Nine Brass Stencils, such as Block Letters, Geometric, and Bold Plaid Stripe
  • Eight Unique Stenciling Tools, such as Stylus with Medium and Large Tips, Serrated Tracing Wheel, and Standard Braille Signage Stencil
  • Twenty Whole Objects Stencils: such as Apple, Teddy Bear, Heart, etc.
  • Stenciling Accessories Pack, with items such as Soft Wire Screen, Foam Pads, Clear Vinyl Sheet
  • Bold Line Graph Paper, 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheets, 1/4 inch grid
  • Wooden Braille Eraser
  • Guidebook with instructions, tips, and techniques for creating good embossed graphics
  • Guidebook included in large print and on PC-formatted floppy disk
  • Optional Braille Guidebook available
  • Carrying case
Crafty Graphics Kit:
Catalog Number: 1-08844-00

Replacement Guidebooks:

Large Print Edition:
Catalog Number: 7-08844-00

Optional Guidebook:

Braille Edition:
Catalog Number: 5-08844-00

Additional Bold Line Graph Paper, 8 1/2 x 11, 1/4 Inch Grid:
Catalog Number: 1-04062-00

Optional Items

Mini-Lite Box:
Catalog Number: 1-08661-00
Click this link to purchase the Crafty Graphics Stencil Embossing Kit.

Crafty Graphics II

Crafty Graphics II Kit

Crafty Graphics Kit II provides supplemental tools to be used with the original Crafty Graphics kit. Some items can be purchased separately, as noted below. Includes:

  • Clear SimBraille Stencil: can be used for making simulated print braille dots. 40 cells, 4 lines.
  • Clear Plastic Pocket Braille Slate/Stylus: allows you to see where to place braille labels.
  • Three plastic stencils: Point symbol stencil, Multi-line stencil, Directional line stencil.
  • Graphic Boundary Frame: helps with placement of graphics for thermoforming.
  • Three Spur Wheels and One Compass with Spur Wheel: use for making tactile lines and circles.
Crafty Graphics II Kit:
Catalog Number: 1-08852-00

Optional Items:

Guidebook, Braille:
Catalog Number: 5-08844-00

Additional Bold Line Graph Paper, 8 1/2 x 11 with 1/4 Inch Grid:
Catalog Number: 1-04062-00

Replacement Items:

Clear Plastic Pocket Braille Slate/Stylus:
Catalog Number: 1-00078-00

Three Spur Wheels and One Compass with Spur Wheel:
Catalog Number: 1-08852-01
Click this link to purchase the Crafty Graphics II Kit.

Crafty Graphics: Stencil Embossing Kit Video

Crafty Graphics: Stencil Embossing Kit Video

This VHS video, produced in the nuts-and-bolts style of APH's Homegrown Video Series, demonstrates a variety of uses for the Crafty Graphics Stencil Embossing Kit, as well as briefly exploring some tactile graphic concepts. Features a parent, a teacher of the visually impaired, a transcriber, and an art teacher.

Discover from them:
  • how they use the kit
  • for which projects and applications they use it
  • some tips and tricks
  • their favorite features
  • how they used the finished results

Runs approximately 17 minutes. Closed Captioned.

Crafty Graphics VHS Video:
Catalog Number: 1-30013-00
Click this link to purchase the Crafty Graphics: Stencil Embossing Kit Video.

American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 6085
Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085
Toll Free: 800-223-1839
Phone: 502-895-2405
Fax: 502-899-2274
E-mail: info@aph.org
Web site: http://www.aph.org
APH Shopping Home: http://shop.aph.org

Cortical Visual Impairment: Website and APH Products

CVI logo

APH is now offering information about Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI) to consumers via the internet. This new CVI web site reports a wealth of information from different sources and viewpoints. Sections include a definition of CVI, Intervention Strategies, Advocacy and Resources, and many more. The web site is an evolving resource of current knowledge on this leading cause of blindness. It provides information from medical, educational, and parental perspectives, as well as allowing an open door to communicate on the topic.

To explore the CVI web site, go to www.aph.org and click "APH CVI Web Site."

Suggested Products for Use with Children with CVI

Here is a list of some APH products that may be appropriate for use with children who have Cortical Visual Impairment.

  • Mini-Lite Box -- 1-08661-00
  • Mini-Lite Box Overlays -- 1-08670-00
  • Light Box Materials Kit, Level I -- 1-08670-00
  • Light Box Materials Kit, Level II, full kit -- 1-08680-00
  • Pegs/Pegboard -- 1-08665-00
  • Familiar Object Picture Cards -- 1-08666-00
  • Picture Maker: Wheatley Tactile Diagramming Kit -- 1-08838-00
  • Let's See Kit, Perceptual Level -- 1-08151-00
  • Slinky
  • Streamers
  • Snaplock Beads
  • Formboards with inserts
  • Pegboard/templates/pegs
  • Shape Deck binder
  • Invisiboard -- 1-08541-00
American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 6085
Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085
Toll Free: 800-223-1839
Phone: 502-895-2405
Fax: 502-899-2274
E-mail: info@aph.org
Web site: http://www.aph.org
APH Shopping Home: http://shop.aph.org

Sense of Science Series: Plants and Animals

Sense of Science is a unique series designed to make the world of science accessible, understandable, and enjoyable. All learners can benefit from this hands-on, multi-sensory approach, although Sense of Science is recommended for early elementary age students. The main component in each Sense of Science kit is a set of colorful, raised-line overlays designed to be used with a light box, or as stand-alone items. An accompanying guidebook suggests activities using the overlays and supplemental teacher-provided materials to enhance and extend the learning experience. Two modules are currently available, Sense of Science: Plants and Sense of Science: Animals. Additional modules are planned for the future.

Sense of Science: Plants

Sense of Science Plants Kit

Sense of Science: Plants is the first module of a planned science series for visually impaired students in grades K-3, and for other students who may benefit

from a multisensory approach to learning. Recommended ages: 5 to 10 years. Includes: -- A large print guidebook (braille edition available separately) with activities to teach basic plant concepts. Activities use real objects and the included colorful, raised-line overlays.

Overlays include bean seed cross-section, flower, leaf, tree, etc. Use with either the APH Light Box or Mini-Lite Box, or stand alone.

Two accompanying trays designed to fit under a light box ledge and provide a secure working area for the overlays.

Sense of Science: Plants (complete kit):
Catalog Number: 1-08980-00

Large Print Guidebook only:
Catalog Number: 7-08980-00

Optional Braille Guidebook only:
Catalog Number: 5-08980-00

Related Products
Mini-Lite Box:
Catalog Number: 1-08661-00
Click this link to purchase Sense of Science: Plants.

Sense of Science: Animals

Sense of Science Animals Kit

Sense of Science: Animals is the second module in this tactile/visual "hands-on" series. Activities incorporate a learning objective, a list of vocabulary and needed materials, an initial inquiry, a step-by-step procedure, an extended activity, a visual adaptation, math and language connections, and a "science tidbit." Activities are also provided using the accompanying overlays. Recommended ages: 5 to 10 years. Includes:

  • A large print guidebook (braille edition available separately) with easy-to-follow activities, a glossary, list of resources, and bibliography of related children's books.
  • A variety of visual and tactile overlays, such as ant, bird, fish, life cycle of a frog, etc. that can be used alone or with the APH Light Box or Mini-Lite Box.
  • Two trays designed to slip snugly under a light box ledge and provide a secure working area for using the overlays.
Sense of Science: Animals (complete kit):
Catalog Number: 1-08990-00

Large Print Guidebook only:
Catalog Number: 7-08990-00

Optional Braille Guidebook only:
Catalog Number: 5-08990-00
Click this link to purchase Sense of Science: Animals.

American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 6085
Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085
Toll Free: 800-223-1839
Phone: 502-895-2405
Fax: 502-899-2274
E-mail: info@aph.org
Web site: http://www.aph.org
APH Shopping Home: http://shop.aph.org

Science Experiments, No Sight Needed

Want to make balloon rockets, acid rain, a solar finger heater, Ziploc ice cream, Diet Coke Geysers, and more?

Scientists Dr. Lillian A. Rankel and Marilyn Winograd have written 32 step-by-step experiments for blind youngsters to do at home with family and friends. Don't wait for chemistry or biology class to explore the sciences, get some experience under your belt while you're still young! Each experiment has been successfully imploded, we mean explored, with real blind scientists! Safely uses household materials. Grades 2-5.

Click this link to purchase Out-of-Sight Science Experiments from the National Braille Press.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Countdown to Your Favorite TV Shows

You know how it goes. You watch the first episode of a new show, find it interesting enough to watch the next week, then you forget to watch it. It's natural, you haven't built up the habbit of sitting on the couch at that certain time or day of the week yet.

Luckily for you, TVCountdown can remind you of the time in which the next episode of any popular show in America is starting. The site lets you know by giving you the time, but also by a countdown timer!

Not only American shows are supported, the site can also track when Canadian and British shows will air. Granted, more emphasis is placed on American shows, but there is quite a number of shows from these countries present.

Click this link to visit http://www.killerstartups.com.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Vision Through Words

Received the following via email.

My name is Stella De Genova and I have a new blog project called Vision Through Words that I would like to share with you.

Vision Through Words posts poetry and short essays written by visually impaired people. The goal of Vision Through Words is to give visually impaired writers a new venue in which to share their experiences and inner visions, showing how their lack of eyesight has impacted their lives. My hope is that people will enjoy reading the posts and contribute to this blog. Submissions will be chosen by quality of content and literary structure. Poetry or short essays get submitted to visionthroughwords@gmail.com. The site can be viewed at http://www.visionthroughwords.com.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Windows-Based Software to Make Digital Television Accessible

After almost a decade making mobile phones accessible to the blind and visually impaired, Code Factory has decided to move from small to big screen and expand its expertise in accessibility to television.

TV Speak is an application to be installed on a computer equipped to receive a digital television signal. Through speech output and magnification, TV Speak allows people who are blind or have low vision to use the most common functionality of digital terrestrial television in a fully accessible way.

With TV Speak, people who are blind or have low vision can:

  • Access the Electronic Program Guide (EPG).
  • While watching TV, consult information about the current or next program.
  • Select audio channels to choose one providing an audio description.
  • Schedule and record programs (image + audio, or audio only) based on the EPG information.
  • Tune and order television and radio channels.
  • Configure both television and TV Speak parameters.
  • Enable parental control settings.
  • Execute basic TV operations such as change channel, adjust volume, etc.

To use TV Speak, you need a computer running Windows (Windows 7, Vista or XP), a TV tuner card, and a TV antenna cable adapted for digital terrestrial television (either portable or that plugs into a TV socket). The tuner will make the connection between your computer and the TV antenna. One side of the tuner has a USB port to plug into your computer and the other side has a plug to connect to the antenna. In other words, the TV antenna cable is connected to the TV tuner, which in turn is connected to the PC via a USB port. In this way you can watch TV through your computer and you don’t actually need to use your television screen. However if you wish you can direct the audio and video output of TV Speak to your TV monitor and use a wireless keyboard to control the TV.

TV Speak is a product that Code Factory has been developing in partnership with ONCE, the Spanish national association for the blind.

When you install TV Speak for the first time, it will automatically work for 30 days for free. Once the demo expires, you will be asked for a license number. To purchase TV Speak in the US, please contact:

HandyTech North America
Phone: 651-636-5184
Email: info@handytech.us Web: http://www.handytech.us

Blindhow.com, That's How

The National Federation of the Blind of Utah is taking websites to the next level! BlindHow.com allows for community members to view and share video, audio, or written tutorials and information on a myriad of topics regarding blindness and visual impairment.

Topics could include, "How do you use an iPhone with voiceover?" "This is how I put on makeup every day, how do you?" "How do you mow your lawn?" "This is how I downhill ski."

If you can't find the answer you are looking for, then ask! If you have something to share, then become a contributor! There are many different ways to do one thing. For example, I may iron my shirt one way . and you another! Knowledge is power and sharing is caring! You can make a difference!

Click this link to visit http://www.BlindHow.com.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The APH Museum: A Wealth of Information

by John Christie

At the American Printing House for the Blind, there is a museum made up of two galleries. The galleries include the “1883 Gallery” and the “Marie and Eugene Callahan Gallery”. The 1883 Gallery is made up of exhibits explaining the history of The American Printing House For The blind. The exhibits in the Callahan Gallery tell the history of the education of the blind.

Signs that are both in letters and in Braille make the exhibits accessible to all vision types. Each exhibit is accompanied with a speaker bar which recites the text on the longer exhibit display signs.

Kids will enjoy the tactile nature of the museum and will get a kick out of writing their names on a braillewriter. They will also like the idea of assembling a raised topographical map of The United States. There is also an exhibit where they can wear goggles that mimic vision disorders.

You can take a tour of the museum Monday through Saturday by appointment. You can also take a tour of the printing house factory Mondays through Thursdays from 10 to 2 p.m. Tours of the museum and facilities are free, though donations are welcome at the museum exit in the donation box. For more information call 1-800-223-1839 or (502) 895-2405.

The museum at The American Printing House for the Blind is an excellent resource because it teaches both blind individuals and the general public about the blind community and the American Printing House for the Blind. It’s also great that one of the exhibits lets people write their name on a Braillewriter. I would bet the general public would get a kick out of that. More importantly, though, the museum strives to involve kids and get them interested in learning more about the blind culture. With early education, the perpetuation of stereotypes later in life is reduced and knowledge is fostered through the younger generations who will shape tomorrow’s world.

Article Source:
Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Google Chrome Talks with Speakit

Speakit is an extension that provides effective text-to-speech for selected text on any webpage.  There are three ways to activate Speakit and have it read the selected text.

  • Click on the icon that installs to the right of the address bar, near the top right corner of the screen.
  • Use the context-menu by right-clicking the mouse.
  • Use a customizable keyboard shortcut.  By default this is ctrl + shift + s

Note:  Right-clicking on the Speakit icon allows you to open an ‘Options’ menu in order to customize the keyboard shortcut or to make sure that Speakit is enabled in the context menu.

Speakit automatically detects and provides text-to-speech for all languages supported by Google, with the exception of Bulgarian, Japanese, and Arabic.

Click this link to get SpeakIt! from the Chrome Web Store.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ariadne GPS app offers innovative features for blind iPhone users

Ariadne GPS enables you to know your position at any time and to monitor it while walking. You can configure the app to update you with information as you are walking, such as telling you street numbers or the current street name.

There is also the option to save specific locations and be alerted when you approach one of them, Alerts can be a sound, vibration or a voice.

Another interesting feature for VoiceOver users is the ability to explore maps with your fingers. When you move your fingers across the map you can hear the street names and numbers announced by VoiceOver, which helps you build a mental map of the area.

This application is fully accessible and provides access to details that are normally unavailable to people who use VoiceOver to interact with their iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

Ariadne GPS is available from the iTunes App Store for $2.99. Click this link to see the Ariadne GPS entry in the AppleVis App Directory for further comments on its accessibility.

Article Source:
AppleVis

Friday, June 17, 2011

Going to the Movies

by Donna J. Jodhan

Much of the sighted world still has the notion that for blind persons, going to the movies is either not possible or probable. Or, that for blind persons, going to the movies may even be a waste of time. I can see why this misconception would be present but I'll try to clear it up.

The sighted world probably feels that if you are unable to see then you are unable to follow what's going on in the movie. This is partially true and often time we miss out on a lot when we are able to decipher what is going on during those periods of silence. We can use our sense of hearing to fill in many gaps but there is much that our sense of hearing would not be able to supply to us. We can accurately surmise what's going on when the sound of gun fire is heard, sounds of scuffling and fighting, sounds of persons in love scenes, and son. However, the fine details are almost often beyond our reach.

Things have improved for us greatly at the movies over the last decade and thanks to descriptive videos and movies our world has opened up a great deal. More and more, videos, DVDs, and movies are being developed to include audio descriptions. I am going to leave you with a very informative website to check out and you can see for yourself what audio description is all about. Visit http://www.wgbh.org.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all: http://www.donnajodhan.blogspot.com
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility: http://www.sterlingcreations.ca/blog/blog.html
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns: http://www.sterlingcreations.com/businessdesk.htm

Making Presentations

by Donna J. Jodhan

When it comes to making presentations, there are a few tips that I would like to pass on based on my years of experience in the mainstream workplace. For the sighted employer and their sighted employees, if there is a blind or sight impaired person in your audience, you would need to find ways to communicate the contents of your visual displays and foils to these persons. One quick way to do this is to ensure that you fully describe everything that is listed on your display or foil. If you have printed handouts to pass along, then it may be a good idea to send these along to your blind and sighted guests before making your presentation.

You may be saying to yourself; then how would you know before hand if there are going to be any persons in your audience who is blind or sight impaired and it's a very good question. Here is where the person requiring such accommodations would need to play their part. If they want to be accommodated then they would need to let the presenter know in a reasonable timeframe. It is what I call a combined effort. A blind or sight impaired person should never assume that the presenter would always be aware of what types of accommodations need to be provided. This being said, I will make one very important addition to this last point.

If the presenter is either from a Federal or provincial Government department, then it is not wrong to assume that he/she should be aware of the types of accommodations that are needed in the case of blind and sighted members of an audience and my suggestion is that a team effort be employed to ensure that everything runs smoothly. On the part of the presenter, make sure that you are fully armed with all necessary accommodations no matter what and in the case of the blind or sight impaired person, it does not hurt to gently remind your employer that you need for the presenter to make their presentations with you in mind.

When I worked for IBM Canada I often had to make presentations and in one of my first presentations, I used a Braille foil to demonstrate my need and bring home my point. I put up a foil with Braille dots and said to my audience: "If anyone can read this foil, I'll take you out for lunch." My audience quickly got the point.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all: http://www.donnajodhan.blogspot.com
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility: http://www.sterlingcreations.ca/blog/blog.html
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns: http://www.sterlingcreations.com/businessdesk.htm

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Time to Get Fit and Party Down with FITRadio.com

Looking for BPM music to enhance your workout? Well, it doesn't get better than this website. FIT Radio gives you access to mixes of the highest quality, all from renowned DJs that you can use for your next workout or party.

The music is online, there's nothing to download, as long as you have an Internet connection you'll be able to enjoy the service. Both an iPhone and an Android app are also available.

An online fifteen-minute trial is available for those who are interested in giving the service a try.

Click this link to visit http://www.fitradio.com.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Verbal View of Word and Verbal View of Word Advanced

Verbal View of Word

Verbal View of Word takes special care to focus on aspects of Microsoft Word that are not obvious to the blind user from the normal Word documentation. Instead of focusing on the mouse and visual cues, this tutorial lets the user know how the keyboard and screen reader can be used to accomplish word processing tasks efficiently and elegantly. Verbal View of Word Advanced

Verbal View of Word Advanced goes beyond the basics and gives the blind writer the tools needed to perform nearly any editing, collaboration, or publishing task with Microsoft Word.

Verbal View of Word:
Catalog Number: D-10510-00
Click this link to purchase Verbal View of Word, now ON SALE!.

Verbal View of Word Advanced:
Catalog Number: D-10511-00
Click this link to purchase Verbal View of Word Advanced, now ON SALE!.

Verbal View of Word 2007

Verbal View of Word 2007 is a comprehensive tutorial designed to teach the basic features of Microsoft Word 2007. The Verbal View Software Tutorial Series emphasizes the use of the keyboard. Some of the topics omitted from most books are discussed at length because they greatly benefit blind users.

Delivered on CD-ROM, this tutorial comes in DAISY 3.0 format with its own presentation software. This CD also contains Microsoft Word 2007, html, contracted braille, and text versions of the document so you may send it to a portable device like the Braille+ Mobile Manager or other note taker with a refreshable braille display.
Click this link to purchase Verbal View of Word 2007.

American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 6085
Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085
Toll Free: 800-223-1839
Phone: 502-895-2405
Fax: 502-899-2274
E-mail: info@aph.org
Web site: http://www.aph.org
APH Shopping Home: http://shop.aph.org

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

APH InSights Art Holiday Cards

Winter Solace APH InSights Art Holiday Card

This holiday card features serene artwork by visually impaired adult artist, Lucille "Honey" Knechtel. The printed/tactile card features a bridge over a snowy river and the print/braille message: "Wishing you a beautiful holiday season." Each set of cards includes a braille insert with the name of the artwork and artist. Ten cards with envelopes. Note: Not available on Quota.

Winter Solace:
Catalog Number: W-HDCD-AD
Click this link to purchase the Winter Solace APH InSights Art Holiday Card. American Printing House for the Blind, Inc.
1839 Frankfort Avenue
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 6085
Louisville, Kentucky 40206-0085
Toll Free: 800-223-1839
Phone: 502-895-2405
Fax: 502-899-2274
E-mail: info@aph.org
Web site: http://www.aph.org
APH Shopping Home: http://shop.aph.org

Learning Braille as a Mature Adult

by Mike Jolls

I've learned at least three things in my life: not to judge a book by its cover, to give things an honest chance before making a decision, and to remember that nothing worth doing or having comes without hard work and perseverance. Internalizing those ideas has helped me to grow, learn new things, and expand my knowledge and ability to cope with life. Without them I would not be here to tell you about my experience learning Braille.

I'll start by encouraging everyone who struggles to continue reading print as an adult to learn Braille. Some of you may only be starting to consider Braille. Some may actually be learning it and getting frustrated. Still others may be clinging to print reading even though it's a real struggle because you refuse to touch Braille with a ten-foot pole. When I began learning Braille, I was a bit skeptical, but I'm here to tell you that Braille works. When reading print is a struggle because you can't see it easily, Braille is the way to regain your independence. I know, because that's exactly what I have done.

I want you to know how I came to learn Braille and how much it has benefited me. I hope my story will encourage you to learn it also. I truly believe that if you'll take the time to learn it, you'll see benefits that you never thought possible.

With such a positive introduction, you may be surprised to learn that I wasn't so enthusiastic when faced with the prospect of learning Braille as an older adult. In fact I was hesitant and did what I could to hold onto reading print. This resistance was a result of attitudes learned over many years from many people. My mother was the first person I learned them from. Although I was born legally blind and couldn't do (or had difficulty doing) quite a few of the things that normal children take for granted, my mother insisted that I function in the sighted world using sighted methods. If I had difficulty using those skills, as I often did, her reply was, "Do your best; what else can you do?" She always said, "You want to look normal, and you don't want to be perceived as blind." Yet what was I? I could not see like normally sighted children? I was extremely nearsighted, which put limitations on what I could do. I wasn't totally blind, but I also couldn't compete on the same playing field as normally sighted children. What I carried away of this experience was that, in order to be accepted by normally sighted people, you had to use their methods. In my case this meant reading print.

If you took my mother's attitude to its logical conclusion, using Braille would automatically label you as blind, which would result in people treating you like a second class citizen. Many years later I asked her why she had been so adamant about avoiding the use of blindness skills. Her response was simple, "I wanted to train you to do things normally so that people wouldn't treat you differently, like a blind person; feel sorry for you; or exclude you from things. People can be cruel, and I didn't want them to label you and treat you differently." One thing that's ironic about all of this is that my mother also said, "Do things the easy way. Why make it hard on yourself by doing things the hard way?" But by instilling the avoidance of blindness skills like Braille in me, she ultimately made it harder for me to keep up with my sighted peers.

A byproduct of my training was that I was proud that I could read print and that I didn't have to use Braille, a skill that only totally blind people use. After all, I had vision. Therefore the thought never crossed my mind that learning Braille might help me. Braille was for totally blind people, not for people who had sight and could read print. Why did I need Braille? I could read print. It didn't matter that for me personally reading print was difficult and slow or that choosing to read print might ultimately affect my performance in school or on the job. Rather it was a simple decision. I could read print, and subconsciously I was proud that I didn't have to read Braille. If you could see at all, no matter how poorly, print was the method you learned. Unfortunately, although I wasn't aware of it, that prejudice meant that I was always behind everyone else in school and in my professional career. In high school I couldn't read as fast as the other students. In college I had to withdraw from a short story literature course because I couldn't keep up. But my professional career suffered the most. People were always moving ahead of me, and I couldn't understand why because I did a good job and produced quality work. I had been on the job for twenty years before I finally found out how much slower I was than normally sighted print readers.

I timed one of my children reading a book. I was horrified when I found out that I was 85 percent slower. I could get only one-sixth as much read in the same time as my child. I immediately recognized the impact on my personal life and career that choosing to continue using print to acquire information was having.

Another thing that insisting on using insufficient vision had taught me was that the solution to my problems was to seek out an eye doctor who would prescribe a strong enough pair of glasses to allow me to see and function like other people. For a short time in my midthirties I began to see a specialist who did help me. But even with the glasses that were prescribed, reading print was still slow. While the glasses’ very strong magnification allowed me to read small print once again, they only made things larger. They didn't correct the physical problem so that I could read print faster. Yet I thought I was seeking the correct solution because visual problems required visual solutions. This conditioning over the years meant that learning Braille never occurred to me.

You would have thought that as a computer software designer who solves problems every day at work I would have been seeking a solution. In fact, ever since I had discovered how much slower my reading was, I had been hunting for a solution that would help me be more competitive at work. However, with all the attitudes I have already mentioned, the solutions I sought were always ones that made the print larger. It took me many years to finally realize that, if I couldn't improve the poor vision that was holding me back, I might have to seek a solution that eliminated it. Eventually when I passed my forty-sixth birthday, it was my mother who suggested that I learn Braille. She had noticed that, as the years progressed, I was having more difficulty reading print, and that my glasses kept getting stronger and stronger. Finally one day she suggested that perhaps I should explore Braille, just in case things got to the point where I couldn't read print at all.

I didn't do anything with her suggestion at first, but I realized that the methods I was using weren't working. Eventually things got to the point where I couldn't read a newspaper with my unassisted vision. Moreover, I couldn't read technical material at work without using a machine to magnify the print. I was also having problems reading the computer monitor at work. After a while the text on the screen just seemed to wash out. At home my wife was having to read things to me. As I passed my forty-eighth birthday I realized that I was for all practical purposes illiterate. That is, I could no longer read what I needed to.

As a college graduate I didn't like being helpless and illiterate. I needed something that would give me back my independence, so I sought help from the Nebraska Commission for the Blind to explore learning Braille. You would have thought that, with all the problems I had encountered, I would have eagerly embraced Braille when I began my instruction. However, I was not completely convinced that this method of reading and writing would be useful. I suppose that I was still holding onto the past. However, I had enough experience to know that, if I was going to determine whether Braille was useful, I had to give it an honest effort. I recognized that in some ways learning Braille would be like learning a new language. Like any new subject in school, getting acclimated to the subject material takes time and attention, and that means daily practice.

Therefore, despite my preconceived ideas and attitudes, I decided that I was going to devote myself fully to the task of learning this new code. I began studying it and applied myself as I had done when I went back to school many years before. This meant studying every single night, even if only for a half hour. It meant learning how to feel the dots, get used to the patterns, and write all over again using a new method.

It wasn't until after I had finished the course, some ten months after I began, that I started to see the benefits of learning Braille. Throughout the course my counselor at the Nebraska Commission for the Blind praised me for my work. Jane Lansaw was my counselor, and she told me that most older adults fight Braille, and many take three times longer to learn it, assuming they ever do. She told me that most get discouraged or don't spend enough time practicing or simply try to hang onto the world of print they've known their entire lives. They never find any relief from the problems they face. She told me that I had made spectacular progress and that it was unbelievable that I had completed the course in ten months. This was somewhat motivating, but the real payoff was when I completed the course and began using Braille in my daily life.

The first place I noticed benefits from knowing Braille occurred when I started reading a novel. At first this was slow and frustrating, but I found two big benefits. I didn't have to depend on my wife to read to me. Granted, at first it took me twenty-five minutes to read a Braille page, but it was better than not being able to read at all. The people at the Nebraska Commission told me things would improve if I kept it up, so I did. The other benefit was that I could read to my wife, and the unexpected benefit was that we found something that we liked to do together. As I write this, I have been reading Braille for two years, and I'm on my fourth Braille novel. Not too many days go by that we don't sit down to read together. And my reading speed? Well, I remember when my reading time suddenly dropped from twenty-five minutes a page to ten, and then again from ten minutes to five. I suppose the old adage of "practice makes perfect" is true.

Another benefit was that I could read without worrying about the lighting. In fact, I could read in the dark. This really came in handy once when I was traveling on business. I had to fly from California to Omaha, Nebraska, with a connection in Dallas, Texas. Because of bad weather I was stranded in the Dallas airport overnight. It wasn't pleasant, and I was awake all night with nothing to do. Luckily, I had brought my Braille novel along, and to pass the time I read all night long with the lights turned off. I can't tell you how thankful I was that I had a skill that allowed me to read regardless of the lighting conditions.

A third benefit was an improvement in reading things at work. After I had learned to read Braille, I approached my employer about purchasing a system that provided the contents of the computer screen on a Braille display. At first I was a bit reluctant to raise this question with my employer since the device cost $6,000, but it is now obvious that it's easier to read the Braille than it is to read the text on my computer monitor. Although I have a very large monitor hooked up to my computer, more and more often I use the Braille device to read or edit text and don't even look at it. I remember, the first few times I used it I was totally amazed that it was possible to do this without looking at the monitor. The only real difference is that I think I use my memory a bit more to recall what I have read (rather than glancing back at it) so that I know what changes I want to make. But who would argue with having a better memory? At this point I'm just as fast reading the Braille display as I ever was reading the print one, and reading Braille causes no eyestrain. I hope that, as with pleasure reading, using Braille at work daily and in my home life will just improve my speed and that I'll see even more benefits.

The last two benefits I'll discuss came as a result of learning to write Braille using a slate and stylus, but they didn't become apparent until much later than the reading advantages. In fact, at first I wasn't convinced of the usefulness of writing Braille with the slate and stylus because I had learned to write with a pen and paper by placing them underneath a closed circuit television (CCTV). I assumed that, since I had developed this skill, I didn't have any practical use for the slate and stylus.

The fourth benefit came when my CCTV at work failed. As I was learning Braille, my instructor told me that the slate and stylus is the blind person’s pen and paper. When I asked her why it was so useful if you could use a CCTV to write print, she replied that eventually technology fails, and you need a backup. One day her words came true. Things I had written the previous day large enough to be read under the CCTV were simply not large enough. I could see that print was there, but I couldn't read it with my naked eye. I remember thinking to myself, "Good grief! You really are blind." The machine would eventually be out of commission for about four days, and I had to survive on the job in the meantime. So I thought, "What the heck," and got out the slate and stylus I carried with me. I was amazed that I could even still use the skill since I hadn't used it regularly for quite some time. I was shocked to discover that it was actually easier to read my notes from the Braille page than putting a printed page under the machine and using my vision, and I didn't experience the eyestrain and fatigue I put up with when reading print.

The fifth benefit occurred a couple of days after this and before the CCTV was fixed. I had to attend a meeting, and I wanted to share some ideas with our team. I knew that lighting in the conference room was a real issue and that, if it wasn't right, I'd have a difficult time reading my print notes. Therefore I composed my notes using my slate and stylus and prayed that my ability to use this skill wasn't so stale that I wouldn't be able to read the Braille when it came time to present my ideas. As I had feared, one of the lights was out in the conference room, so the lighting was bad enough that I wouldn't have been able to read anything written with pen and paper. But that didn't matter. I got the Braille notes out and proceeded to read them back. I think my coworkers were as amazed as I was. I had somehow remembered how to write using my slate and stylus, and the Braille was perfect. I was able to read my notes confidently and share my ideas. I didn't have to hold the piece of paper two inches from my face, and I also wasn't dependent on the CCTV, which I couldn't take with me everywhere I went. I just sat there and read my notes while looking at my colleagues and discussing the ideas. As I did that, I realized how much superior this was, and how much more normal (according to my mother) this looked. Moreover, it gave me the freedom to produce the Braille so that I could read it anywhere. And, finally, it was much easier than reading print.

After I had these last two experiences, I said to myself, "I guess I give up. No sense in fighting it when I see these benefits. Reading and writing Braille really is superior not only for the totally blind person, but also for the visually impaired one." As I said at the beginning, I encourage you who are having difficulty reading print to explore and learn Braille. If you know there's no correcting your vision, I'd highly recommend learning this skill. It will take a few years to completely integrate it and make it automatic, but I think you'll see the same benefits as I have and in the end wonder why you didn't do it years ago.

Article Source:
Braille Monitor

Monday, June 13, 2011

VizWiz Brings Sighted Assistance to the Blind

Léonie Watson did a great review of the VizWiz app on the Humanising Technology Blog.

When you have little or no usable sight, one of the biggest challenges is identifying things about you. Some things are obvious of course, there’s no mistaking a hairbrush even if you try. Other things are more tricky.

Working out whether there are baked beans in the tin, or something you wouldn’t ever want to eat on toast, is a common challenge. Ok, if you’re organised you probably have talking tins, but you understand my point.

VizWiz offers a simple solution to the problem. Take a picture of the tin with your iPhone, record a short question such as “What’s in the tin?” and send it off. Apart from its simplicity, the main strength of VizWiz is that it lets you choose where to send your picture and question.

Web workers

You can send them to the unsung heros of VizWiz, the web workers. These are real people who take time out to help blind and partially sighted folks identify the random objects that have them puzzled.

IQ engine

If you want a more speedy response, you can send them out to the IQ engine instead. It uses object recognition to identify the item in your picture, and answer your question. It’s certainly quicker, but not always as helpful or accurate as the web workers.

Email or Twitter

You can also call on your Twitter followers to help out. VizWiz lets you post your picture and question out via your tweet stream.

If you’d rather ask someone directly though, you can email anyone in your contacts and ask them to take a look at the object you’re trying to identify instead.

The only thing that’s missing from VizWiz is a way to thank the web worker who helped you out. If someone on Twitter helps you, or if the person you emailed provides the answer you’re looking for, it’s easy enough to say thanks. The patience (taking photos when you can’t see where you’re aiming isn’t the greatest guarantee of accuracy), dedication and simple human kindness of the web workers really do deserve the biggest thanks of all.

Click this link to learn more about VizWiz from http://vizwiz.org.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Daunting Statistics

by Donna J. Jodhan

Many more blind persons are unemployed or under employed than employed and it's a chronic problem that is also a global one. The stats range from a figure of about 70% to over 80%, take your pick. This problem does not seem to be going away and will not go away unless we change attitudes and break down barriers in the workplace, on the Internet, and elsewhere.

I have been very fortunate to have worked for three of Canada's best companies; the Royal Bank of Canada, the Bank of Montreal, and IBM Canada and I am truly grateful for many of the experiences that I have managed to garner from my employment. However, there are still so many things that need to be addressed when it comes to employment of blind persons.

I have been working for myself for the past 15 years and I truly enjoy it but again as an entrepreneur like other sighted entrepreneurs, there are challenges to face and as a blind entrepreneur, it is even more challenging. Somehow we have to work to lower the statistics that I have listed above.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all: http://www.donnajodhan.blogspot.com
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility: http://www.sterlingcreations.ca/blog/blog.html
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns: http://www.sterlingcreations.com/businessdesk.htm

Blind Kids and Technology

by Donna J. Jodhan

As technology continues to travel the tracks on its merry way, we find that more and more, blind kids are struggling to keep up when it comes to being able to enjoy the excitement and fun of modern technology. With more and more toy manufacturers coming out with nifty ways for kids to learn to read, write, do math, and spell, blind and sight impaired kids need to be given ways to enjoy all of this as well.

Each time I hear those commercials on TV of kids having fun with various learning games, I ask myself how much of this is or can be available to blind and sight impaired kids.

True it is that some major strides have been made in making mainstream games, learning and otherwise, more available and accessible to blind and sight impaired kids but we need for more to be done. Blind and sight impaired kids need to be able to access more mainstream technology. They need to have greater access to mainstream learning games plus more. In short, they need to have equal access to whatever game or learning tool is out there for the mainstream kid.

I am sure that as time goes on, more and more toys and games manufacturers will develop products that are more accessible. Products that will benefit all kids. Products that will help all kids. This may not be a dream on my part; it may much closer to becoming a reality than many would think. Maybe it's time for us to start lobbying these companies to move in this direction.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all: http://www.donnajodhan.blogspot.com
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility: http://www.sterlingcreations.ca/blog/blog.html
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns: http://www.sterlingcreations.com/businessdesk.htm

A Safe Way to Plug In Appliances

Safely plugging in appliances can be challenging. One simple and inexpensive way involves a small piece of hook/loop material.
  1. Place one finger-width piece of hook/loop material, that contrasts in color, next to the slot on the left-hand side of an electrical outlet. The hook/loop material should be as long as the slot and parallel with it.
  2. You can find the material with the finger of the left hand while holding the plug in the right.
  3. Once you get the left prong of the plug even with the material, move the plug slightly to the right and the plug is aligned perfectly with the outlet.
Article Source:
AFB Senior Site

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Treasury Direct Deposit Requirement for Veterans

To provide federal beneficiaries with a safer and more convenient alternative to receiving payments via paper checks, the Department of Treasury is encouraging all Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Social Security Administration, and Railroad Retirement Board beneficiaries to elect electronic payment for recurring benefits. The Treasury will begin contacting new beneficiaries after May 1, 2011, and all beneficiaries after March 1, 2013 to encourage enrollment.

Beneficiaries are encouraged to provide VA with their local bank account information in order to enroll in the Direct Deposit program. Beneficiaries without bank accounts may enroll in the Direct Express debit card program with Comerica Bank. Payments will be directly deposited into that account and made accessible through a debit card that is mailed by Comerica Bank to the beneficiary's home address. Personal funds cannot be transferred into this account as it can only be used to receive Federal benefits.

Department of Treasury's Financial Management Service Division selected Comerica Bank as its banking agent to issue the debit cards. Comerica was selected in part because of its years of experience with card services for state government benefit recipients and its lower charges compared to other popular banks. The following are some of the advantages of the debit card program:

  1. The Direct Express debit card offers beneficiaries the opportunity to receive their payments electronically even if they do not have a bank account.
  2. Cardholders have 24/7 access to their money at automated teller machines (ATMs) and are able to make purchases at any retailer that accepts MasterCard.
  3. Cardholders can access their account information by telephone and Internet, make purchases over the Internet, and receive cash back with no fee at retail locations.
  4. Debit cards eliminate the cost of cashing a check.
  5. Debit cards are a safe and reliable means of receiving a payment.

For additional information on the Direct Express program, please visit GoDirect at http://www.godirect.org.

ACTIONS BENEFICIARIES NEED TO TAKE:

Beneficiaries receiving benefit payments by check or those who have just become eligible to begin receiving benefit payments have two choices for electronic payments:

  • Option 1 Receive payments by Direct Deposit through the financial institution of the beneficiary's choice.
    • The federal government makes payments electronically through a program called Direct Deposit. Direct Deposit is a safe, convenient, and reliable way to receive federal payments through a financial institution.
    • If a beneficiary chooses to receive payments by Direct Deposit, he or she needs to designate a financial institution (e.g. a local bank) through which the payment may be made and then notify and update VA with his or her Direct Deposit account information by calling 1-800-827-1000.
  • Option 2 Receive compensation and pension payments via Direct Express Debit MasterCard program, a prepaid card program established as an alternative to Direct Deposit.
  • The Direct Express card is a MasterCard debit card issued by Comerica Bank. There are no fees to sign-up for, or activate, the card; receive deposits; make purchases at retail locations, online or by telephone; get cash at retail locations and financial institutions; or check the card's balance at an ATM, by telephone or online. Additionally there are no fees for declined transactions and overdrafts. For additional information or to enroll in the program, please go to: GoDirect or call the GoDirect Help Line at 1-800-333-1795.

Beneficiaries should select an option from above and take immediate action. A local bank may provide you with greater flexibility, lower fees, and convenient access to ATM's. If the beneficiary elects the Direct Express option during application, VBA will establish an account for the beneficiary with Comerica Bank and send his/her recurring benefit payments via the Direct Express Debit MasterCard described in Option 2. If beneficiaries do not elect one of the above options, they will be contacted directly by the Department of the Treasury regarding the importance of enrollment as well as the process to request a waiver from this program.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Mirror Mirror on the Wall: Who’s the Barbiest of them all? Blindness and Body Image

by Sassy Outwater

A conversation I had with a stranger coupled with reading an article about the “perfect bikini body” in a magazine brought me to this week’s topic: Blindness and body image. More specifically, blindness and perception of body image.

This topic fascinated me. For one thing, when we lose our sight at an early age, how do we begin to form a comprehensive sense of image and style? What if we are born blind? Every woman has her own unique understanding of her body, but what factors contribute to bridging that gap between our minds and the mirror? I’m going to break this topic into two articles and share my experiences and thoughts with you first. Then I’m actually going to research the topic, dig up what I can find on the subject, mix it with your interview answers and write the next article. I’m going to ask that you go out on a limb and share your thoughts with me. Good or bad are both welcome. If you’re willing to be interviewed for the second article on blindness and body image, please Twitter me. Find that link below. If you do not have Twitter, simply leave a comment on the end of this article with your email, and I will contact you with a list of interview questions. Thank you. On to today’s column.

Most little girls of my generation (go 80’s babies!) began studying body image and fashion when we received our first Barbie. Sighted girls got to watch TV, see their mother or older sisters dressing, look at magazines and see the clothing in stores. But for me and my blind best friend, all our fashion lessons were learned courtesy of Matel’s famous blonde bombshell in all her myriad costumes.

We could explore Barbie clothes at leisure, see how they fit her. We were free to explore her body shape with our hands. She was touchable, a tangible guide of what a woman looks like: large, round breasts, a tiny waist, long slim legs, broad hips, a beautifully arched back…

Then Barbie changed. As I got older, I noticed I had two generations of Barbies in my toybox—Barbies that looked nothing alike. The older ones were curvy, busty and looked (My mom said), like Marilyn Monroe. The new generation of Barbie was slender, with defined muscles, small breasts, a big butt, and a wider, flatter waist-line. Somewhere along the line, the image of the ideal woman had changed.

This scared me. I was growing slowly into Barbie 1.0’s image, curvy, narrow-waisted, like Marilyn. I looked nothing like this new Barbie. One morning while we were getting ready for school, I complained about it to my best friend. I wanted a body like the new Barbie, I told her petulantly. And her mom overheard. The next thing I knew, she was in the room, ranting at us for thinking that Barbie was “something any woman could ever really look like.” Much chastened and confused, I endeavored fruitlessly for a while to make my body into New Barbie’s. Surely I could look like that. All women could, right? I mean, what did women look like if they didn’t look like that?

As I got older, of course I learned that women’s bodies come in all different shapes and sizes. A dorm parent at the school for the blind sat me down and gave me the apple-pear-carrot demonstration. But I wasn’t growing up to look like the new Barbie, and I wasn’t growing up to look like a fruit or vegetable either. I was growing up like the old Barbie, narrow-waisted, with big hips and a big bust… and a very conflicted opinion of my body.

Like any teenaged girl, I learned I could affect how I looked with diet and exercise, and by choosing what clothes I wore. I couldn’t see what most of the girls at my high school wore, and dressed mostly in outfits my parents selected for me, relying on their taste to make me look nice, and fit in with my peers. Clothes are a big part of the high school experience for most sighted girls. High school is when they start learning their own sense of style, discovering their bodies and expressing themselves with their fashion choices. I mostly skipped that phase, and only began it later in college, when I lived on my own and had to go clothes shopping with friends or on my own.

And suddenly, all those hours of dressing Barbies came back to me. Really, it was the main thing that dictated my knowledge of fashion and style. I’d missed all the other visual lessons.

So I made it my business to read articles in magazines about style. I spent hours at the mall, not buying, just touching rack after rack of clothing, trying pieces on, feeling how they draped the mannequin, discussing colors and patterns with friends. I think they all thought I was slightly nuts. But by the time I got out of college and stepped into the “real world,” I had a budding sense of style, and a body and look I felt were my own and expressed who I was.

As we age, our wardrobes change. As we age, our bodies change. To my mind’s eye, I’m still a toddler in pink ballet slippers pirouetting before the mirror in a too too and fairy wings with flaming red hair and freckles everywhere. That’s the last time I saw what I looked like. Then I went blind. I’ll never see what I grew up to be. I’m not Barbie, and I’m not the super-model on the cover of a magazine. Even though I can’t see how good or bad I look, I still struggle inside. I know what I love and hate about my own body. And they’re not necessarily the things fashion or society says I should love or hate about myself. Their just my own ideals and self-perceptions, shaped by hours of imagination, standing before a mirror reflecting a face and body I will never see. While I’m so grateful ads can’t bombard me with subliminal messages of how I don’t look right, I still change outfits three or four times before a date, and still wonder if that dress makes me look fat.

Lessons I learned from Barbie: If you are blind, don’t measure yourself against Barbie, a carrot, a pear, or what someone tells you J.Lo looks like. Once in a while, blindness brings incredible blesings. One of those blessings is that you have only your body to measure against. Measure your weight, your health, your style and your self-worth by what you feel--inside and out. And don’t worry about those sighted people’s ads and what they say makes you beautiful. Sometimes, sighted people just don’t know how to look right.

To ask questions about blindness, style, or to learn more about me, follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/SassyOutwater.

Sassy Outwater is a musician, yoga instructor, writer, health and style junky, and blind chick.

Refinance & Mortgage Guide for People with Disabilities

Many people with disabilities agree that one way of taking charge and exercising some degree of control in their lives is by becoming a home owner. If you are currently a home owner who has recently been disabled, you may have new physical, mental and financial restrictions and needs which affect or even threaten your ongoing ability to maintain your home. Results of recent studies also reveal that only a small segment of the disabled populace own their own residences. Instead, the majority of the nation’s disabled live in group residences, therapeutic or rehabilitation institutions, nursing facility complexes, or in the home of a family member. A small percentage of children with disabilities live in adoptive or foster homes; and some communities, churches, civic groups and charitable organizations are now promoting programs which encourage families to sponsor a senior citizen, adolescent or child who is mentally challenged or physically impaired.

This guide seeks not only to provide the reader with the most relevant and essential resources needed to navigate the myriad of red tape and sometimes rigid processes regularly associated with real estate purchases; it also aims to educate you.

By reading this guide, you should have a basic understanding of the following:

  • The advantages and disadvantages of purchasing a home
  • Keys steps to follow in the buying process
  • The types of mortgages available to you as a home buyer
  • Financial and Legal resources available to you
  • Final tips & Warnings
Click this link to read Refinance & Mortgage Guide for People with Disabilities.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

As a Blind Woman

by Donna J. Jodhan

Being a woman has its unique set of challenges in the business world but as a blind woman? Well, there are added challenges to face and there is more for me to add. I am of mixed race; Oriental mix, Part Chinese, part East Indian, and part Italian. When people ask me if I am discriminated against most as a woman, as a blind person, or as someone of mixed race, my answer is very quick in coming. I am discriminated against most as a blind person.

As someone of mixed race living in Canada, I have not really had much to face as far as discrimination goes and the same could be said for being a woman. However, as a blind person, I am unable to say the same. There is definitely a glass ceiling when it comes to career opportunities for blind persons in the workplace. In speaking to several other blind persons, the feeling persists that blind men have more of an opportunity to climb the corporate ladder or progress in their careers than blind women.

I often joke that in reality I have three strikes against me and in the game of baseball this would mean that I would be out at the plate; but I do not let this hold me back. I am a blind woman of mixed race and that's that. I cannot change any of this so I live with it and make the best of it. In short, I play with the cards that I have been dealt.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all: http://www.donnajodhan.blogspot.com
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility: http://www.sterlingcreations.ca/blog/blog.html
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns: http://www.sterlingcreations.com/businessdesk.htm

The Right to Know

by Donna J. Jodhan

We are living in an information society and a knowledge based economy and we are depending more and more on information to be made accessible to us in a timely and efficient manner. We all need this in order to keep abreast of important events but most of all, we need it in order to make important decisions in our lives.

For blind and sight impaired persons, it is even more crucial that we are able to access information on a timely and efficient basis; the right to know. The right to know should not be taken too lightly. It should not be treated as a privilege nor should it be treated as a nice to have. It is a right, a must, and one that we need to protect and safeguard at all costs.

Technology has made it easier for information to be made available to everyone; the Internet being the primary way. We need information in order to not just make important decisions that affect our daily lives, we need it in order to survive. We need to be kept in the know so that we as blind and sight impaired persons can keep up with the mainstream world. The right to know could be easily compared to the cane or guide dog that we depend on in order to navigate our way through life.

The right to know is only going to become more vital to us as time marches on and blind and sight impaired persons need to ensure that this right remains a right and does not become somehow forgotten in a busy and confused world. If we keep this in mind then we will survive. If we fail to keep it safe then we might as well give in to a world where we will one day become almost forgotten. Perseverance is the name of the game; mediocrity can only lead to failure.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day. If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:
Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all: http://www.donnajodhan.blogspot.com
Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility: http://www.sterlingcreations.ca/blog/blog.html
blogs on various issues and answers to consumers concerns: http://www.sterlingcreations.com/businessdesk.htm

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