Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Christmas feeling

Christmas for me is simply a plethora of feelings, emotions, and so much more. Christmas for me is a season where so many memories race across my mind. I can tell you that Christmas for me can be viewed in two different ways, as someone who has precious little vision and as one who once upon a time had enough vision to see so much.

When I had enough vision to see many things. I could appreciate the flickering candles in Church, the flashing colored lights as I skated around an outdoor rink, crowded streets with scurrying shoppers, Christmas trees loaded with decorations and presents piled high beneath, tables loaded with dishes of food, and of course, Santa Claus! I used to spend so much time in the toy departments admiring the dolls and doll houses, drawing sets and coloring books. I used to help decorate the house and always enjoyed putting up the angels, the lights, and most of all, the manger with all of the figures.

Now that my vision has dwindled to almost nothing, I have all of these memories to bolster my enjoyment of Christmas, and in addition I use my senses of sound and smell to help me continue enjoying. Fragrances of burning firewood, pine, baking cookies, and turkey and pork all help me to conjure up pictures and images of years gone by. Sounds of bells, kids laughing, Santa Claus ho ho hoing, and the scraping of blades on ice add to my happy memories. You see, I have so many ways to recreate, reproduce, and make new memories.

Christmas as a blind person could be really interesting. So much to enjoy and so much to share with others. Christmas through the eyes of a blind person could be a very different perspective for many. You can learn more by visiting

I'm Donna J. Jodhan, your friendly accessibility advocate, wishing you a terrific day.
Merry Christmas everyone!

When pin numbers are compromised

We are living in an age where touch screen technology has now become a reality and for many it is a blessing; but for others like me, it is a great concern. As a blind person, I feel very much at sea whenever I am asked to depend on sighted assistance to get things done.

Touch screen technology means that I now have to depend on sighted assistance to carry out my transactions and in many cases this will mean that I will have to divulge my pin number to the one who is helping me. On the surface, some people may not think that this should be such a problem but here is the real concern. The minute one’s pin number is given to a second party; one’s contract with the financial institution that issued the pin number has been broken.

In short: If I as a blind person find myself in a situation whereby I need assistance to use a touch screen in order to complete a transaction, it means that I will need to divulge my pin number to a sighted person and the minute I do so I would be breaking my contract with the financial institution that issued the pin number to me.

I do not believe that financial institutions have really given much thought to this, and as for the sighted world, they probably have not either. But I am sure that they would do so if they were directly affected. So as I see it, there are two major concerns for blind and sight impaired persons when it comes to touch screen technology.

First, the divulging of one’s pin number leads to the breaking of a contract between customer and financial institution, and second, the blind or sight impaired person has no control when it comes to being able to independently complete transactions on their own. All that they can do is to trust the one that is assisting them.

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 others. Visit to learn more about the challenges being faced by blind and sight impaired persons when it comes to touch screen technology.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The kids get it

A few weeks ago, I was invited by a teacher of a group of grade one students to visit their class. She wanted me to visit them because of my ongoing court case against the Canadian Government where I am suing them over their inaccessible websites. The kids have been following my case in the newspapers and were eager to ask me questions and to tell me about the letter that they had written to our Prime Minister.

Without any hesitation I agreed and on a cool, early November morning I stood beside their teacher in their Welcome Circle and listened with great admiration as they sang “O Canada.”

Their tiny voices were strong and true and their attention to detail extremely fervent.
Shannon Green, their teacher, introduced me and told them that I had come for a visit. We then trooped upstairs to their classroom and for the next half hour I sat among them and fielded their questions, shared a snack with them and felt their artwork.

What a most moving and humbling experience for me! The kids absolutely got it! Their questions were right on and I was amazed at their grasp of the subject matter. They were most concerned that Blind Canadians were not able to access governmental websites and they even asked me about the access technology software that I used. They were concerned about social justice and their little minds understood it all!

Out of the mouths of babes! These kids are our future! Our messengers! Our promises of hope! Our future legislators and politicians and as I continue to say, “We need to protect the future of our kids”!

I will never forget this experience and I thank Shannon and Velvet for having afforded me this experience. I thank the grade one kids of Grove Community School for having stepped up to the plate.

I’m Donna J. Jodhan, your friendly accessibility advocate, wishing you a terrific day. To learn more about my court case against the Canadian Government, please visit

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The problem with vacuum cleaners

Yes I know only too well!  Vacuum cleaners are a very important part of our lives when it comes to cleaning but for me there are a few problems to deal with.  I won't spend too much time on this topic except to give you my short list of problems.


First, I can't tell when the bag is full.  That is, if the bag is actually in the shape of a plastic cup.  In most cases, a sighted person can see the level of fullness through the transparent panel but for me; I need to open it up and use my fingers to decipher the level.

Second, it is difficult for me to tell how good a job the vacuum cleaner has done on my carpet.  I can't really tell if it has picked up the majority of dust and fluff.

Third, I have to ensure that my electrical chords and plants are out of the way of my vacuum cleaners or else they will be eaten up by the latter. 

It would be the same for a sighted person but I need to be more careful with this. 

Finally, I have to ensure that I do not dent my furniture with my vacuum cleaner; the same for the sighted person but I need to be much more careful.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day.  To learn how blind persons use vacuum cleaners, visit,, or  

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Challenges at hotels

This is one of the more common questions that I get asked by friends and associates.  On the whole, I travel quite a bit and it varies from hotel to hotel.  What I will tell you is that within the last few years, stays at hotels for me have become more enjoyable.


There used to be a time when elevator buttons did not have Braille labels or that it was difficult to find a waiter who was willing to help with reading menus or assisting at buffet tables.  This has been changing over the last few years but there are still a few challenges for me to face. 


Finding the elevator is one challenge but if I learn my way as soon as I get to the hotel then it's okay and then locating my room after I get off the elevator or trying to find it after leaving my room. 


The challenges take place mainly in my room.  I have managed to master the physical dimensions and attributes of a hotel room as most of them are similarly laid out but the challenge comes when I need to know what is contained in those small bottles.  Yes, it is liquid but what exactly is it?  Is it hand lotion, shampoo, conditioner, or shower jell?  Then there is the good old TV and trying to figure how to work the remote; not too difficult at times but some times it is a bit of a challenge.  Then the hunt to find the electrical outlets so that I can plug in my phone, PDA, Computer, plus more.

A continuing work in progress and learning experience. 


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out and tell others how I navigate a hotel.  Visit to learn more. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Remembering by shape

This is yet another technique that I use in order to remember.  I use shapes to help me remember.  If I feel the shape of a plate, it helps me to remember the various colors of food.  If I feel the shape of a cup, then I can remember the color of tea or coffee and the same holds for when I feel the shape of a glass.  Colors of various liquids come flooding back into my mind.


It does not mean to say that I go around feeling the shapes of everything.  I can do it in my house without attracting the attention of anyone and I can do it in a store when I examine objects that I am interested in.  Sometimes, I sit quietly and trace shapes of things with a pencil.  I may not be able to see what I have traced but for sure, it helps me to remember. 


A shape is worth a thousand pictures to me; just like saying that a picture is worth a thousand words.  Maybe it is why I love to do paper craft.  I can fold paper to create boats, planes, fans, hats, and mats.  Picture frames, rockets, flappers, bags, and 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 others.  Visit to learn more.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Using sound to remember

I have already told you how I use poetry to remember.  Now I'll tell you another little secret of mine.  It's all about sound and how I use it to remember those precious years when I was able to see my surroundings and appreciate faces, colors, and the wonders of nature.     I do it through sound and it's something that I recently started to do.


I am now using sound to help me recap those precious years.  I use my electronic keyboard to help me recreate memories.  I use sound to help me retrieve memories from my memory bank and bring them back to life.  I use the sound of notes strung together so to speak to help me.  To remember kids playing in the snow.  Figure skaters gliding gracefully across the ice.  Hockey players flying up the ice on their skates.  Surfers riding the waves.  Glass boats sailing noiselessly on the ocean.  White capped waves rolling gently against beaches with golden sand.  So much more!  You get the picture!


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

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Using poetry to remember

Just another technique to restore and remember what I was able to see in years gone by.  Some people paint in order to remember.  I use words and music to do the same.  I use poetry to create pictures and I sure have a great time.


My words spark memories of blue skies, swaying trees, green grass, big fat white snowflakes, silver raindrops, fluffy white clouds, sunrises and sunsets, and so much more.  Colors come to life and faces dance in my mind.  Pictures appear and disappear and memories of occasions creep slowly across my mind.  Times at the beach with family and friends.  Ice skating on outdoor rinks, walking in the fields, and strolling along crowded sidewalks. 


In Church at Christmas, Santa Claus happily ringing his bell with kids crowded around, and a plethora of other things.  My beloved poetry helps me to conjure up all of these precious memories.  Ah, my thoughts for today.


I'm Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you a terrific day and inviting you to go out there and share my thoughts with others.  Visit or to learn what blind persons do in order to remember their past years when sight was with them.