Welcome to The Blind Perspective

Logo Description: A view from a window with lavender curtains drawn back viewing the snowy peaks of a mountain range. The words “The Blind Perspective” hover above in the sky.
January 2020
Volume 6; Issue 1

Table of Contents

Greetings from the Editor
Movers & Shakers
International Perspective
Exercise, does a body good
Have I Got A Story For You
The Braille Highway
The Guide Dog Journey
Spencer’s Spotlight
App Petizers: Byte Size Tidbits to Help Master Your iDevice
A Time to Plant
The Alternating Duo: Here's to your Health
Dirty Work
The Beauty Parlor
Cooking Concoctions
Riddle & Brain Buster


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If you have any trouble reading this copy you can go to Click Here it will take You to the read the current newsletter

Greetings from the Editor

By Karen Santiago

Happy 2020!
As we ring in a new decade, the Blind Perspective begins its sixth year. I can’t believe it! I know all the 
writers will continue to aim to provide you all with informative, educating, and entertaining articles for the year. 
Please remember your feedback to the writers is greatly appreciated. We are always interested in what you have to say; suggestions, tips, topics, experiences, questions, and so on.

I have a couple of notes pertaining to this edition. First, in the Movers & Shakers segment, there is a link for you to click in order to complete a quick survey about the Blind Perspective. We would greatly appreciate your feedback. Secondly, Nat, author of The Braille Highway is holding a contest, so be sure to check it out!
Remember you can also choose to listen to our audio version of the newsletter, link below:
The Blind Perspective Audio

At A Glance: Survey, Thailand, Movement & Motivation, Historical, Elton, &  Rivers, Duxbury, Dog Care, Charged Up, Learning, Tips, Goodbye, Spiders, Pampering, Diabetic Friendly, Riddle & Brain Buster!

Movers & Shakers

By Karen Santiago

Happy New Year!
In honor of our sixth year, I am asking that you, the readers take a few minutes to complete a very short, and accessible survey. There are less than 10 questions, and your feedback is greatly appreciated. The below link will be valid through February 15, 2020.
Thank you in advance.


International Perspective

Thailand by Anucha

Tell me a little bit about your country:
Thailand is in the heart of Southeast Asia with the area of 198,115 square miles. Its capital city is Bangkok, and there are other important cities, e.g. Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen and Phuket. Its number of population is about 68 million, and the two most important industries are Agriculture and tourism.

First of all, let's look at the summary of Thailand's educational system. It consists of 3 main parts, which are as follow:
- 2 years of Kindergarten, 
- 6 years of primary school, 
- 6 years of secondary school, which is separated into 2 parts, 3 years compulsory and other 3 years which is divided into vocational and general path, the latter one is for people who want to go to university. 
The first school for the blind in Thailand is Bangkok School for the Blind, established in the year 1939. After that, there are many school for the blind around the country e.g. Chiang Mai School for the Blind in the northern region, Khon Kaen School for the Blind in the northeastern and other 2 schools in the southern, I'm not sure the exact number, but in estimate, there are more than 10 schools around the country. All school are boarding school, the one provide food and accommodation for students. Blinds have to spend around 8 years in the school (Kindergarten and Primary), after that, they will be sent to inclusive education in general school. 8 years in school, we learn normal school subjects like the one taught in other schools, e.g. English, Math, music, science, computer etc., and other subject to support blind's special needs for daily living. 

Braille & Mobility:
Based on my experience in Bangkok School for the Blind, braille was taught in the first year of education (1st year in kindergarten). As far as I remembered, I can write Thai, English and basic math braille in my first year. Braille learning starts by remembering its code, then writing, and finally basic reading. In primary school, every subject will come with braille books for the course, and due to high cost of producing, blinds will not own the books, they will be sent from one year to the other. For secondary school, although it is an inclusive education, most of the materials is still provided in braille with the help of a resort teacher, who is appointed to be in a school in order to help blind students. 
Mobility has been taught since kindergarten as well. It includes skill for using cane along with hearing and other sensing skill to notice everything around you. In primary education, cane-using skill is taught for real-experience travelling in order to prepare blind for the real world, because we have to use this skill to travel by ourselves at least from home to secondary school. Besides cane-using skill, there are other daily living skill that is taught in primary education within school for the blind e.g. cooking, basic agriculture and computer. 

Sports & Recreation:
Blind-friendly sports are played mostly in school for the blind, e.g. Goalball, football (soccer) and table tennis (the one so-called showdown). Besides these places, they are not widely played throughout the country. As a result, there is no special place for the blind outside the school where blind can use it for leisure time. 
There are sport events throughout the year, e.g. sport day in almost every school for the blind and Thailand's yearly sport competition for student with disabilities. People who did well in this competition would have a chance to join Thailand's national team in order to participate in many international tournaments.
In recent years, running becomes more and more popular among blinds. As far as I know, it is only blind-friendly sport-like activity played outside school for the blind. There is a Facebook group so-called "run together" manage by sighted volunteers. They organize monthly running activity in Bangkok and other big city by pairing blind with people who want to be guide runner. 

Job Training and hiring opportunity:
For job training, there are two main kinds of it, they are as follow.
- Specific occupational training - The first of this kind is Thai massage which has been trained for a long time and nowadays certified by Ministry of Public Health. Blind have to join the course and gain certificate to be able to work as a massage therapist. Besides massage, there is also other training specially designed, e.g. carpenter skill and music training for blind musicians and singers. 
- Vocational training for the Blind - mostly computer for business, English for business and marketing skill. This kind of training will be taught in vocational college that accept blind individual to join as an inclusive student. 
There are many occupations for blind in Thailand. Most of them work as Thai massage therapist or street musician (the one who use their ability in music and singing to gain some money in public places). Blind street musicians are not beggar. They have to join the skill test (singing or music instrument skill test) until they got certificate approved by Ministry of Social Development and Human Security of Thailand. After that, they will be able to work in many public places conveniently without considered as a beggar who is unacceptable by the law. 
In Thailand, there is also job hiring law which stated that all companies must have at least one worker with disabilities for every 100 workers in the organization or provide money for government to create more trainings and opportunities in case they are not ready to hire disabled workers. However, it is hard for blind to join the company especially people with totally blind. For low-vision, they have more hiring chances. It has been like this for a long time because many companies don't understand what blind can do for them. They always think that blind can do only call center work and not every company needs call center. As a result, there are many jobless blinds, even though they have university degree. 
For me, after graduated from a university, I searched for a job for many years, had a chance to attend many interviews, but they were not ready to accept me. Finally, I got a job in a five star hotel as a learning coordinator in HR department and have worked here for almost 3 years. My work is to do some training for hotel staffs and responsible for internal translation work. It is a long way to go to make many companies understand what blind can do for them besides answering phone call, but surely it will be better in the future. 

After finishing school, blinds can join university by taking the same exam process as other students. They can join almost every university but its readiness to support is different. If you are the first blind in the university, or there is no blind student for a long time, you may have to build anything from the ground up. However, for some university where many blinds are joining or have joined so far, the support is better. Many universities have "Disabled Student Services" or DSS to support them along the way mostly in producing studying materials either in braille, electronic file or audio book. Assistive technology and mobility skill are necessary for blinds to join university because they have to be able to live independently as much as possible during their entire university life. 

In Bangkok, there are many kinds of public transport. Although it is not specially designed for the blind, we can use it with only some problems. For example, there are many bus lines for different places, there is no audible signal to tell which bus is stopping, but in some bus stop, there are staffs standing by to help especially for the main stop with crowded passengers. To use bus in Bangkok, O&M skill is really needed, because you have to notice the way with good attention. On some bus, bus attendant will tell passengers almost every stop or at least ask blinds where they would like to go and tell them whenever it arrives, but some bus isn't like this. 
In my opinion, the most popular public transport for blind in Bangkok besides bus is BTS and MRT, the version of sky train and underground train respectively. They are provided free of charge for people with disabilities and there are always station staffs to help. Other kinds of transport that blind can use including express boat and taxi, I never use both of them and there is no problem so far. 
In other main city, the transportation system is not as good as in Bangkok, even in the important city like Chiang Mai. As a result, it may hard for blind to live in those cities, but everything is going better soon and with O&M skill learning in school, people can adapt to it and be able to live in other cities as well. 

Getting around:
In Bangkok, there is sidewalk for almost every street, but some is hard to use because it is separated for selling street food. Selling things on the sidewalk is unacceptable by law but street food is unique for Bangkok and it's well-known around the world so that is surely hard to change. 
Anyway, blind can use most of the sidewalk in Bangkok. Thank for many people that always ready to help each other. For example, when you are walking, there will be people come to ask where you are going, some of them told the way and some of them even help the blind by being companion until they reach the destination. It is like this in almost every place e.g. department store and building which is not fully accessible for blind. 
Outside Bangkok, sidewalk is provided but not in every city. However, the thing that people have in common is: they are willing to help the blind. You can ask them the direction and surely at least a person will give you the answer. 

Guide Dogs:
Guide dogs are not widely used for blind, only some of us have used it so far. There is some problem e.g. there is no training school for guide dogs in Thailand and there are many street dogs around town (dogs those are abandoned by their owners), so it is hard for guide dogs to help the blind in daily life. However, nowadays, people start to be aware of its importance for the blind. Many places allow blind with guide dog to access it. In some hotel, including the one I work has policy allowing people with service animal to use all services in the hotel like any other customers. It is in the beginning stage, but for me, it's a good starting point. 

In Thailand, there is a card for people with disabilities approved by the government besides ID card that everyone must have. Disabled person will gain some benefit after receiving such card. There is monthly benefit from government around 800 THB per month. There are other benefits as well e.g. discount for railway and domestic air ticket from some airlines, free BTS, MRT, ARL (airport rail link) and express boat fee in Bangkok. 

Reading service:
There is a free audio books service in Thailand so-called "National audio books Library for Blinds and Individual who cannot Access Printed Materials" which provide postal CD-lending service, telephony system for listening and online access service free of charge. People only need to register for a free membership status and enjoy the benefit without limitation. Books are read by volunteers and are being added every day. 
Besides the library, there are other services as well e.g. "Read for the Blind" application that provides not only books but also online articles (also read by volunteers). There is a Facebook group "Help us Read" where blind can upload images to ask for a description or reading text that is unable to read using screen reader. There are many volunteers waiting to help. For audio description, it is in the starting point, but it is continually developed with the help from many sections. It is done by an application so blind need smartphone to access movie with AD, and it is only available for some popular movies and series right now. 

Blind Organizations:
There are Thailand's Association for the Blind both in Bangkok and some other main cities. The organization is responsible for providing training service e.g. assistive technology and some job-related training. There is also "Christian Foundation for the Blind" that has been established for more than 40 years and helps many blinds in term of education, technology and scholarship. This organization runs many schools for the blind and DSS Centers in many universities. 

Final Thoughts:
Regarding blind and low vision situation in Thailand, although there is something need to be developed in the future, but in general, it is Okay for people with disabilities to live happily in Thailand. In my opinion, job opportunity for blind is only the area that needs to be aware of urgently right now. When blinds have more hiring opportunities, they will be able to live more independently.

Exercise, does a body good

By Dan Kiely

Welcome to another edition of Exercise Does A Body Good. For those who do not have any exercise equipment at home, do not despair, you can use your own body weight to exercise.
The following exercises will give you a cardiovascular and strengthening workout.

Exercise1: Jumping Jacks.
Starting Position: Stand upright, feet together, hands at your sides.
Movement: Simultaneously jump moving feet apart, and raise hands to about 90 degrees or above your head, and jump back to starting position.
Repetitions: Do as many jumping jacks as you can in 30 seconds.
Muscles Involved: The heart and lungs, along with the whole body.

Exercise 2: Push ups.
Starting Position: Hands and feet on the floor.  Hands shoulder width apart, feet hip width apart, back straight, and stomach tight.
Movement: Lower chest and hips toward floor, and raised chest and hips back to starting position.
Repetitions: Do as many push ups as you can within 30 seconds.
Muscles Involved: Chest, shoulders, back, hips, and abdomen.

Exercise 3: Sprinters on all fours.
Starting Position: Start in push up plank position. Hands placed on floor, shoulder width apart, and feet placed on floor, hip width apart. Move your right foot slightly forward, towards your right hand. Bend your knees slightly, keep stomach tight, and head up.
Movement: The hands will never move; this is all leg work. Simultaneously move left foot forward towards your left hand, move right foot back further away from the right hand, then simultaneously right foot forward and left foot backwards. Imagine that you are a sprinter, with hands stationary, and legs are sprinting. This will definitely get your heart rate going.
Repetitions: Do as many sprints as you can within 30 seconds.
Muscles Involved: Heart and lungs. This works your core muscles, hip and leg muscles, and chest, back and arm muscles. In other words, this is a total body workout.

Exercise 4: Squats.
Starting Position: Stand with feet hip width apart, knees slightly bent, stomach tight, hands at your sides, and head up.
Movement: Lower upper body and buttocks towards floor, as if you were about to sit in a chair, and rise back up to standing position.
Repetitions: Do as many squats as you can within 30 seconds.
Muscles Involved: Heart and lungs. Legs, hips, and core muscles.
Once you complete the 4 exercises, repeat the sequence of exercises again. Try to do 4 sets of the 4 exercises, or more! In other words, challenge yourself. If you need to rest between sets, then do so. Remember exercise is free, no special equipment is needed, but we need to motivate ourselves to get up and move.

Health tip:
How to get motivated to exercise
Connect to a positive feeling (feeling accomplished, active, energized, healthy, etc.)
Think fun (pair exercise with being outside, talking with friends, listening to music or a book, etc.) 
Set realistic goals (start slow with moderate intensity; 3 days a week for 30 minutes)
Be committed (schedule a time for exercise)

Welcome to 2020, let’s get motivated, let’s get moving, and remember Exercise Does A Body Good!

Have I Got A Story For You

By Carla Jo Bratton

Holy Cats Book Junkies! It’s 2020! That just sounds like the future! We are beginning our sixth year of The Blind Perspective! Unreal, right? I do hope all of you had a wonderful and restful holiday season. Now off we go to bookland! 

The Women of the Copper Country
written by Mary Doria Russell
reading time; 12 hours and 30 minutes
not on CELA or RNIB yet
Historical Fiction
From the best-selling and award-winning author of The Sparrow comes an inspiring historical novel about "America’s Joan of Arc" Annie Clements - the courageous woman who started a rebellion by leading a strike against the largest copper-mining company in the world.

In July 1913, 25-year-old Annie Clements had seen enough of the world to know that it was unfair. She’s spent her whole life in the copper-mining town of Calumet, Michigan, where men risk their lives for meager salaries - and had barely enough to put food on the table and clothes on their backs. The women labor in the houses of the elite and send their husbands and sons deep underground each day, dreading the fateful call of the company man telling them their loved ones aren’t coming home. When Annie decides to stand up for herself and the entire town of Calumet, nearly everyone believes she may have taken on more than she is prepared to handle.

In Annie’s hands lie the miners’ fortunes and their health, her husband’s wrath over her growing independence, and her own reputation as she faces the threat of prison and discovers a forbidden love. On her fierce quest for justice, Annie will discover just how much she is willing to sacrifice for her own independence and the families of Calumet.

From one of the most versatile writers in contemporary fiction, this novel is an authentic and moving historical portrait of the lives of the men and women of the early 20th-century labor movement and of a turbulent, violent political landscape that may feel startlingly relevant to today.

My comments; I loved this true story. I was absolutely captivated and couldn’t read it fast enough. Then I went out and researched all about it. It’s so hard to think of people living like this and what it took for change to occur in our country. It really made the Tennessee Ernie Ford song, The Company Store and the 1913 massacre by Woody Guthrie come alive. 

Me, Elton John Official Biography
read by Elton John and Taron Egerton
reading time; 11 hours and 40 minutes
CELA Book number is 295691
it is in Braille on RNIB
In his first and only official autobiography, music icon Elton John reveals the truth about his extraordinary life, which is also the subject of the film Rocket man. The result is Me - the joyously funny, honest, and moving story of the most enduringly successful singer/songwriter of all time.

Christened Reginald Dwight, he was a shy boy with Buddy Holly glasses who grew up in the London suburb of Pinner and dreamed of becoming a pop star. By the age of 23, he was performing his first gig in America, facing an astonished audience in his bright yellow dungarees, a star-spangled T-shirt, and boots with wings. Elton John had arrived and the music world would never be the same again.

His life has been full of drama, from the early rejection of his work with song-writing partner Bernie Taupin to spinning out of control as a chart-topping superstar; from half-heartedly trying to drown himself in his L A swimming pool to disco-dancing with the Queen; from friendships with John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, and George Michael, to setting up his AIDS Foundation. All the while, Elton was hiding a drug addiction that would grip him for over a decade.

In Me, Elton also writes powerfully about getting clean and changing his life, about finding love with David Furnish and becoming a father. In a voice that is warm, humble, and open, this is Elton on his music and his relationships, his passions and his mistakes. This is a story that will stay with you, from a living legend.

My comments; I knew I wanted to read this one as soon as I heard he was writing it. This is a genuine story told in his own words. It is a moving portrait about one of our living music artists. 

This Tender Land
written by William Kent Krueger
reading time: 14 hours and 8 minutes
read by Scott Brick
not on CELA or RNIB yet

The acclaimed author of Ordinary Grace crafts a powerful novel about an orphan's life-changing adventure traveling down America's great rivers during the Great Depression, seeking both a place to call home and a sense of purpose in a world sinking into despair.

1932: Located on the banks of the Gilead River in Minnesota, Lincoln School is home to hundreds of Native American boys and girls who have been separated from their families. The only two white boys in the school are orphan brothers Odie and Albert, who, under the watchful eyes of the cruel superintendent Mrs. Brickman, are often in trouble for misdeeds both real and imagined. The two boys' best friend is Mose, a mute Native American who is also the strongest kid in school. And they find another ally in Cora Frost, a widowed teacher who is raising her little girl, Emmy, by herself.

When tragedy strikes down Mrs. Frost, it's the catalyst for a series of events that will send Odie, Albert, and Mose to rescue Emmy and flee down the river in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi, leaving a dead body in their wake. Soon, they are wanted by the law, and they know that Mrs. Brickman will stop at nothing to track them down for dark reasons of her own. Over the course of this unforgettable summer, Odie, Albert, Mose, and Emmy carefully make their way through the small river towns and big cities filled with people who are by turns desperate and generous, cruel and kind. As they search for a place to belong, these four remarkable children will lose their innocence but gain the strength to survive in the face of terrible loss.

My comments; What a powerful novel. William Kent Krueger packs so much in one sentence. I highly recommend this one.

So, Happy New Year Beautiful Book People!
Until next month, Happy reading, 
Carla jo.

The Braille Highway

By Nat Armeni

 Happy new year! Happy 6th birthday, The Blind Perspective! Another significant birthday in the braille world is Louis Braille 211th birthday, officially on Saturday January 4th. For this month’s article I conducted a Q and A with Neal Kuniansky, the Director of Sales & Marketing for Duxbury Systems, Inc.
Read on after the Q andA for details about a contest where someone will win a prize of a braille deck of uno playing cards. Remember, I invite you all to email me with your thoughts, ideas, and constructive feedback, at my email listed above.
Please introduce yourself and the software Duxbury.
I am Neal Kuniansky with Duxbury Systems. We are most widely known for the Duxbury Braille Translation software for Windows and Mac used around the world and supporting print-to-braille and braille-print translation for over 200 languages. We support virtually every braille printer and our software is accessible with screen readers, refreshable braille displays and screen enhancement solutions.

When was Duxbury established?
Duxbury was established in 1975 with the first commercial sale in 1976. You can find out more about our company history from: www.DuxburySystems.com/history
what benefits does the program offer to make it appealing to the end user?
It makes it easy to produce extremely high-quality braille, contracted and uncontracted, both electronic and hard copy, both casual and expert by those with visual impairments and those without. Duxbury includes free technical support a perpetual license, and discounted upgrade paths for all registered users. Our products work for those who are not experts as well as those who are experts.

Are there any plans to create a Duxbury app or something of the sorts for Apple product users?
We already have full Mac version of DBT Win. We are talking about various possibilities for apps but nothing is on the timeline yet.

How many languages does Duxbury work in?
DBT works for roughly 200 plus languages. We handle braille math in many languages. If someone needs Duxbury in a language we do not support, we are keen to implement it at no charge. The program contains all of the languages that we support. We also have built in user interfaces in a number of languages and again, if someone wishes to add theirs, we are keen to work with them to implement it.

For more information on languages and DBT: 
For more information on DBT WIN: www.DuxburySystems.com/DBT for WIN
For more information on DBT MAC: www.DuxburySystems.com/DBT for MAC

I know that Duxbury does not offer any support for Perky Ducks and the QuickTac graphics software. However, if you could shed some light on these 2 programs and please share the direct link for our readers to download them. PerkyDuck is essentially a free computerized brailler. It was designed for distance braille education and testing. The limitations in it were suggested by braille instructors. There is both a Windows and a Mc version. For more information on Perky Duck: www.DuxburySystems.com/Perky
PERKY MAC can be downloaded from: www.DuxburySystems.com/Perky for Mac
Perk Duck for Windows can be downloaded from: www.DuxburySystems.com/Perky for Windows
QuickTac is a free Windows tactile graphics program used to create tactile graphics for insertion into your DBT documents braille documents. You can insert braille labels and even tactile letters into your graphic. This is used to easily produce tactile graphics for production on braillers according to the braillers tactile capability. It is a great tool for concepts, mobility maps, other maps sciences, etc. You can find out more about Quick Tac from: www.DuxburySystems.com/Quick Tac
You can download QuickTac from: www.DuxburySystems.com/Quick Tac Download How much does a full version of Duxbury cost? In addition, is there some kind of Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA) with Duxbury? A single-user license of DBT costs US695 dollars, that includes one year of free downloadable upgrades. Free technical support and the ability to purchase upgrades if needed. There is also a 12 month software maintenance agreement. If purchased with a new license the SMA is US 195 dollars. If purchased later the SMA is 245 dollars. There are also Single-server multi-user licenses of DBT available. The DBT Win and DBT Mac are separate products even though their pricing is the same. What other software or products does Duxbury offer? Free for DBT Win there is a facility called SWIFT which will insert itself as a braille ribbon into MS WORD. And then there is also, the BRAILLE TEMPLATE for MS Word which is great for letting users do all of their print composing in MS Word, to take advantage of its word composing power. For textbook transcribers we also offer NIMPRO, which is an advanced tool to make transcription of electronic textbook files (such as Nimas, Daisy, ePub3, etc.) much more efficient. Can you tell us more about the founder of Duxbury Systems? Joe Sullivan is one of the original founders, the company president and the chief architect of the original Duxbury Braille Translator software. He is a mathematician by schooling and has designed software for most of his working life. He worked at the U.S. Navy's David Taylor Model Basin, at Bunker-Ramo Corporation, and at MITRE Corporation before helping to found Duxbury Systems. Joe's present affiliations include: • Member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) • Member of the Unified English Braille Code (UEBC) committee, International Council on English Braille (ICEB) I have used Duxbury’s excellent technical support over the years, and I cannot say enough about their knowledge of the software especially Don Breada. Does the technical staff go through any specialized training? Experience, experience, experience. While we are a very small company, we take great pride in giving the best customer support we can. If a customer has an issue we do not know how to solve, we will bite into it and do all that we can to solve it. We realize that software is never perfect, so we count on our many users to point out bugs and areas where we can make our products better. Several years ago, when the UEB was placed into law, how difficult was it for Duxbury to implement the changes? All new braille codes present many challenges. UEB was not different. I believe it was at the request of the ICEB, International Council of English Braille, that we began putting experimental implementations of UEB into DBT in order for the many UEB committees to create test braille in order to distribute it and in order to see if the rules were indeed producing the desired results. Any closing thoughts or comments? The real founding and ongoing principal philosophy behind Duxbury Systems is to help enable tactile readers to get a full literate and technical education. So that every individual can develop into the best version of themselves that their talents, skills, determination and imagination will allow. To give access to knowledge and education through literacy a reality! This is a passion with us. It is a great honor to have played a small part, and to see the success stories from users, educators, authors, braille transcribers, accountants, computer programmers, insurance company executives, elected officials and yes even judges, just to name a few of the success stories achieved. Thank you, Neal, for taking the time and effort to participate in this Q and A! As for our contest, keeping braille in mind, I invite you to create your own contraction. It is to be two or three braille cells. Obviously, no existing contractions are allowed. in 150 words or less, explain your reasoning behind your new contraction. Then send it to me, with Braille Contest as the subject line, and email to: Nat@TheBlindPerspective.com
I will pick the winner and it will be published in the February newsletter. As I mentioned in the first paragraph of this article, I will be awarding the winner with a deck of braille Uno playing cards. Braille user’s do it with feelings. Why complicate life with gadgets when you can complement it with braille. A reminder, to stay on the dotted line of life! Keep safe and speak with you again in February.

The Guide Dog Journey

By Tammy Lynn
Tammy Lynn@TheBlindPerspective.com

The Proper Care and Feeding of Our Faithful Partners

Welcome to the Guide Dog Journey and happy New Year to all readers! I hope everyone had a safe, healthy and happy Christmas and New Year’s, including our faithful canine partners.

As I’ve stated in previous articles, I’m not a veterinarian or a professional guide dog trainer. I would, however, like to share my knowledge and ideas about the care of dogs. Please feel free to write to me with any additional ideas and suggestions you may have that might help others.

One of the most important aspects of canine health, and our health, is exercise. Our dogs often naturally get a significant amount of exercise from our regular routes and activities. It is important to remember though, especially during inclement weather, to play with our dogs and get them as much indoor exercise as possible. Exercise keeps their heart in good condition and helps to keep that all important number on the scale in check. It helps with their energy level and keeps them engaged and interested in doing what they love.

The subject of inclement weather brings up several other important health considerations. One being our dog’s paws. Both excessively cold and hot weather can cause discomfort to the pads of the feet. Some handlers prefer to use special dog boots to help protect the paws. Some guide dog puppy raisers even expose puppies to boots early in their lives and some schools train clients to work with their dogs and boots. I personally have little experience with this but do know several handlers who find them to work well. I do, however, wipe my dog’s paws after coming in from cold weather in order to remove any salt that may be present from walking on the icy streets and sidewalks. Salt can cause discomfort to a dog’s pads and can create dry and cracked paws. Another thing to look out for in the winter time is antifreeze in the gutters of curbs. This is very dangerous for dogs and they are attracted to the sweet smell and taste. Being very aware of where your dog’s head is and what they are doing is critical in the winter months because of the risk of antifreeze exposure. Under extreme weather conditions, it is sometimes best to stay inside if possible.

Another important health consideration is what our dogs ingest. Hydration is essential for digestion, healthy skin and good temperature regulation. Monitoring water intake and watering a dog several times each day helps them maintain great health. 
On the flip-side though is our dogs partaking in things that can be potentially dangerous such as chocolate, onions and garlic and other spices, grapes, raisins, macadamia nuts, and additives like caffeine and Xylitol which is found in gum and candies and sweets. These things can make your dog very sick and, in some situations, possibly even be fatal.

Some people food and even a dog food change can result in the triggering of allergies or mild digestive changes. Although many guide dog users tend to stick to a dog food and treat regimen, it is always best to consult your veterinarian before making changes to your animal’s diet.

Two other important things to tend to are your dog’s teeth and nails. Good dental health can help prevent obvious things such as chewing difficulties, extractions and pain, but also more not-so-obvious things such as heart disease. Again, some puppy raisers do get dogs use to having their teeth brushed, but easing your dog into handling their mouth is still a great idea. Start with small steps like just touching a few teeth and gradually increase slowly until you get to fully brushing the teeth. There are several types of dog toothpaste available and also different types of tooth brushes. My personal favorite are dental wipes that slide onto your finger making it harder for the dog to swallow the wipe and easy for a blind person to be sure they are effectively scrubbing each tooth. Again, please consult your vet before trying new products.

Flea, tick and heartworm prevention are also essential practices for your guide. The dosage and type of products you use may be dependent on where you live since location and climate can determine what your dog needs to be protected against. There are several different products on the market to meet these needs. Some are topical, some are pills and still others chewable. They also can vary on how often they need to be administered. Again, talk to your vet or trainer to help decide what products to use, how often and when to use them. Nail care is important because long nails can cause a dog to slip. They can also crack or break and may bleed. Often times dogs who work for long periods of time on pavement, tend to need their nails trimmed less often as they pavement does somewhat of a good job keeping the nails shorter. If a dog is not comfortable having their nails trimmed, again it can be helpful to take the process in small steps for short periods of time, building up to them being comfortable having their feet handled and their nails trimmed.

One final thought on health for this month is affection. Quality time with your dog talking to him or her and petting or even some T-Touch or massage can be great physical and emotional therapy for both of you.

Here’s to many wishes for you and your furry companion for a safe, happy and very healthy New Year! Until next time, take care and enjoy the journey!

Spencer's Spotlight

By Cheryl Spencer

Here we are in the year 2020. Doesn't that sound futuristic to you?!Wow, it's difficult to keep up with all the tech items we tend to accumulate. I know I had things charging here there and everywhere and a hard time keeping up with where what was at any given time. I had to get a grip on it because I could never find anything when I needed it. I decided to be proactive.

The solution I found was in the form of a shelf unit. I ended up with a 5 shelf unit and put it in a place that was easily accessed. I bought a USB hub which you can get from any department store or electronic place, and a power strip that also has USB inputs on it and set up what I call my charging station. I put the items I do not use often on the top and bottom shelves and the items I use more often I put within easy reach.

When I started gathering up all the devices, I had that required charging I was flabbergasted. I did not realize it because it was distributed through the house and I could never remember where I put what. 
Now, when I want a speaker, power bank, Aira glass, Victor Stream, digital recorder, well, you get the drift. The point is, I know that it is within easy reach anytime I need it. I cannot tell you how much time I have saved not having to hunt down stuff since I put this charging station together. 

I know a lot of you may not have as many gadgets as I do, so the shelf unit may be overboard so in that case, a table can be dedicated to be used as a charging station. January is a good time to make a fresh start by putting all your tech in one place.

Here's wishing all of you a very Happy and organized new year!

App Petizers: Byte Size Tidbits to Help Master Your iDevice

By Darrin cheney

Learn a New Task on Your iDevice

Happy New Year! Consider making a resolution to learn one task on your iDevice. In this article, you will learn how to succeed with technology adoption and where to find resources to help get you started.

Getting Started
In 1962, Everett M Rogers wrote a ground breaking book called, “Diffusion of Innovations.” Rogers explores the 5 types of Adopter for new ideas and technology and places them on a bell curve. This “Technology Adoption Life Cycle” curve describes the process and time-frame for new ideas to be adopted. The theory is also used to describe innovation and adoption of products and services like Apple iPhones or iOS. The 5 Types of Adopter include: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and Laggards. Knowing where you fit on the curve will help you understand where you are on the “roll-out” of new updates and services. Your position on the “Technology Adoption" curve may change over time.

Who Are Technology Adopters?
1. Innovators are on the leading edge of new technology. They are the first to create new software or design the next big tech device. Innovators champion new ideas and encourage early adoption. They are designing new concepts and Apps for future development.
2. Early Adopters track what innovators are doing and promote new ideas and products. They are the “Beta Testers” and want to try a new OS before it is released to the general public. Early Adopters will be first to share an article, a blog, or a YouTube video that highlight updates, modifications and new features. They may also write a book to sell once the OS or technology is released.
3. Early Majority will adopt technology as soon as it is available to the public. They want to be first to buy an iPhone or to download and use a new OS before bugs are patched and fixed. They love new toys and they want to share them with others.
4. Late Majority will wait to download a new OS after several major patches are released and bugs are fixed. They don’t like rapid change and may choose to use older technology until they are forced to update. 
5. Laggards really don’t like change and may refuse to use technology until they see a benefit and maybe not at all. In some situations Laggards will acquiesce to stay in touch with extended family and see pictures of grandkids and distant friends.

Why does technology change so rapidly?
Technology vendors like Apple, continue to innovate and update their hardware and software to include new features, to improve performance, and to address security challenges. Apple releases new hardware and OS every year and encourages users to buy new products and services. From a blindness perspective, it’s a challenge to keep up with the changes and new features. In some cases, older, more reliable hardware may still work just fine, but lack the latest bells and whistles. Vendors will continue to innovate and make changes to their technology and software. At some point, you need to get on the “Tech Bus” or watch it leave you behind.

How can you succeed with Technology Adoption?
1. Choose one task that you want to perform on your iPhone or iPad. For example, send an instant message to your wife or email your daughter at college. The task will dictate what hardware, software and training you will need.
2. Determine what type of Adopter you are and proceed finding resources to assist you.
3. Invest in the necessary hardware if you are getting started. Consider buying a new iPad or an iPhone if you want to do more on the go.
4. Download and install new updates when you are ready. Late Adopters usually wait until there is a X.2 version. Most of the bugs are fixed and the iOS is stable. Plus, there will be more training resources available.
5. Find resources to help you learn your task. A book from National Braille Press can help you get started. Apple Books has a free iPadOS and iOS book. YouTube and Hadley Institute have many videos showing new features and tutorials. AppleVis.com has blog posts, podcasts, and reviews of new OS Apps.
6. Create your own reminder sheets and notes to perform your one task. This may include step-by-step instructions or a braille list of screen elements. Determine the changes in the OS update and focus on learning new steps and procedures. Once you become confident, please share your notes with others.
7. Find a “Tech Buddy” to guide you. Then, find other people that are in your adoption group and create a “Study Posse” where you learn together. Plan a weekly session where you can learn, make mistakes, and have fun. You can meet in-person, via FaceTime, or on a telephone conferencing system.

How to choose the best learning resources?
We all have different learning styles and technology skills. The best strategy is to find learning resources that match your knowledge and skill level. Authors and media producers will create web articles, books, and YouTube videos that match their Adopter level. For example, after the Annual Apple Developers Conference, “Beta” OS is released to developers and testers. Early Adopters will write web articles about new features and post YouTube videos for the Early Majority Adopters. Authors for Apple and National Braille Press will write books for Early Majority and Later Majority Adopters. If you are an Early Adopter, you may find these brief snippets helpful. If you are Late Majority or Laggard, you might want to wait for more basic information published in an Apple book or NBP book. Explore Hadley Institute videos or Applevis.com podcasts that demonstrate tasks for blind users. Finally, search for web articles or YouTube videos that describe new features written by blind professionals.

Final Thoughts
Make a New Year’s Resolution to learn one new task on your iDevice. Invest the time and the resources you need to learn your task. Assemble your “Study Posse” and learn together. Technology will continue to grow and evolve and new ideas will lead to innovation and change which is part of the Technology Life Cycle. So, pick your task and let's get moving forward!

A Time to Plant

By Sue Brazel

As a low vision/blind person, there are tips that you might want to implement with your gardening this year. These tips are useful for people with “normal” vision as well.

Plants with scents, such as citronella, rosemary or mint allow you to smell where you are. Water fountains or wind chimes allow you to hear your location. Keep in mind that unless the wind is blowing, your wind chimes will be silent. Whirl-a-gigs and garden art flowers can be a visual attraction.

Place a tire on the ground, and fill it with soil. Put several potato eyes in. Or, put in a tomato plant. When these plants are 5”-6” tall with several sets of leaves, put more soil around the starts, keeping at least one set of leaves above ground. Under normal circumstances, you should never bury leaves of a growing plant. As the plants grow, pile on more tires and more soil. Tomato plants will have well established roots after the third or fourth tire, so stop adding more soil. Wait for the tomatoes to bloom and grow. Tires filled with potato plants can grow to 7 or 8 tires tall. When harvested, you should find potatoes at all tire levels. These tire totem poles are great markers.

Piling rocks, especially in a rock garden, can also create a distinctive feature. Not only will you recognize where you are, but you can identify plants by their distance from the rock mound.

When you have just planted rows of seeds, weight down some corrugated cardboard to walk on. While the plants are tiny, you won’t be stepping on them. As the plants grow, the cardboard will start to decompose, adding to your mulch.

Mark your rows with brailled or large print cards put into zip locked bags that can be held in place in the tines of plastic forks. Laminated cards might also work. Large popsicle sticks can mark plants, but check to make sure the writing stays legible. Ribbons of different colors, such as red for tomatoes, green for peppers, etc. is another way to mark plants. Flags in wine corks can also identify plants.

To find particular plants, cut off the bottom of plastic pots. Put a special plant in the soil inside of the bottomless container. This barrier allows you to weed outside of the container, being careful with the growth inside. Your roots have growth space beyond the confinements of the container. The same effect can be used when a branch is cut into sections, allowing for placement of wood chucks around your plants. Later, the wood will decay and become mulch.

When planting seeds, colorful plastic tablecloths can orient you toward particular plants.  They can also be used, when held down, as a guide for planting seeds. Plastic can act as a weed barrier.

For planting in straight lines, a hoe handle or yardstick can be used. You could mark spacing to know 2”, 4”, etc. by wrapping colorful duct tape around your straight implements.

Mix a slurry of cornstarch, water and tiny seeds. Squeeze the slurry out of a plastic baggie onto the soil. Seeds have a good chance of staying in place until growth starts.

One reader commented that plastic buckets help him to know garden barriers. When watering, he listens to find out if he is watering plants or if spray is going beyond the garden.

Please let me know if you have tips that might help other gardeners. I’d love to pass them on!

Now, it is “thyme” for me to check on the plants in my garden.

The Alternating Duo: Here's to your Health

by Catherine Hall

Catherine has informed me that she will have to discontinue writing her segment, Here’s to Your Health. She just has too many things piling up on her plate at the moment. I am sure a lot of us can relate to that!

Thank you, Catherine, for the past two years of educating, informing and entertaining us of the many health and nutrition topics. We all wish you a great 2020, and future success.
If there are any readers out there that are knowledgeable and experienced in health and nutrition, and would like to write for the Blind Perspective, just send me an email at, Karen@TheBlindPerspective.com

Dirty Work

By Manny Morales

Happy New Year!
This month I focus on the things lurking up in the ceiling’s corners. Yep, you got it, cobwebs! You may ask yourself how am I going to get rid of them if I can’t see them. Good question. I suggest asking a sighted friend or relative, or use   an app like Be My Eyes or Aira, and go around your house or apartment and find out if you have any cobwebs hanging around. 
Read on to learn a bit more about cobwebs and what to do with them.

What are cobwebs?
Many people question whether cobwebs are made by spiders. Short answer, yes! A cobweb is typically made up of the leftover threads of an abandoned spider’s web. The web stays sticky after a spider dies or migrates elsewhere. And those sticky threads are great at snagging dirt, dust, animal hair and so forth.
While the thin silk of an active spider web may be hard to spot, the accumulation of dust and dander on a cobweb can quickly become an eyesore.

How to clean cobwebs:
There’s no great secret to figuring out how to clean cobwebs. All you have to do is dust regularly. Ideally, you should dust your house on a weekly basis. However, with everyone’s hectic schedules, weekly may not be manageable, so aim for every two weeks.
When you do dust, you’ll want to work from top to bottom, making sure you hit upper corners where cobwebs tend to form. Cover any furniture or items below corners with a towel so they don’t get dusty. Vacuum the floor afterward to prevent the dust and dirt from recirculating.
Additionally, don’t forget to dust your window blinds, ceiling fans and around air conditioning/ heating vents. Because these items move or circulate air, they play a large role in spreading dust and dander about your home.

How to prevent spiders in your home:
OK. So, you know how to clean cobwebs. But how do you keep them from forming in the first place? Well, to prevent cobwebs from accruing in your corners, you need to spider-proof your home as much as you can. 
Regular cleaning: The best way to keep cobwebs out of corners is by dusting and vacuuming regularly. This removes spiders and their webs. And when those variables are eliminated, cobwebs can’t form.
Vinegar: Distilled white vinegar is great for many things as you already know, but it is also great at keeping spiders away. Mix vinegar and water in a spray bottle and mist corners, high and low, along with baseboards, window sills and the bases of doors.

If you have any cleaning questions or suggestions, send them to my email above. And as always, remember dirty work is clean fun!

The Beauty Parlor

By Christy Ray
Thinking of a New Year’s resolution? Here’s an idea, be positive and start the year with taking care of yourself. Take some extra time each week to pamper yourself.

I don’t have time for that, you may think. Well, it can take as little as 30 minutes a week. Take the time to use some relaxing and renewing facial routine. There are many kinds out there; some that are deep cleaning; some that are age fighting; some that are age repairing; and some that can do 2 or more of these at the same time.

It can literally take a couple of minutes to put it on, add a hydrating eye patch, and then sit and relax with your morning cup of coffee or tea. After twenty minutes have gone by, wash it off and put on your makeup for the day.

This is not just a physical feel good, it can mentally and emotionally make you feel better, because, you are taking care of you!

Cooking Concoctions

By Maxine

Here are two diabetic friendly chicken recipes. My family loves the first one, and I prefer the second one. Try them, I think you will enjoy them!

Panko Ranch Chicken Strips
Yogurt-based ranch is a healthier take on the classic dipping sauce, and a perfect complement to these crispy treats.

8 chicken tenderloins, about 1 pound total
3/4 cup yogurt ranch dressing, divided
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons canola oil

Place chicken in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup of the ranch dressing; toss until well coated.
Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow pan, such as a pie pan. Coat chicken pieces, one at a time with the breadcrumbs and set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and immediately reduce to medium-low heat.
Cook 12 minutes or until golden and no longer pink in center, gently turning occasionally.
Remove from skillet, sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. 
Serve with remaining 1/2 cup ranch, for dipping.

Nutritional Information:
Calories per serving 340
Total fat per serving 16g
Saturated fat per serving 2.5g
Trans fat per serving 0g
Cholesterol per serving 85mg
Sodium per serving 390mg
Potassium per serving 485mg
Total carbohydrate per serving 17g
Dietary fiber per serving 1g
Sugars per serving 4g
Protein per serving 30g

Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts
These are so yummy, and only 175 calories!

1/2 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/4 cup fat-free ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 teaspoon tarragon
2 whole chicken breasts, halved and boned (leave skin on)
1/2 teaspoon tub butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Combine spinach, cheeses, and tarragon. Add salt and pepper, if desired.
Lift up skin of each chicken breast and divide mixture evenly among them. Be careful not to tear skin.
Smooth skin over stuffing; tuck underneath to form a neat package.
Brush each breast with melted butter. Place in 2-quart baking dish.
Bake uncovered for 45–50 minutes until chicken is browned and no trace of pink remains.
Remove and discard skin after cooking.

Nutritional Information:
Calories per serving 175
Total fat per serving 4g
Saturated fat per serving 1.4g
Trans fat per serving 0g
Cholesterol per serving 80mg
Sodium per serving 135mg
Potassium per serving 320mg
Total carbohydrate per serving 2g
Dietary fiber per serving 1g
Sugars per serving 1g
Protein per serving 31g

Riddle & Brain Buster

By Alex Smart


Makings of a Writer
Take the word draglines, add the letter J and rearrange all the letters to  name a famous writer. Who is it?
Hint, initials may be used.

Answer to December’s Riddle:
You find me in December, but not in any other month. What am I?
The letter D

Brain Buster

Sporting Chance
Name a certain sport. Take the first three letters in its name reverse them, and you’ll get an article of equipment used in that sport. What sport is it?
Answers to December’s brain busters:
Teen Problem
Singer known as the Boss. Bruce Springsteen
Isolation to prevent the spread of disease. Quarantine
Brand of chewing gum. Dentine
Prepared with spinach. Florentine
Hiker’s water container. Canteen
Nutritionally what meat is full of. Protein
Absolutely spotless. Pristine
How Marie Antoinette lost her head. Guillotine
Customary procedure. Routine
Cracker with lots of little holes. Saltines

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