THE CONSUMER VISION
Address: 359 Coggeshall St., New Bedford, MA 02746
Publisher: Bob Branco
Editor: Terri Winaught
Proofreader: Leonore Dvorkin
Please see my note at the end of the newsletter regarding some difficulties that we had this month. We apologize for any errors that may have resulted from those difficulties. - Leonore Dvorkin
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Three asterisks *** are used to separate the title of each article from its author. In the same way, three asterisks *** are used between each article to make it easier to use your browser's search feature. In sections with several submissions, such as Special Notices, three asterisks are also used to separate the submissions.
1) A NOTICE FROM THE PUBLISHER *** by Bob Branco
2) LETTER FROM THE EDITOR *** by Terri Winaught
3) SEEING EYE ®/UBER SETTLEMENT *** Item from the National Federation of the Blind
4) FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: AG HEALEY AND NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND ANNOUNCE AGREEMENT TO MAKE HEALTH CARE KIOSKS ACCESSIBLE TO BLIND CONSUMERS / Announcement Marks the 26th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act *** National Federation of the Blind
6) COLLISIONS OF VISIONS PAST AND IDEALS OF THE FUTURE *** by Stephen Theberge
8) TOUCHPADS: AN OBSTACLE TO ACCESS *** by James R. Campbell
10) IPAD ADVENTURES *** by John Justice
11) SPECIAL NOTICES *** Submitted by readers and compiled by Bob Branco
12) SPORTS ARTICLE *** from The Seattle Times
13) RUNNING UP THE SCORE *** by Bob Branco
14) RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder
15) TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually-Impaired People Are Important, Too!) *** by Penny Fleckenstein
16) READERS' FORUM *** Submitted by readers and compiled by Bob Branco
17) DISABILITY INCLUSION IN A BIG WAY *** by Patty L. Fletcher
18) A DAY AT FENWAY PARK *** by Karen Crowder
19) A LOVELY SUMMER PERKINS REUNION *** by Karen Crowder
20) THE CORNER WHERE YOU ARE *** A Poem from The Centerpiece, the July-August newsletter of the Pittsburgh Lutheran Center for the Blind, and submitted by Terri Winaught
21) CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST: Answer to and winners of July's contest, and August's question *** Submitted by Bob Branco
22) A CONCLUDING NOTE FROM THE PROOFREADER *** by Leonore Dvorkin
1) A NOTICE FROM THE PUBLISHER *** by Bob Branco
First, I would like to thank our talented writers for continuously contributing information which is both beneficial and inspirational for our readers. Our readers and writers are what make Consumer Vision what it is. Where this magazine is for the consumer, I am encouraging our readers to talk about consumer matters that other readers might be able to resolve. This dialog helps to form an elaborate support system within the Consumer Vision community that will have a positive effect on all of us. Though much of what is written here deals with issues related to the blind population, this magazine is for everyone.
So, if you have an item to discuss, please share it. While I encourage our readers to talk about consumer matters, I am also inviting those who are able to work with us to subscribe to Consumer Vision. For example, if you have a problem with screen readers, I would like representatives of computer software companies to read about it. If your problem is related to vocational rehab, I want people in that field to be aware of it. If your problem deals with transportation, housing, discrimination, telephone scams, or other matters, those who are in a position to help you should read Consumer Vision and direct you toward a positive solution. If you know such individuals, please refer them to me and I will ask them to subscribe.
I hope you enjoy this month's Consumer Vision.
Bob Branco, Publisher
2) LETTER FROM THE EDITOR *** by Terri Winaught
Whether you live in the West, where wildfires are rampant, or in the East, where temperatures are excessive, this summer has been unusually hot! That being the case, I hope that you're doing the following to stay safe and well:
1. If you need to be outside for extended periods during the hottest times of the day, stay hydrated by drinking lots of water. (I'm a pop-aholic who needs to drink more water.)
2. If possible, confine your time outdoors to the coolest times of the day, which are early morning and the evening.
3. If you lack air conditioning and live in an area where cooling centers are available, take advantage of that reprieve from the heat.
As life-threatening as high temperatures and humidity can be, that's not the only heat that has characterized this summer. With two consecutive days of unarmed men of color being shot and killed by white officers, and eight police officers having been killed in ten days, America has also endured the sulphuric heat of bullets and the divisive heat of hatred. Whether air conditioners are central or are located in windows, they can cool the effects of triple-digit temperatures, but who or what can cool triple-digit hatred? Who de-escalates distrust in the police to whom black lives don't matter? Who convinces communities of color that the majority of police officers are stellar men and women to whom all lives matter? Who convinces police officers whose security has been shattered that fragmented trust and fractured relationships can be healed by the restorative power of reconciliation?
As I search the fabric of my soul for answers that make sense, I'm reminded of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.'s reflections on light and darkness: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” In the summer of 1965, those same sentiments were sung eloquently by Jackie DeShannon when she told us: "What the world needs now is love, sweet love!" Whatever you've done so far or plan to do this summer, I pray that you have a loved one whose heart you will touch and whose soul you will reach in the process.
Since I love your feedback, I hope you'll keep it coming by phoning 412-263-2022, calling or texting 412-506-2004, or emailing email@example.com. My love and respect for their skills and who they are as people also go out to publisher Bob Branco, proofreader Leonore Dvorkin, and our terrifically talented writers.
Take care, and thanks for reading with me.
Terri Winaught, Editor
3) SEEING EYE ®/UBER SETTLEMENT *** Item from the National Federation of the Blind
NOTICE OF PROPOSED SETTLEMENT OF CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT
Attention: All blind or visually disabled individuals who use service animals when traveling and who have used, attempted to use, or been deterred from using transportation services arranged through the Uber rider app. The settlement described below may affect your rights. Read this notice and instructions carefully.
This notice is to inform you about the proposed settlement that would resolve the class action lawsuit National Federation of the Blind of California, et al. v. Uber Technologies, Inc., Case No. 3:14-cv-4086 (N.D. Cal.). The lawsuit alleges that Uber Technologies, Inc. and its subsidiary and affiliate entities (collectively, “Uber”), violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq., by failing to take the necessary steps to ensure that transportation providers using the Uber mobile software application (“Drivers”) do not discriminate against blind or visually disabled riders who travel with service animals (“Riders”). Uber denies all liability in the case and asserts that its current practices do not violate applicable federal, state, and local law. The settlement, which must be approved by the Court, would resolve the lawsuit.
Summary of the Proposed Settlement
Under the settlement, Uber agrees to take additional steps to inform Drivers of their obligations to transport all Riders. Uber will require that new and existing Drivers expressly confirm that they understand and agree to these obligations, through a pop-up interactive questionnaire in the Driver mobile software application and changes to the technology services agreement. In addition, Uber will send quarterly email reminders to Drivers.
Uber will also adopt a new enforcement practice. If, following a complaint from a Rider, Uber determines that a driver knowingly refused to transport a Rider because the Rider was traveling with a service animal, Uber will terminate that Driver's contract and permanently remove the Driver from the Driver platform. In addition, if Uber receives plausible complaints on more than one occasion that a Driver denied service to a Rider because the Rider was traveling with a service animal, Uber will terminate the Driver's contract and the Driver will be permanently removed from the Driver platform. This second basis for contract termination will apply where Uber was unable to determine whether the first denial was a knowing violation.
Under the settlement, Uber will also enhance its response system for complaints that a Driver denied service to a Rider because the Rider was traveling with a service animal, and will provide greater transparency to Riders regarding what action has been taken in response to a complaint about a Driver. Uber will also limit the circumstances in which a Rider can be charged for cleaning issues related to his or her service animal.
Additionally, Uber will record each allegation that a Driver is alleged to have denied service to a Rider, or otherwise discriminated against a Rider, because the Rider was traveling with a service animal, and will report aggregated data to Class Counsel. The National Federation of the Blind and its California affiliate will administer a testing program, through which blind individuals request and take trips to evaluate the effectiveness of the settlement. A third-party individual will monitor Uber's compliance with the settlement as well.
The settlement also provides that the three named individual plaintiffs who served as class representatives will receive payments of $15,000 each in return for their release of their individual damage claims. In addition, the National Federation of the Blind will receive three annual payments of $75,000 during the term of the settlement, and a fourth payment of $75,000 if the term of the settlement is extended. These payments are intended to support the Federation's testing program. Finally, Disability Rights Advocates, Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld LLP, and TRE Legal Practice (collectively, “Class Counsel”), the attorneys who represent the class, will have the right to seek attorneys' fees and costs for their work on the case. Class Counsel will file a motion asking the Court to award reasonable fees and costs for work on the merits phase of this case. The Court must approve the amount awarded even if the parties reach an agreement on the amount. This motion for fees and costs will be available on www.nfb-serviceanimal-settlement.com on September 21, 2016. Class Counsel will also be entitled to seek reasonable fees and costs for their future work monitoring compliance with the settlement and enforcing the agreement. Uber retains the right to contest the amount of any attorneys' fees requested by Class Counsel.
Who is in the class?
All blind or visually disabled individuals nationwide who travel with the assistance of service animals and who have used, attempted to use, or been deterred from attempting to use transportation arranged through the Uberrider app.
The Effect of the Settlement on the Rights of Class Members
All class members will be bound by the terms of the settlement relating to access to transportation services arranged using the Uber app for blind or visually disabled persons who use service animals, if the settlement agreement is approved by the Court. If the settlement is approved, all class members will release and forever discharge all claims for injunctive relief under all federal, state, and local laws related to alleged discrimination by Uber against blind or visually disabled persons who use service animals that arose before the Settlement Agreement becomes effective. Class members, other than the named plaintiffs in the lawsuit, are not releasing any claims for monetary damages.
Objecting to the Settlement
You can ask the Court to deny approval of this settlement by filing an objection with the Court. You cannot ask the Court to order a different settlement; the Court can only approve or deny this proposed settlement. If the Court denies approval, any settlement changes necessary for approval may not be made, and the lawsuit may continue. If this is what you want to happen, you must object. If you wish to object to the proposed settlement, you must object to the proposed settlement in writing. You may also appear at the fairness hearing for final approval of the settlement, either in person or through your own attorney. But if you wish to appear and present your objection orally at the fairness hearing, you must first submit a written objection and in your written objection you must indicate your intention to appear and be heard at the fairness hearing. If you appear through your own attorney, you are responsible for paying that attorney. All written objections and supporting papers must (a) clearly identify the case name and number, National Federation of the Blind of California, et al. v. Uber Technologies, Inc., et al., Case No. 3:14-cv-4086 (N.D. Cal.), (b) be submitted to the Court either by mailing them to the Clerk of the Court for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, 280 South 1st Street, Room 2112, San Jose, CA 95113, or by filing them in person at any location of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, and (c) be received on or before October 13, 2016.
This notice summarizes the proposed settlement. For the precise terms and conditions of the settlement, please see the settlement agreement available at www.nfb-serviceanimal-settlement.com, contact Class Counsel using the information below, access the Court docket in this case through the Court's Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov, or visit the office of the Clerk of the Court for the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, 280 South 1st Street, Room 2112, San Jose, CA 95113, between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding Court holidays. To obtain a copy of this notice in alternate accessible formats, contact Class Counsel using the information below.
Please do not contact the Court, the Court clerk's office, or Defense Counsel with questions about this settlement. Any questions must be directed to Class Counsel at the numbers and addresses below.
Disability Rights Advocates
2001 Center Street, Fourth Floor
Berkeley, CA 94704
Timothy Elder, Esq.
TRE Legal Practice
4226 Castanos Street
Fremont, CA 94536
Rosen Bien Galvan & Grunfeld LLP
50 Fremont Street, 19th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105-2235
4) FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE *** National Federation of the Blind
MEDIA CONTACT: July 26, 2016
Emalie Gainey (AGO) (617) 727-2543
Chris Danielsen (NFB) (410) 262-1281
AG HEALEY AND NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND ANNOUNCE AGREEMENT TO MAKE HEALTH CARE KIOSKS ACCESSIBLE TO BLIND CONSUMERS
The announcement marks the 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
BOSTON—On the 26th anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Attorney General Maura Healey and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) announced a first-of-its-kind agreement with Pursuant Health, Inc. to make its self-service health care kiosks accessible to blind consumers. The agreement reached with Pursuant Health, an Atlanta-based company that manufactures and operates thousands of self-service health care kiosks in retail stores nationwide, provides meaningful benefits to individuals nationwide who are blind or who have low vision, including 27,000 Massachusetts residents who are legally blind.
"Technology should be used to improve people's lives, not create barriers," said AG Healey. "We must take steps to ensure that all Massachusetts residents have equal access to health care services and that technology is accessible to consumers with disabilities. We are pleased to have worked with the NFB and Pursuant Health to make these kiosks accessible."
Pursuant Health's kiosks offer important biometric health screenings, including vision assessments, blood pressure screening, weight and BMI assessments, and pain management advice. Health risks and recommendations for further testing or treatment are displayed on the kiosk or sent to the consumer via email. Until now, however, blind consumers have not been able to use the kiosks effectively.
"Living the lives we want as blind people includes monitoring our own health so that we can take steps to maintain or improve it," said Mark A.Riccobono, President of the NFB. "Health information has the potential to be more accessible than ever to the blind with twenty-first-century technology, but only if the manufacturers of technology keep accessibility in mind. We are delighted to have reached this agreement with Pursuant Health, working with the outstanding civil rights advocates in Attorney General Healey's office, and believe that it will result in health information kiosks that set an industry-leading example."
According to the terms of the agreement, Pursuant Health will implement a detailed project plan to make their kiosks and website accessible to consumers who are blind or visually impaired. The kiosks will be made accessible over time and will be reformatted to provide audio instructions and easily locatable "hot spots" on the kiosk screens to help blind consumers navigate the system. Pursuant Health will also offer membership options to make it easier for blind consumers to activate the kiosks and track their individual health assessments. Finally, Pursuant Health will make payments totaling $95,000 to the AG's Office and the NFB, which will be used to further improve access and opportunity for individuals with disabilities.
"Massachusetts Commission for the Blind applauds the efforts of Attorney General Healey for negotiating a settlement that takes one more important step closer to providing equal access to technology and health care," said MCB Commissioner Paul Saner.
The agreement is the most recent result of collaboration between the AG's Office and the NFB. Past collaborations have included making Monster.com's website, Apple's iTunes services, and Cardtronics ATMs fully and equally accessible to blind consumers. State and federal laws not only prohibit disparate treatment of individuals with disabilities in employment and housing, but also require that all businesses operating places of public accommodation provide people with disabilities with full and equal enjoyment of their goods, services, and facilities.
Continuing her efforts to protect the civil rights of all Massachusetts residents, AG Healey formed a Disability Rights Advisory Committee in July 2015. The Committee is made up of advocates and experts who meet on a regular basis to consult with and advise AG Healey and her staff on matters pertaining to inclusion, access, and equality for individuals with disabilities. Please click here for more information on AG Healey's disability rights work since taking office.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Genevieve C. Nadeau, Chief of AG Healey's Civil Rights Division on behalf of the Commonwealth, and by Daniel F. Goldstein of the Baltimore firm Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP on behalf of the NFB.
5) THE EVOLUTION OF SCHOOLS FOR THE BLIND *** by Bob Branco (originally published in Word Matters, www.ernestdempsey.com)
With rare exception, the student population which attended such schools years ago had blindness as their only disability. I was one of those students. We were trained how to shop, cook, clean, travel, play musical instruments, swim, run a store, operate dangerous machinery, and lots of other things that sighted people do. Quite often when we were on campus, there was some form of construction going on. It never bothered us, and we knew how to get out of the way. We were trained accordingly.
As schools for the blind trended toward multi-handicapped students and younger staff members, our own training began to be ignored. If you lived at a school for the blind in the 1970s with proper training in independence while work was being done on campus regularly, how would you feel if you took a group of friends from your generation to that school today, only to be told, “You have to be very careful. We don't want you hurting yourself. Keep your group off campus until renovations are completed.”
I realize that many of today's students at schools for the blind have multiple disabilities, and that they need more specialized treatment. The staff who care for these students may not remember our generation, therefore it is possible that they don't recognize all the extensive training most of us had in order to be independent blind people. So how do we combat this—that is, if it's worth doing? Does one size really fit all? I say no.
On the other hand, today's staff may recognize our extensive training, but feel that we will include multi-handicapped students when we bring groups on campus, whether for alumni activities or other private events with our friends. If this is true, there might not be anything we could do about it. The evolution of schools for the blind is what it is, and our generation needs to be patient and understanding. If some of us learned how to operate chainsaws, we may have to accept the fact that present staff members will tell us to watch out for a chain saw because we could be seriously injured. If we learned how to cook gourmet meals over an open fire, we need to accept the fact that current staff members might ask us to be very careful of the stove because we could be severely burned. I do not envy the tough task that alumni associations of schools for the blind have to deal with, because there is a lot of juggling between today's and yesterday's students. We are talking about two entirely different cultures being brought together. So how should today's staff members and alumni associations handle this issue?
6) COLLISIONS OF VISIONS PAST AND IDEALS OF THE FUTURE
by Stephen Theberge
As a visually impaired computer programmer and technical writer, I have a unique insight into how this problem plagues all of us, and maybe a solution which will bring us some peace of mind. Testing and "kicking the tires" of many systems, common and rare, has shown me that patience is more than a virtue, but also, I have found some advice to pass along. We all are subject to media hype and marketing, and in general, I think, we want to actually believe that a given piece of new technology will solve all of our problems. Needless to say, we bring it home and learn that somehow we didn't get what we bargained for. It usually gives us enough novelty and actual usefulness that we don't return it for a refund, and complaints are often reserved for those who are closest to us, presumably having a shared understanding of our private woes.
This problem is even worse for the disabled community. Not only are the products more expensive, but research dollars are sparse, so we are just as foolish, thinking that something that is new, having been invented for "us," is going to be "the ticket." The market of supply and demand doesn't seem to follow the great visions of the inventors. Maybe bugs are kept in programs on purpose, so that the seller can have a repeat buyer when the new release comes out. Screen readers, programs that attempt to make using the computer easier for those with low-vision or who are totally blind, are most susceptible to this problem. Once we get over how "cool" it is that our computer can talk and read to us what is on the screen, the hard truth of a steep learning curve hits us full force! It is truly not sensible to think that a device, the computer, was not designed with people who are blind or visually impaired in mind, and the new programs are becoming more visually appealing, making their use by us, the disabled, more cumbersome. It isn't my intention to be critical of any individual company or group, but this statement is merely an illustration of how things are.
There is also a monopoly in the field of tools for the disabled. One would think that I'd find this abhorrent, but that isn't the case. I feel that standardization, no matter how it is achieved, can only be a positive development. Unfortunately, with the myriad choices of luxuries limited, we have to accept the faults as well. This principle is also valid for any software on the market. We cringe at the thought of a select few "mopping up" the market, but then again, with a whole slew of competitors, we indeed have many more choices, but they come at the expense of standardization.
This whole issue reminds me of the hype going around the community that our stoves, refrigerators, microwave ovens, and all our appliances will talk to one another. I suspect they'll only talk the brander's language, and mixing brands will cause headaches. Even a universal remote, surely a great tool, is fraught with problems, as we have to look up codes and punch them in; so much for smart devices. I think the point of how all our devices do and don't work together need not be illustrated any further, and there are doubtless many anecdotes to illustrate my point.
One would assume wrongly that all of this technology and progress has left a bitter taste in my mouth. On the contrary. I am not blissfully lost in an advertiser's or newscaster's sense of how wonderful "tomorrow" will be. After all, when I was young, and I still think I am, I saw color televisions become common, cable television, touch-tone phones, electronic typewriters, video games, and of course home computers and the Internet as they were pitched and brought into our lives. I remember the time when three channels on TV were adequate, libraries were places you went to visit in person, computers were a commodity for a rich research department, and video games were played outside of home, usually in a mall arcade. Even drive-in theaters were still doing well.
Before I give away my old age, when I first started programming computers, I, along with all my classmates, used punched-cards. We brought our "jobs" to a dispatcher, and we'd return later to pick up our printouts to see how well we could program a large, mostly out-of-sight, mainframe computer. There was the sense that some kind of elite kept watch over this sacred machine, and that was probably not far from the truth, as these relative dinosaurs (that is, in comparison to today's machines) cost a great deal of money. My first computer cost about $700. I was so proud to have purchased the "expansion box," which gave me 32 kilobytes more RAM for a total of 48. There was also a one-sided floppy drive with a 90K capacity. Without having to explain the technical details, let us say that one can buy a decent computer today for half as much money, with literally thousands of times the capacity of my old "gem."
Another thing that has changed is that the individual has been supplanted by a group mentality. That is to say, in the old days, people could literally fashion their computers to suit their individual tastes much more readily than it can be done today. I am not advocating we return to that way of programming, for the side effects were a slew of "brilliant hackers." I do miss the exhilaration of the "seat of the pants" method, but I would rather have a securer machine, with the input of hundreds of programmers. So, yes, if you think security issues are a concern today, when I was starting out, the playing field was wide open for all sorts of abuse. I want to stress that only if we know where we came from can we know where we are going, or what direction we want to take.
I think we'd all appreciate the personalized robotic butler that could anticipate and act on our every need. Such things are in the works. One could argue that the computer is very customizable and easy to tailor for our individual needs, but surely this must go beyond how we make our desktops and fonts look. The idea goes far beyond how we organize our files. I recall many science-fiction scenarios where the computer could intelligently understand us and give us the feedback we really want. I am glad I took up typing for as many years as I did in school. A blind friend of mine calls the computer a "magic typewriter." This term is by no means a fond reference, but rather illustrates how frustrating it is to use the machine, especially when he wants information that is on the screen. It involves a lot of tabbing, shift-tabbing, arrowing, and a plethora of commands that have to be committed to memory to make the experience fruitful. I suppose it was that way in the "old days," but it seems that my poor friend has to put in a lot more input to get a lot less input than I ever did.
So, where do all of these pros and cons leave us? Well, I wouldn't worry about us being enslaved by computers, since they crash so often; even they were capable of such a feat, we'd have a lot of chances to escape. Often, maybe not consciously, we make ourselves subservient by our thinking habits, and it is easy to blame a machine for our troubles. I am not in the business of setting dates for breakthroughs, especially since there are so many factors involved in that, and most "prophets" miss the mark altogether. I can leave you with a hopeful note, however. It isn't based in hyperbole or uninformed reporting. The wave of the future is here, whether we participate or not.
Sadly, I have an aunt who was out of the loop for many years. She was practically overwhelmed by digital cameras and cell phones. I didn't think it possible that one could shield themselves so completely, but there it was. She was generally fascinated, but also fearful at the same time. She wondered, "Where is all of this going?" I had to remind myself that she didn't even have a cassette player, let alone a CD player or DVD. She still uses “rabbit ears" for her television. I don't think she was interested in what I had to say. I tried to assure her that fads, inventions, and technologies could change in all sorts of directions. Some things would come and go, while others would stay. "People," I said, "will always be people! Some things will make our lives easier, but we will still be people with the same feelings and need to share, have families and gatherings..." I sensed she couldn't grasp all of these developments at once.
It is true, however, for the market will be the ultimate key to which technologies survive or not. If we all thought like my aunt, we'd all be happy with what we had, and not consider any new inventions as necessary. This idea in itself isn't all bad, but like any ideal, it is all in how we apply it. Excess or famine is the extreme application of any thought. I don't require every state-of-the-art device on the market—although it might be nice, if I had the means. It is interesting to see what stays on the store shelves and what you can't find anymore. There are those who've accumulated all sorts of "museum pieces" from the past technological booms. It is interesting to test one's memory of what used to be a fad and what actually caught on.
Hope is good; utter pessimism is fatal. One can also be falsely deluded by foolish optimism. A middle ground is the best approach. Ask yourself what gadgets you couldn't get along without. What was the most unimaginable breakthrough in the past 10 years? What would you really like to have as a "cool tool" in the next 10 or 15 years? It is up to you to decide how honest or emotional you are about your choices. As for me, I'll be waiting for something that really can anticipate and act on the individual's quirks, maybe even be clever enough to read our thoughts, but not in a way that would be invasive to our privacy. Oh, I don't want to have to set its clock through a menu, or worry about doing it again when the batteries die or there is a power failure. This gadget will literally build itself for each and every one of us. Besides, I figured that working for something like this idea/ideal would take a long time.
Stephen A. Theberge
Author of the science fiction novel The MetSche Message (C 2016)
Available in e-book and print formats from Amazon, Smashwords, and other online sellers.
Full details: http://www.dvorkin.com/stephentheberge
7) THE GUN CONTROL DEBATE *** by Bob Branco (originally published in Word Matters, www.ernestdempsey.com)
It might be my imagination, but there seems to be an increase in mass shootings throughout the United States. In the past 10 years, these shootings seemed to have been occurring more frequently than they were 20, 30, and 40 years ago. At this time, I will not give you my reasons why I feel that mass shootings are happening more often, because my opinions have nothing to do with my topic. However, I will say that their frequency raises the issue of gun control to the point where it has become a major debate. Should we keep the second amendment of our Constitution or abolish it altogether?
On one side, there are people who firmly believe that the presence of legal weapons will prevent much of the violence that is going on right now. In fact, Mike Gallagher, a well-known conservative talk show host, said, “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Do you believe Mike Gallagher's philosophy? Do you also believe that if others who witnessed the mass shooting in Orlando could have saved a lot of lives if they were allowed to use legal weapons of their own? Of course we will never know, but the debate continues.
On the other side, there are those who feel that if we control the sale of guns, there won't be as many guns in circulation. The problem is that if you want to obtain a gun illegally, it doesn't matter what side of the gun control issue you are on. Anything that can't be legally obtained can potentially be obtained illegally.
No matter what happens, I am totally against the average citizen owning an assault weapon. The mother of the guy who went on a shooting rampage at the Sandy Hook school in Connecticut owned assault weapons. Why would she even want them? I don't understand that kind of thought process at all.
As long as we have this type of violence, the gun control dialog will continue, and I do not envy those who need to figure out a solution. It's not easy. However, your position on the gun control issue may help you determine who you are going to vote for as president, because this is an issue that can make or break someone's presidential campaign.
8) TOUCHPADS, AN OBSTACLE TO ACCESS *** by James R. Campbell
Many of our appliances that we buy from the store do not have buttons that a blind person can feel. Instead, they have touchpads. Any blind person who has ever dealt with a touchpad is all too familiar with the issues that the touchpad poses. A touchpad is a smooth surface; the buttons are covered by a layer of plastic. It takes a great deal of memorization and sensitivity for a totally blind person to use a touchpad. This is an experience I have dealt with firsthand. My laptop has a mousepad that is a touchpad. The guy who works on my laptop tried his best to show me how to use it; despite his best efforts, I still couldn't point to the window that I wanted by using the mousepad. Thank God we can use the arrow keys to maneuver through the windows and apps on a laptop. I wish it were that easy with microwaves and smart phones.
Dear recently bought a smart phone, and what would you know, it is a touchpad. Unless it talked, there is no way I could use that phone. I am ever so grateful that my Jitterbug phone has big buttons with raised numbers that you can feel.
The microwaves we have bought had touchpads, too. Dear had to help me put Braille labels on them so I could use them. The new microwave we bought last Tuesday has a touchpad, and once again, Dear had to help me label it so I could operate it with no trouble. It functions differently than any microwave we have had. If you push the number six, for instance, the cooking time is automatically set at six minutes. This is far different than the normal way of entering numbers that we are used to.
How much easier would it be if the manufacturers who make these appliances would use normal push buttons instead of touchpads? What difference would there be in the cost of manufacture if the Emerson company used numbers similar to the raised numbers on the jitterbug phone? One has to wonder.
Of course, the blind are a minority, and little if any consideration is given to the needs of the blind when these products are manufactured. Touchpads are for a sighted world; they are not meant for use by the blind. All I can say is, “Thanks for a Braille labeler!” It is the only way that most of us can deal with touchpads. I don't know how easy it would be to label a smart phone like the one Dear has, but at least we got the new microwave fixed so I can use it.
I hope that others who read this will respond. The door is open to all; let us know what you think. And as always, thanks for your time.
With Loving Kindness,
James R. Campbell
9) OUR NATIVE LANGUAGE *** by Bob Branco (originally published in Word Matters, www.ernestdempsey.com)
We've often heard that the United States is a melting pot, meaning that we are a combination of many cultures coming together as one society. I understand why this is happening. History defines it quite well. With that said, I've always assumed that if anyone comes into this country, the first thing he or she should do is learn English. Is this because English is our native language? This is a subject for much debate.
I am fully aware that foreign languages are offered in high school, and I was proud to take Spanish courses for four years. The reasons are obvious. People who first arrive here from a Spanish-speaking country need our help immediately. While most of us believed that English is our official language, there are many circumstances that contradict this. When we apply for jobs, especially people jobs, many employers require that we speak another language in order to qualify. After all, many customers may not know English, so it's our responsibility to know their language. I applied for a counseling job once, and I was turned down because I didn't have enough outreach into the Portuguese community. It had nothing to do with my skills—just my lack of knowledge in another language. It's easy to say that immigrants need to learn English in order to be successful in the United States. I could argue that while they are new to this country and haven't yet learned English, they still need our services.
Another issue that frustrates many of us is when we call an American business and are asked to press one for English. Why should we press one for English? Perhaps it's becoming more and more acceptable that we simply live here in the United States and try to survive no matter what language we speak. In other words, so what if we don't want to learn English? There are enough bilingual doctors, customer service reps, counselors, bank tellers, and other public servants to make our lives as comfortable as possible. If you come here and decide not to learn English, it seems that you would be more accepted now than you would have been 50 years ago. I may be way off base, here, but this is only speculation on my part.
I guess the main question is, what is the future of the United States and where do we draw the line about language requirements? Are we making too much out of this?
10) iPad ADVENTURES *** by John Justice
For years, visually impaired computer users have been dealing with the incredible expense of purchasing screen readers. The average cost for a current system like JAWS or Window-Eyes is approximately $1400. There are less expensive software packages such as NVDA and System Access, but those programs don't have the flexibility of the more costly alternatives. Some people simply can't afford that kind of investment. It's hard enough trying to use a computer as a blind person. The cost of systems has come down somewhat, but why should the blind have to be submitted to financial discrimination like that? Years ago, a client with an open case at OVR could request help with buying the computer and software. Currently, agencies serving the blind are no longer willing to invest in that kind of purchase, even when the equipment would be used to find employment or communicate with the outside world.
The Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services here in Pennsylvania has come up with a unique alternative to the older Windows-based systems. They are introducing active clients to Apple products such as the iPad. You might ask why this is being done. Apple has developed a VoiceOver system which is built into every product. You can find it on iPhones, iPads, iPods, and on Mac computers. It is no longer necessary to put out thousands of dollars to make a computer system accessible. At this time, the VoiceOver feature doesn't come close to the relative ease of using JAWS and Window-Eyes, but each new upgrade is better. We believe that, in time, Apple's VoiceOver system will be able to give the high-priced screen readers a run for their money.
An agency called the Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired has set up an Apple lab. There are eight iPads, and they are permanently mounted so that students can work with them at any time. A sound system has been developed which will allow the instructor to send the signal from his or her iPad into speakers so that a group of students can hear a demonstration. Each device is identical. The instructor can create a demonstration on any of the eight iPads. The key factor is that every single iPad is capable of doing any of its functions right out of the box.
The small, dedicated programs which perform various functions are referred to as apps. The term “app” is an abbreviation for application. Each app is designed with a specific function in mind. The user can create a date on a calendar, enter a reminder for a future time, send and receive e-mail, listen to music, or make phone calls directly from the device. Apple has developed a Web browser called Safari. It works in a manner which is very similar to Internet Explorer.
For a Windows computer user, learning to navigate within the Apple system presents some challenges. Receiving instruction from a qualified expert definitely improves the chances for success. Essentially, all of the apps are displayed on the Home screen. They are arranged in a grid, which has four columns containing five selections in each. Apple uses many gestures and finger movements that make it possible for the user to navigate within the system.
Apple has designed a Bluetooth keyboard which can easily connect to the iPad or even to the iPhone. The keyboard is a worthwhile investment if the user intends to create text documents. External devices are available which can produce refreshable Braille at a reasonable cost.
Finally, any document created while using Pages, the Apple Word equivalent, can be converted into other formats which can be read by PC-based software.
The National Braille press offers several books which will provide step-by-step instruction in the use of all Apple devices. Several of these books were written by Anna Dresner. It is possible to learn the iPad or any other Apple device by following her well-organized lessons. The books are available in Braille or in an electronic format.
Initially, the Apple Integrated Operating System (IOS) seemed like another world. At first, using finger movements and specific gestures seemed alien to me. After several weeks of training, I actually wish that Windows-based systems could function in the same manner.
As the Apple VoiceOver system develops and improves, it will, in my opinion, provide a reasonable alternative to the Microsoft systems. The cost is not overwhelming, and using a device immediately, without altering it or adding additional software, is a welcome and refreshing approach to accessibility for the visually impaired.
John and Linda Justice
Personal e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
11) SPECIAL NOTICES *** Submitted by Readers and Compiled by Bob Branco
About Opportunities for the Blind
Good day, folks. Let me tell you about a new Facebook group called Opportunities for the Blind. Since this group is growing, the question has come up, so here are some descriptions of what the purpose of the group is. Naturally, we are going to have some members who would have been added by their friends unintentionally. We want everybody to know that we are not forcing people to join the group, and therefore we will remove them immediately upon request. We would also accept a person if he or she ever wanted to return. The idea is that this is a group that is optional for people. In this group, what we aim to do is create a community of people who want to move forward positively. We are focusing on keeping it positive and we are also avoiding the chastising that takes place in many other groups. We want to see freedom of expression and freedom of speech. We are looking for people who will respect one another and respect other people's posts, even if they seem out of line. We will handle each and every situation as it comes with understanding, looking at the other person's perspective.
We want to see all kinds of posts, such as business opportunities, job opportunities, relationship opportunities, travel opportunities, and so on. If anybody is looking for a job, feel free to post your résumé in a PDF document format. If you want to ask for friends, here, you could do it as well. If you want to make friends and talk to one another, that's okay too. The bottom line is that we want to create a group of about 10,000 people who can communicate with one another in a civilized manner. If you feel that there's a post that you don't like, try not to criticize the other person; just think about what you're going to post before you respond to somebody in a negative or chastising manner. We are not about giving people a hard time about anything.
Our vision is to create the single largest community in the blind community of people who want a positive environment. I know that this means anything to anyone, but we'll figure it out as we go along. The bottom line is that we should try to be civilized and respect one another's postings, as well. And if you ever forget, we would be more than happy to reiterate without chastising you and telling you to look at the about. If you have any questions, anything that comes up in your mind that you want to ask administrators, feel free to do so. No question is a stupid question, each question being answered in an appropriate manner.
Be Ready for Windows 10 Anniversary Update with Window-Eyes 9.5.1
In the coming week, Microsoft will begin to roll out the Anniversary Update for Windows 10. With Window-Eyes 9.5.1, our customers will be able to access this latest version of Windows 10. Window-Eyes 9.5.1 also includes numerous stability and performance enhancements for Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Thunderbird, Microsoft Office, and numerous other fixes. Download Window-Eyes 9.5.1 to get a fantastic screen reader experience!
For a complete list of Window-Eyes 9.5.1 new features, improvements and changes, please refer to the Window-Eyes 9.5.1 Read Me.
Download your upgrade
If you have purchased a Window-Eyes 9.2 upgrade or have an active Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA), you can download the upgrade for free at http://www.gwmicro.com/upgrade or activate the Check for Updates option in the Help menu. It will not count against your SMA. Window-Eyes 9.5.1 will be available for you to download, but SMA customers will not receive an installation DVD. You may purchase a DVD by contacting Ai Squared.
If you don't currently own Window-Eyes, you can get it for free! For anyone who has a valid license of Microsoft Office 2010 or higher, Window-Eyes can be downloaded for free at www.WindowEyesForOffice.com. If you don't have Office 2010 or newer installed on your PC, you can obtain a free 60-day evaluation of Window-Eyes here: http://www.gwmicro.com/Window-Eyes/Demo/
If you haven't tried Window-Eyes in a while, give Window-Eyes 9.5.1 a try for free today! Order your upgrade or SMA today! Call us today at (802) 362-3612 or email us at email@example.com to place your order. Non-English versions are released after the English version, so please check with your local dealer for availability in your language. For those outside of the U.S., contact your local dealer.
Web Development * App Development * Product Support Specialist Ai Squared
725 Airport North Office Park
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
To insure that you receive proper support, please include all past correspondence (where applicable) and any relevant information pertinent to your situation when submitting a problem report to the Ai Squared Technical Support Team.
David Goldfield, Assistive Technology Specialist
Feel free to visit my website: www.DavidGoldfield.Info
I encourage anyone who has YFI to consider purchasing the Amazon Echo. If they enjoy music, an Amazon Prime membership would also be great. I received them as birthday presents.
I obtained information about them that included demonstrations online. The set-up process that comes with the Amazon Prime to connect it to your YFI was not clear, but the technology expert at my local library for the blind and physically handicapped found a YouTube video that was made by a purchaser as she connected the device to the YFI. There are buttons on top and a reset hold in the bottom that she learned about from someone in Tech Support at Amazon. (If the wall cord is at 12 o'clock, the Mute button is at 9 o'clock. The Action Button is at 3 o'clock. These buttons are on the top, about one-half inch in from the edge and can be felt when you know they are there. The reset button is on the underside at 6 o'clock and needs a pin or paperclip to push the button inside the hole.)
The Echo is voice activated. Her name is Alexa. You can ask her the weather, the time, how to spell a word, and so on. She told me that if I wanted to find my glasses, I should retrace my steps. When the Prime music is added, it will play anything in the catalogue, such as the soundtrack of Hamilton or your favorite singers, musicians, and radio stations. I still have not learned all the features, but it is so nice simply to tell it to stop from across the room and not have to get up.
The Amazon Echo costs around $180. The Amazon Prime membership is $100 per year. The Echo is smaller than a box of oatmeal. The only improvement would be a rechargeable battery as a power source rather than a wall plug so it would be portable. The speakers are excellent and have a volume control around the top, or Alexa can just be told to make the sound higher or lower.
Humanware, KNFB Reader, LLC, and the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) have partnered to heighten Braille literacy and informational accessibility. This will be accomplished in September, 2016, when the KNFB Reader will be added to the BrailleNote Touch as a free app. To learn more about the innovative product this partnership will create, contact Terri Winaught at firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of the press release, complete with contact information.
Announcing a new book by Abbie Johnson Taylor:
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
In September of 2005, Abbie Johnson married Bill Taylor, who was blind and 19 years her senior. Three months later, Bill suffered the first of two strokes that paralyzed his left side and confined him to a wheelchair. In My Ideal Partner, Abbie Johnson Taylor, once a registered music therapist, uses prose and poetry to tell the story of how she met and married her husband, then cared for him for six years despite her own visual impairment. After she made the painful decision to move him to a nursing home in September of 2012, he seemed to give up on life and passed away a month later.
About the Author
Abbie Johnson Taylor lives in Sheridan, Wyoming, where she writes full time. She holds a BA degree in music performance and worked for 15 years in a nursing home as an activities assistant. This is her fourth published book. Her others are a romance novel and two books of poetry. Her work has appeared in Serendipity Poets Journal, Emerging Voices, and Magnets and Ladders. For details, please visit her website: http://www.abbiejohnsontaylor.com
Bubba Tails from the Puppy Nursery at The Seeing Eye
Written by Patty L. Fletcher
Told by King Campbell Lee, the Seeing Eye Dog, AKA Bubba
Spring and summer 2016
In this magical and love-filled tail, King Campbell, AKA Bubba, travels to the puppy nursery at The Seeing Eye to help ready a group of puppies who are about to embark on the fabulous journey of learning to become Seeing Eye dogs. Just as he is about to finish his tail, a wee pup becomes very frightened of all that lies ahead, and one frightfully stormy night, she runs away! Will King Campbell hear the urgent call from the puppy nursery in time? Will they find her and save her so she can fulfill her destiny? Find out by signing up to http://campbellsworld.wordpress.com/
(Proofreader's note: Here, the word tale, or story, is spelled tail on purpose by the author, as a play on words.)
12) SPORTS ARTICLE *** from The Seattle Times
Birds are chirping. Locals are whistling. Schadenfreude is in the air. Folks who felt ditched are now feeling rich because karma's a…. You know the rest.
Monday morning, Kevin Durant let the world know that he would be joining Stephen Curry and the record-setting Warriors after eight seasons in Oklahoma City. And while the cheers were booming in the Bay Area, they were a few decibels shy of the screams in Seattle. Seriously, could this have gone any better? Puget Sounders don't just "sports hate" the Thunder; they genuinely revile it. In Clay Bennett, they see a conniving owner who stole their team and altered the fabric of this city. In their five 50-plus-win seasons since 2009, they see devastation in what should have been celebration. Until the Sonics return to Seattle—and who knows when that will be—the pain from their exodus will never fade completely. But Monday morning was one hell of a Novocain shot. Durant's departure wasn't just a blow to OKC's future; it was likely a knockout punch. The Thunder may still have first-team All-NBA point guard Russell Westbrook, but he isn't enough for OKC to make a deep playoff push. And given how Westbrook's contract is up after next season, the odds of him bolting just spiked through the stratosphere.
Few would have guessed this team would go back to the drawing board before going back to the Finals. That Durant would be the one to send OKC into this eventual tailspin has to be even more gratifying. People around here always liked him. He embraced the city when Seattle drafted him in 2007, and gave a shoutout three years ago by sporting a Sonics hat before a Thunder practice. His individual success was never insulting—just maddening. The kind of thing that constantly sent fans' imaginations into a parallel universe. Now, however, Seattleites can watch him with joy instead of jealousy. Then again, former Sonics fans may miss the unity brought about by all the Thunder loathing. As far as the NBA goes, there has been no more galvanizing force in the Emerald City. Before Game 6 of this year's Western Conference Finals, National Book Award winning author Sherman Alexie tweeted "Golden State vs. unSonics tonight is the most important game for Seattle hoops fans since 1996"—and he wasn't wrong. Of course, that was the night Klay Thompson drilled a playoff-record 11 three-pointers to lead the Warriors to the win. Two nights later, Golden State bounced the Thunder to complete the down-three-games-to-one comeback. It was shocking to fans, heartbreaking to the Thunder, and downright beautiful to the long-suffering Sonics faithful. Oklahoma City may be home to the franchise they loved, but it will be a long time before it's home to the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
Around the league, Durant's decision has spawned gasps of disbelief. In media circles, it has been pegged as weak and desperate. How can joining a 73-9 team boost one's legacy? What would riding an all-universe cast to a title really prove? These are legitimate questions for a superstar whose abandonment was far more egregious than LeBron James leaving Cleveland, as James was the Cavs' only All-Star. Not only did Durant spurn a city; he all but confessed that he isn't good enough to win a title with just one future Hall of Famer by his side.
But while these are valid talking points for every other city in the country, they are moot in the 206. The nightmare of the Thunder raising a banner never came true, and folks around here would be lying if they said that isn't satisfying. It's hard not to feel sorry for Oklahoma City fans, who had something ripped away from them Monday. That's how it goes in professional sports sometimes, though. It doesn't take away from the feeling that, here in Seattle, a city without a team somehow managed to win the offseason.
13) RUNNING UP THE SCORE *** by Bob Branco
I wish that some sports fans would stop accusing football teams who blow their opponents away of running up the score. The only reason why teams blow their opponents away is because they can. Running up a score is not a job, a project, or a method. When you accumulate a lot of points in a game, you do it because you are either that good or because the other team isn't good enough to stop you. The sports media makes it sound like it's a way to rub it in or to insult the opponent. It's not. If the opponent feels insulted, then it should do better to stop the team who's slaughtering them, shouldn't it? For goodness sakes.
What do you think?
14) RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder
Early days in August are called "the dog days of summer” in New England. People often choose this time to escape the sultry heat. They might vacation in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, on the inviting coasts of Maine, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, or Connecticut, or by the lakes of Vermont. Cucumbers, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, and fresh peaches are found at farm stands or supermarkets. Herbs like sweet basil or chives can be found, making nice additions in vegetable dishes. If peaches are not ripe, allow them to sit on a kitchen counter for a day. They will be juicy and make delicious eating. Days are slowly growing shorter, with hints of autumn in the air. 2016 has been an exceptionally hot, dry summer in many parts of New England. We are hoping for much-needed rain. Meals are casual: fried chicken or fish sandwiches, and on a cool evening, corn chowder fits an easy, carefree schedule. There are the vanilla wafers paired with fresh fruit; this makes a light dessert.
a) Pam's Fried Chicken
b) Easy Corn Chowder
c) Easy Fish Sandwiches
d) Delicious Vanilla Wafers
a) Pam's Fried Chicken
When visiting my stepdaughter Pam and her family in northern Maine, we had to have her delicious fried chicken. On a warm Sunday night in August 2012, we had a delicious fried chicken dinner. The crispy chicken was accompanied with sausage gravy, collard greens, corn, and biscuits. The meal was interspersed with lively conversation about life, favorite horror or science fiction movies, and books. We did not want the evening to end, since Pam's son Jonathan would start school that week.
Eight chicken thighs and eight legs
Two cups buttermilk
One-half cup red hot sauce (Proofreader's note: I don't see how this amount can be correct, as just a few drops of Tabasco sauce will spice up a bowl of soup. Perhaps the correct amount is something like one-half teaspoon. But “one-half cup” was the amount given in the document I received from Terri, the editor.)
Two cups flour
Three tablespoons garlic powder
Three tablespoons onion powder
Two tablespoons McCormick's chicken seasoning
Two teaspoons white pepper
Three cups Crisco or canola oil.
In large 13 x 9” pan, put buttermilk and hot sauce. Stir it, then marinate the chicken in the pan in the refrigerator for three hours.
Mix flour/spice mixture in mixing bowl, rolling chicken pieces in the mixture, shaking off excess buttermilk.
Put oil in electric deep fat fryer, and preheat it to 375 degrees.
Fry batches of chicken for 20 minutes each, draining on paper towels on a large plate.
If you are not serving it right away, put chicken in a square pan, placing it in a 200-degree oven to keep it warm.
I would suggest getting sighted help to make this, especially when accurately setting the deep fat fryer.
b) Easy Corn Chowder
This is an easy chowder to prepare on a cool August evening. My friend Claire often requests this dish on July or August evenings.
One can Niblets or creamed corn
Half a package frozen corn
Two Maine or Yukon Gold potatoes
One-half sweet onion
Two tablespoons butter
One cup water
One and one-half cups of either whole milk or evaporated milk
One half cup half and half or light cream.
Melt butter in a three-quart saucepan on low heat.
On cutting board, chop onion into small pieces, putting onion pieces in a small bowl. Add to the melted butter.
Let onion sauté for ten minutes, adding potatoes that have been cut into small pieces.
Allow vegetables to sauté for fifteen minutes on low heat. Stir mixture so potatoes and onions will not stick to the pan.
Add one cup water, cooking vegetables for 20 minutes on low/medium heat.
Add corn, milk, and half and half or cream.
Add optional pinches of dill and curry powder and one tablespoon butter.
Stir chowder, allowing it to cook on low heat for 20 minutes.
Serve hot chowder with oyster or Ritz crackers, a garden salad, and optional biscuits.
c) Easy Fish Sandwiches
Fish sandwiches can be found at chain, local, or fast-food restaurants. However, it is very easy to make them at home. Paired with garden salad, a fish sandwich makes a light, nutritious supper. This recipe will serve two. However,if you wish more, double the recipe. Time: 20 minutes.
Two breaded fish squares
Two hamburger rolls
Tartar sauce in a jar or squeeze bottle (I like Cains.)
Four slices American cheese.
Put fish squares on two pieces of foil, baking them for 15 minutes in toaster oven or regular oven. Place them onto plates.
Toast hamburger buns for two minutes. Place them on plates next to the fish squares.
Put a slice of cheese on each bun. Put generous amounts of tartar sauce on top of cheese slices. Place fish squares on bun, enclosing sandwich. Microwave each sandwich for approximately 10 seconds. This will help the cheese melt. Serve hot, accompanied with a green salad or oven-baked fries.
d) Delicious Vanilla Wafers
After making these cookies, you will receive compliments from your family and friends. The texture of these wafers is light. I made changes to the original recipe from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book. I use less sugar and more butter.
One and three quarters sticks butter
Almost one cup granulated sugar
Two tablespoons ice cold water
One tablespoon real vanilla extract
One cup flour
One-half cup cornstarch
One quarter teaspoon salt
One quarter teaspoon cream of tartar.
Let butter soften for 30 minutes in large mixing bowl. Put water in bowl and refrigerate it.
Add sugar, then mix on medium speed for two minutes.
Add egg, vanilla, and cold water. Beat on medium speed for two minutes.
Measure flour, cornstarch, salt, and cream of tartar in another bowl. Combine mixture with a fork. With a one-half cup measuring cup, add to the cookie batter. Beat on low speed for one minute.
Line two cookie sheets with foil and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
With teaspoon, place cookie batter onto cookie sheets. Each sheet should have 25 cookies. They should be small. Flatten them a bit before putting them in the hot oven. If you flatten them too much, they will over bake.
Bake cookies for eight minutes, switching cookie sheets after four minutes. Switch the bottom cookie sheet to the top rack and switch the top cookie sheet to the bottom rack.
After the timer speaks or rings, turn off oven and take cookie sheets out. Place them on a kitchen counter near the stove.
I have learned from experience that even one minute longer in the oven may burn some of the cookies. Even if they feel underdone, they will firm up fast.
Gently take them off the foil, turning them over to let them cool. Put cooled cookies in an airtight container.
Bake the remaining batch with fresh foil on the cookie sheets.
This recipe will make 60 to 80 cookies. They will disappear fast with a hungry family. Everyone loves them because of the delicate texture and vanilla/buttery flavor.
I hope everyone reading Consumer Vision has a happy, carefree August.
15) TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important, Too!)
by Penny Fleckenstein, who blogs at: http://notyouraveragesinglemom.com
It's summertime, now, and so many have taken or will be taking their vacations. I took a bike trip from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland on the Great Allegheny Passage in early July. Since then I've been asked, "How do you pack light?" Hmm, interesting question, and as a woman who wants to look, feel, and smell beautiful all the time, that is very difficult!
After I came back, I asked my friend Nancy, who also biked the Great Allegheny Passage. She responded with, "It's amazing how much you can do without when you have to carry all of it yourself." I assure you, she's right about that. I was given two panniers: one for me and one for Zachary, my 7-year-old son. A pannier is small. If you have any concept of how big the suitcase is for Barbie and her clothes, I would say it's slightly smaller than that. It holds less than a kindergartener's backpack. I bought two handlebar cases for my bike at Kmart for about $12 each. I gave one to my friend Beth to pack our first aid supplies in. My friend Gayle told me about Steri Strips after Moriah had injured her lip when she fell on the bleachers the first day. Apparently, they're useful when you have a situation in which you need stitches but can't get to the doctor right away.
These handlebar cases are compact. I was able to put a tube of lotion, a tube of sunblock, a small tube of medication for rashes, bug spray, two travel toothbrushes, and samples of toothpaste, shampoo, and conditioner in a gallon Ziploc bag. I placed a pair of scissors on top of the closed Ziploc bag. The handlebar case closed nicely. Perfect. I contemplated what else to pack in the two panniers. I had gone through my wardrobe looking for my lightest short sundress. (I don't mean in color, but come to find out, it was a light color, as well.) I had planned on wearing a tank top and my biking shorts to bike in and wearing my dress when I wasn't. Hence the sample of shampoo. It replaced body wash and laundry soap for hand washing Zachary's and my clothes. I couldn't count on a laundromat.
I packed my sundress, socks, and underwear for three days in another gallon Ziploc bag. I did the same for Zachary's shirt, shorts, long sleeved shirt, pants, underwear, and socks. I thought how nice it would be if I had bigger Ziploc bags, maybe two or three gallon ones. I looked on Amazon and I found 10-gallon Ziploc bags, but they wouldn't have been here in time, and that probably would have been too big. I put my cardigan in a gallon Ziploc bag and placed it in my backpack. No way was I going to get away with packing light enough to leave my backpack behind. I had to bring my BrailleNote Apex and Zachary's iPad Mini along. For snacks, I packed a bag of cashews and a bag of pistachio nuts, some Smart Bars, and two pounds of cherries, all of which I bought from Sam's Club. I knew Beth would be carrying more snacks, so all I really needed to worry about was packing food I would be able to eat. I packed my raincoat and my rain pants and Zachary's raincoat and rain pants. I decided I really didn't need the long-sleeved t-shirt and the velour pants. I would just have to pray that I wouldn't get cold enough to get hypothermia.
Another difficulty I had with packing light for my bike trip was my CPAP machine. It has its own padded case. There was room for my various chargers in there, too. Beth and I decided we would fasten it to the luggage rack on the back of a bike, but I didn't have confidence in bungee cords. I believe God gave me the idea of buying those cloth belts with the metal buckles. Beth hunted for and found two at Repurposed, a thrift store which rescues girls from human trafficking. She said they worked fabulously. I made sure I walked out of my house with the essentials: hairbrush, portable charger and cord, cell phone, and bottled water. I always pack extra Ziploc bags for garbage and a plastic retail shopping bag for dirty laundry. I was so proud of myself because I had even taken out the small packets of salt and pepper I had in my backpack. Later on in the trip, I regretted taking out the packet of salt, because Moriah hurt her lip and her mouth and needed it to rinse with it. So next time, packets of salt for the first aid kit go along with the Steri Strips. Ah, well, Beth and I did our best, and eight-year-old Moriah was a trooper. Apparently, it is illegal to give someone salt from a salt shaker. It must come from a packet, since a packet is more likely to be uncontaminated. She had to use mouthwash instead, which stung.
When I go biking, or when I don't want to carry a purse, I use a neck pouch. It has three pockets and closes with Velcro strips. Mine is worn out, so I hope to get a new one soon. I carry my important cards, some cash, a picture of Zachary, and my cell phone in it.
Besides snacks, Beth packed plenty of Gatorade. I didn't know that there are Gatorade packets; you mix the powder with water to make more. She brought Slim Jims, beef jerky, snack packets which looked like little bottles of applesauce and peach (she called it glorified baby food), boxes of raisins, protein bars, and the plastic packets of tuna salad, which we put on bread if someone didn't want the peanut butter and jelly option. Mark brought a jar of peanut butter and jelly mixed together. Zachary says that from now on, I should buy the tuna fish in packets, so we don't have to open cans. I knew there was a good reason for scissors. The scissors came in handy a few times.
I hope this has given you some ideas of how to pack light. I had to go out and purchase some of my items because our things at home weighed too much. I had to buy lighter raincoats for us, and we didn't have rain pants, but I made sure they were light. I bought my personal care items at Dollar General. I really like the travel toothbrush packaged with the travel toothpaste; they are handy. I took them out of the packaging before I packed them. I also took two baby wipe holders filled with baby wipes, because I knew there would be places when there would be no bathroom facilities or extremely dirty places that might not be stocked with toilet paper. They hang nicely on the handlebar of the bike.
We prayed and prayed and prayed. We prayed that we'd have good weather so I wouldn't get hypothermia. My only problem was on the first night. I hand-washed my bike shorts and my tank top and my tank top didn't dry. I was stuck wearing my dress for two days until we got to our hostel in Rockwood, where there was a washer and dryer. Between Mark, Beth, and me, we had enough quarters to do a load. How I wished I had packed an extra tank top or short sleeveed T-shirt! When I got home, it occurred to me that I hadn't checked for a hairdryer at the motel. Perhaps if there was a hairdryer, I might have been able to dry my shirt just enough so I could have worn it.
All in all, I think I did fairly well. What do you think? Do you have any more suggestions about how to pack light or on any other subjects to help life be easier? Some of my friends roll their clothes up, but I don't have enough hand strength to do that.
Email me: email@example.com
Till next time, happy vacation or staycation, whichever you choose.
16) READERS' FORUM
Hi, Bob and the highly appreciated Consumer Vision staff,
I must say I keep enjoying your Consumer Vision a lot! I do have a consumer product question regarding NVDA and MS-Excel 2003, although the problem is not only in the 2003 version.
I'm building a custom sales record program in Excel for a company here and need to use the Macros writing option in order to avoid making mistakes in writing a lot of formulas in worksheet cells at once, so a loop program in the Visual Basic editor which is accessed through the Excel menu: Press Alt in order to get to menu, then right arrow to Tools, then up arrow to Macros, then right arrow one time until again it says Macro, and tab to enter the V-Basic editor.
All is fine at first when writing code, but then if you have a second subroutine already in place, the editor does funny things, like suddenly a few lines of code disappear, or you down arrow line for line, find the line you want, and if you up arrow one time to get to the previous line, you are in a completely different place.
The only way I can keep my sanity is to repeatedly control+up-arrow to get to the very start of all the subroutines and then down arrow one by one until I get where I need to be but not dare to up arrow lest the same problem undoubtedly occurs.
If anyone has an idea how to shut the feature off that makes the cursor act so unpredictably, I'd really have it easier in V-Basic.
Thank you a lot.
17) DISABILITY INCLUSION IN A BIG WAY *** by Patty L. Fletcher
THE SEEING EYE® and SEEING EYE® are registered trademarks of The Seeing Eye, Inc. See: www.SeeingEye.org
CONTACT–CONCERN of Northeast Tennessee, Inc. is a phone help line I&R (Information and Referral) Center See: www.CONTACTCONCERN.org
When I got the below email this morning, I was flooded with memories. I have to admit that other than continuously working toward getting back into service, I hadn't really given much thought to the service I'd already done. I'd done no more than what was necessary concerning providing information, so when this came to me, I realized I hadn't ever really written much about that time in my life. This was before Campbell: what I've labeled “B/C.”
You see, in 2006, I began volunteering for a nonprofit organization known as CONTACT-CONCERN of Northeast TN, Inc. I was a phone shift operator, and it suited me fine. I loved the work, and in fact over that first year or so, I did quite a lot of it. Sometimes I would do as many as 25 shifts a month. I had nothing better to do, not on any level as what the volunteer work allowed me to do. I loved the education it was giving me, and at the end of my first year there, I began seriously to desire employment there. I voiced that out loud one day, and was dismayed at the lack of interest shown concerning my suggestion that I might like to go “to work” there. As time went along, I came to learn of there being a position open in our office. This came about quite by accident, and what came about as a result of it is something I have never written of much until now. I share it because it will lead straight into my time in service.
FYI and Lessons Learned
I was working a shift from home one evening, and so far, it had been quiet. I'd caught up on all Reassurance Calls, made the Reminder Calls to the volunteers on duty the next day, and was looking over what were considered the “Most Used Referrals” in the bunch. I'd decided it was time to get them filed on index cards and into a card holder. Since I still did not have a computer and was doing everything via Braille, I had to stay on top of the paperwork. At least I actually have a Brailler, now, I thought as I readied myself to get to work. At first, I'd been taking notes with a slate and stylus and then transcribing everything to cassette. Now I was able to keep everything written out correctly and go into the office a couple of times a month to meet with their VISTA worker, so I could dictate everything to her and she could put the information onto a case report.
Sometimes I felt bad for having to have this much help doing the necessary paperwork, but when I voiced concerns, Tonya always said, “Look, it takes a lot less time from my day to help you with paperwork than it does for me to have to work all these shifts.” She'd smiled when she'd said it. I didn't need to see to know it; I could hear it in her voice. She added, “You give me time off on the weekends, and Lynn, too. Do you know how long it has been since I've had two Sundays in a row off? Completely off, so that I did not have to check a voice mail, make a call, or worry about something? I appreciate you.” I remember feeling sad that day, because I knew she would soon be going to be with her husband in South Carolina, and we'd all have to help a bit more when she was gone.
Just as I was organizing my table to get to work, the phone rang. “2-1-1 Contact-Concern, how may I help you?” I answered/asked into the phone. Now, I pride myself in being able to mask my true emotions on the phone. I have always felt I was fabulous at sounding upbeat even when I am really not. This night, friends and neighbors, I think I should've won an award. The voice on the other end of the phone asked, “Is the job you all are advertising in the paper still open?” At that moment it dawned on me that Tonya would be replaced, and that I had more than made it clear that I wanted to work for them. I had even spoken with our supervisor about what would be necessary to make that happen and what Vocational Rehabilitation Services for the Blind would do. He had blown me off, and now here was someone calling about an ad!
I took a deep, calming breath, “You know? I believe that post has been filled. Let me take your name and number, and I'll have someone contact you should it still be available.” She thanked me and gave her info. I never wrote the first digit. When I hung up, it took all of my restraint not to phone Lynn and give him a firm piece of my mind, with an extra helping for good measure. However, what I did turned out to work much better. That night I worked doubly hard at making sure all my paperwork was done and correct. Then I sat down with a tape recorder and dictated all of it onto a cassette and readied it and everything else to go out the next day. I even made certain to put my cane in its place before going to bed. I did not want any mistakes the next day.
Bright and early the next morning I got up, got myself dressed, and went out to wait on the van. When it arrived, I paid the driver and was off. Soon we'd arrived at the church where our office was housed, and I was on my way. I entered the office and called out cheerily, “Good morning! How is everyone? I got cases!” It was nearing the end of the month, so the timing couldn't have been more perfect. Pretty soon I was surprising Tonya with a little pocket folder with a cassette in it and a print copy of the shifts I'd selected for the upcoming month. She was a bit taken aback with my completely organized information, and I said, “If it's all right with you, I'll start doing this every month. I just spoke with the scheduler last night, picked these shifts, and got my friend Donnie to write them down for me. No big deal.”
She loved it and we chatted, and at one point Lynn said, “I still have to get my cases in.” I laughed and said, “Pretty bad when the blind volunteer has hers turned in before the supervisor with full sight.” We all laughed, and then I said, “So, y'all find anyone to fill Tonya's position you have advertised in the paper?” The room fell silent. I swear that in the phone room the phone stopped ringing. I continued, “When were you going to tell me you were going to hire someone to replace her?”
“Well, we just put the ad in the other day,” Lynn said in a strangled voice. It was more than evident that he'd not meant for me to know of it.
“Well,” I said, “with the right equipment and some training, I could do this work. Furthermore, I spoke with you about this and what VR would do for me.”
He made some noises about how we'd have to talk about it and all kinds of excuses as to what he figured would be a problem, and started to excuse himself. I said very little about it, and soon was calling the van services back to go home. To say I was upset and angry all at the same moment was an understatement. I went home and stewed about it all night. I talked to one or two friends about it. They encouraged me to speak my piece, and let those people know that if I wasn't worth hiring and paying, I wasn't good enough to volunteer for them, either. I have to admit it sounded like something I'd talk about doing: “If it were me, I'd…” How many times had I said that? Well…I decided that early morning.
The next day I went back to the office. When they asked me why I was back, I said, “I've got to talk to someone about the schedule. Turns out some friends of mine from North Carolina have invited me to their house. I'm going to need to remove myself.”
“From all of them?” Tonya asked. She sounded a bit more than taken aback at that. “You're on a lot of shifts.”
I sighed, “Well, I'm sure you'll figure it out. After all, you worked a lot of Sundays before me. I know y'all are both used to it.” I included Lynn, as he'd just come into the room. I had their attention now, and the game was afoot.
“When did they invite you?” Lynn asked curiously.
Well, I knew he was no dummy. In fact, I'd been banking on it. “A day or two ago. Just got round to calling her back last night. Turns out her husband has a couple days off, and so if I want a ride, I've got to take it. I'm sure you all will do OK. I mean, it's not like the organization didn't run without me here before I came.” I shrugged my shoulders, as if it were no big deal. “I'll be back in a month.”
“A month?” Tonya asked.
“Yeah, I figure you can do two weekends and Lynn can do two. You know? The good old days.” I picked up my things to go. I'd called a friend to come and pick me up and he was outside. I smiled and waved as I was leaving. “Maybe you'll hire someone while I'm gone. You can break 'em in right.” I was nearly laughing out loud as I walked down the steps with my cane thumping just a bit louder than necessary as I went. Soon I was home and packing for my trip. As I did, I giggled and talked with my dog Rowdy about it. I told him how soon Mommy would have a job and he could spend his remaining years eating better food and having better vet care. I settled Celine Kitty with instructions for Donnie and what she could and could not have, and the next day my friends were there to pick us up. I was taking Rowdy with me, and was, to be quite honest, glad for the prospect of some R&R time. I would remain in North Carolina for three weeks, and I was determined to enjoy myself. I took lots of books, my Brailler and paper, and planned to read, journal, and sleep. We were going to visit their church, and DeAdra and I were going to take Rowdy on awesome sniff fests.
I did enjoy my time there, but after a while, I have to admit, I missed my work. I actually cheated and called one of the Reassurance Clients who is a friend of mine, just to check and make sure she was getting her calls—to, as she said, “Check on my work.” She knew what time it was. I didn't share anything with her I should not, but she knew I'd been going to ask about working there, and she knew I'd taken over twenty shifts that month and that I was now not there. She and her husband had run a business, and I was certain there was a secret part of her that liked my method.
Near the end of my second week, my supervisor happened to call while we were in town. You see, I had no cell service unless we were in town, and I did not give him my friend's home number. He was talking with me, saying how he just wanted to “Check on me and see if I were having a good time.” I told him of all the things we'd been doing, and I included that I'd spoken with a few people about available work in the area, and that my friend just happened to own rental property. I ended that with, “Well, gotta go, we're here at the store.” I hung up before he could say no more than, “Well…have a great time…” I laughed, “They're missing me. Let 'em.”
I went about my way, and when I got home and settled back in, I called in to see what shifts might be open and to see how glad they were to see I was back. First thing I did was not take more than a week's worth of shifts. When Tonya asked if I wanted more, I said, “No, think I'll wait, because I don't know what else I might want to do.” When she and I were done, she said Lynn wanted to speak to me. I took a breath and said, “OK, put him on.” I took another deep breath as I waited. Like I say, he's no dummy, and I knew he was on to me. I also knew that they'd not hired anyone for that position. The ad wasn't running anymore.
“Hi! How was your trip?”
I sat filling him in on my trip, and finally ended with, “Found some possibility for work, too. My friend has a house coming open end of the month, so who knows…?” I trailed off.
“You know? We missed you when you were gone,” Lynn ventured.
“Aaaww, you're nice,” I said, laughing to myself. We went round like that for a while, and finally he asked, “So, how can we get and keep you?” I laughed, “Hire me.” I was ready, and when he spoke about money issues and how hard it would be to pay me, and that Tonya had been a VISTA with them, I launched right back with, “I can apply for VISTA, and since you all already have a toe in, we can go around a few things and I can come right in.” I had done a lot of research and spoken with several people, including Tonya and my VR worker.
A week later I hosted Lynn and my VR worker at my home, and soon it began. Before I go any further, I want to assure you that the biggest reason for hesitation concerning the powers that were at Contact-Concern at that time was simply, “Would I be able to keep up with the demands of the job?” It was not in my mind an unreasonable concern. These people had never before worked directly with a blind person. I was never made to feel unwanted or unwelcome. I was never made to feel used, etc. I did “volunteer” on my own.
It took some doing, but I was able to have the wondrous pleasure of serving an entire year as a VISTA, and I absolutely loved everything about it. I gained valuable experience that first year, truly working in an office and being responsible for lots of things that I could not have gotten anywhere else in the world. I worked phone shifts, and I devised a call back system that would assist us with quality control, designed to give feedback as to the effectiveness of the I&R (Information and Referral) system we had in place. I helped gather data that would one day be used to help develop newer programs to help those low income persons with dental needs, and I spent many long hours with my then supervisor, Lynn Sorrell, attending information fairs and presentations, which I soon learned to handle largely on my own. That year I served as a VISTA enabled me to become more marketable than ever before in my life, and it enabled me to help others in ways I never knew I could.
When I was younger, I'd been dismayed to learn a blind person could not serve in the military. I'd so very badly wanted to serve my country. Now serving as a VISTA, I was getting my chance. It was not an easy road, let me tell you. This is not one of those fairy tale deals, where the blind person swoops in and saves the day with something akin to super powers. That stuff doesn't usually happen in that way. The first thing I had to do was take a crash course in computers. I had to learn Windows, Word, Excel, and JAWS. I took two and a half months' worth of classes four days a week at a live-in center. I took class by day, did homework at night, and worked phone shifts while at home on the weekends. It was exhausting, exhilarating, and wonderful, and I have to say I'd have done it for the entire year that way if I'd had to, just to have the awesome experiences that gave to me.
When the contract suddenly ended in 2008 due to funding issues, I was devastated, but I did not give up. I continued to volunteer, and I continued to learn. I was hooked, now, and I wasn't going anywhere. It paid off for me, because in 2010, we had a bittersweet happening. Our then Volunteer Coordinator died suddenly. I'd been volunteering to assist her, and in fact had taken her place a while during some knee surgery she'd recently had. When she died, the organization offered me the job, and I became their Volunteer Coordinator. I was proud to have the position, and I loved every moment of the crazy long and sometimes very demanding work. I was out and about lots more than ever before, and I found I was facing more and more mobility challenges, as well. Finally, in 2011, I realized I had to have a guide dog and took a month off to go to The Seeing Eye. There I got Campbell, a big black Labrador who has stolen my heart, and for sure did “Retrieve My Life.”
I returned to work with him in May of 2011 and continued with Contac-Concern until February of 2015, when I left to pursue a career in writing and take some time to heal from some physical and mental illness. Now I'm well, and want very much to become a VISTA again. The things I learned while serving the first time were priceless. I learned about teamwork, about what it is to assist with running an organization, and I was given the privilege of beginning a program that has grown and evolved to the point that it has been adapted and is now used all across the state. I am proud to say I truly did make a difference as a VISTA all those years ago, and I desire to do it again. The ways in which CNCS worked with me as a disabled person and maintained good contact even after I became hired was fabulous. When I went to Atlanta for my training, they made me feel right at home, and although I attended the training with a partner, I found that I was able to do many activities on my own, with no help from anyone, because there were people in the know everywhere I went.
To say I had a fabulous experience working as a VISTA with CNCS would not do it justice. I highly recommend them to everyone. If you have the desire to serve, they have the desire to help you make it happen. I hope you'll read the information below, and if you are moved to do so, sign up today! If you've had an experience of your own, share it with us. We want to know.
Patty L. Fletcher
Author, Motivational Speaker, and Nonprofit Consultant
Author of Campbell's Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life (C 2014)
In e-book, print, and audio formats. Details: http://www.dvorkin.com/pattyfletcher/
Included in the document I received from Terri, the editor, there was no “below email” or concluding “information below” as mentioned by Patty in her article above.
Patty, if you can supply the needed information for the September issue of Consumer Vision, we will be happy to include it. -- Leonore D.
18) A DAY AT FENWAY PARK *** by Karen Crowder
At 2:45, a van arrived. Marcy and I had been waiting for this day. With a group of passionate baseball fans, we were attending a Red Sox game.
Leaving the van on this sunny, warm afternoon, we could hear vendors selling programs for this night's game. We were at the historic Fenway Park! It was almost four o'clock, and people were already walking near the park. We walked down wide sidewalks, so smooth, with Marcy describing stores and restaurants lining these streets. Had the area changed this much since 1987?
We walked toward entrances to the park where people were waiting for gates to open. Another van arriving, we chatted with old friends. We were escorted through the gates; then we all traveled through a labyrinth of streets. We had kind help to the elevator, taking us to seats in the grandstand near right field. Fenway Park, grander than it was in 1987?
We sit with some of our friends. A rock band plays the Star Spangled Banner. The game begins, and you feel excitement. In excitement we stood clapping, cheering. Jubilant each time a run was scored by Our Team. Fans elated. Our Team kept winning. Eating a delicious hot dog.
I could not stand to cheer before the seventh inning. At the seventh inning stretch, everyone singing, “Take me out to the ball game."
As the eighth and ninth innings arrived, with other fans, we were confident that the Red Sox were winning, the magic of their success sweeping us from reality and responsibilities. We stood up, cheering for the Red Sox. After the last out in the ninth inning, they were again in first place! Might we see another World Series?
Reality encroaching, the magic of this game fading. It was almost 11 p.m. as we blind patrons boarded the elevator. The security and ushers were so kind, guiding us out of Fenway Park toward busy streets to our van. On this balmy summer night, July 20, 2016, while riding to our homes, we look forward to next summer's outing. We will attend another delightful Red Sox game.
19) A LOVELY SUMMER PERKINS REUNION *** by Karen Crowder
Each summer since 2002, Bob Branco has organized summer reunions in August/September. Until 2013, they were on the Perkins campus, near the pond. We enjoyed delicious food and reuniting with friends. Since 2014, the picnics have been at Danehy Park in Cambridge.
On August 29, 2015, I stood with my friend Patti O'Brien outside her apartment complex in Braintree. It was a sunny, cool Saturday morning; a hint of autumn was in the air, a break from the hot, humid August weather. Waiting for my ride, I held my large duffel bag brimming with containers of cookies and brownies for dessert. Patti and I heard the telltale sound of a car coming toward the driveway. At 10:20, I said goodbye to her, stepping into a comfortable car.
Traffic was light; I arrived at Danehy Park before 11:30. As I left the car, my driver led me along cement walkways and grass toward our group. This park is large, with high picnic tables and sprinklers where adults or kids can cool off on summer afternoons. Trees shade the park from hot summer sun. Away from picnic tables, the park is wooded, with walking trails. There is a ball field and a playground for kids. I could not miss my friend Tom, as beautiful music was coming from speakers attached to his iPhone. As I walked toward the picnic table at which he was sitting, I heard hellos from several people. As I sat with my large bag, my friend Candice sat across from me with her lovely volunteer and a radio tuned to a local oldies station.
I talked to friends; the man who does most of the grilling took my bag with the desserts. In the afternoon, we chatted and listened to music. We were served hot crispy chicken wings, Candice's macaroni and mandarin orange salad, and corn on the cob. For beverages, we had a choice of water or soda. I chose cold water. You felt fresh air, with the hint of autumn. There was the aroma of grilling food. A man sat on my right; he also had a player with a lot of old CDs of air checks and shows. After one, Tom gave his speaker batteries a break; we listened to a summer 1971 show with ads and air checks from a local Boston station.
Unlike the oppressive humidity of the previous summer's picnic, autumn-like breezes kept everyone cool. Our table was in continuous shade. The burgers and hot dogs were welcome. The hotdogs were delicious, crispy, and hot. After the lunch, I began walking toward other tables. Candice and her volunteer moved, and the volunteer took me to the rest room. As I walked there, I could hear the sprinklers and imagined kids cooling off under them. Candice's volunteer is a friendly woman who was happy to join us at the picnic. I sat talking with others at Candice's table. I could feel warmer sun and hoped there was time to visit other friends. I got my bag with empty containers; everyone enjoyed my cookies and brownies, and I got compliments. "They were delicious." They must have gone well with the cool watermelon.
I looked at my cell phone, which announced it was 3:45. This lovely afternoon reunion had flown by. Candice's volunteer led me from this lovely oasis of Danehy Park. I stood waiting for Paratransit, which would return me to Braintree. It was another wonderful summer reunion, enjoying good food, conversation, and reuniting with friends.
20) Consumer Vision Editor Terri Winaught found the following inspirational item in the July-August 2016 issue of The Centerpiece, a newsletter published by the Pittsburgh Lutheran Center for the Blind.
“The Corner Where You Are”
We cannot all be famous, or be listed in "Who's Who,”
But every person, great or small, has important work to do,
For seldom do we realize the importance of small deeds,
Or to what degree of greatness unnoticed kindness leads.
For it's not the big celebrity in a world of fame and praise,
But it's doing unpretentiously in an undistinguished way,
The work that God assigned to us, unimportant as it seems,
That makes our task outstanding and brings reality to dreams.
So do not sit and idly wish for wider, new dimensions
Where you can put in practice your many good intentions.
But at the spot God placed you begin at once to do
Little things to brighten up the lives surrounding you.
If everybody brightened up the spot where they're standing
By being more considerate and a little less demanding,
This dark old world would very soon eclipse the evening star
If everybody brightened up the corner where they are!
Google “Brighten the Corner Where You Are” to find versions of this poem set to music, as a hymn.
I was delighted to read this poem, as it reminded me of when, as a young teen, I found a much shorter version of this sentiment in a little book of inspirational sayings, a slim volume that belonged to my maternal grandmother, who lived in Greenville, Mississippi. It said simply, “Light up the corner where you are.” The wise words impressed me then and still inspire me today. I don't know what became of the little book, and I wish I had it. Thank you, Granny Elam, for buying it!
21) CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST
Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the July 2016 Consumer Vision.
According to the nursery rhyme, it was the little old woman who lived in a shoe that had so many children she didn't know what to do. Congratulations to the following winners:
Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts
Susan Jones of Indianapolis, Indiana
Mark Blier of Sierra Vista, Arizona
Patty Fletcher of Kingsport, Tennessee
Kim Etheridge of Bay Minette, Alabama
Roanna Bacchus of Oviedo, Florida
And now, here is your trivia question for the August Consumer Vision.
Name the only four-letter word in the English language that ends with the letters ENY. If you know the answer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-994-4972.
22) A CONCLUDING NOTE FROM THE PROOFREADER *** Leonore Dvorkin
Unfortunately, there were lots of problems with this month's newsletter. For some unknown reason, and to the complete puzzlement of Terri, the editor, I received the entire text of the newsletter as one big blob, with no spaces at all between paragraphs or even between many sentences and some words. My technologically savvy husband had no explanation as to why that might have happened, and Terri said that when she edited the newsletter, the spaces were there.
In any case, David and I both worked hard on restoring spaces where we thought they belonged. Also, all three of us—Terri, David, and I—did a lot of general proofreading and correcting of grammar, spelling, punctuation, and sentence structure, as we deemed necessary.
This month, for personal reasons, I did not have time to go over the newsletter more than twice, so if there are any problems with or objections to what we did, please contact me, and I will print an apology and a correction in the September issue.
Leonore Dvorkin / Denver, Colorado
Proofreader, Editor, and Author
Home phone: 303-985-2327
Cell phone: 303-885-1728
About me and my husband:
I am the author of four published books. Full details are on my website, listed above. My breast cancer memoir, Another Chance at Life: A Breast Cancer Survivor's Journey, is available in both English and Spanish in e-book and print. The 2012 edition is the most recent one. The English version of the 2009 edition is in audio format from Audible.
My husband is the much-published author David Dvorkin, with 27 books to his credit. Most of them are science fiction and horror novels, but he's also written a fair amount of nonfiction.
Since 2009, David and I have been editing books for other authors and assisting them in getting the books self-published in print and audio formats. Thus far, we have produced close to 30 books, both fiction and nonfiction, by other authors. The majority of our clients are blind or visually impaired. Among them are Bob Branco, Patty Fletcher, John Justice, and Stephen Theberge, all mentioned in this issue of The Consumer Vision. You can find full details of our comprehensive services at: http://www.dvorkin.com/epubhelp/