The Consumer Vision

March/April, 2014

Address: 359 Coggeshall St., New Bedford, MA 02746

Telephone: 508-994-4972

Web Site: www.consumervisionmagazine.com

Email Address: bobbranco93@gmail.com:

Publisher: Bob Branco

Editor: Janet Marcley

CD Production: Bob Zeida

CD Reader: Bob Zeida

Email Production: Bob Branco and Janet Marcley

Braille Production: Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library

Board of Directors:  Clement Beaulieu, Darryl Breffe, Steve Brown, Lauren Casey, Dan Germano, Bob Hachey, Allen Hensel, Alan Soule and Gail Teixeira

Note: For searching purposes, three asterisks (***) have been inserted just before the beginning of each new article or section.

Table of Contents

He Had to Leave Fast

Another Accessible Smart Phone in Development

Biography of an Inspirational Man

The Government and Marriage

No Touching and No Sited Guide?

Special Notices

Recollections of Three Springs, Summers and Autumns

Consumer Vision Trivia Contest

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He Had to Leave Fast 

by Terri Winaught 

As if it were yesterday, I can remember being 8 years old and going to a Saturday afternoon movie with my mom. Though that experience was great despite a moderate rain having made it a soggy Saturday, returning to our Philadelphia, Penn., apartment was just the opposite. When we entered our modest but adequate housing, I could smell smoke and hear coughing along with the deafening clang of approaching fire trucks. Scary though that was for me as an 8-year-old, that fire was nothing compared to the one from which 74-year-old Luther Johnson was forced to escape on December 10, 2013. While in a dead sleep, the home where Mr. Johnson had lived for 38 years caught fire as reported by http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com in an article written by Dianne Rocco.

“I felt something nudging me, like touching me,” Johnson told Eye Witness News. When he then smelled the smoke and felt the heat of the fire he knew he had to get out fast, and 2-year-old Yates, Luther’s Seeing Eye® dog, led the way as firefighters were arriving at this Southwest Philadelphia home at 59th and Chesterfield.

Luther Johnson, who has been blind for 30 years, has been staying at Red Cross housing where he will tell anyone and everyone that he is “blest” to have made it out alive. “Some people don’t make it,” Johnson said about his experience. Even though this 74-year-old lost everything, he will tell you that “God sends angels,” adding that he has been thanking God night and day for sending those angels through Yates and for being so blest.

Although the fire’s cause has yet to be determined, Johnson’s family believes that it was due to an electrical malfunction.

Whether or not you believe in angels, there is no doubt that the ability to evacuate a burning home is always a life-saving miracle.  In Mr. Johnson’s case, great training, excellent teamwork, and a cold, wet nose wove those fabrics together into a tapestry of unforgettable blessings!

Source: “Seeing Eye® Dog Saves Master From Burning Home In Southwest Philadelphia,” written by Diane Rocco and published on December 10, 2013, on http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com.

 

Tell us in Readers Forum of any life-saving experiences you have had in which your guide or Seeing Eye® dog played a major role.  

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Another Accessible Smart Phone in Development

by Terri Winaught 

Since each person experiences his or her blindness or vision impairment differently, it seems only a plus when new access technologies come on the scene with several different options to meet multiple needs.  Consider, for example, a Samsung Smart Phone, anticipated to be on the market by the beginning of 2015. As a former Android user who thought that Android phones were touch screen only, I recently learned that some Androids, unlike IOS, still have tactile buttons.

The features and applications on this new phone include: Android 4.2; a tactile keyboard; a 5-megapixel camera which greatly enhances a blind person’s ability to take pictures since this phone’s camera has an app. that enables an announcement of how many faces are nearby and also the directions from which those faces can be seen.

More vision-impaired-friendly applications include text scanning in order to read printed material, and apps which can detect the brightness of a light and the direction from which it is coming. 

With the price of this phone yet to be determined, I can only hope that the cost won’t be prohibitive, as is too often the case with access technology. Although some individuals who are blind posted negative comments – to which they certainly had a right – I personally think this phone has much potential.

Though UPI.com (United Press International) is the source of the article I am summarizing, there is also a post near the bottom in which readers are encouraged

to comment on blindbargains.com. 

I’d love to receive E-mails from anyone who wants to comment on topics like Android vs. IOS, and whether you use the Android smart phone as described in this article. I can be reached at t.winaught@verizon.net.  

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Biography of an Inspirational Man

Emigrating from W. Germany in 1967, Jens Naumann settled as a young boy in British Columbia, Canada, along with his parents and two siblings. Growing up to appreciate the outdoors, motor biking and flying small airplanes, Jens turned to the career of land surveyor following his first eye loss while working on the railway. Married young, his luck for saving his other eye ran out at age 20, forcing an abrupt change in lifestyle as seemingly insurmountable challenges continued to bombard him through the process of raising nine children.

In 2002, American medical-devices engineer Dr. William H. Dobelle accepted Jens as his first patient to be implanted with an experimental artificial-vision system promising to restore a form of vision through the use of a computer and video camera connected to electrodes implanted on Jens' brain. Having been given the post of Patient Representative under the instruction of Dobelle, Jens worked with 15 patients also implanted during this initiative, while demonstrating the viability of the vision system through driving a car before the cameras of CNN and other news media companies.  Near the end of 2004, the vision restoration experiment ended, leaving Jens with only memories of his new found vision, having to quickly readjust to a life of blindness he was only too eager to leave behind.

Jens has played an important role in many daunting endeavors, including delivering six of his children, running a farm, serving in Mozambique as teacher-training college instructor, and operating his own solar energy-systems installation company. Jens presently resides with his family in Napanee, Ontario, is an avid pianist, and recently graduated as a registered social services worker from Loyalist College.

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The Government and Marriage

by Bob Branco

When two people decide to get married, where at least one of the spouses is on federal subsidy because of a disability, the government has a tendency to cut benefits from the married couple based on income. Yet, if these same people decide to cohabitate, they get to keep all their money. Please keep in mind that if a couple decides to marry after living together, their expenses do not change. They still eat the same food, put the same clothes on their backs, clean their house, pay their rent and shop for groceries in the same way.

Let’s put this all in perspective. Yes, all of us have the right to make our own choices. At the same time, there is a portion of our population who choose to get married for the obvious reasons. They should be able to marry without fear of losing money. If the government thinks that it’s so terrible for people to depend on subsidy in order to run a household, then why don’t they take it away from people who cohabitate?  I'm not saying it's right or wrong to cut federal subsidy from anybody, but it seems to me that the government is allowing cohabitation more than it allows marriage, based on its actions.

While this is going on, the government is always encouraged to separate church from state. I don't think the government makes this separation here. To Catholics, marriage is a sacrament. To the government, where people with disabilities are concerned, it doesn't seem to matter. Persons with disabilities who want to exercise the sacrament of marriage will be penalized for it.

I am blind, and I am also trying as hard as possible to get a job. Some day, I want to get married. I want to apply my moral beliefs and go through with it for all the right reasons. I wouldn’t want to stay single because a system puts the fear of God in us.  If I do marry, and if my wife and I are subject to cuts, how would we do it? I have figured out that the formula that the government uses in order to determine how much subsidy to cut from married couples with disabilities keeps these couples way below the poverty level.

I know couples with disabilities who want to get married, but they are frightened. What if their benefits are reduced? How could they survive the marriage, a marriage made in Heaven? I also knew a couple who were engaged for 10 years, with no intentions of getting married. The reason was very clear – they were afraid to marry because the benefits from one of the spouses would be slashed. The man, who passed away, was in a wheelchair, and the woman is legally blind. Neither one had a job at the time. I've even heard of couples who get divorced for financial reasons, and not because they were no longer in love. Is this how America should be? I say no. Sure, if you want to cohabitate, it's your right, but if you really want to get married, that is also your right.

I am asking people to help me send a message to either the federal government or my own state government, with concrete evidence as to why marriages of persons with disabilities can't survive the financial cuts that are forced on them.

It's easy for someone to say, “Get a job." Yes, we all want to work, but many of us are out of work, and not by our own choosing.  So, while we are looking for work, we still have to eat, shop, put clothes on our backs, clean the house, pay rent, buy medicine, etc. These needs do not stop just because we aren't working. It takes time, especially for those of us with disabilities, to get a job, even though we spend twice as much energy looking.  People with disabilities want to work as much as anyone else, and I’m sure that many of these people don’t want the federal assistance they are forced to receive. However, if the circumstances aren’t what we want them to be, life still must go on.

In closing, allow me to bring some scary irony to this discussion. In Massachusetts, whether it's enforced or not, there is a law on the books forbidding lewd and lascivious cohabitation. Though no one is ever caught, that isn't the point. It's just ironic because these cohabitators appear to be rewarded by the government. So, in Massachusetts, couples with disabilities have two choices. Either they do something illegal, or go broke.

As far as lewd and lascivious cohabitation is concerned, what other kind of cohabitation is there, and how would a police officer know if you are being lewd or lascivious unless you show him?

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No Touching and No Sited Guide?

by Joseph Machise

On January 5, 2014, I went to the Independent Living Center in Salem, Massachusetts. I met with Judy, my new peer guide. When I reached out to shake her hand, I received the shock of my life. She informed me that she couldn’t touch me, and that I couldn't use her as a sited guide to assist me into the room where we would be working together. I wasn’t sure weather I heard her correctly, so I asked her to repeat what she had just told me.

Apparently, this policy has always been in effect, but it was never enforced. According to the director, Marry Margaret Moore, you are allowed to bring your own sited guide to help you. When I told her that I didn’t have anyone to act as my sighted guide, she said that it was my problem, and that touching can be construed as sexual harassment.

As a result of this ridiculous policy, I really don’t want to be a client any longer. This independent living center helps people with there personal, housing, and other needs, but as it turns out, they have a strange way of showing it.

I told the Disability Law Center, Perkins School, the Commission Against Discrimination, and a few friends about this illogical policy. I was told that this director should walk around blindfolded in order to get the point. In my opinion, she may have issues about touching, no matter what is allowed.  According to a former first responder, this director is not being rational when it comes to the blind. Even though I wrote letters to the center, I still haven’t heard back, and probably won't. 

The center has another strange policy. They had a cookout last year which I attended, and I was told that the staff couldn’t serve anyone. When a member of the staff tried to serve a guest, the director gave him hell.

This lady needs to be fired.  The sited guide is an honored technique for blind and sited people.

You can call the independent Living center at 1-978-741-0077 and ask for the director.

In closing, I just want to add that workers are leaving the center on a regular basis.

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Special Notices

1.        Join a Free voice Chat Community on the Web!

Hey Folks! Would you like to have lots of fun and meet other blind or visually impaired individuals from across the country and around the world? Do you like challenging interactive games, old time radio, adaptive cooking techniques, a book club, chess instruction, product presentations, real-time technical assistance with your computer, Bible study, a weekly talent showcase, programs to learn about the iPhone, and lots and lots more? 

Our community is made up of a set of free voice-chat rooms that are extremely user-friendly, and all you need is a microphone to get started! To become a member and join our Out-Of-Sight free chat community, go to the website at www.out-of-sight.net

Hope to see you soon! “Catch the vision--it’s Out of Sight!”

2.        Blind Singles is a free electronic magazine that consists of ads of blind singles who are seeking close friendships and relationships. We accept ads of people 18 years of age and above. To subscribe, you can email me at: adrijana.prokopenko@gmail.com

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Recollections of Three Springs, Summers and Autumns

by Karen Crowder

New Englanders are fortunate to experience lovely springs, warm summers, and beautiful, colorful autumns. Allow us to remember dissimilar seasons of 1977, 1994, and 2009.   

1977

In March of 1977, New Englanders appreciated sunshine and warm temperatures after an exceptionally cold winter. Wednesday, March 30, everyone was surprised by pleasant summer-like temperatures across the area.  At eight a.m., smiling, I walked four blocks from my parents’ house to the Weymouth Landing bus stop. I was delighted by incredibly warm weather this spring morning.  I could not wait for my nine a.m. Introduction to Sociology class and English Labs to end. Like other students, I was happy to leave Quincy Junior college and enjoy the rest of this balmy summer-like day.

Listening to a radio station that afternoon, I learned forecasters had been correct; temperatures were over eighty degrees in Boston.   I dressed in a summer outfit.  It was as if reality had been suspended on this summery March afternoon. I met a friend and enjoyed shopping and having a light snack before returning home. While waiting for the bus, I noticed cooler breezes. My mom had been right when she suggested I bring a jacket – cool temperatures were back.    

Except for an unusual snowstorm May 9 - 10, the spring of 1977 was sunny and very warm.  Friday, May 17, was hot. After taking my final English Composition exam, the warm night was perfect for celebrating the end of a school year. 

Although early June was rainy and cool, warmer weather returned  by mid/late June.  I was taking a summer course in communications. July was hot, and the summer course ended the week of July 15. I was elated – I was free to enjoy the rest of this summer with no academic responsibilities until mid September.

Then came a six-day heat wave. I remember riding with a young gentleman who had Cerebral Palsy, and his assistant, one sultry afternoon.  Because fewer cars had air-conditioning, we drove around with windows open. We all chatted but even after ice-cold sodas, we sweltered on that humid, hot afternoon.     

As we returned to my parent's tree-shaded home, I could hear strains of a Yes album playing across the street; our neighbors were having a summer party. It was hard to sleep because of this sultry, humid night. 

Sunday night my mom and I prepared a salmon loaf and sauce. The recipe is from the Braille cookbook A Leaf from Our Table.  Relatives were staying at our home that week. It was exciting to see them; my two aunts were nuns and my uncle was a priest.   

My Aunt Anna's birthday was in July and we always prepared salmon dishes. That hot humid Monday afternoon we had a lovely meal, appreciating the delectable salmon loaf with cucumber sauce, vegetables and potatoes.

We took the crowded bus to Nantasket Beach and it was wonderful feeling the soft sand, waves and cool salt water that morning.  We enjoyed the open-air restaurant near the beach – I loved the clam roll with delicious, lightly battered, juicy clams with tartar sauce, and the side of thin, hot, crispy onion rings. The ginger ale was refreshing and cold and the gentle sea breeze made this afternoon perfect.  

I enjoyed an afternoon of riding swan boats with a friend in Public Gardens, Boston, where a slight breeze made a hot afternoon bearable.  We arrived home when severe thunderstorms and refreshing rain ended the heat wave.  

Autumn of 1977 was very mild.  Thursday night, November 10, my mom brought a fragrant late-blooming rose in from the garden. On this mild night, she put the delicate flower with its soft fragrant petals in my hand. We were amazed at the rose's delicate summer-like fragrance.    

1994

After the cold winter of 1994, warmer weather slowly returned to New England. On April 15, temperatures reached eighty degrees in parts of Central Massachusetts. At our home in Fitchburg, our windows were opened, allowing balmy air through our house.  As I hung laundry on our sturdy clothes line I appreciated the sounds of  melodious song birds and my granddaughter playing in our yard.  

Living in a rural area, Marshall and I observed that birds, frogs and insects can predict weather better than we can.  By mid-April, the peepers near our brook were chirping – heralding a warm spring, as were the robins, song sparrows and chickadees. We learned how hardy birds can be, singing quietly on cooler, or rainy, mornings or nights.

Although it reached the mid eighties on the 27 of April, unlike 1977, warm days were interspersed with cooler days and nights throughout April, May and early June.

Our first heat wave began June 16. With other blind adults from the Leominster Fitchburg area, we enjoyed popcorn and an audio-described movie in our MAB office in Leominster.  That evening Marshall, Claire and I celebrated a birthday and Father's Day at a favorite restaurant in Leominster.

Cooler weather arrived June 19, with hot, humid weather returning in July.  We had barbecues, but were making final plans for our trip to Salem with our step-daughter and six blind friends, July 29.  Seven of us went to Salem, Massachusetts, staying at a historic hotel until Sunday, July 31.  That sultry, humid afternoon, we took a two-hour cruise along the Mystic and Charles Rivers from the wharf in Salem.  We appreciated the gentle summer sea breeze on that afternoon.

My friends complained about the oppressive heat and humidity, but I appreciated the hot summer days – cooler weather would arrive soon. And August was cooler. 

My aunt and uncle visited our home the weekend of August 15, and that night, Marshall turned on the heat, as temperatures were below fifty. It looked like we might be in for another cold winter. Then, in early November, I hung laundry on the line! Temperatures were above seventy on November 5 and we thoroughly enjoyed the last summer-like afternoon.

2009

2009 was the snowiest, coldest winter in years. But on April 24, we were happily welcoming sunshine and above-seventy-degree temperatures, more like June than April. I spent the weekend with a good friend who lived near Lowell. Temperatures would approach ninety in a few days and my friend and I welcomed this heat after such a brutally cold winter. We even went swimming in our complex's heated pool in May, but these hot spring days were interspersed with many cool days and nights.

On June 1, north-central Massachusetts had a frost advisory, and the month was extremely rainy and cool.  On July 2, temperatures were in the low sixties, more like early spring or autumn. I ran the heat to keep out dampness. Until late July, we had abnormally cool, rainy weather across New England.  Everyone was asking, "What happened to our summer?"

In mid-August, there was a welcome heat wave across southern New England; in central Massachusetts, temperatures were above ninety from August 15 through 21. As often happens when summer arrives late, we had swimming whether into September, with eighty-three degrees on the 23, and temperatures reaching as high as the seventies into early December!

On a cold March 9 of this year, daylight saving time began. I always think of warmer days to come with blooming daffodils and  crocuses. We in New England are anticipating the warmth of spring after the coldest winter in years.  Although spring may arrive later, as it did in 1994 and 2009, because of an el nino in the Pacific, we may have a milder winter in 2015. (There was an el nino in 2009; could it have brought the milder autumn and winter that followed?)

As many New Englanders often say "wait a minute and the weather will change." 

When this issue of Consumer Vision reaches your home or desktop, I hope you will find these recollections entertaining, and that they will stir some memories of your own.

Let us hope temperatures are much warmer when you read this.  

Sources:

Temperature records, March 30, 1977 and April 28, 2009, weather.com and Northeastern Regional Climate Center, Cornell University, N.Y.; they also helped me with statistics on precipitation and averages for the summers of 1977 and 2009.

My sources of information about the el nino in 2009 were television, a group I belong to, and the radio. 

I also received information from NOAA about weather forecasts in 1994 and 2009.

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Consumer Vision Trivia Contest

Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the January/February Consumer Vision.

The seven continents on Earth are Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, North America, South America and Antarctica.

Congratulations to the following winners:

Terri Winaught of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Mark Blier of Sierra Vista, Arizona

Jean Marcley of Brenda, Arizona

Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts

Don Hanson of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Ecaterina Henter of East Islip, New York

Karen Santiago of Worcester, Massachusetts

Debi Black of Sun Lakes, Arizona

Chad Grover of Corning, New York

Lauren Casey of Lawrenceville, New Jersey

Marda Anderson Bartel of Austin, Texas

Susan Jones of Indianapolis, Indiana

And now, here is your trivia question for the March/April Consumer Vision.

Which of the following countries is not in North America:

Columbia, Canada or Mexico?

If you know the answer, please email bobbranco93@gmail.com or call 508-994-4972.

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