Archive for April, 2011

Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – Microsoft Word 2010 QuickTips

Here’s a nightmare scenario for you: you’ve been working on a project for weeks, endured many sleepless nights and you’ve sent the job to your trusty printer.  Caught in a momentary fog of confusion, you grab your precious document from the printer thinking you have a firm grip on it when (horror of horrors) pages begin fluttering to the floor like leaves from the trees.  Well, with a little planning ahead using headers and footers you just might save yourself from a complete meltdown. 

First, press Alt-V, H to open the Header/Footer edit area.   You’re then placed in the header section.  To insert a footer, press the Down Arrow.  Type any text you would like to appear on each page.  You can perform attribute changes, such as bolding (Control-B), underlining (Control-U), and italicizing (Control-I).  Additionally, you can perform paragraph formatting such as Centering (Control-E) and Right Alignment (Control-R) and much more.

Now, for the all-important insertion of page numbers.  Press Alt-N to access the Insert ribbon.  Yes, I used the dreaded word “ribbon”.  Calm yourself!  Next, press Alt-3.  That’s the 3 on the number row above the qwerty keys.  This activates the Page Number button and a drop down-list is displayed.  Either press the letter C for Current Position or press the Down Arrow to move to that option and press the Enter key.  Exploring the list reveals several options, but the first is the easiest choice as it will place a plain number at the cursor position.  Once done, press the Escape key to close the Header/footer area and breathe a sigh of relief.

I was ecstatic to find that Word 2010 makes the operation of inserting a simple Table of Contents a relatively painless procedure. The most arduous part of the task is applying headings styles to the topics you want in your Table of Contents.  But I know you won’t shy away from a little repetitive work.  First, locate your first topic.  Next, press Alt-Shift-Left Arrow to apply the heading 1 style.  Repeat as needed for all topics.  When done, return to the top of your document and insert a page break (Control-Enter) to separate the Table of Contents from the main document.  Here’s where you pull a rabbit out of your hat!  Press Alt-S to access the References Ribbon followed by pressing the tab key until you arrive at the Table of Contents button and press Enter. From the resulting list, choose Automatic Table 1.  To navigate the TOC, as it is commonly called, move to the second character of any topic and press the Enter key.  Your cursor will jump to that topic and it will be highlighted (selected).  Press the down arrow to hear the text for this topic.  Isn’t that glorious?!

I hope you’ve found these few tips helpful.  Happy typing!

Feature Writer Romeo Edmead – Written By The Homeless, For The Homeless

Although the homeless population is a group often ostracized, a unique partnership has formed in New Haven, Connecticut to assist in closing the gap between them and the rest of the community. Some students at Yale University will collaborate with the homeless to publish their stories about life in shelters, soup kitchens, and the overall peaks and valleys of their journey in order to create a newspaper for the homeless community, as well as the regular citizens of the city. The students volunteer as an amanuensis, and those who share their stories about life on the streets receive some compensation upon publishing and sales. They hope the articles touch the homeless and beyond, even serving as a coping mechanism for dealing with their daily trials and tribulations.

Linda, one of the homeless contributors, explained it this way. “It gives me an outlet to write what happened to me on paper–kind of therapeutic,” she said. The papers cost one dollar, and contributors like Linda receive 75 cents per sale.

For others like Linda, if the paper, called the Elm City Echo, begins to gain popularity, it would be an enormous step in the right direction. If it is successful, the paper could set a precedent for other communities to follow. 

One writer, Damian, said, “We’re just as human as everybody else. That’s what I need people to understand.” Considering the fact that homelessness and crime often go hand in hand, publications like this could help both sides understand each other much better.    Furthermore, unsanitary conditions are also blamed on the homeless, and a meeting of the minds could possibly ease some tension in that area as well. As the saying goes, “communication is key,” and many times that is exactly what is needed to create peace.

Source: http://www.wtnh.com/dpp/news/connecticut/newspaper-written-by-homeless-out-now

Letter from the Editor

Hello Everyone,

I hope you all had a great weekend.  I just have a few announcements for this week.

To start, please join me in congratulating our own Steven Famiglietti for being given the CRIS Radio Educator of the Year Award.  Steven is a hard worker for both the magazine and Oak Hill and does a great job running the LEEP Program which has been mentioned in this magazine many times.  Great job, Steven.

Moving onto the magazine, I would like to point out that this week’s recipe is in an article written by Karen Crowder and I think it will be a big hit.

Also, as a reminder, while the magazine is being released this week, I will be away until next Monday, so there will not be a magazine for the week of April 25.  While I’m gone, I will not have access to email, so any messages, special notice and pen pal requests, and submissions will not be read until next week.  The magazine will resume its normal publication schedule on May 2.

That should cover everything for now.  I hope you all have a great week and can get out and enjoy yourselves now that the weather is finally getting warmer.

Take care, and thanks for reading.

Sincerely,

Ross Hammond

Recipe of the Week – Cornish Hens with Rice Dressing

Submitted by Dave Hutchins

Yield: 2 servings

Preparation: 10 minutes

Bake: 1 hour 25 minutes

Ingredients:

1-1/3 cups chicken broth

1/2 cup uncooked brown rice

1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

1/4 cup chopped celery

2 tablespoons chopped onion

1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, divided

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, divided

2 Cornish hens (1 to 1-1/2 pounds each)

1 tablespoon canola oil

Pepper to taste

Directions:

1. In an ungreased 9-in. square baking dish, combine broth, rice, mushrooms, celery, onion, 1/4 teaspoon marjoram and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Place hens on rice mixture and brush with oil. Sprinkle with pepper and remaining marjoram and salt. Cover and bake at 350° for 1 hour. Uncover and bake 25-35 minutes longer or until juices run clear. Yield: 2 servings.

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (1 each) equals 840 calories, 49 g fat (12 g saturated fat), 297 mg cholesterol, 1,371 mg sodium, 40 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 56 g protein.

Reader’s Forum

For your convenience, Reader’s Forum submissions are separated by the ## symbol.

In response to Feature Writer Alena Roberts – Water Aerobics: A Great Way to Exercise, Michelle wrote:

Hello,

I am in enthusiastic agreement with this post. For years before I lost my sight, I attended Water Aerobics at local pools. With vision loss, I thought that enjoyment was gone. After a year in a local rehab school, and a myriad of other things I have learned on the side, I now know different.

I live in Maryland. Here, the Park and Planning Commission provide what is called “Inclusion Specialists” to help those who have handicaps. For me, I have taken so many classes, the specialist really just acts as a person to help guide me around the pool, as I am completely disoriented in the water. Often, they are winded when I am not, but have lots of fun, gain strength, and lost a few pounds. After a knee surgery from a fall on the ice, physical therapy did not quite do the job. Once I went through a few series of classes, I was walking up stairs like a “Natural Woman.”

Check out your local pools to see if they have such programs. We work out in the pool with the others and have a ball. I am as crazy as the other participants. I too have been in Deep Water Aerobics and loved it!

Michelle Clark

##

This is in response to the Tech Corner with Steven Famiglietti on the subject of playing audio files on an NLS digital player.

When putting MP3 files on a flash drive or reusable NLS cartridge, you must first create a folder labeled Audio+Podcasts. That’s the word audio, followed by the plus sign, followed by the word Podcasts.

When copying audio files to the flash drive or cartridge, put them in that specially created folder. Then the NLS player will recognize them as audio files. Using the Bookshelf feature on your player, you can move from regular books to the audio files.

If you’re using the advanced player and have more than one audio file in the folder, you can jump from one file to another within that folder.

When putting audio files on the Victor Reader Stream, put them in the Other Books folder. Of course, music can go in the Music folder.

John Wesley Smith

Hallsville, MO

##

In response to Tech Corner with Steven Famiglietti, Tim wrote:

Hi All,

I have been using the new digital player from the Maryland Library for the Blind and physically Handicapped (LBPH) for about a year, and it is a wonderful machine. I download books directly from the libraries website called BARD. Originally I was downloading the books to a USB thumb drive, but was unhappy about how the thumb drive stuck out from the side. I was afraid I or one of our cats would knock it out. I discovered that APH and several other websites and catalogs carried blank cartridges for the player. Essentially, it is a thumb drive in the form factor of the cartridge designed for the LOC player. Awesome!  I can download about 10 books to a cartridge and even put mp3 music on it. The LOC player has a great speaker, even for music. If you purchase some cartridges also purchase the USB cable for use on your computer, it is different than any other USB cable that I had on hand.  I got two cartridges and the cable and it cost me about $20.

If you are one of us that cannot afford a Victor Reader or one of the other digital book players the one from the LOC is great.

Here is the link to the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) page for the cartridge. There is also information there on how to get a LOC Digital Book Player.

http://shop.aph.org/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product_Digital%20Talking%20Book%20Cartridge_1-02610-00P_10001_11051

Tim Wolfe

##

In response to Contributor Nancy Scott – Body Language, Rebecca wrote:

I was pleased to see the article about body language and spatial abilities in the magazine. It is my belief that spatial abilities may be slightly affected by our blindness, because our eyes can’t adjust in time to stop things like remembering where something is when it’s in a new place. I have some problems like the author of the article. And then there’s my “human compass” of a husband who can converse in a car and then tell someone when they made a wrong turn without full concentration on the route. However, I also feel strongly that sighted people can also struggle with these same things.  The difference is that there eyes can tell them where things are in a room, so it’s not quite as apparent, until you get in a car with them.

But it’s body language and especially facial expression where I struggle. I remember feeling appalled when I was told that my facial expressions gave everything away, and it was as refreshing as watching the face of a little child. I try very hard to screen my expressions, but apparently, it doesn’t work well.

I’m glad this topic came up for discussion, because I had a quandary recently about this very thing.  I am a musician, and I wince when I hear bad notes.  I can’t help it.  It’s just a reaction.  So I wondered what to do when a sighted friend said she’d like to bring her ukulele over and entertain me.  I know she can carry a tune, so I didn’t worry about her voice, but I was very concerned that I might inadvertently hurt her feelings if my face revealed that I heard one or more sour notes on the instrument. I stalled her for now, but I am wondering how others might handle this situation.

Rebecca Kragnes, Minneapolis, MN

##

Regarding: Tim Hendel’s comments about the use of the word “blind,” Marilyn wrote:

Many organizations and publications subscribe to a philosophy which requires “people first” language. When I write for these publications I have no problem conforming to their philosophy. The message is more important than quibbling over word order. Personally, I’m just as happy being a blind person, a visually impaired person, etc. as I am being a person who is blind or visually impaired. I don’t particularly like “disabled” or “handicapped” but I’m not about to turn down library services because they call me “visually handicapped.” Partially sighted people have difficulty explaining the grey area in which they find themselves able to see some things but needing help for others. They may rightfully feel that they are misleading others if they claim to be “blind.” The blind person with a considerable hearing loss does not usually think of himself as “deaf,” so why should we expect people with low vision to eagerly embrace the term “blind?” I like to see authors present vision loss in various ways–yes, even in this magazine. In my opinion, it reflects the choices that we as individuals have available. Calling one’s self “blind” is fine and dandy, but there’s nothing heroic or character-building about it. To each their own, unless of course you’re a writer. Using “people first” language, if required, is like other submission guidelines.

Marilyn Smith

##

Internet commenter Jake, says

Just a quick comment about Tim Hendel’s editorial in the April 4 Readers Forum. I work for a nonprofit called JJ’s List. Our mission is “to bring businesses and people with disabilities together for the benefit of both.” We have a website where people review the disability awareness of businesses. These can be people with and without disabilities. But another thing which we’ve been focusing on is person-first language. This simply means putting the person before the disability. I could give some examples but I wish not to take up space. But I’ll just leave it at this: I personally want to be referred to as someone who just happens to have a disability. Think about it: when one acquires their disability later in life, it wouldn’t make much sense to refer to them as a “disabled person” because they were born before their disability started. I encourage Tim and any other readers to visit http://www.jjslist.com . Thanks for reading.

##

I am writing in response to feature writer John Christie’s article about the 6dot Braille labeler.  I have no doubt that the 6dot labeler works well, and is convenient for blind consumers.  But once again, this is a product that many of us can not afford.  Based on my interpretation of the description of this labeler, it seems to me that $300 is outrageous.  I must ask the following question publicly.  What are the blind consumer groups doing to make the manufacturers of adaptive products for the blind lower their prices, so that the products are more affordable to us?

Bob Branco

News – Man Sets Car on Fire to Save House

A famous comedian, whose name escapes me at the moment, once said, “Sometimes you have to set fire to the truck to get the insurance money so you can make the truck payment.”  While the logic is clearly flawed, the following story goes along the same lines.

Utah resident John Maxim recently set his Ford Escort wagon on fire to raise money for his mortgage payment.  While his thought process didn’t involve the previous joke’s insurance scam, it still ranks up there as one of the strangest strategies for raising capital.

As many Americans have experienced, John fell behind on his mortgage payments and the bank arranged for his home to be sold at a foreclosure auction, something John claims that they did not alert him of.  He had thought that they had negotiated a deal, and having come up with the money to cover his back mortgage payments, the bank alerted him that he’d need much more since more time had elapsed.

In a desperate effort, John turned to an internet audience with his story and a request.  He exclaimed to the world, “I figure in a country where Oprah can just give people cars, where Lehman Brothers Bank can get bailed out by our government, where Lindsay Lohan can be “breaking News”, and all other such silly American debacles… that perhaps there are enough people out there who’d pay a small amount to see some desperate sap light his car on fire.”  If he received enough in donations to save his house, he’d set fire to his car and televise the blaze over the internet.  He also promised that all of the donated money would be paid back.  As odd as this sounds, it actually intrigued enough anonymous donors–387 in all–that John ended up with the cash he required and was able to save his home.  Now, it was time for him to keep up his end of the bargain.

He went to local fire departments, told them about his situation, and asked if they’d want to use it as a training exercise.  But since he was televising the blaze and selling ad space on his website, they all declined.  With no other options, and not wanting to fail his donors, he went out on his own to a campground and set his car on fire.  The big problem, though, was that he did this in a campground on federal land–which is a huge offense.

With a guilty plea on two misdemeanor counts, and roughly $3,500 in fines and fees later, John was a free man with a house.  He’s already been able to pay back about $3,500 of his debt.  Hopefully he’ll continue to make his payments so he doesn’t have to light his bike on fire.

Source: http://jalopnik.com/#!5786453/how-a-man-saved-his-house-by-setting-his-car-on-fire

Contributor Terri Winaught – Ten Reasons Being Blind Isn’t So Bad After All

Whenever I do a public speaking engagement, one of the first things I like to do is use humor as an icebreaker.  My reasons for doing this are to involve the audience and make them more comfortable in case they feel any discomfort with me as a blind person.

Inspired by late night CBS host David Letterman’s top ten lists, I came up with “Ten Reasons That Being Blind Isn’t So Bad After All.” 

10. Having one less loss to worry about as I get older.

9.  Not having to worry about medications that list “double vision” as a potential side effect.

8.  Being able to read in the dark.

7.  Finding out what someone really thinks of me since some people assume that being blind means that I’m also deaf.

6.  Being able to ask a football referee who makes a bad call if he needs my cane or glasses and not getting thrown out of the game (I’ve actually done that at numerous Pitt football games).

5.  Being told that I don’t “sound” blind over the phone (I’m still wondering what a blind person is supposed to “sound” like).

4.  Being a guide dog user who is asked, “Hey, Miss. Is that a blind dog you got?”

3.  Going on a telemarketing interview and being asked if I can dial a phone (This last reason was inspired by Bob Branco’s March 14 Ziegler column).

2.  Being able to enrich my children’s lives when they were little by reading from books that had Print, Braille and pictures (Twin Vision Books).

and finally…

1.  Being asked if blind people are intimate like everyone else.  (Yes!  I really was asked that in college by a fellow undergraduate who was hoping to get into Harvard Law School.  I have yet to figure out if that was the most creative proposition I’ve ever received, or if this would-be lawyer was really that clueless about persons with disabilities.  And by the way, I have no idea if he got into Harvard!)

Can you think of some more funny advantages of blindness?  Let us know in the Reader’s Forum.

Contributor Kate Chamberlin – Visionaries

Originally published in Cornucopia on 08/21/2003 – Wayne County STAR Newspaper

My hand moved across the thick folds of the garment and landed on a knee.  With both hands I caressed the athletic calf muscle down to a well-turned ankle onto a powerful foot ending in blunt toes.

“Yes, that’s quite a muscle,” a woman’s amazed, throaty voice exclaimed.

My hands found that  the other foot was artfully poised behind the first ankle.  The garment was provocatively cascading around both legs.

Another woman’s soft, sensuous voice encouraged me to move my hand upwards.

I traced the smooth, cool, bare thigh up the side of the torso to the shoulders and back out along the arm to a very smooth, flat, round surface.  A much smaller hand was also on the oval.  I traced this little arm to the wings of the little cherub and his bare bottom.

“Now find the other hand,” the soft voice challenged me.

My hands retraced the right arm and across the chest.  It was, however, a perky, little breast.  To my surprise, this was not a virile, young male’s athletic body, but a nubile female in love and on the verge of womanhood.

Have you guessed by now that I’m in an Art Gallery exploring the white marble statue “Love’s Mirror” carved by Nicola Cantalamessa-patotti  in 1875?

Jim Fleming of the Visionaries Club for seniors with low vision and Faith Bell of the Webster Community Center had invited Anne Hotchkiss and me to join them on a special trip into the University of Rochester’s (NY) Memorial Art Gallery for a program called: The Art of Visualization for the Visually Impaired.

Our docents Diane, Mary, Heidi and Suzy escorted us to the third floor of the Cutter Union.  A Museum object was set before each of us at one table and we were encouraged to feel, describe and discuss the item.  It turned out that we each had an elephant, but each was very different from the other.  They ranged from large to small, realistic to abstract, soft materials to hard as well as varied in details.  They were all recognizable as elephants by the trunk and tusks.

Another table was set up with all sorts of scooping implements.  They ranged from the very simple wooden Dixie paddle to the intricate and tiny, souvenirs spoons commemorating numerous places to a spaghetti scoop to a dirty, well-used garden trowel.  The first challenge was to identify each, then group them into categories such as wooden or metal or plastic for other members to guess the common characteristic.

After the large group presentations, we went exploring.  Susan Dodge-Peters Daiss, the Director of Education at the Museum, became the docent for my sighted-assistant, Anne and totally blind me.  Suzie is a petite, soft-spoken woman with lovely white hair tamed with a headband.  Her exuberance and enthusiasm were echoed with each  quick flip-flop of her sandals and clinking of her dangling shell earrings.  She guided us up the wide marble stairs of the main section and into the ballroom.  We went through the arch into the side gallery where “Love’s Mirror” is on display.  She had me put on latex gloves and turned me loose like the famous five blind men when they first touched an elephant.

I was enthralled.  I was in ecstasy.  I was in tangible heaven.  It was awesome to feel the power and sensuousness of the statue’s beauty; the Sculptor’s strength and skill in using his chisel, and the life and love the marble emoted.

Our wonderful morning culminated at Bert’s Bistro in the Webster Community Center for lunch.   Fortunately, the heavy rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the Visionaries trip to the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery.  Thank you, Jim, Faith and Suzy.

Contact your local Association for the Blind to find out if there is a support network in your area and your local museum to find out if they have a special tactile program for you.

Op Ed with Bob Branco – The Blind Can be Victims of Circumstance

Several years ago, I was hired by a car dealership to order car parts and handle customer inquiries on the computer. During my time on the job, computer engineers appeared at the work site to determine whether it could be adapted properly for a blind person.

One day, after waiting a year for training, while I was sitting behind my desk at my job, I received a visit from my vocational counselor with my local supporting agency. She received a written report of a meeting that took place with the regional engineer from the agency, a contracted engineering consultant and one of my bosses. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss adaptations for my job. The report wasn’t very positive. Apparently, there is nothing that can be done to adapt a speech system with Quick Books or All Data, programs used by car dealerships.

Regarding the job itself, I was told to think positive despite the agency’s findings. There may be some manual steps to be taken which may require my boss to talk into a dictating machine, but my ability to use the billing programs may not be utilized.

Before there is any misunderstanding, let me clearly state that I don’t blame anyone at the agency, nor my bosses for this problem. If there isn’t any way to adapt Quick Books or All Data for a blind person, then I can’t hold any one person or agency responsible for that fact. I have called several computer software companies across the country, and they have pretty much confirmed the agency’s findings. I know that the blind are encouraged to call software companies if the agencies can’t help. However, while talking to these companies, I almost have to be a computer engineer myself in order to speak their language. I can honestly say that I know nothing about the mechanics of high-tech software. I’m just a consumer. When I’m on the phone with these companies, they ask questions that require a certain knowledge of these mechanics. It’s almost like if I went to a brain surgeon for help while he asks me if my cerebrum and my medulla oblongata are functioning properly.

Having said all that, there was still the issue of my keeping busy all day while at my job. As a blind employee, I know I can’t speak for all sighted people, but I’m sure that most of them would like to be busy throughout their work day instead of listening to a radio waiting for the phone to ring. The blind population feels the same way. My bosses would like me to keep busy, not only because it makes me feel better, but because I’m an employee. Employees are supposed to be productive.

When I was hired, I was given three titles: receptionist, parts manager and office manager. As a result of my not being trained properly due to unforeseen circumstances, I feel that I am more of an expert on local politics, Boston sports, radio talk shows, rap music and soap operas than I am about car parts.

After two long years without training, I was laid off from my job, and once again headed back to the unemployment office.  The one thing that I learned from this experience more than any other is that the next time a boss offers training, I want to make sure that the training is in place before my first day on the job.  I don’t think that’s too much to ask.  Do you?

Feature Writer Karen Crowder – Taking a Break From Technology

On the evening of March7, the speech and windows components of my computer stopped   functioning. The motors worked but I could not reboot Windows.  Two days later, I was given suggestions by phone concerning how to reboot it by people from the Worcester and Boston technology departments from the Commission for the Blind. These solutions failed to help start the computer.  Another four days later, an appointment was made for March 23rd so that someone could come by and see if they could fix the computer.

I was lost without having access to all of the convenience this technology provides.  I couldn’t write with Microsoft Word, compose or read emails, or browse the internet.  This was analogous to my parents buying a second hand TV in the fall of 1961 and its almost immediate malfunction.   We missed out on two weeks of our favorite programs and truly realized how important TV was in our lives. Today, computers, like televisions, keep us so connected to the outside world.

While cut off from this tool, though, I rediscovered forgotten parts of my life.  I found and read long, almost-abandoned cassette and digital books and a catalog tucked away in a kitchen drawer.  Among the books I read were “Lone Eagle” and “Amazing Grace” by Danielle Steel and “Sheer Abandon” by Penney Vincenzi. There were hidden joys found when connecting with friends, finishing up some spring cleaning, and sitting down to write articles in Braille.

After some work, the trusty computer was fixed, but I look at it differently now.  I’m much less dependent on email, being online, or constantly writing on Word.  The demanding, hectic life of being online looking at Facebook, Twitter, and email can be all-consuming.  Besides, it’s much more fulfilling to talk to friends and family on the phone or in person. 

It’s probably a good idea for all of us to take a short hiatus from our technology from time to time.  We tend to put aside other aspects of our lives because we know they’ll still be there when we’re done typing away.  We forget that the absence of the chatter from our computer can be refreshing.  With the computer set aside, we start remembering the simpler pieces of our lives that are almost forgotten by the fast-paced convenience of this ever-available technology. 

So, while I am happy to again have a working computer to keep in touch with the outside world, I have a newfound appreciation for the times when it’s shut off and I can devote time to those activities that are often taken for granted.  With the warmer weather almost here, this will be especially true.