The Consumer Vision

May/June, 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

A Notice from the Publisher

Bob Branco Releases his Fourth Self-published Book

Sleepless Nights

Comments about the No-Touching Policy

An Early Red Sox Game

Your Amazing Ways: a Poem About JAWS

Letters to the Editor

Greetings, Directory Assistance

Writers Devoted Our Time to You

The Consumer Vision Trivia Contest

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A Notice from the Publisher

When sending correspondence to Consumer Vision, please do not send a direct reply to my G-mail account.  This account is only used for sending out the magazine, because Verizon regards it as Spam material. If you wish to respond to an article or send any other comments, please use bobbranco93@gmail.com. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

On another note, I have been working with the office of Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts regarding the reduction of benefits to persons with disabilities who get married. As a result of a few letters from consumers expressing how unfair this is, Senator Markey’s office has taken an interest. If you would like to write a letter explaining why the Government shouldn’t cut benefits from married couples with disabilities, please email it to me and I will be more than happy to forward it to Senator Markey. My email address is bobbranco93@gmail.com.

Bob Branco

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Bob Branco Releases his Fourth Self-published Book

April 24, 2014

Press release for

“Weighing Things Up: Essays on Trends, Technology, and Present-Day Society”

by Robert T. Branco

Published by CreateSpace and Amazon in print and e-book on April 23, 2014

Paperback: 314 pages / $13.95

E-book: $3.99

“Weighing Things Up” is Robert T. Branco’s fourth published book. One of his previous books is “As I See It: From a Blind Man’s Perspective” (Revised and Expanded Edition, 2013). That book consists of 35 essays having to do with issues and problems affecting the blind.  

“Weighing Things Up” includes 30 additional essays on issues pertaining to blindness and the blind, but then goes well beyond those in its scope. Another 73 short essays have to do with bureaucracy, holidays and our changing attitudes toward them, some absurd pieces of legislation, politics, scams, sports, modern technology, and a wide variety of social issues. Numerous comments and links to articles offering more information were added by the editor, Leonore H. Dvorkin. 

The majority of these essays were previously published in either Matilda Ziegler Magazine for the Blind or in the author’s own newsletter, The Consumer Vision Magazine.  

Robert T. Branco is a lifelong resident of New Bedford, Massachusetts. He holds degrees from Bristol Community College and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. For many years, he was Commissioner of Branco Softball, a slow-pitch softball league, and he still runs a bowling league for the visually impaired and those with other disabilities. Having held a variety of jobs, he currently works as a professional blind consultant for Project Starfish America, conducting virtual training sessions on content writing.   

You can reach Bob by email at bobbranco93@gmail.com; Phone: 508-994-4972

Please visit his book-related website for more information and buying links:

http://www.dvorkin.com/robertbranco/

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Sleepless Nights

by Ernest Jones

April 2014

The night dragged on as sleep evaded me. With the aid of a sleeping pill I had fallen asleep shortly after turning the light out but was wide awake two-and-a-half hours later. I feared my sleep was over for the night. Many nights I got only two hours’ sleep. If I slept for four hours I felt I had a great night.

I knew how people, especially blind folk, could mix up their days and nights. But I figured this was from not being active during the daylight hours — they would take the easy chair option with reading or TV and not do any real exercise during the day.  My day always started at 6 in the morning, when I would get up to feed Randy and take him out for relieving. I kept active throughout the day with long walks, time on the computer, yard/garden work and household chores. Still, I’d find myself nodding off if I stopped to take a break, and nighttime sleep would elude me.

I put up with this for several months as my energy level dropped. Then, during a visit to my doctor, I mentioned this sleep problem. He immediately explained why it was happening. “Your brain is not getting the light signals needed to know the hour change, as your eyes don’t allow any light to enter in. Production of melatonin by the pineal gland is inhibited by light to the retina and permitted by darkness.”

Strange, I thought, for I should have realized this. I decided to do some checking and found I was not alone.

Non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder (N24HSWD) occurs in a great majority of individuals who are totally blind and lack the light sensitivity necessary to reset their body clock. As a result, these individuals suffer from sleep deprivation, which may lead to difficulties with concentration and memory, as well as an increased risk of errors, accidents, bouts of depression and lack of energy. For many totally blind individuals the sleepless nights and daytime fatigue are considered the most disabling aspects of their blindness.

The timing of human sleep is governed by the length of time since a person last slept and by their internal body clock. The internal body clock, or circadian pacemaker, controls the timing of human sleep with a rhythm that is regulated by a tiny region of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Signals from the SCN help us stay awake and counteract the effects of fatigue. These signals peak in the evening, when the drive for sleep is high, and then diminish when bedtime approaches.

The intrinsic circadian body clock regulates biological functions in an approximate 24-hour cycle and requires regular input from the environment to help maintain synchrony to the 24-hour day. In most people, circadian rhythms are precisely synchronized to the 24-hour day by exposure to environmental synchronizers such as light. Without light, an individual may “free run” slightly longer or shorter than 24 hours, causing a slight delay or advance in their body clock each day.

This misalignment between an individual’s body clock and their sleep/wake schedule may result in a circadian rhythm sleep disorder (CRSD), a non-24-hour sleep-wake disorder. As a result, the sleep-wake cycle of these individuals moves gradually later and later each day if their circadian period is more than 24 hours, or earlier and earlier if it is less than 24 hours. This condition occurs often in subjects who are totally blind and lack the light sensitivity necessary to reset the circadian clock.

It is estimated that about 1.3 million Americans are legally blind, with approximately 10 percent having no light perception. Clinical studies estimate that about 50 percent of totally blind individuals suffer from N24HSWD. Thus, approximately 65,000 Americans may suffer from this disorder. The “free running” of the body clock results in an approximately one-to-four-month repeating cycle where the clock continually shifts about 15 minutes a day until the cycle repeats itself. As time progresses, the internal circadian rhythm of these individuals moves farther and farther away from the 24-hour light-dark cycle, which gradually makes sleeping at night virtually impossible and leads to extreme sleepiness during daytime hours.

Eventually, the individual’s sleep-wake cycle moves back into alignment with the night, and “free-running” individuals are once again able to sleep well at night. However, the alignment between the internal circadian rhythm and the 24-hour light-dark cycle is only temporary.

In addition to cyclical nighttime sleep and daytime sleepiness problems, this condition can cause daily shifts in body temperature and hormone secretion, and is sometimes associated with depression symptoms and mood disorders.

If you suffer from not being able to sleep nights, tell your physician. There are some natural medications, other than just sleeping pills, that help a person to sleep better. In addition, a new medication was recently approved by the FDA that will greatly help those suffering from sleepless nights. So if you are having trouble sleeping, tell your physician and get the help you need. Then, wake in the morning to have a great day.

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Comments about the No-Touching Policy

by Bob Branco

In the March/April Consumer Vision, Joe Machise wrote an article on how the North Shore Independent Living Center in Salem, Massachusetts, adopted a no-touching policy which forbids the use of the sighted guide technique for blind clients.  The center forbids this as part of a sexual harassment policy. The sighted guide technique is very common, and is even taught by mobility instructors.  It is used when a blind person is unfamiliar with his surroundings. The blind individual puts his hand above the elbow of a sighted guide, who stands off to one side but slightly ahead in order to lead him.

While Joe Machise has taken action against this independent living center’s policy; the center defends it by suggesting an alternative to the sighted guide technique, which is verbal instruction by their staff. In other words, Go Left! Go Right!  Go Straight! For what it’s worth, I don’t believe that this form of verbal instruction is a viable alternative to the sighted guide technique.

In your lifetime, how often have you either given or were given the wrong directions, for whatever reason. Keep in mind that when a person is facing you, his left is your right, and his right is your left, so you have to create a mirror image for yourself in order to help him. Thus, mistakes are possible.  

If a blind person is unfamiliar with the North Shore Independent Living Center, and the staff member tells him to take a left when he should have taken a right, he might hit a wall or stairway.  What happens if the client hurts himself as a result of this alternative policy by this center? Is the staff confident enough that they will never make a mistake and put the client in jeopardy?

Several weeks ago, after I held a trivia event for patients in a convalescent home, the sighted activities director guided me to the elevator. She said, “I’m on your right. No, I mean your left.” I know she didn’t mean to make that mistake, but it does happen more often than we care to admit.

There has been a lot of speculation about why this independent living center decided not to offer the sighted guide technique. Therefore, the director should explain herself before she and her center develop an unfair reputation, not to mention that she may be in violation of certain sections of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Yes, the blind should be able to familiarize themselves with their surroundings, and walk around an office without help, but until that happens, sighted guide is the solution.

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An Early Red Sox Game

by Karen Crowder

 

On a sunny afternoon in April

Turning on my radio I expect music or talk radio

I hear a pleasant voice of a sports announcer.

It is the end of an early inning

Of an afternoon Red Sox game.

Opening windows,  I let spring air in

I sit remembering last October

The exhilarating excitement of their last play-off game.

Late on a cool Saturday night the Red Sox won

New Englanders were ecstatic, participating in another world series,

After the first game on Thursday night

I hoped we would easily win as we had in 2004.

That Sunday many fans were resigned to losing again

Wednesday night no one missed a minute of that last memorable game.

Would the Red Sox triumph?

After the breathtaking suspense of the ninth inning

There was elation at Fenway Park and throughout the Northeast.

Thursday at North station meeting people from distant states

You noticed their excitement

Chatting about visiting Fenway Park

For an unforgettable historic baseball game.

There was joy everywhere

Sunshine and Warm weather fitting this jubilant day.

Saturday morning thousands marched through Boston

Beautiful sunshine with warm temperatures added to this festive atmosphere

People celebrating a triumphant World Series.

Today we listen anticipating a win on this sunny afternoon.  

Will the Red Sox repeat the spell-binding season of 2013?

Loyal fans will listen cheering every game won.       

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Your Amazing Ways: a Poem About JAWS

by Karen Crowder

  

You sit content on our desks

Always smiling Never unhappy

Your voice is always deep with inflections

You are never disturbed by noise and distractions

The blind always rely on you

Tirelessly you read our emails or documents

Never objecting to any content on the "world wide web"

Spell checking our words and punctuation in our written documents and emails

You were a wonderful invention

Thought up by computer geeks in the 1990s

You have the most distinctive voice of neighboring speech technology

We are disgruntled and disappointed when you fail to work

You have a creative name and picture, a name

From the movie JAWS which represents your always patient ways   

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Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I have been looking for a product that would read prescription labels on pill bottles. I asked Maxi Aids, and they said there was no such product. Freedom Scientific has a desktop scanner that has a built-in slot for a bottle to fit on for scanning. The bad news is that it's over 1800 dollars. How can blind people afford these products, especially if they are on fixed incomes?

These companies are making money hand-over-fist every time someone buys one of these outrageously priced products. One time, I e-mailed Freedom Scientific and told them that not everyone can afford their products, and the response I got was, "If you don't like our prices, then you don't buy our products." What an attitude! They think that blind people are made of money, but we know that's the furthest thing from the truth, at least for some of us anyway.

Ron Febba

Dear Editor,

My name is Sean and my husband and I have been married for 13 years and counting. Yes, we have lost a great deal of money. We have been told by family members that we should divorce to get our money back. We are conservative Christians and believe that it is morally wrong to cohabitate in order to keep our money.  

I have always contended that the government really doesn’t support marriage and I’m so glad to know someone is finally speaking out about this fact. While we are trying to enhance our skills and actively looking for work, we live on this meager income in the state of Oregon. We barely make ends meet. If River, my dog guide, needs medical attention, the funds come out of our pocket. That was food money we could have used for the two of us and our pets. That’s one example alone.  

If there are abnormally cold months, then our gas and electricity go up. There isn’t much room for error financially.  

Here’s a perfect example of our struggle. I don’t talk about this much but in February, we had a high energy bill and a couple of other things happen. River started to get an ear infection, and I also needed meds. River needed to be seen and we did what we could for him for about the last week to keep his ears from becoming out of control with the infection. I felt like a terrible person because we couldn’t get River the attention when he needed it. Our family says they would be willing to help but neither Todd nor I wants to rely on them for everything. Due to a high energy bill in January, Todd’s parents had to give us some money the month before so we could literally buy food. Because of his parents last month, we didn’t have to even think about doing without our food. I really didn’t want to have to ask our family again for more money in March for any reason. I absolutely hate having to ask anyone for money because it can make the family members feel they can begin to control us, in little ways at first. It gives them room to ask about

what else we are buying, etc., and that feels extremely invasive to me. I can’t wait to get a job and out of this whole system. We both desperately would like to work. Todd is trying to become a Braille transcriptionist and is holding a volunteer job at Independent Living Resources and, while this is a wonderful experience for him, we still are not receiving money for his efforts. He is a reliable worker and putting his all into it, for no pay. There is a hope some day that he will get his certificate and get paid.  

While God does provide, we feel that it is the government’s responsibility to discontinue the money cuts once a couple is married. It really isn’t fair.

This month, we were just meals away from running out of food. That has never really happened to us before in all our years of marriage. Our small money is barely making ends meet, as we didn’t end up with enough food for the month.

I just wanted to share and you can use whatever information I’ve given you as testimony in your case to the government. I think this should be brought to national attention. It’s almost like the government wants to punish the disabled for getting married. It does make me wonder if the government is afraid that two disabled people or just one disabled person will get married and have more disabled children. I hate to say this but a male and female living together greatly increases the likelihoods of a child being born. Furthermore, it is about 50/50 risk for having a disabled child. If the playing field could be leveled, then upcoming disabled children would have a better chance at

employment and not be a further burden to the government. However, this current system really is lacking right now as it stands. 

Also, I have had some meds that our insurance wouldn’t cover and they were expensive. We had to do some work to get a comparable med.

Just because we are blind or otherwise disabled doesn’t mean we should live like second-rate citizens. If you have cancer, you will get the red carpet urgent treatment.

If you have anything else, you might not get the exact prescribed medication from the physician. How do I know that? I had uterine cancer.  I got the operation, the meds, and the whole nine yards. When I came to the doctor for allergies, our insurance was unwilling to pay for the meds needed. How does this relate? I had to pay for what I could afford and do without the rest, as one med was like 50 dollars plus. I am the rule rather than the exception. 

Seany

Dear Editor,

The blind represent such a minority, especially those of us who are totally blind. For those of us who never had sight, business isn't willing to take the risk of hiring us because of our unemployment rate, even though it's not our fault. For years I worked for the insurance industry, and they are the greediest people unless you have the right connections, political or otherwise. One of my sisters owned her insurance agency. She could have hired me but said she couldn't afford me.  This was in the late '70s, and the so-called reasonable accommodation to hire me would have cost her a grand total of $9.00 a year; no fooling. She talked about how companies could get a tax write-off for hiring people like us, but somehow, for her, it wouldn't work. I had other relatives who had businesses who didn't want anything to do with a blind person.

I am the youngest of 17 children. There's no easy solution.  In a way I owe my first job to the hippie movement. I started working at the Prudential Center in 1966 after being told by someone at the Massachusetts Commission for the blind that I was unemployable. I was almost arrested for going to the Employment Security office in Government Center because I was looking for work like a normal person. They were dead serious.  When I notified them that the Prudential hired me, they said if they could ever help me in the future, they would, but never did. Also, I took a Civil Service exam, which I passed with a 90.2.  However, it was the wrong exam and, like it was my fault, they refused to correct their error. I wasn't given the chance to even think about college. Perkins did nothing, even though I received a Dictaphone certificate for typing 155 lines an hour when the Dictaphone Corporation only required 125. I typed more than 70 words a minute accurately, while there was a lot of internal discrimination in the company, even though I was a legitimate employee. I'm glad I was able to work because I wouldn't know what I’d be doing now, but I resent blind people who don't make any effort to look for work. How many people were given the chance to go to college and did nothing when they got their degrees? I realize that sometimes things happen that are very much beyond our control, but I'm truly poor without even a savings account. I can’t get SSI or Medicaid because my Social Security is supposedly too high. Besides being totally blind with 2 other disabilities, I have 3 chronic diseases, one being cardiac coronary disease; I've had 4 heart attacks. I'm supposed to somehow absorb the expenses that Medicare doesn't cover. It's a very scary situation and I get absolutely no help.

You are welcome to share this information because none of us knows what turns our lives may take.  It's as if I'm being punished for working; and, frankly, I think it's harder for blind people to find jobs today than it was when I started.

We really need to be imaginative about trying to find a place for ourselves in the working world. In May I'll be 70 and no one wants to hire someone who has been out of the work force since the early '80's, but I'm still trying to earn something. There is a shortage of church organists all over the country, but unless you can drive, and if you live in a rural area, there's nothing you can do. I moved here to New Hampshire 14 years ago for a job that didn't materialize, and it's too expensive to move with a full-size church organ in my apartment. If you're a praying person, please remember me. Thanks for your time.

Linda Brown

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Greetings, Directory Assistance

by Karen Crowder

Twenty years ago, calling Directory assistance was simple

A friendly voice asked us for city-state and phone number

Information always  presented with a smile

For the blind and elderly directory assistance was convenient.

We knew the end was near

When a recording asked you to write down the phone number requested

Today a computerized voice cordially asks for city and state

When we carefully recite do you hear us?

You often give the wrong city or state

When frustrated we say "no you are confused, your now monotonous voice asking us to repeat”

When I almost mispronounce Leominster, you understand  

You politely ask for a business or residence, when we give its name word by word,

you often present us with a business or residence we never heard of.

When transferred to an operator

We are content finally receiving correct information.  

We miss a bygone era

When a dependable friendly operator answered.

They were familiar with cities and towns across the U.S.

Giving us prompt service with correct phone numbers.

Automation was so efficient for your growing corporations.

Operators disappeared

Now we have an impersonal inefficient directory assistance.    

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Writers Devoted Our Time to You

by Karen Crowder

 

The Ziegler magazine has been appreciated by the blind since the early 1900s

Its articles engaging and informing readers around the globe.

For over one hundred years, it graced homes and schools

It arrived each month, in Braille, and later also audio formats

Audiences perusing Special Notices, Reader's Forum and the pen pal columns

Special Notices advertised summer camp cruises run by or for the blind.

Confident blind adults advertised their businesses, and books written by blind authors

The Pen Pal column helped link people across the globe

Reader's Forum was our community for expressing complaints and opinions;

we would share triumphs big and small

Intelligent commentary captivating every reader's attention.  

In 2010 the Ziegler evolved in to a weekly online publication

Blind writers were hired to produce OP Ed and feature articles

We were honored to work writing for this magazine

It boosted our confidence and self-esteem

Every week we hoped to inform, enlighten or entertain blind audiences with our writing

Every week we patiently devoted hours creating articles

We diligently researched topics and stories to delight our cherished audience

Writers spent days writing and revising every article

Many late Sunday nights I would do final rewrites

Patiently finding the right words and sentences to express my ideas.

We Conscientiously sent articles to our editor for each Monday edition

On Monday January 6,  2014, without warning this marvelous publication went into a hiatus

Sending ten writers in to the ranks of the unemployed

Face book or a blog will never erase the void left for thousands of readers

Many do not have computers and relied on the words of the Matilda Ziegler on

News line.

Our articles and columns delighted thousands of loyal fans

They now ask, "when will we hear the words of the Matilda Ziegler again?

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The Consumer Vision Trivia Contest

Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the March/April Consumer Vision. Of Columbia, Canada and Mexico, Columbia is the country which is not in North America.

Congratulations to the following winners:

Debi Black of Sun Lakes, Arizona

Don Hanson of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts

Karen Palau of Buffalo, New York

Robert Baran of Chicopee, Massachusetts

Joyce Driben of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Phyllis Stevens of Johnson City, Tennessee

Marda Anderson Bartel of Austin, Texas

Jean Marcley of Brenda, Arizona

Mark Blier of Sierra Vista, Arizona

Susan Jones of Indianapolis, Indiana

And now, here is your trivia question for the May/June Consumer Vision.

Who was the oldest of the Walton boys on the television series, “The Waltons”?

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

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