Welcome to The Blind Perspective

January 2021

Volume 7 Issue 1

Table of Contents

Sponsor of the Month
Greetings from the Editor
A Thyme to Plant
Connecting the dots
Ski for light
Guide Dog Corner


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.

Sponsored by: Essentially Braille Custom Braille Your Way



Greetings from the Editors’

Hello Readers! Welcome to a new year, new editors, and a new Blind Perspective with a new sponsor!

I am Tonya Drew, a certified Braille transcriber.  Not only am I going to be one of the new editors of the Blind Perspective, but I own and operate Essentially Braille. I stay busy. But I will continue with my article Connecting the Dots in The Blind Perspective.

I am newly married to my husband, Ben, who will also be an editor and webmaster for both The Blind Perspective and Essentially Braille. Ben and I have been learning much about the other’s worlds. He is learning about my partially sighted world, which I call being a blinky thanks to a friend, and I am learning about his sighted world. He is adopting, for lack of a better word, my twin sons who are 18. It has been a pleasant collision of lifestyles and a time of learning for all of us.

There are going to be a few small changes to The Blind Perspective. It will slowly be expanding into more of an online magazine that people can still read and listen for free. Below each article will be an audio player with a downloadable mp3 for each individual article. Down at the bottom of the website will be an audio player with a downloadable mp3 for the entire issue. We are looking for several fresh writers who would enjoy the opportunity writing about something they have much knowledge on from a visually impaired perspective; we would welcome you! So, if you like to write and have an idea for a regular article, please email me at: theblindperspective@gmail.com I will let Ben write about himself for you. Thank you, readers, for staying with us through all the changes and being patient with us. We look forward to working with this publication for all of you.

Audio: Welcome

My name is Benjamin Drew. I will be the one mostly working behind the scenes on “The blind perspective” and “Essentially Braille” websites other than the occasional article of my own. Some of my articles will be affectionately called “The sighted perspective”. The focus of the articles is what sighted people can take for granted with a visually impaired individual. Perhaps I could include a variety of other articles in the future. Tonya, my new beloved wife handles everything else and she is patiently teaching me what she has learned in the world of Braille, O and M, transcribing etc! We’re both very excited to take on this publication and make it the best we can. We do encourage writers and new comers to write and contribute to grow a great publication for the blind and the visually impaired!

welcome to the blind perspective!

Audio: Greetings from Ben

APPetizers: Byte Size Tidbits to Help Master Your iDevice

Organizing Your Accounts and Passwords

Remember, not too long ago, when you flipped open your cell phone and made a call? There wasn’t a passcode or facial recognition required. You didn’t need an eMail Address, User Name and password for every app on the phone. In fact, they weren’t even called “apps” back then. Now, we have too many apps that require Usernames and Passwords to remember. How can you keep track of all of them? I have a few suggestions that will help organize the clutter and keep your passwords secure.

Option 1: Build a Password Card Box.

Get a bundle of 3 X 5 notecards, an index box, and some divider tabs from your favorite online store. You can substitute a binder if you would like. On each card, braille the first letter of the App Name in the top-left corner. This will help you organize the cards alphabetically. Then, braille, on the following lines, the App Name, URL, eMail address, Username, and Password. Add the Date when you made or modified the account. Organize the cards and insert them in the divider tabs. You can also use a rubber band to group “like” cards for easy access. Create a set for healthcare, TV apps, shopping sites, etc. The benefit of this system is that it is simple, secure, and does not require a computer or electronic device. You can easily braille a new card if your Password changes. Include text as needed for a sighted spouse or caregiver.

Option 2: Write a Password File.

Braille and save a Password text file on your notetaker. Or, you can create a text file and save it on a USB drive where you can search for keywords like App Name. Another option is using a Private Markdown Note app like “Bear” from Shiny Frog Ltd on your computer or iDevice. You can easily create Heading Levels by inserting the Pound Symbol before the text. Easily add other elements like links or add pictures of your hardware Model and Serial numbers. You can group notes together using a “Hash-Tag” system. Export the files as a web page, .pdf, or text file and save it to a USB drive. You can add a password to open the file. Use the Voice Over Rotor to quickly jump to the next Heading or search for text. This option does require an iDevice, but you can quickly find the information you need.

Option 3: Build an Account Password Spreadsheet.

This option requires a few more technology skills, but the end result is worth the effort. Create an Account Password Spreadsheet using Apple Numbers (which is included with iOS and MacOS, Google Sheets or Open Office. On one sheet, create a column for App Name, URL, eMail address, Username, and Password, and Date Modified. Add an Account Type field and assign a number that you can sort and group later. Consider 1=medical, 2=game, 3=network, etc. Add a column for a serial number, another for In-App purchases, and one for misc., like unlock codes. Next, enter the information for 3-4 apps on separate rows. Practice sorting the rows by App Name, App Type, modify date, etc. Adjust the spreadsheet to meet your needs. Finally, add the remaining App data.

If you have some advanced skills, you can create a report sheet that uses the “VLOOKUP” function to search through your spreadsheet and display the Username and Password associated with an app. Create a report for each App Type or Modify Date. You can also build a report for your WiFI Network that shows the Network Name, Username, and Password required to access your local network. This is handy for house guests or kids coming home to visit. Create a report for setting up your TV that includes all of the Account Info, Subscription Services, and Apps. Finally, consider building a report for setting up a new iDevice.

Final Thoughts

Yes, our phones can do so much more than the simple flip-phone of yesteryear. The increased capability comes with more complexity and requires additional knowledge and skills. Take the time to explore and to decide the solution that will meet your needs. Organize your App Accounts, Login Information, and Subscription Services into a simple, searchable format. Keep your data secure by brailling it or by saving it as a Password Protected File on an USB drive. Consider having your spouse or caregiver write the account info, username, and password on your password cards. Someone wants your personal info and banking information. Make it harder for the online bandits to succeed. Keep your passwords safe by changing the password often and choosing 2-Level authentication. Finally, keep a copy in a safe place in case of fire, flood, twister, or other disaster. In case you were wondering, I still have that phone and it works just fine. No password required. Good Luck!

By Darrin Cheney cheneyd23@gmail.com

Audio: APPetizers: Byte Size Tidbits to Help Master Your iDevice

A Thyme to Plant

If you are an average person, you waste about 30% of your food. This statistic refers to just the food, not the packaging. For many, that correlates to a large dollar purchase price over the span of a year that we don’t get the benefit of using. One way to reduce the cost of your food is to regrow produce that you already have.

Containers must be able to hold soil and drain off excess moisture. They should never have held toxic substances. Holes can be drilled in the bottom and sides for drainage. Consider using cans, plastic buckets, cloth bags, polypropylene bags, or wooden crates. PVC pipes with holes drilled for the plants might also work. The size of your container may depend on where the plant will be placed.

Use potting mix soil for indoor container plants. Garden soil might contain weed seeds

or insects that will emerge after a while.

Liquid fertilizers give predictable results when usage directions are followed. Most of their odors dissipate after a few hours.

Sunny windows or full spectrum fluorescent lights should supply proper lighting for plant growth.

Regrowing organic crops is best. Note that some conventional plants are sprayed to prevent root growth after harvest.

Cut 2” from the base of celery or lettuces, place root side down in small amount of water in a dish. Change the water every other day. Within a week or two, growth will emerge from the center. When new growth appears and the root system is developed, transfer plant to potting soil with roots going into the soil, and the rest of the plant above. The outside of the plant should be harvested, allowing the center to continue growing. These root stumps can also be planted directly in the potting medium from the start. After cutting off the base, which is the root stump, refrigerate the rest of the vegetable for later eating.

Sweet potato foliage is edible as well as being an attractive vining plant, like an ivy. Regular potato sprouts and leaves are poisonous to eat, so use only sweet potatoes! Cut a sweet potato in half, and suspend it with toothpicks resting on a glass or dish so that the cut portion is  barely in water. Refill water as needed. When roots have developed and sprouts appear, place in potting soil. Sweet potatoes will actually grow this way if there is enough space!

Cut 1” from the bottom of leeks or onions at the root end. Place in shallow amount of water, root side down. When roots multiply and shoots appear, replant in soil. Harvest blades when more than about 4”.

For beet, radish, turnip, rutabaga or carrot regrowth, cut 1” from the top of the vegetable. Suspend cut side down into water, propping with toothpicks. Refresh water as needed. When roots develop and greens appear, place in potting soil. These can be started by directly placing in soil. Harvest the greens from the outside, allowing the center to continue growing. Enjoy the greenery for scenery and edibility, a new root vegetable probably won’t develop.

It is now “thyme” for me to check on my regrown vegetables. I enjoy fresh homegrown produce all year round!

By Sue Brasel southernsuetwo@gmail.com

Audio: A Thyme to plant

Connecting The Dots

Hello readers! This month we are taking a look at formatting.

Braille formatting is a little different than print, but the results are very similar.

In general Braille material paragraphs are done in a 3-1 cell. What this means is simply the first character, usually a dot 6, is found in cell 3.  This means you only space 2 times and then braille the first character. Run over continues on cell 1 of the next line and so on in the paragraph.

Often, for learning materials, students are asked to do a 1-3 cell format. This means the number sign for that item is found in cell 1 and the run over starts in cell 3 of the next line.

Page numbers are very, very important in Braille. Page numbers go in cells 37-40 of the very last line of the page, almost always line 25.

In transcribed material, the print page number goes on line one, cells 37-40, depending on the number appropriate. This often requires a letter with the number to let the reader know that it is still continued on that print page, but we will discuss that in a future article.

Until next time, keep on connecting those dots! 

By Tonya J. Drew CBT braillechickenwhisperer@gmail.com

Audio: Connecting the dots

Ski for Light International Event: Virtually Everywhere!

While we wish we could gather in person, the 46th Annual Ski for Light International Event is going virtual. The COVID-19 pandemic has created many disruptions and hardships, but it can’t prevent the Ski for Light family from exercising our creativity and our bodies, from connecting, or from sharing and learning via technology.

Join us Wednesday, January 27, through Saturday, January 30, for this event, featuring three to four hours of optional daily programming on the Zoom platform, plus opportunities and encouragement to challenge yourself offline. We are planning a fitness program to get your blood pumping, special interest sessions to expand your knowledge, and a closing banquet full of comedy, song, and celebration.   

And for the first time, SFL attendance will be free!  Each registrant will receive an embroidered Ski for Light patch and an SFL-logoed resistance band (handy for home strength training and stretching), while supplies last.

We hope to welcome many newcomers to our community with this uniquely accessible demonstration of our motto: “If we can do this (in a pandemic), we can do anything!” Though hosting a virtual “skiing” event has some obvious challenges, it also means that anyone with an interest can drop in and learn why veteran attendees find SFL gatherings so enriching. What a fantastic chance for those who might have been thinking about attending for years, to get over that snow-mogul hump of indecision! So, skiers, guides, and the simply curious, please make plans now to join this year’s virtual adventure. More details and the short application form for the event are posted at www.sfl.org/events/next.

Come Zoom with us in January, and soon we’ll be back out on the trails with each other, zooming for real!

By Melinda mlhollandstc@gmail.com

Audio: Ski for Light International Event: Virtually Everywhere!

Guide Dog Corner

First of all, I would like to thank Tonya and Ben for their efforts to continue to promote information to the blind and visually impaired community, maintaining the hard work that Karen Santiago started.

Some may remember me from Hadley where I was a part-time member of the faculty from September, 2002 until I retired in February, 2019 but stayed under contract until the end of September, 2019 to complete some students. I taught the early braille courses, a beginning technology course and, for my last few years, the Guide Dogs course. People seemed to be dismayed when this course was discontinued so I offered to write a column if needed. I have been a handler since August, 2003; however, this is not a promotion for our school. In fact, I never mentioned my school to my students unless they specifically asked. I do not feel qualified to answer training related questions but think we could discuss things like why people may wish to train, who can train, what is the training like, etc. We have not worked out how frequently I will write. Questions are welcome, and I would like to include those as a part of my column. As with the Hadley course, handlers are welcome to submit questions or comments. Safe and happy travels; see you soon.

By Sharon Howerton   shrnhow@gmail.com

Audio: Guide Dog Corner

The Sighted Perspective

I find myself amazed about how much I myself have taken for granted and still take for granted living with a visually impaired individual. 

To give some context, I’m big on expressing myself with facial cues and body language. I’ve never had a problem with people receiving such physical language. This leaves us at a disadvantage.

You may be wondering “What’s the problem?”

The problem was and can still be a lot of misunderstandings and confusion. I now have to learn better vocal communication skills. This has been a huge adjustment period between me and my beloved wife Tonya. Many times she has come off as cold, but that wasn’t it, she couldn’t see the details a sighted person can see upon my face if I was hurt, sad, angry or any other shade of emotion that naturally projects on one’s face and/or body language!

There were many times I have been irritated about something or another and I noticed she took no note of how I was feeling. She simply couldn’t see the expression on my face and I automatically assumed she was ignoring me, which of course, she wasn’t.

There’s been times I felt depressed and gave visual cues, again, assuming she would pick up those cues. Nope. I further assumed she was uncaring and cold. Nope. She couldn’t see!

Perhaps I need to come up with a website for the vocally impaired perspective! Lol

One solution is to verbally communicate how you’re feeling. Facial cues and body language won’t cut it. You may have to be very articulate in some cases. For example, Sometimes I take Mrs. Tonya’s hand to make sure I have her attention and once I do I communicate how I’m feeling and at times have to be very articulate.

What I’m writng here isn’t just for the sighted, but the visually impaired as well. To the visually impaired it can help to arm them with ideas to improve communication. And to the sighted it can help open a channel of understanding into the blind perspective!

By Benjamin Drew kjbstudies@gmail.com

Audio: The Sighted Perspective

The Blind Perspective

Audio: Full January 2021 Issue

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