Archive for October, 2011

Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – Make a Note

We had an instructor who used the phrase “Make a Note” consistently in her wish for us to remember important lessons of the class. She was absolutely correct in insisting that we have a strategy for taking notes–whether by pen, dark marker, Braille writer, or tape recorder. Today’s feature-rich and robust notetakers and PDAs have come a mighty long way.

I optimistically turned to technology when my upward-bound handwriting became impossible to decipher. Early on, in my hi-tech life, I used a Type ‘N Speak while taking some courses, but I found that I was not quite ready for multi-tasking in that I could not listen to the synthetic speech and the instructor at the same time. Studiously, I would take copious notes and later attempt to decode my hieroglyphics-style typing. Wisely, I also used a tape recorder as a backup.

We have a friend who swears by her Braille Lite. Even though, to some, it might seem heavy and dated, she is never without it and claims it contains her life. Unbelievably, as much of a technophile as I am, I do not use a dedicated notetaker on a regular basis. Purchasing a PacMate for a ridiculously low price, I haven’t been consistent about taking it with me every day. It is disappointing that it does not have Wi-Fi and USB capability. Portable Word and Excel are very convenient, but not sufficient for my needs at this time.

These days there is a good deal of intense debate regarding whether we should use dedicated notetakers specifically designed for people who are blind and visually impaired or move to Apple’s mainstream products. Everyone feels they have the best solution. I am of the opinion that choice is the best solution–one size does not fit all. It is best to determine your needs and set about attempting to acquire the device that best fits those needs.

My wish for a note-taking device is for it to have a smooth, consistent interface that is relatively easy to learn and teach. Coming from a Windows background, I admit to some consternation and confusion when editing on Apple devices, as I have not yet mastered their particular method of editing. I’ve become comfortable typing text messages, tweets, and notes on my iPhone, but long for a lightweight, portable device with a qwerty keyboard. I will soon be in a position to choose one and I’m as bewildered as anyone else as there are several excellent choices. I will listen to all instructional podcasts I can get my greedy, little ears on. LevelStar’s Orion sounds fabulous, but, maddeningly, they are not saying when they’ll come out with a qwerty version. Any suggestions, faithful readers, are greatly appreciated.

Care to share any sentiments about your note-taker of choice? Let us hear about it in the Reader’s Forum.

Feature Writer Terri Winaught – Major League Baseball Preaches and Practices Accessibility

Ideally, a website needs to be both visually attractive and accessible to persons who use screen readers. Too often, however, websites with visual appeal entirely lack or have incomplete audio accessibility. However, one organization that has been addressing this issue is Major League Baseball.

As outlined by www.mlb.com, functional improvements they have made include creating an accessible media center for audio subscribers which enables them to control volume, choose home or away game feeds, access archived games and more.

For detailed information on how best to navigate MLB’s enhanced features, visit www.mlb.com and link to accessibilityfaqs.com. You can also ask questions or make comments by Emailing accessiblewebsite@mlb.com, the address of their dedicated accessibility staff.

Just as websites that are screen reader friendly are important to Major League Baseball, so, too is the inclusion of persons with all abilities who want to play and enjoy baseball.

A great example of this is PNC Park, which opened in 2001 and has physically accessible seating throughout the park and their Field of Dreams, an accessible field for players of all abilities–the first of which was built in Cranberry, a community north of Pittsburgh. Upper Saint Clare, a South Hills community, also has a Field of Dreams, thanks to retired baseball player Shawn Casey who grew up in that community. In addition to his initial $50,000 donation, Casey was instrumental in obtaining community support.

Features which make these fields accessible are: rubberized, cushioned turf to prevent injuries, shortened dimensions, a barrier-free dug-out, and completely flat surfaces.

There are currently more than 200 Fields of Dreams worldwide which have made playing baseball accessible to more than 200,000 special needs children and young adults. Some of the countries which proudly host these fields–along with the United States–are Australia, Canada and Puerto Rico.

To learn more about Fields of Dreams–and the unique way baseball is played on them–Google “Fields of Dreams” and follow the links.

I’d love to hear in Readers Forum about your experiences with the MLB website and its enhanced features and any opportunities you have had to play baseball on a Field of Dreams.

September 2011 audio version

Welcome to the Matilda Ziegler Magazine audio player. To begin listening to the magazine, simply click the “Read more” link below. Once you select the month, an embedded media player will start playing the magazine immediately. While using this player, you can press the control key plus the space bar to pause the current article. To proceed to the next article hold down the control key and the shift key and then press the N key. To go back to the previous article hold down the control key and the shift key and press the P key.
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Feature Writer Karen Crowder – A Part-Time Red Sox Fan

Living in Massachusetts, I grew up with this well-known baseball team. My father and brother would often listen to the ball game during the summer and early fall.

In 1967, I remember one of the activities at summer school at Perkins School for the Blind was a trip to a baseball game at Fenway Park. This was the summer of the Impossible Dream Team, which would eventually almost win the World Series.

Cheers went up in Chapel after the Red Sox won the American League pennant on October 1, 1967 and I began to pay serious attention to baseball. It was impossible to avoid listening to the games–we even listened and cheered during some classes. We hoped with youthful anticipation that the Red Sox would win the World Series. On Columbus Day, we were all disappointed when we realized that the Cardinals had come out on top. My Dad was more accepting, though, reminding us that there would be another year for them to win.

In 1975, a group of us from our chapter of the ACB went to a night game. Tickets cost $5 each. As I approached Fenway Park, I could feel the excitement in the air. When the Red Sox won that night, the whole stadium game them a standing ovation. That fall, we all lost sleep watching them play in the World Series again. We hoped they would win, but, alas, we were disappointed once more.

In 1986, we gathered around our radios or TVs to listen or watch the first game of the World Series. Since I was employed, listening to night games was a challenge. On that Thursday night, I vowed to stay awake for Game 5, but I fell asleep and missed most of it.

Of course, the Red Sox won Game 5 that Thursday, and some friends and I got together to watch Game 6 on Saturday evening. “Would this be the year for a championship?” we wondered. Unfortunately, again it was not to be. We witnessed another lost chance for our beloved team.

In 2004, new manager Terry Francona brought hope to the Red Sox Nation. To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention until the Red Sox put together a modest winning streak.

The Red Sox swept the Angels out of the playoffs, setting up the American League Championship series against the Yankees. After losing the first three games to the Yankees, the Red Sox needed a miracle–and they got it. They advanced to the World Series by winning four straight games over New York.

The World Series opened at Fenway Park on a cold, rainy Saturday evening. After winning the first two games at Fenway, the series shifted to St. Louis for the next three games. After winning game three, we wondered if this would finally be our year. I watched Game Four with a friend who tried their best to explain what was happening. When the Red Sox won, everyone was overjoyed.

Terry Francona led the team to another World Series victory in 2007. The Red Sox swept the Angels and moved onto the Championship Series against Cleveland. Again, the Red Sox needed seven games to advance to the World Series. The last few innings of Game Four against the Colorado Rockies were suspenseful. I was on the edge of my seat, wondering if they would win.
After the last out, the Red Sox Nation game a collective cheer.

We hoped for a championship this year, but a total September collapse cost Terry Francona his job and our team their victory. Now we wonder what the future holds for Red Sox Nation.

Feature Writer Romeo Edmead – Prison Bars Can’t Keep A Man Out for the Count

After prison days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months, and months turned to years, Dewey Bozella refused to lock up his dreams and throw away the key. Earlier this month, Mr. Bozella accomplished one of his dreams, despite the fact that he traveled down a rather unconventional path. Mr. Bozella had the desire to compete in a professional boxing match, and he finally accomplished that feat at the age of 52. After a 4 round contest at the Los Angeles Staples Center on October 15, Mr. Bozella achieved a unanimous victory over his opponent Larry Hopkins, a man 22 years his junior.

Mr. Bozella did come into the bout with quite the boxing resume, but his credentials as a boxing champion are probably locked away somewhere, literally. To find them, you would have to check the files at the infamous Sing Sing, a correctional facility in New York State–a place Bozella called home for 26 years.

The nightmare for the big dreamer all began in 1983, when he was wrongfully convicted for the 1977 murder of a 92-year-old woman. Actually, Mr. Bozella was found guilty twice, once again in 1990, after he balked at the opportunity to take a plea bargain that would have set him free, if he only confessed to the crime.

His boxing prowess is far from the only skill he showed off while incarcerated. Mr. Bozella completed his undergraduate and graduate degrees, and now aspires to open a boxing ring. He said, “My next fight is to work with kids, the Dewey Bozella Foundation, that’s what I’m trying to get started to work with kids to keep them off the streets, to let them know through boxing they can turn their life around.”

Mr. Bozella won his fight for freedom after the discovery of a police file that his defense was never provided with. Of course the file contained a significant amount of evidence to the contrary, which ultimately lead to his October 2009 release. He said the sport of boxing gave him the intestinal fortitude necessary to serve a 26 year sentence, and now his focus is on giving back. Speaking about the remainder of his own boxing career, he said, “This is my first and my last fight,” as he determined that he is too old to continue.

Despite the fact that he is a one-and-done fighter, Mr. Bozella’s story did capture the attention of some people in high places. A couple of days prior to his fight, he received a phone call from President Obama, offering some kind words. Hopefully, through the continued circulation of his story, Mr. Bozella can open his training facility sooner rather than later, and knock out another one of his dreams he refuses to let die.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/17/nyregion/dewey-bozella-52-cleared-of-77-murder-wins-pro-boxing-debut.html

Feature Writer Alena Roberts – A Touch Screen Braille Keyboard Coming to a Tablet Near You

The ability to use a touch screen as a blind person is amazing, but it is still quite difficult to type efficiently. IOS devices like the iPhone can have a physical blue tooth keyboard or braille display attached to them, but this adds extra cost and requires extra space for traveling. What if instead, the blind could write using a braille keyboard on the touch screen itself? Well now, a team at Stanford University has come up with a way to do this.

According to the lead designer, to use the braille keyboard the person simply places their eight fingers on the touch screen once. The touch screen then recognizes that the person wants to type using braille. As long as the person keeps their fingers close to where they started, they can start typing and the program will adjust to movements in your finger position. If you want to get a drink of water or move your hands to do something else, simply put eight fingers back on the touch screen and tap once and you can start typing again.

This project could be a way to increase braille literacy because the software will be built into the device. Braille displays and notetakers cost thousands of dollars which puts them out of reach for a majority of the blind community. If a braille keyboard was available on a tablet PC, then far more people would have access. The next step should be building in braille output, but that will be more of a challenge.

To learn more about the project, listen to this episode of the market place tech report: http://marketplace.publicradio.org/www_publicradio/tools/media_player/popup.php?name=marketplace/tech_report/2011/10/17/marketplace_tech_report20111017_64

You can also watch this YouTube video presented by Standford University: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABfCXJSjAq0

Feature Writer Ann Chiappetta – Harnessing a New Beginning

Verona and I walk into the dining room where the new students are already sitting down for dinner. It is dog day tomorrow. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost three years since it was dog day for me. Verona finds an empty seat. I settle her under the table and then ask what is on the menu.

“Pork tenderloin, roasted potatoes and sautéed green beans,” replies the server,” and help yourself to the garlic bread while it’s still hot.”

It’s good to be back, I think, reaching for the bread basket. Between bites of warm, crusty bread, I introduce myself to the other folks at the table. The night before dog day is probably the most important day for each person in the room and is especially complex for the men and women who are back to be matched with a successor dog. New students don’t normally carry the emotions and feelings of loss associated with retiring a dog; to help the students move on, some guide dog schools offer counseling as part of the adjustment process.

During dinner, I discover that three women I’m sitting with are retrains–one coming back for her fourth dog and the other two moving onto a second. Moving on from dog one to dog two is a particularly difficult shift for a guide or service dog handler because the first dog symbolizes an extraordinary change in the handler’s life. The increased sense of confidence and independence the first dog provides is a powerful catalyst and bonds the handler and dog so strongly that it is difficult for the handler to move on to a successor dog.

After dinner and the lecture, I gather up the retrains and we settle into the student living room to begin the group meeting.

I lead three students upstairs and we each find seats. As we begin talking, another student joins us. “I feel so guilty,” confides the first woman, speaking about her dog. “I’m so afraid she doesn’t understand. I want her to be happy but she still tries to work even when she can’t walk.” She starts to cry.

“I know,” says the second woman, “It breaks my heart to walk out of the house without her but she can’t do it anymore. She lies down after walking a block or two. It’s been hard but in a way I’m okay with it because she’s staying with us and I don’t have to say goodbye.”

All three women are keeping the first dog, which incidentally often eases the anxiety leading up to the retirement of the first dog. Some handlers, however, do return the dog to the puppy raiser or hand them over to a family member or friend. Many guide dog users cannot care for more than one dog at a time, and for those folks, the transition is so much more troubling.

“I had to give up my dog because of my own health problems,” says the man who joined us. “I tried keeping in touch with his puppy raisers, but one day I told them to stop, I couldn’t take it anymore. Doesn’t that sound so selfish?”

“It sounds like you had to do it so that you could get better,” I say. “That isn’t selfish.”

He nods, “Yes, but I miss him. I feel like I let him down. I hope a new dog will help me feel better about it.”

By the end of our talk, all four students were sharing stories, and all reported to me before we left that they were glad they came to the group.

As for Verona and I, we left the room knowing we helped ease some of the pain of letting go. The last thought I had before bed that night was that I was happy each one of the students was going to open their hearts to a new beginning inspired by four healing paws and a harness.

Letter from the Editor – October 24, 2011

Hello Everyone,

Well, it’s officially Fall as far as I’m concerned. My favorite jacket was steeped in bonfire smoke for hours this past weekend and my whole house now smells like a fireplace because of it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the smell, but other people don’t seem to share that sentiment. While at the store yesterday, a woman actually coughed as she got close to me and chose to wait in a much longer line behind the register next to us. I guess nature’s cologne just isn’t for everybody (although, I’ll take an abundance of wood smoke over the perfume counters at various department stores any day).

Moving on, we’ve got a great magazine lined up for you this week and I was happy to see that people wrote in to share some Halloween and ghost stories–I think you’ll enjoy those. We’ve also got part 4 of the five part series on improving sleep and alertness in blind individuals and I hope you all are finding that series informative. As always, our writers have come through with some great product reviews, inspiring stories, new program information, and much more.

I hope you all have a great week. Take care and thanks for reading.

Sincerely,
Ross Hammond, Editor

Recipe of the Week – Roasted Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Pilau

Submitted by Christian

Pilau (or pilaf), typically consists of meats or vegetables added to a grain, and is an ideal way to add more fiber to your diet with whole grains like wild rice, brown rice, or bulgur. Serve with pork chops and green beans. This hearty side’s squash, potato, and brown rice offer about 10 percent of your daily fiber needs.

YIELD: 6 servings (serving size: about 3/4 cup)
COURSE: Side Dishes/Vegetables

Ingredients
2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled fresh pumpkin (about 12 ounces)
1 1/2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato (about 1 medium)
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup diced onion (1 small)
1/3 cup diced celery (about 1 rib)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup brown rice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Arrange pumpkin and sweet potato in an even layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes or until tender and just until vegetables begin to brown, stirring after 18 minutes. Remove from oven, and set aside.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, and garlic to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until onion is tender. Add broth and remaining ingredients to onion mixture, stirring to combine; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 50 minutes or until rice is done and liquid is mostly absorbed. Remove from heat; discard bay leaf. Add pumpkin mixture; stir gently to combine.

Nutritional Information:

Amount per serving Calories: 200, Calories from fat: 11%, Fat: 2.5g, Saturated fat: 0.4g,
Monounsaturated fat: 1.4g, Polyunsaturated fat: 0.5g, Protein: 5.9g, Carbohydrate: 38.8g, Fiber: 3g, Cholesterol: 0.0mg, Iron: 1.3mg, Sodium: 428mg, Calcium: 45mg

Source: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/roasted-pumpkin-sweet-potato-pilau-10000001662902/print/

Reader’s Forum – October 17, 2011

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

In response to Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – It’s QVC for Maria and Me, Danni wrote:

I have complained about QVC’s not-so-friendly blind site for years and was very excited when they came out with their beta site as it was screen reader friendly. But the bummer is they took it back down! I keep hoping that will change but so far no go!

QVC and EBay are my main sites for shopping deals, and yes, easy pay is a most definite bonus to QVC!
##
In response to Feature Writer Alena Roberts – When Will Disability be a Part of Courses on Diversity? Ben wrote:

This is a great article. As you, Alena, I am a psychology major, and get diversity all the time, but my university does little to nothing to include disability. I am trying to change that from the ground up, but I’m finding it hard. The multicultural center on campus didn’t even include disability until a faculty member complained.

The psychology department has a disability class, but has rarely taught it in the last ten or so years because of “funding” and a lack of “need,” which I find outrageous. It breaks my heart that educated people cannot realize the potential of those with disabilities. I am vice president of the Delta Alpha Pi international honor society on my campus which promotes disability awareness, and it is definitely a challenge.