Archive for June, 2013

Reader’s Forum – Week of June 19, 2013

In response to Alena Roberts’ Article about NBC shows Danni wrote:

I want to remind you that there was also Becker some years back that had a blind person in it and in my opinion he did a very good job of not only the portrayal of a blind person but they even touched on some emotional side of things! And if I remember right that was also on NBC!


In response to Bob Branco’s Op Ed Changing Times Affect Spritual Activity George wrote:

This is largely done with the idea that the church will reach more youth because of their progressive methods and music. This is not the case, however and it has the tendency to cause the church attendance to drop rather than increase. People hear loud, blaring music through the week and when Sunday comes they want music that soothes their spirit and words that are meaningful. As Bob pointed out in his article with heavy drums, loud electric guitars and juiced up microphones in the church auditorium the end result is nothing more than what is known as Christian rock. It is sad that the church has become an entertainment center rather than a place where one can meet with God. There are good, solid Bible believing churches who do not succumb to this dead end trap. If one looks usually he or she can find a church with good, sound music which speaks to the heart and preaching that convicts and changes one’s life.

Rev. George Gray


In response to Bob Branco’s Op Ed Changing Times Affect Spiritual Activity Regina wrote:

Yes, I would also like to agree with you; I’m Catholic by Religious from Lusaka, Zambia, Africa. These changes seem to have occurred everywhere in our Church; even here, you find that things which did not exist some time ago are now taking place in our Church. For instance, like you pointed out, I also experience clapping after the Priest’s Homily as well as some announcements. Well, I hope it’s because most of the Liturgy as we call it in our Church is now done in our local languages unlike that time when everything was being done in Latin, and again, our local languages like here in Africa, are by all means promoting oneness in most churches. Otherwise, indeed, change of times has affected Spiritual activity especially in our Church.


In response to Bob Branco’s Op Ed Changing Times Affect Spiritual Activity Alice wrote:

I think that we are at a more modern age and church services needed to change we can not simply sit quiet as spectators in a theater we need to participate in activities. Besides the church needs to reach younger folks by showing that it is progressive.

As far as wakes it is wonderful that now we celebrate a person’s life and not just sit there and cry, of course we shed a few tears but why should we sit there scream and yield or sit in silence, we know that death is a part of life and that it would happen to everyone so why not celebrate all that this person did in her or his life? It would make it easier for us to go on.

I tell everyone that at my funeral I want them to give out candy bars because I spend my life helping people and raising money for different charities and that is what I want people to remember about me, I also tell them that after the funeral is over they should go out celebrate and have a party. They don’t have to worry about me I will be in a better place.


In response to Bob Branco’s Op Ed Changing Times Affect Spiritual Activity Stuart wrote:

I completely agree with his observations dealing with religious activities and services. In my Synagogue, I am sure that they don’t know if they are a place of religious observance; or, of all things, a country club. On Friday nights they have Klezmer bands to participate in the service; or, rock groups to, as they say, bring in the younger members of the congregation, this is all just ridiculous. We go to practice our religious observances, not to go to a nightclub, this is a place of faith, not one of social networking, what’s wrong with these people anyway? During the services, members of the congregation are more interested in what others are wearing, where they have just been, what their friend’s new house might look like; or, what type of new car someone is driving and not the reason for being there in the first place. What’s wrong with respect and observance, does that not exist any longer, evidently not, not in these days anyway? In reading this, as you might see, Mr. Branco has really touched a nerve; but, in saying all that, is this not what our parents said in their day as well about us, you think?

Op Ed with Bob Branco – Churches Offer Community Opportunities for the Blind

While we, as blind people, try our best to get involved in our communities on our own, one vehicle that helps us accomplish this goal is Church. No matter what faith we are, blind people all over the country have been given an opportunity to be organists, lectors, choir singers, and other important positions within the Congregation.

I know several blind lectors within my community, most of whom read from Braille text which can be easily obtained. I know several blind organists, one of whom has been performing in her Church for over 50 years. Church choir directors constantly open their doors to blind singers everywhere, and the experience is quite rewarding.

If employers would give the blind as much of an opportunity as the Churches do, I believe that the unemployment rate of the blind would go down substantially. I guess you could say that divine faith should extend to private industry, faith that the blind can do the average job in the average work place, and do it as well as any sighted employee.

As of now, I plan to become a lector in my own Church, because I know I can do it, and it gives me much more of a spiritual reward. I plan to order the readings in Braille, but I must submit a certificate of blindness to the organization to prove that I need the accessible material.

When a blind person performs a service in a Church, the public will experience an extremely close look at how normal the situation is, and that’s an important step toward equal treatment between the blind and sighted.

Your thoughts are welcome in the Readers’ Forum.

Feature Writer Romeo Edmead – Work To Eat

Although these are difficult times financially for Julia Gonzalez, she knows that a meal at lunchtime is guaranteed for the majority of the week. Ms. Gonzalez, from Spain, takes advantage of an opportunity provided by the Spanish restaurant Trobada, which offers customers the option to pay or work for a meal. Prior to receiving lunch, for one hour people like Ms. Gonzalez can either wait tables, wash dishes, or clean, and then it’s time to dine. “It is a unique opportunity,” said Ms. Gonzalez, who has been unemployed for the past 2 years. “Since I am here I feel more optimistic.”

The restaurant, located in the city of Terrassa, was established in response to Spain’s struggling economy, and offers a three course meal in addition to bread and wine. It opened its doors three months ago, and is a collaborative effort between more than two dozen local charities and the Terrassa city council. For paying customers, who generate approximately 25% of the revenue, lunch costs 6.50 euros, equivalent to $8.35 in US currency. Trobada does not open for business on the weekend, and its meals are offered from a fixed menu.

Despite the predictable dining option, African immigrant Pabe Lamine Ndye, who lost his last job three years ago, could not be more appreciative of such a unique program. “This is very good,” he said. “we feel good helping each other and in return we can eat.” Ms. Gonzalez also added her thoughts about working with others in her predicament. “We all stick together and encourage each other.”

Those who work in exchange for a meal are officially known as time customers, who have to be unemployed for the past two years. According to the restaurant manager, the program targets those seeking to feel valued, with the eventual goal of improving their quality of life.


Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – Another Opening, Another Show

We’ve just completed our fourth successful show at yet another venue. I’m finding that the more I do, the more creative ideas pop into my head. It’s a wonderful cycle that I hope continues for years to come.

I’d heard about the famed Duplex Cabaret and Piano Bar and approached the booking manager to see if he’d be amenable to having us there. I sent an email to him and the next thing I knew, we were discussing possible dates. I now know I can get us out there and then it’s up to us to deliver our trademark showmanship.

Choosing the material is a gratifying and challenging experience, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. There are hundreds of tunes we’d love to perform, but it comes down to finding what I call the “Fabulous 14 that Fit”. Our first show had fifteen songs but we’ve stuck with fourteen because it just works. The New York City cabaret scene is jam-packed with performers eager to showcase their talents. Literally, you’re on stage for one hour and before you know it, you’re greeting your audience. I’ve found it highly exhilarating.

Though I once scoffed at people who sent out blizzards of emails with notes and lists, I’ve become one of those people — and still I can’t remember everything. We purchased bags of Hershey’s kisses to hand out to our incredible audience and completely forgot to bring them downstairs to the performance. The next time I hope to make a checklist and actually check off the items.

Would you believe we never met with all our musicians at the same time? Only on the night of the performance were we all able to assemble in one space. Another nightmare was simply getting to the Duplex. Our sometimes erratic Subway system and cab drivers who didn’t know where they were going made for some teeth-clenching moments. Deep breathing was a must for all.

We tried something new this time and had our makeup professionally applied by the talented artists at MAC (Makeup Artists and Cosmetics). I made our appointments several weeks in advance and we presented our faces to them on Friday. By all accounts, we looked gorgeous! It was the first time I’d worn false eyelashes. Thankfully, they were comfortable. That will definitely become a performance ritual — the makeup, though not necessarily the eyelashes.

I encourage you to go forth and make your dreams happen. We perform a song entitled “Make Your Own Party” and it’s become our theme. For years, we waited for others to jumpstart our career but that turned out to be highly disappointing. Grab every opportunity you can. Once you’ve gone from frustration to elation, you’ll never look back.

Feature Writer Karen Crowder – How Perkins Influenced My Eating Habits

Before boarding at Perkins school weekday breakfasts often consisted of cereal, fruit and juice. Sundays were reserved for larger breakfasts like scrambled eggs, pancakes or French toast. In the 1950s, as Roman Catholics, on Friday evenings, we enjoyed fish, corn or fish chowder or macaroni and cheese for dinner. On Saturday evenings, we had traditional New England baked beans with hot dogs and hot buttery brown bread.

At Perkins, I was introduced to new foods. In elementary school, breakfasts often consisted of cereal, muffins, cinnamon toast, or popovers. My favorite muffins were corn bran or the plain ones with their buttery crispy texture. At supper time we never knew what the cook would dream up. On a fall or winter night there was cream of mushroom, tomato or celery soup. We had large corn fritters topped with maple syrup. On a fall or winter evening, our deserts were inviting canned peaches or fruit cocktail accompanied by just-baked crisp tollhouse or peanut butter cookies.

I loved the vegetables served, though many students did not, such as spinach, asparagus, beets and Brussels sprouts served at our noon time meals. I anticipated ice cream served every Thursday afternoon. I especially liked chocolate, but became fond of fudge ripple and coffee ice cream. I also liked Washington’s pie, which was a pound cake with jam in between the thin layers. I also liked the Welsh rarebit served on saltine crackers infrequently at supper during Lent. I did not like boiled dinners, and thought most of the meats served were too salty. If liver and onions were served, I avoided them and just ate the delicious bacon.

When I entered junior high and high school, we had a good cook in May cottage. The macaroni and cheese was delicious with buttered toast crumbs topping it. The fluffy cheese soufflé was so good I have never been able to duplicate the recipe. During the Christmas season, their Christmas dinners rivaled any I had at home. Yet what made these dinners extra special was the ribbon candy we got. The day of our last Christmas concert, we often had delicious salmon croquettes as part of our last dinner before vacation.

One warm spring evening we had iced coffee at supper, I like it to this day. We always had real butter with our bread muffins and rolls there was a dairy near Perkins where we got our milk, butter and other dairy products

This school has had a direct influence on what I like to eat. I like comfort foods, macaroni and cheese, cream soups, even Welsh rarebit and cheese or spinach soufflés. I prefer making plain bran, corn or blueberry muffins and popovers for breakfast.

When I make macaroni and cheese for guests or bake chocolate chip, peanut butter or short bread cookies, it immediately brings back pleasant memories of Perkins. More than that, it is the lifelong friends I made when sharing meals I remember most.

My next article will be about the Alumni weekend I just returned from. I will also relate why each weekend is different and how this yearly event influences my life.

Feature Writer John Christie – OrCam Gives Disabled People a Better Quality of Life

OrCam, a new startup company in Israel has come out with a new camera for the blind and visually impaired. The camera is called OrCam. The camera can read items in a grocery store, newspapers and items in general. The camera speaks the item in a clear English speaking voice.

Unlike the cameras in the past, this camera gives the visually impaired the opportunity to move free and easily because of the portability of the camera. The camera is so user friendly that it can fit on to a cable and be connected to a computer. Once the camera is set up to function, it can fit in to a pocket.

The camera can also recognize people’s faces, traffic lights and landmarks.

People with vision impairments who have used this camera before have read menus with it and shopped at the supermarket with it.

One of the drawbacks to the device is that it can only operate in the daylight. If you do attempt to operate the camera at night, you will need a flashlight.

OrCam was mainly manufactured for the visually impaired. However, the device may help people with dyslexia or people with memory loss since the device can put images of faces in its memory bank.

The first commercial units will be sold in the U.S. in September 2013. If on the other hand, you are in a rush to purchase this product, you can do so on the company’s web site at It costs $2,500.

This sounds like a great product. If you are blind or visually impaired, it opens up a world of reading. For instance, you can read receipts, menus and bus signs as well as any other printed material. It is also great because it can read items in a grocery store. It also helps people with memory loss because faces can be put in the device’s memory bank. Hopefully, people will have a better quality of life because of this product.


May 2013 audio version

Welcome to the Matilda Ziegler Magazine audio player. To begin listening to the magazine, simply click the “Read more” link below. Once you select the month, an embedded media player will start playing the magazine immediately. While using this player, you can press the control key plus the space bar to pause the current article. To proceed to the next article hold down the control key and the shift key and then press the N key. To go back to the previous article hold down the control key and the shift key and press the P key.

Read more

Feature Writer Ann Chiappetta – How Do You Vote?

When I first became visually impaired I stopped voting. Looking back, it was because I felt ashamed and embarrassed about being blind, so going to the polling place and bringing my husband into the booth with me to read and place my finger on the lever was overwhelming and perhaps a bit humiliating at the time.

Fast forward a few years — I finally accepted my disability and voted with my husband by my side. I brought my large print notes with my choices and we worked out a great system that took us no longer than any other voter. I knew that when I pushed the lever, my vote counted. I also knew that my choice was a private one and shared only with someone I trusted.

I considered an absentee voting option, but when I heard that New York State’s absentee votes weren’t counted in with the other lever votes in the primary tabulations and not added until days after an election, I made a choice. I wanted my vote to count in the initial balloting, so I went with my husband and he helped me. This was one example of how a person with a disability was accommodated in the voting process for a long time.

In 2002, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was passed to help create an independent voting process for people with disabilities. Since the Act was passed, however, HAVA has, in the opinion of many disability advocates, fallen short of its goals.

In the next series of articles I will highlight the positive and negative points relevant to HAVA and why now, more than ever, disability advocates are putting the Act to task and why some find it is falling short of expectations.

As for how a person with a disability can vote independently, we must turn to our faithful and sometimes frustrating friend, technology. The birth of the Ballot Marking Device (BMD) was developed as part of supporting the HAVA. There a number of models being used today. The BMD works via an audio output that, through the use of headphones, enables a person who cannot access a lever machine to vote independently and privately by scrolling through and listening to the ballot and selecting the candidate of his/her choice.

It has been interesting hearing the general public’s opinion of eventually transitioning to these machines not only for people with disabilities, but also for the entire election process in the U.S. A great number of people I have spoken with say they want the old lever machines to remain, as they don’t trust the digitally enhanced machines like the BMDs. They don’t mind that some people want to use the new machines but they want the choice to do it “the way it’s always been done.” They clearly do not believe that they should be forced to use the new machines.

Then, there are the progressives, who think that it’s about time for the U.S.A. to embrace the Digital Age by using the BMDs in every election, whether it is a local, State, or National election. They believe that the new machines will reduce our carbon footprint, as they use less paper product and are lighter and easier to maintain than the old, mechanical machines. There is another opinion that what helps a person with a disability also makes it better for those around them. This is true with curb cuts, pedestrian crosswalk signals, and ramps. I am of this opinion, that the BMDs will make it better for everyone and be less of a burden upon the board of elections in the long run.

To read more about HAVA, go here:

What do you think? Share your thoughts about the voting process in the Reader’s Forum.

Feature Writer Alena Roberts – Do We Need A Cell Phone Carrier That Sells Phones for the Blind?

The first accessible iPhone came out almost four years ago. Before that, there was talks and Mobile Speak. Accessible cell phones are not new, but what is new is that most of us are buying phones that we can either use out of the box or install free software that makes them accessible. A new company called Odin Mobile is touting itself as the cell phone carrier for the blind. The question is, do we need something like this, or does this move away from the philosophy of universal design?

According to an article in CNET, the company is going to start out by selling three different phones. The Huawei is a phone that is supposedly designed with the blind in mind. It is a smart phone based on the Android operating system. Features will include simple gestures, GPS navigation, and object recognition. The phone will cost $300. This is more than an iPhone and will probably have less functionality. The other two phones are feature phones that have higher contrast screens and larger numbers.

From one perspective I can see that this might be a good option for seniors who are losing their vision, but on the other hand, good design is better for everyone, as opposed to something designed for a small percentage of the population.

Read all the details by visiting this link:

If you have an opinion about whether we need a cell phone carrier for the blind please leave your comments in the reader’s forum.

Letter from the Editor – Week of June 17, 2013

Hello Everyone,

Hope you had a good weekend.

There’s not much new to report. I’m still having some issues with emails not getting through so I will continue using the auto response. So if you’re not getting the magazine or supplement email with the subject “Did not get magazine” or “Did not get supplement”

Thanks for reading and to those who wrote in to the Reader’s Forum.