Wednesday, June 24, 2009

How I Read Printed Material

As someone who is unable to read printed materials, I have to depend on sighted assistance as well as develop some very interesting strategies in order to get my printed matter read to me. In an ideal world, it would be great if I were able to read all of my material in an electronic format or, failing this, either in Braille or on cassette. However, this is not an ideal world and this is why I often have to depend on other methods.

For starters, if I need to complete an online form on a website, it is preferable to either complete the form online or download it in either Word or text format and then be able to read and complete it. If I am able to complete the form online but not able to download and save it, then that is a problem for me. So many websites allow the user to complete and print the form but for me this is no good. I should be able to complete and download and save in either Word or text format.

If someone emails me documents, then the ideal way for me to read it is to receive it in either text or Word formats. If they send me a PDF format, then I will have problems being able to read it because PDF formats are a huge challenge for those of us who use screen reader technology to read electronic mail. In the case of printed materials, I continue to use two distinct methods. The first is to use my scanner and the second is to depend on sighted assistance.

In the case of the first, scanners often have difficulty being absolutely accurate. If the print is not crisp, or if the contrast between the color of the print and the paper on which it is written is not distinct, then the scanner has difficulty deciphering the text. Some scanners have difficulty deciphering fancy text. That is, fancy fonts. Some credit card and bank statements, utility bills, and manuals are also often difficult to read using a scanner. Images and graphics are also a challenge.

So there you have it; this is how I deal with printed materials. For those of you who are searching for a way to have your printed materials read to you, or if you know of someone who is having difficulty getting their printed materials read to them, I have a url for you to visit: check out

I'm Donna J. Jodhan, your accessibility and special-needs business consultant, wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and help blind persons to become more independent at being able to read their own printed materials.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Plate Is Like a Clock

Did you know that when teaching blind kids how to find their food on their plate, or teaching newly blinded adults how to do the same, the clock concept is used? What exactly is the clock concept? I'll tell you.

The plate is presented like a clock so that when blind persons are being taught how to find their food on their plate, things are described as follows: Meat is at 12 o'clock. Beans are at 3 o'clock. Potatoes are at 6 o'clock, and so on.
This concept is often used to describe to a blind person where they can locate their glass or cup. It works perfectly for me as I have been using it all my life.

I know that much of society often wonders how a blind person goes about eating their meals let alone being able to find food on their plate but this is how it's done. I also know that many people are concerned about being seen eating with a blind person because they think that they may be embarrassed. Not at all. I am sometimes asked how can a blind person find their mouths with their fork or spoon and my response is: One does not have to see in order to find their mouths. You'd be surprised to know how many persons with sight have difficulty eating with good table manners.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan, your accessibility and special-needs business consultant, wishing you a terrific day and encouraging you to go out there and educate the rest of the world about how blind persons eat their meals at table. Visit or to learn more.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Vision Had and Vision Lost

Vision had and vision lost is the phrase I use to describe so many persons who were either born fully sighted and have lost it afterwards, or those who were born with some vision but lost it later on. No matter how you look at it, this type of person has had to suffer so many setbacks. Some persons have managed to overcome this great loss and move on, but for others they struggle with the loss for their entire life. For me, I was born with precious little, gained a tremendous amount when I was a teen, and then lost almost all of it a little over five years ago.

Many doctors have called my situation unique because there are not too many people who have been able to gain sight after being born with very little. So in so many ways, I know what it is like to have and have lost. For me, it has been one of the bitterest pills to swallow; yet when I think of those who were born with it and lost it later on, it must be even more difficult for them. For the teen, for the adult, and for the senior; there are different sets of challenges for each group to face.

I have met teens who became blind in their teens and struggle with so many things. One minute they are on top of the world as carefree teens, and the next their world has been shattered to bits and they suddenly find themselves having to cope with darkness, so to speak, and learning new and challenging things. In addition, many of them find themselves without sighted friends and have to learn to cope in a new social circle.

I have met adults who have lost their vision as adults and for them it is an uphill struggle to cope. Some have lost their spouses after becoming blind. Others have lost their jobs because their employers did not want to keep them on. Still others have lost their ability to enjoy their favorite pastimes and have had to readjust. For seniors, the challenges are still different. Having to cope with loss of vision as a senior is in my opinion one of the most difficult things to endure but having to deal with loss of vision after having had it for any length of time is just so sad.

We can only hope and pray that society starts to become more aware and accepting of those who have lost their vision and that governments and companies start making more committed efforts to make life easier for those who have had and have lost. As for me, I cope by remembering. By meditating on beautiful colors, bright beautiful colors and pictures of Mother Nature's wonders. Silver raindrops, big fat white snowflakes, yellow sunshine, red roses, pink mists, blue skies, jade green sea, and golden sand. You got it! Colors, colors!

I'm Donna J. Jodhan, your accessibility and special-needs business consultant, wishing you a terrific day and asking you to go out there and tell others that yes! There is definitely life after losing vision. Visit to learn more.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Unequal Access to Information

This is one of the greatest injustices that exists today for persons who are unable to see: unequal access to information. Many mainstream folks may be shocked to read this, but to my community it is no shock. Governments continue to turn a blind eye to this problem. They are fully aware of this very gross injustice but yet they fail to act appropriately and quickly. The Canadian government is one such government, and this is why I am presently involved in a charter challenge against them.

What exactly is a charter challenge? In short, I am suing the Canadian government over inaccessible websites. This esteemed government once occupied the position as the number one government in the world to be an accessible entity on the Internet; but sadly no more. This government continues to spend the taxpayer’s precious money to fight me on an issue that is clear to everyone else but themselves. It would not surprise me if they have spent way over a million dollars thus far to do so. They continue to pay their lawyers to try and assassinate my character instead of focusing on the issue at hand. They continue to refuse to admit that indeed, they are depriving blind and visually-impaired Canadians of their God-given right to equal access to information.

To put the picture into capsule form: Blind and visually-impaired Canadians are unable to access vital governmental information on the Internet. They are unable to complete request forms independently, access information on their pensions, important health topics, statistical data that they need in order to keep abreast of country wide trends, plus much more. Mainstream Canadians can access all of this, but we are unable to do so because the information is not being provided to us in alternate formats.

As long as we are unable to have equal access to information on the Internet, we will continue to face such chronic problems as barriers to job opportunities as well as financial opportunities. In addition, our privacy, confidentiality and independence will continue to be trampled upon. What are alternate formats? Formats that can be read by our screen reading software such as MSWord, RTF, Text, and HTML.

For anyone who is not sure, for the most part PDF formats are not accessible to us for many reasons, and I am going to direct you to a very good url where you can learn why PDF formats are no good for those of us who are afflicted with vision loss. Visit

I'm Donna J. Jodhan, your accessibility and special-needs business consultant, wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and help lobby governments and companies to make information accessible to everyone.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Unable To Spot Leaks

Spotting leaks for me is probably one of the most trying things in my life. A few weeks ago, as I was sitting on my bath tub, I was alerted to the fact that there was a leak in my bathroom. You see, my meditation was interrupted by a big fat drop of water that fell onto my head. So, up I got and climbed onto the side of my bath tub to investigate. I moved my hands cautiously around on the ceiling and, sure enough, I was right! Two of the tiles on my ceiling were completely water logged and had begun their final journey downward.

Now, had I not been assaulted by that bold and presumptuous drop of water, I probably would never have known that such a leak existed and what could have happened is anyone's guess. Probably, the tiles would have fallen either on me or in my bathroom making a real mess. If I were able to see, chances are that I would have spotted this leak long before the big fat drop of water warned me, but that's life for me. The same thing would apply if the leak had come from down below. That is, from my own toilet. I probably would have felt the water first before knowing about it.

In the world of a blind person, we are often warned by touch after the leak has started, whereas for the sighted world leaks are often spotted visually. Or, we are treated to the sensation of wetness or powdery stuff that tells us that a leak has indeed made its way into our world. So, how do I deal with spotting leaks?

It's not easy for normal, but I do need to take precautions. I am always listening for running water if I have not myself initiated it. In the kitchen, my hands are constantly roaming along the bottoms of mugs, cups, plates, saucers, pots and pans, shopping bags, etc. I am constantly feeling my way along my counters and dressers to ensure that nothing has leaked out of rice, pasta, salt, and sugar canisters, and I am constantly checking bottles and jars.

I check my fridge regularly for spills and leaks. I check my bathroom regularly for leaks from various jars, bottles, and various containers. My hands are constantly checking makeup cases for leaking powders and liquids. Time-consuming? Yes, but just think of what could happen if you do not check on a constant basis. It's just a part of my life.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan, your accessibility and special-needs business consultant, wishing you a terrific day and encouraging you to go out there and tell the rest of the world how blind persons cope with discovering leaks. If you would like to learn more about how blind persons cope on a daily basis then visit

Friday, June 12, 2009

When The Power Goes Out

Now that my lack of vision does not allow me to see light very well, I am often left to deploy some very interesting tactics when power goes. First of all though, I need to know when it has indeed gone out, and that could be very tricky if I am not watching TV, listening to the radio, or at my computer.

If power goes while the TV or radio is on, or if I am at my computer; TV and radio will automatically shut off and the computer will beep loudly and switch to battery mode. If the microwave is on, it will automatically stop. However, if I am cooking, here is where the problem lies.

I need to pay extra attention while cooking because if the power goes, there is no audio indicator to alert me. So, I have to keep checking the heat of the stove and other cooking appliances except for the microwave. There is one kitchen appliance that definitely tells me when power goes and when it returns and that is my old faithful fridge. As soon as power goes, Madam Fridge makes a very loud shaking sound, and when power returns, she does the same alerting me that she is back online so to speak. The TV and radio do not automatically come back on but my microwave speaks to me emitting an audio message that says "Chimo is ready." My computer automatically switches back to power mode.

As a result of not being able to manage electric clocks independently, all of my clocks are now battery operated but this poses another set of problems for me in that I have to be on the alert for when the batteries go. But, that is another story for another blog.

If my light bulbs blow on me, but the power is still on, then I need to use some other strategies. I have a routine of checking all light bulbs at different times to ensure that they are lighting. Why do I do this if I am unable to see them? Very simple! To keep up with the normal world. So that whenever I have visitors, they do not operate in the dark.

If you would like to learn more about the various gadgets that blind persons can use in order to help them deal with power outages plus more, then visit

I'm Donna J. Jodhan, your accessibility and special-needs business consultant, wishing you a terrific day and motivating you to go out there and help educate others about how blind persons deal with power outages.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Doctors' Hang-Ups

Now, I would like to start this blog entry by tempering my statement so that I am not misconstrued. Like everything else, there are good doctors and there are not-so-good doctors. There are friendly doctors and there are not-so-friendly doctors. However, there is one disconcerting thing that I have found, in general, even with the good doctors: They definitely have hang-ups when it comes to their blind and visually-impaired patients.

There are very few doctors that I have met in my life who truly believe that I work for a living, that I look after myself, that I attended university and obtained a master's degree, that I am capable of thinking and speaking for myself, and that I can understand and make decisions for myself.

My opinion is shared by many other blind and visually-impaired persons. So often, whether they are aware of it or not, doctors on the whole seem to give us an impression that they do not really consider us to be level-headed human beings. In fact, we often feel that we are being treated as sub-par individuals.

I have met doctors who were quite surprised when they learned that I work for a living. I have met others who practically fell out of their chairs when they learned that had I attended one of the best universities in the world and graduated with an MBA.

These hang-ups are very real and exist way beyond the doctor fraternity. Maybe it is time for us to impart some awareness to our doctors. If any doctor is reading this, yes, I am blind. But I also can think for myself, hear, do things on my own, and I work for a living. The only thing difference between me and a "mainstream" patient is that I am unable to see.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan, your accessibility and special-needs business consultant, wishing you a terrific day and enlisting your support to help doctors get rid of their hang-ups towards blind persons. To learn more about blind persons please visit

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Barriers to Careers

Now, please do not laugh when I tell you this one! Believe it or not, most of society still thinks of us blind folks as only being able to play music for a living. Really! They think of us as musicians and probably so because of the successes of people like Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and so on.

Years ago I went on a trip with my parents to Europe and had just graduated from University. My proud papa was going around telling everyone that I had just graduated. Before he could tell them what degree I had graduated with, one very innocent gentleman piped up and said, "Isn't it nice that she got her degree in music!" I gently told him no, I had just obtained my degree in commerce. My parents later told me that the poor man looked as if he wanted to disappear under the table.

In actuality, blind persons face several barriers to careers. For some reason, society seems to have preconceived notions about what blind persons can and cannot do for a living, or I should say that many persons do not even think that we are able to work. They look upon us as people to be taken care of rather than productive and contributing members of society. They falsely believe that we can only work such careers as: piano tuners, teachers to teach other blind persons, social workers to help other blind persons, basket makers and weavers, and musicians. A very disheartening picture if I may say so.

I'd like you to visit my company's website at to see what I do for a living and if you would like to know more, feel free to send me an email at

I'm Donna J. Jodhan, your accessibility and special-needs business consultant, wishing you a terrific day and inviting you to go out there and tell the world that blind persons can do a lot more than just play music or weave baskets for a living!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Why I Prefer Mailing Lists

As social networking websites continue to grow, it continues to be a challenge for persons without sufficient sight to find ways to socialize on the Internet. I for one find it a frustration to do so, and I use a fairly easy way of doing it. I use mailing lists to communicate with others. Why? Because it is simpler, less frustrating, and I do not have to put up with having to deal with CAPTCHA security which, for the most part, does not allow a blind person the ability to enter the required codes.

(It is an acronym for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.")

You see, more and more websites are using the CAPTCHA technology in order to prevent spammers from cluttering their in boxes and from sending spam emails but, in doing this, they are shutting out those who are unable to use their CAPTCHA process.

You go to a particular website and you are asked to go through a security process. You are given a code to enter but you need to retrieve the code as presented to you by CAPTCHA on the website. When you are presented with the code visually, you then need to re-enter the code as you see it and only then are you given the necessary username and password in order to continue on. For a blind person, this is impossible because of two things:

First, the blind person is unable to see the code. Second, access technology -- what a blind person uses in order to communicate with the Internet -- is unable to read the code. Blind persons use screen readers and self-voicing browsers to communicate with the Internet and these are unable to read graphics and images.

So, where does this leave blind persons? In a great big hole! What we need is for developers to find ways to make CAPTCHA technology more accessible to blind persons. The following link is to a blog where the writer talks about social networks, CAPTCHA technology, and how blind persons view it all.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan, your accessibility and special-needs business consultant, wishing you a terrific day and asking you to go out there and make developers more aware of the problem that CAPTCHA technology is presently causing for those with vision problems.