Welcome to The Blind Perspective

Audio: Welcome to The Blind Perspective

June 2021

Volume 7 Issue 6

Table of Contents

Navigation
The Blind Perspective in hardcopy braille!
Sponsors of the Month
Greetings from the Editors’
A Thyme to Plant
Beyond Bioptics
Beyond the Book Jacket
Computer Tech 101
Connecting the Dots
Guide Dog Corner
Pronouns
Stick work
Blast from the Past

Navigation

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!

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Audio: Greetings from the Editors’ Tonya

Greetings from the Editors’

Welcome to another month of The Blind Perspective! We are so glad you are reading this issue.

June is always an exciting month for me. Our twin sons were born in June. This year they will turn 19. It has been a time to sit back and see all the work we put into them show itself in the adults they are becoming. It is bittersweet. We miss the little boys, but we are enjoying the adults before us.

After traveling in April, sharing those travels in May, we are settling into life again in June. That seems to be reflected in the articles this month. We can all relax and learn about fun crafts for our furry friends, weeds in our yards and gardens, and how to avoid those pesky scams, as well as grammar and other subjects to inform and entertain us.

We have had a few writers that have had illness in their family this month. We want to send each one our prayers and many thanks for turning in articles anyway.

Take The Blind Perspective with you as you enjoy the warmer weather. You can take it downloaded to your favorite smart device or get your copy in embossed braille. Please don’t hesitate to let us know if we can help you find the right option for you.

Tonya J. Drew, CBT

A Thyme to Plant

Audio: A Thyme to Plant

By Sue Brasel

In The Garden Song by John Denver, one of the phrases is “pulling weeds and picking stones.” Have you wondered what a weed is? One definition is a plant that a human does not want in a particular location. Or, as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “A weed is just a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”

Many people think that any non-grass species of plants growing in their lawns is a weed, since they only want a grassy lawn. Other people think that lawns with grass only are a disastrous ecological manipulation. Some say that home owners with “perfect” lawns have become grass farmers who use a lot of chemical products, and pay little attention to soil health.

Dandelions were brought from Eurasia to America by early settlers because they looked pretty in garden beds, made great wine and could be used as medicine. The leaves were served as a green vegetable, the roots, when roasted and ground, made a coffee substitute.

A weed that was very popular in early America was hemp brought in by immigrants.  Through the 1700’s and into the early 1800’s, it was a large cash crop for Americans. Hemp could be made into rope, sails, clothing, cooking oil, and medicine. In 1794, George Washington advised the colonists “to make the most of the hemp seed…sow it everywhere.” With today’s political climate, that advise may not be prudent, however.

Weeds can help determine some soil conditions. A variety of weeds, rather than a single species, in one area might indicate acidic soil. Weeds that are good indicators of acidic soil are dock, horsetail, nettle and daisies.

Some weeds are like fertilizers. These weeds have deep roots that reach into the subsoil for trace minerals which not available to shallow rooted garden plants. Comfrey, dandelions and many kinds of clover will decompose, then recycle nutrients like iron, potassium, and phosphate back into the soil.

Weeds can help attract beneficial insects. Their flowers provide pollen and nectar. The food source is what encourages the insects to stay in the area. The insects will lay more eggs, and when hatched, are better able to control the undesirable insects.

Many common weeds are edible. Since you must take responsibility for your own health and safety, here are three guidelines:

#1 Before eating any plant or weed, make 100% sure your ID is correct. To err could have potentially damaging consequences.

#2 Before eating a properly identified edible weed, make sure that it has not been sprayed with herbicides or other biocides.

#3 Know which part or parts are edible: root, stems, leaves, flowers and/or seeds.

It is now “thyme” for me to take a break. Today, I’ll drink a commercially prepared dandelion-chicory beverage.

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

Beyond Bioptics

By Tonya J. Drew

Welcome to this short series on low vision, gear, and how to navigate the world of picking out what you need. It will not be a permanent article, but I think many will find it informative.

Blindness is a spectrum. Some see light and dark. Others can make out color and shadows. Some, like me, still have some sight and like to use it when they can.

My journey started in the hills of Kentucky. I was told to open a case with the state office of vocational rehabilitation. This lead to an interesting journey of learning skills I will need when I lose my sight, meeting people who had been there before me and exploring options to help me function in my everyday life. However, it also led me into things I did not enjoy: navigating around a counselor that did not have my best interests in mind, requirements for bioptic driving, and since my funding was denied, how to figure out how to pay for what I needed.

I was sent to a kind doctor in Kentucky. He was the only low vision doctor available in the state. I got the information on the bioptics he wanted to make for me. I was not satisfied with them. I wanted more for myself. Don’t get me wrong, he is a good doctor, and if a person were OK with what he was offering, I would encourage them to go for it. He helps many people and I am sure he will be doing that for at least a while more. But I, myself, wanted more updated equipment.

Last week, I had the privilege to see Dr. Jarrod Long in Bloomington, Indiana. He has several offices in southern Indiana and requires people to see him in his office in Bloomington at least one time. Before you can even get an appointment, he requires a phone conversation. Our conversation was wonderful! He let me tell my story. I told him of all the research I had done with a friend. He agreed with me. He said he had everything I wanted to see and would make suggestions based on my wish list. So, I began to dream! What would I do if I could see well enough to do it? Drive, watch movies, read, read music, all at the top of my list.

I have never been able to read the 20/20 line on the eye chart my whole life, so I honestly did not expect much. I had requested the eagle eye from Designs for Vision as my driving bioptic. He had a binocular set prepared for me to try. First he tweaked my driving eye glass prescription. Then he had me try out the telescopes. I got to see my husband’s face clearly for the first time and oh my what a wonderful man I married! Then Dr. Long had me try the eagle eye with my prescription and had me start with the 20/25 line, which I could read. Then I realized with some extra effort I could go smaller! I read the 20/20 line!! I was stunned. That has never been possible for me.

We talked about what I would need to do to learn the to use them, passing the eye exam to get my license transferred to Indiana and other things I need to know. Then I asked if I could read music.

I tried several items for reading. I really liked the Designs for Vision binocular readers. When put with my prescription, I could read 9 point font! The thought of being able to read again is so exciting.

Dr. Long’s assistant, Casey, fit me for the two pairs of glasses I picked out and let me do more testing with the bioptics. That is how I chose a single telescope instead of a set for driving. Even with the single telescope, I could see the mortar in between the bricks on the building across the parking lot. We decided as a group that a single telescope would be just as much help to me, but would cost less money and be faster to have set.

We had to pay out-of-pocket for the visit and put ½ of the money down for the driving bioptics. Ben and I did so and were on our way, leaving me to dream on the way home about being able to see in the future better than I ever have.

June 1, 2021 will be my yearly check up for my eye health. We will talk more about that as well as learning to use my bioptic next month.

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

Beyond the Book Jacket

Audio: Beyond the Book Jacket

By Bonnie Blose

 I am recommending Where they found her db81583 by Kimberly McCreight.

If you like books filled with suspense, secrets, sexual assaults, unfortunate events at a local university, this page turner will keep your attention.

I thought I had it all figured out, but I didn’t. In life, especially where secrets are concerned, we find we often don’t. The fun is in the attempt as the story unfolds. Sometimes we do have the experience of realizing we are clever just as we thought.

Molly Sanderson is still grieving the loss of her second child when she accepts the opportunity to fill in for another reporter at the Ridgedale Reader. She is asked to write the story of the missing body found under the bridge. When Molly arrives at the scene, she learns a newborn baby is the victim. Is she ready to deal with the death of another baby? How will that affect her emotional and mental state having lost her own daughter just a couple years before?

She stays with the story determined to find the truth, but Truth does not always bring peace and respite to the one who seeks it. For her, it will come with more pain than she imagines but not the way she expects. Her husband Justin has recently begun a new job at Ridgedale University giving them a fresh start. Like many other people in town and at the university, He has secrets from many years before. There is something funny going on with former students, university employees, and police.  

Along the way, we meet Barbara. You probably won’t like her. I didn’t. She makes judgments about others while she manipulates those around her. Trust me! Manipulation seldom helps much when secrets are discovered. Barbara resents her husband’s dedication to his police work. While she tries to hold her family together, Barbara doesn’t know what her five-year-old son has seen or the struggle her teenage daughter Hannah is going through.

And then we have Sandy. She gives a new meaning to the term member of a dysfunctional family. Her mother has disappeared, but Jenna plays an extremely important part in what happened in the past that brings so many of these troubled characters together. Jenna’s daughter, 16 year old Sandy is bright. in many ways, she exhibits a sense of responsibility her mother lacks. She knows that it comes with difficulties only a person who has lived a tough life on the edge can know. Sandy is realistic and understands what she would like to have while knowing how the people with nice houses filled with material things view her.

We learn about sexual assaults which go back several decades and the connection they have to employees at Ridgedale university. Molly is haunted by them and the death of a teenage boy at the same bridge where the baby is found. This town has had more crimes than its population should.

We can move, make a new start, but the past travels with us in memory and reality. Can we ever be certain the person we love is who we believe he is? How much should the past play in building the future? A newborn baby’s identity will change everything for the middle-class town and the families who live there. Her death ends the innocence of both children and adults. How do shattered families mend? Is it possible? When trust is broken and love betrayed, Can they be reclaimed?

Where they found her is not only about secrets and shattered families.  It is as much about what we know about those with whom we share lives and homes.  Winter is coming to an end in this novel, but Where they found her uncovers a cold an icy betrayal that reminds us life is not always what it seems. It tells us that sometimes we must begin again when the darkness of ruin and decay are revealed. These characters learn the importance of history and connection but realize as we must that life gets its definition not just from where we have been but where we are going.

Where they found her DB81583

McCreight, Kimberly. Reading time: 11 hours, 2 minutes. Read by Saskia Marveled. Suspense Fiction Mystery and Detective Stories.

Psychological Fiction

If the Creek don’t Rise is a fantastic novel. If you take it on, you will find it a painful read. For those who would rather not encounter violence, please skip this one. Although very important and essential in telling the story, beyond the violent aspect the novel is sad but heartwarming.

Leah Weiss published this debut novel at the age of seventy.

As I read it, I thought how fortunate I am to live when I do, but I wonder how many women live in the desperate circumstances Weiss describes. We never know or think about them unless they are on the news or live close to us.

Set in the very poor fictional town of Baines Creek, North Carolina, it is written in southern dialect and lovely to read.

Sadie Blue has been married for only 15 days when she knows she has made a mistake in her choice of life partner. Her husband Roy beats her repeatedly, but she is pregnant and very young. She believes in love and marriage and giving her baby legitimacy through a father’s name.

Baines creek is filled with desperate people who have traveled the road Sadie walks. “you’ve made your bed, now lie in it” is what her grandmother Gladys believes. Like her granddaughter, left for her to raise after her own daughter ran away with a man, Gladys made the same poor choice many years before.

In order to get along, Gladys says, “A woman’s gotta learn to settle, stay in the middle, know her place.” Staying in the middle brings grief and loneliness for those who choose it. Gladys is bitter. She loves deeply but can’t show it. In the Appalachia she knows, there is no time for tenderness, softness, or tears.

Hard lives make hard people, but not always. Marris Jones tries to help her neighbors and encourage those experiencing difficult times. She is Gladys’s best friend, but marriage for her was very different. Although she lost him to an illness shortly after they married, her husband was loving and kind and knew how to show tenderness by doing the little things that strengthen love.

A new teacher comes to town. Kate Shaw has a past, but Baines Creek has no idea how tough and generous she is. She has never lived in a rural area or alone. There is little reason to hope the town and she will take to each other, but they do.

Shaw is a master of the teaching craft. It is a calling, perhaps a passion. She cares about her students and remains determined to teach them what she can, though their numbers are few.

She has much to learn about language and survival. Wisdom is where you find it, and it is not always in books. Without the help of community members, Kate would not know seasoned wood from green, the difference between buckeyes and chestnuts, or a copperhead from a black snake.

What makes a good teacher? Perhaps it is the knowledge that a good one learns from her students as she teaches. Like everyone, Kate sees Sadie’s shattered face and black eye. She notices the grimace of pain and notes how she moves with difficulty after each beating. Inside Sadie there is passion for a better life, a desire to love and nurture the baby growing inside her, and to learn much more.

She teaches Kate Shaw how to live in this new and strange land. Kate sees the beauty of the sunrise and sunset, the vibrant colors of leaves as fall begins. Her breath is taken away by the lovely morning mist. Quiet time for contemplation has never been hers before. With a positive spirit and a poet’s soul for finding value in all people, she tells Sadie about the gifts she knows she possesses. Kate says, “You are welcoming, generous, unafraid when faced with a goal. You want to learn to read, and the desire to better yourself is a marvelous gift. That talent alone will make you a good student of life.”

In some ways, this novel is predictable. For anything to improve, change must happen. It does. Gladys, Marris, Sadie, and Kate, along with other minor characters who play a pivotal role in what takes place, must make difficult choices. Secrets between friends are accepted and carried as part of the baggage which accompanies living.

Love is here. If The Creek Don’t Rise is about struggle, failure, limits in education, lack of trust, but it is about hope, perseverance, and strength too. It is about taking from land what land gives grudgingly and it is about getting by.

I won’t say how each character resolves her situation. Resolution doesn’t guarantee happiness or success. The people of Baines Creek know quietly how and when to help and when not to say anything at all.

This book will teach you the importance of silence in a world that is filled with too many words.

While you may wonder why women stay with men who abuse them, If The Creek Don’t rise will remind you of the precariousness of life and how precious it truly is.

This book is narrated by Kate Forbes who renders perfectly accent, nuance, and voices of the female characters. The perspective of the male characters is narrated by a male. I’ve read many books and have never felt a narrator suits a novel more than Kate Forbes does in this one. Please don’t miss it!

There is much more I have not shared. I haven’t included the town preacher, his jealous sister, or the part the abusive husband’s best friend played at the end of the novel. For the first time, I fear I have not done this excellent novel the justice it deserves. Let Leah Weiss tell the story. She will do it in a way you will not forget.

If the creek don’t rise DB91901

Weiss, Leah. Reading time: 9 hours, 32 minutes. Read by Kate Forbes. Historical Fiction

Bonnie can be reached at bookmaven1@frontier.com

Computer Tech 101

Audio: Computer Tech 101

By Jim Morgan

Hi folks.  I know I’ve gone over this topic ad nauseum and I SO hate to have to go over this again, but it is EXTREMELY serious and has evolved to what, in the United States, is a serious felony.  What I’m talking about are scammers that are, not only threatening your privacy and claiming to have control of your devices, but are demanding a monetary payment.  This is extortion which, as I said, in the United States, is a serious felony with both not insignificant fines and prison time involved in the punishment.

I recently received an E-mail advising me that my computer had been hacked with a Trojan horse form of Malware so that my computer, and any other device I have that accesses the Internet, were now remotely controlled.  The sender then goes on to say that they have embarrassing video and/or pictures of me taken while sitting at my computer as well as access to my Contacts List.  I am then to send an amount, in this case, between $950.00 and $10,000.00 to a Bit Coin account to avoid the release of this “highly embarrassing” information to all my contacts and Social Media. In case you don’t know what this is, Bit Coin is a kind of “Virtual Money” that can be accessed anywhere, just like using your credit card, and is valid at any bank but doesn’t have a specific country of origin, like the Dollar or Euro.

I, of course, knew the message was bogus for two reasons.  First, there are NO cameras of any kind in my house, so, unless they were in the bushes outside a window, video or pictures of me are impossible.  Secondly, they said they’d accessed my computer so that the message I received, “came from me”, as in my E-mail address.  I immediately checked the “Sent” folder in Outlook, which I use for E-mail, and found no message sent to me by me.  In addition, the person or persons involved stated that they use a program that creates a “new signature” for the Virus every 4 hours so that Antivirus wouldn’t catch it.  I checked with MacAfee and was assured that while it’s possible, it would take some serious programming ability and said programmer could make FAR more money working for a Security company, such as Norton or McAfee.  In fact, I was told that at this time, there are no known instances of a variable signature “virus” and, considering what is needed to do it, there may never be one.  Put it another way, Governments would pay BIG bucks for such technology to use in espionage so the piddling amount they wanted from me just doesn’t fly.

Besides, if the worst were to happen, you could vehemently deny the video or photos by saying that your face was put on another body or such like; it’s not difficult to do and it has been done to far more famous people than you and me.  In other words, can we say “Photo Shop”?  After all, they aren’t threatening your access to the computer like most ransomware, that’s the official term, does.

That’s the good news, the bad news is that it is probably impossible to prosecute the people doing it.  The issue isn’t finding them, that’s a trivial exercise for Law Enforcement, the problem is that, in most cases, the perpetrators are outside the United States and, though the crime is a felony, it doesn’t meet the standard for Extradition, to say nothing of the fact that there are a number of countries that we, the United States, don’t have Extradition Treaties with, such as Brazil and Venezuela.  I was reasonably sure that the sender was not a native English speaker since there were numerous grammatical and word tense errors in the text; that’s usually a dead giveaway that English isn’t the message sender’s first language.  So, there really isn’t much of anything you can do except delete the message and ignore it.  As I said, if, and this is a REALLY BIG if, the message is legitimate, you can attenuate the effects without too much difficulty.

The reason these people send these things is that they count on fear and a lack of knowledge about what is currently possible on a computer.  So, I fervently hope that none of you will fall for this crime and, make no mistake, it is a crime, and treat it like any other fishing or spoofing E-mail.  I like to think that our readers are smarter than that and won’t give in to fear as so many do.

Should you have any questions about this or any other computer issue, please send me a message.  My address is below and I will answer ALL messages ASAP, even if it’s just to apologize for not being able to help.  As always, Happy Computing!

Jim can be reached at: jsmorgan23@att.net

Connecting the Dots

Audio: Connecting the Dots

By Tonya J. Drew

A great way to save space in Braille is the use of Alphabetic Wordsigns. These words require only a single letter surrounded by space to represent a whole word.

There is a word for every letter except A, I, and O. These are used as words themselves and cannot represent other words.

B=but

C= can

D= do

E= every

F= from

G=go             

H=have

J=just

K=knowledge

L=like

M=more

N=not

Q = quite

R = rather

S = so

T = that

U = us

V = very

W = will

X = it

Y = you

Z = as

These can be used as proper name contractions, such as the name Will. But you cannot make them plural, such as multiple wills. They must stand alone, meaning you cannot connect them to make compound words. You can also use them with punctuation and capitalize them.

Until next time, keep connecting those dots!

Tonya is a CBT and can be reached at braillechickenwhisperer@gmail.com

Guide Dog Corner

Audio: Guide Dog Corner

By Sharon Howerton

Before I discuss the issue of training schools, I’d like to address an email I received. The writer took issue with my referring to our dogs as guide dogs; she felt the correct term is dog guide. It seems to me that this has been a hot topic off and on over the years, and I remember the term was discussed perhaps 15 years ago when I was working at Hadley and the guide dogs course was being planned. Knowing the curriculum designer for the first course as well as the revision which I had the pleasure of teaching several years later along with the editor, I know a great deal of research was done concerning the terminology. But do we say Dog Guides of the Desert or Dog Guides for the Blind? Do we refer to dogs assisting deaf individuals as dog hearing animals? Do we generically refer to our dogs as dogs for service?

In the 18 years that I have worked with a guide dog, hearing our dogs referred to as Seeing Eye dogs is common. That causes me to promptly explain that Seeing Eye is a training facility, the first one in the US if memory serves. The one that I also respond to immediately, and I have definitely heard it, is when my dog is referred to as “a blind dog.” My response is always, “No, she is not blind; one of us has to see and it is she.”

So with all due respect, I plan to continue to refer to my dog and guide dogs in general for purposes of this article as guide dogs.

And now for the topic of training facilities. Both the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) have list serves as well as affiliates dedicated to guide dog handlers. The ACB affiliate is Guide Dog Users Inc

Gdui.org

And the NFB affiliate is National Association of Guide Dog Users

Nagdu.org

Both have good resources including surveys about schools or at least that is as far as I got with the GDUI site yesterday. There was an error on this site as it listed the Hadley Guide Dogs course as still being available. Unless something drastic has changed, I taught my last student in that course at the end of September 2019.

Schools are located all over the country. I remember someone several years ago who lived out west and wanted to attend a school in Arizona but discovered that, at least at that time, training was not conducted during the summer.

Do you have any special medical or physical needs? Some schools train handlers who are both hearing and visually impaired. Some schools have special programs for individuals with physical limitations which means that a dog would be specially trained for that person, for example, training the dog to walk on the handler’s right side instead of left. Many people with vision loss have some remaining vision; how does your prospective school deal with that? The student might be asked to train under a blindfold. But I can’t address that very well as I am totally blind and always have been.

Some schools offer only home training, but that would likely determine the area from which the student came so as to minimize the amount of travel time for an instructor.

Are you interested in a specific breed of dog? I have a friend who was looking for a standard Poodle. She did a lot of research and found a small school in a nearby state to us which did only home training. She got her dog, it didn’t take a long time, and she has been very happy.

It is extremely important that a potential handler have cane skills; some guide dog schools even offer mobility training but do not require that the student train with a dog afterwards; however, they are exposed to the dogs and are in the facility with students training with guide dogs.

If you feel you are too old to train, let the school help you decide this. The same would be true for young people. Let the school also help you decide about health concerns, but I will say that it is critical that your dog work. I told a friend this some years ago that working a new young dog does not mean walking from your building to a paratransit vehicle. The school will help you sort out these things.

So those are some of your considerations, and we will talk further about this. Just realize that training and the length of time to be placed with a guide seems to have been impacted by Covid like so many things.

As always, I welcome emails, questions or comments and, as always, opinions expressed are my own.

Happy travels!

Sharon is a former instructor in Braille and other courses and can be reached at shrnhow@gmail.com

Kaleidoscope of Crafts

Audio: Kaleidoscope of Crafts

By Lindy Van Der Merwe

Hello again to all crafters. A while back we did a craft for a pawprint for a cat or dog. This month’s craft is another one for the furry friends in our lives. It uses an item that we all end up with from time to time – that lone sock that has evaded the clutches of the sock monster that lives in every household.

Before going further, remember that safety always comes first when it comes to do-it-yourself projects involving pets. It is a good idea to always supervise dogs where ever possible while they are playing with toys. If any part of a toy is starting to fray or break apart, remove it immediately to prevent harm.

With a sock or two you have endless possibilities for making dog toys, but only four are mentioned here. Feel free to choose one or more, or come up with new ideas of your own. Wash all socks before use and make sure they are not frayed and have no snags or holes that may cause problems when turned into toys.

1 Snake Sock Toy

For this toy you will need One long sock, some stuffing and a squeaker (optional).

Directions:

1. Stuff 3/4 of the sock with stuffing.

2. If you are adding a squeaker, hide it in the middle of the stuffing. 

3. Tie a knot in the sock right above the stuffing. 

4. Leaving about an inch in between each knot, continue tying knots until you reach the end.

2 Knot Ball Sock Toy

One long sock and a tennis ball is needed to make this toy.

Directions:

1. Tie a knot near the toe end of the sock.

2. Insert the tennis ball. 

3. Working your way up the sock, continue to tie knots. Leave about 1-2 inches in between each knot. 

4. You can either leave this toy in a straight line or tie both ends together to create a circular toy.

A variation on this project is to use a cutter to make two slits on either side of the tennis ball; then thread the sock through the slits and knot it to use as a handle. Alternatively, make only one slit and put a jingle bell inside the tennis ball and sew the slit closed with a strong thread and needle. Place the ball in a sock and knot it.

3 Crinkle Sock Toy

For this toy you will need one long sock and a clean, empty water bottle.

Directions:

1. Tie one or two knots at the toe end of a sock, depending on its length.

2. Remove the cap and plastic ring around the neck of the bottle and insert into the sock

3. Tie a knot on the other end of the sock, securing the water bottle in place. 

4 Knotted Rope Sock Toy

Only one long sock is needed for this toy.

Directions:

1. Tie a simple overhand knot at one end of the sock.

2. Leaving about an inch in between each knot, continue tying the sock into knots until you reach the end.

Sources:

https://www.prouddogmom.com/diy-dog-toys/

https://www.recyclart.org/make-pet-toys-recycled-materials/ Lindy can be reached at stephlin@iafrica.com

PRONOUNcements about Pronouns

Audio: PRONOUNcements about Pronouns

by Alice Jane-Marie Massa

      “Ouch!  Ouch!” are my sentiments when I hear on a television or radio program or read in braille or print an object pronoun used when a subject pronoun is needed.  I have the same painful reaction when I hear or read a subject pronoun used when an object pronoun is correct.  Yes, I have an allergic reaction to the poor use of pronouns.  Double ouch!  Growing in popularity is the too frequently heard use of “me,” an object pronoun, when the subject pronoun “I” should definitely be used.  To make the matter even worse, the first-person pronoun “me” is most often inappropriately placed in the first position of a compound subject.  I even hesitate in giving such an incorrect example!  Absolutely avoid the following: “Me and Willow will walk to the post office.”  Wrong!  Wrong–on two counts!  Please correctly write or say: “Willow and I will walk to the post office.”

KA-CHOOse your pronouns wisely.  With a little play-on-words, five PRONOUNcements will follow.

      As you remember from your grade-school days, a pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun.  We, as writers, realize that using pronouns is one simple way of adding variety to our writing.  Clarity is of utmost importance to all writing.  To be certain that each pronoun is clear, the antecedent of the pronoun must be perfectly clear.  The “antecedent” is the noun to which the pronoun refers.  To achieve perfect clarity, the antecedent must be the closest prior noun which agrees in both gender and number with the pronoun.  Additionally, the pronoun must be the proper type.  Your choices of pronouns are subject, object, possessive, and reflexive.

PRONOUNcement Number One:  Watch ‘It’!

Number one on my list and other such lists for writing courses is to be careful with the use of the pronoun “it.”  While “it” can be a subject pronoun or an object pronoun, the problems usually stem from “it” used as a subject pronoun.  When I was teaching essay writing at the college level for many years, I told my students that I was planning to have made a t-shirt with “IT” printed on the shirt in bold letters.  Although to many people I would look as if I were working for the Department of Information Technology, I would actually be wearing the shirt to remind my students to consider carefully the use of each “it” in an essay or other piece of writing.  I always advise the avoidance of beginning a poem, essay, short story, novel, letter, or e-mail with the pronoun “it.”  Using “It” as your first word can temporarily confuse, permanently confuse, or delay clarity for your reader.  Certainly, “It” as your first word most often will not lead into a first sentence that will be attention-grabbing nor creative.

Example 1.  It was the first day of summer.  Zoe and I walked to the lakefront.

Revision 1.  On the first day of summer after the Polar Vortex, Zoe and I finally walked to the lakefront.

PRONOUNcement Number Two:  This and That

      Secondly, check each use of “this” or “that” as a subject pronoun.  Using these words as adjectives is not problematic, as the next two examples demonstrate.

Example 2.  This book is available through the National Library Service.

Example 3.  That guide dog is a Golden Retriever.

      While the above sample sentences are correct, consider revising the following sentence when “This” or “That” may refer to the entire previous sentence, passage, or paragraph—rather than a noun. 

Example 4.  This will help us to achieve our goals.

Revision 4.  Completing successfully these three steps will help us to achieve our goals.

PRONOUNcement Number Three:  Subject to Subject and Object to Object

      Third, may the “Logical Force” be with you:  use a subject pronoun in the subject position, and use an object pronoun in the object position.  In recent years, too many people are skipping this very easy rule.  In a recent tournament on a very popular game show, one of the brilliant, young contestants told the massive audience: “Me and my brother went to Iceland.”  (To protect the identity of this superb contestant, the latter part of the sentence has been changed.)  Well, my immediate thought was:  “The host should press that button to open the funny trap door in the floor and zap the contestant right off the stage!”  Of course, the subject pronoun should have been used; and the order of subjects should be arranged so that the first-person pronoun is listed last.  (Putting the first-person pronoun last in a list is polite and appropriate—but not technically a rule.)

Revision 5.  My brother and I went to Iceland.

      To determine the subject of a sentence, place “Who” or “What” in front of the verb and the remainder of the sentence (the predicate).  Your answer will be the subject.  Who went to Iceland?  My brother and I.  Thus, in the compound subject, the subject pronoun “I” is correct. 

SUBJECT PRONOUNS:  I, you (singular), she, he, it, we, you (plural), they

OBJECT PRONOUNS:  me, you (singular), her, him, it, us, you (plural), them

      When you need a pronoun as a direct object, an indirect object, or an object of a preposition—use an object pronoun.

Example 6.  The committee nominated Fred, Evelyn, and me.

      To determine the direct object of a verb, place the word “whom” or “what” after the verb.  The committee nominated whom?  Fred, Evelyn, and me.  Again, I used an example with a listing:  in this case, the verb has three direct objects.  The mistake of using the incorrect pronoun is more often made when the pronoun is part of a compound subject or compound object. 

Example 7.  The park ranger will give a map to us.

prepositional phrase:  to us

      In a prepositional phrase, place an object pronoun after a preposition.  In third grade, Mrs. Lenderman encouraged my classmates and me to memorize the list of prepositions.  I did as this wonderful teacher directed, and memorizing that list of prepositions has served me well ever since.  If you do not memorize the following list of prepositions, become very familiar with this list and keep it at your writing area. 

      PREPOSITIONS:  Aboard, about, above, according to, across, after, against, along, along with, among, apart from, around, as, as for, at, because of, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, besides, between, beyond, by, by means of, concerning, despite, down, during, except, except for, for, from, in, in addition to, in back of, in case of,

in favor of, in front of, in place of, inside, in spite of, instead of, into, like, near, of, off,

on, onto, on account of, on top of, out, out of, outside, over, past, regarding, since,

through, throughout, till, to, toward, under, underneath, unlike, until, unto, up, upon,

up to, with, within, without

PRONOUNcement Number Four:  Place a Possessive Pronoun before a Gerund

      Fourth, if you think you use possessive pronouns well, you probably do.  My only advice for this group of pronouns is concerning their use with a gerund or gerund phrase.  A gerund is one of three verbals in the English language.  (Participles and infinitives are also verbals.)  A gerund is a verb that is acting like a noun in a sentence.  Although not all words that end with “ing” are gerunds, all gerunds do end with “ing.”  Verbals add variety to our writing.  If you need a pronoun before a gerund, be sure to use a possessive pronoun as in the next examples.

Example 7.  Their completing the construction by August 31 is a stipulation of the contract.

complete subject and gerund phrase:  Their completing the construction by August 31

gerund:  completing

possessive pronoun:  Their

Example 8.  Her speaking with more expression will help maintain the attention of the audience.

complete subject and gerund phrase:  Her speaking with more expression

gerund:  speaking

possessive pronoun:  Her

Example 9:  The student’s writing skills will improve by his memorizing the list of prepositions.

PRONOUNcement Number Five:  Relax with Your Use of Reflexive Pronouns

      Fifth, in the past decade, more people are using reflexive pronouns incorrectly.  A reflexive pronoun must be used in conjunction with the corresponding subject pronoun.  The reflexive pronoun cannot replace a subject pronoun nor an object pronoun.

REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS:

The reflexive pronoun “myself” must be used with the subject pronoun “I.”

The reflexive pronoun “yourself” must be used with the subject pronoun “you” (singular).

The reflexive pronoun “herself” must be used with the subject pronoun “she” or an appropriate noun.

The reflexive pronoun “himself” must be used with the subject pronoun “he” or an appropriate noun.

NOTE:  “Hisself” is NOT a word.

The reflexive pronoun “itself” must be used with the subject pronoun “it” or an appropriate noun.

The reflexive pronoun “oneself” must be used with the subject pronoun “one.”

The reflexive pronoun “ourselves” must be used with the subject pronoun “we” or with an appropriate noun(s) and “I.”

The reflexive pronoun “yourselves” must be used with the subject pronoun “you” (plural).

The reflexive pronoun “themselves” must be used with the subject pronoun “they” or an appropriate noun(s).

NOTE:  “Theirselves” is NOT a word.

Example 10:  The child emphasized, “I want to read this book by myself.”

Example 11.  He built the log cabin by himself.

Example 12.  Mrs. McKendry herself planted the entire garden.

If you have read and studied this entire article, you are a connoisseur of pronouns!  Congratulations!  Go forth, and write well.

Alice is a writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

e-mail:  alicejmassa@gmail.com

weekly blog:  http://alice13wordwalk.wordpress.com

author’s web page:  http://www.dldbooks.com/alicemassa/

Stick Work

Audio: Stick Work

By Carol Farnsworth
   

I have a habit of referring to my white cane as my stick, using the cane as stick work and people that use a white cane as stick people.  This has given people overhearing my conversations with my husband a chuckle.


   I love to go out to the mailbox in a fresh layer of snow. The sounds are muffled and there is a small resistance against the tip of the cane. In addition, my husband gets a smile watching the snakelike path form on the driveway.


   I have found that the cane is a great way to find my husband when he tries to speed up while shopping or at church. I have found that he will offer do this behavior when he has an audience watching.


   I use the white cane as a walking stick when traveling rough terrains. I have traveled up Mt. Hood, over rapids on a log bridge and trough rainforests.  I give people we meet pause when they realize the stick is a white cane and the person using it is a blind person in a place they don’t expect.


   This was brought home when my family was walking on a horse trail in the Sierra Mt. Range. My daughter and husband wanted to climb a large rock formation to get a view of the snaking river. I stayed on the narrow trail to wait their return. We had not seen any travelers in 3 miles so I was surprised to hear a group approaching. I called to them to go around and I stood on the edge of the trail. The walking stopped but I didn’t hear any voices until my husband yelled, “She is blind don’t you see the white cane?”. The group that I heard approaching was a small group of horses and riders following a guide. The guide was motioning for me to get off the trail. The guide did a double take when my husband called to her. He helped me to safely get off the trail and she passed she commented, “Welcome to Wyoming.”


     Sometimes there is no respect for a white cane. I was sitting in Yosemite National Park waiting for my husband and daughter to come down from a steep trail. I had taken out my knitting and had my cane folded at my feet. People walking by were chuckling and pausing before going on. I found out that squirrels were trying to get my attention, one jumped on my foot. They were after the lunch in my backpack. Sometimes people can be just as oblivious of the white cane.

     I love broadening people’s expectations of what a blind traveler can accomplish given a little help from a guide and a stick.

Carol Farnsworth writes a bi-weekly blog Blind on the lite side. blindontheliteside.com

carolfarn@gmail.com

Blast From the Past: Movers and Shakers

Audio: Blast From the Past: Movers and Shakers

February 2016
Volume 2 Issue 2

Movers & Shakers

by Karen Santiago

This month I had the pleasure of interviewing Jocelyne Vetokele who works for Sensotec. Please read the below Q&A to learn about Sensotec and an amazing app!

Q: Where is Sensotec located?
A: Sensotec is located in Belgium.

Q: Can you tell me about Sensotec and what is does?
A: Sensotec was founded in 1986 as a company active in the development of aids for blind children, their parents and teachers in mainstream education. Over the years, our activities have expanded to include the development, manufacture, and distribution of highly technological aids for the blind, visually impaired, and people with reading and learning difficulties (for instance dyslexia).

Our challenge is to assist those with an impairment so that their integration into society is not just a fanciful notion but to actually make it happen, be it at home, at work or in education.
Together with our dynamic team, including our own support and repairs departments, we aim to offer our customers the best possible service.

Q: What is your involvement with the KNFB Reader?
A: The KNFB Reader is a joint development between Sensotec and KNFB Reader, LLC. The last is a joint venture between Kurzweil Technologies, formerly headed by Ray Kurzweil, a pioneer in assistive technologies and the inventor of the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, but who is now Director of Engineering at Google Inc.; and the National Federation of the Blind, the largest, most influential membership organization of blind people in the United States.

Q: What is the KNFB Reader and what does it do?
A: The KNFB Reader is an app that converts printed text into high quality speech. It provides accurate, fast, and efficient access to both single and multiple page documents. Your mobile device acts as a handheld scanner while the app’s optical character recognition (OCR) technology converts the text into speech.

Our app allows users to import or capture pictures of virtually any type of printed text. Proprietary document analysis technology determines the words and reads them aloud to the user with high quality text-to-speech.

The app is fully accessible thanks to Google TalkBack and app functionalities such as Field of View Report, Automatic Page Detection, and Tilt Control which guides the blind user in taking the perfect picture.

With various options to adapt the font type, size and color, background color and the use of double highlighting. Visually impaired people or those with other print disabilities (such as dyslexia) can easily follow what is being read aloud on the screen by watching the cursor move across the document.

Q: What are the most recent features added to the latest version?
– A: *Automatic Scanning in Batch Mode: You can place your device on a stand and have pictures of text taken automatically. This works especially well for use in Batch Mode to quickly capture and read books.
– Link to Dropbox: You can enable the Link to Dropbox so all files saved in your Reader can also be saved in a KNFB folder automatically created in your Dropbox directory. Files remain in Dropbox even if they’re deleted from your device. Link to Dropbox also allows you to share, backup and restore files from Dropbox.
– Since October 2015 there is also an Android version with trial. You can take 25 pictures to try the app and choose to do an in-app purchase to unlock the full version. The trial is only available on Android devices.

Q: The KNFB Reader is compatible with what devices?
A: The KNFB Reader app for iOS supports the following iDevices:
iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6 iPhone 5s, iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 4s iPod touch 6, iPod touch 5, and iPad Air 2

To be accessible to blind and visually impaired persons the KNFB Reader for iOS should be used together with VoiceOver.

Due to the large quantity of Android devices available, it is difficult to list all Android devices compatible with the KNFB Reader. Here are recommendations on hardware and operating system version which will ensure a greater likelihood of a successful experience:
– Optimal experience: Android device with a hexa or octa core CPU, an 8 megapixel camera, and Android 5 or 6.
– Less optimal (KNFB Reader will run, but you will notice reduced speed and accuracy): An Android device with a 1.2 GHz quad-core CPU, a 5 megapixel camera, and Android version 4.3.

To be accessible to blind and visually impaired persons the KNFB Reader for Androids should be used together with Google TalkBack.

Q: Will the KNFB Reader app work with Braille displays?
A: iOS: the KNFB Reader app is compatible with all Braille displays supported by VoiceOver on iOS. A comprehensive list of compatible Braille displays may be viewed on the Apple iOS accessibility page in the section: Braille displays for iOS.

Android: BrailleBack should be installed on your device. A list of BrailleBack compatible Braille displays can be viewed on the Google Play Store.

Q: Has the KNFB Reader won any awards?
A: The most recent awards the KNFB Reader received:
– The AppleVis community elected KNFB Reader the ‘Best Assistive iOS App of the year’ for the second year in a row (2014+2015).
– SITE Scotland elected KNFB Reader the best OCR app on the market for those with sight loss and even for those who are sighted (2015).
– Blind Bargains.com elected the KNFB Reader as first in their ‘the top 10 stories of the year in assistive technology’ list (2014).
– Apple selected the KNFB Reader for the App Store Get Productive promotion (2015).
– Perkins School for the Blind gave the KNFB Reader the first position in their year overview of Mobile Apps.
– The RNIB elected the KNFB Reader as ‘app of the month’ in October 2014.

Sensotec as company also won the 2015 Leuven.Inc Foundation Award as a role model for competitive and social entrepreneurship.

Q: What are the links to the different websites?
*sensotec:
www.sensotec.be
*NFB:
www.nfb.org
*KNFB Reader:
www.knfbreader.com

The Blind Perspective

Audio: The Blind Perspective April 2021 Issue

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