Reader’s Forum – Week of November 26, 2012

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

In response to Feature Writer Alena Roberts – Relearning to Use a Cane Full Time, Beth wrote:

Good luck to Alena regarding cane use and her upcoming new pup! I have multiple disabilities, including moderate bilateral arm neuropathy and cannot use a cane, probably not a dog either. Does anyone know of a travel aid which detects drop-offs besides the cane, or how about an aid which can fit onto a rolator, which is a rolling walker, which can detect obstacles?

Thanks, Beth
In response to Feature Writer Alena Roberts – Relearning to Use a Cane Full Time, Mark wrote:

At Perkins, in the late sixties, I learned to use the cane. Suddenly, I could zoom around my neighborhood in Leominster, Mass., and take the bus to Fitchburg, Worcester, and Springfield. I eventually felt somewhat limited. Having known others with guide dogs, I decided to explore this new thing.

In 1975, I got my first dog, a German shepherd, from Seeing Eye, and discovered in early 1976 that she had epilepsy, and she was returned in June, 1976.

I got my second dog, a golden retriever, in August, 1976, and moved to Florida in December, 1976. I discovered that she was allergic to many things–fleas, grass, plants, etc. If I had known of her allergies before moving to Florida, I would not have gotten her. In January, 1982, she was returned to Seeing Eye.

On using the cane full-time again, I discovered a sense of liberation. Gone were the endlessly tiresome explanations of why the dog should not be petted; gone were the endlessly intrusive personal questions aimed at me from strangers, and gone were the many challenges of admittance to a place or taxi because of the dog, guide or otherwise.

That is certainly not the end of the story. When the dog is guiding, one zooms along, and many landmarks and other clues are simply not experienced, because they are not needed, and one does not have to remember quite as much overall while traveling. What one does have to remember is the entire route in a different way, with good cane technique, echolocation, and memory being your most prevalent tools; daydreaming is not an option. One must remember many details about any route, without being afraid or constantly saying how difficult things are, or wishing that things could be different, etc.

Generally, people seem to want to be mostly friendly and helpful, but there will always be rude ones, and both types must be dealt with accordingly.

I have my streamlined lifestyle back. No more doggie complications, as I just buy canes now and then; no more questions of rejection or acceptance.
In response to Feature Writer Terri Winaught – Internet Use Cuts Depression Among Elderly, Gerardo wrote:

Yes, OK, Internet would lift depression and isolation, but there’s nothing more lifting then going outside, feeling the fresh air, seeing the sun, hearing people, places and especially socializing! I speak from experience, having been isolated for nearly 5 years, until recently when I started socializing, and what a change! Not only in how I see myself and the world around me, but I’ve been enriched by other experiences, my friends’ experiences, learning of different topics, sharing and enriching what I already knew; it’s definitely a change! So in summary, there’s nothing better, if circumstances permit since sometimes it can be difficult to see how we go to friends’ houses and other places, to go out and socialize!
Abby wrote in to say:

I recently had the experience of taking an electronic real care baby two plus home for my parenting class, and I absolutely loved this experience. I emailed the company who makes the babies after doing extended research on this particular baby. I found out that, to program the babies, the parenting teachers use a control unit. I also found out that many people who are buying this product are sited and do not need any help programming their babies. However, I would also like to purchase a real care baby two plus of my own. While I wait to hear back from the company, I’d love to hear your suggestions on how I can program a baby if I get one. The idea is for me to program it with little to absolutely no help. The company is making this quite impossible. I gave them a suggestion on how to make the control unit accessible to the blind; I will see if it is possible to have it talk. Please share your thoughts on this subject.
On the topic of SSI, David wrote in to say:

Yes, it’s our responsibility to get off. But Voc Rehab in my state, and I say this after talking to several people, is not very good at the moment. The sighted counselors have poor training and the state has not tried as have others such as New York to develop programs that train people for specific jobs i.e. scopist, nonmedical transcriptionist, tax rep. Without excellent adaptive technology trainers, it can be difficult to configure systems such that speech software will work successfully. It’s a case of developing a new interdependence paradigm to encourage the blind and the sighted to work together to come up with doable plans. I wonder how this works in other countries? I went to graduate school and felt that my state rehab agency did not have my back when my university played adaptive tech games and nor did any ideological organization of or for the blind. I had wanted to make a difference in the professional world and to actually help more blind people enter the particular profession I studied for—lord knows, the few blind people in it were unable to help other blind though this profession prides itself on its sharing and giving! I had hoped to develop internships, field experiences, write articles, contribute to scholarship funds, assist with residency programs at the academic level and so on. Sometimes, you have to not beat yourself up when you have done your best and not let other blind people’s judgments, and oh can blind people judge, upset you.

I suspect the cognitive impairment people don’t have a major split and two major organizations representing them as the blind do so it might be easier to advocate. I wonder if I’ll live long enough to experience a sweeping away of both blindness organizations and rebuild a third way based on honesty, integrity, interdependence, diversity, and respect.
On the topic of voting, Stanley wrote in to say:

Hello. This is in follow up to the article on voting. In Vermont, we have no machines, no booths, no complicated screens. We have a simple telephone. When we get to the polling place, we sign in and a worker takes us over to a phone in a private corner. She/he dials a number and then we use the keypad to vote. We can change votes, review what we have done and when finished, we press the pound sign and our ballot is printed and put in with everyone else’s. This year it took me about ten minutes to fill out a very long ballot. Incidentally, it is hard to imagine any system being less expensive.
On the topic of United Braille Code, Phil wrote:

I’m writing to talk about the recent adoption by Bana of the United English Braile Code. I’ve been a Braille user for more than 50 years, and like many long-time users of Braille I have always been skeptical of talk regarding the changing of the Braille Code. However afar giving it much thought I now realize that changing the code is necessary for several reasons. First if we want Braille to survive in the computer age it had to be changed in order to adapt to the computer age. Also the teaching and learning of Braille may be mad easier by having one United Code. Even thought there will be some major cases to the current code there won’t be drastic changes and the new code will be implemented over several years and not overnight. So we can still get material with the current Braille code for a long time to come.

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