Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Dogs and I

First there was Yella; a fat and happy Lab.  Then came Lion and Tiger, her huge and handsome sons.  Then finally there was Boyo and Brownie, the grand children of Yella.  My treasured ones, my best companions.  These are the ones that gave me so much comfort during my formative years. 

 

Yella's happy and go lucky spirit enabled me to create and imagine all kinds of kid-like things; writing poetry and essays about her.  Gosh, I even won first prize in an essay competition for my composition about Yella.  By the time Lion and Tiger came along I was approaching the difficult adolescent years and these were the two that helped me the most.  I would often lie on my stomach and bury my face in their thick coats of fur.  There I would tell them all of my fears and fantasies and you know what?  They never turned a deaf ear on me.  They would always listened attentively and would often reward me with either a kiss on the nose or a paw on my shoulder.

 

By the time that Boyo and Brownie arrived, I was well into my teens and these two were a constant source of comfort to me.  I played robustly with them.  Loved them to bits, and in turn they helped me to cope with my adolescent years.  Each dog was special in his/her own way.  Each brought me special moments of glee and happiness.  Each broke my heart when they departed this world.

 

My heart broke with grief when I left home and left them behind but I still carry them in my mind.  When I was able to see enough, I captured their faces in my mind and now they are tucked away forever.  Their personalities will always remain a constant source of consolation for me.  Rest in peace wonderful furry friends!

 

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate inviting you to go out there and share my blogs with the rest of the world.  Visit www.nfb.org to learn how blind persons use guide dogs as part of their daily lives.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Mom and I - We Make a Team

As a blind person, it is vitally important for me to be able to have someone who can be my eyes and mine is my mom.  For as long as I can remember, she has been my eyes; using her natural ability to help me cope.  She has found ways to help me identify things.  She has developed strategies to help me navigate my kitchen, and she naturally knows how to assist me whenever we go shopping.

 

In the general scheme of things, many persons need to be taught or given certain hints and lessons when it comes to helping a blind person; but not my mom.  One can easily say that she should know or that she ought to know but this is not always true.  It should not be assumed that because you have a family member who is blind that you should know what to do.  Not at all.

 

It often seems to me that whenever I am in need of an arm to guide me, she is there.  Whenever I am looking for a lost object, she naturally knows how to help me find it.  Now that I am unable to match my clothes for myself, she continues to help me find ways to organize my closet.  In case you are wondering, mom does not live with me.  She visits and when she does it is always a pleasure for me to have her on my team.

 

I'm Donna J. Jodhan, your friendly accessibility advocate inviting you to go out there and share my blogs with others.  To learn more about how the sighted world can be better able to assist blind persons, visit www.acb.org.

 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Favorite Colors

For as long as I can remember, yellow has always been my favorite color; as a child when my vision was just a bit, as a teen when I received much more, and even now when I have precious little.  Yellow has always reminded me of happy things and happy times. 

 

When I was a kid, I had to have a yellow cup, a yellow plate, and a yellow saucer and a yellow bowl.  I loved and cherished my yellow Sunday dress, the one that I wore to church.  I adored my yellow jersey, and my yellow bathing suit.  Mom and dad had to always buy me something yellow; the yellow beach ball, the yellow water wings, and everything else yellow.  I even loved the yellow balloon which was something special for me as I had a fear of balloons and when we got our dog and named her Yella, that was the best thing for me since sliced bread.

 

Yellow continued to dominate my life as I blew past my teen years into adulthood and I continued to buy yellow sweaters and jackets, yellow coats, yellow pants, and yellow dishes and even cutlery with yellow handles.  Part of my living room is even dominated by yellow. 

 

Now that I am left with precious little sight and no longer able to see color, I think of yellow whenever I need a boost or whenever I need to drive away unhappy thoughts or moments.  I have grown to love purple, red, and blue; all distant seconds to my precious yellow.  Yellow!  The color of my life!  The sunshine of my soul!  The light of my darkness!

 

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and share my blogs with the rest of the world. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Can Blind Persons be Mainstream Persons?

This is a very thought provoking question and one that is often asked of me.  In response, I would venture to say that the answer is probably no and I say this with a lump in my throat. 

 

For as long as society continues to treat us with a difference, with kid gloves, or as second class citizens; we should not expect to be classified as mainstream.  However, let's just say that if all of this were to somehow and magically change, if somehow we were to find ourselves in an almost perfect society, then the chances of us being classified as mainstream would be greater; but we need to be realistic.

 

Blind persons are different because they are unable to see.  They use or employ different strategies to live their lives.  They use different technology in order to communicate; that being access technology.  They depend on sighted assistance to help them deal with those tasks and challenges that require eyesight in order to complete them.  The list can go on and on but I am sure that by now you are getting the picture. 

 

If you would like to learn more about some of the devices that blind persons use in order to cope, visit www.humanware.com and www.maxiaids.com.

 

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and share my blogs with the sighted world.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Importance of Knowing

It is always important to know; but when it comes to someone who is unable to see, it's even more important.  Like it or not, the eyes see all and absorb all and it is what the sighted world use in order to complete any picture.  For me, I use other strategies to complete a picture but to be very sure that the picture is complete and accurate, I depend on sighted assistance.

 

I need to know when things match; like my clothes, like my d├ęcor.  I need to know what gestures are being carried out around me; especially when I am in a business meeting.  I need to know what expressions persons around me are communicating to me and to each other.  I need to know where things are in my home so that I do not bump into objects, and that I can find what I am looking for.  I need to know what information is being communicated so that I can make the correct or appropriate decision.  In short, I need to know.

 

The importance of knowing applies to all of us; sighted or not but for a blind person it is always even more important.  If you would like to know more about why blind persons need to know, then you can visit www.nfb.org, or www.rnib.org.

 

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and asking you to go out there and help educate the rest of the world about why it is important for blind persons to know; the importance of knowing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Socializing in the Workplace

Now, here's one of the most difficult challenges for me; socializing in the workplace.  At the best of times, when I worked in a mainstream workplace, I always found it a bit difficult to socialize.  As a blind person, it is often difficult at the best of times to be able to tell when and where to socialize.  It is often difficult to find where people are gathered and in many cases we have to use our sense of hearing to find the action so to speak.

 

When it comes to going out to restaurants with coworkers, we often have to depend on our sighted colleagues to lend a helping hand.  Getting to the restaurant, finding a table, knowing what's on the menu, and so on.  We even have to depend on sighted assistance to help us navigate our way to the bathroom and back to our places at the table. 

 

There are many tiny things that much of society may not think of when it comes to a blind person being able to socialize in the workplace but there you have it.  If we are in unfamiliar territory, then we would definitely need sighted assistance to help us navigate and find our way and if we need to locate friends and acquaintances then the same would apply.

 

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and encouraging you to go out there and educate your coworkers about how blind persons socialize in the workplace.

Visit www.acb.org to learn more.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Technology Becoming More Difficult

Two steps forward for mainstream technology, but unfortunately, just one for access technology.  What I mean is this; the evolution of technology is like a runaway freight train.  It changes literally by the minute and we all have to find ways to keep up with it in our own way.  For blind persons, the challenge to keep up with it is made even more difficult because of having to wait for access technology to catch up and when it does; mainstream technology has already left the building so to speak.

 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with what access technology is; it is the technology that is used by disabled persons to help them access software, the Internet, plus more.  Access technology includes such products as:  screen reading software, magnifying software, and specially adapted keyboards.  There are other types of access technology of course.  Access technology is also very expensive in comparison to mainstream technology and often time, it is financially out of the reach of many disabled persons. 

 

Access technology has come a long way in its development but there is much more to be done and it does not help when mainstream technology continues to change so rapidly.  This can't be helped.  We need specially developed devices to enable us to scan and read books.  We need talking GPS devices to help us navigate streets in unfamiliar areas.  We need clocks and watches that talk to help us tell the time.  We need appliances that have been designed with voice output so that we can use them.  In short, for a blind person, we need to have devices that talk and devices with large print displays so that we can use them.

 

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 rest of the world about access technology.  Visit www.nfb.org to learn more.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

If I Could Dream

If I could have just a few seconds to dream then this is what I would dream of:

That blind kids of the future will have a better shot at enjoying a more mainstream life.  That they will be able to have equal access to such things as websites, information, and services.  That their parents would be in a position to afford to buy them the necessary access technology that they would need in order to function on an equal footing with mainstream kids.  That somehow, they would be able to go out there and literally reach for the stars.

 

If I could have just one solitary moment to dream then this is what I would want to dream of:  That aging adults who are either blind or will be come blind later on in their life will be able to live their golden years in relative comfort.  That being; that they would be able to receive adequate services to help them cope with their blindness and loss of vision.  That their golden years will be filled with happiness and joy and that their lack of vision would not be a hindrance to them.

 

If I could dream for that one fleeting minute then I would dream that the doctors would find a cure for my blindness.  That somehow and some way, they will be able to come up with a medical solution to help me and others like me.  That somehow in the not too distant future, I would again be able to cherish a golden rising sun and an orange sunset.  That I would be able to look at a deep blue sky with fluffy white clouds coasting lazily by and white capped waves and a jade green ocean. 

 

If I could have that one defining wish it would be this; that I could once again imprint the faces of my beloved parents, granny, and brothers on my mind.  That I would be able to see the Christmas lights, the ice skaters on an icy rink, my beloved Montreal Canadiens hockey team skating up the ice, birds of gorgeous plumage, and a plate all decorated with fruits of various shapes and colors.

 

If I could dream!  Ah, but only just a dream!  Then the rustic reds and burning oranges of fall and the burning candles in my favorite church would become a reality and then I would be able to reach out and touch whatever I wanted to.

 

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and inviting you to go out there and share my dreams with the rest of the world.  Visit me anytime at www.sterlingcreations.ca.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Inaccessible Slot Machines

Now, here is something that much of the sighted world may not have given much thought to and I am only going to comment on the machines here in Ontario.  However, some friends in the United States have told me that they are facing the same challenges when it comes to inaccessible slot machines.

 

Up until about two years ago, it used to be relatively easy for me to play at the slot machines.  They emitted sounds, the coins made noise when dropping into trays, and the flashing lights helped to make my visit to the casino a very enjoyable one.  Now however, things have changed.

 

There are no more noises of coins to be heard dropping into trays.  No more sounds when I get lucky at win a few coins.  No more noise period.  So now when or if I win, I have to depend on sighted assistance to tell me what's going on.  Yes, I can understand the casinos wanting to cut down on the noise level but in doing so they have in effect severely limited our access to slot machines.  Too bad for us.

 

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and help educate casinos about why we are finding their machines to be inaccessible and somewhat unusable.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Can Blind Persons Attend Functions?

`Whenever someone asks me this question my immediate response is "and why not?"  This is a frequently asked question and you know what?  I always try to be polite in my responses.  There is still much for the sighted world to learn and discover when it comes to how blind persons live, work, and socialize.  We can definitely attend functions but there are slight differences in the way we interact with others at functions.

 

Because we are unable to see others, we need to use our ears to help us identify others at functions.  We need to depend on sighted assistance to help us navigate our way around at functions.  We need to depend on others to help us meet others.  We need others to help us navigate buffet tables, find our seats, and find our places at tables.  We need others to help us with visual cues.

 

This is the picture for a blind person when attending functions.  It may sound cumbersome to a sighted person but not really.  Once you get the hang of things then it's not too bad  It can be a lot of fun.

 

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 as to how blind persons navigate their way when attending functions.  Visit www.acb.org to learn more.

 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Blindness is Not Contagious

Maybe this is a touchy topic for many; but here goes.  When I was growing up, I found that many persons, both kids and adults alike were often afraid to approach me and other blind kids.  I often used to think that maybe and just maybe, they may have been feeling that if they came too close to me, they too would become blind.  Things have improved over the years but there is still that hesitance especially so on the part of adults.

 

I am finding more and more that younger persons are not afraid to approach blind people.  They are much less inhibited and not afraid to engage in conversations with us.  For anyone who is hesitant to become friends with a blind person:  Blindness is definitely not contagious.  You can certainly become friends with us.  You would be quite surprised to know and learn what great friends we can be.

 

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and spread the word about how you can become friends with blind persons.

Visit www.nfb.org to learn more.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Appliances Are a Challenge

There used to be a time when I as a blind person was able to navigate the buttons on the panels of my appliances without having to ask for sighted assistance.  Buttons and knobs on washers and dryers were big enough for me to feel and touch, you could set levels of water and temperatures by counting off the clicks, and you could do other things by simply memorizing how many clicks to the left or right, etc.

 

A few months ago, I had to replace my washer and dryer and thank goodness I was able to find a small appliance store that sold washers and dryers with manageable buttons.  Many of the appliances today are dominated by touch screens and digital displays and this makes life more difficult for someone who is unable to see.  Some appliances even have lights to indicate certain things and this too is not very good for a blind person.

 

In the good old days, I only had to ask for sighted assistance once when I was learning the position of the buttons but all this has changed.  I know, we are now in the digital age and that can't be helped but how I wish that someone can come along and develop a gadget for blind persons to use with digital displays and touch screens.  Thank goodness I have a talking microwave but my toaster oven is a challenge for me.

 

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 the challenges that blind persons face when it comes to appliances with digital displays and touch screens.  Visit www.maxiaids.com to learn more.

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