Volume 7 Issue 10
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
A Thyme to Plant
Beyond the Book Jacket
Computer Tech 101
Connecting the Dots
Guide Dog Corner
Kaleidoscope of Crafts
Letters to the Editors
Memoirs of a One Man Band
The Blind Perspective Newsletter has been produced in such a manner that makes it easier to stroll through the articles. If you are using JAWS, System Access, or NVDA, press the letter H to move through the headings. If you are wanting to skip back simply press the shift key + the letter H. For MAC users, press Control Option Command plus the letter H and to go backwards through the articles press Control Option Command shift plus the letter H. If one of the links do not work for you just copy and paste it in to your browser and it should work.
The Blind Perspective in hardcopy braille!
Interested in a braille copy of The Blind Perspective? We now have that covered as yet another avenue for your reading enjoyment! The cost is 75 US Dollars for a 12 month subscription. Get a subscription for yourself or perhaps as a gift. It’s as easy as 1-2-3!
- Contact us at email@example.com and we will send an invoice.
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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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If you’re interested, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Free Class on VoiceOver
To register for the Free VoiceOver course:
Send an e-mail to:
In the subject line please indicate your intent to register for VoiceOver In and Out.
In the message body, please include your first and last name, your Apple ID email, and a phone number that can receive text messages.
This course will be held every Monday and Wednesday, beginning October 4, and concluding November 24, 2021. Sessions take place at 2PM Eastern, 1PM Central.
We teach courses through the WebEx conferencing app.
What you will need.
We host the class sessions in WebEx conferencing app. You can download it from here
We encourage you to download the Webex Conferencing app, set up a free account, and stay logged in. When class starts, and you have the join link, this will make the process so much smoother.
If you miss a class, we will be up loading audio only to YouTube. Subscribe to the channel here:
That way you never miss a session.
Of course you need an iPhone. This is so after class, when listening to the stream on Youtube, you can practice and become more proficient using VoiceOver as well as your phone.
Top Dog Conference
Hotel reservations are now open for the Top Dog 2022 Conference! Activities begin on Thursday, May 19, 2022 and ends on Sunday, May 22, 2022!
Come to Saint Louis, Missouri for a fun filled, all about guide dogs weekend! Meet up with friends and make new ones as you enjoy the presentations and activities at the Sheraton Westport Lakeside Chalet, 191 Westport Plaza, Saint Louis, Missouri 63146.
Room rates are $107.00 per night, plus applicable taxes. These rates are good from May 18th through 24, 2022.
To make your hotel reservations, please use the link below:
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’
Greetings from the Editors
Welcome to fall, my favorite season of year and another great issue of The Blind Perspective! I really enjoy the cooler weather, bright colors, crisp air, and all the good things that fill my life with warmth and love. I hope that each of our readers has ways to enjoy this time of year in North America. I know in some areas where some readers live, it is spring and that can be equally as fun.
It has been brought to our attention that there are some copywrite issues with Blast from the Past and the archives. I would like to apologize to everyone involved. We discussed the issue here at The Blind Perspective and will not be running Blast from the Past any longer and have made changes to the website to correct the archive situation. Thank you to our reader that pointed out the problems.
We are looking for just a few new writers. If you or someone you know likes to write and can share with The Blind Perspective community, please have them contact us for more information. We are sent content each month that we appreciate. We use whatever we can.
As you go out and enjoy the fall weather, don’t forget to take The Blind Perspective with you, no matter which format you prefer to read. We love hearing from our readers and would enjoy emails telling us where you like to read your issue.
Tonya J. Drew, CBT
A Thyme to Plant
By Sue Brasel
Old wives’ tales have been used to forecast the weather in the past. Researchers are now trying to find out if plants have a role in the climate, and if they can be used to predict weather.
People say that maple and oak leaves curl in high humidity before a heavy rain. Some flowers, like dandelions and tulips close up before thunderstorms. Pine, fir and spruce cone scales stand stiff and separately during a dry spell, but in high humidity, the scales tend to close up.
Many flowers close their petals before a rain or in the evening. Common daisies are an example of this. Flowers that open and close at particular times, such as day lilies or dandelions, close up at a different than normal times to indicate rain.
Often, if a flower scent hangs heavy in the air, the humidity is high, and rain will likely be felt or seen soon. Aromas spread pervasively when there is moisture in the air. The sweet, sharp ozone smell is carried to lower altitudes by a storm’s strong downdrafts just before a rain, too.
In Tibet, a seven-year study showed that a type of grass could predict a monsoon. Scientists are still trying to figure out how alpine meadows synchronize biological clocks with water vapors that build up over the Indian Ocean.
Plant changes observed at the University of Wisconsin at Madison study and determine the roles trees and plants play in affecting the atmosphere, thus the weather. Photosynthesis is the green growth phase of plants where carbon dioxide is converted into fuel for themselves. Oxygen is the end product. Basically, plants swap water with the air and soil, creating a cycle. During the fall, most plants are not in their growth phase. The carbon dioxide swapping rate decreases.
Researchers want to know how heat and moisture traveling through the atmosphere will affect cloud formation and the potential for local storms. They want to find out if different landscapes affect cloud development, if hot and/or cold spots on the ground change the amount and strength of precipitation.
Ankur Desai, UW professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, has been involved with this multiyear project. He hopes to determine how clouds and rain formations start over small land areas. Then, he wants to increase the ability to accurately predict the weather with more landscape data.
It is now thyme for me to check my plants to see what weather conditions they are forecasting.
Sue is a master gardener in Alabama and can be reached at email@example.com
Beyond the Book Jacket
By Tonya J. Drew
The Blind Perspective regrets to inform you that Bonnie Blose passed away September 17, 2021. We extend our deepest sympathies to her family and friends. She will be missed here at the Blind Perspective.
Computer Tech 101
By Jim Morgan
Okay, while I know I’ve gone over this topic before, I think, in light of some recent personal events, it bears repeating. What I’m talking about are backups, their necessity, and some suggestions on how often to do them. Fancy that, two articles in a row without mentioning fraud and scams; be still my beating heart.
Anyway, I, some years ago, wrote a couple of database applications in MS Access for my Church’s Choir, of which I’m a member. They were a Member database and a Music Library. While both databases were kept on an OLD computer in the Choir Office at the Church, I had, and kept current, the Member database on my own computer at home as well as a copy of the Music Library for purposes of changing it or making improvements. You see, there wasn’t a screen reader on the Church computer and it was too tedious to have somebody else enter what I told them to when a change or addition was called for.
So, earlier this year, I went to get a copy of said Music Library to update it with some new programming. The upkeep of the files there isn’t my responsibility and I only pull off a copy when I need to do something with the database. As I later discovered, the database hadn’t been backed up in 2 or 3 YEARS. Anyway, at some point since it had last been used, the computer’s main hard drive had gotten fried, probably by an electrical surge, and wouldn’t boot at all. So, I thought to remove the secondary hard drive where said database was located and, after putting it in an external hard drive case I had at home, copy the database onto my computer and make the necessary corrections. However, due to the fact that the hard drive was probably formatted with Windows 98, it was just too old to access. While I could see the hard drive on my computer, I couldn’t access it to copy off any files. I spoke with a technician I know and trust and had my worst fear confirmed, unless I could find a Windows 98 machine to put it into, and real good luck on finding one these days, the data was inaccessible because the hard drive was just too old. Now, remember that I had a copy of the database on my own computer so it wasn’t completely lost, but there was a couple of years worth of data and updates missing and were lost forever.
Of course, the above situation wouldn’t have happened, or would have been less severe had backups been done more regularly. To further illustrate the point on how backups can save your butt, many years ago, when I was a Computer Support Technician, I once saved a company 1 MILLION dollars by being able to restore a backup to their system. Granted that they still lost a little money due to the time spent in the restore and updating of data, it was nothing compared to the time and money it would have taken had the next previous backup been the only one that was viable. It was a difference of a few hours worth of data versus an entire week of missing data. So, they just had to redo some uploads from external devices and it was back up and running properly in about 2 hours. I don’t want to think about, and neither did they, the amount of time it would have taken to reconstruct a week’s worth of data. To further pound the point home, my father’s laptop recently died; it was the motherboard. Anyway, he’s going to get a new laptop since the old one was a bit old and he wasn’t happy with its’ speed. Anyway, because he kept good backups, all he has to do is to reinstall some software, restore the backed-up data, all of which shouldn’t take a great deal of time, and he’s back up and running. Moral of the stories: have a good backup plan and use it.
Of course, your next question is going to be: how do I back up? Well, there are several ways and they all have their place. Since, ironically, Windows 98, I think, there is a Backup program included with Windows and is part of the Accessories menu. This will back up all or part of the computer at a scheduled time to a specific data device, such as the DVD-RW drive installed on most computers. The advantages of this are that it’s automatic and is economical on disk space used. It creates a special backup file that is slightly akin to the compressed files we get when we download books from BARD. The disadvantages are that if anything at all happens to one of the discs, or other media, where the backup is stored, the whole backup is screwed. The reason for this is that there is a link or pointer from one disc to the next when multiples are needed, as they usually are, and the last disc has the roadmap for the backup. So, if anything happens to this chain then the computer can’t know where to go to get the data nor where the end is. In addition, if there’s a single file that you want, you have to go through the whole backup file to get it.
One other method is to use a Cloud, like Dropbox or, if it’s still around, Carbonite. These are simply offsite storage and, realistically is no different than copying files to a flash drive, or disc, and is accessible from anywhere through the Internet. I don’t think I need to illustrate the advantages here. The downside is that these services are usually subscription based, meaning you have to pay for them.
Next, you can compress the files and save them to an external device, such as the ubiquitous flash drive, and save a bunch of space on the drive. This method has a number of the same disadvantages as using the Backup program, including the fact you have to extract, in most cases, the whole thing to get what you want, except that the number of files involved is usually smaller and there is an overwrite question when extracting so that you don’t inadvertently copy over good files. Of course, if anything happens to the compressed file, while you won’t lose everything, there will be some data loss. I had that happen a long time ago with some graphics files and a few of them got permanently lost because the Compressed file got a little corrupted.
Lastly, the most basic, and, probably, most obvious, method is to simply copy the files off to another device, such as an external hard drive, flash drive, Burnt CD-ROM, etc. You could also simply setup a folder on your Hard Drive for this, but I don’t recommend it since, if anything happens to the drive, you are completely screwed. This is the method I myself use. I have a mixture of the devices I mentioned above and simply copy my files to these device(s) on a regular basis. In case of an emergency, such as evacuating from a Hurricane, I can simply take the devices mentioned with me instead of trying to take the whole computer. Of course, this is easily done if one uses a laptop or tablet, but the theory holds; you want something you can quickly and easily take with you in the event of a problem. While I grant that a Cloud is the best method for this since it, by definition, is already off-site, there is still a price to be paid for security.
Now, I think your next question is going to be: Okay, that sounds good, but how often should I do it? To be honest, there really is no single answer to this question. Most of it depends on what you’re doing and how important it is to be able to get to a good copy of the data files if needed. I would recommend a backup interval of at least once a month. It varies from there as to how high your degree of paranoia is. While once a month is a good rule of thumb, I know of several instances of much shorter; from once a week to hourly. Again, it depends on what you are needing to protect. Recently, I was working on a database and was making changes to sections at a time. Once I finished a section, I’d back up the database so that if something happened, I’d be able to easily go back to when it last worked. Now, I’m not talking about programs, such as Office, nor the Operating system. For the most part, those need to be reinstalled in the case of a problem or a Program Repair or System Restore performed. I’m talking about data files, such as MP3 music, spreadsheets, Word documents, databases, etc.; the things you can’t simply reinstall to put back and are the most variable in their content. In most cases, these files are relatively small and will have no trouble fitting on one of the devices I previously mentioned. Again, I think this the most efficient method since it ensures that a most current working copy of the data files are present and are easily copied back in the event of a problem. The down side is that you have to manually do it, it’s not necessarily an automatic thing. Before those Office users out there start waving your hands, I know that you can setup automatic backups in office, but those won’t necessarily save where you want them to and do not overwrite each other so you can run up disk space and not realize it until you get a nasty surprise later.
In case you’re wondering what I’m talking about when I mentioned Program Repairs and System Restores, here is what I meant. In Windows, whenever you install something, a backup is made of the system automatically and just includes the programs, NO data files. Then, on the Accessories menu, possibly under System Tools, is a System Restore option which will then bring up a calendar and you can restore to, depending on what dates are stored, whatever date when a backup was done. Please note that this kind of restore returns ALL programs to the state they were in when the backup was done. For example, if you changed a setting inside Excel and then had to restore to a date prior to when you made said change, the change will no longer be there. I want to stress, however, that this kind of restore DOES NOT affect data, only programs and the Operating System. Also, some programs, such as Office, have a function that starts if you run the setup after the program is installed. It is mainly there to allow addition or removal of sub-programs or features, but there is also a Repair function that works kind of like the System Restore, but it only affects that specific program and can be done at any time. What this does is to reinstall the program and then restore any configuration changes you’ve made, such as where data files are stored, so that the corrupted piece of the program is overwritten. This is sometimes a good thing to do if a program works but occasionally gives you some trouble that seems mystifying. As with the System Restore, it does not affect data and, unlike the System Restore, keeps your program settings.
So, that’s the lowdown on backups. As always, should you have any questions about this or any other topic, please send me a message. My address is, I believe, below. I’ll respond to your message, one way or the other, ASAP. In the meantime, Happy Computing!
Jim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Connecting the Dots
By Tonya J. Drew
This month we are discussing Strong Group Signs. These signs help shorten the number of characters required to make a word, allowing the writer to get more on a single line. They represent the same letters if they are part of a word or not. However, they cannot be used in contracting solid compound words. I will give a few examples at the end.
AR. Dots 3, 4, 5
ED. Dots 1, 2, 4, 6
ER. Dots 1, 2, 4, 5, 6
GH. Dots 1, 2, 6
OW. Dots 2, 4, 6
ING. Dots 3, 4, 6
AR can be used in words like are, bare, and around. Any time you find the letters A and R together, think 3, 4, 5.
ED can be used in words like need, red, and boredom; and you can also use this contraction at the end of words to make it past tense like the words cooked, baked, loved, and posed.
ER can be used in words like erase, error, and whisper. It is most often found at the end of words that have been changed to be adjectives of verbs like cooker, rounder, and barer.
GH is most commonly found in words like though, slaughter, and laugh. When you see G and H together, think dots 1, 2, 6.
OW can stand alone as an expression of pain, and can also be found in words like towel, show, and toward.
ING is probably as common as ED. It is often used at the end of words that are being used as a vowel like loving, erasing, or laughing.
There are a few exceptions. Words like stateroom, kettledrum, and foghorn are not contracted in the middle because these are solid compound words. Mishandle and Shanghai do not use the SH or GH contractions respectively because the H is aspirated when we say them. If ING comes at the beginning of the word, such as the word ingredients, then ING is not the contraction used.
Also, don’t forget to consider what will save the most space. For example, can you use THE contraction instead of the TH? If so, we usually do whatever will save the most space.
Until next month, keep connecting the dots. Tonya is a certified braille transcriber and can be reached at email@example.com
Guide Dog Corner
By Sharon Howerton
It is hard to believe that we are so far into 2021 and some of you, like me, may have been on your school’s training list for the year and then some. Personally, I am in no hurry and believe in my school’s wisdom to present me with the right match when the time comes. To me, there are lots of things you can do to prepare yourself especially if you are a first-time handler.
I had my first home interview in January, 2003. One of the things we did was a Juno walk when the instructor (or what we called a field rep at that time) wears the body of the harness and the potential handler is evaluated on our ability to follow the lead of the “dog.” I lived in the city and at that time, it was an area I had not explored much beyond the route to the train to work or the bus stop. So, I gave him a route with which I was not familiar-didn’t know the cracks in the sidewalks, the sounds around me, etc. It was exhilarating to think I didn’t have to think about those things; I could just trust and follow and since I had trusted a 48-inch white cane for 40 years, I figured I could trust a living being.
After that, whenever I would come to a street crossing, in my head I would say, Forward! unless, of course, I had to think right or left. By the time I got to training, those words were engrained in my vocabulary even though I did not say them aloud.
I distinctly remember, and I trust I am correct in this, that we were taught to use one-word commands. Say the dog’s name and a one-word command. Sit down was sit. Lay down was down. No barking was QUIET!
Since Cameo and I live alone and she’s been home 9.5 years, I talk to her all the time but when it comes to commands, it’s her name and one word followed by good girl when she follows the command. Over the years I have heard someone say to her misbehaved dog, Why did you do that? or What was that all about? What?! Our area has no end of rescues and one who lives next door is very unfriendly to other dogs. So, when it is coming out with one of its humans and one of my neighbor’s dogs is getting ready for a barking frenzy, his human will continually say, Good boy. He hasn’t been good yet. Find some other way to ensure that this human has a somewhat less eventful time with the dog he has rescued.
Of course, when you get to school or are matched, you’ll learn a lot of commands and other things but remember your dog has gone through a lot. It went to a puppy raiser-maybe more than one-for 14 months, then to training and maybe more than one trainer, living in a kennel with lots of other dogs and then what? Someone altogether new? You. The dog may need to get used to a different kind of speech pattern or accent, a different tone of voice, a different touch and then a whole new environment-a new home, a new place to sleep, other people or animals. Give yourself and your potential partner some slack. Be patient but be consistent. It takes time to get adjusted. Where you live or work, find out the best place to take your dog to relieve.
I’ll leave you with a funny thought I had for all of you this week. There is one thing you will never hear a member of the public say to your cane. Your cane is so beautiful! Is it OK if I pet it? And now that Cameo doesn’t work too much, I often say, when asked if it is hard to go back to using the cane, Well, I don’t have to pick up after it!
Be safe, be well and thanks for reading. Remember that any comments are my own and your thoughts are always appreciated.
Sharon is a former braille instructor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kaleidoscope of Crafts
By Lindy van der Merwe
As we slowly but surely move into spring here in South Africa, it is once again a privilege for me to greet all our readers with another Kaleidoscope of Crafts project. I have recently been updating my craft blog, (http://accessibleartsandcrafts.blogspot.com) which at present has some 40 posts on origami, which made me think of what else one could do with paper. It turns out there are many things apart from the obvious. One craft that I had not come across much in the past is book sculpture. Basically, you fold or manipulate the pages of a book to form it into another object. I will surely be investigating this craft more in future. For this month, however, I have chosen a simple woven placemat craft. I hope you will try it out.
You will need two rectangular pieces of paper that are similar in size, but different in color or texture, since you will be creating a block pattern with the paper. For instance, you could use normal copy or colored construction paper for one sheet and a glossy magazine page for the other, or you could crumple up one of the pages and then flatten it out again. This will give it a different texture. You will also need scissors and glue. I find that smaller scissors work better for me, but this may just be a personal preference. You can use any kind of glue, although I find that glue dots or squares that can be found at stationery shops, work very well and involves much less mess.
Creating the base of your placemat.
Step 1. Place one of the rectangular sheets on a flat surface with one of the
short ends facing you or in the portrait position.
Step 2. Fold in half from top to bottom.
Step 3. Repeat the fold twice more so you end up with a long, narrow strip of paper.
Step 4. Open the paper all the way again. You will have 8 horizontal creases
running across the sheet now.
Step 5. Starting at the bottom of the paper, zigzag or fan fold the strips all the way until you have folded up the entire page. Press the folded-up strip flat.
Step 6. Next, fold the narrow strip in half from left to right and then fold the sides into the middle. Open it up again. It should still be a narrow strip but it will now have 3 vertical creases at the left, right and center.
Step 7. With the folded strip still lying in front of you from left to right, open only one fold of the strip, at the bottom and one at the top. Keep the rest of the paper in the fan fold.
Step 8. Make three cuts where you feel the vertical creases of the paper. You will cut only the part of the paper that is in an upright position and leave the top and bottom part that is flat on the table uncut. Because the paper is fan folded, the cuts you will have to make are very short. They don’t have to be perfect. Just try to cut on the three vertical lines you have folded until you are stopped by the folding surface. This will divide your paper into 2 strips with a frame around the placemat. Gently open your base paper and set it aside for now.
Creating the weaving strips.
Step 9. Place your second sheet of paper in the portrait position like in Step 1.
Step 10. Fold it in half from top to bottom and tear or cut it into two pieces
along the line where you have folded. I have provided a method for tearing paper at the end of this article. Alternatively, cut the paper along the fold. You can use the fold line
to guide you or if preferred, ask for a little help with this step.
Step 11. Still keeping the paper in the portrait position, fold the two pieces you now have in half and cut or tear them in half as well so you have 4 strips of paper. You will only need three.
Weaving the Placemat.
Step 12. Place your base paper in the landscape position or with the short edges
on the left and right. You will notice you have 4 horizontal bars making up the base of your placemat, including the top and bottom edges and a top and bottom bar at its center.
Step 13. Take your first strip and, starting from the top left, bring it under the top edge of the base, over the top bar, under the bottom bar and then on top of the bottom edge.
Step 14. Take the next strip and start with it on top of the frame weaving it under the top bar and over the bottom bar, ending beneath the frame at the bottom edge.
Step 15. Repeat Step 13 with the last strip. You are forming a zigzag pattern with the three loose strips, so strips one and three should be placed in a similar fashion while the second or center strip will be woven in the opposite direction.
Step 16. You can secure the woven strips by placing a dab of glue or glue dots between the paper and the frame at the top and bottom of the placemat. You can also take it to a stationery or print shop to be laminated if you would like to keep it for everyday use. Make a set of 2, 4 or more as a gift.
Here is the method I use for tearing paper, which works out much better than cutting once you have practiced a little.
Make a neat, crisp fold only once. Do not try to readjust or refold the paper if you want a nice, clean edge. Fold the paper in the opposite direction from your first fold. Do this a
few more times to weaken the paper in both directions. You can also run your nail along the crease or use a damp finger to weaken your paper even further.
After you have weakened your paper along the crease line, place the paper flat on your folding surface again. It works best if you now place the paper with the weakened fold in a vertical position. Place your thumbs and forefingers on either side of the crease and move your hands apart in a swift, but controlled, motion. Don’t worry if the edge of your paper is not perfect. You will get better with this with practice.
Until next time, happy crafting.
Letters to the Editors
I greet you on an early September morning and it is autumn like here in NY. The chill in the air is a welcome change from the flooding ravages of storm Ida which hit us on Thursday.
I would like to discuss a topic is really appalling to me. Years ago there used to be computer training one to one visiting a person’s residence. However, for senior citizens this is not the case. Organizations like the Lighthouse and HKC and others only help people until 55 years of age and they are part of the vocational rehab for people being trained for work and these people are of course younger. This is age discrimination indeed.
There are blind people over 65 who want to use a computer but have no formal training and lack the funds to hire a tech person who really does not know assistive technology. The lighthouse used to help all people of all ages. They are sponsored by rich benefactors.
Everyone of any age is entitled to learn to use a computer and in my experience I just had installed thunderbird email service and it is difficult to learn. I am a tech dummy not a tech wizard [omitted]. I need one to one training not someone on the other end of the phone telling what button to press or someone sending me instructions.
Using jaws with a new program is difficult and it is not a recipe for baking a cake with a step-by-step process. What happens if the wrong button is pressed? Then there is trouble in every sense of the word.
Senior citizens especially those over 70 years seem to be forgotten.
Blessings. Warmly, CG Editors: Thank you CG for expressing your thoughts on this issue. We are aware of certain states offering other types of programs serving age 55 and over, but other states do not have the same programs. We are hoping your state will extend services to include all who have need of them.
Memoirs of a One-Man Band
By J. Louis Prem
Do you know that the Earth can be called a musician?
There are millions of sounds being created every second of the day! If one were to arrange these sounds accordingly, it would sound like a digital orchestra.
During my long career as a one-man band digital keyboardist, I played for many fundraising campaigns, charity shows and weddings. Coming from a family of small-time musicians, I became interested in music at an early age. I received 4 years of music education from a sighted
teacher at one of the leading complexes in Kuala Lumpur. Then I continued my music studies in braille music notations at an institute for the blind in America for 7 years. After completing my music course, I then switched from playing the organ to another more advanced instrument called digital MIDI keyboards.
My one-man band set up of instruments consisted of a digital drum machine, sequencer, tone generator, external speakers and 2 keyboards. During my long career as a one-man band digital keyboardist, I played for many fundraising campaigns, weddings, open air shows and more.
My dreams of becoming a famous musician continued after a Philippines female singer pointed the microphone to me asking, how are you? She was none other than a famous singer named Gigi Wellas. Gigi Wellas presented a charity performance at our Gurney Training Center for the blind in Brickfields during 1984. I was then given the honour to play my keyboards before His Royal Highness, the King and the Queen in 1985. I continued playing in front of the Prime Minister, other cabinet ministers and VIPs for more than 20 years.
During the weekends, I used to play on my aunty’s organ at her home in Brickfields. The songs and sounds attracted most of the people who were passing around her home. On one of the days when I played a number called “Kerana Kau” which was made popular by the group named Alleycats, there came a small boy who requested me to teach him to play the organ. After getting things discussed, we agreed to get started on our first music lesson for a sighted 12-year-old primary student by a blind and deaf teacher—me.
By using the method of transferring my braille music notations to sighted music books, I took up the challenge to teach more than 21 sighted children and adults. Some of the students came to learn at my aunty’s home while others preferred to learn at the comfort of their respective home. The youngest student was a 5-year-old while the oldest was a 38-year-old woman.
It was a tough and challenging experience but we all shared the joy and fun of learning and playing music together. I purchased many music books from musical organizations and then handed them to a volunteer at the Malaysian Association for the Blind, who will read those lyrics
onto a blank cassette. After that I will listen to the cassettes and reproduce those dictations into braille music notations. Sometimes my students will help read those music lyrics.
Although I have branched out of music to serve as a therapist now, I still continue playing the keyboard for my own entertainment at home. My love for sound and music still remains firmly in my mind.
J. Louis Prem can be reached at email@example.com
By Carol Farnsworth
This month, I am writing about a phenomenon that can be scarier that any Halloween spook or goblin. When it happened to me, I spoke to my ophthalmologist and called it Phantom Vision.
After I lost all of my usable vision. I continued to have bright days, gray days and black days. The light or lack of it had no relation to what my brain was telling me. My doctor hadn’t heard of this, but he did some research. He came up with Charles Bonnet Syndrome. CBS occurs in people with significant visual loss.
Charles Bonnet discovered this type of hallucination in 1760. His grandfather had his cataracts removed. As a result of complications, he lost most of his sight. Charles Bonnet documented the hallucinations that his 89-year-old grandfather exhibited after loss of vision. The grandfather was healthy and had no other psychosis, only visual disturbances. His grandfather described tapestries, carriages, people and windows in a scaffolding pattern. This would be a complex example of visual hallucination
There are complex and simple hallucinations. A simple example is an object wiggling when it is still. Also shapes, grids and capsule shapes are referred as simple forms of CBS. People with decreased vision will often have bright colors in their images due to the Mylar covering to the nerves being affected. The Mylar contains the color pathways to the brain.
There have been many studies to find the percentage of low vision individuals with CBS. It varies from 11 to 40 percent. The wide variance may be due in part to people afraid that others will think they have a psychosis because of the hallucinations. After being diagnosed with CBS, they are able to accept the images and live with them.
It has been shown that the visual images decrease in vividness and number as a person ages. There is no treatment but some people find that shifting their eyes, closing or blinking sometimes stops the vision.
I took the question of phantom vision to one of my blind groups. In the seventeen members of the group, nine talked about visual hallucinations. Some of the members of the group were born blind and are not affected by CBS. The percent of the group affected was close to 58%. This is closer to the 60% believed affected by CBS of persons that become blind later in life .
Some of the complex images reported were Tudor homes with people in the windows, animated stuffed animals, a skeleton in surgical garb, three moons or three suns in an arch, trees with leaves blowing in a wind and people sitting at a dining table. When a person tries to focus on the image, it often moves. If a person is watching T.V. the illusion can block the picture on the screen.
Examples of simple visual images were bugs that weren’t there, icons on a phone that appeared to wiggle and dance, a pile of gray cardboard in the corners, swirling geometric shapes in vivid colors, and bright capsules under a microscope. Two people reported having bright days, grey days and black days even though they have no functional vision.
The number and variety of the illusions vary with the individual. If you believe that you have experienced phantom vision, consult your doctor. You may have to point to CBS for them. It is important to know that happens to many people that become blind in their later life.
For more information on CBS, try these audio books on the Library for the Blind website. Macular Degeneration DB74495 and Hallucinations DB75782 both describe Charles Bonnet Syndrome and blindness.
The Blind Perspective
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