Greetings from the Editor
Sponsor of the Month
Movers & Shakers
Exercise, does a body good
Have I Got A Story For You
The Braille Highway
Kaleidoscope of Krafts
A Time to Plant
Alternating Duo: Seeing the World Differently
the Rotating Trio: EyeShare
Riddle & Brain Buster
The Blind Perspective Newsletter has been produced in such a manner that makes it easier to stroll through the articles. If you are using JAWS, System Access, NVDA, or Window Eyes, press the letter H to move through the headings. If you are wanting to skip back simply press the shift key + the letter H. For MAC users, press Control Option Command plus the letter H and to go backwards through the articles press Control Option Command shift plus the letter H. If one of the links do not work for you just copy and paste it in to your browser and it should work.
By Karen Santiago
As always, the writers are very busy every month with their informative and entertaining articles to share with you. This month is no exception! Please send them your feedback; good or bad.
I need individuals to interview for our popular International Perspective segment. If you are interested or have someone to recommend, send me an email at: Karen@TheBlindPerspective.com
Just to give you an idea of some of the countries I have not yet covered; Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Poland, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, and many others.
At A Glance: Out of Sight, Pay with Chip, Ukraine, Bands & Tubings, 200 Years & A Favorite, Interview, Practice, Breakfast, Tutorials, Containers & Locations, Senses, Dependency, Funny & Whoops, Lunches, Riddle & Brain Buster!
Sponsor of the Month
The time is right to join Out-Of-Sight!
We are a group of blind fun-loving, congenial, and interesting people from all over the world, who use our screen-readers and microphones to play games, chat, learn, and socialize on our own internet TeamTalk server. We have a full schedule of activities every day and evening and you can drop in whenever you wish.
We display our musical talents and play music in our music rooms. You can get help with your computer, your iPhone, your cooking, and your chess game, or you can just simply have fun!
We also have a book-discussion group and Bible groups.
There is no end to the stimulation, excitement, and camaraderie you will experience.
To join us and receive your materials, simply send your real name, a preferred nickname if any, your email address, and your phone number to: OOSNHQ@gmail.com
We sum it up by saying: "Catch the vision, itís Out of Sight!"
Movers & Shakers
Pay With Chip
By Karen Santiago Karen@TheBlindPerspective.com
I would first like to thank reader Judy, from New York for suggesting the following person to interview for this monthís Movers & Shakers segment. Thank you, Judy, I found this very fascinating, and I hope you all will too!
I had a Q&A email session, along with a great skype interview with Michael Vinocur, founder and CEO of Pay With Chip, Inc.
Q. What is the Pay with Chip marketplace?
The Pay With Chip marketplace is an assistive software designed to create an easy to use and highly accessible online shopping experience across many online retailers, both in the United States and overseas.
Q. How does it work?
The software works by eliminating the clutter normally found on most retailer websites, and then presents the important parts in a way that is streamlined and well organized. Consumers can casually browse or search for any item, from a variety of retailers, using just four keyboard keys; up, down, enter and escape. Checkouts are a breeze with the complimentary chip payment card reader, which facilitates a safe an independently completed checkout that anyone can do. Because of the consistency in the way we present stores, once a customer is comfortable shopping at a single store they can quickly and easily shop any other store on the marketplace.
Q. Who is this designed for, and what is needed in order to use the software and reader?
The software is primarily designed to address the obstacles or concerns faced by consumers using assistive technologies, such as screen readers or screen magnifiers when navigating or checking out of online shopping websites. A customer who is interested in trying out the experience, will need a Windows based PC and an available USB port. They can download the software from our website at www.paywithchip.com. After the download, the customer will need to install the application to their computer, where an icon will then be placed on the desktop for the Pay With Chip Marketplace. When launched, the first thing a customer should do is register, which will trigger a card reader to be mailed and allow access to the marketplace for browsing. We have a library of recordings available from our home page which walk customers through a full tour of the software.
Note: The Pay With Chip software is currently available for Windows. The Mac and iOS apps have been delayed due to programming changes, but it is being worked on. Michael is hoping to have these two options along with Android devices up and running by late Spring.
Q. Who are the current websites on board?
We have over 30 online shopping websites available at the moment which range from large consumer shopping sites like Amazon, Wal Mart, Petco and eBay to smaller stores like Brookstone or Russel Stoverís chocolate. We have an additional 40 merchants that are awaiting their stores to be added to the marketplace. We will have access to a shopping experience that puts more than 100 million products from around the world at the fingertips of our customers by the beginning of April 2018.
Note: Currently Pay With Chip has the following three categories live; shopping (various stores & products), e learning (free courses), and entertainment (audio & e books). They are working on adding finance and travel platforms to the marketplace. The finance avenue is projected to cover things from home loans, banking, credit information, to investments.
Q. How do you get other websites to join your platform?
Initially we reached out to merchants using the available channels for companies that wish to engage in creating business relationships. That has begun to shift as our platform has grown and now companies are sending requests to us.
Q. Is there technical support?
Yes. Our technical support desk is available everyday and we try to maintain a response time of one to two hours up to midnight eastern standard time. Questions or comments can be sent directly to us from the conveniently located help option inside of the marketplace.
Note: currently this is a two-person operation. Michael is hoping to have two more people on board in the future. This will then enable those late night orders to be processed in real time.
Q. What is the chip payment card reader and how does it work?
Our chip payment card reader is a secure technology for online and in-person commerce, which connects to a Windows based computer with an available USB port. It is designed to allow a checkout at a speed comparable to saving the information online (ex. PayPal or Amazon) to avoid re-entry, but significantly safer. This is because chip card technology also known as EMV and present in most stores that consumer shop at today, is a fast and secure method of sending encrypted payment details that can only be used one time and that a merchant is unable to read or save. Consumers have a faster and safer way to shop at their favorite online stores, without ever typing or saving their payment card information.
Q. Is there a cost for this reader?
Readerís do not have a cost.
Q. How secure is oneís payment information? Explain.
Microchip payment technology is the safest form of payment technology available. It has been the gold standard for secure commerce in most of the world, and has been mandated as the required payment technology in the United States by 2019. By nature, the information generated by microchips for payment purposes can only be used for a single transaction and are then invalidated by a customerís bank unless re-occurring use is authorized by the consumer.
Q. Can you tell me what motivated/inspired you to create this software?
I developed the idea working with my father who lost his vision about 10 years ago, and has had to develop the skillsets required to successfully navigate online websites. Online shopping in particular is a challenge, and itís one that many share. I spent a great deal of time matching what I was seeing on his computer screen and compared it to what JAWS was telling him and there was such a gap in the quality of the information. I decided that I would create an alternative approach to solving the problem of accessibility in ecommerce. The idea for the marketplace was born. A place where consumers could log on to with any assistive technology they were comfortable with using and regardless of the level of training they might have, and be able to exit with a product they want in less than 10 minutes.
Q. What has the feedback from users been like?
The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Our customers have referred to the software as the easiest and in many cases, fastest way to shop online. The beautiful thing about what we are doing is that customers send us a wish list everyday of the stores they would like to rely on the marketplace to experience in the future.
Michaelís ultimate goal is to be able to offer the Pay With Chip to those in other countries. This would enable those in other parts of the world to download the marketplace in their native language, and have it already tailored for them. Then they too could have access to stores that are specific to them.
Michael Vinocur: Founder and CEO
Ukraine; as told by Anya Fuller
By Karen Santiago Karen@TheBlindPerspective.com
A bit about Ukraine:
In Eastern Europe, along the Russian border, sits Ukraine, the largest country in the region. Ukraine also borders Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, and Belarus. The Carpathian Mountains to the west protect Ukraine from fierce northern winds. The Ukraine has some of the richest farm land in Europe, over 1,000 miles of flat plains known as steppes. It also has rich supplies of oil and gas.
Kiev is the capital city. Ukrainian is the official language, although many people mainly on the eastern side speak Russian. Hungarian, Romanian and Polish are popular languages spoken in Western Ukraine. The population of Ukraine is just over 47.1 million.
Many ancient traditions are carried on in Ukraine today, like traditional dances and music. One Ukrainian tradition is the decorating of Pysanka, or Ukrainian Easter egg during Holy Week, the week leading up to Easter. Pysanky are intricately decorated using a wax-relief method, though there are many variations on design and techniques for creating these eggs.
Blind Schools: Anyaís remarks reflect the experiences she had with the school she attended.
There are five schools for the blind throughout Ukraine. These residential schools are Lviv, Kiev, Odessa, Kharkov and Slavyansk. Anya attended the Kharkov school from the nineties to the early 2000ís. She started at the age of seven, although students can begin preschool at an earlier age. Students receive education through grade twelve.
The only sport type of activities were checkers, chess, goalball, and swimming with outside assistance.
Students at this blind school were fortunate enough to receive exceptional music instructions, due to the collaboration with a nearby music institution. Students could learn how to play two or three instruments, and all were required to be part of the choir. This was a very comprehensive music program as the students were also required to take classes such as music literature and history.
Braille and Mobility:
Braille was taught in school. However, there was a shortage of braille materials. For example. There was only one English book, and no math books for high schoolers at all. As curriculums were constantly changing, there were hardly any Braille books for other classes either.
Mobility was not seen as an important skill to teach or learn. Students generally felt their way around or relied on those who had some sight. Canes were passed out during the mobility class, which was once a week, if that. Anya received her first cane when she was a senior. By that time, most students did not use their cane because it wasnít ďthe popular thing to do.Ē
Until recently, blind children could be educated exclusively in the residential schools. In 2011, the Lviv Regional Fund of Social Protection and Recovery of the Blind, USI organized inclusive education for blind children outside specialized boarding schools. They have created many innovations that allow blind children to study in ordinary schools.
There are still things that need to improve such as the training of teachers, increase funding, and more accessible materials. However, enrollment at the boarding schools are decreasing, which indicates a growing desire of parents for inclusive education.
High school students are encouraged to attend university. Should they have good grades, letter of recommendation, and meet the necessary requirements, tuition is fully funded. Students also receive a monthly allowance while studying, as long as they maintain an average of a B grade.
There are no disability service departments available at the higher educational facilities. The blind student is basically on their own when it comes to accessible material. This is not an easy task, as most textbooks are not available in braille. If students are not fortunate enough to have a scanner, then they need to have great listening skills, and rely on other studentís assistance. Anya created her own contraction, or shorthand braille in order to keep up with class notes. Anya stated that many teachers pass the blind students, instead of the blind student passing the class.
Blind individuals are categorized into three different groups; first, totally blind, second, partially sighted, and third, high partial. So, the level one is, determines the benefits one receives.
As for disability pension, the greatest monthly amount would go to the first level, and decreasing with level two and three.
Individuals with the first level receive free rides on buses and trains (suburban area), as long as they show their proof of blindness identification. A person can travel with them at no cost as well. If the train ride is a long one, then the person will get a reduced rate.
Level two individuals will receive a discounted rate for buses and trains. Finally, the third level will receive no reduction in fare, but they are still entitle to certain benefits.
There are very little accommodations out on the streets for the blind community. Things such as curb cuts, tactile strips, and audible signals are few and far between throughout Ukraine. Anya said that other obstacles in the way of blind people are the cars that are parked on the sidewalks, or, in certain places, uncovered sewers.
There is no braille what so ever in the public. It is deemed obsolete.
While students are taught braille it is not widely used. Parents of partially sighted children do not even want their children learning it. They would rather have other accommodations such as large print or better lighting.
Blind schools are equipped with some accessible equipment. However, if you want accessible devices in your home, you had to get it yourself. Many blind people have to resort to cracked version of JAWS or other software.
Ukraine does have libraries for the blind. Although there is material in various formats, they are very outdated. The libraries are no longer in high demand since most people can download books from the computer.
Guide Dog Schools:
There are no guide dog schools in Ukraine. It is seemed as a nuisance, and not much is known. Anya stated that she knows of no one owning a guide dog in Ukraine. She added that the majority of blind individuals travel with a sighted guide.
Ukrainian Association of the Blind (UTOS):
The state-sponsored association is involved in the social, employment, medical and vocational rehabilitation of the disabled citizens of Ukraine, who cannot compete in the labor market. It provides employment, health and social protection for the visually impaired. This locally generated primary organization, and in areas where there is a need to also organize training and production company. Blind people get the full range of social protection, the ability to fully implement opportunities to live and to work. Destination of selected features of blind people to perform a particular job.
*Note: these statements are taken right from the association's website. Although this sounds great, the hard reality is that they do not do much for blind individuals in any way.
Ukrainian center for physical culture and sport for the disabled:
Works with youth and adult in various sporting activities. Teaching, training, and competing with other schools, regional, national, and international teams.
Paralympics: Ukraine is involved with Paralympics, and has performed very well in past events.
Anya believes that there are many people who see blindness, as well as other disabilities in a negative way. Furthermore, the more visible the disability, the more a stigma is attached to it.
Some people in this society shame those with disabilities, and may take advantage of them. Many see the blindness, or disability, before seeing the person.
Anya would like to see a lot of changes made with respect to blindness issues in Ukraine.
*Use the American model of teaching those with disabilities; there needs to be more advanced training of both the teachers and the individuals.
*Greater awareness and education to the general public about people with disabilities.
*Awareness to employers that blind people can work too.
*Access to materials in accessible formats.
*Providing Office of disability services in colleges and universities.
Exercise, does a body good
By Dan Kiely Dan@TheBlindPerspective.com
Welcome back to another edition of Exercise Does A Body Good. In this edition I focus on resistant, tubing or TheraBand training, and what each color means. Resistance bands are used to help tone and strengthen the entire body. They are inexpensive, ranging from 6 to 20 dollars. They do not take up much space, therefore, they can be used at home and when traveling.
Unlike dumbbells and other strength training tools, the different colors and strengths of the bands do not correspond to specific weights. Resistant training can come in the form of a tubing, or a TheraBand. The band or tubing comes in yellow, green, red, blue, and black. Learn about the differences below.
Yellow: These are classified as light resistance. This means that they are very stretchy, and it takes little effort to pull against them and stretch them out. Light resistance bands are used for working areas such as the shoulders and shins, where you don't need much resistance to feel the muscle working.
Green: these are medium resistance. These bands are less stretchy and have more tension than yellow bands. Green bands are used for muscle groups that need slightly more tension, such as the biceps or triceps.
Red: these are labeled as medium to heavy resistance. They have a higher level of tension than green or yellow bands and are harder to stretch. Red bands are suitable for muscle groups that are larger, such as the legs, chest, and back. They are also for individuals who have been building muscle strength.
Blue: These resistance bands are heavy resistance. These are much more stiff than red, green or yellow and do not provide as much stretch. Blue bands are for those who are very strong, or for those larger muscle groups, such as the legs, chest and back. These are also the bands to use when working out with someone else; when two people pull against a band.
Black: These resistance bands have the most resistance. These are the hardest bands to stretch and pull. Like blue bands, black bands are used for the large muscle groups, such as the legs, or when working with others. Some sets of bands come in all black and the level of resistance is not based on color in these sets.
Here are 2 lower body exercises to do with your resistant band.
Squats: I recommend using the red or blue resistant band.
Stand on the band with your feet hip width apart. Keep your back straight, face forward, bend your knees slightly, and hold on to the handles of the band. Make sure you feel tension in the bands.
Lower your butt out and down towards the floor, as if you were to sit in a chair, then return to the standing position. Make sure there is tension again in the standing position.
I recommend doing 15 to 25 reps, in sets of 3.
Lunges: To do lunges with resistance tubing, you need to wrap the tubing around a pole, or attach it to a doorknob. Some tubings have an attachment to place inside the closed door or inside the door jam. Make sure you choose a closet door. If you choose a door that people open and close all the time, and you are working out with the door closed and someone opens the door, and whack! That is going to hurt.
Stand upright and face forward, away from the door. With handles in hands and at chest level, stretch out your arms in front of you.
With feet hip width apart and stomach tight, step forward with your right foot about 12 inches or more. Your right knee should bend at about 90 degrees while your left foot stays in place and knee bends slightly. This form will be at the maximum lunge position.
Step back and up to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 15 reps for 3 sets. Reverse lunge, stepping forward with your left foot.
This will require balance and strength.
Next month I will describe upper body exercises incorporating the use of resistant tubing.
Health Tip: Seven ways to lower your blood pressure without medication
*Lose extra pounds and watch your waistline, blood pressure often increases as weight increases
*Eat a healthy diet
*Reduce sodium in your diet
*Limit the am ount of alcohol consumption
*Quit smoking *Lower your stress level
monitor your blood pressure at home, and consult your physician annually.
Good luck, until next month, Exercise Does A Body Good!
Have I Got A Story For You
By Carla Jo Bratton CarlaJo@TheBlindPerspective.com
Greetings book friends!
We have something to celebrate and one of my favorite writers I want to talk about this month. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY FRANKENSTEIN!
Mary Shelley wrote the classic story of Frankenstein 200 years ago this year. And she did it at the age of 18! If youíve never read this classic horror book, grab it and get to reading. It really does stand the test of time. What were you doing at the age of 18? It boggles the mind to think about a young woman creating this story at that age.
Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus
Written by Mary Shelley
CNIB or CELA numbers; ET01163 and DZ31627
Reading time: 8 hours and 32 minutes
In trying to create life, the young student Victor Frankenstein unleashes forces beyond his control, setting into motion a long and tragic chain of events that brings Victor to the very brink of madness. How he tries to destroy his creation, as it destroys everything Victor loves, is a powerful story of love, friendship, scientific hubris, and horror.
My comments; The way the story opens just gives me chills. Mary Shelley tells a story rich in detail and feelings. If you havenít read it, do so, and if you have, read it again.
Now for one of my all-time favorite writers; Wilbur Smith.
Wilbur Smith was born in Central Africa in 1933. He was educated at Michaelhouse and Rhodes University. He became a full-time writer in 1964 after the successful publication of When the Lion Feeds, and has gone on to write many more novels, all meticulously researched on his numerous expeditions worldwide. His books are now translated into twenty-six languages.
Wilbur Smith lives in London and continues to have an abiding concern for the peoples and wildlife of his native continent, an interest strongly reflected in his novels.
My comments; Wilbur Smith writes sweeping sagas, telling the story of a country, itís people and the rich history of Africa. He has 4 series and many stand-alone novels. If you enjoy history, these books are for you. He writes about the jungles, savannas, the mountains and the wildlife, oh, the wildlife. Smith paints such pictures that it will carry you away. I canít recommend his books enough. He does write with some strong language, violence and some descriptions of sex. Here is a standalone novel Iíve chosen for this article. He is just a powerful writer.
Written by Wilbur Smith
CELA or CNIB number; DC15058
Reading time: 17 hours and 49 minutes
Blood was the fertilizer that made the African soil bloom. From under the shadow of the Mountains of the Moon and the deep, brooding Forests of the Tall Trees, to the hidden opulence of Taiwan and the paneled boardrooms of power in the heart of London, a tough, determined man and a dedicated woman begin their fight against the forces of greed, evil and corruption.
In Zimbabwe, Dr. Daniel Armstrong, world-famous TV naturalist, films the slaughter of a herd of elephant: closing in as their blood stains the soil and their death song echoes around the stillness of the valley, his professionalism is tinged with a deep sadness.
In London, anthropologist Kelly Kinnear is forced into violent confrontation with the shareholders of the most powerful conglomerate in the City of London, warning them of the destruction of an African country and of a people Ė the Bambuti Ė she has come to love as her own.
Combining breathtaking realism with thrilling suspense, Elephant Song is a gripping adventure from the world's master storyteller Ė a journey deep into the heart of a wild, magnificent continent, threatened forever by the destructive hand of man.
Thanks go out to those of you who have written to me, it really does make a difference. I love getting book recommendations from all of you.
Until next month, Happy reading,
The Braille Highway
By Nat Armeni Nat@TheBlindPerspective.com
Hello and welcome to The Braille Highway for the month of April! Being a braille enthusiast, I belong to a couple of open forum chats where the main topic is braille. While participating in these forums during the month of March, I spoke to a few fellow braille fans. In this monthís segment I will be relaying a couple points brought to my attention about their lives before and after blindness and how braille truly opened doors and allowed them to continue living a big part of their sighted life when they became blind.
Before we get to this monthís article, a little housekeeping. As per usual I always invite the readerís input, opinions, and suggestions. So, email me at the email address mentioned at the beginning of this article. I would like some feedback about what you would think of a braille competition to be held in January of 2019, with some prizes for the top finishers? Would you participate? What do you think of the idea of a braille competition where I would dictate a few sentences and the object of the competition would be to use a computer program like Perky Ducks to braille the dictated words? Then you would send in the finished copy as an attachment within a few minutes of completing the reading, to discourage folks using braille translation programs to aid in their accuracy. I am looking forward to your feedback.
The first person I want to shed a little light on their story is a gentleman named Desmond from New York. He is in his 50 and is married with 3 children. He became blind at 39 years of age from an accident while outside during a Halloween party. A firecracker exploded near his face. Desmond was the dj for that Halloween party. After many surgeries to try to save his eyes and more cosmetic surgeries later, Desmond has no vision.
Desmond has a wonderful supportive family who were all encouraging and extremely helpful. After getting over the initial shock and the reality of being blind, Desmondís wife suggested he go for some training at a local center for the blind. Desmondís love for music is what inspired him to learn JAWS. While at the center, he learned the alphabet and numbers in braille.
Desmond has a very large music collection that he burned onto DVDís. Each disk holds a thousand songs or more. The songs are all listed on a word document and each DVD is numbered. So, for example, if Desmond is looking for ďWe are the championsĒ by Queen, he would conduct a search for that song title and artist in his Microsoft word document. Once that song is located, it would tell him what DVD it is on. Desmondís DVDís paper sleeves have all been labeled with braille numbers, in order for him to retrieve the one he needs or wants.
Desmond has resumed his position as DJ. One of his sons and a nephew assist in setting up the speakers, microphone, and other necessary equipment. He uses his laptop to find the songs and then uses his braille skills to find the proper DVD, and the rest is history. With just a little training on how to use JAWS and learning the A B Cís of braille, Desmond has been able to go back to work doing what he loves.
Lynda is a very gifted clay artist. In her mid-thirties, Lynda is blind from RP. Prior to her eyesight declining she was a bright up and coming artist in clay works and her pieces were very sought after. Living in France Lynda fell in love at a young age and was married at the age of 20. After losing most of her sight, Lynda found she could still make certain clay pieces just not as detailed in the decorations.
Lynda says that she was always a very independent person and thrived on marching to her own drummer. As you can imagine, she became very stressed when she thought that she would need to always depend on others for assistance, especially when creating her pottery. Lynda has a mentor that she was paired up with when it became apparent that she would be losing her sight. Through this mentor Claudette, Lynda found out about resources and training opportunities in her area. Lynda learned braille and practiced it with Claudette and others. Lyndaís father had a room that was his workshop and she decided to convert it in to a place where she could create her works of art.
After multiple changes and modifications Lynda finds that she can work pretty independently from start to finish when creating her pottery. Like before, she uses help for removing items from the kiln. Lynda has made braille labels for her buckets of paint as well as other needed materials and tools. She creates braille labels for each of her clay pieces. She also brailleís time cards for each piece in order for her to
know how long each piece needs to dry before being baked in the kiln.
With all her suppliers phone numbers and contact information being brailled and stored in her telephone directory, Lynda places all her orders as needed when she sees the inventory reaching critical low levels.
Lynda has also made notes in braille on what techniques she used for a particular series of work and refers to it when starting a new project so that she maintains the consistency that her loyal customers have come to expect from her.
I asked Lynda if she has come up with a braille theme for her pottery yet. Lynda said that she has not as of yet, but it is a work in progress. She added that before she is done, she is sure that she will make a piece or two with a braille theme. Although in Lyndaís case she was still able to continue her love of creating clay art, the need for her to be able to do things independently for her own peace of mind was made possible by learning braille.
I was so happy to have come across both Desmon and Lynda who are excellent examples that although losing their sight later in life, they chose to learn braille which helped them to resume doing what they loved. I want to thank you both Desmond and Lynda for allowing me to talk about you both in my article. You are both wonderful examples of why folks who have lost their eyesight later in life should learn at the very least, the A B Cís of braille.
Braille users do it with feelings. Why complicate life with gadgets when you can complement it with braille. Remember to stay on the dotted line of life! I look forward to speaking with you again in May!
Kaleidoscope of Krafts
By Lindy van der Merwe Lindy@TheBlindPerspective.com
I am really pleased to be presenting some practical suggestions and ideas from one of our readers, Deborah Armstrong, for this month's Kaleidoscope of Crafts. She focuses on knitting, but I am sure that her writing could just as well be applicable to any kind of craft one can think of.
Here is what she writes:
"I just ran across the blind perspective. I am blind and learned to knit as an adult from Davey Hulseís book.
I love to knit, but Iím not very good. Here are a few ways Iíve been able to practice, yet make something useful.
I have long hair and am always in need of covered rubber bands to coralle it. I decided to try knitting up my own scrunchies (decorative hair bands) and itís worked beautifully.
First, I dissected some old scrunchies using scissors to examine how they were constructed. A scrunchie is nothing more than a narrow tube with a piece of waistband-type elastic threaded inside it and sewn together at the ends to form a circle. A typical scrunchie is 20to 25 inches long and when the tube is flattened out, maybe 2 to 5 inches across. Once you sew the elastic together, the tube material ďscrunches up, so it is the size of one of those large covered rubber bands.
At Michaels (craft store), I purchased several rolls of elastic waistband in different sizes, from a quarter inch to two inches wide. Then, using leftover yarn from my less successful knitting projects, I started knitting strips, some 3, some 4 and some even 5 inches wide.
My strips were practice pieces. Sometimes I tried fancy pattern stitches and other times I just did straight knitting Ė which is called garter stitch. When a strip was 22 to 25 inches long, I bound it off.
Next, I folded the strip lengthwise and carefully sewed the sides together with a tapestry needle.
This gave me a long tube about 3 to 5 inches wide when flattened out. Smaller is harder. Tubes you can fit your middle and pointer fingers into are best.
Next, I fastened a safety pin to the end of the elastic, threaded it through the tube and pulled it tight until I had the scrunchie ďscrunchedĒ the way I liked it. I pinned the ends of the elastic together, before cutting it off the roll. Using a sharp, self-threading needle, I then sewed the ends of the elastic together.
Lastly, using a tapestry needle, I sewed the knitted tube ends together so it was a complete, springy circle.
What I love about making scrunchies is that knitting mistakes are lost in the folds of the scrunched fabric, and my long hair hides holes created by dropped stitches. Also, my long hair hides any inept sewing!
Of course, as I continued to make scrunchies, my knitting and sewing has gotten a lot better and I am dropping many fewer stitches today.
For Christmas, I knitted up read and green scrunchies and attached bells. I made smaller ones to go around my guide dogís ankles and one of the autistic students I work with in my job named them jingle-foots. Soon all of my co-workers were clamoring for knitted Jingle-foots for their pet dogs!
Another way Iíve been able to turn a potential knitting failure in to an attractive decoration is to make a pillow. I once started to make a hat but realized it was too big. Another time I was working on a blanket when I accidentally dropped a stitch and it caused a big hole to appear in the center.
In each case, I sewed the creation together, patching up the hole with a tapestry needle. I can make a crochet-like chain with my fingers, thread that onto a tapestry needle and use it to patch a hole in my knitting that, if not pretty, at least works better than simply using a piece of yarn.
To fill the pillow, I use blankets. In the winter we always pull out blankets and by spring, we need a place to stow them away. Iíve found stuffing them inside a hand-knitted pillowcase, with just an end sticking out can be very attractive. Itís also nice to curl up on the couch with one of these blanket-pillows, and if you get cold, you can just pull out the blanket and cover yourself up.
The lightweight fleece blankets are especially useful as you can stuff two or three inside a knitted pillowcase. You can put the uglier side facing away from guests so they only see your knitting successes!
When you manage to make a perfect pillow-case, purchase a new fleece blanket in a matching color and give it away as a gift. I gave several of these for Christmas, knitted in various shapes for the back, neck and as a cushion for sitting on.
One last way to practice knitting with a small project: When you are ready to start working with patterns and need to create swatches, consider sewing up the three sides of a swatch to form a small bag for carrying your Daisy player, cellphone, or if the swatch turned out bigger than expected, a tablet."
As I read the above, Deborah's experiences resonated with me. For many years I did not pursue knitting. I had learnt the basics from various people over the years, but I simply could not find the time or patience to finish anything. One problem I had was that I simply could not correct my own mistakes, so I put my yarn and needles away, believing that, unless I could either correct my own mistakes or knit an entire project without any, I would not be able to make anything worthwhile.
If only I had understood that knitting can be practiced like most everything else and that I did not have to complete a long scarf or cardigan to feel I had mastered the craft.
It took me a long time to realize that there are so many small projects to choose from and making one mistake does not mean you have to start over or give up in defeat. So, for those who are just starting out or who can do the basics of knitting, doing small projects is a wonderful way to practice and, as Deborah mentions, allowing a few mistakes here and there is no big deal.
Some small items I have knitted include necklaces, small baskets or bags, dishcloths or washcloths, headbands, bows, hearts, bookmarks, slippers, hanger covers, and the list goes on.
These days you only have to Google for the words "small knitting projects" or "stash busters".
Many thanks to Deborah, for confirming that anything is possible with patience and a positive attitude. She made me realize once again that crafting is not only about making things that are perfect or made to a certain standard we or others have set, but it is often simply about the enjoyment we are able to find in learning and challenging ourselves to try out new things, or the joy of being able to make something for others using our own skills and time.
I hope this month's segment will encourage you to consider trying out a new craft of your own or perhaps reconsider a craft you had tried and discarded a long time ago.
Until next time, happy crafting and please feel free to write if you have anything to share relating to crafts or crafting.
By Cheryl Spencer Cheryl@TheBlindPerspective.com
It has just occurred to me that I must be hungry when I sit down to write my articles because this monthís subject is another kitchen appliance. The Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich maker is a handy little item to have in the kitchen. I use mine about 3 or 4 times a week. For a totally blind person, it is easy to use and good for a quick fix when you are in a hurry in the morning. It is a simple but ingenious gadget.
I have the single sandwich maker since it is only me in the household, but for the couples, there is a duel model. It comes with a cast iron insert that is super easy to clean. It hooks into the unit and has a tab that does not get hot so you can lift the sections without burning yourself.
I use premade biscuits, you can use English muffins or mini croissants, or lately, I have been using cheese Danishes which I found at a big box store.
Preheat the unit, and in the bottom, place the bottom half of the sandwich. I usually put a slice of cheese on the bottom before closing the top half of the insert over it. Make sure the well part of the insert is closed so your egg does not drip out. Crack the egg into it and place the top half of the sandwich on top and close the lid. Set a timer for 5 minutes and then swing the middle divider out opening the sections so the top half falls onto the bottom half completing your sandwich. Open the top of the sandwich maker and pull the bottom section up to expose your completed sandwich. Spatula it on to a plate and enjoy!
I found this to be easy to use and more importantly, easy to clean. The Hamilton Beach Breakfast Maker can be found at Target, Wal-Mart, Kohls, Bed Bath and Beyond, and my favorite place, Amazon. The single unit is around 25 dollars and the duel unit goes for about 35 dollars.
I think maybe next month I will eat before attempting to write my article.
By Jim Morgan Jim@TheBlindPerspective.com
First, I must give credit where credit is due. A reader was kind enough to ask me about an instance that applies to last monthís article, that I flat out didnít think about. She wanted to know what to do if one had a program or two up on the screen in front of the main Desktop display when the screen reader went down. So, I thought Iíd correct that oversight here. If one opens the Start menu, either with the mouse or using the Windows key, the last several programs started, usually including the screen reader will be there and can be accessed by first letter navigation, just like on the desktop. Hopefully, that answers the same question that others of you might have.
This monthís topic also comes to us courtesy of a reader. He wanted to know about a good Firefox tutorial. So, I thought Iíd talk about tutorials, in general. Iím not going to promote any specific one since everybody is different. I thought Iíd just give you some places to look and let you figure out what was best.
A really good place to start is Hadley or, now known as, Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Iím sure that most of us already are very familiar with Hadley, but for those few who might not know, Hadley is, to use the current vernacular, a long-distance school specially designed for blind and/or Visually impaired students. Their courses are free and very good. They have courses in many computer topics including the Internet, Microsoft Office programs, such as Excel, Apple products, such as the iPhone, and various other Computer and/or Electronics topics. I would advise checking there first since the material is designed for visually impaired people and, are more geared to working with a screen reader than, say, a uTube video. To contact them, you can either go Online to www.hadley.edu You may also contact them by phone at: 1 (800) 223-4238.
The next best place to look is on the program manufacturerís Website. In most cases, the people who make the software also have done tutorials on it as well.
Here are a couple sites you may want to checkout.
Freedom Scientific free webinars: (such topics as Office 365, twitter, facebook, Jaws 18, etc.) www.freedomscientific.com/Services/
Learn NVDA (Nonvisual Desktop Access): www.afb.org/info/living-with-vision-loss/
One other good place to look is uTube. You should be a little careful here since the videos may be designed more for the sighted. Probably the best thing to do is do a Search on the Internet.
I think Iíve spoken about searching the Internet before, but, in case I havenít, Iíll go over it again. What I find to work the best is to, unless the program name is one word, like Firefox, put the program name inside quotation marks, the plus sign, and then the word tutorial. For example, if I was looking for an Internet Explorer version 11 tutorial, I would put ďInternet Explorer version 11Ē+Tutorial into the search field. This should then yield you some results.
Hopefully this answers some questions about learning new software or, perhaps, getting the most out of the software you do have. As always, if there are any questions about this topic or anything else, please send me an E-mail and Iíll try to return the message as soon as possible. However, I will be away from March 17 through April 2, therefore, any messages sent then, will have a delay in my response. As always, Happy Computing!
A Time To Plant
By Sue Brasel Sue@TheBlindPerspective.com
We need to consider where to put our plants. You could use the ground, but with limited or no vision, perhaps containers might be easier to find. Some think a container is a square foot garden, others think a hanging basket is one, and others think of unique items in their environment. They could all be right!
If you have a plant in mind, figure out if the roots would stay covered in that container. Some small plants need room to grow, while others need some confinement. A tall plant could easily tip over in a small pot.
Figure out where you want to place your plants. Large pots should be where you can reach them for both watering and relocating if needed. Some plants sit better on tabletops. Hanging baskets or window boxes need to be convenient to water, but out of the way so that you donít bump into them!
What is needed for a container? Many materials could work: clay (sometimes called terra cotta), plastic, and ceramic are just a few examples. Some people like to use unique items such as tin pails or glassware. Whatever you choose, make sure it has, or you can put, at least one drainage hole in your container. In another issue I will cover terrariums and fairy gardens, which are exceptions to this rule.
Thoroughly wash pre-used containers. Let your plants have as many advantages of a healthy start as is possible.
If your container will be outside on a deck or patio, raise it off the surface area. A heavy rain could cause the roots to stay wet if it does not get a chance to drain. A plant stand could work. Consider raising the pot by putting blocks under it.
Colorful pots add a whimsical fancy to your containers. Especially with groups of containers, consider coordinating or contrasting the containers with the plants you intend to grow there. Even if you donít see colors well, your family or guests might enjoy them.
Now it is ďthymeĒ for me to get back to my garden!
The Alternating Duo: Seeing the World Differently
By Lois Strachan Lois@TheBlindPerspective.com
In my last article I tried to answer the question of why I love travelling so much, and what I get out of doing so. Since Iím primarily a storyteller, maybe sharing a few of my personal experiences of how I use my remaining senses to build a picture of an unfamiliar place might be a better way for me to show you what I mean.
In the interests of full disclosure, I feel I ought to tell you that I usually travel with my sighted partner, which definitely impacts on the way I travel. Iím not saying itís the only way, or even the best way, to travel, merely that it works for me. Iíd love to engage with those of you who are comfortable travelling to unfamiliar places on your own, to learn about the techniques you use.
But, letís get back to the point of this article, which is to demonstrate how I use my other senses to help me learn about the places I visit.
As I walked into the famous Buqueria fresh produce market in Barcelona, Spain, I was assailed by a myriad of aromas. Walking through the vast covered market I could tell exactly what was on offer from each stall Ė the sweet scent of succulent fruit, crisp vegetables, the (to me) less pleasant aroma of fish and seafood, and the glorious scent of newly baked bread. It seemed perfectly logical to while away an hour at one of the food stalls and indulge in some of the local cuisine, surrounded by these tantalizing scents. It was such a rich sensory experience Ė though I suspect my sighted husband may have got less from the experience than I did!
Talking about food, taste also plays a strong role in the way I interpret a new place. To stick with the example of the Buqueria Market, the simple yet traditionally Spanish meal we ate that day is closely linked to the way I experienced the market, and Barcelona as a whole. Despite my particular crazy food preferences (Iím a fussy vegetarian) I try to taste some of the local specialties that are so much part of a countryís culture. In Spain that meant gazpacho soup, lots of meals with spicy salsa, and paella, a delicately flavored rice dish.
Sipping a glass of fruity sangria following the meal, I recall listening to all that was happening around me, glancing round the room with my ears. I could tell I was in a large enclosed space with a roof that was high enough that the nearby sounds were at a manageable level. Sure, the place was noisy with the voices of the vendors, shoppers, and fellow tourists, but the sound didnít ďbounceĒ so I was able to orientate myself with ease.
Sound also helps me learn about the people and culture of a country by listening to the way they interact. Are they sociable and gregarious, or are they quieter and more reticent? I know Iím generalizing, but I find people from more outgoing cultures are more likely to engage with me as a blind tourist, and I guess that makes sense, doesnít it?
You may be thinking that the way I use my other senses to engage with the world when I travel are the same ways you use anyway. Which is the point Ė Iím not doing anything out of the ordinary to learn about an unfamiliar place when I travel. That means travel doesnít require additional skills from those we usually use.
Youíre probably wondering why I havenít mentioned the sense of touch. Donít worry, I havenít forgotten it. Itís just that I want to handle it in a separate article. So, youíll have to wait till next time to learn about some of those experiences.
I hope Iíve given you a taste of how I experienced one of the many tourist sites I visited in Spain and that Iíve whetted your appetite to find out how I use the sense of touch to enrich my travel experiences.
Till next time, happy travels!
The Rotating Trio: EyeShare
By Russ Davis Russ@TheBlindPerspective.com
Your Mobile Phone, Home Alone
So now, you've received your April 2018 edition of The Blind Perspective. You've opened the newsletter and managed to find the various articles within the publication, including this one. I know that I could have used various technology resources to get my article from inside my head to its ultimate destination, that being, in the hands of my editor. The resource I chose to use was one that I was quite comfortable with, my home desktop computer which contains my purchased copy of Microsoft Word. One thing I am quite curious about is how you, as the reader, will access this article. Will you use your home computer, will you open your laptop while sitting at a Starbucks, will you pull out your Victor Reader Stream and log into Newsline, or will you type, tap and swipe through your mobile phone to find the newsletter in your email? Why, you may wonder, am I taking the time to ponder about the technology you are using? The answer is simply, because I've spent a great deal of time lately thinking about the technology I use on a daily basis and just how my life might be if I did not have it so readily at hand.
Here is the situation that brought me into this period of contemplation and self-examination. I had an appointment recently in a large office tower downtown, which was several miles from my home. The building was one with extremely tight security protocols. I have grown accustomed to security guards in the lobbies of office buildings and airports, have become accepting of metal detectors, and even the occasional "please stand still sir while we wand you", but when I was told at a U.S. Federal Courthouse building, "visitors are absolutely forbidden from bringing in any electronic devices, my level of anxiety went up. ďAny electronicsĒ meant, no mobile phone, no electronic note takers and no laptop computers or tablets. I could forgo the notebook computer or tablet, and maybe even the voice recorder, but, no cell phone? My explanation that I was a blind individual who needed the phone for numerous reasons and that I did not have a car outside in which to leave it fell on deaf ears. My initial bit of good fortune was however, that I learned of this rule before I left my home on the morning of the appointment.
I resigned myself to my situation, but still, as I walked out of my front door and began my commute I realized I was truly uncomfortable. I had not spent much time before then thinking about how dependent I have become on my phone. The myriad of ways that I use my cell phone began to scroll through my mind like they were written on a tickertape. The list began with ways in which not having my phone with me would affect me until I returned home, and then branched out from there. How would I get along without instant access to bus schedules? What if I couldn't find my colleague, (who also happened to be blind), at our prescribed meetup point? What if I couldn't remember the exact office number or phone number of the person with whom I had the appointment? If I needed to reach someone in my phones address book, or needed to order an Uber home, I knew those options were out. Once the meeting got started I knew that I would not be accessing notes nor would I be taking any. If the other party had to cancel or postpone at the last minute, how would they contact me? As it turns out, we waited for over 90 minutes in an empty office for a meeting that did not happen. During that waiting period I found myself somewhat bored. I was unable to make calls, check texts, scan my email or surf the web. Heading downstairs with quarters in hand to find a pay phone wasn't going to work either. As you are well aware, pay phones are rather hard to find these days. I would have to wait until I got home to find out why the appointment that didn't happen, didn't happen. I realized that I was blessed to not be alone while I sat and waited, as my friend and I passed the time the old-fashioned way we talked to one another. What a concept!
What all of this told me was, "good grief, am I ever addicted to my phone"! I just flicked through my phone to survey what apps are loaded on it, and can't believe how many are there. A quick count showed me I have about 149. The categories of apps probably aren't much different than most smart phone owners, with the exception of the folder containing apps on yoga and meditation and the one related to blindness. Many of you probably have some applications associated with the latter group. Mobile phone programs that can help us convert text to speech, allow us to accurately identify money, find out the name of a product by scanning its barcode, and giving us a method for figuring out if the pair of socks is black, purple or bright pink are terrific. Even finding our way using navigation apps like Blind Square and Aroadme GPS is right at our fingertips. Yes, these apps are truly amazing, but what were we doing before they came along, and what would we do now, if they suddenly went away, even temporarily?
I won't take credit for the idea that, maybe, we have become a little too dependent on our phones and that perhaps by using these cool tools, we have lost sight of all the things we could do before smart phones came along about a decade ago. I use to be able to rattle off phone numbers for friends and family, by using nothing but my memory. Now, I'd be surprised to tell you a couple dozen. When I want to call Mom, I now just tell my phone, "Seri, call Mom", and poof there she is. I used to map out directions to destinations before I left the house, but now it's easy to tell my phone to direct me there. I used to fold the money in my wallet with a certain pattern, so as not to have to ask others what bill I was holding in my hand, but now it's easy to pull out my phone and let the camera do the work. I'm not saying that the apps don't have the ability to make our lives a bit easier most of the time, but what do we do when the power goes out, the battery dies or we get separated from our mobile device? Can we fall back on the tried and true tools of the past, like coming up with creative organizational tricks, reading and writing notes in braille and using an extremely low tech, but incredibly complex tool known as, memory. I can think of one group of blind individuals who have a true understanding of the importance of keeping their previously learned skills sharp or for having a backup plan when things don't go as expected. The folks I am referring to are those who use guide dogs. I have a tremendous amount of respect for that segment of the blind community for knowing that keeping their cane skills sharp is a must. I know many guide dog users who on a regular basis give their beloved service animal a rest, and set out with only their cane in hand. With that wonderful example in mind, how much better would we all be if we decided that, for one day each month, we traveled without our phones. If I had been following this suggestion in times past, perhaps I would not have left the house with a nervous stomach as I headed off into the land of forbidden phones.
ReadersPerspective@The Blind Perspective.com
Carol asked that readers send in their funny or embarrassing blind stories. Well we received many responses, read them below.
When I was first diagnosed, I didnít want to use my cane. I would rather feel and fumble to find my way. I was in a fast food restaurant and had to locate the restroom. I found the wall and fumbled my way there and back. When I went to leave, I opened my cane. I overheard one of the workers comment, ďI thought she was drunk!Ē I learned to take my cane after that. Hope this makes you smile.
Here is a very common situation from Stephen:
I walked into a room and heard someone say hello. So, my natural response is to say hello back. Then I hear the same voice talking with short pauses, leaving me to believe it was a cell phone conversation. Oops!
Another familiar scene from Yvonne:
While at a meet and greet at a work-related event, I was standing talking to a colleague and then someone came up to me and told me that person was no longer there. I blushed and was so embarrassed.
Anthony shares this extremely embarrassing story:
I was swimming along the side of a pool and I somehow drifted away from the edge. To regain my orientation, I started reaching out for the side. Unfortunately, I accidentally groped a woman. talk about wanting to run and hide!
Here is a funny story from Olivia:
My girlfriend and I were leaving a restaurant, and I didnít bring my cane. I followed her out one door and then there was another one. However, the second door opened out the other way, and I didnít know that. So, when I reached up to hold the door for myself, I got a surprise. My hand was on a very broad chest. The nice guy just said, ďWow! Sheís very friendly.Ē I couldnít get out of there fast enough.
Here is another situation many can relate to from Bella:
My boyfriend had recently moved in with me, and he was not aware to move things without letting me know first. Well, I have these canisters lined up on my kitchen counter. The first one on the left contains sugar. One day when I automatically got a spoon full of what I thought was sugar for my coffee, I got a surprise. It was not sugar, it was clumps of flour! Yuck!
Mark shared this story:
this was before money identifiers were invented. I apparently had mistakenly folded my money incorrectly. I was out for dinner with my family and I gave the waitress what I thought were two 20 dollar bills to pay for the meal. She was trying to tell me that I gave her the wrong amount. I interrupted her by saying, keep the change. Then the horror came when she told me I didnít give her enough. I had given her two five dollar bills, not two twenties. Oh no!
the previous situations lead us into our next question. How do you educate the sighted about blindness and/or related issues? For example, do you tell someone to let you know if they are stepping away? Do you explain to others about the potential problems of moving things without notifying you?
I am sure there are many readers who can answer our question, and give us all some great tips and advice. Please send your feedback to the email at the top of this article.
By Maxine Maxine@TheBlindPerspective.com
I received an email from Stephanie, who lives in Utah. She asked if I had any suggestions for quick, easy, and healthy lunches to pack for her to take to work. I do! Follow the below guidelines, and suggestions and you can create numerous options for great tasty and healthy lunches.
Packing a healthy lunch: Whether youíre packing lunch for your kids or for yourself, these smart ďbrown-baggingĒ principles will help you prepare healthy and satisfying midday meals quickly.
Step 1: Pick a protein
Including a good source of protein is a smart way to stay satisfied throughout the afternoon. Research shows that, gram for gram, protein may help keep you feeling fuller longer than carbohydrates and fat. Some good and easy options include cottage cheese, cheese cubes, nuts, roasted tofu cubes, slices of turkey or chicken, pouches of tuna or hard-boiled eggs.
Step 2: Add some whole grains
Whole grains are rich in carbohydrates, the bodyís main fuel supply and, compared to their refined-starch counterparts, offer more fiber, trace minerals and phytonutrients (plant compounds). Some smart lunch-box options include whole-grain bread or crackers, whole-wheat pretzels, cereal-based snack mixes, popcorn, whole-grain muffins and leftover brown rice or whole-wheat couscous from dinner.
Step 3: Include a mix of fruits and vegetables
Packing your lunch box with vegetables and fruits will boost your lunchís overall nutrition by delivering phytochemicals, essential vitamins and minerals and a healthy dose of fiber. Pack whole fruits, such as apples, pears, bananas, berries, peaches, plums or nectarines, because they take no time to prep. Or, if you can do a little prep the night before, cut up fruit such as melons, pineapple or mango. Cut-up vegetables such as, red peppers, cucumbers, carrots, and celery, all smart choices. If youíre already making a salad for dinner, chop some extra veggies for lunch the next day.
Step 4: Enjoy
Savor the lunches you make: bringing nutritious lunches from home is a good move for your health, and for your pocketbook too!
How do you make a baby poisonous snake cry?
Answer to Marchís riddle:
What is in you and is said to be broken without being touched, held or seen?
B and B
Every answer is a word, name or phrase, that starts and ends with the letter B. Example: Do this for apples; bob.
*Spill the beans:
*Lobster eaterís protection:
*Police officerís stick:
*Criticize in an underhanded way:
*Start for a tulip:
* Tiniest bit leftover from a sandwich:
Answers to Marchís brain buster
Each answer is a pair of 5 letter words that end in the same three letters, and have the same definition.
*Trees: maple and apple
*Look steadily at: glare and stare
*Tiny spot: fleck and speck
*Tremble: quake and shake
*Give instructions to: coach and teach
*Hit with an open hand: smack and whack
*Dance: rumba and sumba