For your convenience, all Reader’s Forum submissions are separated by the ## symbol.
I enjoyed Terri’s article about Net-By-Phone. I have been using it for over ten years and found it to be reliable and easy to use. Great system!
In response to Eric’s comment, yes it would be so nice if Apple could create an iPhone that is in Braille, but there is a screen protector from speeddots.com that makes an overlay that you can put on the iPhone, I bought one because I am going to get an iPod touch soon, it looks awesome, there is mainly dots on this lay out there are a few at the top and there are some where the on screen keyboard is. They have two models, one is the standard which I have which has all of the dots, and if you are an advanced user you only get a few dots here and there. I got my screen protector from atguys.com for $8.00. I think some time in the future I am going to get a Braille keyboard and a qwerty keyboard to use with the iPod touch since they are Bluetooth enabled.
I wish to comment on “Desire to Learn Improves Access to Online Learning by Hiring Blind Employees,” written by Alena Roberts. A couple years ago I took an online medical terminology course through one of the local community colleges, and my experience definitely could’ve been better. At the time the college used WebCT to deliver all its online courses. I found this platform to be only somewhat accessible. The quizzes and exams themselves were pretty accessible, but the time clock for the exams was not that accessible. Furthermore, I found myself going to the top of the page and tabbing repeatedly each time I needed to advance to the next question. Before going any further here, I should mention the 2 screen readers I use now: System Access to Go and Non-Visual Desktop Access. At the time I was a pretty experienced SA user, but NVDA was still quite new to me and I therefore didn’t feel comfortable using it for everyday tasks. This tabbing around was a bit time-consuming, and I think it really impacted my final grade in the course. Fortunately the Assist office, the college’s office for students with disabilities, was very understanding and offered to have one of their staff help me take these exams. So on the morning of each exam I’d get a ride to one of the college’s 2 campuses from a tutor who works with me. The staff member read me each question and the accompanying answer choices, and I dictated my answers. There were several visual diagrams, even though my professor had previously been notified both in person and in writing that I could not see the diagrams. Sure the staff person helping me out could’ve explained these to me, and some of them tried doing that. But they were pretty complex in nature and it was therefore felt that the best idea was for me to skip over said diagrams. In addition, this professor was less than accommodating when it came to communication. She even falsely informed us that one of the exams was available online for me to take. I actually ended up finding this out the hard way. My tutor had dropped me off, and the staff person went online to look for the exam. She then informed me that she couldn’t find it, and that I would have to go home and try taking it online later that same day. I somehow managed to complete the exam online and have it submitted in the allotted time period. Perhaps this was just a lucky day for me, I’m not sure. But needless to say I’m so glad I finished that course. I was then asked by someone in the Assist office if I would help test out the Desire2Learn platform for accessibility, as the college was going to switch over to it for all their online courses. I told them I’d be glad to help evaluate it, but I never heard back from anyone so I don’t know what the story is with it.
I am one of a small population of blind people with retinopathy of prematurity. I have been totally blind since birth. I have spent most of my time mainstreamed in to public school. My experiences being mainstreamed into public school were a mixed bag. One year I would have a resource room with a resource teacher and a teacher’s aide who also did Braille transcribing for those of us who needed books in Braille. I am happy that I was taught Braille. Without it I
wouldn’t have gotten through college and math would have been much more difficult. In sixth grade, the people who were in charge of my individualized education plan decided with the agreement of my mother that I was ready to be completely mainstreamed, which in this case
meant that I would not have a resource room and the only service that would be available would be an itinerant teacher. This went on until I was in ninth grade. The itinerant teacher I had in sixth grade was excellent. She traveled from one district to another and taught other blind and visually impaired students. My first itinerant teacher Mrs. Crystal helped me if I was struggling with math and she also transcribed my Braille books. In eighth grade she was replaced by Mrs. Obrien. Mrs. Obrien was rarely ever on campus and she only wanted to transcribe but I did learn how to use the computer. I learned to type when I was in second grade. Once I got out of high school, which had a resource room, I was referred to the department of rehabilitation. I went to the Orientation Center for the Blind (OCB,) which at that time was one of the best places to learn
independent living skills in California. Then I moved to another state. At one point I went to this state’s program for the blind and it was quite different. All of us had to be blindfolded. I was blindfolded even though I wasn’t visually impaired. I started to have questions about how well these instructors had been trained. My questions about how things were being done were systematically discouraged. Those instructors who were willing to answer my inquiries gave the following answers. One instructor had had one week of training, another had two weeks of training and still a third instructor had only one day of training. This was very disappointing
for me. However my orientation and mobility skills improved a great deal. I eventually left that program. One thing I have learned about training programs for blind people is that not all programs are created equal and if you are given a choice you should thoroughly investigate any program you are considering.
I don’t like the word sightless. I refer to myself as a blind person. I don’t like being referred to as sightless any more than someone without teeth would want to be referred to as a toothless person.
As far as handicapped placards are concerned, I think blind people should be eligible to get them if they choose to do so. They might come in handy in situations such as rainy and snowy weather.
Sincerely, Elaine Johnson
I want to respond to the reader who complained to the Ziegler about their Convention experiences. I’m assuming they were referring to the Convention of the National Federation of the Blind.
No offense, but you were poorly unprepared. You should have carried a roommate. When others ask for help, you may be told to, “Figure it out!” in an NFB setting. If you get an ignorant comment, don’t listen to it! If you need help, try and fight for sighted assistance.
Your second mistake is also a no-no at Conventions, NFB, ACB, or otherwise: find cheaper restaurants in the area. This requires you to open your mouth. Don’t stay in the hotel all day. Once General Sessions, or the big activities, are over, get some fresh air! It may be July 4, and
you might want to go check out fireworks. Ask around.
And don’t disparage the Federation. You are there to acquire k-n-o-w-l-e-d-g-e. Be yourself; don’t be out of place.
As someone who follows NFB and ACB, you really did not do your homework. I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org.
After reading this week’s edition, I have to make a comment. In my opinion, like all things, a little good has come from the different blindness organizations such as NFB and ACB. Not mentioned in any particular order. However, just as there are different groups or, parties if you will for things of a political nature, it seems to me that they all start with good intentions and then it becomes a matter of the haves, and the have-nots.
Here’s what I wish, I wish I could start an organization of people who weren’t interested in who’s right and who’s wrong, not an organization that would turn away someone who has a dog in one of their centers, or restrict the use of said dog if the dog were allowed at all. Well, how would you cane travelers like to be told you had to check your cane at the door and go always with a sighted guide. Think about it folks, you wouldn’t even be able to, while attending certain events, get up and go use the rest room by yourself. You’d have to inconvenience someone. So these things along with many others are actually getting in the way of the original idea of these groups.
It would seem to me, that what we should do is band together, stand united as blind, and other disabled persons as well. Show that whether you’re extremely overly successful, averagely so, or not yet employed, (And, by the way not being employed does not mean you’re unsuccessful, there are lots of ways to be successful.)
I’ve kind of gotten on a rant here, and I simply can’t help it. People, you say you want to be treated like the average John/Jane Doe but then you start yelling “I’ve got to have it this way because I’m disabled.” Folks you cannot have it both ways.
I call to all blind and disabled organizations everywhere, stop trying to be number 1, stop trying to always be right on every point, remember how we’ve gotten as far as we have, and let’s stand united to continue strong, and successful in whatever way that is for us!
If you’re interested write me at: email@example.com
In Karen Crowder’s article “Keeping Comfortable and Cool During Heat Waves,” she mentioned keeping hydrated with iced coffee. If coffee or tea is decaf, it’s OK; but, if it has caffeine, then it is not going to help you keep hydrated. As a matter of fact, it does just the opposite. The same goes for cola and other drinks with caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic; so, not only does it not hydrate you, you need to drink even more to counteract the effects of the caffeine. Being in the pool can help hydrate you via your body’s absorption through the skin. When the sun is intense, consider wearing a cloth sun hat even in the water. I have a floppy hat that won’t get hurt by getting soaked. I’ve worn it at the beach. I’m not worried about fashion. I’m not going to fry myself.
Thanks for your consideration,
Hello Readers, I am writing in response to a few folks who wrote in regarding my convention article. I appreciate your feedback and will continue to provide material that stimulates readers to write in to the Forum.
To the anonymous writer who, “felt like I had stumbled into a fanatics din. I felt like I was lost, not just physically, but emotionally as well.”
I too felt that way during my first State Convention and it took a long time to go to another convention, to risk the possibility of it happening again. The second time around was much better.
Also, in reading David’s commentary, I am not sure what “facts” need to be proven. I was writing about my personal experiences, not facts.
I’d also like to touch upon something that these two forum submissions touched upon: why do some blind folks feel like other blind folks have more when we all are living with vision loss? Where does the sense of entitlement come from? Blindness doesn’t discriminate, so why are we envious or bitter when hearing about successful blind folks?
Blindness is isolating and we often give in to it. I give in to it when things get tough for me. Please, if you are reading this, don’t give up. We all struggle with the loneliness and isolation. You are not alone.
To Dave McElroy: Dave, I can’t prove you wrong, ‘cause you have the facts. You are right! We need universal website accessibility, and I wonder what is being accomplished in these organizations. We do need protests against movies which would demean blind people, we do need support of the Guide Dog Attack bill and the Help America vote bill. We do need legislation, we need jobs, support with housing discrimination, and about jobs, 84%, not 70%, of working-age vision-impaired alone, as agencies will have us believe are out of work.
We do not have good transportation, we don’t have accessible home appliances. Dave, you are right on target! My best to Pam. I miss you guys!
Peace, with justice, Lucia
To the Ziegler Reader: The Ziegler reader is correct. There is no election of new officers. You are absolutely correct! Aren’t we supposed to be helping, advocating and supporting each other instead of fighting each other?
Yes, shamefully, too many blind people have that air of superiority. There is one also at another organization as well, right here in New York City. It is no one’s fault if they don’t feel they have sufficient skills. People need training, though not a judgmental critical attitude from those who are supposed to support them.
I bet those “top officials” did go with sighted guides! I know what the Ziegler reader means. I’m as “independent” as they come, but for a different reason: I am alone, that’s why. If two people agree, but for different reasons, then, they disagree. No one should dictate to people. It’s not fun. Don’t go. Leave them, go your own way, make friends who will love and respect and support you, and stay cool. Peace!