App Update

Back to the Daniel Roberts article. Actually sort of back to Roberts himself. I just watched a video of him using the LowViz Guide.  [Lin/Linda:  we published Sue’s page Comparison Shopping on June 5th, 2017, where she talked about Dan Roberts.]

The LowViz Guide was basically Roberts’ brainchild. It is an indoors navigation system. Can’t find your way around the hospital or the cruise ship? The LowViz Guide may be able to help.

I say maybe because the venue – be it conference center, hotel or hospital – has to have been tricked out with iBeacons. Your smart device ‘talks’ to the iBeacons, the iBeacons talk back and your device tells you where to go.

(I find that only fair since I have told my devices “where to go” on numerous occasions!)

In the video Roberts demonstrated the app has not only VoiceOver capabilities but also gives you ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ signals. The ‘cold’ signal is very irritating as, I guess, befits a message that is saying “wrong way, buddy!” It would make me want to go the proper direction just to shut it up. (A perfect example of negative reinforcement for you psychology students.)

There is an informative article on the LowViz Guide on the American Federation of the Blind website. It does not say where the iBeacons have been installed and I got the impression the cost of installing these things is not small.

The LowViz Guide app is downloadable for free from the app store. [Lin/Linda: I don’t see an Android version yet.] If you can get a list of places with iBeacons and you are actually going there it might be fun to see how it works.

Another new technology I found interesting was Aipoly. The ‘Ai’ in the name stands for artificial intelligence, of course. Funded by Google, according to Natasha Lomas in a 2015 article, Aipoly uses computer vision and machine learning technology to recognize what is going on in photos you take with your device. Aipoly is supposed to be able to identify multiple objects in a scene. It is also reported to be able to identify the relationships between things in the photo. For example, Aipoly would say something like girl eating ice cream. It is sort of like BeMyEyes minus the thousands of volunteers.

The whole process can take as little as five seconds to have a scene described. The longest time is said to be about 20 seconds.

The most seriously cool feature of Aipoly -and one that will undoubtedly interest our readers in Massachusetts – is the system has the beginnings of the ability to identify facial expression!

As of the writing in 2015, the system was starting to be able to recognize very exaggerated facial expressions! It is not yet ready to describe subtle expressions but there is hope.

Be aware this system does not work in real time, but they are trying to get there. They are also trying to get it into as many hands as possible. I am downloading a free version from the App store even as I am writing this. They have also come out with an Android version. Not sure if there is a cost for that or not. [Lin/Linda: It is free, too.]

I will let you know how it works later. Taking some time to load. And, by the way, I don’t have to be the only product tester. Feel free to download it and experiment yourself. Continue reading “App Update”

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How Many Favors?

One of the problems with being a cockeyed optimist and a Pollyanna is I always expect good things and relatively easy sailing. When that doesn’t happen, frankly, I become perturbed. I HATE to be thwarted.

Last evening I started downloading Golden Prey (book by John Sandford) from BARD. It has stopped several times since then.

I think it has to do with too much in my iPad memory. My ability to clutter up my environment extends to technology and cyberspace!

Another case of “do as I say, not as I do”. Deleting books you have already listened to is fine. You can always get them again. FYI for you non-technical savvy folks, your devices will run faster if you do.

My schedule is changing for the summer and I have to figure that out. Transportation will only pick up until 7 pm. After that my coach turns into a pumpkin! (Of course, for some of the ‘lemons’ I have ridden in, that would be an improvement!)

I have been picking up signs a woman who has dutifully transported me up for the last 15 months has gotten tired of it and needs a break. Changing my schedule so that I can ride my bike at least some of the time and take up some of the rest of the slack with transportation should work. I also have a co-worker who has started to take some of the same classes and who has offered to haul me. Also another gym friend.

People truly are wonderful and generous but they are not saints. Problem becomes they hate to let you down and will keep on helping even when it is no longer convenient.

I am starting to think I need some sort of rotation system. I already try to limit how many times I impose in one week. I try to keep it under three rides – counting someplace and back as two – a week for any one person. Except my husband, of course. He drew the short straw when he married me!😜

Once again there needs to be some sort of etiquette book for this! Any ideas about the ride dilemma? How many favors for the old, visually impaired chick is too many?

Still haven’t got the new pool liner. Got that call at 7 am as the rain poured down.

And my frustration that you may actually care about….Aipoly, or at least the free version I downloaded, did not live up to its hype! My diet Pepsi bottle was “a wine bottle” (however, that is a thought!) and my glare glasses were “one string of headphones”. I got too close to my sandal when I took the photo so that was “a basket” although when I pulled back and tried again, Aipoly got it right.

Now, in all fairness, I am cheap. The word free can be music to my ears. There is an Aipoly version for slightly less than $5 per month. That one is supposed to be much ‘smarter’. Since I am cheap and not in need of such a service yet, and since I can never remember to cancel those damn ‘free’ trials, I’m not downloading it. If you are in need of such a service and can remember to cancel a free trial, try it and get back to us please.

Type at ya later! Continue reading “How Many Favors?”

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Parts Is Parts

Today was sort of an ‘eye day’. Spent most of my day talking about vision or dealing with my ‘toys’. “Mama said there would be days like this.” [Lin/Linda: I don’t know if Sue intended this but this song came to mind!]

Toys first: my CCTV is broken again.

Apparently when they say portable they don’t mean what I mean: hauled everywhere and set up and torn down twice or three times a day. I lost another pop rivet so my document tray does not slide properly.

Also, my vertical hold comes and goes. Remember Outer Limits? “We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical.” Whoever is controlling this is not me. It gets flipping enough to make me sea sick!

For future reference should you have this problem, we think it might be a loose wire. When I flipped the camera to distance viewing and brought it back, the flipping stopped.

Needless to say, it is going into the shop. It is going into the shop as soon as I get a loaner; that is…..Oh, and I am not paying the $50 diagnostic fee either. The cursed thing has a two-year warranty.

What can I say? I am hard on parts.

[Lin/Linda: if you were wondering about the title, when I read the above sentence, my mind went to the Wendy’s TV commercial where the catchy line is “parts is parts”.  Click here for the commercial.]

Today was also the vision loss support group. As anticipated, I was the youngest one in the group. I was also the most informed. I am half ashamed to admit that I ‘held court’ and lectured on my toys and some of what I considered to be AMD basics. The ladies – and they were all ladies – seemed receptive and asked me back.

I was a bit disturbed that several of the ladies admitted to owning iPads and having shoved them in a drawer!  They have no background or understanding of computers and they are afraid of them. The lack of knowledge about basic electronics – especially things that can make your life 100 times easier – was scary.

When I said you could get things in the app store I was asked if that was in this town or a town nearby! Oh my….

Which made me think some of you may be in the same boat.

The App Store is a blue and white icon on your desktop. It has a big A right in the middle.

Touch the icon/symbol and you will get a page of whatever apps they are featuring, often games. In the upper right hand corner there is a gray box that says search. Touch that and you should get a keyboard. Type in a keyword or phrase and then touch enter. Examples of keywords might be magnifiers, low vision apps, or knfbreader. Remember many apps are free but some like the knfbreader are for a fee. The ones for a fee you will need an Apple account. Actually, I think you need an account no matter. I always have to put my password in to approve the download. Lin, what do we have about opening an Apple account? [Lin/Linda: I’m posing that information below.]

That is about it for now. I have to email the group leader and remind her about passwords. Next month they are bringing their iPads!


Click here for a good place to start learning about your iPad.

Click here for instructions on how to create an Apple ID.

Click here for the ‘Dummies’ series For Seniors: Use the iPad Online User Guide.  There are also topics on this website about iPhones and Android devices (smartphones & tablets).

Continue reading “Parts Is Parts”

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Can An Old Dog Learn Braille?

A reader made a suggestion I could learn Braille. At first it sounded sort of fanciful. I am 63 years old and she wants this old dog to learn new tricks! I am sure it is REALLY hard. I am sure it will take me FOREVER.

Then I thought I should practice what I preach. Turn the mind and be willing. I could at least look into it….besides, it is good for a page and I am running out of ideas. Anyone else out there willing to share? I could use a little more, wonderful help like we got from Lara, Jennifer, Rick and Andrea.

VisionAware has a page on All About Braille. They tell us Louis Braille invented the system in France in the mid-1800s. Braille ‘cells’ are made up of two columns of three rows. Each letter and symbols is made up of a pattern of one or more dots.

The letter ‘s’ is dots in the second column-first row, 1-2 and 1-3. U is 1-1, 1-3 and 2-3. E is 1-1 and 2-1. There! I spelled my name!

I probably would want to learn alphabetic Braille first. That is letter by letter Braille. There is also a form called condensed Braille in which whole words are represented by one cell of dots.

Being part of the special education system, I know a little bit about sign language for the deaf. American Sign Language is not just standard English you ‘speak’ with your hands. It is its own language with its own rules and specialized characteristics. Condensed Braille reminded me of that. It is also just one of a number of systems, just like ASL.

Problems with learning Braille as an older adult include finger sensitivity. Some people are blind because of complications of diabetes. Diabetic nerve damage may interfere with learning Braille.

Right now, I really don’t see Braille as an option for me. Not totally because it would be difficult and time consuming to learn, although those are factors. The major reason is right now I have options that work for me just fine.

I have magnification through my CCTV, reader and iPad, as well as ZoomText on my work PC’s. My computers and my phone also have options that allow me to be read to. I don’t use those options simply because they are so dang irritating! However, if I get to the point I cannot navigate around my desktop or my phone, I may be happy to have them.   [You can review how Sue uses these by going to her pages A Day in the Life and A Day in the Life: Work Day.]

And speaking of being read to, don’t forget my KNFB Reader. Then there are BARD books and the newspapers on my phone.

If I want to write as opposed to read, I do have a few touch typing skills. Speech-to-text is also available to me. Of course, we all know some of the things that happen there.

For example: I tried to speech to text the text “we find our adventures where we can” and the message my friend got was “we find our dentures where we can.” Took a while for her to stop giggling.

OK. Gotta go. I have a staff party tonight and I still have no idea what I am going to wear. Could be worse. At least I don’t have to find my teeth!

Click here for an article on how Braille is useful on the job in case Sue changes her mind. ::smile::

Continue reading “Can An Old Dog Learn Braille?”

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About the ADA

There was an interesting comment this week on the website in response to my page One Year Anniversary: Part 1 What I’ve Learned.  I was asked why I would have to quit my job when my vision got worse. The reader asked if the school was not obligated to accommodate me. She cited ADA.

The answer to that question is yes, and no. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodations” to employees with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations are defined as “necessary and appropriate modifications and adjustments that do not impose a disproportionate or unfair burden upon the employer.” The burden can either be financial or it can be in efficiency of getting the job done.

On the job I am already being given reasonable accommodations. If you look back in the pages, you will discover I have accommodations in pretty much all aspects of the job. When I do classroom observations, I wear telescopic glasses. I use my CCTV to do file reviews and learn my kids’ educational histories. When I test, I have my testing manuals loaded on an iPad so I can zoom in and read the questions easily. The tech department took days to do that for me! I use my CCTV again to record answers on the answer sheets. When I write reports with the assessment results I use ZoomText. Lots of reasonable accommodations in my work day!

When I become unable to see my kids to do observation, unable to read test questions to them or record their answers, I will have to stop working. Requiring the school to hire someone to do all that for me so I could ‘sort of’ do my job would be an unfair burden. I would not be doing my job, my helper would and the school would be paying two salaries. That is not fair not appropriate.

In basic terms, ADA does not require an employer to carry the dead weight of a disabled employee when she cannot do the job. What it does is allow those who can still function pretty well to keep working by changing just a few things.

The reader asked if learning Braille would not allow me to keep working. That is an intriguing idea and I may research and write a page on learning Braille as an older adult. Braille, however, would not let me keep my school job. Braille will not help me see what types of mistakes Johnny is making on his math papers. Braille won’t allow me to see how Susie is daydreaming in class. Those are integral parts of my job that require sight.

So, to summarize, ADA moves barriers off the playing field so the disabled worker can run down the field himself. Under his own power. ADA does not require the employer to carry the employee down the field on his back. I have reasonable accommodations per ADA but when I cannot fulfill my job duties using them, I am done. ADA cannot help me.

The learning Braille in my 60s idea? I will get back to you on that.

Continue reading “About the ADA”

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A Day in the Life: Work Day

Sunday evening and I am getting ready to start another week. Wow. I was always told time goes faster as you get older but sometimes it is ridiculous!

I was also told time flies when you are having fun, so I guess I am having fun! And, yes, it is possible to have fun with AMD.

Maybe we can do a book or an infomercial on that: Fun with AMD. Sort of like Fun with Flags from the Big Bang Theory. Any thoughts on content?

Anyway, I went to my exercise classes and wrote a couple of pages yesterday. Walked Beastie Baby. Today was a haircut and a trip to the local warehouse store. Also actually wrote that report I was putting off. Sorted some laundry. Found an audiobook I want to listen to. Busy, busy, busy.

But for me, busy, busy, busy is better, better, better.  Not only do you distract yourself with activities, but you get to use your talents.  Sometime in Sunday school I learned we are supposed to use what we were given. It was never said you use what you were given until you start going blind.

So onward! Lin suggested I do a page on a normal weekday. Okey dokey. Monday.

The time I get up is determined by what time the crazy transportation company says it is going to pick me up. I have learned I also need to be ready about 15 minutes before they said they would be here because they are frequently early. Jeez. Flexibility is a virtue.

Monday is different from a weekend day because I have to really be sure my clothes match. I cannot slink home in humiliation in an hour or so because colors I thought were one thing are another and clash….badly.

OttLight

I have a small OttLite on my ironing board but the best bet is still natural light. If all else fails, I ask my husband “what color is this?”

If we were talking Thursday for the weekday, I have to make sure I have everything I need for the entire day. That means I get on transportation with CCTV, purse, briefcase, lunch, yoga mat and workout clothes. Having a good memory and a strong back are also virtues.

Justand V2

Back to Monday. At school I set-up my portable CCTV. I turn on my computer and ZoomText is soon up and running. These things are invaluable. At home I often crank the font size up to 28, but all that magnifies is the text. ZoomText does everything on the screen. If you are on your computer all day, ZoomText is worth the investment. Also LOVE my CCTV, but the price on that is salty and you can get similar results with an iPad and Justand.

Sue’s Eschenbach Smartlux Digital Magnifyer

I check for lunch choices with my handheld reader. I also read anything I cannot get to my CCTV with the reader. Something nice about the reader is I can hold it up to something slightly above my head and take a photo of it. Nice little feature.

Since I was always dropping my reader – slippery little devil! – we put a lanyard on the arm on the back. I can wrap the strap around my hand. It has gone on the floor much less since.

 

To review some of these devices, check out Sue’s page A Day in the Life.

Sue’s Telescopic Glasses

My telescopic glasses help me do student observations. I look like an alien, but the kids are used to it.

Books such as testing manuals have been scanned onto my iPad. My tech person at school did 90% of the work but I also scanned. It was a bit labor intensive but it allows me to read questions and score.

That is pretty much a work day. Questions? Continue reading “A Day in the Life: Work Day”

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Mess of Topics

How about a conglomeration this time? Excellent synonym for a mixed up mess of topics.

OK. Payment methods. That article just went into several different kinds of secure (we hope) payment systems that have sprung up since all of the credit card fraud and hacking has been occurring. These systems put an extra layer between your information and the outside world. Example: PayPal. I am betting most of you know MUCH more about them than I do.

Second topic: an observation I have made about myself recently is how little I actually wear my glasses any more. I am not finding them all that useful. Sort of discouraging considering this is the pair with all the bells and whistles and set me back $841!

I find the bifocals are not helpful at all when I am trying to read. The far point correction does not help either.

What works best with the CCTV and the zoom on the iPad is to ‘naked eye’ it. Anyone else experiencing that?

Oh, iPad. While I am thinking about it, I want to mention I just upgraded the system on my iPad mini. I think they enhanced the pinch and zoom feature. I tried to find something addressing it online but could not find anything. Just the same I believe zoom is working a couple of places it did not before. Writing my emails for example. I also think it zooms a little larger. I have been using the zoom window feature from the accessibility menu less since the upgrade. That feature can get a little flippy on me. Sometimes it sticks and sometimes you push a little too hard and your screen goes flying off. Maybe this will be a better option.

[Lin/Linda here:  There are several new accessibility features in iOS Version 10. Here’s an article with 4 of them.  One of the new features allows your iPhone camera to become an electronic magnifier. Here’s how to set it up.]

That was third topic. Back to the second topic I also find I don’t mind the gap (apologizes to the Londoners out there. I could not resist the pun) in my vision so badly if I don’t wear my specs. I have been myopic for over 50 years and without my glasses the fuzzy caused by the GA blends in with the rest of the blur. Strangely normalizing for me.

Bringing up another stray thought. Do you think people with a history of crappy eye sight adapt better to the problems of AMD and visual impairment in general? It would make sense.

Topic last: I am still trying soooo hard to turn my mind and adapt to this new reality. It is killing me! In case you have not figured this out (a little slow on the uptake? 😋), I like to take charge. I think I have great ideas! Stepping back and letting others take the lead on this fitness community party thing is ridiculously hard. Can I run around freely and do what needs to be done? Ahhh, no. Therefore can I take the lead? Not really. Still want to. Old war horse here. What a momentous pain in the tush is AMD! Continue reading “Mess of Topics”

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