Volume 7 Issue 5
Table of Contents
The Blind Perspective in hardcopy braille!
Sponsors of the Month
Greetings from the Editors’
A Thyme to Plant
Connecting the Dots
Guide Dog Corner
Beyond the Book Jacket
Cooking by Touch
Solving the Health Care Web Portal Puzzle
The Sighted Perspective
Blast from the Past
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 60 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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send an invoice.
- Pay the 60 US Dollar invoice via PayPal.
- We ship the braille copy to your door or an address of your choice!
Sponsored by: Essentially Braille Custom Braille Your Way
Greetings from the Editors’
By Ben and Tonya Drew
Welcome to another month of The Blind Perspective. May is always so exciting for me. More daylight, more sunshine, getting outdoors, walking more and more O & M lessons. It is busy getting my food planted in my container garden and taking water out to Ben when he mows the lawn.
We are pleased at how patient everyone is being about the changes to The Blind Perspective and the new embossed Braille subscription options. If there is ever a problem with your embossed Braille copy, we hope you will continue to let us know how we can help and improve these services. We just want to be sure that everyone who wants to read The Blind Perspective can get it.
We are still looking for writers. We have had many requests for brain teasers and puzzles, cooking and recipes, and other subjects of interest to many of our readers. If you know someone that likes to write and has an area of knowledge that would interest our readers, please ask them to e-mail us at email@example.com. We would love to discuss their column with them.
Ben and I took over the publication of the Blind Perspective in January of this year when Karen Santiago felt she needed to step aside. Karen had edited and published this magazine for several years and, as I understand it, spent a great deal of time before her first issue appeared getting everything in order. Ben and I felt that we wanted people to have information without interruption and truly had no idea of the monumental task we were undertaking. We ask for your continued patience as we are started to gain knowledge and experience about how to put this magazine out to you every month. We appreciate all the suggestions and please know that we are doing everything to the best of our ability.
Enjoy your May issue of The Blind Perspective!
Tonya J. Drew, Co-editor
A Thyme to Plant
By Sue Brasel
A grandfather taught his granddaughter life lessons and beekeeping at the same time in The Honey Bus: A Memoir of Loss, Courage and a Girl Saved by Bees by Meredith May. The author learned that bees collect nectar, the sweet plant liquid, that becomes honey. She also discovered that many plants need bees to pollinate them.
Pollination happens when pollen grains, the fine powdery substance which is often yellow, transfers from male anthers of a flower to female sigmas. Animals, birds, insects or the wind can aid in this transfer of pollen. Seeds for the next generation are the result of pollination.
When attracting pollinators, there is an increased likelihood that native plants will be able to reproduce themselves. The resulting seeds can be harvested and planted the following year. Hybrid plants don’t seem to attract beneficial insects.
Nectar and pollen are used differently with different pollinators. Bees use both pollen and nectar; queen bees use pollen to nourish larvae in the honeycomb before hatching, they need nectar to make honey. Both butterflies and hummingbirds use nectar for fuel.
Did you know that flower shapes and colors attract different insects or birds? Depending on where you live, specific plants fit each category. Pollinator types are attracted to lots of flowers with their kind of nectar in specific plants.
Different pollinator types have particular flower preferences. Bees tend to be attracted to yellow, blue, ultraviolet and purple flowers. Butterflies seem to prefer yellow, orange, red, pink, and blue flowers. Moths go after light-colored flowers that open at dusk. Pollinating beetles like wide open flowers. Flies are often attracted to foul smelling cream, white or green flowers. Hummingbirds go after tube shaped red, orange or purple flowers, particularly ones with lots of nectar. Large, light colored flowers that open at night, especially ones with strong fruity scents, attract bats.
Some pollinators like to land on flowers or rocks in gardens, some enjoy using fine mist bird baths. If you want to attract a particular species, find out their likes and dislikes.
Plant your garden to attract the pollinators you want. In flight, insects, birds and bats are more attracted to a clump of flowers rather than a single flower. Multiple clumps of odd numbers of flowers would be visually attractive to people and to pollinators.
Interesting fact: Home grown figs need to be pollinated by wasps. The wasp’s body is broken down inside the fig, so you would probably never know this! Commercial fig growers use a hormone spray so that wasps are not needed for pollination.
Informational charts about plants that attract and sustain pollinators native to your area are available on-line or at local nurseries.
The Honey Bus is a book available on BARD or Bookshare for those who are interested.
It is now “thyme” for me to find out if any pollinators are in my gardens!
Sue is an Alabama master gardener.
APPetizers: Byte Size Tidbits to Help Master Your iDevice
Where’s My Stuff?
by Darrin Cheney
Your iDevice is a powerful, mobile computer that you can use to take photographs, to shoot and edit videos, to write a best selling novel, or to connect with family and friends. Each of these tasks involve saving, editing, and moving files. You can store these files on your iDevice, a USB drive, or in an online storage provider like Apple iCloud. In this installment, we’ll explore where you can organize your stuff using the iOS Files App.
iDevices are sold by their file storage capacity: 64GB, 128GB, or 256GB. Each step in size equates to at least, an additional $100 to the sale price. This storage space is used for all of your Apps, photos, files, mail, etc. If you need more storage, you can attach an external drive to your iDevice or use an online storage provider like Apple, Google, DropBox, or others.
iOS and iPadOS use the Files App to organize, and share your files. Each of your Apps has a corresponding folder in the Files App. You can specify where data files are stored for each App. You can also organize and manage folders on your external drive or from a third-party online storage App like DropBox.
To determine how much storage is left on your iDevice, Go to Settings > General > [Device] Storage. Storage shows you what Apps are installed and how much space they use. You can remove Apps to free up space. You can download the App again from iCloud.
USB or External Hard Drive
Another way to free up storage space is to move files off of your iDevice to an external USB or hard drive via the Lighting Connector on your iDevice. External drives are a cost-efficient strategy to store project files — especially files that require a lot of space. This may include music recordings, RAW photographs, video footage, and video editing. You can now buy a 512 GB SSD (Solid State Drive) for under $90. External drives are handy for moving files from an iDevice to a computer or backing-up your project files.
Another way to free-up space is to use an online storage provider. Several providers offer free and paid online storage and use a third-party app to manage and access your files. Online storage allows access from any device and will allow you to share files via a web link. The online storage provider will also back-up your files. Here are some options to consider:
1. Apple iCloud (https://www.icloud.com). Apple gives you 5 GB of free storage or you can pay for additional storage. iCloud is integrated across all iOS Apps and Macs.
2. Google Drive (https://drive.google.com/drive). Google provides 15 GB of free online storage or you can pay for additional storage. You access files online or through the iOS Google App. You can save files from your Google Docs and collaborate with other users, share calendars, and do much more.
3. DropBox (https://www.dropbox.com). DropBox offers a free Basic account with 2 GB storage or you can purchase a monthly plan. DropBox Basic allows you to access, store, and share files using a browser or iOS third-party App.
Decide what storage strategy works best for you. Consider the type of work you do. External drives may be the best for storing large photo files or recording and editing videos or audio recordings. You can buy a 1 TB or even 5 TB hard drive for less than $200. iCloud might work best for Seniors who take some pictures, type documents and store calendar and contacts. Google Docs may work best for students and professionals who want to share a calendar and collaborate on documents. DropBox may work best for groups to share documents and folders online. You can use one or all three. The Files App can help you keep it all organized.
There are so many things we can create and do with our iDevices. The iOS Files App can help you organize the files you create. You can also search for documents, transfer files to an external drive, upload to an online storage provider, or share with friends. When you want to know, “Where’s my stuff?” Look in the iOS Files App. Good Luck!
Use the Files App on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch
Apple iOS User Guide
https://support.apple.com/guide/ipad/view-files-and-folders-ipad49b77901/ipados You can reach Darrin with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
Connecting the Dots
By Tonya J. Drew
I am really excited about The Blind Perspective offering hard copy Braille embossed for those who do not have access through a computer or just want a great way to practice Braille reading. But how much does one know about this process? This is what we will be discussing this month.
The Blind Perspective will be embossed in future issues on 8 ½ X 11 Braille paper. So while the page still has 25 lines, it only has 32 cells across. This means only a few extra pages.
Line 1 of each page contains a header. This is the title of the publication or the name of the article. We use the magazine name as our header. Page numbers go on the bottom right hand corner out of the reader’s way.
The magazine can usually be copied from the print and programed into a braille transcription program. The program also makes sure the correct contractions are used and starts the formatting. The transcriber goes through and fixes problems and formatting line by line, removing extra spaces and fixing anything that did not transcribe correctly.
Instead of a 1-1 paragraph like we use in print, extra spaces are removed and a 1-3 indentation is used. This saves more space and paper in the publication. A Braille transcription is the number of pages in print multiplied by 2.5. This means The Blind Perspective becomes 20- 40 pages in Braille, depending on the number of articles. But, 8 ½ X 11 pages are less expensive, so it works out.
One of the processes learned by transcribers is where spaces can be eliminated saving more space. Print magazines often use a fresh page for a new article. In Braille, spaces are removed between paragraphs, indentations are used instead, and one simply leaves a space between the end of one article and the beginning of the next. Spaces are sometimes left after the author’s name in such a publication. It depends on what the editors require. The Blind Perspective eliminates those spaces and simply indents the title and author to make it tactilely clear that one has found a new article.
Paper is often purchased by transcription companies with the holes for combs already punched. The paper is loaded into the embosser and the commands are given for the embossing leaving a little bit of space for the holes where the comb goes.
Many embossers do interpoint. This is where Braille is on both sides of the paper. This also helps to save space and keep the issue compact so the reader can carry it with them if they wish.
After the embosser is done, the pages are disconnected from each other and collated (put in correct order). Then they are put on the comb, put into a box or envelope, and mailed off to the subscriber. It is a really fun and exciting process!
So this is why many companies charge so much for braille. The paper cost more, the machines and programs are more expensive, and it takes time. But the results are worth it for all the people that can be reached through braille.
Until next time, keep connecting the dots! Tonya is a certified braille transcriptionist and can be reached at email@example.com
Guide Dog Corner
By Sharon Howerton
We have talked about a lot of things as one considers applying for and training with a guide. In addition to your research, you might want to do a couple of things.
As an example, I had to think about my lifestyle-my work, where I lived, how active I was, etc. I also talked with friends whom I considered similar to me—blind professional women around my age. I believe my two friends were younger, but they were professional women with well-mannered, well-behaved working dogs. I spent some informal time with them. I remember going to lunch with one of them, something I had not done with her before, and was amazed at how inconspicuous her dog was; he was just under the table, we had our meal, a nice conversation and I thought, “This is sure interesting!”
And the other woman said, “You live in Chicago. Go to a school where the dog is going to be used to cold and snow.” So that is what I did, but everyone makes their own choices.
Then I decided to read more about guide dogs and did a search or perhaps got an idea from someone. I don’t remember if BARD was available in early 2003, but somehow, I got an audio book and don’t remember the name. By this time, however, I had made my application and had my home interview. Maybe home interviews aren’t done as much now and have been replaced by videos. I liked the field rep who interviewed me; he was easy to talk with and, I felt, was a good introduction to the school to which I had applied. Sometimes, if you meet someone from the school in which you are interested, that may be your first personal contact with that school. If you find you are comfortable with that person, you may feel like moving to the next step and firming up your resolve to pursue this life-changing experience. If you aren’t comfortable with that person or what is said, maybe you want to look further. Imagine following a grown adult male, in this case, who is holding the body of the dog’s harness and I am holding the handle. He wanted me to walk around my neighborhood so I took him down streets I had never walked. From then on starting with the next day as I walked wherever I had to go, I would find myself standing at a curb thinking, “Forward!” to my cane, of course. I figured I was on my way to making my decision and changing my life.
So by this time I was preparing a move. As I packed, I was listening to an audio book about the author’s experience with his dog. I believe that like me, he was a first-time handler. I’d bet if you did a search on BARD, you would be overwhelmed with the number of choices. So let me help you narrow it down a little. Ann Chiapetta is a woman I have come to know over the years. We’ve met briefly at an event, and I interviewed her after her training. Many schools have email list-serves and from this I learned that she had written a book about her training experience. The book is called Follow Your Dog. And you’d best get used to that phrase as you may hear it a lot in training, not to mention become very used to experiencing it when you explore your world with your dog.
And next month, I promise, we’ll start talking about schools.
Please remember that opinions expressed are my own and questions are always welcome.
Sharon is a former Braille instructor and current guide dog user. firstname.lastname@example.org
Beyond the Book Jacket
By Bonnie Blose
I enthusiastically recommend Love and death at the mall: teaching and writing for the literate young DB41989by Richard Peck.
Never have I read so honest an analysis of young adult fiction. This thoughtful book is part analysis part explanation of writing for teens. Excellent writers are readers first. The very best authors of young adult fiction were sometimes teachers or librarians before taking on the monumental task of writing.
As a small boy, Richard discovered the beauty of language and the love of words from his mother. Did she know her words and stories were seeds planted which would give us a fine writer someday? Although we will never know, she probably had no idea. She was her son’s first teacher. Through her, Richard Peck experienced the beauty of language and the value of stories.
Years before Peck took the first steps which led to a prolific and successful writing career, he spent a number of years teaching junior high students.
It was that experience in teaching that resulted in his decision to leave the classroom to write. Born in the Midwest in 1934, he grew up in an era of intact families. When he began teaching in 1961, life for children and teenagers was about to undergo tremendous change. It was from them he learned that novels, like life, are about change. Throughout the sixties and early seventies, he saw the change in his students lives in the classroom. They were growing up in a world unlike his early years in almost every way. Divorce was becoming common. Crime was on the rise. Alienation from parents and loneliness were everywhere. Grandparents who had shared the importance of family roots were far across the country living in sunny communities built just for them.
In the 1980s, Peck realized many teenagers were creating new families of their peers. A minister and teacher told me many years later that teens were firing their parents and creating instead a world with their own values and rules. As I read this spectacular book about the importance of books for teenagers, I heard my friend’s voice telling me what Richard had said many years before.
Peck’s works are truly explorations of teenage lives and chronicles of change. Several times he tells us the three top reasons for deaths of teens. In the eighties, they were drunk driving accidents, murder, and suicide. How different a world from his innocent childhood!
What makes this book remarkable is not just the explanation he shares of elements vital in teen fiction or what is necessary in creating characters. He knows kids and displays vast knowledge of novels written by others in this area of fiction throughout this memorable book. A good teacher challenges himself as much as he challenges his students. Richard peck believed he could learn from the students he taught. The best teachers and writers are observers willing to ask questions fueled by curiosity about people and their world. If your experience with young adult fiction is minimal, Richard Peck will share some of the best writers in this genre.
If you enjoy this type of fiction, you will find many familiar names and titles mentioned. They include Judy Blume, Robert Cormier, Bruce Brooks, Gary Paulsen, and Katherine Paterson. Throughout the book, he illustrates with examples from his published work mistakes he made as a writer and explains what he learned. Those students were often his best teachers and are given the credit they deserve. If you need more, he shares what his readers have taught him about life employing what he learned from their experience. It is true we learn most when we listen.
He published his first book at the age of 37. Five were made in to movies. We lost him in 2018. The legacy he left us, 41 in all, remain treasures from which to draw for years to come. Like the students he writes about so truthfully and beautifully, Richard Peck shows how even adults can change. That realization can take us to a better understanding of others or a new career.
I cannot find the words to say what a powerful book this is. If you have never explored a young adult novel, I think you will find what Peck writes illuminating, refreshing, and inspiring. If you read this book, you will find honesty with no hint of regret or angst so common in books today. Instead, you will discover a writer who truly cared who wanted to understand and share what he learned as the world changed.
Here is the information from Bard you will need to download this book. By the way, this just might be my favorite nonfiction book of the year. Read it! It may become yours.
Love and death at the mall: teaching and writing for the literate young DB41989
Peck, Richard. Reading time: 4 hours, 19 minutes.
Read by Bob Askey. National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress. Young Adult
The award-winning author of books for young adults reflects on how and why he writes. He is often asked, “But how did you get your start?” and “Where did you get your ideas?” In broad answers, he makes wry observations on writing for and teaching teenagers and includes excerpts from his books. By the author of Bel-Air Bambi and the Mall Rats (DB 39020). For senior high and older readers.
Download Love and death at the mall: teaching and writing for the literate young.
Rough Waters is so much more than the annotation describes. It is about two teenage brothers who lose their parents in an automobile accident. The uncle with whom they go to live runs a white-water rafting business.
Scott Baxter is 15 and his brother Greg 17 when their family is torn apart by tragedy. They have no desire to leave their southern California hometown or friends to live with an uncle they never knew existed. In many respects, this young adult novel is a study in contrasts. Scott is younger but mature for his age. He is determined to make the best of their new situation and to give his uncle a chance.
Greg is angry and scared. Almost 18, he considers this time with his uncle an interlude between the wonderful life he led before and the college life he is about to begin. Uncle Dave, or Rocky as he is called, gets along quite well with Scott but has a troubled relationship with Greg from the start. We learn the relationship between Scott and Greg is very much like the one Rocky had with their father when they were growing up together years before. Although it seems this would be obvious and create better understanding, it complicates life as thinking or revisiting the past often will.
Rocky is straightforward in his expectations for Greg and Scott. He lives life on the edge with little left for fun. If they are to live together and make a success of it, they must all contribute to the household. Greg has no desire to learn about his uncle’s company. Scott loves life on the river and the
Colorado town in which his uncle lives.
On the surface, this is about the lives of three people brought together by tragedy who must somehow carve out a life together. Beneath that surface, it is about loyalty, love, and loss. Like the river with all its moods they come to know, life is out of control and as rough as the waters of the Colorado river on which the white-water rafting business takes place.
Rough Waters is about how we deal with tragedy and the expectations we allow ourselves to have about life and what happens when they are not realized.
If you enjoy descriptions of scenery or white water rafting, you will read much to enjoy. If you like a love interest, you will enjoy the relationship between Scott and his new girlfriend. He talks, she listens. It is wonderful to see a relationship of depth in which both the girl and boy are mature and know the importance of the need of another.
Greg has the experiences you will probably expect. He takes on responsibility he isn’t ready for and ends up getting arrested. An accident with loss of life occurs making him think a lot more about what he is becoming and what is really important.
I really enjoyed this book. I learned a lot about white-water rafting and respect we should have for this sport. Although the characters might be too good or too bad depending on your point of view, I accept this way for Rottman to get across the idea of contrast and comparison across to readers. With this type of novel, some will concentrate mostly on the adventure, others on the characters. It is a good author who can juggle so well these two aspects at the same time.
Although this book is described as being for boys, I loved it and hope you will too.
Here is the download information for Rough Waters the only book available on Bard by this terrific author.
Rough waters DB47054
Rottman, S. L. Reading time: 7 hours, 50 minutes.
Read by Phil Regensdorf. National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress. Young Adult
After their parents die in a car crash, Scott, fifteen, and Gregg, seventeen, are shocked to learn their guardian is an unknown uncle who doesn’t seem thrilled to get them. The boys move to his small Colorado town where they are immediately immersed in their young uncle’s white-water-rafting business.
For junior and senior high readers.
This book broke my heart. It took me back to a memory I would be happy to forget but know I never will. Before I say anything about the plot of this novel, please remember the importance of the time in which it takes place.
It was written and the mid-seventies, a time of tremendous change for developmentally challenged citizens in this country who lived in large institutional settings. Many who languished in such places were gradually being placed in homes in the community. As an intern in social work at one of these facilities, I had the opportunity to work with a resident specifically answering questions he had about living in a community. Although he had lived in that huge institution for many years, it would happen and was considered essential to his living as normal a life as he could. He had no say in a decision already made.
My job was to sell him on the idea and to answer questions for which I had few answers and could make no promises.
Emily Hanlon takes us in to the life of a neighborhood and specifically the effect Harold, an 18 year old boy with developmental challenges has on the people who get to know him. At its core, this book is about bullying. Teenage boys call Harold “mental” and other more derogatory names. He doesn’t know he is being made fun of since it is all done under the guise of learning.
Kenny, a 15-year-old and friend of the bully knows it is wrong, but Harold is his neighbor and a source of deep embarrassment every time he sees him. Kenny meets Rachel the sister of a friend and quickly appreciates her quick wit and compassion for others. He has no idea how deep that compassion goes or from where it comes and even less how it will affect their lives and relationship.
Unsure of himself and aware a boy should not say to a girl or anyone what he thinks or feels just because he has a thought or something to say, Kenny goes along to get along. He gets more deeply involved with Harold than he wants because that is what Rachel wants. His heart isn’t in it and it shows.
Eventually, her deepening involvement and friendship with Harold’s teacher bring out the jealousy Kenny tries hard to suppress. I will not explain why Rachel has so much empathy for Harold. It will mean far more for you to discover it by yourself.
Although things work out as favorably as possible, it is a very sad story we read before we get there.
In early elementary school, I rode in a van with students who were deaf and developmentally challenged. One day, a friend and I decided it would be fun to tease a hard of hearing girl on the bus. The driver heard and saw what we were doing and made quite a point of telling us how ashamed she was of us. She told us she would tell our parents if we didn’t. We liked the bus driver a lot and knew we had committed a terrible wrong. I don’t remember if we felt the shame we should, but we never mistreated that girl again.
As I read it’s too Late For sorry, I thought back to that time. All of us have probably done something which does not portray us in a positive light. Reading this novel makes clear how much we all need support from each other through tolerance and acceptance, if not love.
Emily Hanlon uses the negative words in this book to make the point that negative connotations and stereotypes hurt. In her dialogue, they are painful and jarring but true and necessary. Perhaps she is making a comment on how the unacceptable becomes commonplace and the quiet and casual acceptance which follows. If you can bear the pain of looking back, I recommend this novel. Assigning negative descriptions like “mentally retarded” “retards” and “mentals” were commonly used and accepted back then, although I’m sorry and sad to say so.
I am proud of that bus driver I got to know well who stood up for what was right in such a caring but firm way. She taught my friend and me kindness is important and that decency is something all deserve. She may no longer be living, but I learned the lesson and hope she knows I did.
There is more in this book. Peer pressure, insecurity and what it takes to find oneself are important themes. The parents in the book make the predictable mistakes. As an adult, I now understand they were guilty of caring and loving. I am not sure we can have too much of that. It’s all in how we go about it that matters. Family struggle is very present here too. Harold’s brother Felix struggles with his view of his brother just as much as he tries to change how his parents treat Harold. Is he wiser than they? Can a brother younger and with different concerns understand more deeply a brother’s needs and what is important? How much is too much? Harold has his own ideas about what he believes and shows his feelings through his behavior when words are not enough. Felix is married with a wife who worries Harold will hurt their little girl Jenny.
Some might say Emily has done too much here. It all works. The peer pressure and wanting to belong and pot smoking are important. Along the way, you will meet the finest of parents I’ve gotten to know in a long time. Kenny’s mother knows the potential and inner resources of her son as mothers often do. She listens, gently guides, expresses disappointment and hope as all parents should. Even at his worst, when Kenny is breaking your heart, I don’t think you will quite stop liking and believing in him. I didn’t. I couldn’t, but I wanted to. The world has changed. While negative words may be used less, how much longer will it take for perceptions and deep seated fears to change bringing about acceptance for which we all long? I don’t know. Like me, you will find yourself pondering these and other questions many days after you read the last sentence in this poignant novel.
Here is the Bard information for those of you who will read this book. If it takes you back to a memory you would rather forget, remember the power there is in learning and in knowing we can all change. If It’s Too Late For Sorry does that for just a few, Emily Hanlon will have done a fine thing for a troubled and often unkind world.
It’s too late for sorry: a novel DB17810
Hanlon, Emily. Reading time: 4 hours, 47 minutes.
Read by Edward C Stern. National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress.
The retarded boy who moves into Kenny’s neighborhood changes the lives of many people. The boy’s presence deepens a rift between Kenny and his best friend, gives Kenny a chance to fall in love for the first time, and also causes him to do something that will haunt him for the rest of his life. For junior and senior high readers. Some strong language. Download It’s too late for sorry: a novel
Bonnie can be reached at email@example.com
Cooking by touch
By Carol Farnsworth
I have always enjoyed cooking. Combining several ingredients and adding heart to make delicious food is a joy. But as I lost vision I had to become creative with my methods.
Like fast food restaurants, I have a box of disposable gloves in my kitchen drawer.
When I am combining wet and dry ingredients , I test the texture of the dough\batter to see if it is correct. I often use my hands to mix the drier dough. I love to feel the mixture between my fingers. I guess I didn’t get enough PlayDoh time as a child!
When making pie crust, I have been known to place the flour, salt and spices on a table. Then I put a indentation in the middle of the dry ingredients. Into this I pour a mixture of oil and cold water. Then I mix the pile until it is a soft dough. It is a great feeling.
After rolling the dough between wax paper, I will peel back the top piece of paper to feel the dough to make sure that there no thick spots. When ready, I use the wax paper to lift and flip the crust into the pie pan, I repeat this for the top crust.
When cooking on the stove, I have a different challenge. How do I know if there a rolling boil. I lean over the pan and listen for the bubbles bursting. This tells me that the pan is at a rolling boil.
When baking, I will use my sense of smell to tell if a item is close to done. I will use a talking thermometer to do the final testing.
I am a sloppy cook at times but I keep my messes confined and clean them up quickly.
When guests are invited to dinner I have become the entertainment as they watch me move around the kitchen and present them a great meal.
My husband keeps telling me my cooking would make a funny video but I know that he is proud of my abilities and he benefits from the results.
Hamburgers and fries anyone?
Carol writes a blog, Blind on the Lite Side, traveling up and down the blind highway of life and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Solving the Health Care Web Portal Puzzle
By Doug and Patti Rose, Humboldt council of the blind
Having access to information is empowering. It turns out not all information is created equal nor is access to information equal. Today many of my health care providers offer electronic web access. A portal is a website which patients can use to make appointments, communicate with health care providers, review bills, and review health records.
I have three different portals and all have varying degrees of useful data and varying degrees of screen reader friendliness. This is to be expected since these are web pages. But, even my sighted wife who is an experienced web user finds these portals poorly designed. She finds the default font is very small, links are poorly shown and there are many non-functioning options.
At first I thought the non-functioning parts were somehow caused by my screen reader so I started a dialog with the support staff for one of the web portals. I told them of my trouble navigating with a screen reader. I was pleased that I could actually dialog with the technical support people. This was at least encouraging because frequently I have contacted a webmaster with a concern and never receive a reply.
Sometimes the biggest trick is finding out who to contact about a web issue. In this case not only was I able to exchange email messages about my problem but the host company scheduled a phone call where I walked them through my issue. They performed the same tasks on their computer and found that their web page was not performing as designed. It wasn’t me and my screen reader after all! I also discovered that the host company programs a template of the portal and different health care providers customize the menus and functions. This is just one example of how the portal puzzle is created.
I have encountered other issues too. Some physicians are listed as having contact options but the message you send them is never read. Some physicians say they just don’t have the time to spend on the email system.
Another issue is that the information that appears on my portal is not consistent even though my providers are in the same health care system. Sometimes a test result will be posted for my review other times it is as though I never had the procedure.
After-procedure instructions are not accessible either. They are set up to send print instructions home with the patient and cannot even put them on the portal. On one occasion, I got a nurse that did send follow-up instructions via email. But she had to bypassed the portal and I suspect an email message is not per protocol. My hat is off to her for understanding what I need and going out of her way to make my instructions accessible.
One would think that at least the billing and payment portal would be well designed as it is such an important function but it too is inconsistent. One time they needed a document and I couldn’t upload it to the portal. They wanted it faxed and I do not have a fax. And when I took it to the office it disappeared into the ethernet.
When accessible and working correctly my patient health care portal has been helpful. I can review my test results and sometimes read them before I talk to the doctor. That makes virtual doctor visits easier as I know ahead of time what the doctor is talking about and I can participate in my own health care decisions. I know not everyone is fortunate to have an accessible computer so they are at a disadvantage accessing their electronic health care data.
The bottom line is if you enjoy puzzles sign up for a health care patient portal. Although they offer some convenience, they will fill your spare time while you follow your covid stay-at-home orders. Who knows? You might actually get somewhere in participating in your own health care.
The Sighted Perspective
By: Benjamin Drew
Do you like spontaneity? I sometimes do! Me and my wife Tonya decided on a spur of the moment trip to the lovely Grand Canyon. We were planning to go later this year but suddenly decided to go.
There was of course, much driving. We got to see some incredible views on the way from wind generator fields to long winding roads through the desert! One such attraction in New Mexico was “The singing road”. Basically, the grooves in the road that are normally meant to alert drivers when they veer too far off the road were made to play a song if you drove over them exactly 45 miles an hour. They are supposed to be removing it, but lucky for us they have not gotten around to it yet. Below is a YouTube video we recorded of it.
In Tonya’s words, the trip was a sensory experience as well as visual. Although it was very heart warming watching her expression and reaction when she saw the Grand Canyon for the first time. I had her cover her eyes till we reached the edge!
On the way there we did some camping and some motel rooms. One motel we stopped at in Texas just wreaked of cigarette smoke. In a non smoking room, go figure, Another motel stay involved a couple outside of our door fighting! Yeah, nice… lol
The best camping was on the way back near the Grand Canyon. It’s called dispersed camping. That is where one just picks a spot in the woods and sets up camp free of charge. We had fun building a fire and cooking burgers over the fire.
I used to love to travel but lost interest in it long ago. Since my courtship with Tonya, she has reignited that flame in me with her desire to travel! She is so fun to travel with. I’m grateful to have her as my wife and be the one she travels with not only in vacations, but life itself.
Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com
Blast from the Past: Spencer’s Spotlight
By Cheryl Spencer
What is this? Hmm… Where is a pair of eyeballs when you need them? All alone and no eyes in sight or with sight. What ever can we do in a situation like this?
Well thanks to modern technology, there are choices. And, happily a few choices come to mind.
Here are a few of them. If you desire live feedback, Facetime can work for those of you who have the beloved iPhone. There are also apps that can possibly help to assist you. One such app is Be My eyes, where you can connect to a live person for assistance using your iPhone’s camera. Then the person is able to peek through and tell you what they see. I have heard the wait time can be significant at times.
There are even more options available, believe it or not. There is a very handy and free app that is Called CamFind. With this app, you simply take a picture of any object and CamFind will tell you what it is. If this app doesn’t provide you the info you are hankering to hear, well, there is a new app just launched last month.
Fresh from the Apple App store, and it is gloriously free! It is called DeSpecular. It works similar to that of Tap Tap See, but with a very nice twist. Here is how it works. Once you have downloaded the app and registered, whenever you need a sighted boost, take a picture of the mystery object. Once the picture uploads to a sightling, you are given an option to either type a text message or record a message that lets them know what information you are requesting. Your requests is sent to multiple volunteers at once. You will be notified how many volunteers are currently responding to your request.
Once you listen, or read the first response, the app asks you if more responses are needed. The responses are either by audio or test. Once you hear them or read the text, you can then rate the person on how helpful they were to you; 1 is very poor to 5 which is excellent.
You can also take as many pictures of the item as necessary in order to get the feedback you are desiring. I have used this app a couple of times and have been most pleased with the result.
So, what do you say, let’s all get bespecular!
The Blind Perspective
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