Doing Beers with Grandma

Hey. Sort of blah today. Still getting used to the idea of no dog.

I am a spoiled brat and was sort of disappointed with my showing at the photo contest. A third and an honorable mention are not at all bad. I just have high expectations.

For some reason we are back to high Summer. It was over 90 Fahrenheit today, September 25. About the same yesterday. Along with mad dogs and Englishmen I have been out in the midday sun and I am hot! My body was gearing up for fall. Not feeling like fall now!

Then of course, since we are going to be away, my workload just more than doubled. Let’s give Sue another six kids to test. She’s going on vacation!

Oh well, better than never having a dog, six feet of snow and no interesting job. Although sometimes I feel a little too ‘blessed’.

One of the topics in the teachers’ lounge today was bizarre things your voice recognition software tells people you said. One of the milder ones was how “doing beets with Grandma” became “doing beers with Grandma.” Well, some grandmas might throw back a few. Just not my colleague’s.

I know fully sighted people produce text and other written things that make no sense. I send out plenty that is alternating perplexing and/or amusing and/or frustrating. Some of my mistakes I manage to catch. That said, though, the question in my mind became how do truly blind people proofread? After all, I may need the skill one day. [Lin/Linda: I wish I’d kept a list of all the crazy things I’ve gotten from Sue since we started this!]

Back in 2011 Ryan Cordell suggested using text-to-speech to read things back to yourself. He explains how on an Apple OS X device you can have what you wrote read back to you by just making a few changes in the settings. This can be helpful if you are composing reports or letters on your computer.

Stephanie Diamond wrote about using Dragon NaturallySpeaking to proof read. Diamond also suggested text-to-speech for proof reading. Dragon works on PCs and Macs. Since NaturallySpeaking records your voice as well as recognizing it, another option is to listen to what you really did say. Diamond added you can send documents received from elsewhere to your PC and have NaturallySpeaking read those too. [You’ll see this software as Dragon Naturally Speaking, too, with a space between Naturally & Speaking.]

And if you want a human opinion on not only the spelling and verbiage but other aspects of your writing, remember Be My Eyes (BME) is an app that connects blind people with sighted volunteers via live video chat.

According to an April, 2017 Lighthouse Media publication, Be My Eyes now has half a million volunteers! Whom you get when you call is random. You can call unlimited times.

No one is pushy or opinionated unless you ask them to be. Want to know if that shirt goes with those pants? You can ask that and get an opinion. And no one will ask you why you ignored the advice.

According to the article, BME is looking for more users. This could be a match made in Heaven.

So, there are a few ideas for proofreading. But please don’t get too perfect. I find some of the errors amusing!

written September 26th, 2017 Continue reading “Doing Beers with Grandma”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Doing Beers with Grandma
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Managing Medications

Never really thought about it in quite this way, but VisionAware has a series of ‘getting started as a visually impaired person’ posts. Sort of like a starter kit for a hobby. Instead of scrapbooking or constructing terrariums, we get visual impairment. “Oh, yes, did I tell you? I’m taking up visual impairment. This book says that in just six easy lessons ($19.99 each) I can have the start of a very promising visually impaired person. And the book says I can do this at home in my spare time!”

Uh, yeah. Really did not need another hobby…especially THIS one.

That is not to say, however, that a ‘how to’ series for vision loss newbies is not a fine idea. It is such a fine idea I am going to borrow shamelessly from them in writing this, and perhaps another page.

The page I am borrowing from is entitled Products and Devices to Help You Identify Your Medications. In that article they cover all sorts of clever ideas for trying to make sure we don’t poison ourselves. I vote for that!

Some of the suggestions in their article are as simple and low tech as keeping a black tray in the bathroom so you can have contrast to see your pills. Others are more high tech. The one I am going to focus on is a high tech option: audio description.

The VisionAware article mentions several different options for audio description devices to use with your medications. There is one manufactured by AccessaMed and there is another one called Talking Rx. But the one I want to talk about is ScripTalk. Why? Can’t write about everything in 500 words.

According to a disabilities lawyer (lflegal.com), many pharmacies are now offering talking labels and label readers for medication bottles. The lawyer’s website gives kudos to a number of chains. (We will ignore the thinly veiled attempt to drum up litigation business.)

I will get back to offering some chain names in a minute but first let’s talk about how this works. Apparently your pharmacist reads the label information into a device that digitizes the information and puts it on a little label that he attaches to the bottle. When you get it home, you have a reader that will allow you to hear what the pharmacist said.

Now, ScripTalk is offered through CVS, HEB, Walmart and Humana. It is a free service to satisfy the requirements of ADA. Of those four corporations, however, the article lists only the customer service numbers for CVS and WalMart. Got a pen? The CVS number is 800-746-7287. The Walmart mail-order pharmacy number is 1-888-237-3403.

Just because you are not in the States and subject to the ADA, does not mean you cannot get medicine bottle labels that talk to you. I have it on pretty good authority (the Vancouver Sun online from 10/07/2016) Shoppers Drug Mart was sued under Canadian accessibility laws and now offers ScripTalk, and free use of a ScripTalk reader.

In the United Kingdom Boots started offering talking medicine labels in 2006. (My, but the Colonies are Johnny-come-latelies on this!) Not exactly sure what is happening on this issue in Australia. Most of what I found there was about a general relabeling of all pharmaceuticals. Anyone know?

Call your pharmacy and see what they offer in the way of audio description labels and readers for your medications. If they have nothing it might be good to remind them this is an accessibility issue. Nothing then? I heard of this disability rights attorney….😱

Have a great evening. Don’t accidental poison yourself.

Written August 11th, 2017

Continue reading “Managing Medications”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Managing Medications
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Fighting the Mess

Morning. I am officially overwhelmed. I have said it before: my life is cluttered. My house is cluttered. Sometimes even my mind is cluttered. On one level I realize this is not good for someone with visual impairment. It means I lose things. Lots of things. More things that I ever used to lose.

On another level, dealing with the mess can be just plain overwhelming. I don’t feel like tackling it. Sometimes it is a lot easier to buy new or do without.

Generally, the mess wins no matter what I do.

This morning things reached critical mass – again – and I figured I had better do something about it before it blew up. Parts of my half-hearted effort were to sort laundry and get rid of articles I had printed out but never written a page on.

Laundry and vision loss articles…they may not be two great things that go great together, but one of the printed out articles I found from VisionAware was about blind people doing laundry.

Does that freak you out a bit when things come together like that? That cosmic convergence stuff? Does me.

Anyway, laundry is not that hard for me. I keep the setting the same (except for delicates) and stick a finger in the measuring cup to make sure I don’t run the cup over with detergent. Then I wipe my hand on a piece of clothing so I am not all detergent-y. If I have to change the setting, I use a light to make sure it is right. My handheld reader has a light and that works well.

What I liked were the suggestions they made for ironing. I admire you people who are organized enough to get things out of the dryer and hang them instantly. I know this avoids a lot of wrinkles. I am great for leaving the house with the dryer running or going to bed with it on. Clothes have sat in the dryer for days. Meaning? I iron every morning.

VisionAware has some really good ideas. Since we all know contrast is a good thing when you are low vision, having a solid color ironing board cover is good. They also suggest you get a heat-treated pad to set your iron on when you are moving the clothing, etc. That will allow the hot part to be down and you don’t burn yourself when you reach for it.

Those are the two things you might have to purchase. Ideas that involve things you probably would not have to purchase include using a funnel or a turkey baster to put water in the iron. Personally, I just use an old Febreze bottle and squirt things. Marking the proper setting so you don’t scorch things can be done with that raised marking stuff or even nail polish. [Lin/Linda: When Sue says ‘raised marking stuff’ she means using tactile pens.]

The last idea I liked was finding the iron by grabbing the cord first. If the contrast of the cord with everything else is poor, tie a ribbon on it! After all, safety first.

OK, back to the fight. Personally, I think I am going to lose again.

Written August 6th, 2017

Continue reading “Fighting the Mess”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Fighting the Mess
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

BlindSquare App

When I was at the Summer Academy a couple of people mentioned they were navigating with an app called BlindSquare. They asked if I used it and I was almost sheepish to admit my vision is still good enough to navigate with plain old Google Maps.  It is surprising how social norms change from place to place.  I felt like being blinder would have given me more ‘street cred’, but what the hey, I got by.

BlindSquare appears to be the app VIPs (Visually Impaired Persons) in the know use to navigate. According to its advertising BlindSquare is the “world’s most popular accessible GPS-app developed for the blind and visually impaired.” It is said to describe the environment, announce points of interest and also alert you to street intersections as you travel.

The home page says BlindSquare is self-voicing and has a dedicated speech synthesizer, whatever that means. There is an audio menu that can be accessed with the buttons on the side of your phone. Seeing the screen is not required.

BlindSquare announces your progress towards your destination. It marks your spot (sounds like Beastie Baby!) and can lead you back should you want to return. The app opens with voice over. BlindSquare ‘understands’ a variety of languages. These include many of the most ‘popular’ European languages as well as some others like Finnish and Romanian. The farthest east they go looks to be Turkish. The farthest south they go looks like Arabic.

Reading the comments it seemed to me the developers of BlindSquare are awesome people. They responded in the affirmative to just about all of the suggestions and have been adding languages right along.  Updates are added regularly.

Now for the bad news. BlindSquare is $40.00 in the App Store. There is a free version called Blindsq Event  available in the App Store but it is seriously pared down from the for a fee version. The pay version featured three or four pages of options and Blindsq Event featured one. I would say what  do you want for nothing, but my answer would be ‘the World!’ so I know better than to ask that question.

I just downloaded the free version and will play with it later. As always, I would love to have others’ opinions. Please download it and let us know what you think.

Those who have the pay BlindSquare, please chime in!

written August 2nd, 2017

Continue reading “BlindSquare App”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 5.00/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 5.00/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 3.00/5
BlindSquare App
Total Avg Rating: 4.35 out of 5 with based on 1 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Talking to Your ATM

Before I get on the topic of this page, I want to give you a quick FYI. If you remember, I mentioned my monocular was full of condensation. Could not see a thing! Although I think many of you know this anyway, I just wanted to remind you: don’t throw it away; dry it out. I plopped mine down in a nice, warm patch of sunshine and it is all better now. Hair dryers work, too. Microwaves do not. Monoculars have metal on them.

And from low tech aids to high tech….automated teller machine, ATMs, money machines, call them what you will, they are practically ubiquitous to modern life. Problem is, most of them require you to see and read that glary, little screen. Yippee.

I have sort of memorized the one I generally use. As long as the questions are the same and the answers are in the same places, I’m good. When I first lost a lot of vision and I had not mastered the routine, it was nasty.

If you are still able to see, don’t just mindlessly push buttons. When you use an ATM, think about what you are doing and master the sequencing and positioning. It will serve you if you lose sight later.

You may not have noticed but many, many ATMs have jacks for headsets. American Federation for the Blind reported there are 100,000 ATMs that are able to be operated by voice just in the States alone. All you need is a headset with a microphone. Plug in and do your banking. The ATM will ‘talk’ to you and guide you through the transaction.

I found a 2012 article from the Telegraph reporting Barclay’s had installed audio technology in three quarters of their cash machines in England and Wales. They should be farther along in the process now. The technology was reported to work with pretty much any standard headset.

The article went on to say Barclay’s had made the modifications when they realized people were being required to share security information in order to make simple transactions. They were also concerned about “small and fiddly” buttons – you guys know how to describe things😋 – and inconsistencies among machines.

Not sure how many other banks are actually providing talking ATMs. Be sure to inquire if you are interested – and even if you’re not. It is always good to give these people a nudge.

Prashant Naik did a nice comparison between the talking ATM and ATMs with public voice guidance. He reported that each screen is voiced but everything is private because you are hearing it through the headset. If you want to blank out the screen, you can. Naik also remarked upon larger fonts and better contrast if you do chose to use the screen. Naik in fact wrote 24 comparison points in his chart. He concludes the talking ATM is a superior product.

And btw, Naik is writing about India so these things are available internationally.

Once again, I have not tried an auditory ATM myself. I am telling you what I have read. I will occasionally try something and report but at the moment I am functional with what I have and if I bought everything – like headphones with a microphone for example – I would soon be in the poorhouse. Still hoping for some audience participation, guys. Who has used an auditory ATM? Stand and report!

written July 30th, 2017

Continue reading “Talking to Your ATM”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Talking to Your ATM
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Around the World of Books

Once again trying to be a ‘good’ or at least productive person and I am not getting very far. Only working part time this summer I have become rather unmotivated!

I finished listening to Rick Riordan’s The Dark Prophecy. That was through BARD. Just a note here confirming BARD has books for kids (real kids and kids in old lady bodies, like me!).

Not only do they have ‘chapter books’, they also offer picture books. I just downloaded Goodnight Moon, all two minutes of it. If you can no longer read to the grandchildren, BARD can come to your rescue. You just turn the pages and provide the hugs.

I also looked at Gutenberg.org a little more closely. They have thousands of titles, all in the public domain. That means the great majority of titles is over 100 years old. If you like the classics, they are available on Gutenberg.org and can be read on your NaturalReader. [To refresh your memory about NaturalReader, go to Sue’s pages Jabbering and Whoopsie.]

Oh, and they are looking for proof readers, too. A page a day would be acceptable. Apparently there was a 20 year moratorium on the ending of copyrights and it expires this winter. Gutenberg.org expects to be inundated by proof-reading work.

If you can edit and manage to read a page or two a day, you can help get the classics from early 20th century into the hands of people who may not be able to afford books.

That is in the States….

Looking for more sources of audiobooks, it appears Bookshare would be available to our international readers, all around the globe. Bookshare requires a statement by a ‘competent authority’ that you cannot access regular text. That could be a family doctor for you without access to vision professionals. Low and middle-income country citizens – countries like India, Egypt and Guatemala – pay $5 sign up fee and $10 annual membership fee for up to 200 books a month. Jeez, and I used to think I was a voracious reader!

Now, this being an American company, most of the books are in English. If you only understand Basque, you are limited to 110 titles. Could be worse. The Bulgarian speakers get 10. Germans hit the jackpot with 4,590. It would appear you should check their holdings before paying your money. Marathi speakers get 120 options. What IS Marathi, anyway?

Just browsing here it appears the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) has something similar to BARD in their Talking Book program. You must be a U.K. resident with a disability that does not allow you to read standard print. Not sure who makes that determination but the audiobooks look as if they are free.

And they give a tutorial on canes on their site! Nothing like a little ‘trivia’ lesson. White canes are guide canes for only visually impaired. Red and white canes are for the deaf/ blind. A long cane is used to help avoid obstacles and a symbol cane is to let people know you have sight loss and really did not run into them on purpose!

Ok. Now many of us know a little more than we knew 10 minutes ago. Anything else for the good of the order? Bye!

written July 23rd, 2017

Continue reading “Around the World of Books”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Around the World of Books
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me

Whoopsie!

Whoopsie. Errata alert. I discovered the NaturalReader does NOT support Kindle like I thought [see previous page Jabbering]. This is because Kindle books are DRM (Digital Rights Management) books. Also iBooks, Nook and Adobe Overdrive. DRM is related to copyright laws. There are ways to get around the software ‘locks’ and you can easily find these offered on the web. However, they are illegal and we try not to encourage criminal behavior. Rumor has it scofflaws use something called Calibre. And that is what I know about that subject. 😛 [Lin/Linda here: I had to look up ‘scofflaws’ in the last sentence.  It is “a person who flouts the law, especially by failing to comply with a law that is difficult to enforce effectively.”]

I looked at Gutenberg.org and found titles like “The Paper Currency of England Dispassionately Considered”. Whoa.

Numismatists study coins AND paper money (thought it was just coins). Hopefully they would be enticed by that title. Me? Not so much.

So far on a cyber search of non-DRM ebook sources I find nuthin’. So for right now for ebooks on NaturalReader I guess it is Gutenberg.org or nothing. Remember if you are legally blind like moi, you can get BARD. I am just finishing listening to John Sandford’s Golden Prey. Love Lucas Davenport. Also, ebooks will zoom on a tablet so those with less of a vision loss can go that route. Sorry I fed you bum info.

And in other news, I passed the 100 mile mark on my bike today! This summer I have been using it for transportation. I realize for many of you your cycling days may be behind you; however, for those of you who can still ride and live in an area conducive to bike travel, it can be an option. Traveling at 7 miles an hour it is easier not to run into things than when you are traveling at 70 mph.

Of course, I almost had my first accident today. I was riding in the street parallel to some guy on a Jazzy (electric wheelchair) on the sidewalk. He decided he wanted to go across the street, swerved right and nearly took me out!

Maybe I should get a bell for my bike…or one of those horns with the red bulb. Anyway, glad I was able to avoid him. How do you explain being taken out by a Jazzy? It would be humiliating.

And because I am again prattling about things totally unrelated and of no great importance – and because I need about 150 more words! – I wanted to ask if you folks knew we are creating great investment opportunities? OK, maybe not us personally but I found a BusinessWire report on Global Age-Related Macular Degeneration Partnering Deals. They are hyping advice about buying into research and development of AMD treatments! They think people can make buckets of money off of us!

Now, some people may think it is rather opportunistic of these potential investors, but I think it’s great. The only way they can make said buckets of money is to invest in treatment we will buy. That generally means something that will work. If research is stirring up enough interest for people to be buying AMD specific investment advice, things have to be happening!

And that is the end of this page😁 Continue reading “Whoopsie!”

Ratings

  • Rate this
  • Summary
Current Average Ratings
Overall quality
Avg: 0/5
Applies to topic
Avg: 0/5
Helpful to me
Avg: 0/5
Whoopsie!
Total Avg Rating: 0.00 out of 5 with based on 0 rating(s)
Overall quality
Applies to topic
Helpful to me