Archive for September, 2013

August 2013 audio version

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Feature Writer Steven Famiglietti – College Life Lessons

During my senior year, I had some life changing experiences. I took a Geography course and the first month of the course consisted of learning some basic Meteorology. Since that had been my major and something I was still interested in, I figured it would be an easy exam at the end of that section of the class. I received a C on the first exam. The professor invited me for a private meeting. She said “I know how much you love Meteorology and I also know that it is difficult for you because of your vision. I’d like to have you take my next exam, by recording the entire exam onto an audio cassette. You can take the exam in my office with your reader.”

Sure enough, at the time of the second exam, I brought my reader along. She read me the questions and instead of writing them out, I dictated the entire exam onto a cassette tape. I handed it in and when I received my grade, I went from a C to an A. The interesting part about this was the second section of the course didn’t deal with Meteorology; we were studying something I hadn’t learned in the past. This reassured me that audio was my strength. This is a lesson that I’ve been able to use for the rest of my life!

Also during my senior year, I had to finish up some gym courses to complete my requirements. I spoke to the Physical Education department and they reminded me that they had recently completed a new building on the West Side Campus. This building contained a brand new swimming pool. I had never learned to swim and this was my opportunity to accomplish this skill. The gym teacher, coach Hynes, was more than happy to teach me to swim. Every Monday and Wednesday morning, I rode the bus over to the West Side Campus and coach Hynes gave me individual instruction, as the rest of the class worked on their activities. Coach helped me to overcome a few major fears. My biggest fear was going underwater. One day, he had me go under for 5 seconds. I think the worst part of it was the seconds leading up to doing it! On the final day of class, my final exam was to swim from one end of the pool to the other and then return. Up to this point, he taught me how to float, how to tread water and how to do some other basic things. His major goal with me was to make sure that if I ever fell into the water, I could keep myself from drowning and I could save my own life.

As the rest of the class watched, I did swim the length of the pool and back again, even though when I got to the other end, I reminded myself that the water was 15 feet deep. I did look down and it sure looked like it was a long way to the bottom! I was thrilled when I got back to the shallow end and I had accomplished a good life skill. The class gave me a standing ovation!

Feature Writer Karen Crowder – My Relaxing Vacation in Northern Maine

Tuesday, September 10, I boarded the 9:05 down-easter from North Station, in Boston, to Portland, Maine. With train and reservation numbers in braille, it made the process easier for Amtrak staff. They are courteous and kind to anyone with disabilities. In Portland, I received assistance buying tickets and boarding a bus to Bangor. After a lovely lunch at a local seafood restaurant in Bangor, I caught the 6:30 bus. I arrived in Holton, Maine at eight thirty. Pam and John helped me put my luggage into their car on this cool summer night. While we drove to their home in Littleton, John made me feel welcome with his charismatic smile and said, “We are taking you to Grammy’s restaurant for your birthday.”

We appreciated Pam’s delicious chicken stew which was accompanied by slices of delicious garlic bread. As time sped by, Sharon, Jonathan, John, Pam and I chatted. Yet by eleven, we were ready for bed.

On Wednesday, it was a warm humid summer morning. I enjoyed creamy scrambled duck eggs, toast with home canned strawberry jam, and coffee. No one expected the surprise storm, which brought tree damage and power outages to Aroostook County.

On Thursday evening, Pam and John served a delicious turkey supper to Mormon missionaries. They enjoy meals at their house every other week. The storm had upset their plans for smoked turkey. The turkey was deep-fried and was juicy. The mashed potatoes, stuffing and vegetables made nice accompaniments. Pam and John’s hospitality and cooking are raved about at their church. The missionaries took pieces of chocolate silk pie and some of my oatmeal cookies with them to a Scripture class.

By Friday, I was enjoying the pleasant unhurried rhythm of these days. They flowed by at a leisurely pace. Sharon, Pam and I shared late breakfasts and talked and laughed during afternoons, and spent time reading or listening to local radio stations. The rain persisted until Saturday night. Because of the dampness and cooler temperatures, John turned on the pellet stove Friday night.

On Monday, since it was my birthday, at 5:30 we drove to Grammy’s restaurant. They prepare most of their dishes on the premises. Their menu is famous for homemade rolls, onion rings, fries and seafood. There were five of us, four of us ordered shellfish. As we finished our meals, I thought we were going home.

There was silence and then the staff and customers began singing Happy Birthday. Wasn’t it coincidental someone else was celebrating their birthday here? When they said “Happy Birthday Karen,” I was touched by this loving thoughtful gesture. A small piece of German Chocolate cake was placed in front of me. Pam said, “Blow the candle out.” I smiled and appreciated this sweet surprise.

On Tuesday morning, John and Pam drove me to the bus stop. On this brisk September morning we said goodbye knowing this had been a wonderful week of laughter sharing love and memories.

Maine is a lovely state to visit, especially during summer months. It is known for delicious seafood. Houlton has a dairy known for good ice cream and butter.

Have Ziegler readers spent summers in Maine?

Feature Writer Terri Winaught – Free Coaching for the Blind

As a Council of the Blind member, I serve on a committee with a very intelligent and dedicated woman who is a certified life coach, her focus being on adjusting to life with blindness. As I have heard others talk about becoming trained in various types of coaching I almost find myself saying, “But isn’t any type of coach training at least several hundred dollars or even several thousand dollars?” If information I have read is correct and therefore also my assumptions based on it, I don’t know about all of our readers, of course, but I feel certain that most of us who are blind or vision impaired don’t have $5 thousand or $10 thousand just lying around. Having read the above statements and my assumptions, you now may be saying, “So, okay. Most of us in the blindness community lack the money which many and maybe even most coaching programs charge, but how can any program which describes itself as “comprehensive” offer their training free of charge? Enter BOSS the “Blind Online Success System.”

Mr. Donald Brown, Jr., who is legally blind, became BOSS’s first apprentice in 2006. Because program founders Jeff Wark and Loretta “Lori” Steffen liked Donald’s work so much, Brown became a co-founder and together the thriving threesome saw possibilities for persons who are blind or vision impaired to learn time-tested strategies, techniques and tools of online marketing. Equally important to persons with varying degrees of vision impairment is how talented this well-trained threesome are in seeking out industry software that is compatible with JAWS, other speech screen readers and magnification programs.

Even though there is no cost, does online marketing sound like a difficult process? When you hear phrases like, “comprehensive Internet marketing coaching and training” do they sound intimidating? If you answered “Yes” to either or both of those questions, program developers and promoters promise on their website that online marketing is neither hard nor intimidating. These entrepreneurs also point out, however, that neither is it just putting up a website and then forgetting about it or getting rich quickly through multi-level Marketing (MLM) or what still others in the business call “Pyramid marketing.”

As a member of BOSS, you will learn by doing – that is, you will learn about Internet marketing and how to start your own business by assisting Jeff and Lori along with other business professionals. The ways in which you will help and the skills you will learn include: writing and submitting news releases; writing reports; developing web content; and providing customer service by checking E-mails and returning phone calls.

If you are a beginner, the professionals at BOSS will teach you, and if you are already skilled, you can both learn from and teach others in this dynamic program.

If the Blind Online Support System sounds like a program you might be interested in, you are eligible if you are blind or vision-impaired; would like to start your own online marketing business or assist others with theirs and have reasonably good computer skills. To learn more and apply, visit

Tell us in Readers Forum if you have utilized this coaching program and what you think of it. Also, should there be programs like this solely for persons who are blind or vision impaired?

Letter from the Editor – Week of September 30, 2013

Hello Everyone,

I hope you had a great weekend.

The August Audio Edition of the magazine is now online and can be found here:

Please let me know if you are not getting the magazine and I will do my best to get it to you as quickly as possible.

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

Have a great week.


Recipe of the Week – Slow Cooker Caramel Apple Oatmeal

Submitted by Dave Hutchins

Yield: 6 Servings


3 sliced apples
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups water
2 cups old fashioned oats
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
1/2 cup raisins (optional)


Dump apples, brown sugar and cinnamon into the bottom of a crock pot. Pour oatmeal on top and add water and vanilla. Do not stir. Cook overnight 8 to 9 hours on low.

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!”


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.

Contributor Theresa Petrey – Two Different Worlds Part 2

As they say, “all good things must come to an end,” and as I graduated from high school, the world I had come to know for nine years, was now behind me. I attended a local college in Shepherdstown, West Virginia and commuted back and forth to class. Being able to make friends was rather difficult, because of a lack of transportation. I would eventually transfer to another college some 300 miles away, where I lived on campus and had to learn how to cope in the adult sighted world. Some of my books were recorded (this was the pre-digital age) but others were not. I had to incorporate readers to help me keep up with the reading and also to take tests.

In the early 1990’s, things in my life would change. I was by this time, married, but not quite yet with children. I didn’t have a job. I was definitely in the adult sighted world. I still relied on my books and the radio or television for my entertainment. Before I relocated, I was active in a local church and sang in the choir.

In September, 1990, I came to Arkansas to attend Lions World Services for the Blind. I did well in my training, which was in medical transcription. In 1992, I became gainfully employed at a local V.A. Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. I have been working for 21 years.

While I am grateful for my job, I know that one day, this will end when I retire. I will be like many other blind persons. I won’t be unemployed but I will wake up with no big plans for the day. I anticipate the similarity of that world I remember of the holiday and summer vacations of my youth. I am already relying on the library to send me books to read and enjoy. I find great pleasure in this. I hope that before I retire, I will be able to afford the technology that is out there; as the way we read books now has greatly changed compared to the 1970s. My hope and prayer is that the technology that is already out there, will become more affordable for us.

One more thing that keeps me going and I hope will continue is my involvement with the ACB, both on the local and state level. I have also attended two national conventions, and felt as though I fit in; as though I had a purpose and that I was not only appreciated, but also needed, almost like being back in the world in the school for the blind, minus the homework and the stringent rules.

In writing this, I am not only sharing a little of myself, but I am also attempting to expand on writing, as I intend to find writing as an outlet to keep me going.

How many of you reading this, felt as though you were living in two different worlds, and maybe in some small way, still do?

Op Ed with Bob Branco – What Are the Younger Blind Doing These Days?

From 1981 to 1988, I was a member of one of the major consumer organizations of the blind in this country. During my seven years as a member, the leadership worked very hard to try to recruit younger blind members, but more often than not, it was difficult to accomplish. In fact, during the past 25 years, this particular chapter ceased to exist because many of its membership either died or resigned, and were not replaced by younger members. Furthermore, this problem exists throughout my state, and I have to wonder if it exists throughout the country.

With some exceptions, it’s very difficult for organizations of any type to find young people to join. With this concern comes speculation. Why is it so hard to recruit young members into these organizations? One theory is that there are more blind students mainstreamed in public schools, to the point where they don’t feel the need to be involved in an exclusive blind society or network. Second, where we have a fast-paced and progressive society, there are other options for the younger blind, either socially or professionally, and that many feel they don’t need support at this particular time. The third opinion is one that I don’t share, but I will bring it up anyway. There may be younger people who have no faith in consumer organizations based on the lack of progress in lowering the very high unemployment rate of the blind.

Don’t get me wrong. If you are an active young blind participant in a movement or other group, then this topic doesn’t apply to you, however, even you must realize how tough it is to find others in your circumstance. If young blind people are too busy to join groups, many believe that this is a good thing if they are constructively busy. Obviously, if a young person sits home and does nothing, then that’s a completely different story.

I welcome your thoughts in the Readers’ Forum.

Feature Writer John Christie – Should Blind People Really Be Able To Own a Gun: You Decide

Recently, Iowa granted a permit so that blind people could carry a gun. Michael Barber, who is blind, took advantage of this by buying a gun at the Bass Pro Shop located in Altoona. He did this with the assistance of his wife Kim. Both the Barbers plan to have passed a safety course and plan to practice with the gun on a shooting range. The Barbers don’t think that eye sight is necessary to shoot a gun.

Many people feel that it is important to own a gun because they feel it protects them from crime and they feel they have a right to own a gun because of the right to bear arms under the U.S. Constitution.

Although these cases are rare, blind people have run in to trouble in the past decade with regards to owning a gun. For instance, there was a high profile case five years ago in New Jersey where a blind man named Steven Hopler shot himself in the leg. Police confiscated his guns. There were other incidences with him which involved alcohol and guns. However, a judge ruled that in spite of Hopler’s disability and alcoholism he has the right to bear arms.

In another case in Kentucky, Carolyn Ann Key was fined $100 for carrying a gun in to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She had to temporarily surrender her gun and permit. She was unaware of signs in the center prohibiting her from carrying a gun. Kentucky laws don’t specifically restrict blind people from obtaining weapons permits but they do have to take a test and hit a human target 11 times out of 20 at a distance of 21 feet.

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. 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.