Archive for September, 2011

August 2011 audio version

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Recipe of the Week – Roasted Pork Chops and Vegetables (Gluten Free)

Submitted by Dave Hutchins
Yield: 4 servings
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
4 pork rib chops, 1/2 inch thick (1 pound)
Olive oil-flavored cooking spray
6 new potatoes, cut into fourths (3 cups)
4 ounces mushrooms, cut in half (1 1/2 cups)
1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
1 medium tomato, cut into 8 wedges

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 425ºF. Spray jelly roll pan, 15 1/2×10 1/2×1 inch, with cooking spray. Mix parsley, marjoram, thyme, garlic salt and pepper. Spray both sides of pork chops with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons herb mixture. Place in corners of pan.

2. Mix potatoes, mushrooms, bell pepper and onion in large bowl. Spray vegetables 2 or 3 times with cooking spray; stir. Sprinkle with remaining herb mixture; toss to coat. Spread evenly in center of pan between pork chops.

3. Bake uncovered 45 minutes. Turn pork; stir vegetables. Place tomato wedges over vegetables. Bake uncovered 10 to 15 minutes or until pork is slightly pink when cut near bone and vegetables are tender.

Reader’s Forum – September 26, 2011

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

In response to Feature Writer Terri Winaught – He Teaches The World, Danni wrote:

The book Thunder Dog is also available for download on the BARD site for those that are using the library for the blind.
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In response to Contributor Nancy Scott – New Rules, Roy wrote:

That article brought to mind a trick my children played on me while playing hide ‘n’ seek.

I am totally blind and have been all my life. When my son and daughter were 6 and 7 years old we were playing the game. It was their turn to hide so I dutifully counted to 20 and began looking for them. I looked in closets, under beds and tables, in all the usual places kids would hide. During all that time they were sitting quietly on the sofa. Those two nincompoops got one over on me and they were so happy! Talk about new rules!
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In response to Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – September 11, 2001–A Recollection, DeAnna wrote:

I think all of us can relate to some event that has a lasting impression on us. Even when we don’t experience it directly, the moment is imprinted on us. For me, the event that impacted me profoundly occurred when I was in the 8th grade. The drama teacher rushed in to my English class screaming and crying. My teacher, John Ritzel, pushed her in to the arms of another teacher who ran in behind her. He growled, “Get her out of here, she is scaring my kids.” He then addressed his class in a quiet voice. “The president has been shot in Dallas Texas. If you want to pray or just take a moment to pull yourselves together, put your heads down on your desks.”

I remember the shock and wondering how the world could have changed so much that an important person like John F. Kennedy could be shot, then what sort of safety could there ever be for me, a blind child growing up in California. I had lived through a man walking on the moon and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Each of these were turning points in history. But my sense of safety has never been quite the same. Still, I refuse to allow fear to keep me from going about my life. During the aftermath of 9/11, some acquaintances refused to fly or feared anyone who looked like what they thought a terrorist might look. I think that is letting the terrorists win. Only by keeping our values and our way of life intact can we defeat them. We must protect freedom by voting, and fighting to protect democratic values.

Health – You Are What You Eat

We’ve all heard that saying before, and it’s always been a reference to how the types of foods you eat affect your well being and overall health. However, a new study has shown that our food may become part of us in a pretty remarkable way–and I’m not talking about swallowing some chewing gum that got stuck, either.

This new study has shown that not only are we absorbing nutrients from the food that we eat, but also some of its genetic material as well. The researchers discovered that there were incredible amounts of rice micro-RNA floating around in the bloodstream of their Chinese test subjects. The genetic material floating around in the blood isn’t just along for a ride, either–at least that’s not what they think. In test mice, the same rice micro-RNA changed certain gene expressions and altered the liver’s ability to filter LDL cholesterol. While they haven’t pinned down any measureable effects in humans, it’s very likely that this errant genetic material might be affecting our genes as well.

These findings that show our food might actually regulate how our genes are expressed are certainly an interesting discovery, but they bring up a lot of questions–some positive, some not. On the plus side, this may help explain why certain foods seem to be medicinal. The general evolution of this idea would be to find foods that can help treat certain diseases based on how their genetic material comingles with ours. The negative, though, concerns those foods that are genetically modified, which has become a popular process to control everything from crop yields to the duration of freshness in a number of different foods that span nearly every group. Are these seemingly harmless changes affecting us in ways we haven’t discovered yet? They can’t say yet, and there needs to be a lot more research performed before they’ll have any sort of definitive answer.

When I was a kid, my mom always used to tell me that if I ate any more strawberries that I’d become one. Turns out she might be right.
Source: http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2011-09/we-incorporate-genetic-information-food-we-eat-says-new-study

Contributor Lori Castner – When My Sisters Read

As a child, I loved print books partly because of their fragrance and texture, but mostly because family members read them to me.

If my sister Alice read at bedtime, I heard either Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes” or “The Ugly Duckling.” Every time I heard the story of the vain emperor, I imagined the tailors sewing, moving their needles up and down through thin air not through folds of sumptuous fabric, and I laughed at the throng of flatterers who praised his beautiful suit as the ruler moved suitless before the crowds. And no matter how often we listened to this story, my sister Linda and I snickered as it ended and we learned that he wore no clothes, and we repeated in unison, “He was naked, naked, naked.” Then we laughed knowingly suspecting that this emperor somehow appeared in a way that was naughty rather than just silly.

When we heard “The Ugly Duckling,” we responded more quietly, enthralled that an ugly, lonely creature could become a symbol of beauty, and without comprehending my feelings, I probably longed for a day when I would overcome shyness.

When my sister Marianne read to us at bedtime, I heard either Richard Scarry’s “The Animals of Farmer Jones” or Munro Leaf’s “Story Of Ferdinand The Bull.” She read with great animation, reciting over and over the line “Where is Farmer Jones?” She always drew out the word “where” so that it sounded for at least five seconds. I never understood how a dutiful farmer could forget to feed his pigs, sheep, cows, dog and cat. But when he returned unerringly home to complete his chores, each animal said “Thank you, Farmer Jones” with fervent gratitude. I would have angrily kicked over my bucket of food then leapt the fence to find a better home.

Each time she read about the peaceful bull who preferred flowers to fighting, she emphasized the words “picadors” and “matadors,” and Linda and I laughed at the bull who became angry only when he received a bee sting while sniffing beautiful blooms. Marianne always read slowly and gently the concluding line of the story, “For all I know he is sitting there still, under his favorite cork tree, smelling the flowers just quietly.” And with every retelling, we laughed, but failed to sympathize with the pain inflicted by the picadors or to comprehend the cruelty of bullfighting.

The predictability of my sisters’ story selections and reading styles brought a sense of peace to bedtime, created a bond between me and my much-older siblings, and began my love of reading.

What started your love of reading and stories? Let us know in the Reader’s Forum.

Op Ed with Bob Branco – The Battle Between the Blind and Website Designers

One of the most frustrating problems that we face as blind computer users is how to navigate through a graphic website. Many people who design their own websites do so for visual benefit. Perhaps the visual attractiveness of the website would draw more customers, and that’s why the designer puts pictures on it. Though these website designers have the best of intentions when they sprinkle cute photos throughout the site, the site cannot be read in its entirety by speech software without the software coming in contact with the graphics. In most cases, the software will stop reading the site, or it will let a blind person know that there is a picture, but won’t know where to proceed from there.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received recommendations to go on a website for information and encountered some issue. If the site was accessible for a blind person to read with speech software, I would have no problem navigating, but I hesitate to use the World Wide Web for fear that I will encounter graphics.

I wonder if the government has tried to adopt legislation in order to stop website designers from including graphics. I also wonder if the blind consumer groups have gotten involved. There is no point in us researching material on websites if the graphics prevent us from doing it.

Therein lies the battle between blind consumers and website designers. The designer, to his credit, wants to make his website look better than that of his competitor, so he has the right to do what he can in order to achieve his goal, even if it means adding attractive photos. However, we, as blind people, though we care about competitive marketing, depend exclusively on the written text. Currently, I have a website which promotes a softball league and a magazine. I may have one photo on it, but that’s it. I made sure that the text explained to everyone’s satisfaction why people should use my website in order to think about joining my softball league or to consider a subscription to my magazine. Words are still very important in advertising. When we listen to a radio commercial, we don’t care about photos, and neither do the people who make the radio commercial. The producers of these commercials know it’s radio, so they think accordingly. The same should be suggested for website designers, even though the blind represent a small population in relation to everyone else who has internet.

Perhaps our readers have suggestions on what would be a fair solution or compromise. I’d be interested to hear about it in the Reader’s Forum.

Feature Writer John Christie – Berklee Offers Accessible Music Program

For six semesters, Wayne Pearcy, a Berklee College student was just trying to get by. He would rely on friends to write out music and go to professors’ office hours to recite concepts that he couldn’t get down on paper.

Pearcy, who is blind, did not have access to the same software as his sighted classmates did. He came up short on exercises such as reharmonizing tunes and writing them out on the computer. Pearcy came to Berklee without knowing Braille Music. This is unfortunate because the college could have made this accessible to him.

It’s been a struggle for him just to keep up with his classes–a serious source of frustration for him. As a result, a piece of his musicality suffered. “The creative side of my brain sort of turned off,” said Pearcy, who plays trumpet and is majoring in performance.

This is all beginning to change, though, for Pearcy and other blind & visually impaired students who go to Berklee because of a new class that was added. The class is called Assisted Music Technology for Visually Impaired Students.

Recently in one class, students imported recorded tracks for a mixing exercise using CakeTalking. This software lets the student’s access Sonar software. Their professor producer/composer, Chi Kim, was teaching them how to use this accessible program as well as Sibelius Access for Sibelius. These Windows-based programs require PCs, while the rest of the Berklee students use Macs with software such as Finale for notation and Logic for MIDI sequencing and audio recording–software that’s not accessible for visually impaired students.

Kim’s class provides instruction in hardware and software for blind and visually impaired students as well as Braille notation. In addition to giving students access to technology that until now has been beyond their reach, the class also gives them the skills to sight-read, which is similar to arranging, harmony and ear training.

Students are finding the class challenging and some hope to take it twice. “I feel like I just ran a computer marathon,” said Pearcy after one class session, with his characteristic hearty laugh.

The class has really benefitted Pearcy and he has since written his first composition–a score for a jazz combo. He submitted it to Jazz Revelation Records and hopes they will consider it on the labels next album. “It’s been great,” he said. “I feel like I have a much better grasp at using programs that are accessible to me.”

“The doors have opened for me,” he continued. “I felt like I was not learning enough in class or able to express myself the way I wanted to. Because of the tools Berklee gave me, it’s been really life-changing. I’m so grateful I can sit down at a computer and do it.”

“It changes everything,” said Kim. “It opens up more career choices, other than just being a performer. It opens up a lot of possibilities as a writer. Students will have a more full experience like sighted students. They’ll get more out of classes, more education.”

The class that Berklee has is great for its blind & visually impaired students. It gives them the confidence to make it in the music world and it can make Berklee a role model for other schools to follow.
Source: http://www.berklee.edu/news/print/2671

Feature Writer Terri Winaught – Positive Pirates

When the Pittsburgh Pirates began the 2011 baseball season by winning wonderfully and flirting with first place, I was filled with hope and enthusiasm. However, after the all-star break, the Pirates went into a slump from which they never arose.

Given such a disappointing season, I asked myself if there was anything I could still say about the Pirates that was positive. What follows are some positive Pirate ponderings:

As part of their community involvement, the Pirates do a wonderful job of celebrating diversity. In May, 2011, for example, the team celebrated Latino Day, during which time fans had a chance to meet Latino players, listen to Latino music and enjoy Latino food.

Also in May, “the Bucks” hosted a Disability Awareness Fair–an annual event which enables persons with disabilities and the organizations they represent to showcase their programs and services.

Yet another celebration of diversity occurred during the African-American Heritage Days, which were held on July 22nd and 23rd of this year. In addition to honoring the Negro Leagues and African-American contributions to baseball in general, this celebration also served as an acknowledgement of the contributions of Pittsburgh’s local black community.

The final positive point I will ponder is the Pittsburgh Pirates funding and sponsorship of the only wheelchair softball league in Southwestern Pennsylvania. This inclusive league was established in partnership with the Hope Network, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit which focuses on health and fitness for persons with physical disabilities.

In Part Two of this series, I will discuss what Major League Baseball has done to enhance the accessibility of their website, www.mlb.com. Through enhanced accessibility, mlb.com has become much easier for persons who are blind or vision-impaired to navigate.

Feature Writer Romeo Edmead – Educational Institute Needs to Learn A Lesson

After applying for a job, Kerry Kirksey learned that part of the application process included answering some questions online. Much to his delight, Mr. Kirksey determined he could answer everything correctly, but he would soon discover that he was in for a completely different type of exam. Mr. Kirksey, a California resident, is blind, and the speech program in his computer did not enable him to answer the questions in a timely manner. Mr. Kirksey informed the company, ITT Technical Institute, of his dilemma, and even presented them with two possible solutions, but they completely ignored his suggestions and denied his application.

Mr. Kirksey informed his potential employer that either providing a reader or allowing more time to complete the application would work just fine, but ITT Tech simply balked at both ideas. Even after Mr. Kirksey’s job developer contacted the company to educate them of the fact that they were breaking the law, ITT Tech still chose not to budge. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) reasonable accommodations must be provided, and discrimination based on disability is absolutely prohibited.

Now instead of Mr. Kirksey and his job developer, ITT Tech has to deal with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) who has filed a law suit. Along with several other requests, the suit seeks punitive and monetary damages, and calls for corrective action.

EEOC’s legal team cannot comprehend why this had to become so difficult. Their regional attorney, William R. Tamayo, said, “In this case, a simple accommodation of additional time or a reader would have enabled Mr. Kirksey to complete the application process and would not have cost a dime. There really is no reason ITT Tech should have denied the accommodation.”

Mr. Kirksey was just as befuddled with the decision not to offer accommodations, and was disappointed with ITT Tech’s unwillingness to cooperate. ITT Tech provides secondary and post secondary degree programs in technology, and Mr. Kirksey relished the thought of being a member of the team. He said, “I had received computer training from a school like ITT Tech and worked in the computer industry for five years, so I was excited by the opportunity to help other people discover the benefits of this kind of school.”

Luckily for Mr. Kirksey and others in his predicament, the ADA was established to abolish behavior like that of ITT Tech’s, but of course there will always be some who try to defy authority. Unfortunately, potential employers can sometimes get of scot free if the victim does not have the proper resources. The EEOC happens to be one of those resources, and among other things they fight to assure that the laws of the ADA are being enforced.
Source: EEOC Press Release, dated September 21, 2011

Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – Come Together

My acquaintance with the New York Lighthouse for the Blind began in 1984. Prior to that, I had little contact with other people who were blind and visually impaired. What a revelation it was to meet individuals who understood my visual limitations. I took voice lessons, performed in the opera workshop, sang in the chorus, acted in plays, played in a band, and attended parties. I learned that blind people are as talented or untalented as anyone else. Mostly, I gained valuable lessons and information about belonging to a group of like members.

As an assistive technology instructor for over 16 years, one of the key elements I’ve noticed time and again is the power and positive impact of persons who are blind and visually impaired coming together to find that they are not alone. Too often, we hear stories of blind people being the only ones in their communities and woefully unaware of services and technologies that could enhance their lives and offer greater independence. In addition to learning Microsoft’s Office products, our classes bring people together to share their life experiences and tips. Thus, they become teachers as well as students. It’s been a heart-warming thing to observe. The fact that they wait in our corridor before entering the classroom has played a large role in encouraging these relationships. I have heard much boisterous laughter–so much so, that sometimes we have to ask them to quiet down just a bit.

Maria and I are a part of a Contemporary Pop band that meets once a week. It just occurred to me that we, too, have learned about playing well with others. Our band is very democratic in that at the beginning of each semester members offer tunes they’d like to learn and rehearse to be played for whatever performance might be on our musical landscape. It’s made for quite a merry mix. Long may this practice continue for it keeps the members feeling that we have contributed to the overall success of the group.

It is astonishing to believe that our InfoShare group has been meeting for about five years now. A passing suggestion was made that a group be formed to discuss aspects of information, including topics on careers, technology, transportation, the arts, and advocacy. We’ve had guest speakers and have gone on several field trips to museums to experience their accessible exhibits. On a side note, it was also rewarding to meet members after our Triad NYC show.

Participation in our various groups has created and sealed lifelong friendships, and I would not trade them for anything on this earth as they have sustained and supported me through the good, the bad and the utterly ridiculous.

What groups are you a part of? Let us hear about it in the Reader’s Forum.