The Stuff of Life

Good morning. Fair warning; I might just ramble on this page. A bunch of little things happening. Nothing major.

Of course, little irritations are the stuff of life. I am also thinking they are more the stuff of low vision life.

I am waiting for transportation but I have no idea when they are coming. I got a call but the recording never clicked on. That meant anywhere from one minute to a half an hour. Better than yesterday. Yesterday they never bothered to put me on the schedule!

Fortunately my husband was able to take me. I seem to have a large number of ‘saviors’. Did I tell you a total stranger gave me a ride home from yoga? I was sort of stuck. The stranger told me she has been taking class behind me for six months. Couldn’t prove it by me.

That is a bit embarrassing. The next class also gave me a problem. I really wanted to talk to her but I could not see if she were there or not. What was I supposed to do? Walk down the back row staring at people? That would have been a bit weird.

I finally decided she had been told (and had observed!) that I am visually impaired. If she wanted to talk to me, she needed to speak to me first.

Why doesn’t someone write an etiquette book for these things? Miss Manners for the Proper Low Vision Sufferer!?!? There have to be some sort of rules! I get frustrated having to reinvent the wheel all of the time.

I got my CCTV back from the repair shop. I held on to the loaner a few days just to be sure all was well with mine. Also because returning the loaner was a semi-major event. Pack it up with all sorts of cushioning. That, of course, made it all a little too much for the box so one of us had to hold it closed while the other one taped. Then I discovered they had neglected to include free shipping labels so I needed to call for them. No to mention getting the bulky box out the door and to UPS!

(UPS will pick up. You can schedule a pick up by calling 800-pick ups which is 800-742-5877. However, their website does mention a ‘residential surcharge’. How much, no clue. We are the strong back and weak mind type and just always take things to the store.)

It would be nice if there were local repair options but I don’t believe there are. FYI, though, when I was not sure the company was going to be able to supply me with a loaner, I called Blindness and Visual Services. As a former client I could have borrowed one from them, quality not guaranteed. Pack that one away in your memory for a rainy day with a ‘sick’ CCTV.

Last thing for this post, I have my first visually impaired counseling client! I won’t say much about that person because of confidentiality. Instead, just a quick comment about my (of course!😜) thoughts on it. To wit: it is happening slowly but it is happening. Remember that stuff about God closing a door and opening a window? The stuff about not forcing your fate???? How about “build it and they will come”? There you go! We are building and they are coming. Cool. Continue reading “The Stuff of Life”

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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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A Day in the Life

Hello. Lin told me she has a number of new people in the Facebook group and that many of them may not be aware of the variety of assistive devices available to those of us with vision loss. Lin suggested I review the things I have and use in a typical day. I will do this here. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Please read with the understanding this is a cursory review only. More information is available in past pages. I will remind you how to search our website at the end of the page.
  • Also, I’m not specifically recommending anything since choosing these devices is a very personal thing based on the status of your eyes and what you want/need to do with the vision that you have.   What I use was selected for me by the counselors with Pennsylvania’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR) Bureau of Blindness and  Visual Services (BBVS or BVS) so that I could continue to work.
  • We don’t get any money or services for what we include in my pages.

Here goes…. A Day in the Life

Disclaimer: I am not recommending any particular service or project, just reporting on what works for me.

One option for a low zinc AREDS2 supplement.
One option for AREDS2 supplement

Today is Sunday so I can afford to be a tad lazy. When I get up I take my medication including my low zinc AREDS2 formula vitamins. There is not much help from taking these supplements in the advanced stages but the minor disease slowing they found at other stages is better than nothing if they do occur.

one source of low vision aids

Being the dutiful granddaughter of Welshmen, I have toast and tea (with milk, of course!) for breakfast. Simple preparations do not require great accommodations. However, if I were ‘Becky Home Ecky’, I would own all sorts of nifty, kitchen gadgets from the MaxiAids catalog.

iPad Mini
iPad Mini

Since it is Sunday, I grab my iPad Mini and plop down on the couch. My iPad has been my salvation. I can check my email by using the pinch and zoom feature. I also have larger text turned on. If you go to settings – general – accessibility you can find a dozen other things that may be helpful.

 

Apple App Store
Apple App Store

My habilitation person from Blindness and Visual Services literally stuffed my iPad with apps. The ones I actually use are Magnify and Freeze and a large button calculator. It is also sort of fun to demonstrate the wonders of technology to people using the KNFB Reader. There are about a dozen others on there. Some of them are for people with much worse vision than mine at present. Hope for the best and prepare for the worst; you know.  Today I have been carrying my iPad around while I do chores. I am listening to an Agatha Christie novel on my BARD app. Hercule Poirot is such a clever, little man.

ipadtotv
iPad screen bottom left of photo, enlarged onto TV

 

I can plug my iPad into the TV so that I can see everything on its screen.  I don’t use it much since I can use the Zoom feature on the iPad. Click here to find out how I connected them.

 

 

Magnilink Zip 17 portable CCTV
Magnilink Zip 17 portable CCTV

Since I start teaching again on Wednesday I have my portable CCTV setup which is the MagniLink Zip 17 (photo on left). That way I can review my notes and actually be able to see them! If the CCTV breaks (bite my tongue!) I can always fall back on the iPad with Justand V2 (photo on the right).

 

Ott flip light
Ott flip light

I’m going to need to put together an outfit to wear but I need extra light to make sure I’ve got the color right.  I put my little Ott flip light on the “ironing board in the bedroom to help with that.  I also have an Ott floor lamp in the bedroom for extra light.  I can put the little Ott in my purse if I need extra light to find something.

Speaking of my purse, I carry my iPad Mini, Smartlux reader and MaxTV lenses in my purse.

 

We did not go out to lunch today but if we had, I have my Smartlux reader/magnifier in my purse to read menus.

 

 

Glasses to cut down on glare
NOIR glares glasses
Small monicular
small monocular

Later when I take the Beastie Baby for her walkies I will have my glare glasses on and my monocular around my neck. Since the old darling and half of the other dogs get to run off lead at the dog park, it is good to be able to see which of our friends is across the field.

 

Sue's Telescopic Glasses
Max TV Telescopic Glasses

This evening if I want to watch TV, I have my Max TV telescopic glasses. I use those to do classroom observations at my school job. The little kids like them because my eyes look huge when I wear them. They can be handy in a store when I’m trying to find something.

 

 

Those are the basic, low vision tools I use at home. If this were a workday I would also tell you about the zoom text app on my work computer. Absolutely essential if you are using a standard PC.

Hope that quick review helped. Don’t give up hope. With technology, things can be a lot better. Remember, comparatively speaking, you are losing your vision at the best time in history thus far.

If you want to review the pages where I talk about these devices, you can use the 3 ways to search our website: 1) search website; 2) categories and 3) tags/keywords. You can find these either in the right-hand column or at the bottom of the page.
Continue reading “A Day in the Life”

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To a Good Home

This page is bad news, good news. First the bad news: my CCTV popped a pop rivet. For those of you who are as woefully ignorant of all things mechanical as I am, a pop rivet is a little piece of metal that goes through two holes to hold two pieces of metal together. They differ from screws in that you don’t screw them in and they stay in place because the tool used flattens them at both ends.

The pop rivet came out of the metal track my document tray rides on. The track kept sliding and allowing the tray to pull out a lot farther than it was supposed to. The whole machine nearly toppled into my lap a couple of times.

Looked like a fairly easy fix to me, but then what do I know?  I was raised on “good enough for poor people” when it came to home repairs.

That was my father’s version of DBT’s ‘effectively’ concept. If it gets the job done, who cares about right or pretty?

Anyway, I called my BVS case manager. I was thinking someone locally could pop in a $.03 pop rivet. He in turn called the equipment sales guy and the sales guy wanted me to send my machine back!

Hold on! Wait! Why don’t we just chop off an arm here? I NEED my machine. I am able to work because I have this machine!

We compromised. I get to keep my machine until a new one comes. Apparently there is a decent warranty on these things and it covers popped pop rivets.

I feel bad about it. Quite frankly I love my machine. It made me functional again. I feel sort of disloyal sending it back for a lousy missing pop rivet. Just the same, the new one is on its way. The company is making good.

Having this happen made me wonder if once they put a new pop rivet in my machine would it still go to a good home? I decided to look on line and see what the story is.

I went on line and found four or five places that sell “pre-owned equipment for the visually impaired”.  They were all companies and not individuals.  Most of the same sites came up when I also searched for “refurbished” equipment for the visually impaired.

You might, however, want to be careful searching for the word refurbished. When I looked at the sites that came up under that heading most of what I found looked new and had ‘new’ prices. Check things out well.

About the best selection I found was New England Vision and Blindness. They had a list of equipment with the age and a rating of the condition of each piece. The problem with this list was it was last updated nine months prior to my search.

On the other hand New English Vision and Blindness offered a link to – where else? – Amazon and the five or so pieces listed there were available for immediate shipping. The prices for used CCTVs were about $1200 less than my new one had been.

Again, no endorsement. I am reporting I found the site, not saying to shop there.

So, for what it is worth, my CCTV company is honoring the warranty. My CCTV is going back and hopefully will be repaired and sold to another good home. Pre-owned equipment is available. It is a tad cheaper. There might be something for you through a reseller. If it is my CCTV, give it a good home, please.

Continue reading “To a Good Home”

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