Welcome to The Blind Perspective

Audio: Welcome to The Blind Perspective

January 2022

Volume 8 Issue 1

Table of Contents

The Blind Perspective in hardcopy braille!
Sponsors of the Month
We are looking for Sponsors!
The Blind Perspective Archives
Greetings from the Editors
Letters to the Editors
A Thyme to Plant
Aging and Blindness
Connecting the Dots
Guide Dog Corner
The Identity Vault


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The Blind Perspective in hardcopy braille!

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Sponsored by: Essentially Braille Custom Braille Your Way



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Do you own a business, website, or app? If you have such a business, website, or app that will benefit the blind and visually impaired, we are looking for YOU! A sponsorship is only 35 USD per month.

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The Blind Perspective Archives

For your convenience, we now have in the menu section above and links below to the written and audio archived issues of the blind perspective for newcomers and those who may not know of or how to get to the archived issues.

Please note: The audio archives are from January 2021 and forward.



Greetings from the Editors’

Audio: Greetings from the Editors’ Tonya

Greetings from the Editors

Welcome readers to a new year of The Blind Perspective. I am so glad you have stuck with us for this journey into this magazine and all its intricacies. It has been quite a year of learning but we made it and are starting to understand how to do what needs to be done. I don’t know how I would do any of this without Ben. I stay right by his side through all of this and help and support him. He is the one that makes all of this work and I am grateful for him.

We have had several people offer to write. We appreciate each and every offer, even if we can’t use a particular piece. Please keep trying! We will use whatever we can.

New at the Drew house is a flock of chickens! We have 4 Cinnamon Queens and 3 Silverlaced wyandottes. They are all very sweet. They just went outside now that they have their feathers. They are learning to go up the ladder to the coop at night and down the ladder for breakfast in the mornings. I still think I hear their peep-peep in the mornings and at night even thought they are outside now. I am sure that will fade with time. For now, we have to go out and help them until they figure it out. We are thinking of names. One of our sons has chosen the name Cinnamon Roll for the one he favors. I will likely have a Dottie and a Pot Pie among the flock. We will see what suits them as they get bigger.

Maybe our readers have suggestions, and we would enjoy hearing about them. We hope you enjoy reading this month’s articles on identity theft, gardening, braille, and more. I found them all very helpful and I hope you do too.

Tonya J. Drew, CBT


Letters to the Editors

Audio : Letters to the Editors

Wondering if I can submit a penpal ad for the magazine? I am always glad to make some good penpals.

 I am Adrijana, a totally blind lady of 42, living and working in North Macedonia. I am a teacher by profession and some of my other interests include reading, music, traveling when possible, volunteer work and making new friends. I would be glad to make some connections,
so if anyone would want to write me, my email address is:

Editors: Hi Adrijana! We hope that you make some good connections. There are many people out there that like to write to a penpal.

A Thyme to Plant

Audio: A Thyme to Plant

by Sue Brasel

It is time to think about what to grow in your garden this year. Do you want colorful flowers, plants that provide aromatic sensation or edibles? Plant catalogs provide many possible ideas. Plants native to your area have adapted to the environment and tolerate typical amounts of wind, rain and sun.

The least expensive way to grow plants is to start them from seeds. A seed package will usually indicate a growing year and a germination probability. Seeds keep a good amount of germination potential for three years. Seeds gradually lose their viability when stored improperly, but they don’t expire. Even very old seeds have a 10 to 20 percent chance of growing.

Some hardy plants, such as onions, peas and spinach, can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked. Less hardy varieties can be planted a few weeks before your last frost date. Plants that don’t tolerate frost, such as squash, tomatoes and basil, should be planted after the last frost date.

A simple way to know when to plant is to use a hardiness chart for your last frost date. Specific to your zip code, the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) provide probabilities for your micro climate. Plants safely grow outside after the last frost.

To get a head start on the season, plant seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost date. When danger of frost has passed, these sprouted seeds with more than just the first set of leaves can be transplanted in your garden.

Plants typically take 13 days to germinate, some take a month. Indoor seed planting charts give you a time range for particular kinds of plants. Seeds should be grown in a warm environment; a cold basement, for instance, may be too cold for some plants.

Seedlings can be put outside before the last frost if protected from the cold, such as in a cold-frame or a hoop garden. If you have planted your crop, then find that a rogue frost is expected in your area, upside down milk jugs or pop bottles can protect your plants with a mini-greenhouse effect.

Some people soak their seeds to shorten germination time. Soak seeds for 8 to 24 hours, never more than 48 hours. Very tiny seeds should not be soaked. Seeds soaked too long will drown.

Charts will tell you the depth in soil to put your seeds. Very tiny seeds can be sprinkled on soil, then dusted lightly with the soil. Larger seeds need to be put 1/4” to 1” into the soil, charts indicate the depth for different varieties. When planting inside, plant the seeds into moist potting mix, then water lightly. Cover with plastic wrap or some kind of cover until the seeds sprout up. Once the sprouts appear, expose to the air.

Plant more seeds than the number of plants you want. To thin too many sprouts, cut them out with scissors; keep the sturdiest plants. Tender roots can be damaged if seedlings are pulled up.

To prevent sprouts from getting leggy (with long stems), run a fan by them. This helps to strengthen them and gets them ready for wind exposure outside.

It is now thyme for me to figure out which seeds need to be planted at which times. I look forward to seeing plants growing outside this Spring!

Sue is a master gardener in Alabama and can be reached at southernsuetwo@gmail.com

Aging and Blindness

Audio: Aging and Blindness

by Carol Farnsworth

When I was growing up with a visual loss, I didn’t think of growing old and what this could entail. If I thought at all about it, I would have not seen much of a change except in slowing down.

Now that I am at a retirement age, I notice changes that are far different than blindness.

I will put down a item such as a book of knitting patterns and not be able to locate it again. In frustration, I order the book again.

Both my husband and I have this slippage in memory but John has the ability to visually look for a lost item. The joke in our home is the items are all gathered in the same place and laughing at us.

My friends love to hear me describe them to another. My memory image of my family and friends is of a slimmer, dark haired and wrinkle free person. I was recently told by my husband that his barber told him he had lovely silver hair. Silver? the last memory I have is a full head of black hair.

I have always been an active outdoor person. I would run, bike and walk for miles. Now after two hip replacements and a pelvis fracture, I am not able to walk in the woods. At times, I will catch my toe on a crack in the sidewalk and trip. I use my white cane for balance rather than for mobility.

Recently, I went to leave a knitting group only to take a misstep and tumble on a carpeted step, hitting my back and hip. No broken bones but I sported several large bruises.

Many people experience a decrease in hearing acuity in the high frequencies. This makes it difficult to listen for traffic sounds when crossing a street and conversations in a group.

So keep a sense of humor. Growing old happens to us all. The ability to see the lite side of aging will take the sting out of situations. When I fell in my knitting group, after I determined that I was OK, I commented that I was just measuring myself.

Coping with the book loss by replacing it and joking where it could have gone makes a great story.

My friends love my memory of their appearance. So take your changes one day at a time. and laugh along the way.

For more information on aging with blindness read Katherine Snyder’s book, “Tales of Occupied Aging, Delights, Disabilities and Daily Life,” Db85915 , the book is also available in UEB, BR21638 in three volumes.

Carol Farnsworth has a bi-weekly blog. She can be reached at carolaspot@aol.com. She loves to hear from readers for suggestions and topics of interest.

Connecting the Dots

Audio: Connecting the Dots

by Tonya J. Drew

Welcome to a new year of connecting dots! Thank you all for the lovely emails I have received in the past year asking braille questions.  I love emailing with all of you.

I wanted to briefly, before I get into using numeric indicators, remind everyone how important learning contracted braille can be.

I recently was working on the book of Psalms. I had a programming error in the work and the first word of each verse was not contracted. So rather than try to start over, I went verse by verse and contracted it myself. Just fixing one word in almost every verse was the difference between 250 pages and 244 pages! So, don’t think that contraction don’t matter! They are very important, especially in longer works. Anyone who has ever purchased a transcription would know this makes a good difference in price.

I received an email a couple of months back from Debra. She says: Can you go over numeric code rules? When to use the [numeric indicator], which breaks the [indicator] in a telephone number or an address? What is an easy way to remember the need for [the indicator] sign, and where to place it, example next to a/comma, when to use space? Thank you PS I love your column.

First, thank you Debra for reaching out. I enjoy hearing from readers and answering questions.

Anytime you want letters a through j to be a number and not a letter, you must use the numeric indicator. The indicator must come immediately before the character or characters you wish to be a number.

For addresses and telephone numbers, anytime you use a dash or space, you must repeat the numeric indicator.

An easy way for me to remember is thinking of print, back when I could read regular print. Numbers often have decimal points or commas in larger numbers. Those do not require that you repeat that numeric indicator. If you read print in your life, you know what I am talking about. If you have not read print, Then anything that would normally be found in a number means you don’t repeat the indicator, but if you don’t normally find it in a number, then repeat the indicator.

Debra, I hope this help you. If not, please reach out to me again.

Tonya is a certified braille transcriber and can be reached at essentiallybraille@gmail.com


Audio: Dot-pourri

DOT-pourri:  From Louis Braille to Helen Keller-and Onward

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

Pondering the 213th anniversary of Louis Braille’s birth on January 4 and the 170th anniversary of his passing on January 6, I am once again awestruck by his genius, inventiveness, persistence, teaching skills, and musical gifts.  To this outstanding student and teacher from Coupvray, France-I, like so many of you, give my forever gratitude for Louis Braille’s dots-his remarkable and logical system of dots for tactile reading.

If one asks the general public to name two famous individuals who are or were blind, most assuredly, the two names at the top of the list would be Louis Braille and Helen Keller.  On the game show Jeopardy, I have observed that Mr. Braille and Ms. Keller are part of at least a couple of clues and/or answers-in-the-form-of-a-question each year. 

Can you imagine what a meeting of these two historical figures would be?  Can you guess one item on my bucket list?  Yes, I would someday love to visit Coupvray, France, to tour the Louis Braille Museum and his monument-to walk and read braille in the little village where Louis Braille was born and raised.  I do not know if this dream of mine will ever come true, but recently I had the opportunity to help make come true a tiny dream for a little girl who reads braille.

In 1959, when Mattel debuted the Barbie doll, I, at age nine, preferred my own collection of dolls and other similar dolls who looked nothing like Barbie.  Nevertheless, all of these decades later, I do give abundant thanks to Mattel for recently creating the Barbie Inspiring Women Series of dolls and most especially for the company’s designing of the Helen Keller doll with braille on the packaging and a braille book in the doll’s left hand.  Besides Helen Keller, other dolls in the Inspiring Women Series include Maya Angelou, Susan B. Anthony, Lucille Ball, Ella Fitzgerald, Katherine Johnson, Frida Kahlo, Florence Nightingale, Rosa Parks, Sally Ride, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

The primary reason I applaud Mattel for the Helen Keller doll is that the doll is placed in a clear plastic box on which is embossed very well grade-two (contracted) braille.  On the front panel of the plastic box is the phrase Helen Keller on the first line and Educator on the following line.  The back panel of the box has, in braille, a biographical sketch of Helen Keller (June 27, 1880-June 1, 1968).  To have such a doll so readily accessible through Amazon and other popular stores is amazing. 

Well, I just had to purchase one of the Helen Keller dolls to check out the braille and the doll.  I was so glad that I did.  The doll is fashioned in a pretty lace-trimmed, cream-colored blouse with long multi-colored striped skirt and with a hairstyle that would have been typical of Helen Keller during the early 1900s when she was a student at Radcliffe College.  As you know, she was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.

I have two extremely minor connections with this Helen Keller story.  First, thanks to the Scholastic Book version of Helen Keller’s THE STORY OF MY LIFE, I was introduced to the braille alphabet which was pictorially represented at the end of the paperback book that I was happy to purchase at my elementary school.  Secondly, my first guide dog’s puppy-raisers named my Golden Retriever after Helen Keller.  In March of 1990, Leader Dog School did not tell students the birthdates of the Leader Dogs:  all I knew about my Keller’s birthday was that it was in June of 1988.  Thus, we always celebrated my Leader Dog Keller’s birthday on June 27-the anniversary of Helen Keller’s birth.  During the years that Keller was my impressive guide dog, a few times, when I was introduced to someone for the first time, the person recalled that my guide dog’s name was Keller and mistakenly remembered my name as Helen. 

Consequently, I decided to pose my current Leader Dog Willow in front of my raspberry-colored recliner after I had carefully placed a twelve-by-fourteen-inch framed photo of my Leader Dog Keller and the Helen Keller doll on the recliner.  With the help of my sister and brother-in-law in Colorado via Facetime, I (we) took a number of photos until we captured one very good photograph for my sharing with family and friends.

I am happy to have this souvenir photo of the Helen Keller doll with my first and fourth Leader Dogs because my plan was to give the doll (as an anonymous gift) to someone whom I do not know-to a young girl who is blind and who reads braille-and who would like a doll.  Of the gifts I gave during the past year, this gift of the Helen Keller doll is the most meaningful to me and the one that made the end of the old year so special and memorable.

Now, in this new year of 2022, I have one important question.  Dear Mattel–Are you planning a Ken Inspiring en series of dolls which would include a Louis Braille doll?  I hope so.  Let us always continue to honor Louis Braille for his grand and enduring gift that he gave to blind people around the world-his tactile reading system of dots-braille.

NOTE:  Please imagine that the trademark symbol was placed with the use of the word Mattel, Barbie, and Ken. 

Alice Jane-Marie Massa can be reached at:  alicejmassa@gmail.com and is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Author’s page:  http://www.dldbooks.com/alicemassa/

Guide Dog Corner

Audio: Guide Dog Corner


By Sharon Howerton

It is Christmas Day as I write so if this does not make it into the January newsletter, it is my own fault. Thinking about this for ten days doesn’t get it written and sent!

Two things that people consistently tell me when they see Cameo is how well behaved and clean she is. I always say that she is out in the public all the time or certainly had been in her earlier working years so she had to be clean and well behaved.

Behavior is something I insisted on when I applied for a dog. Barkers and dogs who, for a current term, I guess, consistently violate a person’s personal space make me uncomfortable and are ones I will avoid. One woman I knew who has since moved away would always crate her dogs when people were going to visit, and she would give them some kind of sedative if she was going to leave them for a while. But they were still barkers even when crated. For some time, I didn’t restrain Mary Jane or Cameo when someone would come to my door but then realized that not everyone welcomes a large dog coming at them as soon as the door is opened. So now when I know someone is coming, I put Cameo’s leash on (yes, a leash, not a chain) and sit with her for a few minutes before the person arrives. I keep her restrained with me (not tied up) for as long as I want as she is then calm and quiet, not bothering anyone in any way. For the record, I don’t do this when my sons come as sometimes, I don’t know when they will arrive, but for most people, this is my procedure. When I choose to remove the leash, I let the person know I’m going to do that and then do it very quietly if my guest is OK with that, so that most of the time, she is not even aware of it and remains lying quietly with me under the table or in front of me. If we do not make it to the leash, I hold her by her collar and keep her with me on the left side as she is when she is working and will release her when it is more appropriate. We all do this in different ways, but my opinion is, if one may quote a phrase, our dogs should be seen and not heard. These are just my thoughts and opinions; we all deal with our situations in a way that is best for each of us.

And speaking of January, Cameo will celebrate her 12th birthday January 18. She was the first in her litter. Her work days are very limited. She sleeps a lot, plays a little, still enjoys her toys and, of course, has no trouble eating! That is because she is a Lab! Find a Lab that doesn’t eat and you have a problem!

Safe new year to all and see you next month. And again, my apologies to our editors for the late submission! Sharon can be reached at shrnhow@gmail.com

The Sighted Perspective

Audio: The Sighted Perspective

by Benjamin Drew

I must say, I am always eager to be my wife’s hero and go to guy for any issues what so ever!


This braille display by the HIMS company proved to be very humbling.

We cannot get this thing to work! I have updated the firmware and went through the hard reset of said device and me and Tonya went through all the settings more than once to no avail.

A cup of coffee and the temptation to hang myself in the closet later I just gave up, at least for the time being. lol.

That Jaws screen reader program just drives me insane when doing anything on her computer. I don’t know how the blind and visually impaired deal with the constant voice over without at least some hair loss or smashed computers! lol.

She will have to contact the HIMS company at some point, sadly. Because I failed. But what’s most important is that she gets this expensive paper weight up and going so she can actually enjoy it and maybe, just maybe increase her productivity.

On the upside of things, I got Tonya a new compound bow! She’s doing great despite her visual impairment! I got to learn a little bit about how the blind and visually impaired can still engage in archery. now, the question is, can Tonya put some meat on the table with that shiny new bow? We shall see.

Photo: Tonya Shooting Compound Bow

The church gathered from different parts of the country and Tonya got to shoot one of the guy’s AR15! Man, she sure looks good holding it. She was viewing the target with some sort of red dot scope. She did really well.

Photo: Tonya Shooting AR15
Photo: Her AR15 Target, not too shabby!

It just goes to show you there’s many things the blind and visually impaired can do. I have learned much through my wonderful wife!

Benjamin can be reached at kjbstudies@gmail.com

The Identity Vault

Audio: The Identity Vault

by Deborah E Joyce

People are talking. These days, you can’t listen to the news without hearing something about cybercrime, scams, identity theft, and the like. That’s just news, it doesn’t affect me, it doesn’t hurt me, right?

No, no, and no. Let’s start the new year with the basics. When you make your New Year’s resolutions, add TAKING CONTROL to the list.

That’s what a resolution is, anyway. Before you start, you have to know what it is you’re trying to do. Lose weight? Stop smoking? Protect your vault? Vault? Yes – in your vault, you’re going to put your personal information. Then lock the door, and throw away the key.

Your personal information is gold – name, address, birth date, Social Security number, insurance information, any paperwork with any identifying information on it. Think about all those papers that you’re saving from your tax accountant over 10 years ago. Remove mail from your mailbox, email from your inbox, and packages from your front door. Even if a thief doesn’t physically take the mail, they open it, take a picture of it, put the envelope back in your mailbox and use your information at their convenience.

In other words, let’s make it difficult for the thief who wants to impersonate you.

Be safe – Deborah is the author of Identity Theft A Victims Search For Justice.


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Audio: The Blind Perspective January 2022 Issue

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Audio: The End