Reader’s Forum

Reader’s Forum – Week of October 21, 2013

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

Alice wrote:

First of all, about the organization for the blind, I think they all do some good, but there is too much in fighting in the blind community that divides us rather than unites us. I think we should try and work together, not only in the organization but as a group. We should try to help each other rather than put each other down. For example, we should try to help people who are unable to work, by trying to encourage people to find jobs and help them in the process. It is also a good idea for people who are not working to try and find volunteer work which sometimes can lead to employment. I can understand that people are afraid to lose their benefits if they start working, but in life we all need to take risks, to be able to move along and I think it is time for the blind to get together and go to our rehab agencies and tell them that we are tired of evaluations and other non essential programs and demand that they help us find employment. I think if we make our voices heard the organizations will do more in this regard. Another suggestion I have is that people who are not working form a nonprofit organization to help people find employment.

I am presently running an organization called Helping Hands for the Disabled of NYC. We do a lot to help the community. I have never gotten a request to help someone find employment, however I would look forward to the challenge. If you are in the NYC area, and want to find a job, give me a call at 718-606-9712.

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Kathy wrote in response to Bob Branco’s Op Ed last week:

I was asked who dresses me in the morning for work, umm really crazy so told them my husband. Can I feel the colour of my clothes? Still think the Guide dog who is referred to as a blind dog takes the winning place.

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Kathy wrote in response to Sandra’s comment:

Do understand your frustrations of partly sighted people getting a guide dog and that one feels only when you are totally blind you are then blind. I too have met blind persons who sit down and read the magazine in print. So how to correct that? I am a person who has had four dogs. When I got my first one I could see a lot but not labels and such. See a condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa is such an eye condition. It is totally night blindness and our day vision is very confusing. We cannot identify steps against ramps. So believe me I did need my dog as actually could see things but not see enough to be safe.

Some R.P. blind persons can see more long sighted so even more confusing for them and also not safe to not have a dog. So this could really become a story on who does qualify.

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Gabby wrote in response to Bob Branco’s Op Ed last week:

I get asked some stupid questions but only by little children who do not know better. I present disability awareness presentations for Girl Scouts, and some of them are as young as 5, so they ask stupid questions, so that is okay with me. However, I had a bad experience with an adult who didn’t ask a stupid question, but she did assume. I think that ADA, instead of Americans with Disabilities Act, should have stood for “Ask, don’t assume”. Everyone assumes that I am either helpless, contagious, or something else, all because the stupid people can’t imagine doing it if they don’t have sight, so they just assume I can’t. One adult rushed her 4-year-old daughter who had been talking to me away from me when I said I was blind, whispering something about “she can’t see”. I really wish that those people were blind and could see what we all go through. All the people in the school cafeteria talk to my helper about what I want to eat instead of to me. The sad part is: the helper even lets this happen, and the helper has worked with people who are blind for over 20 years, so that is extremely sad that someone who is trained in the blind lets that happen. Also, once at Girl Scouts, an older lady was cooking or serving food or something, and when I asked what I want, she began, “Wait. How does she…” and let her sentence trail off. I’ve also had stupid people say, “Guess who?” I’ve also had people who have lifted the tip of my cane up off the ground when I’m looking for something. Sadly, these people are said to have been trained on how to help people who are blind, so that is extremely sad. In fact, one of those people is my helper, the same idiot who lets those cafeteria ladies talk to her, then she says, “Oh, I didn’t even notice” like she’s the stupidest person around, which she probably isn’t, but she’s pretty close. I know I have a lot to say, but my point is, little children can ask stupid questions and stupid things can be done without them being stupid, but adults, especially those who are supposedly trained in helping those who are blind, shouldn’t be able to get away with this craziness.

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Dennis wrote:

The United States has had some blind people on television: from someone who played a role in the kids show, Rug Rats, to a winner of a cooking show. We also had a blind contestant on the hit show American Idol. So the entertainment industry is taking some progressive steps.

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David wrote:

I think the number of blind people who are out of work is largely due to the fact that they want the job, not so much a job that is satisfying, but the job and if they can’t get one most blind don’t want to really work. The 70% or 75% or whatever it is nowadays is kind of out of touch with reality. There are plenty of jobs blind people can do if they can only get past their egos. A job is a job no matter what kind it is and it should be satisfying to the recipient. I am not saying that we should be grateful or just take anything, but learn to be more patient, but not let others walk all over us either. We need to try and educate others when we are traveling and be more respectful of each other and the sighted.

Sighted people really don’t have much of a clue about blindness, they lots of times go by what they have seen other blind people do in the past. We need to really mind ourselves and try to display good behavior, we are constantly being watched and judged, one bad apple ruins it for the rest of us. As far as the ACB and The NFB, they are not employment agencies; they are supposed to advocate for us and possibly assist in looking for jobs by providing resources for us to find jobs, etc.

I agree with Sandra about guide dog use, I really feel that only totally blind people should have a guide dog. Too many times I have seen high partial vision guide dog users just leading their dogs around only by a leash. Then they like to sometimes leave their dogs home, saying something like “it’s too hot or cold” or “I’m helping someone else cross the streets and its easier leaving the dog home”, I say to that you really don’t have any business needing a dog if your vision is that good, next thing we might see someone who got a dog start getting their vision back and driving with the dog in the front seat of the car. I also feel that there should be some kind of mental evaluation to get a dog, I know a woman in Kansas City who is just like a marine drill sergeant with her last dog, she has a new dog now, but the last dog was just like watching Gomer Pyle, there should be some kind of mental stability for getting a dog. People who get dogs and cannot keep them just make it harder for the rest of those who really need them.
It is respectable to be blind, treat others the way you would want to be treated.
In response to Gene’s response to my response in the Reader’s forum about dog guide users on the amount of vision they have, I have seen a few dog guide users not using their dog guide properly, which is not using their dog’s harness, more or less having a dog for a pet is the impression that I’m getting from these people with dog guides, some people I know use their dogs when it seems to be more of a pleasure than a need, “well I guess I’ll leave the dog home today, it’s not really needed, like having someone read something to you because you don’t happen to have your reading glasses. I am really in favor of people who really need dog guides go for it, but there are still many who really shouldn’t have one because of their skills of travel and mental state of mind, some people I’ve seen are abusive to their dogs, I’ve seen it at conventions and on the streets.

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Zerline wrote in response to Sandra:

While I’m going to respect your views, I beg to differ with you on who should and should not receive a guide dog.

First of all if you waited a long time to receive your replacement or first dog, then you should be questioning the school in which you applied to as to why there is such a long wait for you to get serviced. How could you think that a school is taking someone over someone else just because they have sight or not?

You don’t know their condition or what they can see or not see, just because they are reading a newspaper doesn’t mean they can see something else. It was your choice to wait until you couldn’t see anything to apply for a guide dog, and that is totally your right. Thank God I happen to have some vision, but cannot see far distances, should I then not have a guide dog according to you? My dogs have not been wasted, for just as a person uses a cane to identify that there is something wrong, the guide dog does the same.

I had friends who had RP, and were able to do fine during the day at times but were at a loss when it became cloudy or dark. So to narrow it down just to the totally blind to get guide dogs is just not your call at all. If any school operates like that I’d make sure not to apply for service from them.

Reading your post really got me angry, but I then realized that that’s your opinion and that’s all it is. Blessings.

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Anne wrote:

On the government shutdown, President Obama should be there at meetings. We’ve had government shutdowns in the past and the President was always there at every meeting. On blind people owning guns, a blind person doesn’t need a gun to protect themselves, they can take self defense classes.

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LeDon submitted a poem titled A New Way To Be:

I have lost my sight and I can not see.
Oh, why has this happened to me?
Is it God’s unknown plan?
Or am I just an unlucky man?
Blindness will not be the end of me.
I will find a new way to be.
So, now birds singing in the trees
The whispering of a soft summer breeze
Are all sweet sounds for me to hear.
As I learn to see with my ear.

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Wesley wrote in response to George’s comments about the government shutdown:

It is apparent that there is a vast divide in America, and a strong belief by a minority of people that a majority don’t want an Affordable Health Care plan. I would suppose those people must be the super rich or folks who only are serving themselves, as they are in a clear minority. I know of next to no one who doesn’t desire affordable health care, and the friends I have in Massachusetts are very pleased with a similar plan that has already been in place for a few years. To even imply that our President is blocking negotiations is totally ridiculous, as it was the Republican party that effectively pitted the federal budget against the Affordable Care Act by aiming to strip its funding. I call that hostage taking, and over 51% of Americans agree that it was these poor actions of Congress that has set us on the edge of a financial disaster. Go ahead and blame our President, but in my view this just demonstrates how some media and personal hatred for President Obama has created a misguided perception that he is holding up negotiations. Would you negotiate with terrorists? As in my opinion that is exactly the true nature of the behavior of the GOP at this time.

Response to Sandra: So Sandra, if I can see something, forget about a guide dog? Those are pretty strong words. Let’s say I have vision that allows me to see centrally, with no peripheral vision. With this kind of vision, I walk into objects that are outside of my central vision. It takes lots of scanning to get the full view of a street before I cross, or trip up or down stairs. But you say that case doesn’t need a guide dog. Now, let’s say I have extremely cloudy vision that effectively only allows me to see a few feet in front of me. I can’t read signs, see the traffic light, or even find the front door. But, no, I have some vision, so no guide dog for me. Need I go on? I find that tolerance is the key to understanding that we are all unique individuals, and what may not work well for you, works perfectly fine for me. If I am concerned about my safety, and find that a guide dog decreases risk, than certainly using one has its benefits regardless of whether I am completely blind or have limited vision.

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Karen wrote:

Hello, I am commenting on the person who said that they want guide dogs just for totally blind folks. I feel that this remark shows extreme ignorance of different eye conditions and I am extremely familiar with different eye conditions as I used to have to review eye reports for my job years ago. First of all, folks’ eye conditions can deteriorate leaving them helpless on the street. When I first got my guide dog, my first dog, yes, I did have some vision but was tested on the street by my guide dog school for how much vision I had left. They asked what details I could still see while walking down the street. Later on, this was a great thing as my vision then took a huge fall in my late twenties. I had a massive glaucoma attack on top of R.O.P. I became aware that I also had three other eye conditions on top of the two just discussed. I had four operations on my eyes because the condition is extremely rare. The type of glaucoma I have affects internal organs as well. So I almost lost my life and the operations were to save my life not restore vision. My point, don’t exclude partially sighted folks from receiving guide dogs because their condition may not be a permanent thing. Sure some may have more vision and they pay for this by misjudging the dog’s actions but later on their vision goes, and because they still have their dogs they can continue with life. If I didn’t have mine, I would have been left unable to function on the street. My dog also gave me the strength to rehab myself and get out of my bed after all those operations. She was my reason for living and continuing with my life.

Reader’s Forum – Week of October 14, 2013

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

Tammy wrote:

I am responding to the different readers who have written to the Reader’s Forum about SSI and SSDI. I agree the goal is to be less dependent on the government if possible. I can understand why some people would want to keep their benefits. If they lost the benefits, then their job, they may not have any income at all. From my observations over the years, I have seen too many blind people lose a job and never find employment again. I know a woman who lost her benefits and it took her two years to get them back. Thank God she has a good husband who was working at the time and is now retired himself. Wal-Mart wanted her to work overtime and she quit the job. Also I think we are discriminated against more than any other group. Yes, I agree with all the technological advances there are more opportunities but the catch is finding somebody willing to hire you. I have more wrong with me than blindness. I am also hearing impaired and a slight speech impediment.

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Betsy wrote:

I am behind but just wanted to comment about the person saying “it is not guide dogs but dog guide.” That is a matter of opinion. I, and most of my friends, will continue to call them guide dogs as that is what they are mostly called. The only name for the guide dog that is not supposed to be used is a “Seeing Eye Dog” as that is the direct name of a school. Guide Dog is considered fine in most of the states here in the US. There are a lot of guide dog schools whose first name in their school is Guide and they are not complaining about it one bit. Please be careful how strong your opinions come across as they are only your opinions/preferences and should not be demanded to be followed by everyone else in the community.

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Eric wrote:

With regard to the trends in both organizations, it is very true that they are changing. As I’ve stated before, gossiping about where a person goes, with regard to meetings in an organization, needs to be halted. The same is true for listservs. What does residing in New York have to do with whether someone wants to join a Florida ACB affiliate? Answer: Nothing! This is also a game of “Can you guess who this is.” Inclusion, not exclusion, is the name of the game.

What Karen told you about strict term limits in ACB is true. But also, ACB members who assume elected offices should be expected to listen to the people they serve. To give a local California example: by the time you read this, some of us in the California Council of the Blind will have made our plans for the Fall Convention. Our rates are $100 a night. Having to make the most difficult decisions necessary, CCB has voted to have only one Convention a year. The reason: we can’t afford paying in upwards of $100-+ a night twice a year until the economy improves! And it will! So the members voted to accept this arranged decision based on the fact that it is difficult for some of our membership to commit to 2 Conventions until the economy improves.

Other affiliates have made similar stances, too. But the decisions may help in the long run.

As for NFB, they have changed, too. To those who believe the old-line Federationists are too hard-core, you will be pleased to know that the change in leadership will be gradual: evolution, rather than revolution. Marc Maurer is getting up in age, but the question for NFB is: Can they embrace change?

As for Newsline for the Blind: I would like for Canadians to invest in this service, giving Newsline more of a voice. There’s nothing wrong with hearing about events in Toronto. But what about Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Hamilton, London, (Ont..), and Ottawa? Canadians need to come up with funds in each province to properly fund and support Newsline, and work with Baltimore NFB, to download these newspapers in a timely manner.

Newsline also can do more with funding for weather forecasts and warnings. The biggest bugaboo is that they do not have the funding for people to implement a process to have the user enter a ZIP code for obtaining national weather information. Currently, you, the Newsline user, must call 1-888-825-56380 and say “Weather,” and enter your ZIP, but
the weather is not always accurate. If you can help, contact Scott White at 410-659-9314, and let him hear your funding suggestions.

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George wrote in response to Bob Branco’s Op Ed – Leadership or Ego?:

The issue of a government shutdown comes down to the fact that President Obama will NOT negotiate. The House of Reps. has sent four proposals to the Senate. Harry Reid as well as the President declared them dead on arrival. It is this group who will not negotiate. 70% of Americans do NOT want Obamacare. As time goes on this new crazy law will be devastating to young people and to our economy. No one is going to get free health care… no one. As a former American History teacher our forefathers wanted a small federal government, not the giant albatross we have today!

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Sandra wrote:

This email is in response to the Reader’s Forum of October 7th. I am responding to the discussion about people with sight having guide dogs. I firmly believe that guide dogs should only be for those of us who are totally blind. I never got a dog until I lost all my sight and that is the way it should be. I get very tired of dogs being wasted on those with sight while the totally blind are kept waiting on long waiting lists at the guide dog schools. It is extremely ridiculous to see a person being able to read labels on store shelves or read a newspaper or bus schedule while using a guide dog. It is no wonder the public is so confused about guide dogs. If they were only given to the totally blind, then the public would really know we are blind and not someone with vision. I hope someday the schools will save the dogs for those of us totally blind who really do need to have a dog. I hope the schools will stop wasting good well trained guide dogs on the sighted.

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James submitted a poem titled “Audience Participation”:

To those of us who sit at home,
Because we have no jobs.
Let me pass on this thought.
That does not mean that we are exempt from playing,
Our part in the affairs of the outside world.

We have the time on our hands,
To devote to the fights that need fighting.
It is up to us to do what we can,
To better our lot in society,
And thus, society as a whole.

Pick any cause, but choose one,
That speaks to your heart,
Let your hearts guide your steps,
And you will reach the gate that leads,
To the means to make the change.

Reader’s Forum – Week of October 7, 2013

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

Reader’s Forum

Terri wrote in response to comments in the Readers Forum of September 30th, 2013:

First, I want to thank both Allen and Mary for their comments on my article about the Microsoft Accessibility Line. Allen, I’m absolutely delighted that your experiences have all been positive; and Mary, from a corporate perspective, thanks for having “dug a little deeper.” It sounds as if there really is a wealth of information and I will save this issue in order to access the website you gave.

As for the various comments made about persons who are blind owning guns, I appreciate everyone’s perspective and the experiences or knowledge that shape individual opinions. Personally, I have no desire to own a gun and would also be afraid even to try learning how to use one. Also, even though I have been in mental health recovery for years and I’m very comfortable sharing my lived experience, strength, and hope, I tried harming myself when I was at my worst, so I never thought that owning a gun would be a good idea for me.

To conclude on this issue, I respect everyone’s right to have and express differing views because that’s what makes us the unique individuals we are, but I would also like us to disagree without being disagreeable. For example, I think one can readily disagree with a point of view without labeling it as “stupid” or” ridiculous.” Without being Pollyannaish or condescending, I think we can at least strive to make the world better for our having been here by treating others with the respect and kindness we want to receive.

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Jake wrote:

I wish to respond to a couple contributions. First off, Terri Winaught’s article about Microsoft’s new accessibility service. I called it once, and was quite pleased with the support which I received. Before proceeding any further, I need to mention that although I have been a PC user since the mid-90’s I wouldn’t consider myself too terribly technical. In addition, it was back in the spring of this year when I called so things have probably gotten even better. But having said all that, I was helped by Ryan and he did a great job. He spent about 4 hours on the phone with me, remoted into my computer. He was not able to perform a needed scan after multiple attempts. I think this was probably due to my old and somewhat corrupt Windows Vista machine, rather than his ineptitude with computers. After all, he was as I said very friendly and knowledgeable. Furthermore, it seemed as though he was quite comfortable with my screen reader. I’ve had this desktop machine since November 2007, and I’ve been told by a few people that I might just need an upgrade. It’s a good thing I called the support line on a day which was pretty free for me. After he was done, he transferred me to one of his superiors who dictated a short customer satisfaction survey to me. I’d also like to point out that the URL in Ms. Winaught’s article is incorrect. The correct address is http://www.accessible-devices.com.

Next I would like to discuss this thing about the blindness organizations. I am in neither of them, but I have over the years given thought to joining. My brother was a member of the ACB’s student affiliate, but I’ll only speak to my experiences. It seems to me that the NFB has in some respects lightened up over the years. For example, they welcome guide dogs and their users a lot more than they did. I think this can be proven by the fact that they have a guide dog affiliate. They have also changed their view on audio description, which is a good thing. Having said that though, it seems to me that there are still a lot of hard-core Federationists out there who simply do not want to change their ways. I originally thought the analogy to Republicans and Democrats didn’t apply to ACB vs. NFB, but having given it some more thought over the years this might be a pretty good comparison. But I honestly have to wonder just how much true advocacy is taking place within both organizations in some areas. One such area is vocational rehabilitation services. I’ve heard and read numerous accounts over the years about how clients just are not getting the right support they need from their counselors and rehab teachers, and it just makes me sad. Open and efficient communication is I think becoming more and more important. I only wish I could talk about my experience being a VR client, but I will get off my soap box even before getting on it.

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Dennis wrote in response to Bob Branco’s Op Ed on why young people aren’t joining Consumer organizations of the Blind:

As I see it there are two reasons, first, mainstreaming into the sighted society and the decline of Residential Schools for the Blind only and the second is still being written.
The NFB is under the mistaken notion that it is still a consumer organization when in fact it is and has become a service provider taking hoards of Federal taxpaying dollars to operate rehabilitation Centers, job programs and Newsline for the Blind. Even ACB has become a source of training for Audio describers, the line between consumer organizations and service providers have become blurred as someone from the United Kingdom described their situation at this year’s NFB Convention. The United Kingdom’s consumer organizations and service providers are advocacy organizations and that has become the case in the United States. This is even more evident NFB. There are no more enemies, no more NACs, no more AFB instead, NFB’s programs and services should come under the same scrutiny for quality of service as AFB, schools for the Blind and any other service provider that are evaluated or accredited.

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James had some comments on coaching:

I became interested in coaching through listening to comments of successful football coaches, whose teams have won Super Bowls. For instance, Giants Coach Tom Coughlin quoted Mark 9 verse 23: “All things are possible if you believe.” Belief in ourselves is essential, if we are to become winners in life.

I have no knowledge of the coaching program Terri Winaught mentioned in her article. However, I have taken coaching classes through Coachville. Definition of coaching in their program: The purpose of a coach is to help others to play their games in life better.
Coaching techniques and methods can be applied to all endeavors in life. Those endeavors could be everything from practicing a keyboard instrument to writing and delivering a talk to online marketing.

It is vital that anyone who wants to be coached has a well-defined goal and objective in life. Dennis Waitley in his great book “The Psychology Of Winning” has said that your life is your Super Bowl. Therefore, if you want to be coached, it is vital that you define what winning would look like for you.

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James wrote in response to David’s question about how blind persons become ultra-successful:

I am aware of the 70 percent unemployed statistic among blind persons. So I asked myself, what about the creative minority? How did they achieve success?

Twenty years ago I researched this topic. I believe these principles still apply in our computer age.

I read biographies and autobiographies of successful blind persons. I wanted to know the common denominators of their successes: what personality traits and characteristics they had in common.

We may not be able sing and play music like Ronnie Milsap or Stevie Wonder, but perhaps we can learn from their accomplishments. Before I list the five characteristics, I will define success. It is the progressive realization of predetermined, worthwhile personal goals.

Here are the five characteristics of blind persons who have become successful. All five must be in place in order for us to achieve maximum results.

1. They have found work they love. This love translates into emotions, such as joy and enthusiasm.

2. They ignore their critics and naysayers, those who say, “you cannot do this, because you are blind.”

3. Instead, they go for their dreams, and concentrate on their visions of the persons they want to become.

4. They put foundations under their dreams by planning for their accomplishments and by networking with those who can help them.

5. They have positive expectations that their dreams and goals will be fulfilled.

The late Earl Nightingale gave us the key to success, and the key to failure. “We become what we think about. We become our expectations.”

When we understand this truth emotionally and intellectually, we can make progress in career and life planning, and conquer discrimination.”

I wish all of you success in your endeavors.

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Danieli wrote in response to David’s comments last week:

David, I am journalist, actress and blind. I agree with you. I think that it should have people with disability playing theater, cinema, TV shows and commercials. Mainnly commercials. Because we also use perfume, lipstick, shampoo, cars… But have you ever seen any cartoon character with disability? For example: Winx club, when a fairy got blind, it was terrible for her and quickly she used her power to get better, instead of shows to children that she could be a good fairy, even being blind. Here in Brazil there is just one cartoon called “Turma da Mônica” where there are a blind girl and a boy using a wheelchair. After me, in the soap-opera in 2009, no more people with disability have played in Brazilian TV. And we are 46 million with disabilities among a population of 190 million.

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David wrote:

Does anyone believe that the so-called blindness movement has served any purpose other than to enrich and aggrandize their so-called leadership? If so, I will happily sell you a bridge in Brooklyn. How much better is our employment situation today as compared to say 1940? At best we are standing still. Technologically, we really are more behind than we were then as compared to the seeing public. Until we have true and seamless access to
our society, I believe that we are second class citizens. I also think that the welfare receivers want to keep us down so they can continue to receive their benefits.

As to gun ownership, I ask this question. What other rights are you willing to give up? Maybe the right to vote? After all, we can’t see the ballot.

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A Ziegler reader wrote to comment on: Op Ed with Bob Branco – Are Blind Employees Affected by a System?

This is the most blatant form of discrimination ever perpetrated on an individual. They are being punished because of their disability. Not in any way encouraged to overcome their handicap and look for employment, where in today’s world of technology a blind person could very easily obtain an excellent position in the work force. With a small amount of training and the use of the vast amount of technology available to them, they could very naturally establish all sorts of business ventures, where machines and micro machines would act as their eyes. This would give a very large segment of the population now on disability the dignity and honor they deserve, by allowing them to stand on their own, support themselves and their families. Instead they must cower under the weight of the government in constant fear that the small pittance they are barely surviving on will be ripped away and then where will their next meal come from? The ACLU is quick enough to throw law suit after law suit for the smallest utterance of a misguided word, why have they never thought to throw a law suit against the Government to defend the ADA on this blatant issue. When you lose your sight you do not lose your intellect, you do not lose your ability to learn what you need to learn. The family member of a reader that has adult onset blindness and is currently unemployed and has to weigh the new income to see if the benefits lost from disability and welfare is worth the risk.

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Karen wrote:

Hello to everyone in the Reader’s Forum.

I wish to respond to several issues, Bob Branco’s well written Op Ed piece on employment and entitlement to SSDI/SSI benifits. I also wish to clear up misinformation on posts about the ACB.

When I began working part or full time I expected to lose some state or federal benefits.

When I began working full time in a dark room in 1985, I happily gave up my small food stamp allotment, but lost few SSI benefits. Upon my 1986 redetermination I was on the verge of losing SSDI benefits. Business had slowed I was encouraged to cut back my work hours from 40 to 32 hours a week. I realized with work comes responsibility with partial or total loss of government benefits.

These were never meant to be given to us throughout our working lives. The goal was and still should be to have them until we can be gainfully employed and earning enough so we no longer need them.

What should happen the earning limit for both SSI and SSDI should be raised substantially so blind people can work and no longer be fearful of losing all their SSI or SSDI benefits. That is until blind workers make enough money so they are no longer necessary.

As for joining Blindness organizations, the writer who stated that ACB members hold onto leadership positions is wrong. ACB has strict term limits for every office. We now have the honor of electing the first female national president from Massachusetts, Kim Charlson. I participated in elections in 2007 they took almost an entire day. The ACB has state caucuses, with many elections having more than one or two candidates. They are exciting and show how democratic the ACB is.

I re-joined the ACB in 2007 after going to my first national convention in Jacksonville Fla. It felt like a breath of fresh air. I met new people went on tours and saw exhibits. ACB is always going forward and proposing new legislations such as the 21st Century video Accessibility Act. Conventions are fun and places to go for a vacation. Every convention is packed with seminars on everything from technology, job seeking and an annual prose poetry gathering. There is also an annual talent show put on by Friends in art. Younger members join and older members rejoin this vibrant organization. No one is criticized if they need help getting around the hotels. Volunteers are always available.

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John wrote in response to Terri Winaught’s article about the Blind Online Success System program:

I was one of the earliest members of BOSS. If you’re just starting out with BOSS, you need to know that there are no longer live teleconference calls until you reach Level 5. Jeff Wark and Lori Steffen are no longer actively involved in teaching new content. Also, some of the info in previously recorded teleconferences has become outdated, simply because aspects of doing business online change over time.

If you’re interested in working your way through the BOSS material, you’ll need to be a highly motivated self starter and have proficient computer skills. Be advised that none of this is a get rich quick scheme. You’ll put in a lot of hours for little return. If you already have an online business, you already know that.

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Jean wrote:

It is difficult for me to believe that in this day and age anyone would be ignorant enough to make the statements made in the forum by Dave regarding how blind a person needs to be before getting a dog guide.

When I got my first dog I had quite a bit of residual eyesight. However, my eyesight at night was hugely impaired, especially if there were bright lights shining in my face. I could walk around areas I was familiar with without a dog guide unless there was a stroller, chair, or some other barrier put right in front of me.

The measure of whether or not a person needs a guide is how much the dog guide improves the quality of the person’s life. One must be legally blind before getting a dog and that’s enough of a challenge for most of us. My first dog improved the quality of my life by enabling me to walk early in the morning when it was still dark; sighted people were aware of my dog when I wanted to cross a street or when I needed help in a store.

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A Ziegler reader wrote:

I wish a school would appear called “Dog Guides, Inc.” I want to see the scramble for coming up with a new name for what they now call “dog guides”. When that new name is decided, I hope a school comes forth with that new name, thus another scramble.

When I got my first dog, the school lectured us about how our dogs were the name of the school dogs and not “seeing eye dogs.” Still, I’m fairly sure that the very people who lectured us used Scotch Tape and didn’t make sure that they were really using “scotch” tape and not some other brand.

When people would compliment me on my beautiful Seeing Eye Dog, I would correct them. I then realized that I was rude. I should be gracious about the compliment. What they call my 4-pawed-canine that assists the blind is irrelevant.

Possibly there are people with lots of vision who lead their dogs through buildings. But those people may not have good night vision. I’m not a person who works at a school that trains dogs for the blind, and I don’t know why such people were chosen to have dogs. There probably was a logical reason. Those with such concerns should call the school and inquire if it bothers them so much. Or maybe take the approach of confronting those that they deem to be offenders and have it out with them. I was more impressed that the person mentioned in Readers’ Forum seemed to have a job!

Reader’s Forum – Week of September 30, 2013

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

Danni wrote in response to Feature Writer John Christie – Should Blind People Really Be Able To Own a Gun: You Decide:

Absolutely! “The Barbers don’t think that eye sight is necessary to shoot a gun.” It absolutely isn’t as long as you have knowledge and can aim! “Having a blind person be able to get a permit to own a gun makes as much sense as giving a blind person a license to drive.” I completely disagree and think this is an out of line ridiculous statement! There is really no reason a blind person shouldn’t have as much right to own a gun! A driver’s license? Really? That isn’t even a good comparison! “Society has to go back to a simpler time when the issue of blind people owning a gun never came to the lead story in a newscast.” Society would need to eliminate criminals and they haven’t figured out how to do that sadly! Referring to the blind man who shot himself in the leg, well that doesn’t hold water as a reason not to allow gun ownership but being a drunk idiot should! I have read many articles on sighted people doing the same idiotic thing! It wasn’t his sight that caused it, it was his stupidity!

In response to Wesley’s most ridiculous thoughts on the topic of owning guns maybe you should check some statistics on countries where guns aren’t allowed and see what kind of shape they are in, I guarantee you will find it much worse off, heck you can even find that by reading about some states in this country that have attempted to prevent gun ownership! To suggest that folks are somehow less intellectual because they own a gun is preposterous! Are you really serious, kids owning guns? Mentally ill? Just sad that such comments are even said! Again we would need to remove all criminals from society in order to go have “love and prosperity.” Won’t ever happen sadly, and we need the right to protect ourselves from vermin such as criminals!

In response to Karen in the reader’s forum – we aren’t forced to learn how to handle guns and if you aren’t comfortable handling them it’s very simple – don’t do it! If you want to learn, read up on them and ask your friends that own them all the ins and outs of how to handle them!

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James wrote:

I would like to contribute to the on-going discussion of blind persons owning and carrying guns. Yes, I agree that blind persons have a constitutional right to own guns. However, with our rights come responsibilities. Eyesight is necessary in order for us to hit the targets we shoot at. Therefore, I have this common sense question. How can we hit a target we cannot see?

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Mary wrote in response to Terri Winaught’s article regarding the Microsoft Disability Support line:

I wanted to dig a little deeper, since, as a retiree who worked in the corporate world for almost thirty years, I was curious about the business side, and wanted to see the mission statement. I Googled “Microsoft disability support” and found their web site on this subject, http://www.microsoft.com/enable/which provides a wealth of information. The phone number is listed in the “Accessibility Technical Support” section. There’s also a section with information for “Aging Computer Users,” which is listed with other more general support information. And, to satisfy my curiosity about corporate motives, I found the “Mission and strategy” section, with more than enough info to satisfy anyone’s curiosity.

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Dave wrote:

I have 2 submissions for the reader’s forum. The first one is concerning dog guide users in response to Ann Chiapetta in the edition of October 23, 2013. I agree with her about the misuse of dog guides or any other service animal. My feeling is that there should be stronger screening for blind people to receive a dog guide. I have seen too many blind who have a fair amount of vision get a dog guide when they have a lot of partial sight. One woman in Kansas City leads her dog through the Government building she works in as a vendor in the BEP of Missouri. I really feel most strongly that blind people who wish to have dog guide training should be totally blind -no sight, no light perception and they should have very good travel and cane skills.

The second response to the reader’s forum is about Bob Branco’s input on blindness organizations like ACB and NFB. I agree with him that they are having trouble getting younger members. It’s because of a few reasons, such as long term office and board positions. Many people in both groups think they are the only ones who can do anything concerning the blind. With the economy being in the state it is in, things are pretty tight. I have had many people tell me they are turned off by the NFB because it seems the NFB wants and craves money, money, money. My local chapter is just that way, it’s like a social status: if you don’t have fund raising skills or money you don’t fit in. The biggest problem with the NFB as far as getting younger members is I think is they don’t feel needed or appreciated when they do join. I’ve seen many members in my local chapter come and join and attend a couple of meetings then drop out, it’s not for them, like Bob said, many younger blind people really don’t feel the need for membership in either the ACB or the NFB because they are mainstreaming into the sighted world, the ones who stay in the ACB or NFB have been there a long time to keep things going, but what are we going to do when our current today’s leaders die off or drop out? The reason why blind people aren’t joining is they can’t take over because of the ones that are in the ACB or NFB those leaders are afraid to let newer younger people in. It is a power issue, there is a lot of insecure blind people in the ACB and NFB who really don’t know how to let go and move on and let others learn and grow. I may drop out at the end of this year because of the way the local chapter president treats some of us. I don’t need the stress, aggravation, criticizing and judgmental attitude towards me or anyone else. I’ve put with it for 30 plus years. That’s a lot of why both groups are having trouble getting new and younger members.

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Allen wrote:

I would like to comment on Terri Winaught’s article about Microsoft’s accessibility help line. I have used it numerous times since finding out about its existence. Each time I have received kind and courteous service, no matter what kind of problem I have called them about, and no matter the amount of time the technician spent with me resolving the problem. I also agree that having a live person to deal with and give feedback to is a definite plus. I will definitely use them in the future, and would fully recommend them.

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David wrote:

1. Living in Two Worlds: I think blind people who attended residential schools have to deal with this issue. I’m not sure that I feel I’m in two worlds, I do feel a bit not quite in one or the other. I simply have no vision and can’t remotely fake being in the sighted world. I used to have usable vision and must work hard not to miss it each day. Examples include these: I just want to go for a walk and know I can get badly turned around in a strange place or need to know what is in a can or the color of something. And no, I do not have an iPhone with appropriate apps or tiles or icons. I want to have a friend just drop me by a store or church entrance or even para transit. I must explain very carefully where I need to be. It never stops. I wish I could see YouTube with magnification or at all. But I’m not quite in the blind world. I do not spend hours on chat lines, practicing traveling with super bat echolocation, or attending conventions and such. I don’t have musical ability either. I am not an adaptive tech nerd and find trying to get help from them a bit challenging. The medium-sized city where I live, though it has a training center, offers no specific activities for blind people i.e. yoga, crafts, horseback riding, tandem biking, support group, volunteer reader database, radio reading service, …

2. Commercials: HELLO! “I bet that blind person of Superbowl ad-dom received a hundred grand at most.” I sure would not be offended to only receive $100,000.00 for anything, even $1,000.00 would be acceptable. Dennis must have been very successful indeed, very smart, or lucky or found a good mentor. I did a radio spot once but no one noticed. Sometimes, the country of the blind seems like India when Mother Theresa was there. There are a few really successful ones on the top (sometimes they mentor or give back and sometimes, “I got mine you get yours” is the order of the day), a small tenuous middle class, and a vast, discontented underclass, and even a few cons.

3. Guns: Complex issue. Wish people debated jobs for the disabled quite so hotly.

4. Scripts: Thank you Chris. Very interesting. I wonder if other blind actors have worked in the UK. I have sometimes wondered if once one blind person is hired, does that fill a sort of silent quota? I don’t hear of blind people in commercials. It would be interesting to have a guide dog or dog guide plus owner in a dog food commercial. I wonder what is it that has some blind people ultra-successful. Is it something all can aspire to?

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A Ziegler reader wrote:

I agree with all of Mr. Branco’s excellent points – sadly, especially his last one. I never found help from any blind organization. I mostly received tireless criticism or was made to feel I was not in the right clique or hooked up and forget about any mentoring from any database or career anything. Or you have to become an organization drone with superb skills before you earn the right to be given any help which can come with obligations.

I am also tired of so-called training opportunities that really are not well thought out and are badly run. RSA should have mandated that state agencies compile statistics and best-practices on the very expensive training for us. Agencies and centers not providing quality training that results in good employment rates should be dropped or brought up to snuff.

Why are there no head-hunters who have focused on the unique challenges of assisting prepared blind job seekers in locating valid employment??? I worked with one who was clueless. Another had never heard of NLS. C’mon, NLS. We all know about library books or should. I spent time educating people who were paid to help me find work. Maybe, someone should have paid me to educate these people. It would be hysterical, but it’s people’s lives and futures that are being tossed to the curb!

Now that I think I have found a job possibility, I will have to develop it myself because not a single contact person I have reached out to has been able to help me with software issues, and several have not bothered to write or email back.

I am trying to shift my focus more to the sighted world now. I feel too damaged by too many blind people’s pettiness.

I also must wonder if the younger blind are so busy with the rapidly developing tech world that they feel no need for a fusty, old, dogmatic organization of or for the blind. Several organizations have a colorful history. Perhaps young blind don’t want to be a part of that old animosity and could wish we had one voice speaking for us to present a united, less militant voice to the sighted world. Or maybe they are busily talking on a chat line or working making money.

I suspect unemployment statistics are extremely varied state by state and by age bracket, not just by education level and knowledge of braille.

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Karen wrote:

In John Christie’s and Bob Branco’s well written articles the question of gun ownership by the blind was examined. What was not thoroughly questioned was why and when blind folks should own a gun? Although there are responsible owners of firearms, I think the Iowa law sets a bad precedent. Too many tragic deaths and accidents are a result of misuse of guns. I hope that with ownership will be responsibility of thorough background checks for anybody purchasing firearms. If this was done everywhere, perhaps the tragic shootings we have seen for years might dwindle.

As a society, we must develop non-violent ways of solving domestic and interpersonal conflicts. If society was leaning towards this in the seventies we should return to a more caring kind society.

How are many young adults occupying there time now? In the sixties and seventies, our generation joined consumer groups. We were working for a better society for our children’s generation. We dreamed of a time when most blind adults may be gainfully employed. We diligently set the groundwork for accessibility in museums, restaurants and transportation for coming generations.

Many of us are disappointed that in 2013 unemployment among the blind is much as it was in the seventies / eighties, with over seventy percent still under-employed or not working. Good things have happened such as access to technology social media and phone systems.

Many young adults are busy on numerous phone systems, chat lines or on the internet. While this is alright are they missing out on face-to-face interaction.

This weekend I visited friends I had known in the seventies in Quincy, Massachusetts and Braintree. We had a wonderful time catching up on news regaling each other with stories about good times we had after meetings during the seventies.

This type of social interaction is vital to psychological, emotional and social growth during young adulthood. How can you possibly form relationships and friendships if you do not have face-to-face interaction. Many young adults also ask, “What can these outdated consumer groups do for me?” Getting on Facebook, Twitter or the phone systems and the internet is more entertaining.

There are young adults who do join consumer groups. We have to plan a better future for the upcoming generation.

Thank you for listening and I hope this first full day of autumn finds all Ziegler readers well.

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Chris wrote:

I’m an iOS7 user too as is my husband. We’re iMac and iPad users. We’ve tried to make the keyboard darker – to no avail. I’m not at all happy with the lighter grey background, it’s almost impossible to see the white percentage figures in the top right hand corner. The other thing I don’t like is that Kindle’s menus are now dark blue. That’s no contrast whatsoever against black. It’s simply not bright enough for the partially sighted – never mind the blue colourblind.

I use the iMac for anything complicated – iPad is more for reading and simple typing. I’m rather glad I’ve got a bluetooth keyboard now.

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Dennis wrote:

Is the unemployment problem in the community something we can change together? In all honesty, I have devoted a lot of time to our work situation both in this country, as well as other nations. Please allow me to make some observations, okay?

First, the more positive blind role models, the better. And it does help to believe in oneself from a very early age. Others must also be willing to step up to the plate not only to encourage, but be there for you. A resident of North Carolina comes to mind. I’ll call him Ed since that is his name. He and his brother often would do neighborhood segments, for they wanted to help contribute, but also to earn some money. After all, it was post World War II and we had just weathered an economic depression, too. Times haven’t changed though because, then, as now, kids like to earn change, and many did so to earn allowance money. It was that way for me, when I was into my sixteenth year. Yes, I saw my friends have jobs – I wanted one, too.

It has often been said that the best on air talent must be nurtured. Overnight success is a rarity in the entertainment field. Bless the person who first came up with that truism. But, let me get personal enough to reflect, and reminisce. My first encounter with a famous person occurred when I was a mere six years of age when Helen Keller spoke briefly to dedicate a building named in her honor at California School for the Blind, then located near UC Berkeley but since relocated to the suburbs in Fremont, some twenty miles to the south. Here, I should mention that the speech of that famous person was a little difficult to understand for six-year-old ears. Her message has stayed with me since her statement to me that I should always love learning.

After such a momentous occasion, nothing happened until the county in which we lived, Santa Cruz, developed a program, and so in sixth grade, I began to attend public school where I learned, and learned, and, you know the story – school is school.

Let’s fast forward to high school now where great teachers instilled in me an appreciation for both spoken as well as the written word. In winter of 1967, I was able to help out at KGO, the San Francisco ACC affiliate, assisting Dave Chase in procuring news stories for the Saturday afternoon news blocks we aired at that time. Yes, I used braille to do my job – no big deal. We had no ADA at that time, of course. I was expected to do my job just like my sighted colleagues. My interview with John Wallace would soon follow, and I would be on air doing election results in November, 1968. And, the rest, as they say, is history. Thanks for reading, I’m Dennis Holter reporting for the Matilda Ziegler magazine.

For anyone looking into augmenting their career, do include radio, print journalism, and television in your career backpack. We welcome qualified people with your capabilities, love of people, along with a fresh perspective. I, for one, believe in you. Someone, other than you, must believe in your God given talents, and untapped natural resources. If you like facts, consider a spot in the news and information industry. Most of us have at least a BA degree, or higher. This is not an easy field by any means. You have to be flexible, too. Nights, and weekends are often heavy work times. Remember the holidays? News never takes a holiday, never. We’re basically a friendly dedicated group of professionals waiting for you to join our ranks. Now, it’s your turn.

Reader’s Forum – Week of September 23, 2013

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

Phil wrote:

I’m writing in response to the reader’s forum articles about internet radio. I truly believe that terrestrial a.m. and f.m. radio is going downhill very fast. There’s no longer any creativity, no real entertainment, only a few formats et cetera. Even public radio isn’t doing what it was designed to do. I truly believe that internet radio will save radio. It has just about every kind of music that you can name. But there’s so much more than music. You can listen to sporting events on internet radio. You can get lots of news and talk. And you can hear many radio reading services on internet radio. And there’s plenty of radio theater, both old and new, on internet radio. Some newer model cars come equipped with internet radios. And of course many internet radio stations have apps that allow you to download the stations on your mobile devices. One thing I like about commercial internet radio is that they give you the option of ad free listening. And they have very few commercials during their breaks. Of course the drawback is that if you lose your internet connection you don’t have anything, but there are always advantages and disadvantages to everything. So to use and old 1970’s expressions: “internet radio is where it’s at!”

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Dennis wrote:

I was a paid broadcast person from 1968-2005, and I’ve done quite a few spots in my time using braille scripts. But if a person wants to sound genuine, they need to use braille and then memorize, and practice, practice, practice. The compensation depended on whether I was working in a small market like Salinas, California to the more metropolitan Los Angeles. The more experienced I became, the better my pay for doing ads got. I went from ten dollars to one thousand. You get the picture, right? I bet that blind person of Superbowl ad-dom received a hundred grand at most.

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David wrote:

I can’t say which Windows system I prefer. I do think ribbons are weird and hate using them. My techy friends thought Windows 98 was one of the best systems for blind users because of the DOS access it had. I do, however, get very tired of hustling to keep up with every bell and whistle Microsoft wants to change on software. The learning curves seem harder and harder; and with changes in software, I have actually lost some skills. I used to enjoy faxing in WordPerfect 5.1 but have never been able to figure it out once I went Windows. There seems to be too much change for change’s sake and especially for cosmetic appearance reasons. It’d be like changing the alphabet every so often because of graphical interface issues.

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David wrote:

Wow, that unnamed reader sure had plenty to say. I think it’s ok to ask for and even need help. But it’s not always going to be there and asking for too much help may destroy your ability to be hired. The trying to figure out how much help is enough to level the playing field and how much is definitely biased has always confused me. It makes being a person with a challenge that much harder. There is no one way to be blind and no two blind people ever agree on what is necessary and what is not. I have friends who become upset if people start assuming they need help and others who can’t get enough help.

Even working jobs, people seem to have different help. Some lawyers seem to hire their readers; others vociferously demand and get assistance that the firm pays for.

Stephen’s article about becoming an RA while attending university was intriguing. I wonder if he and his sighted friend patched things up. Hope so. Kinda reminds me of the arguments about affirmative action, just a bit.

His university sure must have been different from the one I attended. Mine would have let you go through the process, and then say you did not get the job. They would have felt a totally blind person would not be able to do the job well. I never felt like any of the RA’s really wanted to be there or help us anyway.

But then, I never felt like my university really wanted me there. And especially not in grad school. A big waste of my time and the Rehab agency’s money. I’d have been better off skipping the entire 5 years and two degrees. I never got to use them. Mentors were few and far between. Then my health glitched.

The article about living in two worlds was all too true. But I didn’t enjoy residential blind school as she seemed to. Our school had undergone a major reorganization. Academics were not valued as much as they once had been. Our administration got the brilliant idea of mainstreaming. You still went to the blind school but also went to a public school for part of the day. In effect, you had two sets of masters to jump through hoops for and please. I liked one of the three different public schools I attended. It was a lab school. I attended during my junior year. They decided at the beginning of my senior year, though I was a senior, so much for seniority, and I had to attend an inferior school because other blind students needed the mainstreaming experience and they were not busing us to different schools. I should have taken early admission to college and dumped the blind school.

But sadly, I could relate about the library books at home visiting my family. I am from a tiny country town. There was literally nothing for me to do. The kids my age had their own lives. I visited my elderly relatives often during the weekends I was not at school. I hope I did not bore them too much. I think blind people benefited from interacting with a similar peer group, but I think we also lost, too, because we did not have connections in our hometowns – connections sighted schoolmates can make to become established. It’s a complicated, multi-sided issue. Probably no right or wrong answers.

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Wesley wrote in response to Bob Branco – Should the Blind Own Guns?

First, I need to say that I do not support gun ownership at any level. When our society deems it necessary to solve disputes through violence, we are losing track of our own ability to intellectually think. Furthermore, I don’t support the argument that hunters need guns. Humans have hunted for thousands of years without guns, so we already know it can be done, and in fact we are farm raising animals to feed ourselves anyway.

Having said that, from a constitutional viewpoint, which is still up for argument by many citizens, the current interpretation is that all people can own guns. So, through this line of thinking, of course a blind person should be allowed to own a gun. In fact, the way I would perceive the current state of views on this matter, is anyone regardless of their ability, mental state, age, or criminal record, should be able to own a gun without any licensing what so ever. Isn’t that specifically what the constitution says: The right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed. I won’t mention the matter of a well regulated militia, but I will say that the interpretation of the last part of the sentence by some means everyone. So, all of those mentally unstable people that have gone on killing sprees at our schools, churches, workplaces, etc; all should be allowed to own guns. In fact a young child should carry one with them to serve as protection from big bad adults. Or bring one on the road and shoot out the tires of the driver that takes your parking space. Are you sure that is what you want? Frankly, it sounds like we are opening Pandora’s Box when in fact we should be doing everything we can to remove guns from our society. Instead I believe we must focus on love and prosperity. It is time we work together to remove the fear that has been growing in our society and return to a nation where caring for one another is more important than violence.

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George wrote:

I grew up in the 50’s. At that time you could purchase guns in such magazines as Popular Mechanics and Popular Science. There were no background checks and you just checked a box saying you were 16 years of age. Also there was a Junior NRA which schooled young persons on the use of a firearm as well as hosting various programs to teach target accuracy. To my thinking owning a firearm is similar to setting off fireworks on the 4th
of July. Both activities can be a lot of fun, but both requirements mandate that the user be schooled in the safety aspects. In 2008 I had some friends that asked me to go deer hunting. I went down to the Academy sports store and purchased a license. The clerk didn’t ask me any questions other than those required for the license. My friends and I
traveled to Eden, Texas where we positioned ourselves in a deer stand and sat and waited. At about 8:30 AM one of my friends, who was watching through binoculars, alerted me to get my gun ready because a deer was approaching our stand. I positioned my rifle and waited until it could be confirmed that a buck was in view. When this was confirmed, another friend guided me saying, “raise the gun up a bit; now slightly to the right, now down just a hair, now a tad to the left…that’s it!” I pulled the trigger and on my first shot, on my first hunting trip, bagged an eight point buck. I was excited, but not as
much as my friends who were with me! Since that time I have heard of blind hunters in Michigan and S. Dakota who have been successful hunters. Guns, fireworks and hunting are not for everyone, but if you have an interest there… why not?

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Karen wrote:

I wish to make comments on the gun issue brought up by Bob Branco. I have lived in several terrible neighborhoods, and wondered what it would be like to own a gun and know how to use it, to have good instruction about this. Since I was not brought up in a family familiar with guns except my Dad from WWII, I had no idea what this would be like. I had the great misfortune to spend time with gun owners who were part of the “Patriot” movement some years ago, and they put guns into my hands and told me I would learn. I was weary, wondered what this would be like. I confess I am afraid I would shoot wrong and accidentally hurt somebody. When doing other activities like trying to throw a baseball I found out my aim isn’t so good! I often missed where I wanted to throw the ball, and I am a terrible bowler. I don’t know what it would be like to try to hit a target with a real gun. What are others’ thoughts on this subject? I also confess I wasn’t comfortable seeing all the guns this man from the Iraq war had in his house, or having guns handed to me by his wife. Although I do agree this is our constitutional right, I wonder about the wisdom of putting guns into folks’ hands who cannot see where they are shooting, and I also wonder what the restrictions on such a license would hold for the blind if any. Does anyone know if any restrictions were placed on the guns for the blind in Iowa? Thanks for putting this in the Forum if you do. This seems a controversial subject, but since I have had unusual experiences with this thought to make comments.

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Roy wrote:

In response to Terri Winaught’s article about internet radio, I believe internet radio is the future of radio itself. I believe in 25 to 50 years there will be no more terrestrial AM or FM radio. Radio and TV will be all online. No more radio towers and high-powered transmitters and things like that. And it will be accessible. Right now, the CCrane company has an internet radio receiver. To my knowledge, that receiver is not very accessible. Maybe there are others out there that are and maybe some readers know about them and can share that knowledge with us. But internet radio is definitely here to stay and terrestrial radio will become obsolete.

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Chris wrote:

In answer to David’s wondering about using braille in a recording session, Peter White, the BBC’s disability affair correspondent (mostly on radio) and our main anchor on the weekly radio programme for and about visual impairment has used braille scripts since the 1970s, you cannot hear anything at all. However, I know that the actor I mentioned, Ryan Kelly, said that he would not use a braille script in ‘The Archers’ as he was afraid page turning would be picked up. Before the easy use of computers, he was learning his scripts by heart from audio means.

Reader’s Forum – Week of September 16, 2013

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

Reader’s Forum

Eric wrote:

Re: Judy’s letter, Ziegler, September 9: It is wrong to tip the vessel of knowledge Judy! Whether you want to admit it or not, we are disabled. Twenty-three years ago, I began writing my own panel speeches on how to treat people with respect, who are blind, visually-impaired, trainable multi-disabled, or, otherwise, other multi-disabled persons. The place was North Torrance High School, Torrance, California. These people inspired
me, motivated me, and I was able to graduate in 1992 from North High. After I left, I learned about NFB and ACB. And I learned to branch out and find like-minded people, who are disabled.

Please do not insult our intelligence. I happen to know someone who went to North, along with me. She graduated 2 years after me, and she knows me; she appeared in this space in the Readers Forum recently. She is disabled, and blind. So to say we are not disabled is not being factual!

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Mike wrote:

Hi my name is Mike, and I am totally blind. I just wanted to let Bob know that I use Windows seven, and it works great. The jaws commands are not different, but when you hit the Windows keys, a search box comes up. Windows seven is really nice.

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A Ziegler reader wrote:

Are people with disabilities allowed to accomplish their goals even if it means assistance from others? The answer is a resounding yes. In response to the readers forum material already published regarding the man who needed an interpreter in his university classroom, he had just as much right to accomplish his goals as anyone else who either does or does not have a disability. To insinuate that people with a disability should merely accept that they can’t accomplish something because they need assistance or that people shouldn’t advocate or fight for assistance they need is horrifying and degrading. If for example someone wants to be in the medical profession and needs someone with them all day, then that person should be provided for them. If some readers believe that they are not owed anything in life then that is their opinion and I, as a person, respect that. On the other hand, I will not let that stop me from accomplishing my goals. We with disabilities are allowed to be happy, we with disabilities are allowed to follow our dreams. If that were not the case, then parents who are in wheelchairs and need care givers should reevaluate their decision to have children because they need someone’s help to raise that child. Those in a wheelchair who need personal care attendants to travel shouldn’t fight for them and should just stay home and not leave the house simply because that is the way of things. No doctor should have a nurse in the room with him or her because no one else can keep things confidential. No top ranking official may have assistants or secretaries because the matters they handle may be personal. An interpreter is in the same situation. Readers, realize also that many individuals get help they don’t need and that many people such as prisoners are also dependant on our tax dollars. There are many programs developed especially for criminals that in my respectful opinion, don’t deserve them because of something they did and not something they acquired through no fault of their own. So if we need to give life something than life needs to give something back. We did not ask to be born with a disability, the world hasn’t found a way to eliminate it yet, so, if no one is going to excuse me from the responsibilities of the world despite my disability, then the world is not going to be excused from helping me accomplish my goals. The same applies to the individual in last week’s article. Again, with all due respect to everyone’s views, I am free to say that I am extremely saddened by views that this man should not receive assistance and must accept that. My thoughts are with him. May his dreams never die. May they live on and take flight.

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Bob Branco wrote:

Allow me to elaborate on my thoughts about affordable legal services for blind people under the age of 65. Over 70% of us, whether by choice or not, are out of work. Many of us live on a government check, which barely pays for the food we eat, the clothes on our back, the rent we have to pay, and the gas and electricity that we have to use. If anyone can tell me how a person who lives under these circumstances can afford an attorney fee, I will listen. Furthermore, if there are any lawyers who let us use an affordable payment plan so that our budgets won’t be affected, I will listen again.

If there are blind people who make enough money to pay for legal services, I think they are very fortunate that they can do so. Others of us are not so fortunate. When a lawyer charges $300 for an initial consultation, that’s nearly half of the Government check. How do we replace that money?

This is not about begging, as a previous contributor to the Reader’s Forum stated. It’s about real life for those of us who struggle to make ends meet before we even think of extra circumstances such as legal assistance. I would love to be in the position to pay lawyers what they are worth whenever I need legal aid. In order to do that, and to keep up with others who can afford it, I would have to set a higher standard for myself by generating enough income in order to accommodate all aspects of life. It is not easy.

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Charlotte wrote:

In regards to Bob Branco’s article on Windows XP. I too am a very strong advocate for this windows system. You are so right that it is blind friendly. I have done everything I can to keep this system and am very saddened to hear that it will no longer be supported soon. I don’t know if it would help, but maybe if enough of us contacted Microsoft, and pleaded our case, they would reconsider. Maybe they have no idea the program is so user friendly to us. What would it hurt for them to continue supporting it? I also still use Outlook Express for my e-mail and don’t look forward to having to give that up either. I know many people who are still using Windows XP and feel the same way you and I do. If there are others out there who feel the same about Windows XP, please contact Microsoft and help us plead our case.

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Eric wrote:

Re: David’s letter in last week’s Ziegler: There is nothing wrong with free legal advice. It is given without charge, who are we to criticize his decision? He (David), asks: “when will blind begging end?” When someone is “entitled” to free legal advice, they are doing a service to the blind. Say thank you! Bob Branco is clearly correct here.

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David wrote:

I thought it was interesting about the visually impaired voiceover actor. That must be a fascinating career. Wonder how much it pays. Can you grow rich or do you have to keep a day job? In the clip, Pete Gustin did not mention how long it took him from age 21 to now, to become well-known enough to do a Super Bowl commercial.

I wondered, could you do voiceover using braille. I mean if you have text-to-speech production, surely, braille, too? I presume either the files are emailed to him or he scans the printed material. Maybe the microphone could pick up the sound of hands moving across braille pages.

The dog-guide romance item was interesting. If memory serves, in my class at Guide Dogs in San Rafael in October 1989, we had a couple meet and fall in love. Patrick and Gayleen were their names, if I recall correctly. She had the sister, Nichol, to my dog, Nader. I cannot remember his dog’s name. I hope it all turned out well for them.

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Fred wrote:

In response to Bob Branco’s article about Windows XP, the program, though blind user friendly, is at least 2 generations out of date, having been succeeded by Windows 7, and now Windows 8. There is a learning curve between XP and Windows 7, particularly with reference to use of ribbons where many formerly menu driven functions have been placed. Windows 8 is even more visually oriented, and the traditional desktop has been removed. We blind users have no choice but to adapt or be left behind.

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Chris wrote:

In reply to the ‘voice over’ artiste (as we say in the UK), a well known six day a week radio serial, “The Archers” which is over 60 years old has a totally blind man playing a sighted part: he’s been a much loved reprobate young character for a number of years now – many of his escapades verging just on the edge of ‘legal’ in some cases. He and I went to the same school, a generation apart, but he was there with sons and daughters of my own generation, and he was taught by at least one mutual teacher (and a friend turned teacher of my own).

In reply to the ‘romantic’ guide dog story – I actually saw the TV programme mentioned. There had been one or two other TV programmes on living with a visual impairment this year covering all areas of life – this one will certainly have taken people by surprise. Here’s the link to the original story – with more photos http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2355704/Blind-couple-reveal-fell-love-GUIDE-DOGS-item.html

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Mary wrote:

In response to the Op Ed about Windows XP, there are some risks to staying with Windows XP after Microsoft ceases to support this software next April. Since there will no longer be any patches for “holes” in the code, there is a chance that hackers could get into an XP user’s PC and gather information about the user, and even gain access to the hard drive without the user’s knowledge. This could result in identity theft. Also, since many web sites now use software that would make the sites inaccessible with older browsers such as Internet Explorer 7 or 8, XP users will no longer have access to such sites. Screen readers will most likely cease to support Windows XP next year when Microsoft ceases to support it.

I helped some friends move from Windows XP to Windows 7 earlier this year, and, although they had to learn to use different email software and new keyboard commands, their transition wasn’t as hard as they feared. I think most of what holds people back in advancing to newer versions of Windows is fear that they won’t be able to do things as they formerly did. Moving on to newer versions of Windows ensures that you can continue to gain access to software and web sites that you use often. Since businesses and government agencies are just now moving to Windows 7, it will continue to be supported for some time.

Reader’s Forum – Week of September 9, 2013

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

Camille wrote:

Thanks for the article on Internet radio. I have enjoyed ACB Radio and the Bill Sparks site for 10 years. Many radio reading services also broadcast online. Try going to Google and typing in a state name and the words radio reading service and you will be amazed when you discover how many sites are available to you. I often tape-record a show so I can listen to it later at my leisure.

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David wrote:

When will our blind begging ever end? So Bob Branco believes not only that small children should not cross his path, but also that the legal profession should gladly provide him with free legal assistance at his whim. As one who has paid legal bills for both a divorce and more significantly to assist me in resolving a disability discrimination issue, I am insulted. Blindness is not fun. Views like those espoused by Mr. Branco, in my opinion, make life more difficult for the rest of us.

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Judith wrote:

Dear Readers and, most especially, writers! For several years now, I have read many of your articles where you use the word “disabled” and when referring to dog guides in general, most use the brand name “Guide Dogs.” I bring this up because one, the term
disabled is misleading and frankly, derogatory. It means: “incapable of functioning as a consequence of injury or illness; so badly injured as to be excused from continuing; make unable to perform a certain action, etc.

Cars are disabled. Cars sit on the side of the road because they are disabled. If they were able, they would be running. People are, therefore, not disabled unless they can do absolutely nothing. We are people with disabilities. And while that is a mouth full, it is not in any way defeatist, derogatory or misleading. If you want to continue using that term, don’t be surprised if people believe you. Second: the term for specialized dogs trained for leading the blind in general is dog-guide, not Guide Dog. Guide Dogs is a brand name of a specific dog training school for use as a dog guide for the blind. Please stop using this brand name incorrectly. I have a Seeing Eye dog and don’t want her confused with a Guide dog. And, all dog-guides should be proud of their individual training facilities.

I am aware that many of you living in Massachusetts have Guide dogs, but not all dog-guides are Guide dogs.

Thanks, I feel better just having said that.

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David wrote:

Hello, how neat it must be to have the opportunity to tandem bike sometimes. That sounds so cool.

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Beth wrote:

Re: Feature Writer John Christie – Deaf Man Takes University to Court Because it Didn’t Provide an Interpreter

We tend to believe, it seems especially in the U.S., that we are owed things in life, including fulfillment of our goals and dreams. I am here to say that this is a false assumption. We owe life our goodness and kindness but we are not owed anything by life. Since God has been mostly removed from public life and from many of our lives personally, we have become our own idols, I call this the “Self Syndrome”. Since we worship ourselves, it makes macabre sense that the circumstance reported in this article would occur. Though I have been totally blind from near birth, I so wanted to be a nurse. The staff and students at the local nursing school at the time bent over backwards to take me on class and lab tours and on patient rounds. The faculty even voted as to whether or not to accept me and the vote was negative, since sight was deemed essential for accomplishment of duties. I thanked them and went on my way to become a medical transcriptionist. The gentleman in this article can do as much good in social work or in any other profession. Ask not what life can give to you but ask instead what you can give to life, whatever your station.

Reader’s Forum – Week of September 3, 2013

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

Eric wrote:

For Yahoo customers, smaller is not always better. Check out Yahoo! Mail! We Yahoo subscribers need to inform Yahoo that they “fixed things that were not broken in the first place.” I want to delete all 200 of my unread messages at one time. No changes need to be made. Also, the process of sending and receiving group messages should not have been changed. Blind people need to contact Yahoo customer care and demand changes now. For it is blind people who are being shafted!

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Richard wrote:

In the reader’s forum of the weekly edition of 26 August, Eric wrote and asked:

“What are some of the ways you deal with sighted people who grab your arm without asking if you need help? How do you handle aggressive people violating your personal space?”

I believe one’s reaction should be friendly but firm.
If I don’t want help, I kick in my heels, and say something like: “Thank you very much, but I would like to do this myself.” And then I refuse to budge until the person releases my arm or shoulder.

Mostly though, I see it as a golden opportunity to educate the person as to the right way in which to guide a blind person. I would stop, wait until the person faces me, and then ask: “may I take your arm please?” Then, while I walk with the person, I would explain why it is better to assist a blind person in this manner.
Remember, the person only wants to help. If I am rude or too abrupt today, that person and some others who witnessed the scene, may not want to help me tomorrow – and tomorrow I just may be in real need of some assistance.

I find it very funny when someone grabs hold of my cane, lifts it, and start pulling me along. Of course, I can’t then continue walking. All contact with mother earth is gone, and I’m so vulnerable then. I immediately stop dead in my tracks, causing my folding cane to disassemble, which in turn compels the person to also stop and release my cane. I would explain that I need the contact to be able to move safely, and either refuse help, or ask for the person’s arm.

In the beginning, I used to get real hot under the collar, but I quickly learned that a humorous approach goes a long way in solving such a situation in a positive way.
Quite a debatable subject!

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Bob Branco wrote:

I agree that children should start attending Church service at a young age so that they can begin their lives appreciating religion. God knows that too much has been done in this country to exclude prayer from school, and in some cases, people even tried to take God out of the Pledge of Allegiance. Many Churches are cutting down the number of masses each week because less and less people want to attend.

My Church does not have a day care facility, so unless the babies are taken to the front entrance where the holy water is, I can’t hear the priest if they decide to cry and scream continuously throughout the one-hour mass. I am glad that some Churches have simultaneous Sunday School programs, but infants and toddlers don’t go to Sunday School.

I fully understand both sides of this issue, so perhaps those Churches which do not accommodate restless infants and toddlers should do more to accommodate them.

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Gerardo wrote:

Responding to Feature Writer Terri Winaught – A History of Internet Radio, sometimes the webpages on which the ERadio stations are on, aren’t that accessible with Jaws and other screen readers, thus for these cases, nothing better than Tapin Radio! I really love Tapin Radio (it’s for PC) since it allows you to play/Stop, independently regulate the radio volume apart from the Jaws and Windows volume, adding Favorite Stations to Favorites. For iPhone I really enjoy TuneIN Radio. So how do you guys prefer listening to ERadio, via their pages, or via programs like Tapin Radio or TuneIN?

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Danni wrote:

In response to Bob Branco’s, “Would you bring your child to church?” Absolutely not! Nor would I take a baby anywhere that others are trying to hear speakers of any kind! I think it’s absolutely rude of anyone to think that others should have to listen to their child because they want to go to church or to listen to someone speak! To me that is very selfish! I went to an MS related function once and got to hear nothing but someone’s baby cry and that’s just wrong! If you can’t find a sitter you don’t go period! Perhaps you can get the preacher or whoever to give you private time but don’t make everyone else suffer due to your selfishness!

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Betsy wrote:

I have four children so did different things depending on what church I attended. As long as they were still at the quiet stage I would sit in the service. When they started making noise I would sit in a separate room where there was a speaker or at one church stay in the nursery with them as there was a speaker where you could hear the service. I breastfed my babies so it was important for me to be near them all the time.

Reader’s Forum – Week of August 26, 2013

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

Sally wrote:

In response to Bob Branco’s, “Would you bring your child to church?” The answer is a resounding, “YES!” I would think most intelligent parents would bring some small quiet item for the infant/baby/toddler to entertain himself with. Of course there are always going to be crying babies and it is the parent’s responsibility to take the child out to the vestibule and try and quiet them. Maybe the children are too young to understand God, but “train up a child in the way he should go and he will not stray from it.” A baby at the dinner table doesn’t understand that he is to sit up straight, chew with his mouth closed, and asked to be excused when done eating but if you don’t bring the child up to the dinner table until he is an “appropriate” age, you will have a monster on your hands. The reason parents bring their children to church is so they will get used to it and learn how they are supposed to behave in church. I think it would be absolutely ridiculous to not include your child in your worship service.

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Eric wrote:

What are some of the ways you deal with sighted people who grab your arm without asking if you need help? A lot of times I run into people in Los Angeles who are oblivious to the fact that I may go slow, or slower, than usual, thinking they want to help me, but in doing so, they are harassing me. How do you handle aggressive people violating your personal space?

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Erin wrote:

Bob, sorry but that is a really selfish opinion. Know why? Because we mothers of young children need church too, and maybe a lot more than you do, since parenting a young child is mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting! Yes, we try to keep our Little Ones quiet, buy taking them out means that we have to leave too, especially if they are in that clingy phase and won’t stay in the nursery. I’d ask you next time you hear a baby or toddler in the service to please say a prayer for the weary parents, and then thank God that they are raising the next generation to appreciate church. If you don’t like the noise, maybe you could offer to take a turn sitting in the foyer with the baby, missing the service, so the parents can actually enjoy some spiritual refreshment for once.
I have to add that my husband and I have been raising kids for nearly a decade now, and have never once found someone who was willing to watch our kids for us so that we could go to church and enjoy the service. If we want to attend church, our kids have to come too, because finding someone to watch our kids is difficult, expensive, and sometimes impossible.

I’ve been in that lady’s shoes plenty of times, and I Thanked God for the scrap of service I did get to attend, and prayed that my fellow churchgoers would have grace on me and my unhappy baby.

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Gerardo wrote:

Responding to Op Ed with Bob Branco – Would You Bring Your Baby to Church? Definitely not! How many times would I accompany my parents to church, and (even worse with my 70% hearing impairment not allowing me to really immerse in the mass) imagine the distractions of small children running around, making baby sounds and the like? I thought why don’t they have some kind of child care in churches?

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Beth wrote about what Cheree said about the iPhone:

Congrats on your iPhone success and I have never thought it impossible for a totally blind person to use an I-device. By the same token, the notetakers are still very important. In what other tech circumstance can you find all instructional info on a device in one place, i.e., the device manual? How else can you carry a Braille and speech device in one unit, if that is what you choose to use? Where else can you find an E-mail list where users and staff can interact and help each other with their specialized device, as is true of HIMS? How about the vagaries of Bluetooth, which I understand can be flaky, no problems with the basic notetaker. I cheer the blindness-specific devices, long may they stick around!

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Karen wrote:

Hi to all Ziegler readers in Reader’s forum. Here are more reasons you should own a Writer’s companion. If you are writing an essay, article, poem or story there are occasions when you cannot find the right word to suit a topic or thought you are writing about.

This small book can be useful at this time. You can flip through pages looking at many subcategories, to find the right word. I have done this many times and the right word appears to help clarify what I am writing about.

This book can aid students to improve their writing and receive better grades. For writers, this handy book will make your article, poem or story stand out to prospective publishers.

I keep finding new reasons to use this handy little book for articles, stories or poems.

I believe this is a good argument as to why every blind person should learn Braille. It is our literacy and writing phone numbers and addresses and notes for school as well as looking up the spelling and choice of words is important. A Writer’s companion can go anywhere with you in a backpack or tote bag when you are at a library or in school. Seeing you read braille is educational for everyone.

One last note about this book, it makes word usage, clarity and spelling truly accessible.

Thank you for reading.

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Mary wrote:

I’m so glad Lynnette Tatum spoke up in favor of using a cane. I started out with fiberglass canes in the 1960s, and had my first one at age fourteen when blind high school students attending public schools in parts of the San Francisco Bay Area had mobility instruction a couple times a week. Later on, it was great to grab my cane and run out to college classes every day. For thirty years, cane in hand, I hurried to the bus stop, day in and day out, and then used it all the time at work. These days I don’t travel as much, but I’m glad to say that I’ve used a graphite cane for over fifteen years and appreciate the roller tip and the new method of sliding it on the ground rather than tapping. As Lynnette says, “I never leave home without it.”

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Christine wrote:

In reply to Bob Branco. I have taken a baby to church, and a toddler. As a toddler my daughter was horrible. As I was too embarrassed to keep her with me and I was on my own, I removed her immediately each week and took her to play in the area where the babies and toddlers would come out at a pre-arranged time. Except on special occasions, children and older babies come out of our service once we finish singing hymns, only very tiny babies or visitors might stay in with their older babies or, rarely, toddlers. In our church everyone accepts that sometimes children can’t sit still and nor would they expect them to. I do find this off putting, but I also know from being able to see enough that any child able to speak is too fascinated by my use of a monocular or head mounted binoculars and causes a bit of a whispered nuisance far too much. But why should I be unable to join in if I’m causing the nuisance inadvertently? Trying to acquire words to materials sung on a weekly basis in an accessible format in the type of church I go to isn’t possible – no one can keep it up for more than a week or two before they forget though their hearts are in the right places, their brains’ aren’t.

For various reasons I attend a number of different denominational churches, and sound is far more intrusive in some buildings than in others. I hardly notice the sound of one or two children in a modern building but in one of our churches perhaps built as far back as the 12th century which has fantastic acoustics, even the sound of one baby bounces around the walls and its far more distracting.

On the other hand, I can’t deal with a child in a concert hall at any concert not specifically aimed at children. One cry or sound of a chattering child and my teeth are on edge. I didn’t take my daughter to a concert until she was well into her primary school years and she knew much more about the accepted behavior at concerts than most children as my husband is an audio engineer and we have done a lot of recordings of amateurs and professionals. Bored she was, but she knew better than to speak to me. Now she’s an audio engineer in her own right but has chosen not the concert hall (unless working with her dad as his assistant) but a radio station manager!

I think unless children learn from adults in all situations they won’t learn to attend formal functions at all. We have to give them a bit of leeway – they won’t learn these skills at school any more as I did at boarding school.

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Jan wrote:

Regarding whether a baby or toddler should be brought to church, there are two sides to this issue. First of all, it depends on what kind of church it is. As a child, I attended church, probably the same denomination Bob is referring to. This type of church is noted for not having facilities conducive to young children. In those cases, parents shouldn’t bring their kids or should be prepared to take them out if necessary. From the time I was 23 years old, I’ve been attending a different type of church. In all the churches I’ve attended since then, there have been nursery facilities where the children are cared for, given religious instruction if old enough and the parents are able to attend the service knowing that the children are cared for. In two of these churches the nursery workers have been able to see and hear the service while caring for the children, with the help of speaker systems and one-way mirrors.

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David wrote:

1. Algebra: No descriptions on any blackboard in any college algebra class was going to help me. I got a reader/tutor and we checked in with the graduate assistant teaching the class from time to time. The TA was, I think, pleased to have the problem go away. I was basically on my own with the reader. I did the same for a predicate calculus and symbolic logic class. Sometimes, you just need to change the playing field, not level it! I did, however, try to take a math placement test but the head of the department was a ditz. A female friend of mine went and he fell over himself getting her the test. Duh. I was also told by a linguistics professor that blind people could not do linguistics. Another genius at LSU, I guess.

2. Man on Bus: No one won here. This guy had some serious problems. I think everyone was at fault some here. It was not an either/or situation. It did remind me of an incident in about 1990 in Philadelphia when the president of the NFB of Pennsylvania would not take a seat on a bus, but wanted to stand like all the other late-comers had to on the bus. They stopped the bus and everyone had to get off and it was a zoo.

3. White Cane: I like using braille. I think it’s neat and exotic and clever. But the cane I feel ties up a hand, is tedious, and a fair, not great, substitute for eyes. But what can I do. If I skip it, I would crash and burn, no bat-echo travel ability.

4. Church: Some denominations, i.e. Episcopal, have a Sunday school running concurrently with services. The parents bring the kids there, and the parents attend services, and the kids come back in just before Communion. I know Catholic churches have cry-rooms. That might be an option. But once when I was in one, the parent gave her six-year-old a coloring book. She had no intention of encouraging the larrikin to attend the priest’s sermon or anything.

5. I am assuming the tandem bikers had usable vision. I’d not think it’d be safe otherwise. It sounds like a very neat journey. Maybe, they’ll write a book. Wish we had tandem biking here in the fall and winter when it’s actually cool enough to ride outside. Louisiana can be blistering in the summer.

6. I think it’s fascinating the NVDA works so well. I have friend who use it. I will soon be using either CASE CATylist of Eclipse for a scoping job and do not think NVDA works with either platform and am doubtful that anyone would enable it. Also, I wish someone would make a simple cheap scanner app. I could just scan my mail and cut and paste it to MSWORD. None of all the bells and whistles than Openbook has that exhaust me. Ditto for Duxbury. It will cost me over $700 to get both software packages upgraded to a 64-bit platform. Yuck.

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Deena wrote:

In the Reader’s Forum of the August 5, 2013 edition of the Ziegler Magazine, Kit described about certain phone applications that really fascinated me. I wonder if Kit can answer my following questions to clarify my doubts as to their utility in my particular case.

Presently, I am using Nokia E71 and Nokia E5. Can the Ariadne GPS application be installed on my Nokia E71 and Nokia E5 to give me the same benefits as it does in case of Kin? In other words, is this application compatible with the above said phones?

Is the Look Tell Money Reader local or universal? Does it work only in case America / Dollars or can it be used to identify currency of any country? Is Indian Rupee one of the 20 mentioned currencies that one can identify with the help of the Look Tell Money Reader?

What is TapTapSee and in which areas is it helpful?

How to get those applications and from whom?

If those applications are not compatible with my above said phones, which particular phone can he suggest for me to make best use of those applications?

Kit: please let me hear if you can.

Reader’s Forum – Week of August 12, 2013

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

Reader’s Forum

Eric wrote:

I would like to issue all NFB-ers and ACB-ers a challenge. Whenever someone in your chapter or affiliate does something worthwhile, please try and acknowledge the deed. This could mean adding new members to reading the Kernel Books. Try not to bad-mouth misbehavior, acknowledge good behavior. Saying thank you promotes good relations and helps members see your efforts for what they really are.

The practice of bad-mouthing someone, whether they joined another organization, needs to be forever confined to the kindergarten classroom, and has no place in helping out blind people. For example, if one of your members joins ACB of New York, and is an NFB of New York affiliate, what business is it of yours? As long as this member wants to contribute to the cause of helping out the blind, be thankful for that.

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Julie wrote:

I’d like to offer my opinion on the use of handicap placards. I think people who are in otherwise good health and can get around on their own, but use these only on the basis of being blind, should be ashamed of themselves. The reality is that in spite of the weather, climate, whatever other excuses people want to use, all of us, as both blind and sighted populations, could stand to get more exercise. One way this can be offered to us is by parking further away from a destination and walking. Or you can walk between places. It may not seem like much at the time, but doing this over a period of weeks or months, those little extra movements can add up and turn into something wonderful, like better health. Considering the prevalence of diseases like diabetes and obesity problems that we have in this country as a general population, the best remedy to get a handle on that is to start moving, move more, and quit making excuses for why we’re not, just because it’s not convenient to walk those extra steps. I know it’s hard when you might not have a volunteer, a family member, or a friend who buys into this way of thought; I struggle with it a lot in my life because no one in my circle has much interest in exercise or doing much of anything extra. But for what you can do on your own, with a little creativity and a lot of patience, I can absolutely promise you that the better health you find you have is worth it. Just a thought.

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David wrote:

Responding to Bob Branco’s Op Ed concerning ill informed professionals, I’m sure my doctor is afraid of me. I’m a 4 foot 8, totally blind, hard-of-hearing brittle boned guy. What’s not to catch? Still, her fear has its limits. It doesn’t extend as far as being unwilling to take my money each time I consult her. It isn’t like I just met her yesterday. I’ve been consulting her for four years. Yes, I could change doctors, but I keep seeing her because I have no reason to think the next one would be any better. Oh yes, and where is my proof that she is afraid of me? Well, I have tried several times to teach her proper sighted guiding techniques, but she refuses to learn. She always insists on turning around and trying to walk backward in front of me. I know any turn direction she gives will be wrong, but at least her attempts to help do keep her talking so I never lose track of her, and my cane keeps me on the otherwise straight and narrow.

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Karen wrote:

Hello to all readers. In response to Terri’s article on the Philmore system I would like to relate my rewarding experience with it. In August of 2004, on an email list I heard about a phone system which featured drama and old time radio. I put it in the back of my mind until November. Someone phoned me, who I emailed with encouraging me to try this system. After she gave me the Chicago number I dialed it. Phil Scopes was friendly and gave me a box number and password. This phone system introduced me to new friends across the country and parts of Canada. Within a week I had learned how to navigate the intuitive system, for listening rewinding and recording messages. By December, as Christmas gifts to several friends I bought them subscriptions to Philmore. I had joined several distribution lists on books, fragrances, music and one on news. I have met friends I first contacted on Philmore at ACB and one NFB convention. Around 2009/2010 more blind people from Massachusetts got on the system and love it. As with all voicemail systems there are a variety of lists. Some of my favorite distribution lists are ACB Friends one on old time rock and roll. I moderate several distribution lists one on Fragrances and fashion trends and one on cooking and dining out. Try Philmore, there are lists about sports, blindness organizations technology and one called Books and Beyond. There are also many boards on the system with topics ranging from sports, politics, history and health. The Chicago number is 1-773-572-3000. You will get in touch with Phil Scopes he can give you information about the system setting you up with a box and password. One note of caution – never give your password out to anyone. I have made lasting friends. The Philmore system will open up a new world for you.

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Becky wrote:

Hi, I have been going back and forth about purchasing an iPhone. I am not very techy, but I use a computer every day. The flat screen seems daunting to me. I am a Braille user, and I have a good sense of touch. I would like some feedback on how long it takes to use the flat screen on the iPhone, and what apps are useful. I have a seeing eye dog, and think I would love the GPS.If you would like, email me privately at luv2baeasinger@verizon.net.

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Gerardo wrote:
Lions Club said that it’s a good thing you’re not having children? What a shame! Imagine if the Lions club are supposedly to help and better the quality of life for us the blind, what other stereotypes might they have? Having a baby (and I’m not married or have a girlfriend as of yet but from what I’ve seen from my cousins and other relatives who’ve had or are going to have) it’s the most wonderful experience! Imagine knowing you have inside a new life? Good luck! And don’t let these negative comments ruin your self-esteem!

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Gerardo wrote:

Very true! Though I’ve been out of school for almost 15 years, it’s incredible how much school reflects life outside! If these conducts are viewed as OK in school, imagine when the students are outside in the workforce? We’re going to have a bunch of uneducated people! It gives me the shivers how these students will be future doctors, future lawyers, future everything! Even worse, if the teachers and parents are scared to confront their kids or students, imagine the future generations not knowing either discipline or authority? I wouldn’t want to live in this scenario! So teachers and especially parents, go talk to our grandparents and parents and they’ll tell you how to educate these kids!

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Wesley wrote in response to Where is School Headed?

When considering where school is headed, I am much more concerned about corporate involvement, and the use of standardized tests. Grade school has become a harbinger for preparing students to be worker bees, instead of leaders, innovators, and business owners. Critical thinking is not taught, and seldom are students provided with life skills to even understand how to run their own house. Classes in budgeting, general maintenance, time management, and other skills should be part of the basic curriculum. Conflict management is rarely taught, and instead schools focus on aggression with an emphasis on sports.

When it comes to morality, can any of us truly say what is moral? There are communities in America that are completely nude. Topless beaches are commonplace outside of America, and there are plenty of nude beaches within our own borders. Personally you won’t find me walking down the street naked, but who am I to say how another person should behave provided it doesn’t directly hurt others.

With that in mind, how can we dictate what a person wears to school? Frankly, I think girls who run around showing their cleavage and boys who wear tank top shirts have been directly impacted by television and advertising. Is it their fault that adult society is portraying an image that for some is so strong sexually? To that end, what is proper? Consider how television has changed from the 1950s to present. Society evolves, and for some of us, we may not like its current direction, while for others they couldn’t stand where it was fifty years ago, and applaud present day values. I can certainly say that fifty years ago, to be a woman, African-American, or for that matter a member of many other minority groups, including the disabled you would be marginalized. So what is proper? For some it may be pants and skirts that reach the ankles, while for others their cheeks are showing. I can’t decide that for them.

But, what I can say about proper, is at some point a youth (or even adult) recognizes that they need to play the part for each given situation they participate in. When heading to Las Vegas, sure let it all hang out, but when on Wall Street, a suit and tie are the norm. Students who are taught critical thinking are sure to understand the difference. But to teach to the test, they will learn these life skills the hard way.

What I agree with is how shocking it is that students challenge their instructors. I have seen this at the college level where students argued about questions on a test, only to have the instructor remove the question at issue because so few students got the answer right. However, I look at this very differently, since it clearly separates the A+ student from the remainder of the class. I even got the answer wrong, and felt it should have not been removed. A lack of respect for the instructor’s ability to test and teach a class seems to have become more pervasive. The question is how can this be fixed?

While I prefer not to see the use of calculators, I also believe there is a benefit for their use. Let me first say that a student must master the skills of the basics, along with fractions. It seems evident that reliance on a calculator is only as good as the person’s understanding of what to enter. I am certain we have all experienced the cashier who can’t even correctly count change, or watched a person struggle with determining the better price for a comparable product. Yet, a calculator is very handy for large numbers, and other moderately complex calculations. Their use in school can accelerate the learning process by relieving the student from manually calculating the result. If the goal is to learn how to arrive at the correct arithmetic result, then what does it matter how a student gets there?

Thinking back on my days in grade school, I remember students passing notes between each other, playing footsy, doodling, and generally not paying any attention. Yeah, smart phones should be put away during class, but like the notes, and other distractions, a student will always find a way to play. Really, when it comes down to it, the presentation of material and a student’s interest in the topic will always dictate the level of their engagement. To this end, I believe we are totally mismanaging education by not including an emphasis on hands on training, communications, music, the arts, business entrepreneurship, conflict management, all aimed at innovation and critical thinking, along with student engagement.

Finally, back to where I started. I believe our cities have gone way too far in allowing corporate sponsorship. I don’t believe for a moment that sodas, junk and fast food should be served on school property. Likewise, advertising on school buses, and other aspects of brand identity have no place in any of our schools, or public spaces for that matter. I believe much of the behavioral issues can be directly attributed to soda and junk food diets. Schools would serve their students and our society as a whole a lot better if they provided only fresh produce, juices, and some form of protein.

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Patty wrote:

Alright here’s what I think about this. I’m going to say that right now I don’t have a handicapped placard, however I will be getting one soon. I do not appreciate people who make generic blanket statements about how they think someone doesn’t need something just because they feel it’s not right, or because they’ve never seen a need to have it.

It is unfair, it puts people in a box, and I think I’ve already made it very clear how I feel about boxes. If a person feels they need a handicapped placard whether it’s because they have a hard time walking, or because they might ride with someone who could use that and not qualify for it for some dumb reason, I say if you’re qualified and within the law to have it and you want it than you ought to be able to have it. It seems to me that there are a few who are extremely good at being judgmental toward others. I have now seen people accused of not having great skills or not asking for what they needed simply because they have a bad experience at a convention which turned out after a little reading and investigating not to be the case, and now I see someone writing about how they feel none of us should have a placard because we’re blind well that’s not one person’s decision to make nor right to make. I say if you can and you want to and it helps you then do it!