THE CONSUMER VISION, JULY, 2007
Bob Branco, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher
Advisory Committee: Dan Germano, Marianne Martin, Lisa Saulnier, Charles Soforenko, Gail Teixeira, Larry Teixeira and Clayton Wall
Ad Design and Formatting: Rachel Gracia
Treasurer: Maureen Bussey
If you would like a free subscription to the Consumer Vision in hard copy six times a year, please let us know by including your name and mailing address in an email at email@example.com or by phoning the Consumer Vision office at 508-994-4972. For our email subscriber's, we will continue to send you the Consumer Vision in this format if you so desire. The Consumer Vision is produced in print, Braille, cassette, CD and email.
At this time, I would like to make a correction. In the May issue, I stated that the Consumer Vision is now being read in 13 states throughout the country. Actually, there are subscribers in 14 states.
HUMAN INTEREST STORIES
Customer Service Frustrations
By Bob Branco
When you need Tech. support for a computer issue or need general assistance as
a consumer, you would probably want to speak to someone that you are able to understand clearly. One of the most frustrating things that anyone can go through is when you need help with your computer and all you do is talk to people who have a thick Middle-Eastern or Indian accent. Please understand that I have no problem with anyone who speaks a foreign native language, but these major computer companies should have a staff who speaks our language. It's
evident, particularly in my case, that everyone I speak to at the AT&T Tech. Support Division either doesn't understand your question or can't speak proper English, meaning that I can't comprehend how they're helping me. Also, these same foreign customer service representatives are reading from a script.
People tell us that major companies have a customer service division in Asia because it saves money. What about we, the consumers? There is no comfort zone when the person who's being paid to assist you can't communicate with you. Specifically, my dial-up service was down in early February, so I needed
to contact AT&T Technical Support to get a temporary number and to find out if I was getting refunded for using a long-distance temporary number, which was not by choice. I must have spoken to at least 15 different customer service representatives who spoke either Indian, Iranian, African, Thai, or some other language of Southern Asia. Their accents were very thick, and when they tried to pronounce big computer words, I could not understand a thing.
We have the same problem with the Mass Health Office. Nine times out of ten, we are connected with a foreigner who can't understand what we want.
I know that government doesn't necessarily control private industry, so this is not an issue that I can ask the government to assist with. I just hope that these major corporations realize that we, the consumers, contribute to their profits, but if we can't get the proper human services, we aren't going to continue to provide these companies with their bread and butter.
What are your thoughts?
By Mr. Thomas Connors
June 1, 2007
Dear fellow consumer:
I am writing to you about an important issue that may be considered by the US Congress this summer. If you use complex rehabilitation products such as customized power wheelchairs and specialized seating systems or know someone who does, this letter will be important to you.
About fifty years ago I broke my neck, in a diving accident. Since then, thanks to the complex rehabilitation equipment and medical technology available, I've enjoyed a productive and interesting life. Like most people with disabilities I want pretty much what everybody else does; a caring family, good friends, and a decent paying job.
I am writing to you on a subject that, at first blush, may seem to be unimportant, just more of that incomprehensible stuff that comes out of Washington -- But this is important. It has to do with competitive bidding for complex rehabilitation equipment. Not exactly a day at the beach, but it's critical to all of us who rely on uniquely fitted, complex power wheelchairs and other adaptive medical equipment.
Most of us would agree that government spending has gotten out of hand. In 2003, Congress passed the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act, establishing the Medicare outpatient prescription drug program and a national competitive acquisition program.
One would think that prescription drugs would fall under the watchful eye of our government and competitive bidding would begin for these vital commodities. After all the words "prescription drug" are in the title of the bill. This however is not the case. The initial effort is being directed toward Durable Medical Equipment (DME). No doubt there are some savings which can accrue if bidding procedures are applied to typical, durable medical equipment. Unfortunately, the process proposed for standardized DME, also includes highly complex rehabilitation equipment.
We should question the logic of applying so-called cost-saving measures to durable medical equipment instead of engaging the pharmaceutical giants. Durable medical equipment purchases use a very small portion of Medicare/Medicaid dollar, and complex rehabilitation equipment is a subset of that. Complex rehabilitation equipment is used by a very small percentage of the Medicare population, those that have disabilities caused by MS, ALS, Cerebral Palsy, Spinal Bifida, spinal cord injuries, and similar conditions.
Due to spasticity and contractions, I can't even sit in a standard wheelchair. My chair has, among other things, a tilt in space feature and a specially developed back cushion on a reinforced back. I am subject to rapid loss of blood pressure, and being able to tilt back to a prone position allows me to retain consciousness, while my blood pressure returns to normal. I'm extremely spastic, and now have a back on my wheelchair, which will not give way, causing injury. In addition, careful fitting reduces spasms and the sores they can cause.
Competitive bidding for complex rehabilitation equipment -- I've been there before. Connecticut had a bidding structure, still does, but no longer for sophisticated equipment. Years back Connecticut used the lowest bidder regardless of the bidder's knowledge or competence to provide technical support. The State ordered a wheelchair for me. It was to replace one that had been welded, bolted, taped and otherwise, patched together while I awaited delivery. When it finally arrived, the chair was too small and far less structurally sound than the chair it was to replace.
Several years later, my wheelchair prescription was again sent out to bid. This time when the chair arrived, it was too wide to fit through doorways at the college I was attending.
As I noted earlier, I broke my neck in a diving accident; I am quadriplegic, and it has been forty-nine years since my injury. Since then I've been able to attend college, acquire a Ph.D., secure employment as a VA psychologist, serve as administrator to the State Vocational Rehabilitation Program and pursue a fulfilling family life in my community.
All of the above would not have been possible without the intervention of highly skilled and dedicated suppliers knowledgeable in the provision of complex sophisticated rehabilitation equipment. My supplier is extremely knowledgeable regarding the intricacies of wheelchair fitting, repair and modification. As dedicated professionals, they have, and continue to, attend numerous classes, seminars and conferences. This is their commitment to keep current on the-state-of-the-art, and maintain the knowledge base required to effectively meet the needs of persons with extensive disabilities. Without proper fittings and without access to a full range of technology to meet the functional needs of individuals, there will be adverse medical consequences. One painful and costly example is pressure sores. There is an enormous cost associated with pressure sores, both financially and in their devastating effect on a person's emotional and economic life. A 2003 study, published in the Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, reports that of 57 patients studied; on average they were hospitalized for 156 days over a three-year period for pressure ulcer treatment, costing approximately $8,550,000. This in addition to the cost in human suffering and lost wages brings into serious question the cost benefit of introducing competitive bidding as regards complex rehabilitation equipment.
As an individual who, early on, spent a year in bed with a pressure sore after which I acquired employment, only to lose my job five years later and spend another year in bed, I can attest to the importance of the right fit. The right fit minimizes pressure by working out a unique seating configuration to avoid pressure sores.
Congress will be considering changes to the Medicare program this summer. This is a chance to change the competitive bidding program to exempt complex rehab products . But Congress will not act unless it hears from consumers like you. Here's where we are and what you can do to help.
On May 9, 2007, Reps. Tom Allen (D-ME) and Ron Lewis (R-KY) started the ball rolling. They introduced bipartisan legislation, HR 2231. The Medicare Access to Complex Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Act of 2007 would exempt complex rehab and assistive technology from the national competitive bidding program.
Action Requested: (Find your representative at http://www.complexrehab.org 1) Request that your representative sign on as a co-sponsor for HR2231 and urge the House leadership to support the passage of this bill.
2) Urge Senators to introduce companion legislation in the Senate.
3) Engage colleagues, consumers, friends and families to support HR2231 by contacting their representatives.
Thomas Connors, PhD
Rain vs. drought
By A. Rivers
Ms. Rivers lives in New Bedford.
Imagine having to count by the liter or gallon the amount of water we use to shower, wash our hands or water our gardens. Imagine having to survive on groceries by growing them, as opposed to buying them. Imagine receiving a nosebleed because your body is saying, "Hey, you're dehydrated."
This happened to a close friend of mine while she was interning in Wyoming, Arizona and Texas. A few years ago, while living in Wyoming, she experienced a Water Watch restriction that the government placed on the state. Why? The state was experiencing a shortage of water because it did not rain enough, and the state had to preserve enough for everyone to survive. Every resident had a specific amount of water allotted, and they had to track it. If they went over, too bad; water was shut off and they had to wait until the next date to replenish.
People had to beg neighbors to borrow water, and if they could not spare any, they had to purchase spring water from the local grocery store. I don't know about you, but most people who are on a fixed income are not able to purchase gallons and gallons of water with ease. In addition, college students did not have the time, or perhaps patience, to track the water they used. They ran out of water frequently. Most college students did not have the funds to purchase large amounts of water, either; we can guess how that scenario probably played out.
Last, farmers make a living off their crops. If they are unable to sell their crops or provide for their families, they end up at a dead end. If we just sit back and think about what other people are experiencing in other parts of the country, or outside the country, we can be grateful for what we have, and realize how fortunate we are to waltz up to a sink and wash our hands without having to measure it. We have so much comfort in going to the grocery store when we run out of food; there is still a large agricultural environment throughout many states. How do you think the groceries in the stores get there?
The next time it rains, say, "Thank you for raining. We're grateful that we are receiving the nourishment the earth needs. Thanks for giving Massachusetts more than a glass of water, because other parts of the world are not receiving it." For those who are spiritual, you can pray for those who suffer through these experiences.
The Boston Red Sox are Too Cautious with their Minor League Prospects
By Bob Branco
I strongly believe that the Red Sox front office is afraid to bring their minor league prospects on the team. Every time I hear about a top prospect, the Red Sox usually say the same thing. We have to develop this player. He needs more seasoning. What if he fails with the big league club? Should we bring him into a pennant race? Etc. Being that I don't think the nature of baseball athletes has changed much over the past 30 years, I think that the problem lies with the front office and not the player. In 1974, the Red Sox did not hesitate to call up 20-year-old Jim Rice in the middle of a pennant race. They brought Fred Lynn into the fold to help them win a pennant in 1975, along with other rookies such as Rick Burleson, Tim Blackwell, Dick Pole, Jim Burton to name a few. There was no fear of lack of development or failure on the part of these prospects. They played and helped us win enough ball games to make the play-offs.
In 1967, the Red Sox won the pennant. With the exception of Russ Gibson and Carl Yastrzemski, the rest of the starting line-up was under the age of 25. If today's Red Sox philosophy was applied in 1967, there would be no impossible dream because all we'd hear would be that George Scott needs more development, Mike Andrews can't take the pressure yet, Reggie Smith needs more seasoning, let's not rush Joe Foy because he has to work on fundamentals, Jim Lonborg has to work on another pitch in the minors, so he's not ready yet, etc.
Last off season the Red Sox traded Hanley Ramirez for Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell. What I'm about to say has nothing to do with the trade itself, but I'm tired of hearing the Red Sox say that Hanley Ramirez was not ready for the Major leagues. Ramirez ended up with the Florida Marlins and was rookie of the year
in the National League. I pointed this out last night to John Rish of W.E.E.I., who told me that Ramirez was ready to play in Florida, but not in Boston. This is obviously bull, because a player is either ready for the Majors or he isn't. Last I checked, the Boston Red Sox were in the same Major Leagues as the Florida Marlins. Please don't say that Hanley Ramirez was ready for one team but not the other. Again, it goes back to how the Red Sox baby their prospects.
In the 1970's, the Sox would never have spent millions to sign JD Drew.
They would have taken their chances on Brandon Moss, and why shouldn't they? He's home grown talent! If I was a player drafted by the Red Sox, I'd always
wonder if I'd ever get the opportunity to play for the parent club, because I would feel that I'd either be traded or sit in Triple A forever while I'm developing.
The Sox also comment that they are reluctant to put Elsberry in a lead off role when he makes the club because of pressure. In 1975, roockie Rick Burleson was the lead off hitter, and we all know how that one turned out. To all you front office people, stop it. Roll the dice, save money, and be shocked at the results. Bring in your home grown products.
By Bob Branco
As you gathered by now, I spent a lot of quality time throughout my life with blind people. I was in school with blind children, lived with blind teenagers for years, reunited with these same individuals as an adult, met other blind adults through my involvement in consumer organizations, etc. Some of the blind people I know are very successful. They either have good jobs, successful marriages, wonderful children and a great outlook on life. Yet other blind people, more than I care to admit, are not very successful at all in one or more of these areas, yet, in some cases, they try so very hard to be successful, but as you know, it's not as easy for a blind person to achieve success as it should be. In the thousands of conversations I've had with the blind over the years, I find that many of them have given up on their original goals. They seem depressed, apathetic and lost. I knew many of these individuals as children, and their attitudes about life back then were better. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what happened. When blind people reach adulthood, they start looking for jobs, relationships, and a sense of belonging. For those who appear depressed and apathetic, I believe it's because of the constant rejections they face day after day after day, particularly when they look for work. It's true that some of us know how to rise above being turned down continuously. I'd like to think I can do it. God knows I've been turned down numerous times by employers throughout my life, and I know it's because I'm blind and that the employer doesn't know how to accept what he thinks is the challenge of hiring me. However, I use my frustrations and channel them into more positive goals, because I have a tremendous drive to remain productive. Am I saying that the blind people I know who are sad can't rise above it? No, but I'm sure not all of us know how to do that very well.
Several of my close blind friends live their lives by listening to a radio or television all day, not knowing what's going to happen tomorrow. Every time I ask if they're looking for work, the answers get more repetitious with each inquiry, and the frustration becomes more evident as they speak of their wasted attempts at being a success. Not only can't they find work, but they can't seem to find much in the way of personal assistance.
One blind friend of mine is a graduate of the private school I attended. He went on to college and received a degree in journalism. I'm assuming that he went to college right after high school. As of this writing, the man is 50 years old, and he never had a job in his life. How many sighted people do you know in 2007 that can make that claim? This blind guy tried to go to work. He was trained in office procedures, communications, telephone work, typing, writing, etc. I would assume that most of his training took place during his high school years when he probably had a lot of confidence about his future. Now, he goes to the local YMCA to make sure he keeps his good health at age 50. As far as personal assistance goes, this man is his mail read to him once a month by a volunteer who he had to apply for through an agency. For the rest of each month, the mail simply piles up and doesn't get read.
Another gentleman spent time in a sight-saving class with me in my home town when we were 8 and 10 years old. He was a happy kid, and everyone loved him. I met him again at the junior college I attended. He was there, too, taking a few courses. I was very happy to learn that he played the accordion. It appeared at the time that this young man's future was bright. He would either be successful at something he took up in college, or perhaps he'd have a successful music career. Recently, I contacted this individual, who is now approximately 46 years old. It's been 25 years since I saw him in college. Well, it didn't take long for me to figure out what he's been doing with his life, based on the tone of his voice. I asked him anyway. The man, who is visually impaired, is now spending his days hanging around the house doing nothing. He has no job, and he gave up the accordion. My guess is that his vision loss has prevented him from being a success, for whatever reason. He is depressed and can't seem to channel his frustrations into a positive outlook on life. I run a visually impaired persons support group for individuals with these self-esteem issues. I invited my friend to join, because I felt he'd benefit from being around other people with similar issues who would share problems and solutions with each other. Keep in mind that my friend admittedly spends his life hanging around the house. When I invited him to join my support group, he told me he was too busy to go. It sounds to me like he's so unmotivated that he subconsciously looks for reasons not to do anything new, simply because he really doesn't believe he'll suddenly be a success no matter what we suggest.
Ten years ago, I hosted a local television show about disabilities. I would interview people in the medical profession, agency reps, persons with disabilities, advocates, business people and Presidents of consumer organizations. Each week, I would bring a guest on the show to talk about an important topic pertaining to blindness, deafness, or other disabilities. One day I decided to ask a blind couple to appear on the show, so that they could explain how it's no big deal for blind people to raise their own children. At that time, the couple's little girl was 5 years old, and sighted. When I asked the couple to appear on my show, the mother became very anxious and insisted that I not ask them. It wasn't because they couldn't handle being behind a camera. It wasn't because she didn't know how to talk about their relationship and their daughter. The mother was afraid that if her family's life story was aired on television, someone would be at their home the next day trying to take their daughter away from them. I want to make it clear that the little girl is their natural born child, whose parents do a remarkable job with her and love her dearly.
Under the circumstances, I asked the blind mother why she believed that someone would take her child away from her the moment their story appeared on television. I should have anticipated the answer, because it was so obvious. The parents, although they are caring, loving and responsible, they are "BLIND!" The mother was convinced that even though the little girl is her natural child, some social worker would find a way to break up the family by placing the child in a sighted environment.
CATCH A VISION
If you have a concern that affects you spiritually, please send your story to Allison's ministry at firstname.lastname@example.org
From a Hurt Mom
I just heard about your ministry and decided to seek comfort and hopefully some support to help me, in my emotional struggle and financial crisis. After several years of an emotionally abusive marriage, I decided to go for a divorce. I am the biological mother to 9 children and have been a stay at home, Christian mom. I with love, provided nurturing, direction and maternal sacrificing for the well being of my children.
I believed in strong family values, loyalty and consideration for one another.
I home schooled, so I could give them the Christian values I strongly believe in.
Unfortunately at the time I sought the divorce, I was rejected, judged, and demeaned of both my character and motherhood. My 3 other children (26,28,31 years) and my x and several insignificant others... decided to team up against me in a court of law.
A threat to try to control me from going through with the divorce, the bargaining tools, being the younger of my children (16, 14, 12, 11, 9 & 6 yrs. )
)All by who claim to be Christians, one being my son, a pastor. And my x whom never prayed with or directed the children .
All gathering together, bibles in hand with a mission to control the hand of
God, entered the cold court room. Sitting through the trumped up trial and listening to the slander, as my pastor son exaggerated the truth and pervert all that I had done as a mom. At no point did he look at the mother he claimed to adore. Several months prior to this he dedicated a song in my honor at his wedding, for my part in raising him in his faith,
not to mention listening to the prepped testimonies of the other involved in my demise. I felt rejected, scorned and listened with pain that no mother should have to endure.
To feel that all the love, time, patience and self sacrifice given over the years was mutilated in a court room. I felt that I had failed and disappointed them in my mothering, but yet knew how wrong they were.
.Well the rejection, testimonies and lies, gave them the victory they wanted in court.
I lost the most important part of my life, my babies. Barely knowing how to stand up in court and not knowing where to turn, I listened to the judge strip me of everything. All I could see was the cheering of those who gained their selfish judgmental victory.
They were not there to witness the agonizing screams and cries of their younger brothers and sister, as I was escorted into my home, by police officers,
to gather up a few of my personal belongings Or the morning after when my youngest child's eyes were swollen shut for crying all night.
My now hurt and distort children rummaged with confusion to pick up the pieces, of not having the mom, who has been with them everyday, was now gone!!! thrown out like yesterdays trash!!!
They were assured that I would eventually return after the evil left me.
The children painfully survive, days following, brought anger, frustration and for some other avenues to ease the pain.
I have since regained physical placement of the 4 younger children thru the department of social services due to the fact there had been several supported allegations, prior to trial, against my x concerning several of the children.
Currently, after I was left homeless, thrown to the curb by all that claim to have the love of Christ, I am now with my 4 children and we struggle on a daily basis, all our personal belongings have been taken or withheld from us.
To see my younger child cry because his favorite toy was given away by his Dad. To see how our belongings have been cased as lots to the advantage of those of my older children. We all know Jesus and pray that the truth and justice will prevail, but the pain of the hurt done by those professing to be Christians,
has made my walk, so difficult I was called of the devil, given the scarlet letter and judged. I was even physically thrown and broke my back, all because I wanted a divorce.
I longed for my bibles (amplified, concordance, reference etc.) tapes and teaching materials, as I was children's church teacher and youth leader, boy, I could have used them in my time of pain, but they thought I was not deserving... Having planks in their eyes they continue to point out the specs in mine.
I need so much now as I continue to rebuild my household and family. I need furniture, food, money. for rent , cloths... as this has left me emotionally taxed with anxiety attacks and fearful children,
afraid to be out of my sight fearing that I will be taken again from them. so work at this time is not an option.
I need prayer for my son Adam, who isn't doing well, with his unacceptable behavior and vices that my get him in trouble or hurt.
Pray for the daughter that lives with the Dad , who gives her no boundaries. Pray for healing of the scars , from the abuse that the little ones have told about, and that the older ones, not continue to deny,
but try to get help for their dad. Pray that my children, will not remain angry with God for what those, who claim to know and do the work of God, have done to this family by being unloving judgmental and playing God
. These very people have destroyed, not the divorce, the actions to control, has lead to destruction pain and hurt. God, is the only on that can repair this, please help me.
I fear for the safety of my children. I hope that you could get in touch with me, with whatever your ministry could do for me and my family. I am not sure of what services you may provide. Perhaps you could help me replace some of my Christian supplies or direct me to financial services. Help me with such things as dressers, rent, needed eye glasses, a broken dinner table, so we could eat together. Whatever you could do to help, maybe even a rocking chair..?? Please help. I struggle and pray everyday for a total healing as soon as possible.
Contact me anytime email@example.com
PS. Pray, for soon I will be going back to court for permanent custody and support for my children
Dear Hurt Mom:
I am very sorry to hear about your plight. It sounds like you are managing as well as possible. There are area churches for Bible material and thrift stores in the area
for household things.. you just must search the area for these things. Also, you need to find a teacher of the Word of God and sit under the teachings of Word of God so that you may heal the past hurts
that have come to haunt you and your children. A little quote from Scripture says that "Look at the birds in the sky" Jesus said, "They have no place to keep their food. "But God feeds them everyday.
"But then aren't you more important to him than the birds. So, Don't ever worry God will take care of you, too."----Allison Vigna
Legislation and Lobbying
By Bob Branco
Particularly in the last century, in order for the blind to be given equal opportunities to the sighted, several consumer groups and private citizens have filed legislation allowing these opportunities. In some cases, many lobbyists, including the blind themselves, fought for extra benefits because of their limited incomes.
I want to begin this discussion by talking about the guide dog. In case you 're not aware, a guide dog is allowed in a restaurant, on an airplane, at a bus station, and at any other public location that a blind person needs to be, due to the fact that this particular type of dog serves as a means to aid the blind in travel. In fact, if a blind person lives in an apartment or other rented facility where the Land Lord does not allow dogs, the blind tenant has the right to own a guide dog. After all, if the blind person ventures out on his own and needs the dog, it stands to reason that he could keep his animal in the home as a travel aid. It's the law.
Earlier, I referred to how lobbyists have fought for extra benefits for blind people in recent decades, probably because it was believed that the average blind person's income is less than anyone else's. The best example I can give is in regards to bus service in my Home Town. A local politician, who was legally blind, once filed legislation which would allow a blind person to ride the busses free of charge. All a blind person would need to do is show the driver a pass, and he would be allowed on the bus without paying. I used to take a lot of busses to and from college, and at first I felt privileged to be the recipient of such a benefit. However, as I became more involved with consumer groups and coalitions, I met people with other disabilities who also road these same busses, yet they had to pay for their rides. As much as I was grateful, on behalf of other blind people, for the free bus ride, I found it rather unfair that people in wheel chairs paid for their bus rides while I didn't have to. As with the blind, many people in wheel chairs find it difficult to get a job, so it can be assumed that their incomes aren't the greatest, either, yet they had no legislation to back them on the busses.
In 1994, our local bus company discontinued the free bus rides for blind passengers, partly because of the Americans with Disabilities Act. After all, if the ADA promotes equal treatment between persons with and without a disability, then all persons with disabilities should pay the same prices as those without. At first, I tried to fight the discontinuence of the free bus ride, until I remembered just how unfair it was for passengers with other disabilities to pay while the blind didn't. At that point I began to accept the discontinuance gracefully, and was proud to pay for my bus ride.
One day I asked an agency director why the blind managed to get free bus rides while passengers with other disabilities couldn't. In this executive director's opinion, the blind were better at lobbying and had more support. I don't know if that's true or not, but if it is, then why can't we find enough advocates to help us sell our skills when we're trying to find gainful and productive employment? In 2007, it seems just as hard for the blind to get a job as it was 50 years ago. Maybe we know how to get a free bus ride, but we still can't seem to succeed in employment as much as we should. I know there are exceptions, because I do know several very successful blind people.
Another area that the blind have lobbied about is their seating arrangements on airplanes. More often than I care to admit, the blind have been asked to move from exit row seats on airplanes because it's believed that they can't handle an emergency situation. Like many other situations in life, there are some blind individuals who can handle such emergencies, while some sighted people can't, for whatever reason. There are even blind people who will admit that they can't handle a flight emergency, but they will do their best to defend a blind person's right to sit in an exit row seat if he/she chooses.
While the blind have all this legislation on the books to assist them, there are those who choose to abuse our legislation to the point where they are willing to bend the rules for us, just because we're blind. I will explain two examples that I had to deal with. It is common knowledge that a blind person can't qualify for supplemental security income (S.S.I.) if they have too much money in the bank. In order to apply, we must go through a rather lengthy in-take process to determine eligibility. Yet, there are those who are so concerned about us as blind individuals that they will do what they can, and say what they want, in order to make the point that we should get everything that's coming to us just because we're blind. I never qualified for S.S.I., yet I know people who were willing to take money out of my bank account and hide it in an escrow account just so that I could receive S.S.I. After all, in their mind, S.S.I. is money for a blind person, and I deserve it no matter what. Even though I kept insisting that this would be a dishonest practice, my so-called supporters said that they'd rather see me get the money than have some crook abuse the system. How ironic that is! Isn't that what these people are asking me to be? Even though I was regarded as someone who should get everything that's coming to me because I'm blind, wouldn't you say that they were asking me to abuse the system?
What kind of lobbying is that? They wanted me to hide all my money so that I could get something intended for a blind person, no matter what the law says.
The postal system allows for certain packages to be mailed for free if they are meant for a blind person. I don't know if I necessarily agree with this law, especially if it doesn't exist for people with other disabilities. It's similar to what was once the free bus ride. Never the less, the law exists, and I understand the guidelines. Not too long ago, a man in my city told a friend of mine that he was going to prove that if I can become a certified blind customer in the eyes of the postal system, I could send out any correspondence I want and not put a postage stamp on it. How ridiculous! In other words, I don't have to put a stamp on my phone bills, gas bills, resumes, or any other written correspondence just because I'm blind. All I have to do is show the Post Master a certificate of blindness, and I would be exempt from putting stamps on envelopes. Once again, this is a myth, but it comes from someone that you really have to forgive because they don't know any better. All they know is that they have sympathy for the blind, and that they really believe that our benefits can go as far as we can extend them. If the Post Master had a certified document proving that I'm blind, it won't exempt me from anything. What if I decide not to put my return address on correspondence? Even if I did, how would I prove to the Post Master that I'm mailing it out when it could be other people in my household who are mailing it?
As a blind citizen, I will use the legislation wisely, but not abuse it.
The Blind Can be Victims of Circumstance
By Bob Branco
Several years ago, I was hired by a car dealership to order car parts and handle customer inquiries on the computer. During my time on the job, computer engineers appeared at the work site to determine whether it could be adapted properly for a blind person.
One day, after waiting a year for training, while I was sitting behind my desk at my job, I received a visit from my vocational counselor with my local supporting agency. She received a written report of a meeting that took place with the regional engineer from the agency, a contracted engineering consultant and one of my bosses. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss adaptations for my job. The report wasn't very positive. Apparently, there is nothing that can be done to adapt a speech system with Quick Books or All Data, programs used by car dealerships.
Regarding the job itself, I was told to think positive despite the agency's findings. There may be some manual steps to be taken which may require my boss to talk into a dictating machine, but my ability to use the billing programs may not be utilized.
Before there is any misunderstanding, let me clearly state that I don't blame anyone at the agency, nor my bosses for this problem. If there isn't any way to adapt Quick Books or All Data for a blind person, then I can't hold any one person or agency responsible for that fact. I have called several computer software companies across the country, and they have pretty much confirmed the agency's findings. I know that the blind are encouraged to call software companies if the agencies can't help. However, while talking to these companies, I almost have to be a computer engineer myself in order to speak their language. I can honestly say that I know nothing about the mechanics of high-tech software. I'm just a consumer. When I'm on the phone with these companies, they ask questions that require a certain knowledge of these mechanics. It's almost like my going to a brain surgeon for help while he asks me if my cerebrum and my medulla oblongata are functioning properly.
Having said all that, there was still the issue of my keeping busy all day while at my job. As a blind employee, I know I can't speak for all sighted people, but I'm sure that most of them would like to be busy throughout their work day instead of listening to a radio waiting for the phone to ring. The blind population feels the same way. My bosses would like me to keep busy, not only because it makes me feel better spiritually, but because I'm an employee. Employees are supposed to give their bosses productivity. When a boss hires someone, sighted or blind, he is making a financial investment, hoping that the returns are favorable for the business. Even though my bosses understand my situation and have been close friends of mine for nearly 15 years, I'm sure they hired me with a certain degree of expectation, otherwise they would have hired someone else.
I suppose if my bosses wanted to have me sweep floors or wash cars, I might have been a bit more productive than I really was. However, they know that I am over-qualified for that. When I was hired, I was given three titles: receptionist, parts manager and office manager. As a result of my not being trained properly due to unforeseen circumstances, I feel that I am more of an expert on local politics, Boston sports, radio talk shows, rap music and soap operas than I am about car parts.
What would you do, starting tomorrow, if you were faced with these problems?
After two long years without training, I was laid off from my job, and once again headed back to the unemployment office. The one thing that I learned from this experience more than any other is that the next time a boss offers training, I want to make sure that the training is in place before my first day on the job. I don't think that's too much to ask. Do you?
Lucia Costa, a young blind woman who resides in New Bedford, has decided to open a new business. The business, which will be known as "Lucia's Star Services," will be offering a variety of resources to the general public.
Religious education at the fourth and seventh grade levels
High School and College tutoring in English, Portuguese and Psychology Mentoring for the Blind
If you need any of these services, or know someone who does, please contact Lucia at 800-508-5736 any day between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that fees for these services are negotiable.
Whaling City Transit, Inc.
Phone: 508-679-0100 Fax 508-679-0900
If any of you would like to help us sell advertising on a national, state or local level, please let us know. An important part of the operations of the Consumer Vision is revenue from advertising. If you want to help us raise funds in this way, please email or call our office.
I find it annoying when out in public people use foul language for every other word. Its one thing to slip when you are extremely angry, or maybe just banged your toe, but everyday conversation peppered with swears is just awful.
Here are the rules for this trivia contest. If you answer the question correctly, you will be recognized in the September issue. Here is the question. On the television series, the Odd Couple, who was Oscar's ex wife? Please send your guess by emailing the Consumer Vision at email@example.com, or by calling our office at 508-994-4972. Good luck to all of you.
Recipe chicken ala king
This meal is made with left over chicken, basically using the white meet, no skin or gristle.
1. Two cups of previously cooked Chicken cut in bite-size.
2. You will already have made your noodles, rice or mashed potatoes, see next page for the recipe for the mashed potatoes.
White Sauce recipe, which goes over your Chicken Ala King.
1. One can of mushroom pieces or stems,
2. One half cup of green pepper, cut into thin strips, if available
3. Half a cup of margarine.
4. One half cup of flour.
5. 2.5 cups of milk.
6. A couple of shakes of black pepper and salt.
Medium size sauce pan,
squarish rubber spatula,
Measuring cup, for measuring ingredients,
3 medium to small bowls,
1. Put mushrooms, green peppers and half cup of margarine in pan at medium heat and cook for about five minutes, stirring constantly.
If you do not have the Mushrooms or Peppers that's okay.
2. Take off the burner.
3. Then add your half-cup of flour and mix well.
4. Then put back on burner, at medium to high flame and stir constantly until the mixture begins to bubble.
5. Pour your 2.5 cups of milk in to a plastic or glass container and put in to the microwave and heat until you take the chill off the milk.
6. Add the milk to the mixture, stirring constantly,
Put the flame on kind of high so that the mixture comes to a boil.
Let bubble for a minute, then turn down to low medium.
7. Then on medium to low heat, add your two cups of chicken and cook until the chicken is nice and warm. You can tell by using your fingers or cook for 1 or 2 minutes.
8. Heat up your potatoes, noodles or rice in the microwave if they were made earlier.
9. Pour your mixture over the potatoes, rice or noodles, etc.
Serve, the end.
Below is the complete recipe for making mashed potatoes, we are assuming that you know how to cook your noodles or rice.
In short, as far as your noodles go, bring your pot of water to boiling and shake some salt and drizzle in some olive oil and stir. Then add your noodles and cook for 10 or 11 minutes and drain by pouring into a colander.
When it comes to rice, you will need from 1/3 to 1/4 cup of raw rice for each person. For each 1/4 cup of rice you will need one cup of water.
Bring your water to a boil.
Add a few shakes of salt and then put in your rice.
Then bring down the heat to medium low. Different kind of rice need different so after 20 minutes you out to check your rice or check what the package gives for cooking directions.
Recipe for Mashed Potatoes
1. 1.5 regular sized potatoes for each person.
2. In this recipe we are going to use six potatoes, which will serve four people.
3. You will need 2/3 cups of milk.
4. Also, 2/3 stick of butter.
5. A few shakes of salt and pepper.
1 medium saucepan,
A couple of small bowls,
1 large glass or plastic containers,
1. Wash, clean and peal the potatoes.
2. Cut in to very small pieces so that they will cook quickly.
3. Put water in pan enough to cover the potatoes, guesstimate.
4. When water comes to a boil, put in your potatoes, make sure that they are covered with about an inch of water.
5. Cook potatoes until they are soft, about 20 to 25 minutes.
5.1. while the potatoes are cooking, Cut your 2/3 stick of butter into small chunks and place in a bowl.
6. At this time, take out a spoon full of potatoes and check them out to see if they are done.
Then, you can either keep cooking or put out the burner.
7. When the potatoes are done, pour them into the colander to drain.
8. Now pour the potatoes into a large bowl, Pyrex or plastic, something that can go into the microwave.
9. Then with electric beaters, beat potatoes until the potatoes become smooth.
10. For 6 potatoes add 2/3 cup of milk.
11. Now also add your chunks of butter, salt and shakes of pepper.
12. Return your beaters to the large bowl and put them at the bottom of the bowl so that your potatoes, etc., will not go flying all over the place.
Put the beaters in a slow or medium level and beat until the potatoes are nice and creamy
14. Cover with Saran wrap and put in fridge until you need them.
15. Before serving, heat in your microwave. The end.
Recipe stir-fry by Pudgie
This recipe makes servings for 1 person.
For this recipe you will need your large pan and your large fry pan.
First, there are various kinds of meets you can use.
This recipe can be made with left over chicken, pork, beef or stake. If your meet is raw, you would have to cook it prior to this meal.
It also can be made with shrimp. You can use either fresh or frozen shrimp. You need two cups of shrimp or for one of the meats listed above.
Soy Sauce, enough for six shakes,
Olive oil enough to cover the bottom of the large fry pan, plus.
One half package of noodles, serves two.
Two garlic cloves,
One red or green pepper,
One medium onion,
One medium sized zucchini squash, no need to peal.
One cup of broccoli rosettes or heads. YOU can also use the stems, if they are not too thick.
1 cup of Peapods.
1 8-ounce can of water chestnuts,
You really only need three or four of the vegetables listed above, or altogether 4 or 5 cups of veggies for two people.
End of ingredients
Back to the Shrimp.
Whether the shrimp are fresh or frozen, you must cut off the tails. This is easy to do.
If the shrimp are frozen you must take them out of the freezer a few minutes before you start to prepare them.
You put the shrimp, first in a bow with hot water until they are defrosted. Then put them in a colander, but not the big one, for you will need that one, for the noodles.
PREPARING YOUR MEAL!
Now for the noodles:
1. Get out one of your semi large aluminum bowls.
2. Break your noodles in half or thirds, depending on there size and put into the bowl.
3. Fill your pasta pan half full of water and put on your front left burner. 4. Put your heat at medium high and cook until the water comes to a boil
5. Then pour in a little olive oil
6. Then pour in your noodles, stir from time to time, for about ten minutes, so set your timer.
BACK TO YOUR VEGGIES:
7. Chop your two garlic cloves, pepper, onion, and zucchini into slices, rings, or thin strips.
8. Cut the rosettes off your broccoli and the stems, one cup full.
9. Pour your olive oil into your frying pan, enough to cover the bottom of the pan for sauteing
10. When the oil gets luke warm to warm,
Pour in your garlic, pepper and onion and start stirring.
11 Constantly stir for two minutes, first on low flame for 2 minutes and then up the heat to medium high, for another 2 minutes.
12. Now add your peapods, one-cup, squash and broccoli, if available.
13. Cook for two more minutes on medium to high flame, but always stirring. You never want your vegetables to get soft!
14. Now add your two cups of left over meet or shrimps.
15. Add your six shakes of soy sauce, or enough to cover all of the ingredients in your fry pan.
16. Stir vigorously for 1 minute and shut off the heat.
BACK TO YOUR NOODLES:
17. After cooking your noodles, on medium to high heat, for ten minutes, taste your noodles to see if they are done. You should have set your timer for 10 minutes.
18. When they are done pour them into the colander, shake and return to the pan.
19. Now pour individual helpings of the noodles in to each plate and a helping of the veggies with the shrimps or left over meet.
ITEM FOR SALE
If you are interested in this Factory Reconditioned Braille -nSpeak/personal Note Taker, please call Joseph @ 1-781-599-6664
or email Joseph,
Factory Reconditioned Note Taker
Priced at $500 compared to $1395 for a new unit
One of the most popular note takers of choice worldwide. The Braille -nSpeak combines speech with a standard Perkins-style keyboard. Weighing in at less
than one pound. The Braille 'n Speak includes word processing with spell check and many other features.
. A photo of a light gray/dark gray Braille -n- Speak.
. Talking clock, appointment calendar, alarm, stopwatch, phone book, countdown calendar and scientific
. Full word processing with spell check.
. Internal Speech Synthesizer with adjustable rate, pitch and volume.
. Win Disk connectivity for file sharing with your PC.
. Internal features translate ASCII files into Grade 2 Braille for output to an embosser.
. Automatic translation of documents input in Grade 2 Braille for speech or formatted printed text output.
. Install software to update yourself quickly and easily.
. 2 mega bites of internal storage capacity.
. Optional accessory hardware and software expands memory and file transfer capabilities.
. AC adapter, carrying case and documentation are included.
. Optional Braille manual available.
. Languages available: English.
. Size: 8 inches by 5 inches by 1.25 inches.
. Weight: Approximately 1 pound.
Shipping and Availability
Block quote end
List of 7 items
. Shipping and handling via insured UPS ground is $14 and any applicable taxes.
. This reconditioned item may deviate slightly cosmetically from new unopened products.
. A renewable annual PMA (Product Maintenance Agreement) is available for this unit at a cost of $99
& can bee perches, from Freedom scientific.
. Item will be shipped after personal check clears.
You Can Call Joseph Machise