Reader’s Forum

Reader’s Forum – Week of January 6, 2013

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

Rodney wrote:

My name is Rodney Neely. I am a reader of the Matilda Ziegler magazine, who was born prematurely. I am totally blind as a result of Retinopathy of Prematurity. In order to keep me alive the hospital staff gave me a lot of oxygen, and they didn’t cover my eyes while I was in the incubator.

I am writing this letter to the Matilda Ziegler magazine in hopes of stimulating a discussion about the prevalence of allergies and other breathing related developments in people with Retinopathy of Prematurity. I have had allergies for the past ten years and I have always hated running because I could never breathe properly when I was running. I used to think that this was because I was uncoordinated. But after having some discussions with some friends who also have Retinopathy of Prematurity, I have discovered that these friends also experienced similar difficulties.

I would appreciate any research that you could provide on this topic. Perhaps you might consider asking a doctor, who specializes in treating visually impaired people about this topic. I have done some preliminary research on the internet, but I have only been able to locate articles that suggest that there might be a link between Retinopathy of Prematurity and decreased lung capacity in adults with Retinopathy of Prematurity.

Any studies that you could locate that discuss this topic would be appreciated.

If other readers wish to discuss this topic, they may contact me at blindlion@verizon.net

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Ann wrote:

I’d like to respond to a few of last week’s articles. First, to Steve regarding other graduates and their guide dogs: yes, our class had four dogs from the same litter and all are still working. I keep in touch with the woman who has Verona’s sister. It’s fun and rewarding to interact with other handlers and I encourage all dog guide handlers to do it often.

To Terry about Muffs: I would be interested to try them out, however, I am the type of handler who won’t put my dog’s well being at risk unnecessarily. Taking my dog to a rock concert, for instance, is doing this, in my opinion. I have taken her to musicals and classical music shows, however. My thoughts are, take the white cane and leave the pooch at home if you are going to a location that is potentially dangerous to their well being. Loud concerts are chaotic and can cause dogs pain. Plus, the throbbing bass sound that makes the floor shake can be distressing to them if they aren’t accustomed to it.

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James R. Campbell wrote:

Today is January 6, 2014. We have 359 days left in this year. No doubt, many of us have made New Year’s resolutions. We have resolved to lose weight, stop smoking, or do a million other things.

The word resolution comes from the word resolve, meaning will or determination. We may be determined to spend more time with our families, for instance. But what are resolutions?

Resolutions are promises that are made at the first of the year, all too quickly, however, they are forgotten. A goal would serve us better. A goal is something that we wish to achieve by the end of the year.

Goals are attained in incremental steps. Decide what the goal is, and write down a list of steps needed to get there. As each item is met, mark it, and proceed down the list.

I have found that visualizing the end result and the process involved is helpful. Before I bought my laptop at Target, I visualized the steps that would be involved in learning to use it. I did this during meditation sessions, and began this process before we even went to look at a computer.

Present day peace activist and philosopher Daisaku Ikeda reminds us that those who wake up in the morning with work to do and a mission to fulfill are the happiest people of all. A sense of fulfillment is vital for our well-being and development. Keep this in mind when setting your goals for 2014.

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Maria wrote:

I was very interested to hear about mutt muffs. We went to a club for New Year’s Eve and gosh I wish I had a pair of mutt muffs for my guide dog and a pair for myself. The music was incredibly loud to me. I love music and listen to it quite a lot, but I don’t enjoy not being able to control the volume. Karly, my guide dog, didn’t seem bothered but I certainly was. I will have to check out the web sites and see if they will ship to Australia.
Blessings!

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James wrote:

I am James R. Campbell. I am writing to respond to the op-ed piece in the December 23, issue. Let me begin by pointing out what has been learned from the latest research. The act of showing affection releases hormones and other neurotransmitters that help with the healing processes. These chemicals help to elevate mood, and even boost the immune system. Oxytocin, for instance, is the hormone that aids in the bonding of mothers and infants. It works the same way for the rest of us. It helps develop trust, and aids in the lifting of depression, for example.

Thank you Bob. I agree that the good guys are being punished for the actions of those whose only interest is in tearing down the social fabric of our society. We need more people to take up the cause, and speak out, as you have done.

It is my firm belief that the isolation in our society is the reason the overall mental health of our society is so bad. Well meaning doctors treat those of us who suffer with medicine, and while medication has its place, science has shown that those who have a social support system find their medication is more effective. Add a hug to your prescription, things will go better. I have found that to be true. When my cherished Aunt and I have a difference of opinion, or I make a mistake, I will not go without giving her a hug. It sure helps.

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Lucia wrote:

I would like to respond to those who did not understand why I am so appalled at the fact that Cecil Williams fell from the subway platform. I am glad he will be well.

Here’s the problem! First of all, the dog is supposed to guide its handler safely! That is first and foremost and cannot be overstated. Schools that train dogs to work as guides must train the dogs on double-sided platforms! Dogs must be trained not to treat the platform edge as a curb, but to walk between the pillars on the platform. Yes, I did donate to a school, but then, they used to train the dogs on double-sided platforms. Note that schools change, and this training had occurred years ago. Yes, I did raise “mucho bucks” but I can only believe in a school if they are training dogs on double-sided platforms.
Of course I am questioning the integrity. It is mandatory that handlers visually impaired and blind be safe with our dogs! My standards are high! I don’t know that the schools are doing training on double-sided platforms. When are the dogs first exposed to the platforms? This must occur prior to a student receiving his dog at the school!
People who do not see the situation, the way I see it, should “write a new book!”

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Wesley wrote in response to Bob Branco’s op-ed on affection:

While I generally agree that the pendulum has swung too far away from affection and physical contact, I also support and understand why such affection can be labeled as offensive. As innocent as a six year old boy may be, what about the young girl? Did the boy ask to kiss her hand? Did she offer her hand to him to kiss? I have seen plenty of so called acts of affection which are not wanted by the receiver, and it is the receiver who defines whether the affection is acceptable or actually an intrusion of their personal space. Regardless of a person’s age, innocent or not, boundaries are critical. Thus while in his mind he simply wanted to share affection, in her mind she didn’t desire his affection. No, means no, and what one person may deem as perfectly acceptable is not acceptable for another.

I will provide an interesting alternate example of this: recently I attended a workshop, where I introduced myself to the speaker. When I went to shake their hand, they refused. Instead they bowed. I was a bit shocked by this, as it was totally out of the norm. However, I fully respect this person’s custom of bowing versus shaking hands. I could feel insulted, or I could simply accept that their manner of greeting is different than my own.

Now, I will add an additional thought for consideration. In some European countries it is common to kiss a person on each cheek when greeting and parting. This is regardless of their sex, whereas in America it is common to kiss only between a man and a woman, woman to woman, but not between a man and a man. I have no idea how these various customs diverged, but it is clear to me that these are moving targets.

So by today’s standards, from my perspective, even a six year old kissing a girls hand may very well be an intrusion and deserve punishment. At some point we must all learn that each of us is unique and each of us has our own set of boundaries. While these may not match yours or mine, they are still rational and must be observed by others.

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Gerardo wrote:

Responding to Mike’s December 30 Readers Forum in which he briefly states how an iPhone apart from blind-friendly, changes lives, I’d like to share my experience: Yes since the 3GS came out in July 2009 with Voiceover, I was hooked! I listened to podcasts as they came out and through iOS’s updates, thus I kind of was versed on what to expect when in July of 2012, I debuted with an iPhone 3GS! It’s totally one thing to listen to podcast and visualize like I did, on a surface, my Nokia phone or other flat items, how to move through the iPhone’s gestures, but having the iPhone in your hand? It’s totally different! It took me several months to start feeling confident and flowing with workings of the touch screen on my iPhone, but now nearly a year and a half later, I wouldn’t change my iPhone for anything! Aside from Whatsapp, Twitter and other activities that sighted people use, thus permitting me joining them to be in the Social network craze, I listen to radio via TuneIn, use my iPhone for Emails apart from the general phone functions. So any of you still a bit hesitant? Take the plunge!

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John wrote:

Greetings,

I beg to differ with the writer in Reader’s Forum who stated the history of Christmas is found in the Bible. It is not. The birth of Jesus Christ is described, but He was not born on December 25th. Nor is there anywhere in Scripture where the word Christmas appears. Christians are nowhere encouraged or commanded to celebrate Christ’s birth. While it is a momentous event, Christians are instead exhorted to commemorate Christ’s death and burial through what is traditionally called communion or the Lord’s supper.

John Wesley Smith
Hallsville, MO

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Gerardo wrote:

Responding to Feature Writer Alena Roberts – The Year of the Book, as a new Bookshare member, it’d be awesome to have all the access you guys in the US have! Yes the number of books now available is great (nearly 67,000), more than I’d dreamed having at my fingertips before, especially for continuing both practicing my English and enriching myself both personally and professionally (I’m a Psychologist). My question is who would need to ratify the treaty so we international Bookshare members have total access to Bookshare’s collection, the US or in my case, Mexico? It’s certainly an indescribable feeling of being a part of humanity to have equal access to books! Great job Bookshare!

Reader’s Forum – Week of December 30, 2013

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

Terri wrote:

Two Ziegler contributions on which I would like to comment are Valerie Moreno’s piece from Monday, December 16, 2013, and Bob Branco’s Op Ed fromm Monday, December 23rd, 2013.

Having attended the Overbrook School for the Blind with Linda Hudson, I found Valerie’s piece a well written and moving tribute. Even had I not known Linda, the situations Val described and her descriptors for sharing them, would have made Linda jump out of those pages like a long lost friend.

As for Bob Branco’s Op Ed about the 6 year old boy in Colorado, I couldn’t agree with him more. When I think of “sexual harassment,” I think of bad behaviors like fondling or inappropriate touching but certainly not the affectionate gesture of kissing someone on the hand as an act of kindness.

When I was 7 in 1961, I met singer Neil Sedacka whom I absolutely adored! This renowned singer ended our meeting by kissing my hand. Should I have run to my parents and exclaimed that I had been sexually harassed? At that age, I wouldn’t even have known what that term meant, just as I’m sure that this innocent Colorado youngster still has no idea what sexual harassment truly is.

Please don’t get me wrong: I’m not saying that the little girl did anything wrong either if, in fact, she told the teacher or however the teacher found out. What I am saying instead is how much more important it is to address truly bad behavior rather than transforming an act of innocent affection into something it was never intended to be.

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Zerline wrote in response to Lucia in last week’s Reader’s Forum:

For years Miss Lucia raised mucho bucks to support the particular school that Mr. Williams got his dog from. Now she is going to question how they train their dogs? How dare you bite the hand that you once believed in and relied on for your mobility.

If I was the director of training and you applied for services from my organization and I had read your article I would turn you down. All schools here on the East coast give their dogs ample training on subways and even Metro North. So to here that Miss Lucia is questioning the integrity of what the school is doing makes my blood boil.

Everyone that I have talked to about this situation says that it’s a tragedy, but anyone could have fallen when suddenly you don’t feel well or you lose your balance. I’m glad that Mr. Williams is going to be fine and hopefully some good will come of this, but to put down a school just because maybe the person didn’t feel well suddenly and lost his balance is going a bit too far in my book.

By the way, he’s going back to the same school to get a new dog soon. I’ll also be returning to this same school.

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Albert wrote:

I am not sure where Lucia lives, or what school she intends to attend when getting a guide dog, but rest assured that all the schools on the east coast in fact train their dogs for subway travel to the best of my knowledge.

Cecil got Orlando from Guiding Eyes in New York State.

Lucia stated “Nobody focuses on the quality of the training of the dogs at the schools that train dogs to work as guides. Evidently, the dog had never received subway training. ” Lucia how can you even attempt to make such a generalized statement like this without knowing just what Guiding Eyes, the Guide Dog Foundation, Seeing Eye or Fidelco does with regard to platform training, either double sided or not?

Lucia also stated, “I have one question! Why ever was Mr. Williams that close to the edge of the platform? Why was his dog so close to the edge of the platform?”

The answer should be clear as day to anyone who is familiar with how guide dogs are in fact trained on any and all train or subway platforms. First the platform edge is the line of least resistance for a guide to travel with their handler, and is in fact the correct place for a guide and his handler to travel. Imagine trying to weave in and out of the crowd on a very busy double sided platform? It would be disastrous.

I would love to hear back from Lucia about the school she chooses, that does not train its dogs in the very same fashion as those I mentioned above, so I can avoid them like the plague.

Any school that teaches a different protocol for navigating subway platforms would have to work very hard to convince me the way that I and Cecil, and nearly every other handler working the subway system in NYC, navigate train or subway platforms.

I caution everyone from making such general statements, because not every school is as bad as was intimated in her post.

Perhaps Lucia can do more research about this very critical consideration, and get back to us with regard to which schools agree with her seemingly misinformed position on protocols for traveling in subways and or train platforms.

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Ann wrote:

I would like to respond to Lucia’s comments regarding the training of dog guides on subway platforms in the December 23 edition. I think Lucia is misinformed about how dogs are trained and how the schools handle the team’s training. We were tested and re-tested during our training. Even before this, in the home interview, the field representative evaluates your home environment and the types of transportation you commonly take so they understand your traveling needs and match you with the best dog for you. I, too, suffer from dizziness due to night blindness and my dog helps me stay safe when I feel disoriented. When on a train platform, I trust my dog to stay back from the warning strips as she was taught. If we are too close, she pulls me away and only proceeds to the train when she knows it’s safe, otherwise, she will refuse my command. I think Lucia may not understand that a dog guide will do their best to keep you safe but that there will always be situations, like in Mr. William’s case, where even the dog’s best efforts weren’t going to help.

I truly wish that if Lucia would have checked with other dog guide users before she made her comments because they are simply not true. I would be happy to speak with her regarding Guiding Eyes and the training program to provide accurate information regarding our dogs and how they are trained to travel in urban surroundings. My email address is:dungarees@optonline.net

I am the graduate council president and can say that Cecil and Orlando are doing well and recovering from their ordeal. The staff from Guiding Eyes has been helping Cecil with managing his needs and those of his dog, Orlando. Guiding Eyes is like a big family and I think they are doing a wonderful job supporting Cecil in this time of crisis, I think that both Cecil and Orlando are heroes and I am proud of the fact that they were matched and trained at Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

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James wrote:

I feel compelled to respond to Robert’s Reader’s forum piece that he wrote in the December 23 issue. I can only hope that what I wrote about my friend helped at least one person; if this is the case, they my mission has been fulfilled. For the record, I suffer from clinical depression, anxiety, and PTSD as a result of my dysfunctional family. I am on medication, and function well most of the time. My view of mental illness is the same as blindness, it should not keep us from doing our part to make our society a better place to live in. In fact, my view is, and always has been that those of us who live with these conditions every day as I do fare far better if we participate in our society to the greatest extent that we can. I do not let my blindness, or depression, keep me from speaking out on those issues that matter. In fact, this is one way of coping. If I hear a story on the news that bothers me for some reason, someone will hear of it, either in my poetry or in a piece such as this. Not everything that I write is about blindness, and there is good reason for that. We are not islands, living in a society unto itself. With the world as it is, it cannot wait for our contributions to it. In my view, this requires that we look beyond our disabilities and become part of the larger game plan. That applies to mental illness as well.

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Michael wrote:

A while back, someone said that the iPhone is not blind friendly. I just got the iPhone, and it has totally changed my life. It is very blind friendly.

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George wrote:

I would like to respond to John Christie’s article “The History of Christmas.” First of all, the history of Christmas can be found in the Bible in Luke 1 and Luke 2. John mentioned the birth of Jesus of Nazareth after Santa Claus… this is totally inaccurate. All of these other events happen because of the birth of Christ or the very first Christmas. We have our calendar and are in 2013 AD because of the birth of Christ. The Greek Empire was BC (Before Christ). We have the sharing of gifts and the enormous spending of
money worldwide because of Christ’s birth, not Santa Claus! 25% to 40% of businesses depend on Christmas sales because of Christ’s birth. Without Christ there would be no Santa, etc. Finally Christmas is a time when families travel great distances and spend much money to be with their families on this special day. Again this is because of a small Mom and Dad who went to Bethlehem and while there Mary delivered a baby named Jesus Christ who would forever change the world. Although it is late and perhaps not politically correct since the world prefers Santa over Jesus… I trust all the Ziegler
readers had a very Merry Christmas in 2013.

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Juliette wrote:

I love Jane Kronheim’s writing and particularly enjoyed her article on her early piano encounter. I have some thoughts on her literacy article, namely, by just listening, we don’t learn spelling, paragraphing or other essential writing skills. And perhaps, I’m somewhat of a snob, but I tend to judge people poorly who don’t spell or use correct grammar.
And, somewhat related, in listening to those wonderful digital talking books that I love, how much of what I think of the novel I’m reading is influenced by the person narrating that book? Would I have thought differently had I read the same in braille and it wasn’t acted out so superbly by the narrator? Finally, I enjoy Roger Cicchese’s articles so much! His last “Fools Rush In,” I thought was a very clever piece of fiction he created but, maybe not! I also loved his Christmas bells story but wondered how he read the braille music and rang the bells at the same time!

A happy and healthy New Year to everyone participating in this great magazine!

Very sincerely and with much gratitude,

Juliette

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Sandra wrote:

I want to respond to the message regarding Mr. Williams falling off the train platform. I read a lot of the interviews as well as listened to many of them on the news. It seems that he did faint. I sincerely hope he is feeling well soon. I do agree, it is strange that the dog had him so close to the edge of the platform but, witnesses did state that it looked like the dog was trying to pull him away from the edge but Mr. Williams was already too weak and disoriented to follow the dogs guidance. That dog had definitely been trained for subway travel as it was, I believe from Guiding Eyes. A guide dog of eleven years had probably been working those train platforms for approximately nine years. We also have to wonder if that particular train platform had the tactile warning strips along the platform edge so a blind person would have a definite clue they had gotten too close to the edge. We also have to consider that if the platforms are crowded it is difficult for the dog to always get through the crowds. If Mr. Williams intends on entering any train stations with his current dog, I do hope he requests an evaluation from his guide dog school first just to ensure his safety. I also hope that Mr. Williams can overcome any residual fear and anxiety he may have after such a traumatic experience. Nobody who saw it happen can actually say for sure how the dog went over the edge as well. I can only assume that when Mr. Williams went over he was still holding the harness handle so the dog fell with him. I commend the train conductor for being able to slow and stop the train so quickly. All I can say is that it is a miracle that both Mr. Williams and the dog survived. I wish him a quick recovery so he will be able to be physically up to training with his new dog when the time comes. I am also very pleased that he can now afford to keep his retired dog with him. All of us guide dog handlers face that decision when our dogs retire. Many times it is the large vet bills for an older dog that make it impossible for us to keep our retired dogs. Mr. Williams, as well as his current and future dogs will remain in my thoughts and prayers. Let us all thank God that their lives were spared. What a Christmas miracle.

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Bill wrote:

I want to comment on the piece by Bob Branco on affection. It is a sad state of affairs where we have come to regarding showing affection. Granted there are sexual predators out there but to get punished when a little boy kisses a girl’s hand is ridiculous. I believe that the consequence of not showing affection with each other is that people have become disconnected and distant with each other. I think it is the reason why people don’t care about each other either.

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Anthony wrote:

In reference to Roger Cicchese, Fools Rush In. I had a similar experience. I was late and I was rushing. I could only see blurry colors at the time. I got to the corner seeing the light go green. But I stopped, seeing something to my right. I turned to look and saw next to me what looked to be a whitish-blue figure of a man. At this point all hell broke loose. Horns were blaring, tires were squealing, rubber was smelling and metal crunching. I turned back to see what happened. I then looked back and he was gone. I had the impression it was my best friend Ron who had passed years earlier. I believe in Guardian Angels how about you?

Reader’s Forum – Week of December 23, 2013

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

Karen Crowder wrote:

I liked Jane Kronheim’s article on the validity of audio literacy. I also appreciated Roger Cicchese’s article about how Christmas gifts can change our lives.

I frowned on using Talking Book machines until I was seventeen. Depending on Talking books was an inferior substitute to turning pages of novels or textbooks in Braille. However, at seventeen, when registering for services at the Commission for the Blind in Boston, I was pleased when I was offered a Talking book machine. I listened to all its simple instructions read by the wonderful Talking book narrator Robert Donley. I immediately ordered the literary classic Wuthering Heights hoping it would capture my imagination, as Jane Eyre had. It did not, it was disappointingly different, and lacked the engaging plot Jane Eyre had.

Throughout the summers of my sophomore and junior years I read literary classics, such as Gone with the Wind, Up the Down Staircase, Blackboard Jungle and Ray Bradbury’s short story collections Machineries of Joy, The Illustrated Man and the October Country. The terrific narrators for these texts engaged my attention. I also used Talking books for term papers or schoolbook reports.

When cassette books began appearing in Talking book topics in the early seventies, I began reading them. Unfortunately, a few early cassette books were of varying quality. My copy of Brave New World was of poor audio quality. The recordings kept on fading in and out. However, this was the exception. I enjoyed reading The Patch of Blue and Door into Summer, both on one and seven eighths cassettes. When15/16 speed two and four track books appeared in the mid and late seventies they were popular with many blind children and adults. I did the majority of my reading for college and pleasure with audio books.

A wider variety of material was available on cassette and talking books, and cassette players and recorders were portable. I did not abandon Braille, but discovered that I could be literate with audio books

Roger’s article about receiving his reel-to-reel recorder brought back memories of Christmas gifts which changed my life forever.

At eleven, I was elated to receive a Perkins Brailler as my big gift Christmas morning gift in 1960. It was one of the last gifts I would open, and I have the wooden case it came in. Throughout these past fifty-three years it has enriched my life and has been of invaluable importance throughout my academic and personal life. I wrote my first lines of poetry, drafts for term papers and stories on it. I still have this sturdy machine; I am grateful my parents made sacrifices to buy it.

His article made me reflect on how gifts change our lives. Until the next Reader’s Forum, may all Ziegler readers have blessed holidays.

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Lucia wrote:

I wish to comment on a particular incident that transpired on Tuesday, December 17, 2013. A gentleman, Cecil Williams, of the Bensonhearst section of Brooklyn, NewYork, actually fell from the subway platform onto the tracks, along with his guide dog.

Mr. Williams is recovering at St. Luke’s Hospital, Manhattan, New York. He sounds weak and in pain, but thankfully, he is able to speak, understand speech, and function. I am happy that Mr. Williams will be well.

But there is a problem. It was reported over the radio, and in our local paper, that Mr. Williams “fainted” and that he is diabetic. This may be true, but, the way I see it, there is more to the story.

I have vestibular paroxysmal positional vertigo. Often, I have stumbled on the subway platform, but I have never fallen from the platform onto the tracks. (Forget about Access-a-ride, the Para-transit service, they never showed up and then called me a “no-show”). I have one question! Why ever was Mr. Williams that close to the edge of the platform? Why was his dog so close to the edge of the platform?

Newspapers and radio reports focus on the donations the school that “trained” this dog will receive, and on how Mr. Williams will get a new dog, and will retain his present dog, who was with him at the time of this tragic accident.

Nobody focuses on the quality of the training of the dogs at the schools that train dogs to work as guides. Evidently, the dog had never received subway training. The question is, when was the dog first exposed to the subway platform? And not just the subway platform either: the double-edged subway platform!

You can bet that the school I will be attending trains the dogs on double-edged subway platforms even before the dogs are assigned to us at the school!

I have a problem! Vision-impaired and blind people better start complaining about the “services” they receive from organizations that claim to “serve the blind,” or nothing will get better in the way of quality of life of blind and vision-impaired people.

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David wrote:

As regards Tim Bowers, I am glad he could make his own decision, but I was saddened that there is little hope or seemingly little hope for such a spinal injury. Christopher Reeves chose life, but even he did not walk and I so thought he would walk again one day. Maybe stem cells can help. Ann Chiapetta summed it up well, as did Stanley. The item certainly was very thought provoking as seen by the number of responses.

As to comparing blindness with this severe injury, most sighted fear blindness above everything, even AIDS and cancer, or so a counselor once told me. I think quality of life regarding blindness depends on several factors; geography, health, ability to work in a supportive or challenging job, and family life. Not all have these things and not all consumer organizations are supportive. There should be more to life than learning a mobility route. Resources vary and Rehab services vary greatly among the states. I really do not feel Louisiana, at or near the bottom of every list you can imagine, is a good place for blind people.

I found the article about the tape player interesting but wondered if the author knew how his parents managed to get him a tape player after they had said they could not. I have an acquaintance who records everything. He really annoyed me once. He apparently recorded me saying something, not quite flattering, about a past teacher, and reminded me of it years later. I wonder how liability works in this instance. I think this fetish of his to record anything and everything in a sort of reality-show mentality is creepy, a bit vampiric, an audio thief.

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Lucia wrote:

I agree wholeheartedly with Danni, and all of us should agree with Danni! Blindness or visual impairment, while a disability, are not tragedies, and do not justify a decision to end one’s life. Rehabilitation is great! I loved it! Yes, Tim Bowers’ sister was a nurse, and, too often, nurses and other medical “professionals” make the wrong assumption about visual impairment and blindness. Danni is right: blindness or visual impairment, while a disability, cannot compare with the disability of being on life support, nor can it compare with some of the other disabilities. We are disabled, but less so than some of the people with other disabilities.

Ziegler readers! If you don’t have your healthcare proxy, your living will, or as it is called “advanced directives” get it quick! Designate two people as your healthcare proxies, so if you are ever unconscious, in trouble or seriously injured, unable to render a decision about your life and its quality, the healthcare proxies you designate will respect your wishes, and tell the Medical “professionals” that they are legally obligated to implement your wishes as to your quality of life. This is critical! There is a form to fill out to create a living will, but really, get legal assistance if possible, since this is more valid and more binding than a simple form. Whatever your wishes are concerning quality of life, make your wishes known! Living wills go like this: some of the questions are; Do you want, in the event you are unconscious; nutrition, hydration, ventilation, resuscitation? Do you want abortion? Do you want psychosurgery, sterilization, or ECT? (Electro Convulsive “Therapy” or “shock treatments”)?

I say this since many medical “professionals” assume that blind people should receive either no treatment, or less treatment, and professors of bioethics want to kill disabled persons. One is Peter Singer, of Princeton University.

I know this sounds a little paranoid, but this does not mean that what I am saying is untrue. So get your healthcare proxies and your living will, or “advanced directives” in order and on your person. Sign it and date it with witnesses present. It will do you no good in your drawer.

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Regina wrote:

In response to Bob’s Op Ed: How the Blind and Sighted are Perceived: this issue is similar with most visually impaired persons in the world at large. I have always differed with a lot of people here at home, the sighted, who have perceived me in the same manner just because I can’t see. You can imagine, even your children or sisters or brothers take it just the same; they don’t believe you even if you feel that you have done the right thing, they will always remain on the contrary side. Each time you make a mistake, they will take it this has happened because you are blind; but when a sighted person acts the same, it will be an accident like you mentioned in that topic. If a blind person looks untidy, sighted persons will always take it because he or she is blind. This has made me to look tidier than a sighted person should. Each time I’m called upon to read in Church on Sunday, people will always remain astonished as if they have seen something very strange. Let’s continue educating the sighted world that despite our disability, we are all human beings carrying about everything in a very human form.

I would like to comment on the Gift of Literacy by Jane Kronheim. Literacy really counts in someone’s life. Like here at home in Zambia, Africa, only a person who is able to read and write is considered to be literate. Now, coming to myself as a blind person, who is able to read and write by the use of Braille skill, surely, I’m literate so to say; because with my Braille skill, I can read just as many books as possible, making me proud of my Braille which has allowed me to match with the sighted so-called literate world. Yes, with the advanced technology giving audio access to the visually impaired people for instance, enabling them reading many books as well is applauded. However, I still feel that both audio and printed Braille material should be utilized; otherwise, literacy for us blind persons will remain half-baked. Thanks to Louis Braille for making me, a blind person, be counted in Society.

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Robert wrote:
I was very moved by James R. Campbell’s article about his friend who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. There is a great deal of mental illness in my family. I have three cousins who are mentally ill, and two of them took their own lives.

I work with a helper via phone on the Internet. He is Schizophrenic. But his medication keeps him doing fairly well. He is extremely bright, and excellent at helping me. If he has an off day (which doesn’t happen often) I call him when he is feeling better.

I pay him for his help, and he appreciates the stipend, and I appreciate his help.

Thank you, James, for a moving, kind, thoughtful piece.

Reader’s Forum – Week of December 16, 2013

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

Lucia wrote:

I wish to comment on something mentioned in a Reader’s Forum quite a while ago, but this is of paramount importance. This has to do with the title change from Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic to Learning Ally.

The reason for this change is due to the fact that dyslexia is not the only learning disability wherein people cannot read print. A friend who is knowledgeable informed me of this and I had a feeling all along that this friend was correct. There are other learning disabilities which prevent a person from accessing printed material. Hence, the new name “Learning Ally.”

Unfortunately, two individuals, who shall be nameless, ranted and raved, claiming that this change in name is due to “shame” with reference to blindness. This is a fallacy. These nameless individuals do not have a right to an opinion. We do!

People must never judge, criticize or make assumptions before verifying and learning the facts. People say that “it is the blind speaking for themselves.” I think not.

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Danni wrote in response to: Feature Writer John Christie – Man Decides to Take Himself Off of Life Support:

Before Bowers made a decision to live or die, he should have met with other people who were in a similar situation. In this way, he would have made a more educated decision.

I have to absolutely disagree with this whole statement! Who says he didn’t make a very educated decision? His own sister, a nurse, was there and supported his decision and for all any of us know he could have already expressed such a decision long before this happened!

Imagine if someone became blind and they saw no hope in life and didn’t know of other people who were already blind and this person, like Tim, decided to die. The blind person who decided to die could have lived a better quality of life with rehabilitation and other people as role models.

I really do not understand at all how blindness in any way shape or form compares to being paralyzed and trapped to machines??? I am appalled that this comparison has even been made!

How do you feel about Tim Bowers?

I feel that he made the best decision for himself and no matter how selfish some may think it was, it was and always will be his decision and I am so glad he was able to make it and relieved his family from such a difficult decision!

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Bob Branco wrote:

Dear Readers,

I was wrong about the number of members in the Blind and Visually Impaired Professionals LinkedIn group. There are a total of 1,464 members as of today.

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Ann Chiapetta wrote:

I’d like to respond to John Christie’s article in the December 9, 2013 issue titled Man Decides to Take Himself off Life Support.

In it, John writes: “Before Bowers made a decision to live or die, he should have met with other people who were in a similar situation. In this way, he would have made a more educated decision. Imagine if someone became blind and they saw no hope in life and didn’t know of other people who were already blind and this person, like Tim, decided to die. The blind person who decided to die could have lived a better quality of life with rehabilitation and other people as role models. How do you feel about Tim Bowers?”

First, I think comparing a person who cannot breathe or move independently to someone who has suddenly become blind is like comparing apples to oranges. Yes, they are both devastating, tragic and life changing events but someone who is blind is still functioning at a much higher level. If I were this man, faced with living on the edge of life and death, completely dependent on machines, I would consider pressing the button. I have met with other quadriplegics and some have said they think about suicide all the time. I also realize that folks can become horrified if they even entertain the idea of being blind. There is no easy answer to this situation and that is what makes it a tragedy. End of life issues are never neatly packaged into what ifs, and while I think this story is both poignant and tragic, I also understand and accept this man’s choice to end his life, which many would say is no life at all, being on life support is merely existing.

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Regina wrote:

I wish to comment on John Christie’s story about a man deciding to take himself off of life-support machine. Tim Bower was hurt in a car accident which left him paralyzed severely almost throughout the body. We hear that doctors have confirmed that his life will not be the same again, and that he will remain on the wheelchair for the rest of his life. Life is a God-given precious gift; hence, no one here on earth is supposed to overrule taking it away from you apart from God Himself who gave it to you. Being disabled in any form is not the end of the road; the only medicine is to accept yourself in every situation you are found in and remain positive about it, and life goes on.

I would like to thank all those people from different countries world-over that are mourning with us in Africa the death of a great man and a Father of Africa, Mr. Nelson Mandela who passed on last week Thursday. He is one out very few leaders not only in Africa but the World as the whole who showed the true leadership qualities. I just hope that other leaders will emulate Mandela’s examples and put them in practice for the better world.

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Stanley wrote:

Tim Bowers was given terrible support and awful advice. Instead of being asked difficult and impossible questions to answer shortly after his traumatic and devastating accident, he could have been given a chance to recover with loving and tender support around him. He could have been introduced to and told about the hundreds of people who are quadriplegics who live satisfying and rewarding lives as spouses, parents and grandparents. He could have been introduced to many individuals whom I know personally who would tell him that parenting is among the most joyous activities of their lives. He could have been encouraged to wait, recover as much as possible, experience his life and become a fulfilled person with a disability, which, while having limitations, can also be handled with love and caring support. By the way, as blind people, we are very sensitive when anyone questions our quality of life. We should be at least as careful as we want others to be.

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Abbie wrote:

This is in response to John Christie’s article about the man who decided to take himself off life support. For six years, my late husband Bill lived with partial paralysis as a result of two strokes. The only things he could do independently were breathe, eat, and operate his computer, radio, and talking book players. It sounds like Tim Bowers couldn’t do even that.

I wonder. Did John Christie ever meet anyone in Tim Bowers’ condition who had a good quality of life? I doubt it. It’s true that people who are blind, deaf, or suffering from other physical disabilities can still have a good quality of life.

As for Tim Bowers, I applaud his family for allowing him to make his own decision. I’m sure it was hard for them. It wasn’t easy for me when I finally had to move Bill to a nursing home after caring for him for six years. About a month later, after a downhill battle, he stopped eating. He died three days after that. I could have insisted the staff use whatever drastic measures were available to keep him alive, but I knew he was tired of living with the use of only one arm and leg so I let him go. He and Tim Bowers are both in a better place. I have to believe that.

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Roy wrote:

I think the decision Tim Bowers made was very courageous. Comparing Tim’s situation to someone who has lost his/her sight is like comparing apples to televisions. Nothing in common at all. The person who has lost their sight is not on a ventilator and is able to function in every other way except the eyes do not work anymore. Deciding to let oneself die is not easy. I’m sure many readers have thought of ending their life at one time or another but couldn’t go through with it and I’m glad they didn’t. This was a man who obviously lived a vibrant, fruitful life and that came to a total end. Rest in peace, Tim Bowers.

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David wrote:

Concerning LinkedIn and Bob’s article: I’d be curious to know who is teaching the class to access LinkedIn. I can visit there, but don’t really understand the website. It’s like Facebook in that it’s elaborate, with lots of bells and whistles. I become easily mentally fatigued trying to sort it all out. I am fascinated to hear of the over 14,000 blind professionals on there. Some blind people are obviously very gainfully employed.

I’d skin any kitty that snatched my turkey. Bad Aleksander.

Reader’s Forum – Week of December 9, 2013

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

Eric wrote:

Sandra, where on earth did you get the following: That Albert was disruptive? According to all 35 passengers on board the US Airways jet, the flight attendant lied. That Albert was disruptive? No, he requested a move to another seat?

I have to ask you another hypothetical question: If you were on the ground for 2 hours, and your dog was becoming uneasy, and your dog got up without warning, what would you do? Everybody knows there could be poor weather, engine trouble, or mechanical problems. The flight attendant, not Albert, was disruptive. Be retrained or be fired!

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Dennis wrote in response to Danieli:

I will get to work and insure that you will have Portuguese talking computer games. You see, a special friendship exists between us since we are both broadcasters! Merry New Year, Happy Christmas!

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Juliette wrote:

To Tammy and James and … anyone else: I hate the commercialism of the holidays! I’d love to spend them in another country, i.e., England, Spain or Greece, to see and feel the difference. By the way, if anyone wants a hoot, pick up Tom Waits CD Small Change and listen to his hysterical “step right up!” Enjoy and happy holidays!

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Lucia wrote:

I wish to comment on the subject of Mr.Albert Rizzi and the situation with the way the airline acted with respect to his guide dog. We don’t know that this gentleman became verbally abusive when he was asked to place his guide dog under the seat. How do we know this? We don’t!! We know the airline was verbally abusive. I always try to be pleasant. But this is a two-way street. If people are unpleasant, what do we do? Especially, when they are “in authority.” Sometimes, I just want to be in a box, or under a pillow.

Easy, easy, Sandra. How do we really know that? With reference to the guide dog situation on the plane, do we know for a fact that this Albert became “verbally abusive” with flight attendants? Life is unfair. I try to be pleasant, yet, four family members have turned against me. So I leave them. I try to be pleasant, but yet, the superintendent in our building has on 2 separate occasions, threatened me with eviction, if I go to the building for the blind. Hence, I don’t go. It’s a long story, and I tell anyone who will listen.

Naturally, flight attendants will (I don’t want to use a four-letter word like “lie”), so I’ll say that flight attendants will tell the story as they see it, but, the way I see it, life is unfair. A visually impaired or blind person, (Terri, I’m sorry I forgot again,) a vision-impaired or blind person, could be polite and courteous, gracious too, but a sighted person too, can “mess it up”. It’s not just us. As comedian Richard Pryor put it, “when they say “Justice” they mean, “just us.”

Yeah! David’s right! It only takes one ignorant driver, and a not-so-supportive passenger, right on, David! Say it loud!

##

Albert Rizzi wrote:

Dear Ren,

In your weekly edition of December 2nd, there was a response from Sandra commenting on the unfortunate incident that happened upon me and my guide dog, and 35 other people on a US Airways flight on the evening of November 13th.

As supported by 35 independent witnesses, at no time, during the 1.5 hours we sat on the tarmac, did I ever become abusive or verbally argumentative with the flight attendant or the crew. Sandra seems to be intentionally blind to what the 35 other people, not just me, said happened that evening.

Additionally, Sandra implied that I did not take the time to self identify as a traveler using a guide dog. She is totally wrong about that. I self identify with every airline I travel with. I include the same in all my travel profiles, and the flight attendant and I met in the terminal prior to boarding. So everyone was well informed about my options for mobility. Sandra is sadly mistaken if she is attempting to discredit me in that manner. How Sandra has missed that point, made time and time again, in one interview after another, tells me she is not listening or wanting to listen to the facts as they are.

Sandra is intentionally not listening, as there never was a seat in front of me. I never had the tools to succeed at the task put before me by the ill mannered flight attendant. If Sandra was on the flight that night, knowing her as I do, I think she would have suffered the same outcome.

Oddly enough, many of the new found friends I now have because of that night asked why didn’t we just trade seats? Simply put, the tension imposed upon all of us that night, by the flight attendant, precluded any of us from considering even making a suggestion of that magnitude. I for one did not, because I did not even know that there were 7 other empty seats where I and Doxy could have sat comfortably and in a manner that was required of us.

Sandra, I have traveled no less than 10 times this year, and consider myself a seasoned traveler. Can you say the same? My experiences, traveling as I do, never prepared me for what I was exposed to that evening.

I try not to question or impose upon the authority of the flight attendants or crew. To that end, it is their call as to whether they want to recommend alternative seating, deviating from the manifest as prepared, well in advance of my getting on the plane, and addressing my travel profile as a handler who travels with his dog. Sandra is misinformed and in my opinion commenting without truly knowing the facts.

I am also in total disagreement about her take on how my standing up for myself, and having 35 other people stand up for our community, and handlers all over the world, could be interpreted as anything other than empowering and uplifting for the community. I feel my actions and the actions taken by the people on the flight that night, more than adequately represents the blind community positively.

I know I represent our community with pride, as evidenced by the national attention, both on radio and TV wherein a positive light on the blind community was cast, so much so, that the past Assistant Secretary of Labor, Neil Romano suggested I speak at the very first Airline Transportation Access Conference to be held on December 10th in DC. I doubt anyone who did not represent his community, and the disabled community positively and properly would have been asked to accept this national honor.

I read Ann’s article that Sandra was responding to, and nowhere in that piece did I read any of the outlandish points raised by Sandra. She seems to have read a totally different article, and I for one, would like to read what it is she was in fact commenting on.

Shame on you Sandra for allowing your misinterpretation of facts shared all around the globe to be skewed and twisted, and for the record, if the basket you refer to as being the one we all get lumped into, includes narrow minded perspectives like yours, than please put me in a box.

Thanks to the tens of thousands of people who are able to see the truth about that night and for not being intentionally blind about the facts as they have been presented.

And thanks to the Zeigler for asking people of all abilities to sign the petition started by the ACLU. Doxy and I wish all of you a Happy Holiday season. Peace.

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Betsy wrote:

I know young man who works at Google and he said that the self-driving cars are not allowed on side streets. He has never ridden in one but has kept up to date about them.

They are allowed on major interstates because there are no stop lights and people do not turn off except for exiting. I would be willing to try one of the cars. In my mind there is not a difference in riding in one of those cars and trusting my 14 year old to drive me on the interstate. I have been through two of them so far. My first one was 15 but the next two were 14. With the law here in Georgia I have to sit up front in the passenger seat.

My kids said they could tell when I finally felt comfortable with their driving as I would fall asleep. That took several months, though.

Reader’s Forum – Week of December 2, 2013

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

Eric wrote:

Regarding Ann Chiapetta’s article last week: I am with Albert Rizzi’s crew here. The flight attendant was out-of-bounds; you always accommodate someone to a new seat if a guide dog team is restless. It’s my hope that the blind around this nation, (Do I have a witness here?) will stop being so divided. Air lines must be educated, and we are to be
educated about what is, and is not, acceptable in boarding. Southwest Air Lines does not have assigned seating.

Before some of you ask me what I should’ve done, let me remind you that I am only limited in the monies I carry on my person and I do not always trust cabbies. Computer malfunctions are no excuse for stranding blind passengers! There should always be Plan
B: Find someone in the area, (trusted) that can get you to your destination.

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Danieli wrote:

About Bob Branco Article about inconvenient question: I like to hear those experiences in USA Because I live in Brasil and I thought that in other countries, people would not make those questions to people with disability. Because for me, ask to someone, no matter if with or without disability, how he goes to the bathroom, how he makes love… it is disrespectful, rude.

About games, I would like to know if there are audiogames in Portuguese?

About Disney, I think Disney parks are too much visual. There are many things the blind cannot touch, therefore, cannot see. They should have a special attention for the blind, for so they can touch things. Those who see can see the castle. But we cannot. When I was there, I would have liked so much touch the castle, but the security did not allow me to approach. It is stupid! Because if I paid for the ticket like others, I should be able to see everything. I say the same thing about museums. I was in the Natural History Museum in Washington, and I could not touch the biggest diamond, because it was behind the glass. OK it is so valuable, but they must understand the only way the blind can see is touching. So, every museum should allow the blind to touch everything. Because if others can see, we have this right too. The same thing happened at another museum in Washington. Once, here in my city, in Brasil, there was a Barbies exposition. Many Barbies with different styles. They were behind the glass. But the expositor took the glass off and allowed me touch in everything, making me so happy because I love Barbies!

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James wrote:

I am writing to respond to Tammy’s comments about the commercialization of Christmas. As stated in the poem, Good Night America, we have been lured from the most important priorities in life by what we are promised by the stores. What will we remember when the broken toys are discarded, and the appliances finally give up the ghost? The most meaningful thing about Christmas is when family gets together; I grew up in a fractured, dysfunctional family, one side fought over who would be invited, and the gifts they bought. My cousin Nick has a good idea. Let me begin, however, by seconding yours. How would the stores like it if people didn’t show up for the bargains until the Monday after Thanksgiving? Nick has suggested that we buy from locally owned businesses instead of the giants I referred to, and one family refuses to buy gifts at all. They would rather create lasting memories, like the kind we had last year at my brother-in-law’s house. I heard about this on HLN, and thought what a breath of fresh air, pass it on. It would be interesting if we could find out how many people did it just that way, for once. I remember the Christmas of the year that my sister died; my aunt and I got our gifts from my cousin Courtney that morning before they left for Oklahoma, and later that day, we had George Foreman grilled round steaks and loaded boxed mashed potatoes, and were happy with those. For one year, I got my wish: we didn’t go all out on the extravagant stuff for Christmas dinner. Don’t you just love it??

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Barbara wrote:

Regarding Theresa Petrey’s Two Different Worlds, I can identify totally. While my school friends remember out loud things I don’t, and again, when my family recalls events from my childhood that I don’t, I say, in both cases, “I must not have been there.” It makes me feel that part of my life that might have been is missing.

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Sandra wrote:

I would like to comment on Ann’s article about the blind man being put off the plane. It is our responsibility when we make our reservations, to let them know we will be traveling with a guide dog. I know many blind people do not like to do this. However, I have found that it makes things go much more smoothly when I arrive for the flight. They know to be expecting my dog and they have saved a seat with adequate room for her. The other issue is that Albert became verbally abusive when he was asked to get his dog under the seat.

We all know it is a FAA regulation that all aisles must be kept clear at all times during a flight. I have often sat in the back bench seat that was described by Albert. I always take off the harness handle and my dog fits just fine under the seat in front of me. If the dog didn’t fit, then it is my responsibility to bring it to the flight attendant’s attention so another seat can be found. I have often had situations when other passengers have been asked to change seats with me so my dog can be out of the way. By Albert getting angry and shouting at the flight attendant did not resolve anything. It is behavior like his that makes it look bad for all other blind people traveling with guide dogs. Please people, let us all remember to act mature and respectable at all times and to be sure our dogs are under the best control and not in the way of anyone else or out in the aisles where they could cause a tripping hazard. Remember, the general public lumps us all into one basket so the poor behavior of one of us results in a negative impression for all of us.

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Marilyn wrote:

The day the music died was not referring to the day Kennedy was killed, but 3 Feb 1959 when the plane crash killed Buddy Holly., Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper (JP Richardson).

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David wrote:

I think Eric meant poorly prepared, not poorly unprepared, when they couldn’t ascertain where the driver was, because her computer was down. No offense, but they were poorly prepared. She, (the Dispatcher) should have found another way.

He could, I suppose, arrange another method to attend these football games.

The guide dog plane incident sounds ghastly. But I am AMAZED! That the passengers backed Rizzi. That blows me away. I recall once being refused by a New Orleans city bus driver. My dog, he said, needed a muzzle. One bystander offered to help me go to Walmart to get a muzzle. I think not! I later checked and learned the law had been changed several years ago. But some ignorant drivers may not have recalled being told this. You never get away from ignorance as a disabled person and it only takes one screwball to jack you up and not-so-supportive bystanders to worsen things.

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Roger wrote:

This is a response to several folks who commented on my emergency room article in the reader’s forum.

Hello readers. Thank you for your many comments regarding my “emergency room article”. It seems as if it stirred up lots of thoughts and ideas. By the way the article is absolutely true! I chose not to mention the location of the hospital where this occurred to avoid the possibility of a lawsuit. You see, I still have to go there occasionally for treatment and things are improving.

Reader’s Forum – Week of November 18, 2013

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

Terri wrote:

In the November 11th Readers Forum, Lucia wrote about the importance of persons who are blind or vision impaired asserting their rights as other groups have done, and I couldn’t agree more. Thank you, Lucia, for your well thought out and written comments on that topic.

In addition, I would also like to thank George and Patricia, both of whom wrote me personally with questions about the Sprint phone I discussed in last week’s issue.

I am always eager to hear from fellow readers either personally, in the Reader’s Forum or both.

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Elaine wrote:

I would like to comment on the article about songs that mention the word blind or make reference to blindness. There are many different kinds of blindness such as intellectual blindness and spiritual blindness. The song by the Teddy Bears that was mentioned has nothing to do with physical blindness or blind people. The song has to do with mental understanding. The girl in the song is saying that someday this guy she loves will understand that he was meant for her. I think some blind people give sighted people a bad impression more than the lyrics of any song.

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Bob Branco wrote:

I would like to respond to those readers who put their trust in self-driven cars. My concerns have nothing to do with distractions, the human element, or drivers who would rather text. My concerns have to do with the imperfection of a machine that we have to put all of our faith and trust in. Bridget is absolutely correct! How do we find this car when we leave the shopping mall? It could be the twenty-fifth car in the tenth row of sixty-one cars in a parking lot, or maybe it got a ticket because it parked in a handicapped place without a placard in the windshield. Does the car have a mind of its own when it sees a parking lot or the adjacent side street, and how would the blind passenger know where to go in order to enter the building unless he’s told or is able to program the car to park where he wants it to park? That can be extremely complicated because every single destination has a different parking plan, and we may not know some of these parking plans to begin with. I believe that if you put two cars on a road, one self-driven and one not self-driven, the self-driven one will more than likely crash first, simply because it has fallible parts. If humans wouldn’t text while driving, consume alcohol before driving, or daydream or sleep while driving, they would be as careful with cars as we all want them to be, and I would trust those situations a lot more. Any circuit could fail at any time without advanced warning. At least if you are with a human who texts, is drunk, or wants to fall asleep, you would probably know about it.

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David wrote:

Educating the Nonsightless: It was said in the November 11, 2013 issue that “we can complain or we can see the sick humor and do our best to educate even in adversity. It is our choice. Let us choose wisely without eyesight and demonstrate a little insight.” While I concur with these sentiments, I do not think that while suffering a migraine one should be expected to endure sick humor and play the “let’s educate the public” game. I used to think that with the efforts of the more vocal members of NFB and ACB aided by the rapid dissemination of information on the Internet, we’d soon have a 100% saturation. This is sadly not the case! I don’t feel that my efforts have done any good. I sometimes read in church using braille materials. I have spoken to school classes about guide dogs (when I still had one, that is.) I have patiently explained about talking computers and suffered through the most trying of questions and feel it’s like plowing the sea. It seems no one listens to explanations of how I perform daily tasks. They usually want to know if I was born blind. I was not. That seems to make them feel better. So I know what red or mauve is. Woohoo! I can’t mystify them with echo-location abilities. I’m not that good a bat. I don’t have magical hearing. My other senses did not suddenly become preternaturally keen! Drats! I grant it’s not easy being blind. It’s not something I’d have chosen, but it is doable. I think there are too few blind people as a percentage of overall population, and each has a different skill level, so we may never hit a tipping point that will cause a saturation of knowledge in society. Some blind people are extremely successful and others struggle. I’m not sure what makes one succeed and another fail. It’s not college GPA. Perhaps, knowledge of braille, travel skills, sighted spouse, luck. Just not sure. I suspect brains. I suspect that the IQs for the really successful ones run higher on average than their sighted counterparts or maybe they are more proactive, manipulative, …

Self-driving Cars and Faux Independence: I refuse to be beaten up by the independence meme. I am not a bad person if I need help. I think the interdependence model is best. So many independent types just get help in a catch-as-catch-can manner. I don’t really care to wander around the airport and eventually snag a bystander. Yes, it’d be a good time to educate the public again. But when I’m traveling, I really don’t have time to play teacher or hear how amazing I am just to be out breathing and walking. I won’t muddle along in a crowd as is the fashion at some of the conventions in a manner described by one blind nerd as Brownian Motion. I won’t have a sighted colleague talking to me en route to anywhere while I frantically ask questions to keep him or her talking so I can tell myself I walked here myself to avoid committing the Lèse-majesté of sighted guide! I think self-sufficiency is good. I wonder about the liability of these self-driving cars. If one causes an accident, who is at fault: the blind driver, the manufacturer of the equipment, both, neither? I’m sure the ambulance chaser lawyers will have plenty to say on that one. I’d hate to be at the wheel when things go wrong and depending on my limited sight to try to fix them in the split seconds before a major smash-up. I love my friends, might even like to drive them places, but don’t want to be responsible for injuring them. I’d hate to entrust their lives to technology. We all know how flawless it is, how great voice recognition is, how perfectly the GPS gives directions, and how hacker-proof it all is. I’d be curious what the Freakonomics guys might say about this scenario. I’ll let the blind daredevils out there beta-test or is that test drive this amazing automotive technology. It’s just so new. I think of early aviation and the accidents and the steep learning curve. Self-driving cars just sound too good to be true. I have been around long enough to recall how the rapid advances in technology were hailed as magic for the blind and how everyone would have jobs. I’m older and more cautious now. It’s too hard to find qualified techy types to help you. When you do find someone, he or she often assumes you have more knowledge than you do and can become impatient when you don’t catch on quickly. It must be nice to be a tech genius and make a mint from an expensive piece of niche-market software. I wish I could. There are opportunities out there, but one must be very creative to extract benefit from them. Out-of-the-box thinking doesn’t hurt either or mega-networking.

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Tammy wrote:

I am writing because I feel like Christmas has gotten way too commercialized. Some department stores and discount stores have announced they are opening an hour earlier this Thanksgiving. Therefore, those employees can’t spend time with their families. I think the best way to put a stop to this before it becomes an all day thing is for people not to show up at the mall or any other store that chooses to do this. I would like to know your comments on this.

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Eric wrote:

In response to Bob Branco’s op-ed piece, “Are We Hooked On the Computer?” The answer is an emphatic yes. Right now, (November 11), Kari Steele, voice over image voice for KOST 103.5 radio, and midday air personality, uses a computer to load songs. What if the computer went down? Well, there is backup. Not so much of a problem solved! Unless you have to use the CD player!

I recently had to make a trip to a semipro football game. The computers were down at Omnitrans Access Services in San Bernardino. There was an incredibly long wait, to find out where my driver was. I had taken the Metrolink Inland Empire-Orange County Line into San Bernardino. My ride was for 6:00 P.M. I had called to let them know that I was ready at 5:20. It wasn’t until 5-35 that I got Dispatch. The GPS wasn’t working, so she
couldn’t ascertain where the driver was, because her computer was down. No offense, but they were poorly unprepared. She, (the Dispatcher) should have, immediately, sent a taxi out to get me. There was no one at the Train Station who was going over to San Bernardino High School. Luckily, I got picked up, but after 6:50!

The GPS also failed me again on November 7. I was headed toward Orange County, also on Metrolink; this time, I used the Orange County Line. I was ready for my 6:40 trip to Glover Stadium for a high-school football game between Anaheim and Katella High Schools. When I called Orange County Access Services, I was told the GPS was not working. I was offered a taxi, not by OCTA, but by passers-by. I declined, because my trip costs $3.60. I got picked up an hour later but my trip was on the house. Free! And
again, no one was going over to Glover Stadium.

Now if paratransit services had backup plans, not going so far as to strand passengers, then we would be better off. But without a computer working? That is ridiculous folks!

##

Joyce wrote:

Several years ago I badly sprained my ankle. When I was in the emergency room, my ankle, which was very badly swollen, was examined and subsequently xrayed. The doctor came to me, said it was not broken, and added here are some crutches for you to use. I was with my Seeing Eye dog, and said: doctor, if you can show me how to use crutches with my dog I will be glad to try. His response was to walk out without another word. The nurse asked me what I planned to do and I suggested a support cane, which she got for me. That worked fine. Many years after that I broke two bones and dislocated my ankle. I was pleased to receive very good treatment that time at the emergency room.

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Roy wrote:

While reading the article about the emergency room visit the only thought I had was that this story had to be made up. I’ve been totally blind all my life and have been to the ER several times and at several different hospitals around the country and I have never, ever, ever been treated like that. I’ve always been treated kindly and patiently and have never been mistreated or made fun of because of my blindness. If this is a true story that is the ER visit from hell.

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Jean wrote:

After reading about the emergency room experience I think it is time to circulate this again. It is not the greatest training video ever, but it certainly addresses some of the more obvious (to us) issues. Send it to EVERYONE you know – sighted or blind, in the medical profession or not. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlP7mCr3LmQ

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James R. Campbell submitted a poem, titled “Good Night America”:

Good Night America, how are you?
You don’t know me, I am one of your native sons.
I am one of many with a thousand questions,
That we must answer for ourselves.

Go quietly amid the day’s leftovers,
That remain after the Thanksgiving feast.
This day was once ours,
A time of rest and respite.

But the ads in the sales papers
That come from near and far.
Have lured you away from what matters most,
The simple pleasures in life

The holidays were once a time set aside,
For simple pleasures with family and friends.
If we honored this tradition for one year,
Then, for that year, we would regain what we have given up all too willingly.

Go quietly amid the day’s leftovers,
And if you choose to line the pockets of the giants.
At least, remember those who lack,
What money can’t buy this holiday season.

Reader’s Forum – Week of November 11, 2013

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

Eric wrote:

Regarding John Christie’s article on faulty service by Verizon: The service I got from MCI, predecessor to Verizon, was very demeaning and condescending. To put it in a nutshell, I was put through bait and switch, both in 2004 and 2006. MCI promised “The Neighborhood,” AT&T’s answer to unlimited long-distance. Right away, I noticed that for every service call assumed to be “free,” I had to pay for it. In 2006, I got a call, begging me to switch back from AT&T to MCI. Like a fool, I said yes. The second time,
not much changed. I couldn’t call a few party lines, because, in their infinite wisdom, MCI blocked them.

I really got annoyed when the phone bill came, and I did not get free directory assistance, something AT&T offers to all disabled people; the Neighborhood was a rip off, and I could not completely use Call Screening, to block all annoying calls. So I was stuck with paying $350!

I also understand that Verizon’s services for cell phones have also deteriorated. So that’s why I’m comfortable with AT&T for my landline, and Sprint Boost Mobile for my cellular service. Verizon? Goodnight now!

Responding to Anita’s comments in last week’s Readers Forum: I’m sure the lady who wrote in, only wanting to give her Skype address, might have meant well, but is both nonsensical and trifling to do so. Many of us read the Ziegler through NFB Newsline, so we cannot use a link to write you back.

For the safety of those who want to write you, you should please use an email address. Some of us want to contact you via cell phone or landline. We’re not saying this to hurt your feelings, we want you to be safe. We want no predators to be stalking you. Anita is right. So please help us!

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Terri wrote:

I’d like to start by welcoming our two new feature writers Roger Cicchese and Jane Kronheim.

To start with your article, Jane, I just couldn’t agree more with you about the need for interdependence. While I agree that the ideal is to function at one’s optimal level of independence as a person with blindness or vision impairment, I don’t think that optimizing one’s capabilities has to mean that a person never needs help (nor should it). Fresh out of high school and right into college, I felt just that way, though, because those were the messages I received from my school, Overbrook School for the Blind, in Philadelphia. If what seemed to be conveyed about independence and blindness wasn’t what was meant, well, that sure is how I perceived and interpreted, and I don’t think I was alone.

Welcome again, Jane and Roger, and keep on sharing your perceptive insights.

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Karen wrote:

I wish to compliment our newest feature writers Jane Kronheim and Roger Cicchese on their articles. I wish to respond to Bob Branco’s thoughts on driverless cars.

In Jane’s article where blind students were encouraged to attain autonomous independence, I agree there are serious flaws in that philosophy. While using Braille displays and computers help blind students keep up with classmates, does it foster interdependence? In my teen and young adult years, I began learning an important lesson. The true sign of maturity is when, with trepidation, you admit that you need help. This is a sign of humility, vulnerability and courage.

I liked Roger’s article about his confidence and competence in tackling a difficult task. I also liked the humor he used in relating what could have been a difficult situation between him and the apartment inspector.

I must disagree with Bob Branco’s view on driverless cars. Some features of driverless cars are already in high-end cars. When looking at October’s consumer reports, one of the 2014 models speeds up or slows down in heavy traffic. There is another, older, high-end car, which finds the best parking spaces for their occupants. It will be ten or fifteen years before we will have fully autonomous driverless cars on our roads.

Will we see the vision of science fiction writers like Arthur C. Clark had of sitting back while these cars drive us to work or leisure activities during our lifetime? While we see the beginnings of this, it is our kids and grandkids who will reap its benefits. What an exciting future: elderly people with failing eyesight will be able to drive at night. Blind teens and adults will have licenses to drive. Gone will be the excuse of “I can’t get there because of lack of transportation.” I believe blossoming technology will make our children’s future better than we can dream.

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Jake wrote:

I wish to respond to Cheryl in last week’s Reader’s Forum, about screen savers. I love the idea of endless lines of Braille! To add to that or as another option, I think it’d be cool if someone invented a screen saver with all the TTS engines and their respective voices babbling away at each other. The American-English voices as well as those in other languages could be featured. I’m talking both the robotic ones and the more natural-quality ones. Then we’d have a whole chorus of men, women and children, plus all the novelty voices!

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James R. Campbell wrote:

In recent issues of the Ziegler, much has been made of the need to educate the public regarding our capacities as blind persons. I am glad that this topic has been receiving the time that it so richly deserves. It is long overdue.

I agree with those who prefer dialogue and interaction, I have found that my neighbors and others respond much better to dialogue and education than they would a hostile, defensive attitude. The latter actually harms our cause, rather than helps.

The holidays are just around the bend, and I am still disheartened by the stories I hear on the chat lines from blind friends who have family that either put them in a corner, or treat them like porcelain figurines. Both approaches are wrong. There is a better way.

During Thanksgiving dinner last year, my cousin Courtney, who is sighted, asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I told her I wanted something that money could not buy. When she asked for ideas, I told her I wanted love for those who didn’t have it. I told her about this one woman whose family wanted nothing to do with her.

Courtney was taken aback, she could not, for the life of her, understand, how a family could mistreat a blind or disabled member in that manner. But it happens all the time. I am fortunate that I can cook, for example, if not, my cherished Aunt and I would go without most nights.

I had a cashier at WalMart who wanted to put the sacks in the basket, but I told her that I could do it, although I appreciated her offer. I put the food up and prepare it when my Aunt comes home from Daycare.

The more we can do as individuals, the more self-reliant we are, and this, in turn, makes us able to help our families and friends. This makes our families, our neighborhoods, and our communities at large, better places to live.

##

Bridget wrote in response to Bob Branco’s Op Ed – Self-Driving Cars? Not For Me!

I have to laugh when people tell me someday I will be able to go where I want with these things. My first point is ok, so I get in the car, I go to the mall by the GPS. Does it park itself? So maybe it does. Well, where did it park? Where is the door? Did it park by Sears or Boscov’s? So I manage to get in the mall. Now I come out and like most people I stand there and wonder where the car is. All articles I have read said that a licensed driver must operate the car. So now I have a self driven car and still need to have a driver? It is for the lazy. It is for the people who are done thinking. Ask a person who uses GPS to go around the corner. They are now unable to find themselves out of a box. Do math? Forget it. Before losing my sight I didn’t even use cruise control. Computers do what they want. Just look at the auto fill functions, geez. I agree; not for me or realistically for the blind.

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Debra wrote:

I am responding to the article about self-driving cars. I say “Bring them on!” I would be willing to test one if I were offered that privilege. I would love to be able to pick my friends up and take them places. As for the computer malfunctioning in the middle of the road, to me, that would be just like any other car accident. One never knows when traveling what will happen. You take risks when you travel, or when you do anything for that matter. Traveling in a self-driving car is a risk I would be willing to take, because it would be another measure of independence, and independence is one of the most important things in my life.

In response to the article entitled “I’ve Always Wanted a Fan Club.” I am so glad about the outcome of this!! I used to live in a government subsidized apartment, and I always absolutely hated the annual inspections!! I considered it an unnecessary invasion of privacy. That inspector got what he absolutely deserved!!! I hope that others who live in this type of housing will also stand up for their rights!

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Casey wrote:

I have to say I agree with what Jane Kronheim discussed in her article regarding independence. Although many pieces of technology, such as i-devices and anything with a touch screen, are helpful for many blind and/or visually impaired people, these devices are not for everybody. I, for one, do not like the idea of using a touch-screen device because I do not think it would be as easy for me because I have never worked very much with such devices. For two, there may be people with other disabilities which impair their dexterity in their hands or sensitivity to touch. I firmly believe that although many blind and visually impaired people use these devices easily and are good at learning all of the gestures required to operate the menus and things, many people still require assistance with certain things, be they touch-screen devices or whatever the case may be.

Independence is wonderful to have, but I think that rather than independence being pushed onto blind and visually impaired individuals no matter if multiple disabilities may be present or not, I think that it should be discussed but not so much pushed as taught on an individual basis.

I have my beliefs as do others, and all opinions are definitely respected by me. I am just stating my own.

##

Wesley wrote:

Given that mobility is one of the biggest hurdles to independence for blind people, I am totally excited about the various companies working towards the sale of driverless cars. Google has long been in front on this project, with a fleet of about 10 cars that have been equipped with a LIDAR laser radar and a Velodyne 64 beam range finder laser. These components allow the vehicle to generate a detailed 3D map of its environment. The car then takes these generated maps and combines them with high-resolution maps of the world, producing different types of data models that allow it to drive itself. Having driven over 300,000 miles on roads, primarily throughout California, these cars have had zero accidents while under control of the driverless system.

Several other companies are working on autonomous vehicles, including Toyota, Mercedes, Ford, and Tesla. Several high end automobiles have already incorporated features similar to a driverless car, such as collision detection, and self-parking. Since a response time from a computer is much faster than a human, and the ability for a computer to actually detect objects over a wider visual field, it is very apparent to me that we would be able to literally eliminate accidents with the use of autonomous vehicles. However, at this time the cost is prohibitive, clocking in at over $150,000 for the systems installed on the Google cars.

While I won’t rule out the possibility of electronics failure, I will note that much of our manufacturing is run using robotics, which repeat tasks tirelessly. Planes are flown using automation, traffic signaling is automated, communications routing is automated, along with thousands of other tasks in our complex society. There is a staggering difference between a home computer and a dedicated piece of software and hardware that effectively manages one task, driving a car. A home computer is prone to a horrific amount of human intervention, during which viruses can be introduced, or configuration conflicts can occur. Meanwhile, a dedicated system isn’t prone to meddling, although it will require updates as roadways change and other improvements are made, such as the use of RFIDs to locate neighboring vehicles, and correlate their routes to make lane adjustments and speed calculations.

In March 2012, Google posted a YouTube video showing Steve Mahan, a Morgan Hill California resident, being taken on a ride in its self-driving Toyota Prius. In the video, Mahan states 95 percent of his vision is gone. He goes on to say “I’m well past being legally blind”. In the description of the YouTube video, it is noted that the carefully programmed route takes him from his home to a drive-through restaurant, then to the dry cleaning shop, and finally back home.

Nevada passed a law in June 2011 permitting the operation of autonomous cars on their roads, which went into effect on March 1, 2012, and the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles issued the first license for an autonomous car in May 2012. The license was issued to a Toyota Prius modified with Google’s experimental driverless technology. As of April 2012, Florida became the second state to allow the testing of autonomous cars on public roads. Shortly after that, California became the third state to legalize the use of self-driven cars for testing purposes as of September of the same year.

I am of the exact opposite mindset from Mr. Branco. I look forward to using driverless cars to get around our large cities, designed for automobiles. While I wish our cities were designed differently, I must accept that they are made for cars, and as a legally blind person, I must use the best resources at my disposal to live an independent life. When driverless cars become available for sale to the public, I fully intend to purchase one to freely travel across this country! For any blind person, I believe these cars will provide enormous freedom to access careers, shopping, vacations, entertainment, socializing, and generally getting around just like any sighted person. In fact, I believe these cars will do it better, since they will effectively be accident free, and theoretically shouldn’t get lost!

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Lucia wrote:

Dear Terri,

I have a reaction to your article on “Song Lyrics and Blindness.”

There was a classic rock song, played on our local classic rock station WAXQ (q104.3) by Dire Straits, called “Money for Nothing.” There was a word in that song, “that little blank got his own jet plane,… that little blank is a millionaire” That word was quickly removed from the song. We have to do the same thing. We have to employ that same type of activism.

Too often, people believe that if you are visually impaired, you are stupid! (I keep forgetting to say “vision impaired.” You are right.) Family members of too many visually impaired and blind people just don’t want them. This has been an attempt to clarify and crystallize what is occurring.

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Roy wrote:

In response to Bob Branco’s article about self-driving cars: I would actually trust these self-driving cars more than I would cars being driven by people. Self-driving cars aren’t distracted by texting or talking on the phone or by attractive people both passing by or on billboards. Self-driving cars also won’t be propelled to do dumb things because of road rage.

Bring on the self-driving cars and I’d love to own one and use it. Oh, the places I’d go. I hope it happens in my lifetime. It’s looking good.

Reader’s Forum – Week of November 4, 2013

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

Terri wrote:

Having forgotten to mention this last week regarding my article about Charles Allen Crane, I want to acknowledge feature writer Anne Chiapetta for inspiring me to further research and write about this awesome man from Canada and his contributions to accessibility to students with blindness or vision impairment.

I would also like to comment positively on what Karen wrote in Reader’s Forum (Monday, October 28, 2013). I couldn’t agree more that the best way to educate members of our society who are sighted is by using both kindness and humor. While there is nothing at all wrong with failing to accept help that is offered if that help is really not needed, I feel firmly that this refusal can be done graciously. For example, one of my frequent ways to indicate that I don’t need help is to say, “No, I don’t need any help, but thank you for asking, and you’ve already helped just by asking.” I also appreciated Karen’s assertion that it can sometimes be a good thing to accept help even if you don’t need it because it can inspire a conversation with someone who is going blind and also give that person a sense of feeling needed.

If our mission as persons who are blind or vision impaired truly is to educate, then let’s do it with gentleness, humor, and in ways that project us positively.

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Cheryl wrote:

I think it would be great fun if some blind technicians out there developed a screen saver that would display nothing but endless lines of Braille dots — the Gettysburg Address, the Hippocratic Oath, the Los Angeles phone directory. I’ve just learned that my own screen saver depicts marshmallow people who float across the screen. Not crazy enough!

I have no prejudice against people who are light dependent, but wouldn’t it be cool to drive them nuts with lines and lines of refreshable dots that appear to make no sense??

##

Anita wrote:

I wish people would put their names in pen pal ads, and not just a Skype ID or what have you. Before anyone says they don’t feel comfortable in doing so, let me suggest that that if this is in fact the case, than I’m not sure why they’re hoping anything they write for example would be considered publishable material in the magazine anyhow! Being cautious is one thing, but not knowing who to ask for when using a messaging program or placing a Skype call in my opinion is nerve racking and thoughtless on their part!

Reader’s Forum – Week of October 28, 2013

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

Cheryl wrote:

I would like to hear from job-seekers who use JAWS and who apply through Career Builder, beyond.com, etc. I recently had a sighted computer trainer visit me to see if my complaints about these sites were real or if there were navigation techniques I didn’t know. What we found:

When checking boxes to indicate my education, we learned that the box which spoke the word “no” actually was the “yes” box. So all my responses would have been incorrect. In addition, JAWS failed to read or even indicate a whole section of the application.

So, what do other Ziegler readers do when they must navigate difficult job applications? I have no choice but to pay people to do this work so it will be done quickly and efficiently. Please respond in the magazine or e-mail me at wadecher@msu.edu.

##

Nelson wrote:

To anyone who calls the Tell-Me telephone numbers across the nation. I’m in Florida and the number I used to call seems to have been disconnected. If you have working numbers from the state you live in, if it’s a 1-800 number or a 1-888 please share it with me and all of us so we can continue getting the scores of games news updates and more. You can also E-mail me: carebear40@bellsouth.net

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James wrote:

Now that the government shutdown is history, I think it’s time we examine the quality of leadership we are getting in the United States.

On a scale of one to ten, I would rate the quality of leadership at two. Our United States treasury is spending nearly one trillion dollars more than it takes in every year. We as a nation cannot afford to spend more than we take in indefinitely. Simply stated: big government cannot determine its priorities.

When conservative legislators attempt to have a rational discussion about this, they are called names, such as legislative arsonists, hostage-takers, and terrorists. During the shutdown our present president called his opponents terrorists and hostage takers. One decade ago these names were reserved for our enemies overseas, who actually performed these activities. Therefore, I believe the quality of our political discourse has hit an all-time low. I believe that we in America deserve much better than that.

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Abbie wrote:

I’m writing in response to Lynne Tatum’s article regarding adaptive software to help with social networks. I use the system access mobile networks socializer. It works well with Facebook. I can easily read status updates, post comments, and open links. You still have to create an account, change your profile, and write on friends’ walls on the main page or m.facebook.com. The socializer can also be used with Twitter and Skype, but since I don’t use these programs, I don’t know how it works.

##

Eric wrote:

Regarding Zerline’s comments: Zerline, Mr. Calhoun here. I concur with you. Sandra, let me ask you a question. If I ask for assistance to get across the street, why is it that ignorant people tell me that I need a dog? By that logic, the same logic, if a sighted person asks for help, they get helped? Think about it: in 5 months, (March 21,) I will be 40 years young. What difference does that make? I was born blind. Why can’t partially sighted people have guide dogs?

I’d like to leave you with one more question: If you got the opportunity to rescue a Labrador, Golden retriever, or German shepherd, why wouldn’t you pass it up? Some of us should consider dog rescue, and give those dogs a second chance at life. Just another option to consider, instead of going away to get trained, especially if you cannot afford it or cannot stay away from your community.

When should you stop your advocacy? Answer? Never! This has been proven time and again by the California Council of the Blind on touch-screen voting machines. In Alameda County, a lawsuit is winding its way through the courts. The Alameda County maintains that blind people don’t need the assistance of independent voting machines, they can get the help of a sighted assistant. At the CCB Convention, it was announced that CCB has asked the case to go forward, and the judge concurred with CCB. The County filed a “motion to dismiss,” which has been denied.

We need to hold counties above reproach when IVM’s aren’t working, and for when there are glitches, or when there is no backup IVM. Congratulations, CCB!

##

Karen wrote:

In the Reader’s Forum some Ziegler readers have been critical of questions sighted persons ask us. I believe there is a more positive way to approach sighted people’s silly and well-meaning questions.

Through interaction and experience I have learned approaching these questions with patience, humor and kindness is superior approach. However I have not always believed this.

As a young college student and a new member of the NFB I had a markedly different point of view. Wasn’t the organization’s philosophy that members should demonstrate how independent we were? I adopted a new approach when sighted students and adults asked me if I needed assistance with mobility issues. With moderate impatience and “I can do it myself” attitude I often refused assistance.

I soon learned this approach was alienating and now ask if I need assistance. I started using the approach of educating people, which I did before joining this organization.

When living in a senior citizen apartment complex I learned that many older people wanted to feel useful when asking if I needed assistance. They were upset when I turned their well-meaning offer down. I learned to accept help, thereby striking up interesting conversations.

Throughout the years I have enjoyed answering people’s questions. I have tried to educate sighted people about how I cook, do laundry and even understand a perception of color. I now empathize with people who have age related vision loss.

I have educated people with my writing and the questions my instructor asked help me clarify my writing when describing how I do everyday things as a blind person. People do not know how we cook, do laundry, match up clothing, put on makeup, or manage money. As part of a course, on schooldays I was a guest speaker. I delivered a ninety minute speech, part of it being a question and answer period. I described my years at Perkins using the book the history of Perkins as a resource. Time flew by as people asked me loads of questions. Everyone loved the speech and the upbeat way I gave it.

So instead of criticism and anger, use kindness, patience and humor when approaching the sighted public. It goes further; you may make friendships, start interesting conversations and help someone who may be losing their vision. As the adage goes “you get more people with honey than lemons.”

Thank you for reading.

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In response to Bob Branco, Edward writes:

One day, my managers scheduled a meeting at room 410. At 9:00 AM, I went to the 4th floor and found room 410 with help from coworkers. At 3:00 PM I was waiting for my lost managers to find room 410. It seemed funny to me that the managers picked a room which they could not find.

During my walks for a week, people would say, “hello, are you lost?” So, I told myself that I am not taking it anymore. During this walk, a man said, “hello!” Before he could say another word I said, “are you lost?” The gentleman was totally befuddled that I could ask him that question. He immediately said, “no I am not lost!” I said in response, “that is good to know.” Then, I kept walking with a big smile on my face.