Thursday, October 29, 2009

Is Anyone in the Elevator?

Whenever I get into an elevator, I always like to know if someone is there.  When I had enough sight, it was never a problem for me but now it is because I am unable to see enough to tell. 


So, as has always been my habit, as soon as I enter an elevator, I say hi and if someone answers then that's my cue to tell that someone is there.  If no one answers, it does not necessarily mean that the elevator is empty.  Occasionally, the person in the elevator may not answer or may just nod their head or smile not knowing that I am unable to see.  On these occasions, I use my sense of smell to help me out.  Or, I can normally sense if someone is close by because of a sense of presence.  The one humorous thing for me is getting on to an elevator and hearing someone else speaking.  Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking that they're speaking to me but truth be told, they are on their cell phone.  It happens to everyone; not just a blind person. 


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and help educate others about how I along with other blind persons sense the presence of others on an elevator.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Doing the Laundry Carefully

When I do my laundry, it's really not that much different from what most sighted persons would do.  I use my color detector to help sort my colored clothes from my white clothes.  Next I wash the white ones separately from the colored ones.  All hand clothing is washed by hand and the rest go into the washer.


The trick for me is to be able to tell if a piece of clothing has run as they say; creating a disaster for other pieces of clothing.  So, I have to make sure that certain pieces of clothing can be washed together and those that can't I have to wash also by hand.  Not much different from what sighted persons would do. 


I am fairly comfortable doing my laundry.  Towels and sheets go together, jeans, sweat shirts, socks, and track clothes go together, miscellaneous go together, and all of my blouses and skirts and other delicate garments are washed separately and apart from each other.  The challenges for me are:  Making sure that stains have been removed, and realizing when something is a bit too worn to keep on using.  So, I use the tried and proven method of discarding anything that has become thin and thread bare.


Not much different from the sighted world but I have to depend on touch as well as sighted assistance to help me deal with stains and o yes!  When those darn socks drop from me when I remove them from the dryer.  When they drop without a sound and I have to go looking for them.


Dealing with buttons on washers and dryers is another story which I will cover in another blog.  For now, you can learn more about color detectors by visiting 


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

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Missing Out on Bargains

Missing out on bargains is one of the most difficult things that I have to deal with on a daily basis.  For the sighted

world, it is easy for them to read about bargains in flyers, the newspapers, and see it on TV or on the Internet.  For

me, I am unable to read newspapers or flyers, and although I may hear it on TV, many ads do not repeat phone

numbers at the end of their infomercial instead choosing to display it on screen.  In the case of the Internet, so many

websites are not user friendly to those with vision problems making it almost impossible for us to access. 


When I go grocery shopping, I am unable to read the flyers that are stacked on the counters.  These flyers gaily

display all of the bargains in the supermarket but I do not have a clue as to what they are.  The same applies for

when I enter a store or pharmacy and as a result I am shut out of being able to reduce my shopping bills. 


This is something that I'd like to see addressed by the sighted world; ways to make it possible for blind persons to

know about bargains.  One possible solution that comes to mind is this:  Maybe, the larger store and supermarket

chains could have a phone line whereby we could call in and hear the bargains on a weekly basis?  Food for thought.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out and help make it easier for blind persons to learn more about bargains. 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Curb Curve Cuts No Good for Me

Curve cuts have turned out to be a big blessing for many; for those in wheelchairs, moms with strollers, and delivery staff hurrying along with heavy parcels.  However, for blind persons, it is the opposite.

Why is this?  Because when we go tapping along with our canes we depend heavily on landmarks such as; ridges, bumps, and anything else that is raised or has a slight step down or sink to help us identify where we are.  Many of these curve cuts do not help us because the sidewalks slope down into the street and if we are not careful then we can easily find ourselves in the middle of the street before we know what is going on.  So often, I have heard others like myself complaining about this and I am not sure what the answer is.  Curve cuts benefit more persons than they do not and as blind persons are often in the minority, then we have to find ways to deal with this.


If you would like to learn more about some of the problems that we as blind persons face when it comes to curve cuts, then visit


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

How Blind Persons Read Books

When it comes to blind persons being able to read books, we do it in several different ways.  We can read it in Braille,

We can listen to it on CD or cassette, or we can use our computers to download books and listen to them using special

access technology called screen readers.   


We can use cassette recorders to play our cassettes.  We can use CD players to listen to our CDs and we can also

use specially developed book readers to read books that have been formatted into DAISY formats.  We can also use

scanners to scan books and listen to them from our computers.


A lot has been done and continues to be done when it comes to making books more accessible to blind persons but

there is still much more to be done and this should be seen as a continuing job.  In the meantime, I have some

websites for you to visit to learn more about how blind persons read books and what they use in order to read books.

Visit, and


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is It Clean Mom?

This is one of my favorite questions and I constantly need to keep doing this because I am unable to decipher or tell when certain things are not clean.  When it comes to dishes, glasses, and pots and pans, I can usually tell if things are clean by running my fingers along surfaces.  If I feel bumps and sticky stuff, then I know that it is not clean but when it comes to stains it's a different story.


In the kitchen, stains are my main challenge because it is difficult to tell if a stain is there unless it is sticky or bumpy.  When it comes to clothes, the same thing applies.  When it comes to carpets and floors and furniture, it's all the same.  So, if mom is around I can as her but if she is not then I have to be super careful.  Walls and doors are also something for me to be careful with.  My fingers can usually tell if surfaces are dirty but in many cases it is impossible to feel spots and stains.


I'd like to see the development of some sort of device to tell blind persons when stains and spots are present.  In the meantime, you can learn more about how blind persons deal with such things as spots and stains by visiting


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 sighted world about how blind persons deal with spots and stains.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Can Blind People Travel?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions that I am asked and my response is this:  Sure, blind persons can travel and enjoy what the sighted world does.  However, we do things a bit differently.

Here's how I do it.


Whenever I travel by plane; I first ask my travel agent to notify the airline that I will need assistance and this has turned out to be not much of a problem.  Air Canada has been excellent to me and has provided me with first class services.  They have always provided me with end to end services that include checking in, boarding, in flight, and disembarking services. 


When I arrive at the airport in Toronto, this airport's special needs services department is ready to help because I have notified them before hand that I would need help from my cab to the airline's counter.  I do not know if other airports provide this type of service but if they don't, then I have to depend on sighted assistance for someone to bring me to the check in counter.  I find this a bit nerve racking but I have learned to live with it as I am a frequent traveler.


If I take a train, I usually notify the railway company in advance that I would need help so that they can provide me with boarding, in train,  and disembarking services.  Not a problem for me and whenever I get to a station in Canada, the "Redcaps" attendants are right there to help me from my cab to the ticket counter.  Bus services are similar.


So you see, it is not as difficult as you may think and if you would like to learn more about how blind persons travel, then visit or


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 can travel.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Agencies That Walk Away

In the normal scheme of things, many blind and visually impaired persons do not really have a good opinion of agencies that are supposed to be there to meet their demands.  By this I mean; those agencies that promote their mandate to service the needs of the blind are often guilty of doing the opposite.  There are good agencies, and bad agencies and not many fall in between.  Too often, these types of agencies just get up and walk way instead of carrying through with their mandates.


Here in Canada we are presently facing a crisis of finding an agency that is able to provide us with decent enough rehab services, employment services, social services, plus more.  I am not going to get into the politics of it all.  Suffice it to say that this is not just a Canadian problem.  It exists all over the world and it seems to be a common challenge for us all.  So, what can we do about this?  The only thing that I could think of, off the top of my head; continue to voice our opinions.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and asking you to go out there and help advocate on behalf of the blind.  Visit to learn how advocacy is done in the most meaningful way.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My Favorite Scrapbooks

For as long as I can remember, and with or without sight, scrap books have always been one of my favourite pastimes.  When I was a kid, my cousins used to clip all of my favourite pictures and photos out of magazines and newspapers and then patiently paste them into scrap books for me.  I only had to ask and Nancy and Brenda would do it for me.


There were pictures of the Kennedy family; in particular the Kennedy brothers.  The Osmonds, and the Royal family.  I could barely see these but it did not matter.  I had to have them.  Later on, my best friend Charlene continued the tradition for me and my favourites expanded to include Paul Anka, Englebert Humperdink, Julio Iglesias, Wayne Gretzky, Princess Diana, and of course my hero Pierre Trudeau.


I expanded my favourites when I got my vision through a cornea transplant and for 25 glorious years I was able to cut and paste for myself.  There were many other favourites that I collected as well.  I collected memorabilia on the death of Princess Diana and JFK JR along with Pierre Trudeau and I extended my scrap book pastime to include videos. 


Five years ago when I lost almost all of my vision, my pastime came to a screeching halt but I held on to my scrap books and videos.  A few months ago, I decided to rid myself of some of these treasured scrap books because it was becoming too much for me to store and it was with a very heavy heart and a lump in my throat that I did this.  Before parting with them, I opened each and riffled through their pages doing my best to remember.  Then fighting back tears, I placed them in a large box and took them down to the garbage shoot.  "Rest in peace" was what I whispered as I gently pushed them down the shoot.


These scrap books have helped me to keep my memories alive.  I have kept some of the more treasured ones back but I shall always miss the others.  I still have my videos  because at least, I can play them and listen to them.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and inviting you to go out there and tell others how much a blind person can enjoy scrap books and videos.  Visit to learn more.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

New Ways of Identifying

Now that I am barely able to see, I constantly have to find and come up with new ways of identifying things to others.  It is no longer possible for me to identify things by color so I need to let my fingers do the identifying for me.  The other day for example, I told my brother that his sweater was hanging in the coat closet and when he asked me which sweater we both hesitated at the same moment.  His first words were "O, you don't know which one" but my comeback was "the woolen one, with long sleeves, and workings on the front."


When I was able to see, and had enough vision to identify colors, my mom and others usually identified things to me through color.  It was the yellow book, the black shoes, the bottle with the green liquid, the tin with the red top, and so on.  Now, I have to come up with other ways to identify things to them and in turn, they are constantly coming up with ways to identify things to me. 


We usually communicate in terms of size, shape, texture, and where a certain thing can be found.  More work for both sides but it works just fine.  When I was a kid and as long as I can remember, my mom and I have used a very unique way for us to identify things to each other.  We identify things through incidents and memory and who has given something to us.  So for example; it's Gayle's bag because my sister-in-law Gayle gave me this particular bag.  It's Granny's dress, because the dress belonged to Granny.  It's mom's perfume because mom gave me the perfume, and so on.


Of course, there are other ways to identify things and there are devices out there that blind persons can use to identify things.  To learn more, visit:



I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Going To The Movies

Much of the sighted world still has the notion that for blind persons, going to the movies is either not possible or probable.  Or, that for blind persons, going to the movies may even be a waste of time.  I can see why this misconception would be present but I'll try to clear it up.


The sighted world probably feels that if you are unable to see then you are unable to follow what's going on in the movie.  This is partially true and often time we miss out on a lot when we are able to decipher what is going on during those periods of silence.  We can use our sense of hearing to fill in many gaps but there is much that our sense of hearing would not be able to supply to us.  We can accurately surmise what's going on when the sound of gun fire is heard, sounds of scuffling and fighting, sounds of persons in love scenes, and so on.  However, the fine details are almost often beyond our reach. 


Things have improved for us greatly at the movies over the last decade and thanks to descriptive videos and movies our world has opened up a great deal.  More and more, videos, DVDs, and movies are being developed to include audio descriptions.  I am going to leave you with a very informative website to check out and you can see for yourself what audio description is all about.  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 audio descriptions and descriptive videos.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Daunting Statistics

Many more blind persons are unemployed or under employed than employed and it's a chronic problem that is also a global one.  The stats range from a figure of about 70% to over 80% so take your pick.  This problem does not seem to be going away and will not go away unless we change attitudes and break down barriers in the workplace, on the Internet, and elsewhere. 


I have been very fortunate to have worked for three of Canada's best companies; the Royal Bank of Canada, the Bank of Montreal, and IBM Canada and I am truly grateful for many of the experiences that I have managed to garner from my employment.  However, there are still so many things that need to be addressed when it comes to employment of blind persons. 


I have been working for myself for the past 15 years and I truly enjoy it but again as an entrepreneur like other sighted entrepreneurs, there are challenges to face and as a blind entrepreneur, it is even more challenging.  Somehow we have to work to lower the statistics that I have listed above.


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 word that yes!  Blind persons can indeed become contributing members of society.  Just give them a chance.  Visit or to learn more.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

As a Blind Woman

Being a woman has its unique set of challenges in the business world but as a blind woman?  Well, there are added challenges to face and there is more for me to add.  I am of mixed race; Oriental mix, Part Chinese, part East Indian, and part Italian.  When people ask me if I am discriminated against most as a woman, as a blind person, or as someone of mixed race, my answer is very quick in coming.  I am discriminated against most as a blind person.


As someone of mixed race living in Canada, I have not really had much to face as far as discrimination goes and the same could be said for being a woman.  However, as a blind person, I am unable to say the same.  There is definitely a glass ceiling when it comes to career opportunities for blind persons in the workplace.  In speaking to several other blind persons, the feeling persists that blind men have more of an opportunity to climb the corporate ladder or progress in their careers than blind women. 


I often joke that in reality I have three strikes against me and in the game of baseball this would mean that I would be out at the plate; but I do not let this keep me back.  I am a blind woman of mixed race and that's that.  I cannot change any of this so I live with it and make the best of it.  In short, I play with the cards that I have been dealt.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and asking you to go out there and help to create more understanding of the needs and desires of blind persons.  For more information, please contact me