Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Internet as My Workplace

This is now my new workplace; where I can be as comfortable as can be. I don't have to tell anyone that I am blind, that I am unable to see. I can play in an environment on an equal footing. No one is going to penalize me if I am unable to see. That is, no one is going to feel uncomfortable if I am blind.

I don't even have to tell anyone about my blindness. My clients are satisfied to know that I can fulfill their requirements. I work with clients from all over the world. They correspond with me either by email or by phone. There is no need to tell. The Internet as a workplace is so different and so much more fun to work in and why? Because I can be me.

I set my own parameters. I set my own hours and my own limits and I dictate which jobs I work on and which I reject. I do not have to make excuses to anyone. I don't have to worry about attitude barriers. I do not have to be concerned about what the mainstream world thinks. As long as I can perform my duties and fulfill my end of the bargain; no one really cares if I am blind.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and tell others how blind persons interact with their clients through the Internet. Visit me at to learn more.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Ski for Light Experience

In late January, I along with some friends from Toronto, Canada traveled to Utah to take part in a week long event called Ski for Light. Each year, this event occurs in several countries around the world including the United States and Canada. It was founded over 30 years ago by a group of Blind Norwegian skiers and in so many words: It gives an opportunity to a blind person to learn to ski if they have not done so before or it gives a blind skier the opportunity to have some real fun.

This marvelous event lasts for a week and each skier is provided with their very own guide. Match ups are carefully done using the skier's experience and the skier's preferences while they are there for the week. Accommodations are excellent and the skiing area is top notch.

As a first time skier to this event, I did not go with any expectations but at the end of the week I was sure glad that I had gone. I met so many new people; both guides and blind skiers from different countries. I skied, fell, and enjoyed myself thoroughly. Every day I along with my fellow skiers were taken by bus to Soldier's Hollow where we skied for most of the day. Everyone was so friendly, positive, and above all, they made you feel welcome. I was fortunate to get a terrific room mate and we have promised each other to remain friends and return next year; this time the event is going to be held in Colorado.

At the best of times, blind persons are often challenged when it comes to finding ways to enjoy such types of events. So just imagine my elation at having been able to attend one of these. The guides and workers were so helpful and so committed. I was truly impressed and I hope that others like me will find a way to attend next year and in coming years. I am definitely going to continue my skiing efforts back in Canada and will add this to my ice skating activities.

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and tell others that yes indeed! Blind persons can definitely enjoy such activities as skiing, ice skating, running, plus other types of sports. Visit to learn more.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Identification of Important Cards

This is a very important topic for me and I am always careful to ensure that I am aware at all times as to the whereabouts of all of my important cards.  No different from anyone else but here are my techniques for card identification.


When I had enough vision, I identified them by color.  It helped me a lot to do this but now the situation is different because I no longer have enough vision to do this.  So, my first technique is to place my cards in alphabetic order in my wallet.  I am not one for having too many cards in my possession so this strategy works just fine for me.  The credit cards are placed on one side, and then the banking cards are placed on the other side; all in alphabetic order. 


Some time ago, I tried to identify my cards by touch.  That is, trying to decipher them based on the raised letters and numbers at the back of the card but this did not work very well.  It is possible to do this with some cards but not with others.  So I have given up on this technique.  Placing the cards in my wallet in alphabetic order works best.  Now all I have to do is to remember which cards I have.  Smile!  Keeping them in the right order is the key to success.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day.    To learn more, visit 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Paying My Bills

While many of us pay bills online, I choose to do it mainly through telephone banking.  I absolutely love this way of doing my banking.  I can pay bills, transfer funds, check on my account balances, plus much more.  It is private, confidential, and I have access to a customer service rep on a 7/24 hour basis.


I am not that comfortable with online banking because I am not too willing to enter my details online and I do not think that it has anything to do with being blind.  Many sighted folks feel the same way.  Telephone banking is a God Send to me and if I am unable to carry out a transaction using this method, then I make a trip to my nearest bank branch and there I interact with a live teller.  I do not use a banking machine.  If you would like to know more about how blind persons do their banking then you can visit 


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

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Identifying Perfumes

Nothing to it!  I simply use my sense of smell to help me out and it's what probably much of the sighted world does as well.  However, the sighted world has one other technique to help them.  They can read the labels on the bottles of their perfume.


When I had enough vision, I used to identify perfumes by the color of the bottle but now I depend totally on smell.  Believe it or not, each perfume does indeed have a unique fragrance but every now and then I run into perfumes that are close enough in fragrance.  So, I shift gears to my next strategy.  I make sure that I memorize the shape of the bottle or better yet; I place tape on one of the bottles that is close in fragrance to the other. 


Now, I can use my Pen Friend device to help me identify bottles.  If you would like to learn more about the Pen Friend you can visit  This nifty device was developed in Britain and you can also 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 tell others how blind persons go about identifying perfumes.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

How I Identify Fruits

Not too difficult for a blind person if you take a moment to think about it.  I use my senses of smell, touch, and taste. 

 The first thing in the identification process for me is to touch the fruit.  Bananas are different in touch from apples and in turn, apples feel differently to oranges, pears, peaches, and so on.  Grapes, strawberries, berries, and cherries are smaller so there is no problem here.  Grapes are shaped differently to strawberries, and cherries are somewhat similar to berries in shape so here is where I need to use my sense of taste if I am not sure.  Blue berries and black berries may become a problem for me but my sense of taste often wins out.


What I am trying to say is this:  For blind persons, the identification of fruits is not a problem.  Every fruit has its own unique smell and feel and believe it or not, many sighted persons often use their senses to help them along without even being aware of it. 


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day.  To learn more about how blind persons go about identifying fruits plus more, visit

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pushing Beyond the Blue Horizon

For me, it has always been a matter of pushing the envelope that little much further or maybe I should say that it is pushing beyond the blue horizon.  I don't think that if I were sighted I would be any different.  To me, it's a matter of doing things that would encourage others like me to get up and reach for the stars.  I feel that it is my obligation to help other blind persons to maximize their potential; to reach for the sky, to enjoy as much as they can in a world where most sighted people still have difficulty understanding and believing that blind persons can do certain things despite their lack of sight. 


I have learned to ice skate and it has become one of my passions.  I have learned to ski and I intend to enjoy it as much as I can.  I enjoy the outdoors, and I also push the envelope when it comes to challenging my government to make their websites accessible to all blind persons.  This is why I am presently suing the Canadian Government over inaccessible websites and unequal access to governmental information. 


Sometimes, I do things that take me out of my comfort's zone but you know what?  My objective is always to do something that has the potential to make things better for Blind Canadians first and foremost and then other blind persons elsewhere.  Whatever I do, I always do my best to ensure that it is done professionally, and in a manner that will help the mainstream world to become believers and followers.  


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and encouraging you to go out there and become believers and followers.  To learn more about me, visit

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Keeping Track of Money

One of the more frequently asked questions asked is this one:  How do I go about keeping track of my money.  Here in Canada, we have coins to represent the one and two dollar denominations and there are dots to mark the five, 10, and 20 denominations.  I am not too sure about the fifty and one hundred dollar denominations because I rarely see these.  I also use a bank note reader that can give me an audio reading of the denomination.  


When it comes to keeping track of the notes themselves in my wallet, I usually do it like this.  I sort my notes by denomination and place them in separate compartments of my wallet and if I run out of compartments then I usually place them in order of ascending amounts.  Many blind persons who are unable to identify the difference by color usually use a folding method.  That is, they fold their five dollar bills differently to how they would do it for the 10 and 20 dollar bills. 


In Canada, the dollar bills are of different colors so it is a bit easier for someone with enough vision to identify them.  Not so for the American green back.  However, the folding method as it is often referred to by blind persons is a very common money identification technique.


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 go about identifying their money.  To learn more, please visit

Thursday, March 11, 2010

How Full is My Glass

It is as full as I want it to be.  I have dreams like anyone else.  I have hopes, desires, wishes, and aspirations.  I am constantly seeking ways to make things better for others; blind children of the future.  I live in a developed country that offers me a good life.  Of course, there will always be things that I would like to see improvements to but I am a positive person and an optimist.


Whenever I am a bit down the first thing I do is to think of Haiti; the poorest country in the Western hemisphere and despite this its people continue to smile in spite of the recent travesty in their country.  They manage to smile, to hope, and to dream so I should do the same.  Some persons look at a glass as half empty but not me!  Mine is more than half full!  Yes, I face daily challenges as a blind person but you know what?  There are millions of others in the world who face much larger challenges than me.  So, how full is my glass?  It's to the brim!


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day.  If you smile at the world, then it will smile back at you!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Mixes and Matches

As a blind person, it is always a challenge to ensure that one's clothes are well coordinated; that they match.  Sometimes, I have been known to mismatch my clothes but I have managed to conquer this challenge with relative success.


Having had vision before, I can manage to remember which colors would match and which will not.  For example; some blues and greens will not.  The same for Oranges and yellows.  Reds and pinks, and purples and blues.  So here is my system.


I arrange my clothes closet in such a way as to have all of my clothes matched up and placed side by side.  Everything is color coordinated and if I want to be a bit daring then I would match a pair of black pants with any blouse or shirt in my closet.  A pair of jeans would normally go with almost everything but the greatest challenge comes in making sure that stripes match, flowers and multi colored clothes are coordinated, and that the right trousers is worn with the right top.


I use a color detector to help me out and for the most part it is very accurate.  This one talks; there are several of them on the market and you can learn more about them by visiting 


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and encouraging you to go out there and tell others what blind persons do in order to mix and match their clothes.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Am I Taking the Right Pill?

Yes!  This is one of the things that I need to pay very close attention to; am I taking the right pill?  With so many bottles feeling the same to the touch, I have had to come up with a system to tell what I am taking.  So, here is what I do.


My vitamin bottles are placed in a specific spot.  My cold and flu pills go into another area.  My stomach, allergy, and anything else go into specific places in my cabinet.  Within each group, vitamins for example, pill bottles may be differentiated either by size or by shape of the cover on the bottle.  If the size is the same and the covers are a wee bit different, then I identify by cover but if everything feels the same then I go to plan B.


I either use Braille labels to help me or I use my trusty tape system.  That is, I use pieces of tape to help me differentiate bottles.  I place them on different parts of the bottle.  I will tell you that since the birth of the Pen Friend label reader, I use talking labels to help me.  That is, I use the Pen Friend to help me create labels for bottles.


Of course, there are other ways to differentiate pills.  By the shape of the pills themselves, and the smell that emits from the pill bottle.  Capsules feel different to the touch as opposed to the old fashioned pills.  Liquid gel caps are long but harder to the touch than capsules.  Then there are round tablets, long ones, and those that are shorter and thicker in texture.  A whole lot of ways to differentiate.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and encouraging you to go out there and learn more about the Pen Friend by visiting

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Peeling by Touch

Whenever anyone asks me how I go about peeling fruits and veggies, I tell them the following:  I use my sense of touch to help me complete my peeling chores. 


In the case of a carrot for example, the skin has a rougher feel to it then the actual flesh or inside of the carrot.  The same applies to a potato.  In the case of fruits, an apple's skin has a different feel to it then the inside of the apple.  The same would apply to other fruits. 


Bananas and oranges are very easy to peel; for anyone it is a breeze but I must say that in most cases, I normally leave the skin on the veggies and fruits.  I just wash it all first before cooking or eating.


When it comes to peeling the backs off such things as labels and stamps, or strips on envelopes and other things, I start with the very edge and peel slowly.  Easy if you learn how.  Not a problem if you are unable to see.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and tell others how blind persons peel things.  Visit to learn more.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Inaccessible Point of Sale Devices

Here is another challenge for many blind persons to grapple with; inaccessible point of sale devices.  Why?  Because a blind person is unable to use them independently.  They need to depend on sighted assistance to help them complete their transactions.  They are unable to see the screens.  When they press a button, they do not receive any audio feedback to let them know that they are pressing the correct buttons.  If the device is of the touch screen variety, then they are unable to know where on the screen they need to touch.


Inaccessible point of sale devices are an infringement to the privacy and independence of blind persons and maybe it is time for manufacturers to start developing accessible devices.  Maybe, it is time for them to dialogue with some of the larger blind consumer groups.  If I go into a store to purchase a product, I need to be able to complete the transaction by myself without having to ask for assistance at the checkout counter.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and lobby manufacturers of point of sale devices to develop ways to make their devices more accessible to blind persons.

Visit to learn more.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Staying Fit a Challenge

For almost all of us, staying fit is a very great challenge but when it comes to a blind person like me, the challenge is just that more challenging.  You may be asking yourself why and here is my incomplete list.


It is difficult for a blind person to engage in walking activities; we cannot see where we are going so we are unable to walk at a fast enough pace.

The same holds for jogging and running.

Many of the exercising machines have digital readouts so we are unable to utilize them.

Many of the exercise devices come with instructional DVDs and videos and it is hard for us to follow the visual instructions.

In many cases, it is difficult for us to negotiate the machines at gyms.


So how do I do it?  I have a treadmill at home and I use a talking timer of my own which is separate from my treadmill machine to time myself.  I have learned where the buttons are in order to set my speed. I have another device to help me stretch my muscles and do push-ups.  I also swim in my condo's pool. 


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and encouraging you to go out there and help lobby manufacturers of exercise equipment to make their digital readouts more accessible to those with vision problems.

Visit to learn more.