Archive for April, 2013

Feature Writer Karen Crowder – Roger Cicchese’s Dream Realized: The Later Years

In the 1980s, Roger explored the exciting field of accessible technology. This was a wonderful time for him. He married in 1982 and returned briefly to broadcasting. UMass Boston’s new station W-U-M-B had announced positions available and Roger, along with another Perkins student, David Baharian, put together a winning demo which got them the 3 to 6 PM slot on Thursday afternoons. They entertained their audience playing folk music which was W-U-M-B’s genre. In March 1983, Roger was hired as the station’s news director and broadcasted an hour-long news program every night. He received information for stories from local newspapers, also calling town clerks, selectmen, and local organizations.

He also covered the Democratic Issues convention in Springfield in 1983 where he interviewed Governor Mike Dukakis.

In late 1983 Roger left the station, traveling to Florida where he trained as the Northeastern regional manager for Triformations, a new company. He would work at Triformation’s Boston office for two years. He also worked for BIT Boston information Technology.
The Cicchese’s became homeowners in 1984. Their daughter Andrea was born in 1986. Robert says these jobs happened, “at the right time.”

In 1986, synchronistic experiences gradually led him back to the world of taping and sound. He met a nice woman who worked for Macmillan publishing. He recorded audio book lectures for Wellesley College and tapes for the Jean Baker Woman’s center.
That year Roger opened Sound Craft, a recording studio based in Watertown. A large part of his work was producing audio books for the commercial market. As he became more involved with recording and duplicating cassettes, he discovered, “how much he enjoyed it.” In the late 1980s, Roger and David Baharian produced “Chimes Remembered” a compilation of carols and hymns that bell ringers played at Perkins.

Jane Kronheim and Roger met at the Museum of Fine Arts in 1979. She moved to Massachusetts from Ohio, and worked at Perkins to start a new program for blind preschoolers. They became friends. As an artist she created, “pillow books with tactual features on each side of the page.” Roger recorded over 100 stories for these cute pillow books.

When they met again in 2009, Jane made a startling proposal. “I would like to start a recording studio, if you are interested.” This was his dream. When he asked Jane about start up money she replied, “what do you have to lose,” “this might be the best thing that could happen to you.” They took a risk making their dream a reality. With Roger’s progressive hearing loss how would this happen? A Massachusetts agency provided him with a low interest loan so he could buy sophisticated hearing aids. Today if he is in a, “controlled environment with low noise” he functions well.

Roger’s experience in college building and managing the radio station helped him in the new venture as he installed cable in the new studio at Jane’s home in New Hampshire. He had, “a new lease on life being her sound designer.” They are incorporated as Voices of Experience. They resurrect recordings from reel to reel cassettes, all records, 8 track cartridges, and videos and put them on compact discs. He cleans the recordings up and improves their sound quality.
He does live recordings and voiceovers, and currently produces an accessible brochure for Easter Seals where he describes its pictures.

Each job’s price is quoted according to each client’s needs.

Roger believes in a simple formula for success, “our greatest limitations are the ones we place on ourselves.”

Contact information for Roger and Jan

Phone 1-603-827-3859
Contact name Jane Kronheim, Company President
Email address jk@voicesofxperience.com
Web address http//:www.voicesofxperience.com
The website has audio clips. If you want to be added to their email list, send inquiries to 1nationundersound@gmail.com

Feature Writer Terri Winaught – He Walked by Faith

On October 13, 1972, I was a freshman at Chatham College (now Chatham University) in Pittsburgh, PA. My major was music and my specialty was voice.

Though I have long since forgotten any of the specifics I did on that day almost 41 years ago, Uruguayan native Nando Parrado will never forget what he was doing, looking forward to, and never could have imagined.

That day the accomplished rugby player and members of his family went to an airport in Uruguay where his father’s departing greeting was that he would see him the following Monday. They had no way to know, though, that the anticipated meeting was not to be. In fact, it would be months before father and son would see each other again. During that time, Nando’s father would have every reason to believe that his 21 year old son was dead. The unforgettable event that will be forever etched into many memories is the plane crash that occurred later that day in the highest — and therefore most forbidding peak — of the Andes Mountains. To say that what happened was a crash isn’t entirely accurate, however, since there were actually three crashes — different parts of the plane having crashed at different times in different parts of the mountains. What the survivors had no way to know at the time was that they had gotten off course, which placed them about 150 miles east of where they should have landed. The conditions with which Parrado and fellow survivors were forced to cope for 72 days and 72 nights were unspeakably brutal. At night, temperatures plummeted to between 30 and 35 degrees below zero. Being from Uruguay, Nando and fellow teammates were dressed in shorts and T-shirts. Though Perrado had never seen snow, he was now surrounded by its frigid flakes.

When this 21-year-old with an indomitable spirit finally felt that he and another passenger could venture outside of the wrecked plane pieces to seek help, they had no idea of the insurmountable obstacles they would face. They had no way to know how endless, jagged, and forbidding climbing and navigating the peaks would be. Walking with faith, patience, and perseverance were the successfully led to help and brought that help via helicopter to those still in the plane’s fuselage.

Since this tragedy in which Nando Perrado lost his mother, sister, and other loved ones, he has been a bundle of endless energy and a wealth of time-tested wisdom.

I was able to hear Nando Parrado’s tale of survival and the miracle of his rescue by attending a Speaker’s Series sponsored annually by Robert Morris University (visit www.rmu.edu).

As I continue to reflect on the most inspirational and motivational presentation I have ever heard, I continue to believe that — despite my faith and a deeply rooted spirituality — I could never have survived such conditions. I can only say that Nando definitely walked by faith.

For more information, read “Miracle In the Andes” available in Braille from the Library of Congress and written by Nando Parrado for his father’s 90th birthday (visit www.loc.gov). ” Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors” is another book which chronicles this story of tragedy and triumph, this book also has been made into a movie with the same title.

To learn more about the public and motivational speaking honors which Nando Perrado has received, you may visit www.facebook.com, find his page and like him on Facebook.

Though I have flown during turbulence, I’ve never experienced even the possibility or threat of an impending crash. What I remember from having flown frequently during the 1970s is that I was never shown where the emergency exits were or how to position myself to prepare for a crash or unusually rough landing. Tell us in Readers Forum if you have ever been shown those life-saving measures prior to airplane travel.

Feature Writer Alena Roberts – Using a Video Game to Familiarize Yourself with a Building Before You Go there

One of the fundamental challenges that the blind face on a regular basis is how to navigate in new places. Oftentimes we learn how to get where we need to go, but we don’t necessarily get a feel for an entire building and its layout. A new project is aiming to solve this problem by introducing people to a new environment using a video game.

The software that is being developed is called Audio Based Environment Simulator or ABES. The research is being done using the layout of the Carol Center for the Blind. Participants learn the layout of the building by being given the challenges of getting jewels out of the building before monsters find them and moving the jewels to a different location. Game play involves a keyboard and a set of head phones. Since the game play is fun and challenging, participants have found the game to be engaging and useful.

Once the players have finished the game, the researchers test whether the game gives the participant the spatial awareness they need to navigate the building. To test this, the participants are taken to the actual Carol Center for the Blind where they are asked to navigate to different parts of the building. The researchers, who did not inform the participants of the purpose of the study until after they had finished playing the game found that participants were retaining the information about the building without knowing that they would need to. These findings make the researchers excited to start applying this technology to other buildings.

Imagine being able to virtually explore a building like an airport or a college campus before ever going there. I can see this being a benefit to a wide range of people especially children who are learning mobility skills.

To read more about this exciting new technology visit this page: http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-03-virtual-games-unknown-territory.html

Letter from the Editor – Week of April 29, 2013

Hi all,

I hope everyone had a great weekend. It sure is starting to warm up.

One quick announcement, the reader’s forum will be absent from this week’s edition because no responses have been sent in. The Reader’s Forum is an important section of the magazine and I hope we’ll hear more feedback from readers next week.

This is my first time editing and putting the magazine out so my fingers are crossed that everything goes smoothly. I welcome any and all feedback.

I know there have been some issues with receiving the emails in the past so if you don’t receive the magazine or have any other issues please let me know at editor@matildaziegler.com

Thanks for reading,

Sincerely,
Editor

Recipe of the Week – Old-Fashioned Tomato Soup

Submitted by Dave Hutchins

Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon Butter
1 onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes, (28-ounces)
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon ground mace
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup fat-free half-and-half cream
Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons snipped dill, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

Melt the butter in a small Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

Saute the onion until translucent, 4 minutes.

Add the garlic and saute until the onions are golden, 5 to 6 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with their juices, the sugar, thyme, mace and cayenne.

Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer the soup until the tomatoes and onion are soft, about 15 minutes.

Let the soup sit 20 minutes, uncovered. Transfer it to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and reduce the mixture to a puree, either pulpy or completely smooth, as desired. Blend in the half-and-half. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve the soup hot, sprinkling one-fourth of the dill over each bowl, if using.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

Calories: 105; Protein: 3 g; Fat: 3 g; Sodium: 586 mg; Dietary Fiber: 0.5 g ; Carbohydrates: 18 g;
Exchanges: 1 Reduced-Fat Milk, 1 Vegetable

Reader’s Forum – Week of April 22, 2013

In response to Op Ed with Bob Branco – They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To, Theresa wrote:

Boy, did you hit a nerve with me. As you stated, the electronic items we purchase no longer seem to be “blind-user” friendly. You simply just can’t open the box, remove the item, plug it into the wall (if batteries do not come with the item or if the item only runs on electric current) and last but not least, you need a sighted person to help you through in order to have the item set up for you to use. Sounds very familiar. For lack of a better way of saying it, I share your pain.

What I find more appalling, however, is that if I state my frustration over such issues to other blind individuals who have seemed to conquer this obstacle, I oftentimes get a run-around and hear statements like “it’s doable.” I invested close to $300 in an iPod Touch last summer
and over $50 in a Bluetooth wireless keyboard at the recommendation of someone, and they still have yet to get with me to help walk me through how to use it. Talk about an investment that could have been put to use somewhere else, or at least, maybe I should have waited? I only know
that by the time I do learn how to use it, a newer version will be out, and my version of the iPod Touch will, for lack of a better word, seem ancient.

Theresa

Op Ed with Bob Branco – Media Overkill

For all of us, especially those who live in the Boston area, this has not been a very good week. On Monday, two terrorists disrupted the Boston Marathon by planting bombs near the finish line, and on Friday night–finally–the quest to capture those responsible came to an end as the second suspect was apprehended.

First of all, I congratulate the law enforcement officials involved with this investigation for the remarkable job they did. I also take my hat off to the civilians who assisted these officials on all levels. What I have a problem with is how the news media seems to take pride in shoving it all down our throats. They continuously repeat footage–video and audio–of gunshots, explosions, blood, carnage, and anything else that I wouldn’t want my child to see and hear all the time. Yes, this was a tragedy, and yes, you can’t keep the events quiet. What you can do though, as a member of the news media, is to report the events without constantly repeating the same thing over and over again. “Here is a video from Johnny’s lap top. Here is the same thing from Suzie’s cell phone, and now we have a different angle from Bobby’s camcorder.” Enough is enough!

I also don’t like how the media hounds witnesses in order to gather information. After the incident at Sandy Hook where young children and staff were killed in classrooms by a maniac, we heard kids being interviewed about what they saw as they were walking by the crime scene. I don’t think little children should be subjected to reporters after such a horrible experience. If I was a parent, I would make sure that a reporter would not go near my child. If children want to talk about what happened, they should be able to do it with their families, and not while a reporter is shoving a microphone and a camera in front of their faces.

I know why the media does this. Each member wants to outsmart the other by getting the scoop first, so they do everything in their power to achieve their goal. I don’t know how to resolve this, or how those in the media should be trained to behave more casually while reporting the news, but I simply find the entire process annoying, unnecessary, and at times incredible insensitive.

Feature Writer Karen Crowder – The Early Years of Roger Cicchese’s Dream of Broadcasting and Sound Engineering

I have known Roger since childhood, we went to Perkins together and both lived in Weymouth, but I didn’t learn how his fascination with sound and broadcasting began until my interview with him.

At the age of seven, much of Roger’s world was the Victor Theater in Weymouth which his parents ran. Roger was fascinated with the theater’s projection booth, “Where the sound equipment was.” He explained in the mid-fifties, someone made live announcements over the microphone about upcoming, “movies and what time the candy counter would close as reels were changed.” As Roger listened he thought, “I want to do this someday.” Soon after he told his dad, “I want to talk into that microphone,” he got his chance and talked about baseball and the weather. As he was an avid radio listener he also imagined doing a show from that booth. When he suggested his idea for a show when kids were on school vacation his dad finally gave him a chance to entertain audiences. He played 78’s from the thirties / forties era donated to him. Everyone loved his show, and parents and adults enjoyed listening to music, “they liked.” He entertained his audience with this show during school vacations and weekends.
During his high school years at Perkins, Roger’s extracurricular activities included joining the Amateur radio club and performing with a group of talented blind students. They performed in Boston and on the TV show “Community Auditions.” These experiences on radio and TV helped to motivate him to pursue his interest in broadcasting.

He made a lasting impression on us as a cordial master of ceremonies for the 1969 Junior Fair. After graduation, Roger had a summer job at a South Shore radio station WJDA. “I did everything while I was there,” he explained. “The station was community oriented,” playing popular music. He met tight deadlines producing a daily hour long news program. In 1969, reports came over phone lines recorded. He produced these shows from “master recordings.”
As a freshman at Assumption College in Worcester, he double majored in English and Psychology and minored in Education. Yet the world of radio followed him as students were talking about starting a radio station at the college. WACR started broadcasting Halloween 1971 as a low power college station. It had diverse programming of music and news.

Students knew Roger liked to perform and they persuaded him to sing at a college mixer. As he told me, the lead singer was awful and Roger humbly asked, “For a chance to sing.” Grateful, he approached the mike as the others said, “let the blind guy do it.” After singing the long version of “Light my Fire” by Jim Morrison he became the lead singer.

As his college days ended, broadcasting and performing became an avocation as he started work as a full time social worker for the state of Massachusetts. He also began teaching English and Psychology on the college level in the evenings. He got his master’s degree in mental health counseling, “thinking there will always be work in this field.”

By the 1980s, his life changed direction again. With an impending marriage, he branched out into sales and technology support. Accessible technology was new; computers would open up a new world for the blind. This work would lead him back to the world he loved: broadcasting and engineering.

In my next article I will detail the companies he worked for and how he and Jane built the studio and business they have in New Hampshire.

Feature Writer Steven Famiglietti – Individualized Admissions Program: Part Four

After several weeks, we were suddenly nearing the end of the program. We had to write a term paper for English and complete a final exam for math class. I had to get an “A” on the math final in order to pass the class. That last week, it seemed like I just did algebra forever. I worked with the tutors and with some of the other students who were taking a higher level math class. We just worked all day and most of the night before the final exam. I also had to write a twenty page paper for English class. It seemed like it was never going to end. But finally, we took our exams and turned in our papers.

On Thursday evening, there was a special dinner for us, which was hosted by Dean Wilds and some of the other university administrators, including the president and Dean of students. As we ate, these individuals spoke to us and told us how proud they were. Dean Wilds spoke and as she neared the end of her speech, she invited some of our professors to speak and give out awards. Someone got an award for outstanding writing, someone got an award for outstanding math, and finally, Dean Wilds gave a long speech about one student who was voted “IAP student of the year.” She talked about how this student was a role model to everyone, how they worked hard all through the program, and how they always had a positive attitude and were inspirational to everyone. Then she announced that I was the “IAP student of the year.” So, I received the award and as I walked up to receive the award, my peers gave me a standing ovation and people were cheering and crying. It was truly an amazing moment and something I never expected.

After the banquet ended, Dean Wilds came back to the dorm with us and we all sat and reflected on our time together. People laughed and cried together and friendships were made that have lasted since those days. People expressed their gratitude to each other and pledged their loyalty, too. Dean Wilds spoke at great length about her experiences in life and about how we would still be able to come to her for support during the upcoming fall semester. She told us to remain strong and to hold onto our dreams.

When I was packing to come home, I was happy the work was over, but sad to be leaving my friends. I was relieved to be finished and more confident of my return for the regular semester in the fall. I think that the IAP program taught me a great many lessons that I took with me to the fall semester. It is important to remember that when I did this program and when I attended college, the technology simply didn’t exist as it does today, and things were much more difficult. The ADA laws were not out and people’s rights were different at that time. I have spent a lot of time wondering how things would be different for me today if I were just beginning my college career. However, I will say that I enjoyed it a great deal and if I had to do it over again, I would, as I have no regrets about the experiences and my educational journey.

Feature Writer Terri Winaught – An Anthem and an Honor

Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on December 14, 2012? I sure do. During much of the day, I was riveted to the TV and horrified by the senseless tragedy of young lives lost in Newtown, Connecticut. Bleak though that December day was, one good thing happened that day.

As an avid Pittsburgh Pirates fan–despite their losing seasons since 1993–I was delighted to attend Pirate Fest that evening. While there, one of the many activities in which I participated was auditioning to sing the National Anthem during the 2013 season. As I walked purposefully toward the stage–cane in my right hand and my left hand resting gently on my husband’s arm–I felt nervousness greeting me like an unwelcome guest I was trying to avoid. Imagine my surprise, then, when I passed my audition and was told that I would sing the National Anthem at the April 15, 2013 game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Saint Louis Cardinals. I felt honored and humbled. I felt blest and uplifted.

April 15, 2013 accompanied me to errands, work, and the game with a chill I wasn’t quite expecting. As I stood waiting to sing, my heart was both heavy and happy–heavy because I had recently heard about the explosions at the Boston Marathon and happy because I was looking forward to proclaiming my pride in America despite her imperfections by using a God-given gift. After a moment of silence to acknowledge those killed and injured at the Marathon, I began to sing, surrounded by a hushed crowd and a beautiful cityscape. The more I sang, the butterflies of nervous anticipation were released from my stomach and I felt only the immersion in doing something I loved. The applause and cheers which followed my rendition of the National
Anthem were heartwarming and overwhelming. I was also repeatedly deeply touched by the people who stopped me to extend their congratulations–even the Pirates President, Frank Coonelly.

The Pirates played terribly that night: in fact, they lost to Saint Louis by a score of 10 to 6. What I will remember instead about that night though is the warmth of being appreciated and the opportunity to give a gift.

Have any of you ever sung the National Anthem or your country’s anthem at a sporting event? Tell us about it in Reader’s Forum.