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.
August 2019
Volume 5 Issue 8

Table of Contents

Greetings from the Editor
Movers & Shakers
Readers Perspective
Exercise, does a body good
Have I Got A Story For You
The Braille Highway
Kaleidoscope of Krafts
Spencer’s Spotlight
Computer Tech101
A Time to Plant
The Alternating Duo: Seeing the World Differently
Dirty Work
The Beauty Parlor
Cooking Concoctions
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.

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

Hello Readers!
I hope you are all doing well. This month’s newsletter is loaded with stories, information, projects, suggestions, and advice. But, before reading on, I am currently looking for people who would like to write up an article about the country they live in as a blind person. If writing is not your thing, contact me, and I will interview you, and write up the article. As always you can reach me at Karen@TheBlindPerspective.com
Enjoy reading!

Remember you can also choose to listen to our audio version of the newsletter, link below:
The Blind Perspective Audio

At A Glance: Polara, Well Behaved & Braille Journey, PNF, Blockbuster & Coming of Age, Emails & AC, Scrapbooking, Locator, Smart TV & Converter, Sensory Garden, Carry On, Floors, Foundation, Veggie Snacks, Riddle & Brain Buster!

Movers & Shakers

By Karen Santiago

Last month I attended one of the National Conventions and I met Matt Baker, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Polara. Polara has designed and manufactured the most durable, technologically advanced, and pedestrian-friendly crosswalk devices available since 1996. They are the leading supplier of Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) and ADA-compliant pedestrian technology and push buttons in North America.

Some of the major cities currently using these accessible crosswalk systems include Houston, Charlotte, Memphis, Miami, Seattle, Boston, and Washington DC, to name a few. In addition, they have them all across Canada. Matt added that Canada has been very proactive in installing APS. He also said that there are some units in Mexico, and Chile.

Polara’s first version of their APS was made in 1998. Since then, they have progressively made improvements and introduced many models. The INavigator APS was first launched in 2015.

Introducing the iNavigator APS with Bluetooth technology
This Bluetooth technology allows technicians on Android and iOS (Apple Devices) to wirelessly program/set up. They are working on a PedAPP, for pedestrians to locate their buttons, actuate them, and get crossing feedback information.

What the iNavigator APS does:
• Designed to replace existing pushbuttons and provide accessible crossing information.
• Provides signal information in multiple and alternative formats to assist vision and hearing impaired.
• APS provides an audible “Locate Tone” to alert the pedestrian there is equipment installed.
• APS provides a tactile raised arrow to point into the direction of the crosswalk.
• When button is pushed an audible “Wait” message is played.
• An extended button push (1-second hold) can provide more audible information such as the street name to be crossed and the direction of travel.
• When the “Walk” signal is activated, the pushbutton arrow vibrates, and an audible indication is given, either a “Speech Message” or a “Rapid Percussive Tone”.
• When “Don’t Walk” cycle is on, the button returns to playing the “Locate Tone”.

Matt demonstrated this iNavigator APS, and it is loud enough to hear, clearly spoken, and easy to understand. I think it is a great accessible device that would assist blind and hearing impaired individuals to safely cross intersections.

I will be reaching out to suggest installing the iNavigator APS in a few locations within the city I reside. Matt provided me with a product sheet brochure and a sample letter that can be sent to any of the following; local Traffic Engineer, City Accessibilities coordinator, City Council Member or Mayor within your city.

You can visit their website and on the home page you will find there is a section that has this information, its about ¾ way down. There you will find two buttons: “What is an APS”, and “How to request an APS”. The website also has their local distributors information for anyone to contact in their respective areas. These distributors have demonstration equipment, and can give demonstrations, and help provide the local traffic department/ engineer’s contact information for submitting APS requests.

Contact Information:
Phone Number: 903-366-0300
Website: Polara.com/

Reader's Perspective


A Well-Behaved Mom

In memory and loving tribute of Lois Jean Goss
By Shirley Manning

Mom and I used to go shopping for clothes together often, along with my guide dog, Winnie. Although not always approving, Mom knew my tastes and was willing to keep an eye out for what I liked. Shopping has never been Winnie's favorite job, but she knew at the end she would get to play with Mom's dog, Ladybug, so she put up with a long day of being on the go.

On one shopping trip, I was looking for a dressy sweater to wear with a skirt I’d bought a while back. After spending most of the day looking, we were finally successful in a department store. As we approached the checkout counter, the cashier was bending down behind it digging in a box of hangers, she did not see Winnie by my side. From where she worked behind the counter, she still could not see Winnie. Several people were ahead of us in line and the woman next to me began asking about Winnie and making comments. As she often would, my mom left me at the counter to look at something that caught her eye. The cashier was listening to the woman and me talking.

"She's really beautiful," the woman said.
"Thanks! I think so too. She's a lot of help and a great companion" I replied.
From behind the counter the cashier said, "It's so nice of you to feel that way. Does she go everywhere with you?”
“Oh yes. We’re together almost all the time,” I said.
Then the woman next to me said, "And she's so well behaved!"
At this point, the cashier could not help herself. In a perplexed tone she said, "Well behaved…?"

By this time, there were quite a few people in line at the register. It was obvious to all except the poor cashier what was going on. The cashier had not seen Winnie, but she had seen my mom. I and several other folks near by laughed aloud. I backed up a little allowing the cashier to view Winnie and said, “I believe you haven’t seen my trusted friend down here.”

My mom, noticing the commotion, came back. I informed her that she was, "Very well behaved!" Now it was her turn to be perplexed, so I explained. All within earshot had a good laugh, including the cashier.

My Journey with Braille

By Jasmyn

I’ve grown over these past three years to enjoy Braille. Every time I use my Braille writer or slate and stylus to write, it’s hard to stop. Whenever I read a Braille book with my blindfold on, I can find a mysterious word or contraction to learn about. I love that Braille allows you to use different contractions in a word or by its self.

My favorite code is grade 2 Braille because there are more ways to use Braille. The short forms and contractions really challenge my brain to learn new symbols to use in words. When I don’t know a contraction, I ask one of my friends who are more experienced with Braille to help me. They will kindly give me the answer and encourage me to practice every day. This also helps me to enjoy Braille more! It’s great to have friends to help you be better at something you aren’t sure of.

Braille is great for me because I have glaucoma, a progressive eye condition that could blind me, so I must learn Braille for my future as well as my Braille Teaching career. Glaucoma doesn’t scare me because I have Braille as a backup in my life toolbox. It’s kind of like having a gun ready with bullets to shoot the enemy. I have some friends of mine with glaucoma that are Braille users. I too as a glaucoma patient, will need Braille at some point in my lifetime. In case I have a harder time reading print materials, Braille will be in my life.

I encourage all blind and visually impaired people to learn Braille. Once you learn this code, you will see how much Braille can bring up your confidence level. It will change your life for the better!

Exercise, does a body good

By Dan Kiely

welcome back TO ANOTHER EDITION OF Exercise Does A Body Good!
In my last article I wrote about pnf exercise FOR THE UPPER EXTREMETIES. This month the PNF exercises will focus on the lower extremities. If you recall, PNF stands for PROPRIOCEPTIVE NEUROMUSCULAR FACILITATION.

Here is the PNF in the standing position. When standing, it is recommended that you hold onto a wall or a chair for balance. You can use ankle weights. However, I suggest that you master the diagonal 1 and diagonal 2 movements, before adding weights.

Diagonal Pattern #1: (this exercise looks like the #4)
Starting Position: Stand upright, right hand on wall or a chair for balance, and left foot on floor with left knee slightly bent.
Movement: Lift right foot straight off floor, to about 90 degrees or less with knee slightly bent and foot pointing upwards.
Then move your leg diagonally across left side and towards the midline of your body.
Lower leg towards the floor to starting position, with foot pointing downwards.
Do not let your foot touch the floor.
Repeat, and then switch sides.
Repetitions: 25 reps on each side.
Muscles Worked: right lower extremities.

Diagonal Pattern #2: (looks like a male dog peeing)
Starting Position: Stand upright, right hand on wall or a chair for balance, and knees slightly bent.
Movement: Raise right leg straight forward to about 80 degrees, with toes pointing up.
Move foot and knee diagonally outwards from the right side of your body.
lower foot and knee to the floor, to starting position with toes pointing downwards.
Do not let your foot touch the ground.
Repeat and then switch sides.
Repetitions: 25 reps per side.
Muscles Worked: Left lower extremities.

Continue working with these two exercises to the point where you do not need to hold on to a wall or a chair for balance. Then, once mastered, you can slowly add ankle weights for a more intense workout.

As you can tell, these are all diagonal pattern exercises. I have used PNF exercises with patients who have suffered strokes, and those who have had hip and/ or knee surgeries.

So, you can incorporate PNF exercises with your regular exercise routine. You can do PNF exercises in a standing position, side-lying position, on your back, and on your stomach. In addition, you can perform PNF exercises on your stability ball, be creative!

Health Tip:
Here is my own personal favorite fitness smoothie drink. Usually I make this after a workout. I hope you like it!

You need a juicer or a Vita Mixer.
1 scoop of chocolate whey protein
1 cup milk (almond, soy, homogenize or low-fat milk, choose whatever milk you prefer)
1 banana
3 or 4 strawberries
ice cubes

Add chocolate whey protein, milk, banana, and strawberries to the juicer or Vita Mixer.
Blend until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
Then add one or two cups of ice cubes, and blend for 2 to 3 minutes.
Pour your smoothie into a glass and there you have it, a good cold, refreshing fitness smoothie!
remember, let’s keep moving, Exercise Does A Body Good!

Have I Got A Story For You

By Carla Jo Bratton

Hello again book friends,
This month I bring you a blockbuster from a favorite author and a coming of age story. Be warned, both of these books have strong language and violence. I also have a question for you. Do you read books and then watch/listen to the movies or TV shows based on those books? What are your opinions on this? Do you have any recommendations? I’d love to hear from you.

Run away
written by Harlan Coben
reading time: 10 hours and 5 minutes
not on RNIB or CELA yet

You've lost your daughter. She's addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she's made it clear that she doesn't want to be found.

Then, by chance, you see her playing guitar in Central Park. But she's not the girl you remember. This woman is living on the edge, frightened, and clearly in trouble.

You don't stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home. She runs. And you do the only thing a parent can do: you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Before you know it, both your family and your life are on the line and in order to protect your daughter from the evils of that world, you face them head on.

My comments: Wow! I never saw that twist at the end coming. Coben at his best. Every time I read one of his stand-alone books, I’m reminded just how great his Myron Bolitar series is. I really must go back and read those again.

Born a Crime; Stories from a South African Childhood
written and read by Trevor Noah
reading time: 8 hours and 46 minutes
not on RNIB yet
Available from CELA in both Braille and Daisy formats

The compelling, inspiring and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed. Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act, his birth.

Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parent’s indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life. Bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could at any moment steal him away.

Finally, liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure. Living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious and fervently religious mother. A woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school. Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time. Armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconditional love. Noah’s virtuoso embodiment of all the characters from his childhood, and his ability to perform accents and dialects effortlessly in English, Xhosa, and Zulu, garnered the Audie Award for Best Male Narrator in 2018.

My comments: I now see apartheid in a different way. A personal way. This is written from a side I never really thought about. Not political, not what I’ve seen on the news or read about in other books. This is personal. I stop and count my blessings. I wasn’t raised with fear and violence. I really enjoyed this book. Parts of it are hard to read, but parts of life are hard.

I would love to hear from you with any book suggestions.
Happy reading, Carla jo.

The Braille Highway

By Nat Armeni

Hello and welcome to the August edition of The Braille Highway! I hope the weather has been to your liking in your neck of the woods, it has been a nice summer on the West coast of Canada. I do enjoy receiving emails from readers, so feel free to send me one by using the email at the top of this article. This month you will read some emails I have received lately and also how society has made some improvements when it comes to accommodations.

Here is an email from Mel living in Australia.
Dear Nat, Love your article, especially the cross section of topics and opinions. Late last year I visited my sister in Vermont. She recently adopted a cousin who happens to be blind. During my visit, my sister showed me the Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats & Love Notes. How exciting! I must say that the Kellogg company really surprised me and also has made me a complete loyal customer. I could not wait to get back home to Australia to see if we had the same thing available. Sadly, I must report that they have not come to my grocery store. Luckily, I took a package from America to bring back home to put in my daughter’s lunches. Thank you for mentioning the Kellogg initiative and good on the Kellogg company. Keep up the great work!

Thanks Mel for taking the time to email me and for sharing your story. Please let me know if and when the Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats & Love Notes arrive in your neck of the woods.

Here is an email I got from Luke who lives in Newfoundland Canada.
Hey Nat. I was fascinated with the lady who is blind and teaches braille to both blind and deaf-blind students. It amazes me how she can communicate with her deaf-blind students by showing them the dots physically. After reading the article, it dawned on me that would be the only way to do so. Then, I was kind of embarrassed with myself. Anyway, thanks for bringing this issue up and for shedding some light on it.

Thank you Luke for taking the time to email me and for your positive feedback. I am a firm believer in where there’s a will, there’s a way, and my July article kind of proves that.

The 3rd and final email I am sharing comes from Sally, who resides in California.
Dear Nat, I absolutely love braillables! I got so excited when I read the Junes Braille Highway and saw the instructions for 3 braillables. Needless to say, I have made them several times over and have given the heart ones to several friends. Thank you for your article and especially for the braillables!!!

Well, Sally, your welcome and I quite enjoy making braillables too! I just love it when I make a braillable and give it to someone who identifies what it is right away. That kind of serves as proof that I made it correctly.

I do not know if you are like me, but I really get a kick out of company’s when they produce items that have accommodations for people with disabilities. This is especially true with things that have speech and even more so with braille straight out of the box.

The blind Mice Mega Mall have advertised in the Perspective for their talking microwave and, more recently for the Black and Decker talking toaster oven, both accessible! Those are both awesome products that are made even more awesome with speech.

The Apple products; the iPhone, the iPad, and the iPod are all easily used by the blind. No need to purchase any additional products since it works straight out of the box with the voice over feature. That is a great thing in my opinion.

A friend of mine Named Eric, who lives in New York went to his Lowes Home Improvement store and purchased a window base air conditioner. This unit is compatible with Alexa and Google Home. But that’s not all, imagine how surprised Eric was when he looked at the remote control which came with the unit and saw braille next to the buttons.

Here is a brief description about the unit.
GE 350-square feet Window Air Conditioner (115-Volt; 8000-BTU energy star qualified. This air conditioner delivers 8000 BTUs to cool small rooms up to 350 sq ft. This unit has connected functionality to fully control your air conditioner from the convenience of a smart device, such as Alexa or Google Home. You can also monitor, schedule and control your air conditioner while home or away with the GE Appliances app on your phone.

The remote has six round bubble buttons down the left side of the remote. The braille is to the right of each button. The buttons are as follows:
1. on/off
2. mode
3. fan speed
4. timer
5. temperature up
6. temperature down

When you press one of the buttons, it emits a tone so you know you activated it. The following link will take you to the GE web site for this particular air conditioner. Here you can register it, view maintenance and care, view and download the installation guide, view or download the owner's manual, and more.

Thanks to Mel, Luke, Sally, and Eric for sharing their stories, opinions, and suggestions. Why complicate things with gadgets when you can complement things with braille. Braille user’s do it with feelings.
Remember to stay on the dotted line of life! Stay safe and talk with you again in September.

Kaleidoscope of Krafts

By Lindy van der Merwe

Welcome to another edition of Kaleidoscope of Krafts.
Scrapbooking, I had a general idea of what the term meant, but when, some years ago, I read about a blind mum creating a scrapbook page for her daughter, two questions immediately came to mind: First, wasn't scrapbooking a visual craft with photos and writing, and secondly, how would one go about doing such a craft as a blind person?

After contacting this mum and asking my questions, I understood not only more about the craft of scrapbooking, but I realized once again how our assumptions about concepts can hold us back from discovering new things in life. Simply by being a little curious, listening to her experiences and ideas made me understand that this might be something I'd want to pursue after all.

I have since created scrapbooks that I am really proud of and that I can enjoy with, and pass on to my children. Without going into too much detail, scrapbooking is a creative craft where different aspects are combined to form a record of an event or something that is important to the creator, thus preserving it for the future.

A few elements that may be combined include photos, keepsakes, embellishments and journaling or written content. Though digital scrapbooking, done on computer or online, may be entirely visual, scrapbooking in its physical form could be much more than a photo on a page.

I have found that there is a myriad of ways to make my scrapbook pages meaningful and interesting, thus creating an inclusive object that I can enjoy with others for many years to come.

Remember that scrapbooking is one of those crafts where the directions won't be precise. So, instead of providing step-by-step instructions for this project, I will describe a general process of creating one page in a scrapbook. This should be enough to explain the most important concepts and get you started if you would like to try it out for yourself.

What you will need:
Some kind of album or book to place your pages into
Photos (optional)
Paper (paper is available in lots of different colors, sizes and textures)
Embellishments (ribbons, stickers, gemstones, flat craft buttons, shells, etc.)
Glue (liquid, glue stick, glue dots or double-sided tape)

1. Choose Your Topic

Scrapbooking is all about telling a story. Think about the experiences in your life that mean the most to you. Once you have the topic figured out, everything else becomes much easier. You can either decide on making your scrapbook for a certain event beforehand, in which case you will be able to choose, more or less, what you would want to document. Otherwise, think of a past event or someone special you'd like to create a scrapbook for.
Start with something specific: an outing, a party or a sporting event, or a scrapbook about your guide dog, for instance.

2. Photos

If you do decide to use photos, keep it simple. Ask someone to take 5 to 10 photos for you of the important moments of the event, or try taking them yourself. I once aimed my phone at a group of family members while they were getting ready for a photo that someone else wanted to take; my snap turned out to be a perfect shot! It is great when you can decide what or who you'd like to photograph during the event and people are always intrigued when I try to take my own photos. You might find it is a lot of fun too.
If you want to use photos from a past event, for a specific person or your guide dog, you will likely need a bit of help to choose and organize your photos, which is an article in itself, but once you have, say, 5 photos of the event or subject on your phone, you can print them at home, through an on-line service or at a local print shop.
If possible, have your photos processed with a matte finish, which is less likely to show fingerprint smudges than glossy prints. It is a good idea to then place your photos in the order of your choosing, all turned the right way up and a description of each if you would like.

3. Decide on a basic theme

I like to work within some kind of theme for my scrapbooks, but this is not strictly necessary. For my daughter's scrapbook I chose pink hearts, for example, or green leaves might be nice to use for an outing to the park. It might simply involve choosing a certain color for your pages or using some paw print stickers in the scrapbook about your dog, or you could buy a sheet with stickers with an ocean theme for example.

4. Choosing your album and pages

There are many different types of albums and scrapbook formats. The two most popular are 12-by-12 inch and 8.5-by-11 inch.
You could either choose an actual book where you will glue your finished pages into, or you could opt for separate scrapbook pages, in which case you will need a plastic protector or flip file to serve as your album.
Most stationery shops have a separate scrapbook section with lots of different kinds of paper, from packs of loose pages with a specific theme to pages with different finishes and textures. You should also be able to order all kinds of scrapbooking supplies from your favorite on-line store.

5. Creating a page layout

This is where you consider how the page will be organized. Decide on a focal point. Often this will be a photo, but it could also be something else like a birthday card, a poem or a drawing of a child or even two or three photos side by side.
It could be at the center or wherever you think it will look good. You can choose to glue the center piece down at this point or otherwise, simply place it on the page and organize other elements around it so you can shift things around until you like the layout of the page.

6. More elements

Next you could decide on one or two more elements for your page. For example, a thank you card or invitation that was used at a party, a ticket stub from a sports event, a program for a concert.
Think of creative ways to use different objects. Perhaps include the slip for the ice-cream you bought at the seaside cafe, a pamphlet from the museum you visited or a flat shell you picked up on the beach.
What about using the ribbon that was wrapped around a special gift to make a bow on your page? Little envelopes are very handy to hide small objects you cannot glue down but that you might want to include in your scrapbooks.

7. Written content

Once you have added these elements, you could also add written content to your page. I usually compose this myself or it could be a poem or a quote that is meaningful to you or that relates to the contents on the page. I either ask someone to write it for me or I print it from my phone or computer. Depending on who you are creating your scrapbook for, written content could be either in print or braille. Asking someone to write for you may be a way to add that special personal touch to your page. It is a way of preserving that person's thoughts or hand writing as part of your page.
Written content could also be a date or name for your page, a description of the photo or your focal point, a quotation you have heard or found on-line, a poem or the words of a song, a recipe, or simply random words describing something or someone.

8. Embellishments

Lastly, you could add some embellishments like ribbons, buttons, stickers or any other found objects like shells, pressed flowers or leaves, coins, charms, etc. I love to add something tactile like 3d stickers, velvet ribbon or wooden shapes that lend interest to the page.
I have often used braille on my pages in different ways, making a border with my Perkins Brailler, writing something small with a stylus or just creating tactile patterns on a piece of paper, for instance.
I have also folded various objects using origami techniques to create envelopes, decorations like stars or butterflies, for instance.

9. Once you have a good idea of how you want to organize your page, you can glue everything down. There are many options here, so you might have to try different types of adhesives to find out what works best for you.
Glue down your center piece first. Don't worry if it isn't perfectly straight but ask for a second of someone's time if you feel that it is important for your elements to be lined-up straight. Be creative with your placement. Ribbons could be placed diagonally across a page, for example or vertically to divide a page.

10. Depending on the type of album you chose, Slide the page into the clear pocket slot of the album or alternatively, apply glue or tape to the back side of the newly finished page and stick it directly onto the album page.
I usually remove my pages from their protective plastic covers when showing them to others so that the tactile elements can be enjoyed by all.

I hope that I have managed to convey to you just some of the possibilities of what could be achieved with this type of craft. I have found it to be not only accessible because I am able to dictate what and how I create, but it has been a meaningful craft too. Above all, scrapbooking is for fun and personal fulfillment, not a chore. Enjoy the pages you make, sharing them with others and the things you learn as you go!

Spencer's Spotlight

By Cheryl Spencer

I hope everyone is having a lovely summer filled with fun and action-packed activities!

This month I am focusing on something we all can benefit from, even sighted people. How many times have you spent an inordinate amount of time looking for the remote, your keys, and even your phone? Bluetooth locators may be the answer to this problem.

These Bluetooth locators or tracking devices come in a pack of two. They are paired to your phone and given a name such as keys, remote or they can even be attached to your pet if they have a tendency to wander off from your property. These locators are both iOS and Android compatible.

Once the completely accessible TrackR app, note the spelling of the app, is downloaded and devices are set up, you are able to name each object. Then, when you want to locate your keys for example, open the app, find the icon labeled keys and initiate the search. An audible sound will continue until you locate the keys. Just push the button on the device to silence the sound.

If you misplace your phone, you can use the locator by pressing a button on the device to ring your phone even if your phone is on silent.

Another really handy use for it is when traveling whether by bus, train, or plane. Just put one of the devices on your luggage and you will be able to track your bag.

Isn't technology a wonderful thing! I have found these TrackR Bluetooth locators on the Harbolt web site, a set of 2 is 27 dollars and 99 cents.
Their website is: harboltcompany.com

Below is more information taken from the Harbolt web site.
2 Pack Bluetooth Tracking Locators for iOS or android With Audible or LED Sound, Free Battery Replacements, Keyring Loop, and 3 M Double Sided Adhesive.>br> Great for keys, remote controls, phones, or anything that you might lose.
Loud ringer; tap the app to make your Bluetooth locator ring loudly so you can hear where your stuff is hiding.
LED lights; the Bluetooth locator doesn’t just ring, it also lights up so you can find what’s missing in a flash.
Coin-Sized; measuring in at 1 x 1 x .2 inches, it’s one of the smallest Bluetooth trackers yet.
Replaceable Battery; get notified when the battery is low. Takes a standard 3V CR2016 button battery.
Phone finder; press button on the locator to make your phone ring, even when it’s on silent.
Map View; with the app running in the background you can tap on the map to see where and when you last had your stuff.
Crowd Locate; rely on a global network of users to help you locate what’s lost. You’ll receive a private notification when a TrackR app user passes by your lost item.
Sticks to Anything; use the included key loop ring or 3M adhesive patch to attach your pixel to just about anything.
Lightweight; weighing in at just 4 grams, the pixel won’t ever weigh you down.
Specifications: diameter. 1.03 inches; thickness. 0.22 inches; weight. 0.14 ounces; battery type. User-replaceable CR2016; volume. Up to 90 dB.
connectivity: Bluetooth version 4.0; range. Bluetooth range, up to 100 feet. Obstacles such as walls or furniture may affect range.
Compatibility: iOS version 9 or newer, Android version 4.4 or newer.

Key loop ring. (one per locator).
2-Sided 3M adhesive (one per locator).
User-replaceable CR2016 battery (installed in each locator).
Free Battery replacement: We've got you covered. Order a replacement battery right from the app. So, you never have to be without power. Just tap the battery icon in the app to order a new battery, for free.
*How to replace the battery: Hold Bluetooth locator vertical where rough textured side faces to the right. Place left index and middle fingers of left hand on left smooth side and the pads of the index and middle fingers of right hand on right textured side. Twist textured side counter clockwise toward yourself until cover turns. The textured side cover should come off easily now and battery is underneath. Replace cover and twist textured side clockwise away from you to lock cover back in place.

This is a cool item to put in your independent toolbox. If there is a product you would like me to shine my spotlight on please write me at the e-mail above and let me know.

Computer Tech101

By Jim Morgan

Before I get to the topic, I wanted to say a few words about messages to me. I was very surprised by the responses to my last article. Based on these messages, I have a request: please sign your name at the bottom of your message, just as if you were writing a letter, and please read the whole article before commenting. I received a message from a reader telling me that my article was full of errors but the reader had only read half of the article.

First of all, I don’t claim to know everything about a topic and have been known to make mistakes. In that event, I’m more than happy to acknowledge the error and post the correct information while giving credit to whomever set me straight. The reader in question didn’t give their name and it wasn’t clear from their Email address what their name was. I offered to print corrected information for the one clear error the reader cited as well as giving credit to said reader for the correction. Obviously, given what I’m writing here, such information never arrived. Therefore, in the future, I kindly request that if I’ve given incorrect information and you want to call me on it, please include your name and the corrected information in your post so that I may correct the error and give appropriate credit. I also ask that you read the whole article since I’m sometimes not as clear as I would like and can better explain the intent of an article if one has read the whole thing. I truly appreciate and welcome all reader feedback and will always answer it, no matter what the “tone” of the message, since I view them as a “conversation”, of sorts, and enjoy talking with “new” people.

Now then, let’s get to our topic. I recently had to make a purchase and, while it technically isn’t in the computer arena, I thought it was worth discussion. In fact, Ricky Enger, from The Hadley Institute for the Blind, had a seminar on this topic a few months ago. I’m talking about “smart” TV’s and the accessibility being built into them now.

I also wanted to talk about a specific type of converter; I’m talking about an RCA, or A/V, to HDMI converter. I was forced to get these items because my DVD player died and, since I wanted a Blueray Player anyway, to say nothing of wanting to be able to watch my DVD collection, decided to “upgrade”. Of course, the new player uses HDMI, which my old TV didn’t have and I didn’t properly read the fine print when I got the converter to go from the new player to the old TV, so it started the “journey” towards a new TV.

I recently purchased a 43 inch Toshiba Smart TV, model number 43LF421U19, with Amazon Fire TV included and was very pleasantly surprised to find that it had a full screen reader built into it. This includes verbosity level and punctuation amounts. The only drawback is that you need a sighted person to turn the accessibility on. In case you’re wondering about the size, I wasn’t sure anything bigger would fit in the space I wanted it to go. From what I’ve seen, a majority of the Toshiba LF line, the first two letters in the model number, have this capability as well as some of the other lines. I think that the specs will tell you if it has accessibility although I suspect that anything made in the last 2 or 3 years will have the capability; I’m not positive about that. In addition, the manual for the TV was available online from Toshiba’s website so that I was able to download it and use my computer’s screen reader to read it rather than having to struggle through reading it with my CCTV or having someone read it to me. I will grant that I needed help getting the feet attached since it was unclear how they fit and, since it’s an LED TV and can be wall-mounted, it was unclear how things were to fit.

At this point, I have everything connected and have no trouble moving between the devices I have, including an “old” VCR. As I said, I’ve been very happy with the TV and would recommend it to anyone.

As I mentioned, I also wanted to talk about converters. The main reason for this is that a number of TV’s no longer have RCA, or A/V, jacks nor, even, Coaxial, or cable, connections. A number of models only have HDMI, USB, and various audio ports. Since a number of devices, CCTV’s in particular, still use the older jacks, there needs to be a way to connect them. The answer is an RCA, or A/V, to HDMI Converter. You do need to be a little careful about it. For example, the one that I got will only go from the device to the TV, not the reverse. Also, they specifically state that the power supply, which is a USB plug, must be plugged into an operating power source before the other cables are connected. NeedlessToSay, I found out about these two little pieces of information the hard way, as I mentioned earlier. Bottom line, you need to read the fine print and make sure of which “direction” the converter goes. I think, but am not sure, that, unless it specifically says otherwise in the specs, you should assume that the converter only goes in the direction of device to the TV. Also, other tidbits like the one I mentioned above about plugging it in first will probably also be noted there. So, you have to look and don’t be afraid to send/take it back if it doesn’t work for you. I can’t speak for the stores, but I’ve never had any difficulties with Amazon and returning something for any reason.

As always, should you have any questions or comments about this or some other topic, please send me a message. As I said, I’ll always return the message, even if it’s just to say that I don’t know but will see if I can find out. Happy Computing!

A Time to Plant

By Sue Brasel

What do you notice about your garden? Fresh colors, scents and sounds? Then you have a sensory garden. It is a garden meant to awaken or restore the way plants affect a person through the use of sight, sound, smell, touch and/or taste.

You could have multiple plants with different textures to feel. Each variety of plant might have different colored leaves and flowers. The size and shapes of leaves and blooms awaken our sense of space relationships, especially when tall plants, the thrillers, are surrounded by fillers, the average size plants, and spillers, the plants that drape over or across the bottom and sides of the garden. Compost, some mulches and some plants have a fresh, earthy smell. Edible plants provide a taste sensation.

Sound could come from the wind rustling through leaves, bees buzzing around the plants, or birds chirping nearby. A bamboo wind chime may clatter in the breeze while a metal chime might clang.

Planning a sensory garden involves knowing who you think might enjoy your garden. Children and wheelchair bound people enjoy having plants within their low reach. A raised bed garden might be easier for those who become uncomfortable when bending over. Consider safety as you figure out how people will move around your area, including how people will feel the ground surface if they are barefoot. Do you want several textures to feel, such as grass, then a pebbly surface? What about the plant textures for people to feel? Lambs ears have a soft, velvety feel, while rosemary has a short leaf, needle like surface. Your sighted visitors will enjoy colorful flower displays.

By planting native species, you will attract native pollinators that aid plants. Native species have survived in your location quite a while and could be drought, heat, or cold tolerant depending on your location.

Many plants can be considered, but such plants as cacti with sharp spines, roses with thorns, or stinging nettle should not be in a garden for visually impaired people to feel. Different plants that flower throughout your growing season will add excitement to your garden.

Herb gardens offer scents and tastes. Edible herbs can be eaten plain, in salads or in cooked dishes. Medicinal varieties can be grown, but unless you are familiar with their use, you should only enjoy them for their color and/or texture.

As with all gardens, mulch will help your plants retain soil moisture. They also keep weeding at bay. You might consider using a cover crop instead of mulch, going back to the way our ancestors revitalized soil structure by adding nutrients for use in the next season.

Whether your sensory garden is a single container, many beds, or a large area, plants can add interest to our lives. Enjoy all aspects of your garden, including new shoots springing out of the ground to the display of leaves and blooms. From delicate to hardy, plants offer a great sense of touch. The earthy smell of soil and the aroma of different plants allows our senses to help us to connect with nature. By listening to the world around our plants, we can focus on many parts of our gardening world.

Now, I have to take “thyme” to maintain my wonderful sensory garden!

the Alternating Duo: Seeing the World Differently

By Lois Strachan

2019 is turning out to be quite a year of travel for me. I’ve already done one international trip, to Kolkata in India. I’ve have just returned from singing in a show at the South African National Arts Festival in a small South African college town called Makhanda. And I’ve just started planning my next international trip to Paris and Normandy in France.

Which got me reflecting on the items I take with me. I’m not talking about items that I pack in my checked luggage, but rather those essential items I need with me in the cabin of the plane.

My travel documents are first on my list – whether it’s my passport for an international journey or my South African identity document when travelling locally. Without those I wouldn’t be able to get onto the plane. Currency also travels with me, because I’ve heard far too many horror stories of travelers who have lost items from their checked luggage. Finally, my medication is always with me, because I don’t want to be stuck in transit without chronic medication like my insulin, as I’m a Type 1 diabetic.

Those are the essentials. But what about things that are maybe not so essential but are essential to me?
Here’s where we start talking technology and entertainment. Sadly, I have yet to fly on an international airline with an accessible in-flight entertainment system. Sure, I’ve been on airlines that have some audio described movies. But I still have to get sighted assistance to select and play the movie. I’ve heard of airlines that have accessible entertainment systems and would love to know who they are. Let me know if you have the answer.

So I take my own entertainment. My iPhone is always with me, stocked with a supply of downloaded music, podcasts, and word games. I also have my book reader with me. I know many people read books on their smart phones instead, but having two devices gives me longer battery life. And, just in case, I carry an iPod with me as well – it’s so small that it really doesn’t take up much space in my carry-on bag. Finally, I have my laptop, which means I can get some work done during the flight if I want to.

I tend to take snacks with me in case the airline meals don’t work for me. You’d think that might be a problem since I’m a fussy vegetarian but, in reality, airline meals have improved significantly in recent years. Still, I have something to nibble on if I need it.

Finally, I have my white cane with me. Oh, and a toy guide dog since Fiji, my real guide dog, doesn’t travel internationally with me.

Perhaps you’re looking at that list and shaking your head in wonder at how much I carry on the plane. But you need to remember that I live in Cape Town, right at the bottom of the African continent. So, it takes a long time to travel anywhere: 10 hours to Dubai, 12 to Europe, 18 to JFK. Which doesn’t even count layovers and flight time to reach your final destination. Here’s one example: I left India at breakfast time on one day and arrived in Cape Town in time for a late lunch the next day. So yes, I do take plenty to keep me occupied when I travel.

Maybe you have specific items you carry with you when you travel by air… why not drop me an e-mail and let me know what they are?
And, till next time… happy travels!

Dirty Work

By Manny Morales

For this month and next, we will be getting down on the floor! I have three homemade floor cleaners to share below, and I will have three more to share next month.

Many commercial floor cleaning products are ineffective and contain chemicals that can be harmful to your family and pets. Commercial cleaners contribute to indoor air pollution, which can be an enormous problem for those who suffer from asthma or allergies. They also leave toxic residue behind, which can cause other health conditions, making your family ill. But have no fear, as in my previous articles, we will be using safe ingredients you probably have in your home.

Before using any of the below solutions be sure to either sweep or vacuum the floor to remove any loose dirt.

Homemade All-Purpose Floor Cleaner: This great cleaner will work on every hard flooring surface in your home. It will work on your hardwood floor, laminate, vinyl flooring, linoleum, and tile. It’s a powerful cleaner for cutting through grime and leaves a beautiful shine.
Important: I would not recommend this cleaning solution for marble and granite, since the vinegar may harm any porous stone.

Two cups warm water
½ cup white vinegar
¼ cup rubbing alcohol
Three drops liquid dish soap (original Dawn works best)
5 – 10 drops essential oil (peppermint, lemon, or your favorite)

Combine the ingredients in a large bowl.
Add them to a plastic or glass spray bottle and shake well.
Spray the cleaner on the floor and wipe with a mop.

You can also combine the ingredients in a bucket, but you’ll have to dump out any leftovers once you’ve finished cleaning the floor.
Note: Do not use Castile soap in place of the liquid dish soap as it is an oil-based soap. This will end up leaving your floor full of smears and streaks. And, you don’t want that!!

Wood Floor Cleaner: This homemade wood floor cleaner is gentle enough to use daily if desired. If your wood floor is filthy, you can use this recipe to get it clean. This formula does double duty as it polishes your floor, leaving them with a beautiful natural sheen.

One gallon hot water
¾ cup olive oil
½ cup lemon juice

Mix the ingredients in a bucket.
Using a mop that has been thoroughly wrung out, apply the solution to your floors.
Allow it to air dry. The hot water and the lemon juice cleans the floors, while the olive oil works to polish them.
You don’t need to rinse the solution when you’ve finished, once it’s dried your floors will look great.

Homemade Laminate Floor Cleaner: Laminate flooring is relatively easy to take care of, but occasionally you may need to clean a mess that requires a bit more cleaning power. If you use the wrong kind of cleaning product, you can end up damaging the finish on your floor. This homemade laminate floor cleaner will clean your laminate floors without damaging them.

2 cups hot water
2 cups vinegar
5-10 drops essential oil of your choice

Mix the ingredients in a mop bucket or spray bottle.
Using a clean mop, soak it in the solution and mop your laminate floors.
There is no need to rinse the mixture off. Let it dry.
You can also clean your floors by spraying them with a spray bottle filled with the cleaner, then wiping it off with a mop. You’ll have to rinse your mop in the sink a couple of times when it gets dirty, but this way you won’t have to throw away any unused solution.

Using these natural ingredients which are readily available will give your home a clean, fresh scent while getting rid of dirt, bacteria, and germs!
Until next time, remember dirty work is clean fun.

The Beauty Parlor

By Christy Ray

I want to share with you some statistics I recently learned about regarding foundation. A cosmetic company conducted a study and found out that eighty percent of women are not wearing the correct shade of foundation. In addition, they learned that ninety one percent of women are not happy with the foundation they use. Women have said that they do not like the thickness, the color, and some of the ingredients used in foundations.

Selecting the correct foundation color is based on matching as closely as you can, to your own skin tome. It is a good idea to find out what type of undertone you have first.

1. If you have a neutral undertone, you gradually build up a tan.
2. If you have a warm undertone, you have a more yellowish skin tone and get tanned easily in the sun.
3. If you have a cold undertone, the skin is more pinkish and gets burned easily in the sun and is relatively difficult to turn brown.

Once you have figured out your undertone, then it’s time to find your shade. You can do this by putting a small line of foundation on your face. If you have enough sight, hold a hand mirror and see if the colors match. If not, ask for assistance from a family member, friend, or an app like Be My Eyes. The shade that suits you the best, is the shade that naturally mixes in with your skin tone and is barely visible!

Cooking Concoctions

By Maxine

Here are three healthy veggie snacks that pack a lot of flavor. These are simple to prepare, and just maybe your family will like them too!

Baked beet chips infused with rosemary and speckled with sea salt. Perfectly crispy, simple to make, and a healthy snack on the go.

3 medium-large beets, scrubbed and rinsed
1 tablespoon Olive oil
2-3 sprigs rosemary, roughly chopped or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 pinch each sea salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (190 C) and place oven rack in the center of the oven.
Thinly slice beets with a mandolin (or a sharp knife), getting them as consistently thin as possible. They should curl a little when cut. This will ensure even baking and crispiness.
Pour oil into a bowl and add the rosemary, salt and pepper.
Toss in the sliced beets and coat them evenly.
Divide between two baking sheets and arrange in a single layer, making sure the slices aren’t touching.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crispy and slightly brown. Be sure to watch closely past the 15 minute mark as they can burn quickly.
Remove from oven and let sit until cool. serve.

Salt & Vinegar Sweet Potato Chips. Another healthy alternative to the traditional potato chip, and packed with lots of flavor!

2 sweet potatoes, scrubbed and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil (or less)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
¾ teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Using a mandolin, slice potatoes to desired thickness.
Pour oil and vinegar into a bowl and add sea salt.
Toss in the sweet potato chips and evenly coat.
Place sweet potatoes on two baking sheets lined with aluminum foil.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and turn chips over, and cook for additional 15 minutes.
Note: Cooking time will depend on thickness of potatoes. So be sure to check them after the first 15 minutes.

Baked Parmesan Cheese Zucchini Chips. These veggie chips can be made with fresh herbs and freshly grated cheese for a delicious healthy snack!

4 Zucchini, scrubbed and rinsed
1 tablespoon Olive oil
1 – 1 ½ cups Parmesan cheese
¼ teaspoon or small sprig (coarsely chopped) of each; thyme, Oregano, and Basil
¼ teaspoon Garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Slice the zucchini into ¼ inch thickness.
Pour olive oil into a bowl and add the cheese, oregano, thyme, basil, garlic, and the salt and pepper.
Toss in the zucchini chips and coat evenly.
Spread the zucchini chips onto two baking sheets lined with aluminum foil.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the cheese becomes a golden brown.
Note: best to check after 10 minutes of cooking, and every 5 minutes afterwards for doneness.
Serve warm, and if desired dip into warm marinera sauce.

Riddle & Brain Buster

By Alex Smart


Has a tongue, but never talks. Has no legs, but sometimes walks.
What is it?

Answer to July’s riddle
Lives without a body, hears without ears, speaks without a mouth, to which the air alone gives birth.
Answer: Echo

Brain Buster

One or the Other
For each of the following familiar two word phrases provide a third word that rhymes with one of the words in the phrase and means the opposite of the other.
Example: in doubt: out.

Black light.
No less.
Short hall.
Plain crazy.
All rise.
Common share.
Went straight.
Fresh trail.
wild game.
work day.

Answers to July’s brain buster
The four words with the consecutive letters of n. a. c. and l are:
barnacle, manacle, pinnacle, and tabernacle.

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