Archive for March, 2013

Recipe of the Week – Herb Roasted Mushrooms, Chicken, and Vegetables

Submitted by Dave Hutchins

Yield: 4 portions


6 Large garlic cloves, peeled
1 Large red bell pepper cut in 2 inch pieces
3 each Medium onions, cut into wedges
1 lb Small red potatoes, halved
1 lb Fresh white mushrooms
1 lbs Boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 2 1/2 inch pieces
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp Salt
3 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1 cup Olive oil


Preheat oven to 425º.

In a large bowl combine oil, rosemary, salt and pepper until well blended. Add chicken, mushrooms, potatoes, onions, red bell pepper and garlic; toss until well coated. Divide mixture into two baking or roasting pans.

Roast until chicken and vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and rotating pans on shelves once during roasting.

Nutritional Information:

1 serving : Calories: 750; Total Fat: 56g; Saturated Fat: 8g; Cholesterol: 65g; Sodium: 680mg; Protein: 32g; Carbohydrates: 31g; Dietary Fiber: 4g

Reader’s Forum – Week of March 25, 2013

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

In response to Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – The Many Ways to Learn and Teach, David wrote:

How do you help yourself or others learn a new subject? I dread this very thing. I have to ask around or try to find someone who might possibly know what I need to learn, a very hard prospect. Then I have to figure out how much it might cost, if the adaptive software has good tech support, and go from there. I find it quite an effort to upgrade computers, change software, and then find some things are easier; others, not. As it is, I am trying to learn scopist skills, but it’s an uphill battle.

I don’t find learning fun anymore – too much hangs on my getting it right.


In response to Feature Writer John Christie – Justice or Leniency? Dave wrote:

I would like to say he should, since it’s his first offense, receive 5 years probation, and pay back all the value of what he stole, unless she drops the charges. He should be treated like everybody else who is not blind.


Linda wrote in to say:

I completed Grade Two Braille about 5 years ago and try to practice about 30 minutes each day. I read with the index finger of my left hand and, as you can guess, do not have this hand free to maintain the margin position on the page. I can attempt to relearn with my right index, but know that this will be a laborious task that will definitely make Braille reading less enjoyable. I may prefer to fight than switch at age 69!

Can I hear from those who have had success with switching or those who have perfected the art of left-hand reading?

Thanks a lot and kind regards.

Linda Tennent

Contributor Nancy Scott – Hyacinths

I was recently out running errands and doing some grocery-shopping. Suddenly that scent rushed to my nose and to my memory.

I suppose there are people who don’t like the scent of hyacinths, and of course there are people who can’t be around flowers. For me, hyacinths are the best part of Easter, followed closely by peanut-butter and coconut eggs. Their fragrance powerfully speaks of romance, fiction, and resurrection of nature.

Hyacinths demand notice even above the scent of baking cinnamon or ham in the oven. They remind me of gifts and time. They will not scent the air for long.

I now know that hyacinths like light. But even after being given and purchasing many pots of pink and purple, I still never know how much water they need. I suspect I give them too much, though I always beg for their understanding as I try to supply sustenance.

Usually at first, the flowers are just beginning to open and stretch, and that unmistakable scent whispers and wafts and waves. I bury my nose in those tiny perfect petals often. Is it fiction that I need to inhale?

Then petals begin to drop and stems lean. A hint of soil arrives. But I prop them up as a bribe for a few more days of annual atmosphere. One year I used a plastic straw to prop up a single bloom whose leaning kept tipping its pot. Don’t laugh–it worked. Eventually I’ll plant the bulbs in the earth so they can return next year.

Fragility and strength. Passion and poignancy. Change of season and long tradition. Why is hyacinth-scent rarely bottled?

Op Ed with Bob Branco – Telephone Chat Lines Offer Another Form of Socialization

During the past year or so, I have participated in several telephone chat lines. These chat lines serve as another opportunity for people to get together, make new friends, and discuss a variety of topics. Many people who use these chat lines are blind, and a possible reason for that is because social networks on the computer are not always as fully accessible to blind people as they are to the sighted.

With that said, I am pleased that we have an outlet where we can verbally communicate, because there aren’t as many devices for verbal communication as there once were. For example, I have been a Citizens’ Band radio operator for 23 years. For the first several years, I had fun talking to hundreds of people in and around my community by using a 2-way radio. Today, with all the social networks available, it is hard to find anyone who uses the Citizens’ Band any more.

Despite how successful computerized social networking is, I feel that we still need to talk to one another. Your voice helps a person get a more honest impression of you than if he or she sees your written word on a Facebook post or in a telephone text. Verbal conversation is also quicker, and you can express your inner feelings easier and receive verbal support a lot faster.

Another aspect that has become more prevalent is bullying. If someone wants to bully you through a nonverbal social network, you may not know who’s doing it; whereas, in a verbal chat room, it’s easier to figure out what’s going on.

I sincerely hope that despite all the social networking we do on our computers, vehicles such as telephone chat lines continue to grow and prosper.

Feature Writer Steven Famiglietti – My Times with Ms. Waterman: Part Three

Ms. Waterman knew that I liked clocks, so one Saturday, she made plans to bring me to a local clock museum. It was a rainy, warm Saturday when we visited the place. It was full of clocks and we even met the man who went around checking and maintaining each clock. He let me wind every clock that they had at the museum. Behind the building, they had a huge bell that you could swing. So, we got to swing it hard enough for everyone in the area to hear. We went on many trips together. Aside from the clock museum, Ms. Waterman took me to the circus and out to dinner for my birthday.

To show our gratitude to Ms Waterman, we would invite her to our home each year a few weeks before Christmas. We would exchange gifts with her and we would also share some homemade cookies that my mother baked. We continued this tradition for many years after I graduated from high school. I should mention that once I graduated from high school, Ms. Waterman could no longer work with me because she worked with students who were part of the state of Connecticut Services for the Blind, Children Services Division. After finishing high school, I became part of Services for the Blind, Adult Services Division and was assigned a vocational rehabilitation counselor.

Despite the fact that we no longer worked one-on-one together, Ms. Waterman attended my college graduation party and we continued our yearly holiday traditions, even when I became employed. Time has a funny way of getting away from us, though, and our traditional meetings dwindled. I learned that she unfortunately became ill several years ago and was unable to keep her driver’s license. I found it very ironic that someone who devoted her life to helping people with vision loss ended up losing her own driver’s license and independence. I don’t know the specifics of her illness, but it was quite sad when I heard about her condition.

A few years ago, I met another mutual friend of ours and I found out that she passed away in the fall of 2009. I wish I knew that she had died because I would have liked to attend her memorial service.

I do feel like I never really had the chance to thank her for everything she did for me. She inspired me in so many ways throughout my life. I wish she could see me now, doing the work I do and living the life that I live. I hope that somehow, she knows that all of her hard work paid off. Not just for me, but for the many visually impaired students that she helped throughout her career.

If you have an inspirational person in your life, be sure to let them know how much they have inspired and helped you. I’m sure they would love to hear from you, even if it has been many years since you have spoken.

Feature Writer Ann Chiappetta – Incidental, Accidental…Whatever

I love vacationing mostly because it’s always an adventure. Being stuck in a rut living, working, and doing the same thing over and over gets boring, and that’s why I love to travel. There is one rule of thumb when traveling, though: don’t ever expect any particular part of the journey to go as expected. There are just too many variables for one to assume everything will run perfectly. That’s why I pack along a large helping of flexibility along with the other toiletries.

For instance, after booking a trip with Jet Blue, I called the motel I usually frequent in Saratoga, California. Surprise, the renovations weren’t completed and they don’t have rooms. Frustrated, I go to Plan B and find another motel in the area and book it, annoyed that I am paying $20 more a night for older and less stellar lodging. But, hey, it is pet friendly, has a free buffet breakfast every morning, and is in downtown Campbell near all the restaurants. That large helping of flexibility just got cracked open and used for this unexpected snafu.

Thankfully, my flight was uneventful and we arrived at the motel, checked in, and I collapsed after being reunited with family. It’s a large motel with 200 rooms, amenities, and best of all, I was only a few hundred feet from the dog walking area.

It’s a decent place, but in need of updating. The furniture and beds are from the last century and it took me and BFF Myla three days to get used to the old, paddle like springboard we slept upon. To make up for the retro ambiance, however, the food and coffee were wonderful and we ate a leisurely breakfast every morning, Verona lying down under the table.

We enjoyed the weather, the family, and the plentiful and fresh organic food. I munched on sourdough bread–which, for some reason, isn’t as good on the east coast. I tried a new wine from Cupcake Vineyards in Napa Valley. Very tasty. I also got happy over being able to find one of my favorite beers, Fat Tire, in the market and enjoyed that, too. We ate at a great pizzeria and another organic cafeteria which I wish we had in New York.

While we were in Santa Cruz, I saw Betty’s Burgers. Apparently there are quite a few of these little burger joints in the immediate area and I got a kick out of the slogan, which my BFF Myla read to me. It says: ‘Betty’s hot and juicy burgers and fresh hot buns’. It reminded me of the 1950s burger joints and I made a pledge to go back and try their food.

All in all, the trip was wonderful, even if I didn’t get the chance to try a burger from Betty. There might be a trip back to Santa Cruz during the holidays, and if I eat a Betty’s, I’ll mention it for sure.

Feature Writer John Christie – Berklee Summer Music Program A Great Opportunity for Musical Minds

Whether you’re a seasoned musician or just a beginner, the five week summer performance program at Berklee may be for you.

Those enrolled in the program will have the chance to study with Berklee faculty and be able to choose the kind of music they want to study. Some of these types of music include jazz, pop/rock, funk/fusion, or pop/R&B. Participants will also have the opportunity to be immersed in all types of performance, including participating in lectures and demonstrations put on by the faculty of the school, as well as visiting artists. Program attendees will also have the opportunity to develop reading as well as improvisational skills and improve their technique in weekly private lessons. Open to students between the ages of 15 or older, the program begins on July 6 and ends on August 9. It is open to U.S. residents as well as international music aficionados.

The program, which has been going on for 27 years, also serves people with disabilities. However, in order to be admitted into the program, students must submit documentation of the disability so that the proper services can be provided. This documentation must be submitted well in advance of the classes.

One great aspect of this five week summer performance program is that they offer a course on assistive music technology for blind students as well. The course allows visually impaired participants to work at digital audio work stations as well as learn or improve Braille music notation. For more information about services for the disabled, you can contact the counseling and advising center at 617 747-2310 or [email protected]

The deadline to apply for on campus residence hall housing has passed for this year. However, if you have questions regarding how to secure housing on the Berklee campus, contact the Office of Summer Programs at 617 747-2245.

The five week program costs $4,700 which includes a $500 nonrefundable tuition prepayment. If you add housing in to the mix, the prepayment is $150. This must be sent with the housing application.

The college also offers a limited number of merit-based scholarships. In order to qualify, students must register and complete an online application. Once the application is received, students will receive more information about the application process.

Berklee is known the world over for producing incredible musicians, so this program could really be a great step in the right direction for someone with a musical mind. It’s even better that they make accommodations for those with disabilities, as music is a universal art that can and should be available to everyone.


Feature Writer Lynne Tatum – Word for Word

My association with Microsoft Word goes back to Word 97, where I came to it kicking and screaming from the lovely DOS-based WordPerfect version 4.2.

I fondly recall the vivid blue screen with “doc 1 pg 1 Ln 1” on the status line. Subsequent versions of WordPerfect appealed to my visual sense as certain aspects became more customizable. Ah, the fun I had changing the color schemes in order to achieve that perfect high-contrast view. I never modified the beautiful blue screen, though. At the time, I was using Telesensory’s Vista screen magnification program. The combination was magical, even though the letters would break up at larger magnifications. I used WordPerfect 5.1 on my first job. All features worked quite well, with the exception of tables. The most frustrating part was that once you wrestled your brains into making them and began filling them in, the lines would shift all over the screen and the entire table would be out of alignment.

My first (and most beloved) MS Word audio tutorial was entitled “Speaking of Microsoft Word” by Krista Earl, whom I believe still heads the accessibility department at the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB). Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief that several key formatting features remain in MS Word 2010. Control-B to Bold; Control-U to Underline, Control-I to Italicize and shifting methods still work to this day, and I expect they will even in the latest version–MS 2013.

In thinking about last week’s article, I’m reminded of the constant learning curve we as instructor’s go through each time a new version of an application is released. Mail Merge was already a stressful feature I would teach at the end of each MS Word class. Only students with fortitude could handle it, but we did have several success stories. Dan Clark, Training Manager for Freedom Scientific, conducted an excellent session on the now hair-raising, step-intensive mail merge. I listened to it and took copious notes. Towards the end of the seminar, he casually offered that several participants had left the chat room. Gee, I wonder why? My tutors and I will definitely have our work cut out for us once we resume teaching this advanced feature.

One hurdle I had to overcome was creating a basic Word 2010 table, so I’d like to share the steps with you. Tables can be used for myriad projects. Simply press Alt-N, T, I to open the Insert Table dialog box. Next, type in the number of columns, then tab; type the number of rows, and press Enter. You are placed in the first column, first row, of your table. Use the tab and Shift-Tab combination to navigate the columns and the up and down arrows to navigate rows. Not too bad, right?

I hope you’ve enjoyed relatively smooth-sailing during your own MS Word journey, but feel free to share your stories in the Reader’s Forum.

Feature Writer Alena Roberts – Making Travel Arrangements in the Digital Age

Planning a trip can be both exciting and stressful. On the one hand, you might be traveling to some place new, but traveling can come with complications like budgeting and arranging for things at home to be cared for while you’re gone. The good news, though, is that traveling and making travel plans is so much easier with technology. Travel agents still exist and can play an important role, but many of us now have the option of choosing to plan on our own.

This past month, I learned that I would be traveling back east for a wedding. Step one: find plane tickets. This can be easier said than done, but with a few apps, the choices can be less overwhelming. My favorite travel app that I have on my iPhone is “Kayak.” This app allows me to not only look up flights, hotels, car rentals, and more, but I can also book my travel plans in the same app. For me, the only downside to the app is that Southwest flights aren’t included. But if you don’t use that airline, Kayak is the way to go.

Once you have your flight, step two might be booking a hotel. As I mentioned, this can be done with Kayak, but I also really like Their app is very accessible and when you’re going somewhere new, having access to all of your hotel options can be very important. It is important to note that if you choose to book hotels through an app, you may get charged at the time of your booking (I found that out the hard way). The nice thing about doing it in advance, though, is that you can just give the hotel their key back and be on your way when it’s time to go. It also means that a good part of your trip is already paid for before you travel.

Finally, comes the not so fun part of traveling–packing. There are numerous apps on the market that can help with making packing lists. My favorite is called “Pack the Bag.” It’s easy to set up a new packing list or just modify one you’ve created before. Then you simply go through the list after you’ve packed and check everything that you’ve tossed in your suitcase. This app has prevented me from forgetting crucial items before, so it’s worth it.

If you have favorite travel apps or travel tips, please share them in the Reader’s Forum.

Happy Travels!

Feature Writer Terri Winaught – Making a Difference: The Story of Anne Sullivan Macy – Part One

Johanna Mansfield Sullivan–better known as Anne Sullivan Macy–was born in Feeding Hills, Massachusetts on April 14, 1866.

To say that Anne’s early life was difficult would be to put it mildly. Her mother was frail, diagnosed with tuberculosis, and died in 1874 when Anne was only eight. Two years later Anne’s father, who struggled with alcoholism, abandoned the family, which resulted in Anne and her younger brother Jimmy being placed in an almshouse in Tewksbury, Massachusetts. Shortly after their arrival, Jimmy–who was born with a tubercular hip–died, leaving young Anne to grieve not only his death but also the disappointment of two failed eye surgeries she had endured.

In 1880, during a visit to the almshouse from a state official, Anne pleaded with him to be allowed to leave. Upon receiving approval, she enrolled in Perkins School for the Blind. Anne’s curriculum included not only the usual school subjects, but also learning the manual alphabet so that she could communicate with a friend who was deaf and blind. Additionally, Anne was encouraged to tutor younger students by teachers who recognized her intelligence and potential.

When she was 20, Anne graduated as class valedictorian in 1886. By this time, Anne’s vision had also improved significantly thanks to several successful surgeries.

On March 3, 1887, Anne Sullivan arrived at the Keller estate in Tuscumbia, Alabama to teach Helen Keller, then six, to communicate as a person who was deaf and blind. Although Anne and Helen got along well immediately, Anne frequently argued with Keller’s parents about the Civil War and their previous ownership of slaves.

Initially, attempts to teach Helen were frustrating to both her and Anne. In time, however, and especially with Keller’s breakthrough of understanding that each object had a unique name (such as her home’s water pump), whole new worlds opened up for both of them and they began to flourish together as a team.

In part II, I will focus on Anne’s stellar career as tutor and companion to Helen Keller. Key to this part will be how Anne was honored for making such a positive difference in another person’s life.