Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas is for Me

I have had the good fortune to enjoy many wonderful Christmases; with and without vision and it does not matter!  Christmas is for me.  The smells and the sounds, the laughter and the merry making. 


When I had enough sight, I used to enjoy going out to window shop.  To see the bright colorful lights, the flickering candles in the Church, Santa's bright red suit, and streets crowded with throngs of folks of all ages.  I also loved to smell the scent of rich pine, cakes and goodies baking in ovens, and taste the various Christmas foods and drinks.  I also loved to walk in the snow and watch those big white snowflakes race each other to the ground but most of all, I loved to ice skate around those huge outdoor rinks decorated with Christmas lights. 


That was then and this is now but not much has changed for me.  True it is that I can no longer see the flickering candles, the colorful Christmas lights, and the big fat snowflakes, but this does not prevent me from enjoying this special time of the year.  My sense of smell is still in tact along with my sense of taste and I use my memories of years gone by to help me along.  I focus on the times when I could see and inter mingle those memories with the now.  I am blessed!  I am lucky!  With or without sight, Christmas is for me!  I am a kid at heart, playing with my talking games, playing my electronic keyboard, and my Christmas CDs. 


Merry Christmas, happy holidays, Joyeux Noèl, and Feliz Navidad to you all!

I'm Donna J. Jodhan.  Will see you again in the New Year.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I Must Not Give Up

This has been my motto ever since losing my vision in early 2004.  I must not give up, I will not give up, and I will pray every day for a miracle.  There are some who have said to me that I should not hope for miracles because it only brings heart aches each time something is suggested and then fails.  I know that this is partly true; heartaches are not easy to endure but for the fighter that I am, I will keep on fighting. 


So much keeps on happening in the world of medical break throughs.  Stem cell advancements are continually encouraging us to hope and for me the hope lives on.  This is why I still hold on to my large print crossword books, my close circuit TV, and all of my treasured scrap books.  Every night I rock myself to sleep with vivid memories of colors, shapes, scenes, plus so much more.  I must not give up for I do then I might as well die!


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.  You can visit me anytime at

Monday, December 21, 2009

What Does Ugly Mean?

This is a question that many of my friends often ask me; what do I think when I hear the word ugly mentioned.  It's a very good question and through the eyes of a blind person so to speak, the word ugly takes on quite another connotation. 


In my view, here are my thoughts.  When I hear the word ugly, I think of persons who are unpleasant, vindictive, unkind, dishonest, self-centered, and thoughtless.  To me, ugly means when someone has done something to hurt another or when they have done something to the detriment of another.  Ugly to me is expressed through actions and words; actions that are not nice and words that are hurtful.


I do not think of persons as being physically ugly.  I do not think of an ugly animal, an ugly house, an ugly car, etc.  My world of ugly resides in the words and actions carried out by others.  Ah, through the eyes of a blind person; someone who does not see the physical side of things.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and inviting you to go out there and share my blogs with the rest of the world.  Visit to learn more about how blind persons view the world.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Unexpected Child

Yes, that's me!  The unexpected child.  I was born eight hours after my twin brother Jeffrey.  Mom did not even know that she was having twins until Jeffrey was born and then the midwife gave her and dad the news.  From thereon in, almost everything in my life became unexpected.


First, I was born with a vision impairment; very unexpected indeed.  Then I somehow managed to surpass all academic expectations; quite unexpected.  Then at university I somehow managed to keep my unexpected record in tact.  I was one of the first blind persons to graduate with a bachelor's degree in Commerce from Concordia University in Montreal Canada.  My unexpected record grew to include being one of the first blind persons to graduate with an MBA from McGill University of Montreal in Canada, and one of the first blind persons in the world to graduate with certifications in Microsoft Systems Engineering, and Novelle network administration. 


I do my best to preserve my unexpected record; by motivating others to become as unexpected as me.  I motivate them to do the unexpected; surpass expectations.  I motivate them to think about things that are unexpected; things that leave others gasping for air.  That is, doing things that take them outside their comfort zone, things that make others sit up and take note, things that help to create positive attitudes and reactions.  It's all in the name of being the unexpected child.


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

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Technology Barriers for Blind Kids

As more and more toy companies continue to flood the market with new and improved ways for kids to learn and interact, the adverse effect could be said when it comes to the plight of blind kids.  For example, blind kids are unable to take advantage of all of those wonderful educational toys such as the ones that teach kids how to read, write, count, and spell.  Those wonderful pictionary games are out of the reach of blind kids, and learning by seeing is just not in the cards for blind children.


This is not really anyone's fault.  It is just how the ball bounces and it is practically impossible for us to hold technology back.  It could be compared to trying to pin a wave to the golden sand.  Not possible.  So, with all of this in mind, how can we make it a better world for our blind kids?  What can we do in order to try and narrow the gap?  A blind kid is no different when it comes to wanting to be a part of technology and play with technology.  They like their sighted counterparts yearn to learn, understand, and play.  They yearn to interact with the big TV screen just like any other kid and they yearn to be a part of the world of technology.


Progress has been made but we need to see more innovation on the part of all stakeholders.

If you would like to see what types of games and toys are available to blind kids then visit to learn more.


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


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How I Navigate Aound My Freezer

It's really not that difficult; the only difference is that I use tactile methods to do this plus super organization.  In addition, whenever anyone goes into my freezer to retrieve anything, they need to know that everything needs to be repacked in the same way that it was found or else I'll be in big trouble the next time I go hunting for something in my freezer.


I pack all my packages of chicken on one side of my freezer.  Pork is on the other side.  Beef and fish are in the middle.  Boxes are labeled in Braille.  Packages of vegetables are banished to the door of my freezer and I use tape to distinguish between them.  I do not have to worry too much about bacon and sausages.  Their shapes are enough to help me out.


I do not think that this is too much different from what a well organized sighted person would do when it comes to organizing their freezer.  There are several other techniques that blind persons can use when working with their freezers and you can learn more about these by visiting  This website provides a magnitude of products for blind and partially sighted persons.


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

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Identification by Color Not For Me

When I had sufficient vision to do so, I used to depend heavily on colors to help me identify things.  I could remember that when I was growing up, the yellow cup was mine.  The blue cup belonged to Robert and the red one was Jeff's.  The green towel was mom's, the pink one was granny's and dad had a multi colored one.  Colors, colors, that's how I did it. 


Then it carried on into adulthood.  I used colors to differentiate things.  Documents were filed in folders of various colors to help me keep things straight.  CDs were mainly identified by colors; a red patch at the bottom or a blue one at the top, or a green bar at the top left hand corner or a yellow one somewhere else.  I even used colors to help me mix and match my clothes.  Mom used colors to help me identify things as well and my friends followed suit.


That was then and this is now.  I can no longer use colors to help me identify things.  So that when a pair of headphones comes with two identical jacks and the manufacturer has used different colors to distinguish between the one for the headphone and the one for the microphone, it means very little for me.  I have to use tape to help me distinguish the difference. I put tape on one of the jacks and then I have to make sure that I remember which one I have put it on.  The jack for the microphone or the one for the headphone.


Nowadays, there are talking color detectors to help a blind person overcome the challenge of colors and you can visit to learn more.


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

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Problem With Printing

For those of us who do not have enough vision to see whether or not there is printed text on a page, here are some daily challenges that we face as blind persons.


We need to ensure that when we print a page, it does contain text.  When the page comes out of the printer, there is no way to tell if the page does indeed contain text or if it is blank.  So for me, I use my scanner to help me out.  I scan the page and then I use my access software to tell me what is going on.  I can hear what is on the page through voice output.  However, there is more for me to be concerned about.  I have to ensure that all of the text is there and often enough, I have to ask for sighted assistance to ensure that everything is okay an that it looks okay. 


When it comes to the printing of labels and envelopes, I have to be very meticulous.  In my case, I have learned how to line up my envelope in the printer so that the text is well centered when it is printed but to be safe, I almost always ask for sighted assistance.  The other day for example, mom told me that the text on the envelope was not centered and I had to make two efforts before I got it right.


Nothing could be worse for me than to have missing text on a page, or an envelope with an address that is not properly centered.  So I have to use a combination of patience, my trusty scanner, and sighted assistance.  If you'd like to learn more about software that enable blind persons to use mainstream scanners, then visit


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

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

As a Blind Child

I consider myself to be extremely fortunate; as a blind child I was surrounded by loving and devoted parents who were determined to help me live as mainstream a life as possible.  I also had two brothers, a granny, and other family members who helped me to enjoy so much.  This does not mean that they did not try at times to protect me from certain obstacles, objects, and daily challenges.


I learned to fly a kite and pitch marbles.  My dad used a big ball to play football and cricket with me, and he taught me how to swim in the ocean and ride a bicycle.  Heck, he even showed me how to surf and ride the waves.  Dad was my nature buddy; walking with me in the lush green meadows, smelling and identifying the various flowers, and holding those timid little butterflies in my hand.  He ran with me, walked with me, and we had so much fun!  He even took me fishing and showed me how to make boats out of large coconut leaves.


My brothers played hide and seek with me, ball games with me, and helped me to embrace the mainstream world.  Mom and granny were my teachers of the domestic side of things.  I hung out in the kitchen with them, learned how to write printed letters, and got a wonderful education on fashion and design.  My cousins filled in so beautifully, helping me to grow up in a wonderful world.  They read to me, cut out clippings from magazines for me, and walked with me on the beach as well as everywhere else; from quiet spots to busy streets. 


I had pets; big happy dogs and delicate little birds.  I played with all of them and I learned so much from everyone.  I looked at it like this:  Dad was my teacher of all things outside the home; from nature to politics, and from economics to religion and literature.  Mom and granny were my tutors of life; from the kitchen to the clothes closet and from the school to the church.  My brothers and cousins helped me to have fun.


O what it was to be a blind child and I loved it all!  Then came the skates and skis and I was moving on to other things.  I grew up but still I continued to be a blind child!  I still am in so many ways; if only it is in my mind on those quiet nights as I wait for the Sand man to escort me into dreamland.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and asking you to go out there and share my blogs with the rest of the world.  You can visit me anytime at

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Memory Bank

Whenever I feel a bit down and am missing the vision that I lost over five years ago, and whenever I am in a mood to wish upon a star, I go to my cherished memory bank and pull out some of my most precious memories.  True to form, the colors are still o so vivid in my mind.  The shapes so real and I can practically reach out and touch.


Photos of my parents, brothers, granny, and dogs are highest on my list.  I can practically reach out and lightly touch their faces.  I can place my hands on their heads and look into their eyes.  Ah!  My stack of precious photos forever preserved in my memory bank.  Next comes those keep sake photos of some of my heroes; Pope John Paul II, Pierre Trudeau, The Kennedy brothers, Bill Clinton, Wayne Gretzky, and others.  I still find it easy to bring their faces into my unfocused eyes and remind myself as to why they are my heroes. 


I sit there for some time playing with all of these photos and I amaze myself at how I am still able to keep them so well preserved in my memory bank.  Then I move on to other things; images of my Montreal Canadiens hockey team skating swiftly up the ice.  Ice skating competitions.  The large graceful Air Canada jet bird gliding noiselessly over a deep blue Caribbean ocean with the golden sun streaming down over its silver body.  Next comes my nature memories; a rich blue sky with fluffy white clouds racing each other.  The golden sunrise and the pink sunset.  A purple dawn and green grass sprinkled with dew.  Rows upon rows of bright flowers, my beloved Yellow and orange canaries of so long ago, and a beach filled with yellow sand with lacy white capped waves rolling gently towards the shore.  Huge fat snow flakes clumsily chasing each other around, and silver raindrops falling helplessly downwards.


I linger over all of these for some time and then I finally pull out my very special memories.  Ah!  They too are still in tact.  Candles flickering in a church on Christmas Eve, Christmas lights twinkling in the night, and stores filled with shelves upon shelves of Christmas toys.  The dolls come into plain view followed by the doll houses and the electronic game sets.  Then the huge and handsome Christmas tree all decked off with hundreds of colorful Christmas lights and finally the manger with Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the wise men, the angels, and animals.


I can play with all of these memories for as long as I want and when I am tired I place them all carefully back into each of their little compartments and return them to my memory bank.  Then the fat tears of joy come pouring down my cheeks followed by the round ones of sadness.  Ah!  My precious memory bank filled with memories preserved forever and no one can ever take them away from me.


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

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Remembering My Dad

Dad left me a little over 21 years ago and to this day I miss him as if it were only yesterday when he left.  At his funeral, I eulogized him as someone who was not just my dad, he was my friend.  He left me an invaluable legacy, knowledge.  He understood my needs and never failed to come through for me.


I was the unexpected baby; born eight hours after my twin brother.  Mom never knew that she was having twins and when she and dad were told that I was on the way, just imagine their surprise and then they discovered that I was blind!  They never faltered as parents and my dad remained a constant source of knowledge for me.


As early as I can remember, he would read to me; story books, newspapers, and selected articles of interest.  He taught me all about Religion, politics, economics, plus much more.  He helped me to become a passionate and compassionate Human Being.  He taught me respect, how to treat others, but most of all, he instilled courage and motivation into me.


Dad taught me my alphabet, taught me how to count, and he was constantly challenging my mental strength and capacity.  He taught me how to ride a bike and we often raced along the beach either on foot or on our bikes.  He taught me how to swim, to fly a kite, and he often played cards, football, and cricket with me.  He even took me fishing and placed those delicate little butterflies in the palm of my hand.  Dad probably wished that I would remain his little girl for ever but that was okay.  I grew up and he was still my dad.


Dad was my hero; a gentleman to the end, and someone who was never afraid to help others.  He was loyal to his friends and family, a leader in his own right.  He was gentle, firm, and loving.  Most of all, he never stopped encouraging me to reach for the stars and had faith in my abilities as a blind person.  Rest in peace dad!  Till we meet again.


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 to learn more about how sighted parents interact with their blind kids.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Those Treasured Story Books

Ah!  To be a kid once more or I should say it like this!  To dream of when I was a kid!  Those happy times when my ad and my older brother Robert used to read to me.  What fun I used to have; imagining as they read to me.  Dad and Robert have since passed away but their voices reading to me when I was a kid will always live on in my mind.


When I was a kid, I was unable to read print because of being blind and true to form my family came through for me.  Dad and Robert would read to me; from those treasured story books and fairy tales.  As they read, fairies came to life in my mind.  I was the little princess going off with the handsome prince.  I was the little girl getting into all kinds of trouble.  I was the little fairy waving my wand and carrying out acts of magic and good deeds.  When they were finished reading and long after the lights were out, I would lie in bed and imagine the stories all over again.


Some times I would day dream in class and even imagine that I could read these treasured story books for myself but when I grew tired of imagining I would conjure up dad and Robert reading to me.  I could practically zone everything else out as their voices came clearly into my mind and o how I treasured these special times.  I could hear them reading about the fairies flying around, the witch getting up to her nasty tricks, and the handsome prince saving the princess in distress.


Then I would go home and run to my room where I would look for my treasured story books.  I always put them in the same place after dad and Robert had finished reading to me the previous night.  Blind kids of today continue to enjoy reading books but now they can do it all by themselves; listening to them on MP3 or Daisy books.  If you would like to learn more about how blind kids read story books then visit


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.