For your convenience, all Reader’s Forum submissions are separated by the ## symbol.
In response to posts in last week’s Reader’s Forum regarding Braille teaching, Gary wrote:
I love Braille and have often used the argument about not teaching sighted students to handwrite, but I was surprised to hear our school board actively discussing no longer teaching cursive, the reason being the use of the keyboard for writing. I have yet to hear them recommend discontinuing print reading because there is audio. I hope that is never advanced as a serious argument for the sighted for it is most certainly a flawed one for the blind.
In response to posts in last week’s Reader’s Forum regarding Braille teaching, Sean wrote:
I am unable to readily use Braille due to nerve damage suffered when I was shot, but can feel the dots for just a minute or two before they are unrecognizable. But I can’t imagine doing many of the things I do now without the little I do read. I use it to access bathrooms, find offices in the hospital, take the elevator, and even to purchase snacks and soda from the vending machines where I frequent. While I have had to label the machines myself and the snack machine man knows the situation and tries not to change the menu without letting me know I do occasionally get a bag of chips instead of the snickers I wanted or a cookie instead of chewing gum. But life without it would be very difficult for me. Those who feel it is not important need to spend a month living blind and they would soon change the tune they sing.
In response to a December Reader’s Forum post, Alan wrote:
I am writing to comment on Shelley McMullen’s December contribution to the Readers’ Forum regarding the use of treats by guide dog schools as a training aid. I got my first dog in May of 1979. At the time, the school I attended did not use treats as part of training. While that situation has changed since my first trip to class, I don’t think the use of treats has been applied in all situations. When I trained with my most recent dog in 2008, treats may have been used in some situations for some of the dogs in class, but I never used them when I worked with my current dog and have never had to do so since I came home.
I share Shelley’s concern, in that I’m not sure how gradually the treats are withdrawn and I don’t want my dog to have to work for food rewards, but since it was clear that the dog I trained with didn’t need that kind of encouragement, I never had to use food rewards.
I suspect, however, that if used properly, they may help some dogs over situations that might otherwise frighten them and if it helps, I wouldn’t discount it, especially since treats are a part of effective clicker training, which has certainly helped some dogs learn to work effectively.
In response to Feature Writer Karen Crowder – The Last Time I Saw Donna, Jan wrote:
I was very touched by Karen Crowder’s article about Donna. I’ve known Donna since 1963, when we were at camp together. I was planning to go to the party Karen was referring to, but I was sick, a rare occurrence. So the last time I saw Donna was the previous November. She brought me back in touch with several friends over the years. Donna was a special person and will certainly be missed.
In response to Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – Wrangling with Windows 7, Duane wrote:
Lynn’s piece in the current Ziegler about her frustration with Windows 7 is further proof that Microsoft really doesn’t care if its products are accessible to those who are blind. Despite my recent purchase of a new laptop with Windows 7, I’m plodding on with my XP unit until it crashes because I’m reluctant to enter the unknown environment of the new operating system. I don’t even know where to begin to set it up to be accessible. Perhaps a future issue of the magazine might be devoted to some quick tutorial help for that time that will come to all of us when we must wave goodbye to XP, and plunge headlong into this new world Microsoft creates every few years to make computers more and more inaccessible, while people like Lynne patiently persist in devising workarounds with little or no help from those who create such new computer environments.
In response to Feature Writer Ann Chiappetta – Comparing Two Popular Screen Readers: Part 2, Keith wrote:
The use of the caps lock key is also used in Jaws, but you have to switch to the laptop configuration to use it. It’s handy for laptop users who don’t usually have a numpad to issue commands. The trouble in Serotek is that they don’t offer the rest of the laptop commands to navigate that Jaws does. For example, in the laptop configuration, capslock + j, k, or l is the same as using insert+4,5, or 6 to move by words (left, say current, or move right).
It would be cool if Serotek would let you route mouse to PC. I have some software where that’s the only way to access a status bar on the screen and have it read.