Thursday, August 19, 2010

Going Back

Two years ago I became a charter member for the local chapter of the National Federation of the Blind, (NFB) serving as vice president for the fledgling chapter. I enjoyed attending the meetings (even when it was just four or five of us) and worked to help the chapter grow. But after I got the official word that my bad eyesight was getting worse, I stopped going to the meetings. I didn’t want to be around others who were dealing with the same challenge. Crazy, huh. Last Friday I finally went back. Not only did I attend the regular business meeting, I went early to participate in the monthly Braille class. I experienced a couple of surprises. First, my ability to read Braille was a lot better than expected, especially considering I have not practiced since June. Second, there were 28 people at the meeting, including five or six first-timers.All sharing a common thread of blindness. I was glad to be there. As I introduced myself to one of the new-comers, I couldn’t help but notice the desperation in his voice as he explained why he was there for the first time. In essence he was there for the same reason I was, for strength and hope.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Irony of Being Blind and Having School Paid For

I have decided to go back to school in January to pursue a Masters in history. (But first I will have to take a couple of undergrad history classes since my BS was not in history.) It will be somewhat difficult to convince Rehab to pay for this but I think I can eventually get them to do it. Although Rehab may pay for my education there will still be difficulties. For instance, accessing textbooks. More and more publishers are moving to electronic textbooks. Unfortunately most of these are not accessible to the blind. The new Kindle Reader, iPad and other devices are not configured to allow access with screen reading software. But the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) is working to encourage various institutions to make their products accessible to the blind. Most of the time the NFB contacts the institution and explains how easy it is to rectify the problem and then it gets fixed. However the “carrot” approach hasn’t always worked, especially in the business of electronic textbooks and higher education and so the NFB had to play hardball and enlisted the support of the Department of Justice. The battle for equal access is a constant struggle but we are making solid gains. If you think about it, its ironic. In my efforts to continue my education the challenge of paying for school is removed because I am blind. But then I get to school and can’t read the book, all because someone doesn’t want to implement a simple remedy to their product.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Blind Comedian

As you have noticed, there have been fewer postings as of late. For the past week I have been focusing on preparing to launch another blog that discusses issues relating to my soon to be released e-book, “Bearing the Title of Liberty in the Latter-Days”. However, I stumbled upon a video of a man who uses comedy as a way to change people’s perceptions of blindness. I found it to be humorous, interesting and inspiring. I hope you will too.

Note: Since this is not from my YouTube account, I cannot imbed the video.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Crossing the Street, Without Being Hit

After my last post, you may be thinking, “That darn fool needs to be careful”. And maybe he does. You may also wonder how someone who is blind gets around anyway. Although I utilize my residual vision for mobility, I have been trained to do so without any sight. (I confess that I prefer using eyesight but am capable of getting around without it.) The video demonstrates me crossing a busy intersection (much busier than the one where I almost got hit) and I briefly discuss why crosswalk beepers are not effective. Although I am grateful the city is mindful of the needs of the disabled, it is unlikely anyone asked us if this was a good idea. (The issue of beeping crosswalks is controversial among the blind community with people supporting them and others not. After watching the video you will understand why I am not a fan of them.)

Natalie was afraid that while videoing me crossing the street, she might witness me getting hit and would be forever traumatized. I have been legally blind since 1985(ish) and have been hit only once. And that was intentional.