THE CONSUMER VISION
Address: 359 Coggeshall St., New Bedford, MA 02746
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Publisher: Bob Branco
Editor: Terri Winaught
Proofreader and Secondary Editor: Leonore Dvorkin
Formatter: David Dvorkin
TABLE OF CONTENTS
In this Table of Contents, three asterisks *** are used to separate the title of each article from its author. In the same way, three asterisks *** will be used to separate articles to make using your browser's search feature easier. If any of you have screen readers that make searching difficult or undoable with asterisks, please let me know not only that, but also if three number signs ### would be easier. If you are a screen reader user for whom neither symbol works, please let me know what works best, and I will do my best to accommodate.
In columns like Special Notices, Readers' Forum, and Recipes from Karen Crowder, I will use letters of the alphabet, A, B, C, etc., to separate items.
2. HEALTH MATTERS: More Health News You Can Use *** by Leonore H. Dvorkin
3. THE IMAGE OF YOURSELF: Essay of Independence; Three Ways To Hold Your Own *** by Dennis R. Sumlin
4. TECH CORNER: Things that Annoy Me About My iPhone *** by Stephen Théberge
5. UNFAIR HEALTH SERVICE PRACTICES FOR THE BLIND *** by Gina Russo
6. AN INTERNATIONAL TUSSLE *** by James R. Campbell
7. SPORTS AND SOCIETY *** by Tom Dalley
8. LAWYER NETWORK PUTS NEW SPIN ON EMPLOYING THE BLIND *** by Bob Branco
9. WEATHER OR NOT: El Niño and Our Winter *** by Steve Roberts
11. AUTHORS' CORNER
12. THE HANDLER'S CORNER: Living and Working with Guide Dogs *** by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.
13. TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important, Too) *** by Penny Fleckenstein
14. RECIPE COLUMN *** by Karen Crowder
15. MARCY'S SCHMOOZE TINNIH *** by Marcy J. Segelman
16. MY THANKSGIVING DAY TEACUP DISASTER *** by Leonore H. Dvorkin
17. HOW OUR PARENTS TAUGHT US ABOUT CHRISTMAS *** by Karen Crowder
1. NOTICE FROM THE PUBLISHER
Dear Consumer Vision readers,
As we begin our 13th year of publication, I am pleased that we have added a few new topics that are geared to the consumer. After all, Consumer Vision is for the consumer, whether blind or sighted. In this month's edition, we have added comments on sports, a discussion of new and potentially questionable employment practice for the blind, and thoughts about unfair practices in the medical profession when dealing with blind patients. I would like Consumer Vision to be a forum where the community comes together to establish dialog on these subjects so that we can hopefully find positive solutions to these problems. At the same time, I will be organizing monthly advocacy conference calls where we pick a blindness issue to talk about and hopefully resolve. These conferences will be held on the first Tuesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. To learn more, simply email email@example.com so I can add you to the list of blind advocates who will be invited to these conference calls.
On behalf of the Consumer Vision staff, I hope you all have a very healthy and happy holiday season.
Bob Branco, Publisher
2. HEALTH MATTERS: More Health News You Can Use
by Leonore H. Dvorkin
Items 1 through 10, here, are from THE WEEK magazine, from their Health and Science section. The issue date follows each item.
While much of this news may seem to be negative, please note that the solutions to the problems are quite evident: Eat better, exercise more, sleep enough, don't overuse antibacterial products, etc. – precisely the health advice that we have all been getting for a long time. These health news snippets simply give us more compelling reasons to follow this advice. I conclude with a summary of a very informative article about the impressive benefits of fruit.
1. Life expectancy is not influenced as much by genetics as was previously thought. Income and health habits matter more. (11/23/18)
2. Not exercising could be worse for your health than smoking, having diabetes, or having heart disease. Exercise is strongly linked to longevity. Serious aerobic exercise is the most beneficial. (11/9/18) Note: My husband and I both try to exercise from 7 to 10 hours a week: lifting weights, using our exercise bike or the treadmill, and walking outdoors, weather permitting.
3. Plastic in table salt: 39 brands of salt from 21 countries, including the U.S., were tested. 90% of the samples contained microplastics, with sea salt and lake salt being the most contaminated. Plastic particles in the gut could affect the digestive system's immune response. (11/9/18)
4. Organic foods may reduce cancer risk. A study in France on nearly 70,000 volunteers found that the quarter of the subjects who ate the most organic fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat, and other products were 25% less likely to get cancer than the quarter of the subjects who ate the fewest organic products. There were strikingly lower incidences of lymphomas and breast cancer. The lower level of pesticides in organic foods is what is most likely responsible for the disparity.
5. The dangers of a Southern diet: This type of diet may be a major factor in why American blacks are more likely than whites to have high blood pressure and to live, on average, about four years less. Such a diet is heavy in fried foods, dairy, soda, bread, and processed and organ meats, and blacks are much more likely than whites to eat such a diet. High blood pressure (hypertension) can cause heart attacks, stroke, and kidney failure. (10/26/18)
6. Teenagers who don't get enough sleep, those who sleep less than six hours per night, are more likely to engage in risky and even suicidal behavior. Sleep deprivation may cause changes in the brain that lead to more impulsive and emotionally driven decisions. Teens should sleep from 8 to 10 hours a night. (10/19/18)
7. The implant that helps paraplegics walk: Three people paralyzed from the waist down have regained their ability to walk after having electrodes implanted in their spines below the levels of their injuries. A weak electrical current was sent into the spinal cord. One patient could eventually walk the length of a football field with some assistance. This does not repair the damage; the patients can't move their legs when the electrodes are off. But it's a promising start. (10/12/18)
8. The dangers of a daily aspirin: Researchers studied more than 19,000 Australian and U.S. adults for 4.5 years. Result: An aspirin a day does not reduce older people's risk of heart disease or cancer, and can in fact hurt them, posing a higher risk of dangerous internal bleeding in the stomach, brain, and elsewhere. Note: These were people with no history of heart disease, stroke, or dementia. Previous studies have shown that aspirin does help those who have already suffered from heart disease or stroke. Conclusion: Millions of healthy older people around the world who are taking low–dose aspirin may be doing so unnecessarily. (10/5/18)
9. An upside to the downside: People who graduate into the job market during a recession end up somewhat poorer but happier. It may be that they are simply happier to have a job at all, but their increased life satisfaction persists for years. Narcissism (self–centeredness) seems to be tempered by adversity and setbacks, and a tough entry into the job market creates workers who are more resilient and less self–absorbed later in life. (10/5/18)
10. Disinfectants and obesity: Surface cleaners and other household disinfectants could be making children overweight by altering the bacteria in their gut. Children living in households that use eco–friendly cleaning products are less likely to be overweight. Conclusion: If you use them at all, take it easy with disinfectants. Those include bleach. (10/5/18)
My personal note: Simple soap and hot water, or white vinegar and water, can be used to clean most surfaces. The man who laid our vinyl kitchen and bathroom floors said to use only vinegar and water on them. I do use diluted Lysol when I clean the toilets, but that's all.
11. Now here is some very good news about fruit from the Consumer Reports On Health magazine, June 2018. This is a long article, but here are some highlights.
a. You can get higher quantities of some nutrients from fruit than in the same amount of vegetables. Frozen fruit, as long as it has no added sugar, is just as nutritious as fresh fruit.
b. A higher intake of fruit may be protective against cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, lungs, and stomach.
c. Fresh fruit won't make you fat. Its fiber slows the rate at which its natural sugars are released into the bloodstream. Lower–calorie fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are particularly good. Also, berries seem to help keep your memory sharp. Aim for one to two servings of blueberries per week and two or more servings of strawberries.
d. All fruits are high in fiber and potassium, and most are good sources of vitamins A and C, folate, and a wide variety of phytochemicals. These are antioxidants that may have a variety of benefits, including better heart and brain health and a reduced risk of cancer.
About the Author
Leonore H. Dvorkin is self–employed as a book editor, author, language tutor, and exercise class instructor. Her four published books include Another Chance at Life: A Breast Cancer Survivor's Journey (third edition, C 2012). It's in e–book, print, and audio on Amazon and other online bookselling sites.
Leonore and her husband, the author David Dvorkin, have lived in Denver, Colorado since 1971. David is the author of 28 published books. Together, David and Leonore run DLD Books Editing and Self–Publishing Services. Since 2009, they have edited and produced over 60 books for over 40 clients, most of whom are blind or visually impaired. Bob Branco is one of their clients.
Leonore and David invite you to visit any of their websites:
DLD Books Editing and Self–Publishing Services: http://dldbooks.com/
3. THE IMAGE OF YOURSELF: Essay of Independence; Three Ways To Hold Your Own
by Dennis R. Sumlin
To be independent is to not be influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc. It's impossible to be totally independent from the influence of others. In fact, it's wise to take input from others and make use of good ideas. However, the concept of being an independent person is to have the final say in one's own life.
To be independent is to be self–determining: taking a look at the landscape of choices and considering different factors, but using your own judgment to render your decision, free of the need to adhere to another's preset rules or implied guidelines.
This type of conscious freedom comes with responsibility, the responsibility not to harm others and to make choices that will benefit one's own life. The art of independence is to remain independent. Without responsibility, independence turns into archaic impulses that will lead to the disillusionment of true freedom and allow those very impulses to call the shots. Respecting the autonomy of others must also be part of the art. One cannot be independent while taking another's independence.
The Input of Others
I believe that it's necessary to turn to others for help when needed, to consider the perspectives of other people, and to be an interconnected part of society, but it's not wise to allow others to define us, to adopt belief systems without question, and to take on others' identities. When listening to or taking advice or guidance from others, consider the source. Why are they telling you what they are telling you? Does it make sense to you? Even our best friends may not know what's best for us. Stay open, but stay conscious.
When we are acting with healthy independence, we are bold, confident, and well directed. We understand that as humans, we are in this together, but as individuals, we must make our own choices. We develop a strong sense of self, and we act in a way that respects others while making empowered moves to further our purpose.
How to Maintain an Independent Mind
With all the noise that goes on around us each day, it can be pretty hard to stay free of subconscious influences. To maintain independence, we must stay proactive. It's all too easy to be followers. It's all too easy not to question religion, tradition, your mother, your teacher, and others, but it's the only way you can grab freedom by the balls. Anybody who knows me knows I have no problem questioning things. I have been like that from a young age, which did not make me popular with adults, to say the least. Here are just a few ways to start or maintain an independent mind and lifestyle.
1. Question your world view.
We were all taught things, both directly and indirectly, that cause us to see things in the framework of others. To keep a check on that, question the things you were taught. As a project, write down three of the strongest opinions you have, and ask yourself if you really think that or if you were taught that. If you were taught that, then ask if it feels right to you or makes sense to you. Be brave enough to question even foundational principles to see what they are really made of!
2. Stay educated.
One of the ways we fall victim to needless influence is the lack of information. Read, read, and read. Learn, learn, and learn. Come outside of your comfort zone of knowledge and take in information about the entire world around you. Learn about different lifestyles, cultures, and pastimes. Get away from your favorite news stations every now and then and watch something new. Keep your mind fresh and flowing with the river of knowledge that is out there. Travel. Make different and open–minded friends.
3. Understand and accept who you are.
We have the best chance of maintaining independence in our life by understanding who we are. What do you like to do for fun? What causes are you passionate about? What kind of clothes are you into? Knowing yourself is not quite enough; you also must accept yourself for who you are as a person. Don't be afraid to assert what you like and what you think, but as mentioned above, be respectful of others in the process. Write down three things that you like or think that many around you do not. Look at them, take them in, and own them, without caring what somebody else may think of it.
4. Step up your confidence.
Do you find that you put yourself down or discount your achievements when others bring them up? Do you negatively replay past events, trying to figure out whether you could have said or done something different? Do you keep your thoughts and opinions to yourself or play them down because you feel they won't matter? You do not have to allow anxiety and lack of confidence to hold you back from being your true self. Let's have a conversation about how you can release the bonds of self–doubt so you can attract the relationships, success, and lifestyle you desire. It's clutch time! Contact me: Dennis@CoreConfidenceLife.com
4. TECH CORNER: Things That Annoy Me About My iPhone
by Stephen Théberge
Dear Santa Claus,
Since I already have an iPhone, I thought I'd ask you for more important things. I think peace on Earth and good health and the end of poverty would be good starts. Since you have a hotline to Mother Nature, you might have her deliver a white Christmas.
I know you have a lot of requests for iPhones. I just want to enlighten you about some major issues I have with the iPhone. Don't misunderstand me. My phone has greatly helped me in all kinds of ways. I just want to give you a heads up: You might get some complaints about the many iPhones you will deliver this year.
One of the biggest annoyances on my phone is the Facebook app. That is, there is no way to put the posts in time order. I'll be reading a post from my sister from last night, and then get one from somebody from one minute ago. Also, since I am visually impaired and use VoiceOver, the posts sometimes scroll back. I'll be swiping through and listening to posts and it will go back one or two posts. It's bad enough that I already have too many friends' posts, let alone advertisers'.
When I turn on Do Not Disturb, it's not always consistent. Sometimes I'll get a phone call from somebody even though I have the options set to notify me never.
I don't want to harp on my visual impairment, but the fact is that many of my blind friends have the same issues. The screen keyboard is very cumbersome for us to use, so dictation is preferred. Often, the dictation changes our words, even though it tells us it has inserted certain text. Some of the things it misunderstands are really amazing. I have turned off all keyboard auto features, as suggested in many Facebook groups, but it's still problematic. The most annoying fact is that dictation got worse starting in the iOS 12 upgrade.
I understand that you have a direct line to Apple, as you are now using an iPhone on your sleigh to navigate the globe on Christmas Eve. Since you and the reindeer are old, I don't begrudge you this tool.
It is ridiculous to have the phone require a passcode rather than my thumbprint when it has been shut down and restarted. Last month, I had a lot of trouble getting into my phone and almost got locked out. I accidentally changed typing mode away from standard mode, and the phone was giving me double characters and other oddities when I used the touch screen.
Verizon concluded that my touch screen was cracked and not responding correctly. By sheer luck, I got into the phone and was able to put the typing settings back to default. Now my phone is working perfectly. Could you better train the people who have the insurance on my phone to better understand the software? All they wanted was for me to pay a co–pay of $129 on my insurance to get a new phone.
Speaking of phones, whoever developed the phone app for my iPhone never heard the expression "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." I used to be able to use the delete button to get rid of voicemail. Now I have to exit and go back around to the list. There I can swipe and delete it that way.
Santa, please don't take offense, but you were old when I was a kid. It is therefore understandable that you and your reindeer are severely visually impaired. I know there are many GPS apps out there that will help you get around the world. I am concerned that they are not very reliable. Sometimes, not only is distance miscalculated, but the directions can be totally wrong. Something may be behind you, but the GPS will say it's on your right.
It's for this reason that I think you should stay home this year. Also, I was hasty in asking for peace on Earth and such. Again, no offense, but that is beyond your capabilities. Enjoy your holiday. I feel that by next year, you'll have gotten good orientation and mobility training. Maybe by then I'll need a new iPhone.
P.S. If I've offended you, realize that I don't have a furnace to burn coal, so it would be pointless for you to give me any.
Follow me on twitter at @speechfb
Read and post on my writer's blog, http://blinderwriterweb.wordpress.com
Check out the Web page for my coming of age science fiction novel, The MetSche Message, and its sequel, The MetSche Maelstrom: http://www.dldbooks.com/stephentheberge/
Watch my YouTube channel. There are many blindness–related issues and the latest Branco Broadcasts. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQbs0c1vLDuYmb08okZSk8g/videos
5. UNFAIR HEALTH SERVICE PRACTICES FOR THE BLIND
by Gina Russo
Often when you go to a doctor's office, they hand you paperwork to fill out. These forms are not accessible for someone who is blind or low vision. And more and more, they're switching from paper to an electronic tablet with no accessibility features, which may be a problem even for those with sight who are not technologically savvy. For now, many offices still use paper forms. The physician's office staff tells you to come early to fill out paperwork. When you tell them that you're blind, they tell you that you should bring someone with you to complete the forms, since they're very busy. If you have no one to bring with you to fill out the forms, they ask you to come extra early, and then they still make you wait.
The process of waiting for a health provider staff member to help you with forms can take time away from your visit with the physician and cause your appointment to be unnecessarily longer than that of the sighted patients. This extra time also causes problems with being ready on time for your return trip with your Paratransit provider.
The physician's staff often asks you questions in the waiting room in front of other patients waiting to see the doctor. This is a violation of your privacy, not to mention the HIPAA laws. When I've asked the office staff to take me to a private room to answer the questions, they often tell me that they have no rooms available to do so. They have no consideration for our privacy. Moreover, expecting us to bring another person to complete the forms is, in my opinion, also a violation of my privacy. Why should we allow our personal health information to be given to a helper? Health care information should be completely private and kept solely between us and our providers, unless we choose to share it.
Another unfair practice is health care providers who insist that you log into their patient portal. Often these sites are not accessible and are a barrier to your accessing your records. My last physician insisted that I use her patient portal and said that they were not allowed by law to help me set it up. They sent me the information in the mail in print. In the information, there was a password that would expire in seven days. Depending on when I received the information in the mail and when I could get the mail read, the password often failed, and the process had to be repeated unsuccessfully again and again.
Many of my doctors do not call to speak with me, preferring to do everything either via print in the mail or online with a computer. This creates an obvious barrier for me due to my blindness.
I'm having similar problems with my current primary physician. I have tried to speak with their IT person, but they do not understand about accessibility problems and have done nothing to improve the matter. I'm sure that many other blind patients are experiencing similar problems at their health care providers' offices. Maybe some blind patients have a family member, spouse, or friend to get around these problems, but these matters should be accessible to all patients.
These unfair practices also occur at hospitals. When you are discharged from a hospital, they give you a paper you cannot read and send you on your way. Why is this the case? It's even true when you have been going to that same hospital for many years and they are aware of your blindness. This should not be happening in this day and age. Technology exists to make these practices accessible, but no one has been successful in getting them to make improvements for blind patients.
There should be better health care practices for blind patients!
Possible ideas: Why doesn't the doctor's office call you at home prior to your visit to ask questions in the privacy of your home? Why can't they ask you questions and provide information in the format that works best for you, such as braille, large print, audio CD, or a phone call?
These would be simple accommodations, but for some reason, they do not consider them.
6. AN INTERNATIONAL TUSSLE
by James R. Campbell
The global community is up in arms over an international incident that is centered on the murder of a Saudi journalist who worked for The Washington Post.
The columnist, Jamal Khashoggi, entered the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. He became involved in a fistfight with a group of people inside the embassy. The situation escalated to homicide. Saudi officials claim that it was the result of a botched interrogation. The body of Khashoggi hasn't been recovered.
Khashoggi was known as a dissident who was at odds with the regime in Riyadh. His last column, as yet unpublished, concerned freedom of the press. In his homeland, freedom of the press doesn't exist. Any piece that criticizes the royal family is censored, and reporters who offend the royal family by publishing unflattering material are often interrogated, jailed, and tortured.
Freedom of the press is one of the pillars of a free society. The Founding Fathers included it in the Bill of Rights as part of the First Amendment. This protection applies to the free expression and publication of material that is in opposition to the government or its policies. We need look no further than the current climate in our country to find glaring examples of this.
The Saudi government finally admitted the truth. On Friday, October 19, they owned up to the fact that Khashoggi had been murdered. The deputy intelligence chief to the prince has been fired, and 18 others who were involved have been arrested. The Turkish president is demanding that the trials of these individuals be held in Turkish courts. At least one U.S. congressman is publicly calling for their executions if they are convicted. Evidently, fears are that those who were active participants in this crime will go free if tried in Saudi courts.
Congress has promised stiff sanctions. These could include the suspension of arms sales. This is a sticky proposition at best, given our alliance with the Saudis in curbing the ambitions of Iran.
Here is the issue. If we suspend arms sales, Vladimir Putin will step in and provide what we don't sell. This would provide Putin with a boost to his economy, and worse, another base of Russian influence in the Middle East. With our growing concern about Russian activity in Syria, we don't need them tied up in Saudi Arabia. If that happens, one of the world's wealthiest nations would become allied with Putin, and possibly Iran as well, even though the Saudis, up to this point, have been on our side in curtailing Iran's activities.
The Saudis have threatened an oil embargo if we suspend arms sales. This would hurt the Saudis more than us. We don't buy as much oil from the Saudis as we once did, but the Saudis need all the business they can get. We have oil in the U.S., much of it from West Texas. President Trump is trying to get the other pipelines up and running, and we are working on alternative energy sources. An oil embargo or suspension of oil purchases from the Saudis would pose a hardship, but the question becomes who would suffer most. In 2015, we bought $251 billion in oil from the Middle Eastern kingdom. How would an embargo affect the Saudi economy?
What happens if the monarchy is toppled and replaced by a more extreme government? It happened in Iran. I it happens in Riyadh, the ripple effect would be catastrophic for the global community.
Some are advocating for a simultaneous end to oil purchases and arms sales. They believe that this would put maximum pressure on the regime in Riyadh to do the right thing. The question that time will answer revolves around the consequences of any action that is taken by the world community. It must be remembered that the Saudis wield a tremendous influence over the economies of many nations. In the event that the royal family was toppled, as was the case with the Shah in Iran, the resulting effects would beyond a doubt have ripples that could easily upset the balance of power on a global scale.
It is my firm belief that the murder of the journalist shouldn't go unpunished. President Trump would do well to make it clear to the world community that this crime will not stand. Any action we take should take into account what will do more damage to the Saudi economy. If we hit them in the pocketbook, that will have the greatest effect. I feel that we are obligated to cancel investments with the Saudis on both sides of the Gulf. The United Nations would do well to pass a resolution that the suspects be tried in Turkish courts, and that justice shall be swift and certain if a matter of guilt is established in those courts. This should be the demand of the American people. We owe our free society and the world no less.
As always, thanks for your time.
With loving kindness,
James R. Campbell
7. SPORTS AND SOCIETY
by Tom Dalley
I am old enough to remember a time when sports in general were fun. Fun to watch, fun to play, and fun to go to as a spectator. There was always a sense of camaraderie, fellowship, and friendly competition. This competition was always good–natured and was, for the majority, a fun activity between fans for individual bragging rights. Yankee vs. Red Sox, Celtics vs. Lakers, Bruins vs. Flyers, and Patriots vs. Bills. The fans of these teams would, in good nature, rib each other before, during, and after the games. After the game was over, the friendship remained intact. For the most part, there were no hard feelings and no animosity shown toward the teams or between friends.
Today we see multimillion–dollar contracts that have resulted in a change of attitude by the agents of the players. When contracts end and there is no offer made, the player goes to free agency. The agent that represents the player is looking to get the highest contract available and negotiate from there. This is happening in all sports at the pro level. There is no team loyalty shown by players now. Agents have created an environment based on the most money. In my view, players would be better served if they showed loyalty based on how the team they play for has treated and developed them professionally and personally. Adequate compensation is always important; however, it should not become the deciding factor.
Fair–weather fans are becoming more common now. When Team A wins, I'm a fan. But go on a major losing streak, and I'm gone. Or if a favorite player moves on, so do some fans.
Major League Baseball is now trying to speed up the game to enlarge the fan base. There is no accountability or responsibility for umpires in baseball, so to "improve" the game, we have instant replay, which has turned real fans off.
I would like to see the desire, camaraderie, friendship, and the good–natured ribbing of fans return to what it used to be—fun. Fun is what makes life worth experiencing. Life is not about greed, mistrust, hate, or self–gratification. Life is about enjoying our pastimes together as friends, neighbors, and fellow human beings. For the common fan, sports used to be about us all coming together in one place, as one body, to support the home team and to share our individual passion for the sport. Sports shouldn't be about making political statements or seeing how big a contract we can get. Sports should be a tool for making friendships, sharing a passion, and teaching our youth and each other about sportsmanship in winning and losing, plus teaching responsibility and accountability for our own actions on and off the field.
I blame most of the perceived problems in sports on the fact that love and passion for the sport on the part of players and management have gone by the wayside in exchange for greed and self–gratification.
8. LAWYER NETWORK PUTS NEW SPIN ON EMPLOYING THE BLIND
by Bob Branco
When it comes to the blind population, finding a job is a job in itself. This is why when something tempting comes along, some of us can't help giving it a try.
On that note, there is a network of attorneys and colleagues who decided to put a different spin on employing the blind. This network of law firms recruits blind people to evaluate websites for noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. As I understand it, when a complaint against a specific website is brought to these attorneys, it's assigned to one of these blind site evaluators. The blind worker reviews the site and reports back to the network of lawyers.
On the surface, this sounds great. Blind people are working. Well, here's the catch. When you work for these attorneys and their colleagues, you are forced to sign a retainer agreement, because you would be named as a plaintiff in any court case resulting from the website being noncompliant. If a settlement is reached, you would be compensated for your work in the form of a paycheck.
I used to work for these people, but when I was asked to sign a retainer agreement, I told them that I did not want to be part of any lawsuits against website designers, class action or otherwise. Upon hearing my response, I was courteously dismissed as an evaluator because I refused to comply with this policy.
Like anyone else, blind people want to be respectful when working closely with private industry when it comes to employment. If companies learn that we are plaintiffs in court cases after reporting problems with the way their websites are designed, they will look the other way when we come to them for jobs because we could be regarded as complainers. This is not what we want. Furthermore, this network of lawyers shouldn't act so aggressively when they get reports of noncompliance. It's quite possible that the business owners don't understand compliance and need someone to work with them on what they should do to make their websites accessible to blind people. An inaccessible website is not designed on purpose, so why be dragged into court every time it happens? We live in a sighted world. Websites are usually designed exclusively for the sighted. They include pretty pictures because those are attractive to the human eye. If I want to show a businessman why a website should be blind friendly, I don't need to drag him into court. Whatever happened to structured negotiation?
I brought this matter to the attention of both major consumer organizations of the blind in this country, hoping that a thorough investigation into these practices will take place. It is my understanding that representatives from the network of lawyers are aware of our concerns, but they are not listening. What these lawyers are doing may not be illegal, but it certainly appears to be immoral. It has already been speculated that these law firms are more interested in making money than caring how the reputations of blind people in the job market might be damaged if we are continuously told to be plaintiffs in law suits.
9. WEATHER OR NOT: El Niño and Our Winter
by Steve Roberts
El Niño is the periodic warming of the waters of the eastern and central equatorial Pacific. During El Niño, the normally wet western Pacific dries out, and the normally dry eastern Pacific drowns in heavy rain. It's the capacity of El Niño to turn the tables on the tropical Pacific's climate that makes it of such interest to the scientific community.
What Does El Niño Mean to the Northeast U.S.?
El Niño, otherwise referred to as the warm phase, can impact the northeast U.S. in one of two ways. Weak to moderate warm–phase events typically bring cold and snowy weather to the northeastern United States. Strong to super warm–phase events tend to bring warm and snowless winters to the Northeast.
We are currently entering a weak warm–phase event. If that forecast is correct, then we may be in for a cold and snowy winter.
Bombs Away, Little Boy!
A weak to moderate warm phase will enable Arctic blasts to push southward into the eastern half of the United States, compliments of a troughy polar jet stream. The subtropical jet stream is very active, sending lots of heat and moisture into the southern tier of the United States. The active subtropical branch of the jet stream helps to infuse winter storms with lots of heat and moisture, enabling them to produce lots of snow.
When the polar and subtropical branches of the jet stream come together, big storms develop. If an energetic disturbance riding along the polar branch of the jet stream meets up with the moisture–laden flow of the subtropical branch of the jet stream, a potentially big storm can develop. If both jet stream flows are carrying disturbances that link up where the jet stream branches merge, bombs away! The storms that form in this way can go on to become our most ferocious bomb cyclones. The blizzards of 1978 and the superstorm of '93 were such bomb cyclones.
10. LOOKING FOR A LARGE–PRINT, EASY–TO–SEE 2019 CALENDAR?
Know a senior who likes nice, big, clear writing spaces to keep track of all their goings on?
If you or someone you know prefers a print calendar, but you have yet to find one that works well, you must check out this one. You've never seen one like it. That's because a person with low vision designed it, and it's made in the USA.
The features that people love about it include:
All the printing on the calendar is in black, and the numbers and letters are 10 times larger than newsprint.
Each uncluttered, daily cell is nearly the size of two 3" x 5" cards, the maximum possible space in which to write big.
The edge of each daily page is bordered with a thick black line. No more writing off the edge of the paper.
It costs only $21.95 and can be shipped via Free Matter to those eligible. Otherwise, postage is $6.80 using USPS Priority Flat Rate Mail. Learn all about the unique, 8.5" x 11" EZ2See® Weekly Planner/Calendar at EZ2SeeProducts.com.
Don't shop online? No problem. Send an email to Orders@EZ2SeeProducts.com to get all your questions answered and learn how to purchase it by sending a check.
To see a very well done interview with the owner and creator, please visit:
11. AUTHORS' CORNER
1. Unconventional Customer Service: How to Break the Rules and Provide Unparalleled Service
by Robert D. Sollars / C 2018 / 127 pages in print
In e–book ($2.99) and print ($9.50) from Amazon and other online booksellers
Details, free text sample, buying links, and more: https://www.dldbooks.com/robertdsollars/
This book was designed to assist you and your company in the pursuit of providing excellent service to those who count the most in your business: your customers. The basic precepts that I present here are as applicable to a salesman selling knickknacks as they are to a security officer walking a patrol in a dark warehouse at 3:00 a.m.
Over my decades of working in many capacities for many different types of companies, I have personally used all of these ideas, and they've all achieved great client satisfaction. They may need some tweaking to fit your company, but they will work. I guarantee it.
"Knowing Robert for the past 30 years, I've seen his unconventional customer service grow in popularity. It simply works! I would not hesitate to recommend that you consider his expertise and his passion for assisting others with this issue."
—Jerold A. Ramos Sr., CFE, CPP, CRM, CMMR
Robert is also the author of Murder in the Classroom: A Practical Guide for Prevention, C 2018.
This book draws on his more than 30 years of experience in the security field. For full details (cover, free text sample, buying links and more), see his book–related website, which is linked to above.
Robert D. Sollars lives in Phoenix, Arizona.
2. News About DLD Books: Our Prices Compared to Those of Others
by Leonore Dvorkin
On 11/13/18, I had a long and very interesting phone conversation with a prospective client. Her book is a memoir, but it will also contain chapters that address social issues, including those associated with disability. She herself is blind. While I am not blind, she and I discovered that we have numerous other things in common.
Mainly, of course, she wanted to know about our business, including our charges. She told me that other self–publishing firms she had investigated wanted from $7,500 to $15,000 to publish a book. Thus she was delighted to hear that our total charges typically come in at something between $500 and $1,500 per book—with a few outliers on either end. That is for all our services combined: thorough editing, formatting, cover design, back cover text, e–book conversion, uploading of the files to the publishers, ad blurb text, some help with marketing, and even a free book–related Web page for each author. We charge only $20 per hour for those who are blind, otherwise disabled, and/or low income, and $25 per hour for others.
Since 2009, we have produced over 60 books (fiction and nonfiction) for over 40 clients, most of whom are blind or visually impaired. We are currently accepting manuscripts, in the form of Word files, for editing and publication in 2019. Books will be processed on a first come/first served basis.
For full information on DLD Books, see: http://www.dldbooks.com/
12. THE HANDLER'S CORNER: Living and Working with Guide Dogs
by Ann Chiappetta, M.S.
For the military canine teams, in honor of Veterans Day.
Yesterday, Bailey and I went to a family event for veterans. I watched the film Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, © 2018. Directed by Richard Lanni, the film is the true story of a stray dog who joined his new master on the battlefields of the First World War. For his valorous actions, Sgt. Stubby is still recognized as the most decorated dog in American history. (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5314190/).
The film will be in theaters on November 29, and I hope the DVD will be audio–described, so I can catch the details I missed during the first screening.
If you are interested in learning more about dogs serving in the military, here are two good books:
Soldier Dogs: The Untold Story of America's Canine Heroes, by Maria Goodavage (2012). I read this on Audible.
One of the best first–person accounts of serving with military dogs is Always Faithful: A Memoir of the Marine Dogs of WWII, by William W. Putney. This one can be found in the National Library Service's BARD catalog.
Did you know that until recently, dogs being used in the military were considered property, and many were left behind? The two books mentioned here provide an historical transition regarding how dogs became recognized as heroes. William Putney, in particular, tirelessly advocated at Congressional hearings on behalf of the Marines who served with dogs during WWII. Thanks to advocates like Mr. Putney, now military dogs are returned home and, in most cases, are adopted by their handlers.
Thanks for reading and have a wonderful and blessed holiday season.
My new book, Words of Life: Poems and Essays, is planned for a March 2019 release.
Details of my other two books are here: http://www.dldbooks.com/annchiappetta/
Those books are Upwelling: Poems and Follow Your Dog: A Story of Love and Trust.
Friend me on Facebook: Annie Chiappetta. Or check out my personal website: www.annchiappetta.com
13. TIPS FOR VIPS (Because Visually Impaired People Are Important, Too)
by Penny Fleckenstein
who Blogs at: http://notyouraveragesinglemom.com
"More of the same" I hear my Alexa announce some mornings when I ask her about the weather. I muse to myself as, perched on my cluttered dresser, she obeys most of my commands. I wonder. Do I really want more of the same?
As much as I long for consistency, I do need to make positive changes in my life. I am blessed to live in 2018 when this is possible with our current technology. With a little help from the Carnegie Library for the Blind, the Apple Store, my friend Mark Grasak, and my own determination to learn, I have enlisted the help of the Seeing AI app on my iPhone. By using the camera, I can take pictures of people. It tells me whether the person is centered. It gives me an approximate brief description of the person, which is quite often laughable. I have a lot of fun with Seeing AI. There's a scene preview that Microsoft is still improving. The short text scan, the light detector, and the currency ID are easy to use and work well for me. I'm still mastering positioning the camera to take a good picture for the document scanner. With a little more practice, I will become a Seeing AI expert.
For those explorers who prefer human interaction, Aira (spelled A i r a) has a free downloadable app for your smartphone. With the aid of glasses and/or your smart phone, a trained, sighted professional agent, through augmented reality, can use their voice to guide, read, and identify colors and products to the explorer, the visually impaired person. Aira service is free at Walgreens, AT&T stores, and certain airports. Caitlyn, the very sweet–sounding customer service agent I spoke with on the phone, explained to me that there are different monthly plans an explorer can purchase: Basic, $90 for 100 minutes; Plus, $129.99 for 200 minutes; Pro, $299 for 400 minutes; and Premium, $329.99 for unlimited use. Aira is a sighted genie available to the visually impaired 24 hours a day. Now I'm signed on as an Aira guest, but if I were to go to a strange city, I would pay for minutes.
Check out https://aira.io/careers for job and career opportunities or to buy a monthly plan. If you're considering working for them, Caitlyn, who is the visually impaired customer service lady I spoke with, says they take about eight weeks to process your application for employment. She also purchases the premium unlimited plan and uses Aira assistance regularly.
It's been cold here in Pittsburgh and, according to Alexa, we can expect more of the same. I get bundled up in a very warm coat and make sure I put on these warm winter gloves that have a full thumb and half fingers, allowing my bare fingers to stick out of the gloves, but that also have a flap I can use to cover the fingers. When it's open, the flap is held back with a magnet. This way, when I'm traveling, my fingers are nice and toasty, but they can be uncovered to more easily pick up after my guide dog Bryanna or to use my iPhone.
Please write to me if you have any useful tips, tricks, or apps you'd like to share with me and fellow readers. My talking Hamilton Beach microwave is now unusable, and I'm looking for an inexpensive talking replacement. I'm open to comments and suggestions. May you enjoy a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
14. RECIPE COLUMN
by Karen Crowder
There are two holidays: Hanukkah, beginning on Sunday, December 2 and ending on Monday, December 10; and Christmas, Tuesday, December 25.
A. Creamed Onions
B. Delicious Coffee Cake
C. Shortbread Cookies
A. Creamed Onions
This recipe is from the 1979 Fannie Farmer cookbook. The change I made was adding a dash of curry powder. I learned to prepare this early in my marriage to Marshall. It became a favorite holiday side dish.
Four tablespoons all–purpose flour
Four tablespoons butter
Two cups whole milk
A pinch of curry powder
A pinch of salt
One five–pound mesh bag of sweet pearl onions or two medium sweet onions.
1. In a double boiler or large three–quart saucepan, melt butter on low heat. After five minutes, add flour and whisk ingredients for 30 seconds.
2. Turn off burner and add milk and spices. On low heat, stir sauce until smooth.
3. Stir sauce infrequently for 30 minutes. It should be thick and smooth.
4. While sauce is cooking, fill a lock–lid saucepan almost half full of water and heat it on medium heat. Cut ends off onions and peel them, placing the raw onions in a plastic container. Cook the onions in the saucepan for 10 minutes. Drain them. Place in container. Add onions to hot cream sauce. Stir mixture with plastic or metal spoon, keeping dish on simmer until serving time.
Everyone will love this side dish. With a hungry family, this dish will disappear.
B. Delicious Coffee Cake
This was originally named Plain Coffee Cake. It is from A Leaf from Our Table. This cookbook was published in two braille volumes by the Chicago Catholic Guild for the Blind in 1970.The only change I made is adding extra cinnamon, butter, and brown sugar.
Coffee cake is a wonderful treat for breakfast alongside coffee or as an afternoon treat. This is an easy coffee cake to make during hectic holidays.
Six tablespoons sugar
Six tablespoons or three–fourths stick butter
Two cups all–purpose flour
Three teaspoons baking powder
One–half teaspoon salt
One cup milk
Two heaping teaspoons cinnamon
Three–fourths stick butter
Four tablespoons flour
One–half to three–fourths cup light brown sugar
Three heaping teaspoons cinnamon
1. Soften butter for 20–30 minutes in a large mixing bowl. Add granulated sugar and blend with fork or pastry blender until mixture is smooth. Add flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Blend mixture until it is smooth. In a small mixing bowl, put room–temperature eggs and milk. Whisk mixture for one minute, then add to other ingredients. Stir coffee cake batter with a wooden spoon for two minutes. Prepare the streusel topping.
2. In a small mixing bowl, put butter, flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Blend with your hands until mixture is crumbly.
3. Grease and flour a Pyrex or metal nine–inch round cake pan. With a one–half cup measuring cup, scoop out half of batter into cake pan.
4. Preheat oven. Put two tablespoons of butter into small bowl. Microwave it for 30 seconds and let it cool.
5. Sprinkle some of the topping on the coffee cake. Add the rest of the batter and pour butter over entire top of coffee cake. Sprinkle the rest of the streusel topping across the top of the coffee cake. Make sure it covers the entire cake.
6. Bake coffee cake for 40 minutes.
7. Take coffee cake from the oven and allow it to cool on a counter for 20 minutes. Turn pan over onto a paper– and foil–lined dinner plate. If you are not serving it right away, cover it with parchment paper and foil and refrigerate it.
C. Shortbread Cookies
This recipe is from the 1979 Fannie Farmer cookbook, which was updated in 1996. It is available on cartridge and BARD. I had my first homemade shortbread cookies in 1962, on a cold Monday night in December. They were delicious after a trying Monday. In 2012, right before New Year's, I made this recipe. The two changes I made were using granulated sugar instead of powdered sugar and adding vanilla. When my friend joins me for the holidays, she requests these.
Two sticks butter
One–half cup granulated sugar
Two cups all–purpose flour
One–half teaspoon salt
One–half teaspoon vanilla
1. Soften butter in a large mixing bowl for 30 minutes. Add sugar, blending with hands for a few minutes. Add flour and salt and blend again for two minutes until dough is smooth. Add vanilla and blend for one minute.
2. If there is time, chill the dough for an hour so flavors will blend
3. Shape dough into small balls and place on two parchment paper–lined cookie sheets.
4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Flatten cookies and prick them with a fork.
5. Bake cookies for just 26 minutes. Take them out immediately. Do not worry if cookies feel a little underdone. As they cool, they become crispy. While they are still very hot, sprinkle powdered sugar over them. When they are cooler, place cookies in airtight containers, if you can wait. I often love to sample hot cookies.
These cookies are not too sweet, and no one can eat just one.
I hope Consumer Vision readers have a happy, peaceful holiday season. Reality is suspended and everyone is kinder and more charitable toward each other. Let us pray for a kinder, more civil nation where everyone gets along.
15. MARCY'S SCHMOOZE TINNIH
by Marcy J. Segelman
It's that time of the year already. It's hard to believe. We gather here at Kurt and Kim's for Thanksgiving, and it is probably the most important day to me.
There is one thing about Thanksgiving Day that is very important, and that is family. Family is great, if you still have one. I have my brother Allyn and my sister–in–law in Florida, my older niece and nephew–in–law in New Jersey, and my younger niece in Connecticut. I also have my childhood friend from when I hung out at my aunt's house. We became closer as my cousins left for college. There are many other people, but I guess we've drifted apart. Even so, I feel that everyone is still my friend.
Family is more than those related by blood. I'm thinking of a family that is most close and dear to me. It started long ago in a place that's special to all of us, Fenway Park. Barbra (Baba) and her family adopted me into her family. When Allyn left to move to Florida, Barbra stepped up and said to him, "Don't worry. She'll always have a place to come to."
Coming to this house is a very special feeling. You are part of a large and super–warm family, a unit. For example, everyone helps Kim with dinner. Or when there is a family problem, the whole family is there. All step up to the plate. I know that if I need something urgently, I can call on my adopted sister Kim or brother Curt or any of the family clan. Everyone has something special to contribute.
There are a few people that I must mention. Barbra and I love baseball. She and her family had seats behind Allyn and me at the ballpark. Barbra really got into the games, and she was not shy about telling people how she felt about things. There were other people that sat around us as well. So this became the Fenway family and friends. We were tight and grew into a community of close friends that even in the off season would come together or keep in touch. A lot of us would go to watch the Red Sox truck leave the ball park to go to spring training. My friend Joan Kane and I met at Fenway years ago to do that. It became a special thing. Besides our love of baseball, we share our belief in our faith. We always walk and talk about baseball before the game as well as talk to other friends we both know.
The other special person in this family was Aunt Dotti. Every year, she would make pies. She made the most wonderful pies. Her apple pie was my favorite. She would tell us stories about the family. One of the things I remember is that she always had the biggest and warmest smile. Between Baba and Aunt Dotti, we had two wonderful ladies who had a wonderful spirit and shared their wisdom and love for family. As we eat our dinner and share dessert, let us remember Aunt Dotti and Baba.
Now I'm dining with my current adopted family. Many college friends and their parents have also come to dinner. This family opens their home to many people. I haven't seen this since I was a small child in my mother and father's home. As we go around the table and each of us says what we are grateful for in the past year, I say that family and friends are at the top of the list, in addition to being breast cancer free. I am thankful to Baba watching over me. I know there are people that do not believe in angels and talking to the beyond, but I believe in it. As she often said to me, it doesn't matter what people think, but what you think.
Season's greetings and a very happy New Year to everyone.
16. MY THANKSGIVING DAY TEACUP DISASTER
by Leonore H. Dvorkin
Darn. After a pretty good day, albeit one with too much food, I just had a stupid accident. David was collecting the trash for pickup tomorrow, and when I was handing him my desk wastebasket, I knocked a large cup of tea off the side of my desk. The tile floor here in my study is the hardest in the house, so it shattered all over, plus spilled tea over a wide area. What a mess! I'm not sure I got it all with paper towels and the broom, but I sure hope I got most of it. I don't ever walk around with bare feet, so that's something, at least.
Well, some good may come of it. It has been quite a while since I've really cleaned this floor, other than sweeping or vacuuming it. That's partly because the room, while large, is so crowded. Besides my office–size desk, a file cabinet, seven large bookcases, and a folding table, there are several big cardboard boxes on the floor. Those are filled with books and papers that need sorting. All those boxes, over a dozen in all and most of them heavy, will have to be moved out for a while if I am to do a good cleaning with a mop. But it needs to be done, and this is motivation. The floor tiles have a recessed pattern in them, and I'm sure that some of the tea is in there, so even using a scrub brush on my hands and knees may be required.
This is clearly a case that calls for an attitude adjustment. I need to look at this coming task not as something to dread, but as something necessary and ultimately beneficial. My back and knees will no doubt take a while to recover after I'm done, but I'm sure I'll be pleased with my much cleaner floor. And from now on, no more putting my teacup in that vulnerable spot. There are much safer places for it here on my desk. So there's a good lesson learned.
Wish me luck, and good housekeeping to you!
17. HOW OUR PARENTS TAUGHT US ABOUT CHRISTMAS
by Karen Crowder
Our parents loved the Christmas season, imparting the joy and love to my brother and me.
When I was eight, I vainly tried to help my dad decorate our Christmas tree. I cried when I accidentally broke the pretty glass ball. Dad gently reassured me that I was "doing a good job." The 1957 Christmas season was special. My dad took me to Boston to visit with Santa at Jordan Marsh. It was on a Saturday, and I had my list prepared. I confidently rattled it off, hoping to receive the dolls, doll bed, and dollhouse on Christmas morning. That Sunday, we went to Boston Common. Dad patiently described the reindeer and the lighting of the Christmas tree. It was an exciting Christmas; I received a doll bed, doll furniture, and other gifts. That was the last year I believed in the magic of Santa on Christmas day.
After Thanksgiving in 1961, my mom took my brother and me to Sears to purchase a recliner for Dad. We looked in the living room section. There were many recliners. Which was the best one for Dad? We thought how he would love the comfortable recliner our mom chose. How would we keep this big secret until Christmas? Dad loved the recliner, reading the paper or watching the evening news in it.
In 1966, on Saturday, my first day of Christmas vacation, our family went shopping in Quincy Square. Dad and I disappeared into Sears. We went to the small appliances and cosmetic sections of the store. My dad said, "We're getting gifts for your mother." He carefully chose gifts for my mom. I approved of the Early American Old Spice gift set, which I thought would be perfect for Mom. He also bought the novel gift of electric sewing scissors. I loved shopping with Dad and keeping the secret of what he bought for Mom until Christmas Day. We also went into the record section. Dad bought several Christmas albums. We would enjoy listening to them on our new stereo record player. Listening to Christmas music while baking cookies and wrapping gifts would make our Christmas complete. Mom loved our well–chosen gifts, and the Christmas albums lasted for years.
Dad would teach us about giving to charity. One year I parted with the Perkins copy of The Twelve Days of Christmas. We gave it to someone less fortunate.
In 1968, when my brother and I were almost adults, Mom took us to a store. We picked out a snowblower for Dad. He had been ill and no longer had the strength to shovel heavy snow. We all thought the snowblower would make the perfect gift. He loved it. It turned out to be very useful during the snowy winter of 1969, when New England received one of the biggest blizzards in years. My brother was able to help elderly neighbors who could not shovel out their driveways. That snowblower lasted for years.
Our parents taught us by example that Christmas is a season for charity toward everyone, for joy and giving to others. We also realized that Christ's birth was central to Christmas.
I have carried these lessons into my adult life and marriage, as my husband and I shared the excitement of shopping for gifts, baking, and sharing the joy of the holidays together. We would often celebrate two Christmases. The day before Christmas, our stepdaughters and the grandkids came to our house for a meal and the opening of gifts.
I thank my parents for giving the examples of love, sharing, and joy with each Christmas season to my brother and me.
18. CONSUMER VISION TRIVIA CONTEST
Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the November Consumer Vision. According to the Bible, Abraham's firstborn son was Ishmael. Congratulations to the following winners:
Jan Colby of Brockton, Massachusetts
Nancy Hays of Oakville, Connecticut
Susan Jones of Indianapolis, Indiana
Steve Theberge of Attleboro, Massachusetts
And now, here is your question for the December Consumer Vision. How many birthdays does the average human being have in a lifetime? If you know the answer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-994-4972.