For your convenience, all Reader’s Forum submissions are separated by the ## symbol.
In response to Op Ed with Bob Branco – Lack of Skill Results in Labeling, Chris wrote:
In response to your writer who wonders why it’s not possible to use Braille on envelopes, the answer would be two-fold: who would have the job of transcribing it into print since one can’t expect a postman (especially a short term postman such as those doing it as a holiday job) to learn to use Braille fluently, and what about the quality of the Braille? I don’t know about US postal sorting offices, but in the UK all mail is scanned electronically using our post code system to sort – only the unreadable, non-post coded are rejected and hand sorted. The Braille would be flattened long before it reached the hands of the delivery postman.
We have to work out a system of sticking on our own stamps. In a small post office where one would be known, the counter staff would gladly help, but most of us have to do it ourselves. One answer is to buy books of stamps only and annotate the cover so one knows the book will open so the stamps are facing the right way up – then it’s just a case of peeling off from the book and sticking quickly on the envelope. Yes, I have stuck on stamps upside down more than once when in a hurry but have noticed and got it right before posting!
Many blind people using computers take the sticky label template approach and print their labels and for those for whom this is not an option (I would be one if I couldn’t handwrite reasonably easily), our Royal National Institute of Blind People sells a device known as a notepaper and envelope writing guide. In essence you put the guide under plain paper and the raised tactile lines can be easily felt under the paper – imagine tracing something using a raised edge under paper.
A third way round it is the opposite. The same charity sells A5 and A4 guides where one puts the paper into the guide and the lines which are made of elastic is raised in front of the paper. With practice one could easily use that for envelopes, as well as for writing on letter paper. These are old fashioned bits of equipment and I feel sure they would be available in some guise in the US from one of your many organizations.
In response to Mina’s comment in last week’s Reader’s Forum regarding writing addresses in Braille, Allison wrote:
In response to Minas comments, the idea of insisting that blind people be able to write addresses on envelopes in Braille is so outlandish and unrealistic that I don’t quite know where to start.
First of all, a very small percentage of the blind and visually impaired population read and write Braille fluently. Second, postal workers would need to learn Braille, which is laughable. Third, the dots would get crushed in the postal service machinery. I could go on, but you get the point.
There are several ways to address an envelope like sighted help, using a printer, or finding a typewriter and using that.
Now if I could just figure out how to consistently put the stamp on the right way.
In response to Beth’s comments in last week’s Reader’s Forum, Elaine wrote:
I agree with Beth. I do not represent all blind people. There are things I can do that other blind people can do and there are things I can’t do that other blind people can do. I don’t use the mail much anymore, but I’ve always had help addressing envelopes and I’ve never written checks, either. I learned to type in the seventh grade, but I couldn’t proofread what I wrote because there was no talking software available to tell me what I’d written.
Someone suggested that we be allowed to address envelopes in Braille. Even if you have Braille on an envelope the envelope has to be written in print so the post office will know who to send your mail to.
There are all kinds of ways to accomplish the same thing. For example, you can pay your bills on the phone, online or through the mail in some cases. It doesn’t matter how you pay your bills. The important thing is that you pay them. I think we as blind people put each other down too much about petty issues. If you can address your mail and send it without assistance that’s great. If you can pay your bills online that’s fine too. We in the blind community need to support each other and quit condemning other blind people who don’t have the same skills we do or who don’t do things the same way we do them.
In response to comments regarding his recent article, Bob Branco wrote:
I would like to explain further about my observations toward the blind gentleman who admittedly does not know how to mail a letter. First of all, I know about the free matter stamp. Second, the opinions I expressed in the column are not necessarily my own, but those of Consumer Organizations, independent blind people who want to protect all of us from an unfair reputation, and rehab teachers who know that the task is not hard to learn. I do not condemn this man for what he doesn’t know. All I’m saying is that, if he had sight, his lack of knowledge about mailing a letter would be disregarded by society, but where he’s blind, many people in the blind population will admit that they feel he’s setting an example that society will thrive on.
In response to Feature Writer John Christie – Two New Displays Help to Make Mobile Devices More Accessible, David wrote:
Interesting Braille display article. I wish the prices were even cheaper. I have an older Braille printer and hope I can get it up and running with my new computer. It may not work well because of changes in the platform from a 32-bit to a 64-bit system. We still do not have a multi-line Braille display. I hope that comes in my lifetime. But I doubt it.
In response to Feature Writer Terri Winaught – Gifted Canines, Patti wrote:
I would like to thank Terri Winaught for her very nice article “Gifted Canines.” I am a 20 year graduate of Southeastern Guide Dogs, having gotten 6 out of my 7 guides from there.
As in a lot of cases, some have worked out, some not, but I got the two best guides I’ve ever had from that school, and am thinking my current one who I haven’t had very long, will be the third.
While you are in class you couldn’t be treated better; in fact one of my classmates in an earlier class said the staff does everything but tuck you in at night.
I appreciate their training philosophy, and it is a relaxing place to train with a dog, especially in the winter months when everybody else is being bombarded with ice and snow.
When I was in a class in January 1994 there was a blizzard that basically shut down my home town, and I was sitting in Florida, in spring-like weather.
Just wanted to say thank you for the very well written article.
Rita wrote in to say:
My husband got sick two weeks ago, and he has been in the hospital since then. He is supposed to go to a rehab facility for a short time.
Being by myself is a little scary, but it is also a new experience for me because I never lived alone before. I depended on my husband for things such as what to get out of the freezer, and what kinds of canned goods were in my cabinet.
I know that there are many blind and visually impaired people who live by themselves. My question is how do you manage by yourselves as a blind and visually impaired person? I do have some skills, but how do you manage when your husband or wife is not around, and how do you fix things when no one is around?
If anyone has any ideas, please write them here in the reader’s forum.