Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Half Empty or Half Full

This is one of the questions that I constantly continue to ask myself and I guess that if I am a positive person as I usually am, I would say that the glass is half full.  However, there are many other blind persons who would take the opposite opinion.


For me, the glass is half full because despite my challenges I still somehow manage to come out on top and I have so many things to be thankful for.  For my parents, family, and friends; plus my undying ability to dream, create, and try.  Most of all, my deep and unshakeable faith in God.  For others, the glass is half empty because there is so much that they have to deal with; a disability, no family close by, and not too many friends.  In addition, many blind persons also have to deal with secondary and even tertiary challenges. 


More and more blind persons are having to deal with such things as loss of hearing, physical disabilities, plus so much more.  No wonder they find it difficult to see the glass as half full.  We all need to work together to change this and I am asking you to help spread the word.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and asking you to go out there and help spread the word that blind persons often have to face additional challenges in addition to their loss of sight.  Visit or to learn more.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Please Don't Patronize Me

As a blind person, one of the most annoying and upsetting challenges for me is when someone patronizes me.  When a person speaks to me in a tone that they would normally use for a kid, when they pat me on the hand and say something like "Okay dear, or "you poor thing."  This absolutely drives me up the wall.


Another example of patronizing is when someone speaks to my mom or friend or accompanying friend instead of me.  Something like:  "What would she like to have" at a restaurant or "Would she like to try on those sweaters?"  Getting angry does not really help as I have discovered over the years.  Instead, I speak up for myself or my mom or friend would gently say "You can ask Donna herself."  


In my experiences over the years of my life, the worst type of patronization takes place in:  Stores, the doctor's office, the supermarket, restaurants, and at recreation parks.  There is absolutely no need to patronize a blind person.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and asking you to go out there and spread the word that there is absolutely no need to patronize blind persons.  Visit and to learn more.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Yes I Can Enjoy Swimming

Well, here is another misunderstanding for me to clear up.  Much of the sighted world has a very hard time understanding and believing that blind persons can enjoy swimming.  Of course they can and I am living proof.  In addition to ice skating and skiing, I swim as a hobby.  I am a very good swimmer and growing up near the ocean enabled me to learn to swim in the sea.


As early as I can remember, my dad and my siblings took me swimming.  Dad taught me how to swim and we started off with life belts but I quickly graduated to swimming on my own.  Naturally, he and my family worried about my safety as with any other kid, sighted or not.  Dad taught me how to do the back stroke, the butterfly, the crawl, plus so much more.  I learned to do summersaults too; both forward and backward.  Then I took my skills to the swimming pool.


One of the things that I enjoyed the most while swimming in the sea was to look up at the bright blue sky and the golden sun while I was lying on my back in the ocean.  I cherished seeing that beautiful Caribbean sky and adored the sun and surf.  Dad also taught me how to surf the waves and he and I used to have so much fun frolicking in them.  The foam caps reminded me of lace.  Now that I have precious little vision, I still enjoy it all but without enough vision to see the sky, waves, and color of the sea, I find other ways to enjoy things when I go swimming.


Dad was my best swimming buddy and I always feel very close to him whenever I go to the beach.  He passed on many years ago but his spirit still accompanies me whenever I go sea swimming.  Swimming is still one of my most enjoyable hobbies.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and help spread the message that yes!  Blind persons can enjoy swimming.  If you would like to know more, then please do not hesitate to send me an email at 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Guide Dogs Are Not for Everyone

Here is the truth about guide dogs; they are not for everyone and not every blind person is suited to have a guide dog.  I myself love dogs but a guide dog is not for me.  Why you may ask?  Because in order to have a guide dog, you need to put your trust completely in the dog and for me this is extremely difficult.  Some dogs make wonderful guides but there are others that do not.  Not every guide dog turns out to be a good guide; and not every blind person who seeks to have a guide dog is a suitable candidate.


In a mainstream world, the relationship between a dog and their owner is extremely crucial and in a world of a blind person it is even more so for a blind person.  Both dog and owner need to trust and like each other.  It's all about team work.  There are several guide dog schools scattered across North America and there are many in

England and across Europe as well.  I am going to give you two websites to visit;, and  These two websites can provide you with very helpful information on guide dogs.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and asking you to go out there and tell the rest of the world that guide dogs are not for everyone.



Tuesday, September 22, 2009

All About Audio Description

One question that I often get asked is this one:  How does a blind person follow a movie?  That is, how can they follow what is going on in a movie when there is no talking or other noise to tell them what's happening?  Enter the world of audio description.


Up until about a decade ago, audio descriptive movies or audio descriptions were novelties to us or rather a luxury but today, it is becoming more and more popular.  What is meant by audio descriptions or audio descriptive movies?  Very easy.  More and more movies, DVDs, and videos are now being produced to include audio descriptions and this means that audio descriptions are given for those scenes where there is no audible sound.  This is most helpful to blind persons who are unable to see what's going on.  So for example, in a movie, if someone is walking along and there is only the sound of their shoes, audio description would be provided to tell the blind person what's included in the scene as the person is walking.


I am going to leave you with an url to check out.  One that belongs to one of the top audio descriptive producers in the world.  Visit


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and encouraging you to go out there and tell the rest of the world about audio descriptions and audio descriptive videos etc.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Need to Remember the Buttons

So many times I as a blind person am challenged to remember the position of buttons and keys.  That is, I need to pay particular attention to where each button and key is.  Thank God, telephone keypads are all the same but when it comes to other things, that's a different story.


Unfortunately, elevator buttons are not customized across the board and if there is either no Braille or raised print to represent what the button is, then I am in big trouble.  Most computer keyboards are similar but sometimes the differences in the positions of the keys are enough to throw me off.  The same goes for calculators and remote control devices.  The keyboard on an IBM Think Pad for example, is different to the layout of a keyboard on a Toshiba laptop.


My dire wish would be for manufacturers to standardize the position of the layout of buttons and keys.  Washers and dryers are also a problem for me in that I have to memorize the buttons.  Radios are the same for me.  However, most cassette recorders are standardized when it comes to the layout of their buttons and keys but guess what?  These are fast becoming obsolete.  I am going to give you the url of a website of a company that is doing wonderful things to standardize the layout of buttons and keys of all of their equipment.  Visit to learn more.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and help lobby manufacturers to standardize their products when it comes to the layout of keys and buttons.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pictures That Cannot Be Described

One of the most difficult barriers between the sighted world and a blind person is this one; the inability to truly describe a picture to someone who is blind.  If a person is born blind, then you know that they have never been able to see pictures.  If they have been born with some vision, then chances are that they may be able to see some things but the picture would never be complete. It would be very difficult to describe pictures to them.


Even if you were to let them feel the shape of a rose for example, they would not know that it was a rose unless you told them that it was.  From real experience, I can tell you that feeling the shape of something is not the same or does not relate in the same way to when you feel a raised replica of the same thing.  In short, feeling a real rose is different to feeling its raised shape. 


Having had vision and now not having very much, I can also tell you that it is very hard to describe pictures to someone who has never seen.  It's not the end of the world however.  I have two urls for you to visit and there you will discover how blind persons deal with pictures.

Visit and to learn more.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and tell the rest of the world how blind persons cope with pictures.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Products Being Sold Without Accessible Manuals

This is one of my pet peeves and I hope that my message gets out there.  Too often, when products are sold and manufacturers beat their chests with pride because they swear that theirs are products that can be used by blind persons, there is one very important component missing; manuals are not in a format that we can read.  It is very frustrating to purchase a product because the store has told you that it can be used by a blind person then when you take it home and open it up guess what?  There are no manuals in Braille, or large print, or on CD, diskette, or on cassette.


How many times have I run into this situation and I am not alone.  I purchase a calculator that is supposed to be blind friendly and there is no manual that I can read.  I have to depend on sighted assistance.  I have to ask someone to show me how to set the clock because there is no manual for me to read.  Everything is in print.  I buy a microwave and despite reassurances that I can hear the options in the menus, this is not the case.  Only 75% of the menus have been designed with talking features. 


Of course, the stores are not going to stand up for us.  They sell a product that claims to be blind friendly and that's that.  If we complain, then they tell us to go back to the manufacturer ourselves.  Very frustrating indeed.  I am going to give you two urls that you can visit in order to purchase products for the blind that come with manuals in alternate formats. and


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out and help lobby for manuals in alternate formats to be included with products for the blind. 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Is Disney Land Blind Friendly?



A few months ago I had the good fortune to spend a day at Disney Land and for the most part I had a great time.  All because I went there with a sighted friend who was so great in helping me to find my way around.  Disney Land was packed with both adults and kids and for the most part my friend and I had to push our way through throngs of persons to get to where we wanted to go.  Just like anyone else that day.


I am not going to single out Disney Land in any way but I will say that based on some of the other amusement parks that I have visited, Disney Land is probably no better than others when it comes to being blind friendly.  As a general rule of thumb, most personnel at amusement parks will do their best to help out if you as a blind person have a problem but when it comes to making rides and pathways and sidewalks accessible, then here is where there are challenges and amusement parks in general fall a bit short.


What could amusement parks do to be a bit more blind friendly?  Provide alternate equivalents of any printed documents; in Braille, large print, and on CD or diskette.  Make pathways and sidewalks more accessible to blind persons.  Provide more ramps.  Provide audio descriptive videos shown at amusement parks; the equivalent of the regular videos shown.   There is more to be considered but for now I think that this would be an excellent start.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and help to educate amusement and entertainment parks about how they can become more accessible to blind persons.  If you would like to learn more about descriptive videos, then please visit

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Can Blind Persons Play with Toys?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions that I get and my simple answer to this is why not?  Blind kids do not have to see in order to play with toys.  Blind kids play with all kinds of toys and enjoy many of the things that most of their sighted counterparts enjoy.  That is, except for those high tech toys.


When I was a kid, I played with dolls.  I had doll houses, played ball games with my brothers, rode bicycles, and flew kites.  I even had toy guns and played with my brother's toy soldiers and you know what?  I had a whale of a time doing all of it.  I developed ways to play football and cricket.  I learned how to pitch marbles, and I even participated in hide and seek games.  Boy did I ever play with all kinds of toys; from the regular girl's stuff to kicking tin cans in the road and playing ball hockey.  True it is that my family and friends had to adapt things somewhat for me to play with them but despite this I had a world of fun.


If you are thinking of giving a toy to a blind child then please, please do not think twice about giving them something that they can certainly play with.  Anything that does not include technology that is.  Anything from dolls to doll houses, toy soldiers to toy cars, and so on.  How do blind kids play with toys if they are unable to see?  They use the touch and feel technique.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and spread my message to others that yes indeed!  Blind kids can and do play with toys.  Here is some contact info for you to check out.

Connie Leblond

Assistive Technology Center LLC

8880-723-5011 Ext. 1


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Touch Screen Technology Not for Me

Touch screen technology is growing by leaps and bounds but sad to say, I am unable to take advantage of it and as this technology continues on its merry way I am going to be left behind.  More and more hand-held devices are using touch screen technology and as things stand, blind persons are already behind when it comes to being able to use mainstream hand-held devices.  So, what does all of this mean for blind persons?  Nothing more but more challenges for us to face and more of being shut out of advancing technology.


In order to use touch screen technology, one has to be able to see where they need to touch on the screen and we as blind persons are unable to do so.  In addition to hand-held devices, there are other things that touch screen technology is being deployed for.  Such as, menus on microwaves, VCRs, and appliances and gadgets that requires the user to use menus to set up programs, clocks, and so on.  Some video games are also using touch screen technology and I would not be surprised if in the future banking machines go the same way.


I hope and pray that manufacturers are listening and that they do something to keep us in the loop.  Not just blind persons, but those who are afflicted with diseases that prevent them from using their hands to do things.  Persons who suffer from such disabling diseases as MS, Parkinson's, CP, and so on.  If you would like to know more about how blind persons are unable to use touch screen technology then please visit or


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and week ahead and urging you to go out there and help to encourage manufacturers to make touch screen technology more available and accessible to blind persons. 

Thursday, September 3, 2009

How I Do My Banking

There is no set way for a blind person to do their banking but here is how I do it:  First, it is my preference not to use a banking machine.  There are several talking banking machines in my area but I prefer to stay away from these.  I go to the bank to do what most sighted persons use banking machines for; withdrawals and deposits. In addition, I go to the bank when I need to carry out electronic transfers.  I use telephone banking for everything else.


I really like using the phone to conduct most of my banking business because I can do it from the comfort of my home, at my convenience, and in total privacy.  I can do it at any time of the day and from anywhere.  I do not use Internet banking because it is my preference not to do so.  I know of several blind persons who use online banking but often time I find that the online banking facilities of some of our financial institutions are not very user friendly to blind persons.  I receive my statements in braille and so I am able to keep tabs on my accounts. 


Whenever I need to communicate with my investment adviser, I do so via email and he is very good at providing me with a lot of details in his emails.  Whenever I need to have cheques written, I have my mom or a trusted friend do it or I go to the bank.  I then use a signature guide to sign my name.  My banking institution has also provided me with cheques that contain raised lines so that I can write my own cheques.  The thing with this is however that I may not always know if my pen has enough ink in it and as a result I may sometimes write cheques that are difficult to decipher because of the faded ink.


There are companies that provide services to financial institutions so that customers can receive their statements in any of the following formats; braille, large print, or diskette.  Visit to learn more.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and help educate the rest of the world about how blind persons do their banking.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Sighted Guest

In the normal scheme of things, much of society is used to greeting each other in the mainstream way of shaking hands, hugging and/or kissing each other, and waving and/or smiling to each other.  However, it is a bit different when it comes to how blind and visually impaired persons greet each other at functions and this was brought home very clearly to me recently when my sister-in-law reminded me of a time when she attended a luncheon with me.


She told me that at first, she found the room to be so noisy because people were calling to each other in order to determine where their friends were sitting.  She remembers how someone called out at the top of their voice:  "Donna!  Where are you?"  Then when I responded my friend and I both got up and proceeded to find each other by sound and greet each other.  It took my sister-in-law a few minutes to understand the whole thing but when she did so, she had to smile and nod in understanding.  


This is one thing that much of the sighted world is not familiar with; the level of noise that prevails at functions for blind and sighted persons and if you stop and think for a minute you'll understand why.  The sighted world greets each other after they have recognized each other visually.  We as blind persons do it through sound.  First, we use sound to identify if any of our friends are close by and when we do our next step is to identify where they are; and we do all of this through sound. 


True it is that the noise level is extremely high but it is unavoidable and necessary.  We also use sound to help each other find objects.  Many times, we would bang an object on the table to help each other know where something is; like the salt and pepper shakers, and so on.  If you would like to learn how blind persons communicate among themselves at functions, then visit 


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and encouraging you to go out there and spread the word about how blind persons communicate at functions.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Hope Still Lives On

Last week as I sat glued to my TV watching and following the funeral of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, something in me was not just sad, but really sad.  When we were kids, my cousins used to cut out all of Senator Ted's pictures from my mom's magazines and the newspapers and then paste them into scrap books for me.  As a matter of fact, they did this for all of the Kennedys.  At that time, I was not really able to see pictures but after I had my first cornea transplant it was one of the first things that I did.


I remember so many years ago after I got my first cornea transplant, I raced to my scrap books to look at all of my treasured photos and boy am I glad that my cousins had so kindly done this for me.  I spent so many hours gazing at my favourite photos and I continued to follow the Kennedys as a family along with so many others who were my favourites and heroes and ones that I admired the most.  I kept memories of all of their photos safely tucked away in my mind and as I sat listening last Saturday to the Senator's funeral, I managed to conjure up pictures of him in my mind.  With precious little sight left now, it was all that I could have done to keep me going and remembering.


One could easily say that the Kennedy family has been burdened with a curse but what impresses me most about this particular family is this; their ability to keep on going despite the immense tragedies that have dogged them over the years.  Senator Ted in particular had to deal with so much; the tragic loss of his brothers, having to deal with two of his children's brushes with cancer, and his own errors in judgment which he has always readily admitted.  Yet for all of this, he never gave up smiling and his quote "The hope lives on and the dream shall never die" will always live on in my heart; and it's a quote that I would urge all blind and visually impaired persons to keep close to theirs. 


This Statesman managed to share his life not just with his family and the rest of his country, but also with the rest of the world.  He was a Father, surrogate father, stepfather, husband, brother, uncle, mentor, and friend.  A man of so many hats.  Rest in peace Senator Ted.  Thank you for sharing your life with us.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and urging you, both sighted and blind, to go out there and live your hopes and dreams.