Friday, December 23, 2011

Some day at Christmas

One of my favourite Christmas carols is "Some Day at Christmas," made popular by the late Michael Jackson. Yes, some day at Christmas, when I could wake up on a peaceful morning and welcome yet another special day with my loved ones around me and the Christ Child in my heart.

When I would be able to say, "Finally! All is well and now blind kids will have an equal opportunity to be like their mainstream counterparts." When they can play with mainstream toys and be able to use cell phones and IPods just like sighted kids. When they would be able to play with games just like their sighted friends and not have to worry about inaccessibility. When their classrooms and playgrounds would be free of accessibility barriers and they would have an equal opportunity to just be kids!

Some day at Christmas, when I could go to bed just before Santa makes his rounds knowing that all of my wishes have been granted. That all websites have been made accessible. That all supermarkets and stores have been made fully accessible to blind persons. That online courses and distance learning have all been made accessible and usable to blind persons. That blind persons have equal access to all reading materials in the same way that sighted persons do.

Some day at Christmas, after Santa has come and gone leaving a huge package for me under my Christmas tree, I could wake up and say "Finally! The banks have finally gotten it! Their ATMs are now fully accessible. Blind persons can now access all point of sale devices and touch screens without having to ask for sighted assistance. Blind passengers can now access kiosks at airports, they can enjoy movies on board airplanes, and no more problems at airports, train stations, and bus terminals for them."

Some day at Christmas, as I sit quietly in a church along with others waiting for the Christmas mass to begin, I could say, "Thank you, God, for ensuring that from now on society will treat blind persons as normal persons who can function on their own and the only thing wrong with them is that they are unable to see."

Some day at Christmas! Ah, yes, it is only my dreams but who says that dreams don't come true? The smell of cookies baking in my kitchen is real! Christmas carols being played around me are real! Children laughing and families decorating are real! Is it too much for me to ask Santa to help make my dreams come true?

The late Steve Jobs made some of my dreams and those of other blind persons come true! Dare I dream that there could be another Steve Jobs out there just waiting to bring hope to the blind world?

I'm Donna J. Jodhan, wishing you a very merry Christmas!
Joyeux Nočl! Feliz Navidad!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

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!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Little Christmas tree

It was the night before Christmas and in my dreams, I slipped lazily and happily into memory lane. Another time had come and as I stood there, the little Christmas tree twinkled in front of my eyes. The tree smelled so wonderful! It gave off the scent of warm pine. The colored lights danced in front of my eyes as they took turns blinking on and off.

I moved oh so carefully towards my little Christmas tree, being careful not to step on packages neatly piled in front of it. I had to get as close as I could so as to see everything. My partial sight only allowed me the luxury of seeing things very close up and at best only a few things at a time. Nevertheless, it was enough for me.

I gingerly reached out and placed my index finger on one of the little lights, a little yellow one. Then I took my time at identifying other colors. Red, blue, and green. Then I had to take my time at finding a spot where there were no lights. I found it after a few moments and I held a tiny portion of a branch between my fingers.

Next I looked upwards and found the star at the very top. I stood gazing for quite some time thinking of the story that my parents would tell me every Christmas; the night that Jesus was born. What a lovely memory for me. Then I bent down and felt for some of the packages and finally I made my way to where the manger had been set up. There I spent most of my time, examining each little figure: Baby Jesus in the arms of Mary and Joseph, the three Wise Men, the shepherds, and the animals.

Ah! That was a memory of when I was a child and had enough vision to see it all. Now I can only recall this memory each Christmas and that’s okay for me. At least I have a memory that I can recall and one that I can cherish forever. Merry Christmas everyone!

I’m Donna J. Jodhan your friendly accessibility advocate wishing you happy Christmas dreams!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

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. I loved 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 loved walking in the snow and watching 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 intact 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 intermingle 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. I will see you again in the New Year.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Under the Christmas tree

It may not be yet Christmas but boy do I have some wonderful memories to share with you. Memories of me as a child with very little vision enjoying my experiences under our family’s Christmas tree. I had enough vision then to see the lights in their different colors. I could see the other decorations on the tree, as well, but I did not have quite enough vision to help decorate the tree.

That was okay by me. I enjoyed smelling the fragrant pine of our live tree. At night, I would crawl under our tree and lie quietly among the presents taking care not to crush any of them. My two brothers were always trying to peak into their presents and they would let me have a feel of mine. I would shake them to see if I could tell what mine were but my brothers would peak and tell. Oh, how much fun it was then.

I always loved our Christmas tree and everything that went with it. I loved everything about those wonderful trees. The smell of them, what lay under them, and what was placed on and around them. Ah yes! Under the Christmas tree!

I’m Donna J. Jodhan, your friendly accessibility advocate, wishing you a terrific day and urging you to go out there and tell others about my memories of being under my Christmas tree. Visit me at to learn more.

Friday, December 16, 2011

My first vision of the sun and the moon

Two more memories for me to share with you! My very first memories of being able to see the sun and the moon. What brilliance and what beauty! Things that many would take for granted but for me it was a total treat, a luxury, and keepsakes forever.

It is somewhat difficult for me to put it all into words but I am going to try. The sun in all of its glory: a golden ball of orange at sunrise, a huge blob of yellow at noon, and a gentle pink at sunset. The moon: a big round brilliant light high in the sky, smiling down on me. The moon, silver at times, then I am not sure how else to describe it.

The sun: peeping through the trees, shining down on a blue sea, rising above the horizon, and sinking in the west. The moon: smiling down on me on a moonlit night, a big round face in the night’s sky, and lighting the path in a peaceful park or following me as I walk along a sandy beach.

I can no longer see these two wonders of nature but I can still feel the sun on my face whenever I go outdoors. As for the moon, I have to use my memory and imagination to keep it in my mind forever.

I’m Donna J. Jodhan, your friendly accessibility advocate, wishing you a terrific day. Visit to learn more.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

When I first saw birds

I shall never forget the day when I was first able to see birds. It happened on a beautiful spring day as I was standing in a quiet park in Montreal. I had just had a cornea transplant and it was about 3 weeks later and I was just getting used to a whole new world made up of a plethora of objects, colors, scenes, faces, shapes, and so much more.

At first, I did not know that it was a bird that I had seen and it took me a few minutes to figure it out. The bird flew a few feet in front of me and was of a bright yellow color. It flew quickly by but what clued me in was when I heard it singing close by. I did not get a chance to see birds again until I traveled to the Caribbean a few months later and then it was just a magnificent picture for me!

Ah yes! Birds of all colors! Birds of all sizes and birds all around me. Now I could see and hear them all at the same time and I soon learned how to draw them close to me: by offering them food, of course! A brilliant memory forever.

I’m Donna J. Jodhan, your friendly accessibility advocate, wishing you a terrific day and encouraging you to go out there and tell others about my experience. Come visit me at

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When I first saw TV

Of course, the mainstream world takes for granted being able to sit and watch TV from the comfort of their homes. For me, watching TV was a great excitement and luxury when I was first able to see it after gaining vision. What amazed me the most was that I was able to see faces, bright colors, and scenery.

I was able to see how the camera would focus on a person whenever they went to speak, something that I could never know about and discover until I got my vision. I was able to see a hockey game and watch the players skate swiftly up the ice holding their sticks, and then I could see the puck lying on the ice, the blue lines, and players battling each other for the puck.

I enjoyed being able to see scenery, ice skating competitions, the Santa Claus parades, and so much more. I was so attracted to the fast, action-packed shows and much more. Seeing TV for the first time was simply a memory that I will always keep close to me.

I’m Donna J. Jodhan, your friendly accessibility advocate, wishing you a terrific day and inviting you to go out there and tell others about my experiences.
Visit to learn more.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A blind perspective of a computer screen

In most cases when a blind employee navigates their screen, they do so by using their keyboard exclusively. Whereas a sighted employee uses their mouse to point and click, a blind employee uses their keys to do the same. They depend on shortcut keys to get them where they need to be on the screen.

For sighted persons, their dependence on a mouse is almost exclusive and for a blind employee, their dependence on shortcut keys is almost exclusive. The tab, control, escape, and alt keys are a blind employee’s best friend. Or should I say a blind person’s best friends. Various combination's of these keys are also best friends and of course there is the find command to help a blind person find things quickly.

This is how blind persons navigate their screen. In the workplace, a blind employee can be just as fast as a sighted person when navigating the screen. The one huge challenge comes when a screen freezes and a blind employee is unable to tell what is going on because their access technology software is unable to speak. Such situations would be during circumstances such as: A system crash, a hard drive failure, or a screen interruption. A blind employee would also depend on any sound that their computer gives off in order to help them navigate their screen and/or decipher what may be going on.

For someone with enough vision to identify colors, they may use their vision to help them identify such things as: Where the cursor is, an image on the screen, and maybe location of fields and icons and/or images. Some blind persons use screen magnifiers to help them navigate while others use closed circuit TV devices. It all depends on the level of vision.

I’m Donna J. Jodhan, your friendly accessibility advocate, wishing you a terrific day and encouraging you to go out there and share my words with others.
Visit to learn more.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Navigating the subway

Now that my vision is down to bare bones, I am very careful whenever I step into a subway station. First, I make sure that I can find my way safely down to the platform. Next, I use my keen sense of hearing to listen for approaching trains, and lastly, I ensure that I am far away enough from the edge of the platform by using my trusty cane.

There was a time when I could use my limited vision to see the edge of the platform and to see the approaching headlights of the engine, but now that my vision is no longer adequate enough, my sense of hearing has kicked in.

My cane is my most trusted traveling companion. I also use it along with my sense of hearing to find the door of the train and to locate an empty seat. It takes a lot of concentration on my part and a set of nerves of steel to do all of this. With subway stations becoming more crowded with more travelers, I have to be more aware of my surroundings and everything else.

I’m Donna J. Jodhan, your friendly accessibility advocate, wishing you a terrific day and encouraging you to go out there and tell others about my blogs. Come visit me at

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Waiting on the bus

Well, I have to tell you that waiting on the bus is really no different for me than it is for a sighted person. Whereas a sighted person can see the bus coming, I merely depend on my sense of hearing. There was a time when I could see the bus approaching at close quarters, but no more.

Now I listen for its approach and when it stops I follow other passengers to the door. I use my cane to help me find the door and then I climb aboard along with my fellow passengers. Very often, I receive help from any one of my fellow passengers. Most bus drivers are extremely helpful and they call out the stops as the bus travels and stops. I normally ask them to tell me when they get to my stop and they are always happy to oblige.

In Toronto, there is legislation to ensure that bus stops are announced so all of this helps. I love traveling by bus.

I’m Donna J. Jodhan, your friendly accessibility advocate, wishing you a terrific day and asking you to go out there and share my words with others. Visit to learn more.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Steve Jobs, a man forever!

No one can dispute the fact that this man was so many things to so many people. Not just the co-founder and former CEO of Apple INC, but a visionary, a leader, a technological giant, someone who understood the needs of the market, and above all, someone who dared to go where so many are still afraid to go.

Steve Jobs did for the disabled world what so many are either still not willing or able to do or do not understand how to do it. Under his leadership, Apple designed and incorporated accessibility into their product lines. He opened a world for the blind community so that today, access to Apple's mobile devices is no longer a dream but a mere reality. We as blind consumers can now use IPods, IPhones, and IPads just like anyone else; we have now become a part of the mainstream world. No more having to wait for another manufacturer to decide when they would be ready to include us as consumers. No more having to buy additional access technology software to incorporate it into mainstream technology so that we can use the mainstream technology like anyone else.

In other words: When blind persons buy Apple products, they can buy it straight off the shelf and use it like anyone else. They do not have to purchase access technology at exorbitant prices and then install or incorporate it into mainstream technology. Now we can download our own music without sighted assistance and we can communicate with the rest of the world whenever we want and wherever we choose.

For years now, several blind musicians have been telling me how much they enjoy using Apple products to work with music. Much easier, less problems with software, and above all, much less costly. Steve Jobs has opened up an entire new landscape for blind consumers and we can only hope that his successors continue on in his footsteps.

Thank you, Steve Jobs. I personally am eternally grateful to you for your vision, your innovation, and your insight. The world has lost a giant and history may not be able to duplicate your great works but your memory will live on for generations to come.

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

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Both ends of the medical spectrum

So, what am I talking about today? Well, it is as I have said: both ends of the medical spectrum. At one end you have the doctor who genuinely feels that there is no hope for his blind patient and at the other end there is the one who honestly believes that in my lifetime something or some breakthrough is going to come along and restore my vision.

I have seen both ends of the spectrum. Seven years ago I had the misfortune to run into Dr. William Dixon who told me, "You have reached the end of the line and in your lifetime there won't be anything for you." A few months ago I had the great pleasure of meeting Dr. Kraft who told me, "You never know! You're still young and something is going to come along and change things for you."

I judge no one and I criticize no one, but how different can attitudes be in this field! On the one hand you have a doctor who holds out no hope for you and on the other you have another who is the opposite.

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 others.
Come visit me at