The Consumer Vision

January/February, 2010

Publisher: Bob Branco

Editor: Janet Marcley

Treasurer, Gail Teixeira

Braille Production: Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library CD Production: Bob Zeida

Cassette Production: Audible Local Ledger, Sherry Bergeron E-Mail Production: Bob Branco and Janet Marcley

Print Production: Alpha Graphics

Board of Directors: Clement Beaulieu, Darryl Breffe, Steve Brown, Lauren Casey, Dan Germano, Ken Sylvia and Gail Teixeira

If you would like to subscribe to the Consumer Vision six times a year, please e-mail or call our office at 508-994-4972, and we will discuss which format you want to receive. The Consumer Vision is available in print, Braille, cassette, CD and e-mail.

Humanitarian of the Year
A Very Accessible Web Site for the Blind
Mentoring, the Experience of a Lifetime
Let's Be Informed
Up and Down My Experience with Middle-Age Bi-Polar Illness
Poor Customer Service Practices
Cruise of a Lifetime
Letters to the Editor
Am I a Fireman yet
Political Correctness Affects the Holidays Again
Rap Music Can Be Corrupt

Humanitarian of the Year

We at the Consumer Vision would like to congratulate the winners of the 2009 Humanitarian of the Year. You read correctly; we have two winners this year. They are Cynthia Washington and Brian MacDonald. Both recipients are well deserving of this special award, due to their compassion and their strong desire to help others. The following are the nomination statements from individuals who know Brian and Cynthia, respectively.

Brian A. McDonald joined National Braille Press as its latest president during the early part of 2009. Since then, he has worked with such notable workers with technology for the blind as Noel Runyan, Dean Blazie and others to develop an affordable Braille personal data device which he and his colleagues hope will in its first stage cost so much less than the current refreshable Braille display devices that it will be affordable to many more Braille readers and have most of the same features as the current, much more expensive ones. In its final form, Brian hopes, there will be a one-page Braille display within a device that could have many of the features which the current Kindle has for print readers - direct access to the Internet, sifi and bluetooth, perhaps GPS capability, the a camera that when placed on a printed document will be able to convert the print to Braille, a "cellular radio," etc. This is perhaps quite a few years down the pike, but Brian feels that his Center for Braille Innovation may have the twenty-cell, inexpensive but versatile note-taking device, simple enough for children to use as an aid in learning Braille as well as a practical help for adults, ready within two years.

Brian and other American technical experts in this field have recently returned from Beijing, China, where they presented their proposal and outline for the creation of these much-less-expensive Braille digital devices to an Internet forum, and reached an agreement with the China Braille Press so that there will be cooperation for technological applications for Chinese Braille, and for Braille in other languages so that this could be marketed globally.

No, this hasn't happened yet, but after reading the materials which were recently sent to me, and after hearing the excitement that he and the president of NBP's Board of Trustees communicated to the rest of the Board after having been in China and noted the enthusiastic and positive reception that their proposal received there, I feel that Brian deserves consideration for candidacy for the Humanitarian award.

But this hasn't come to pass yet, so, I hope that some other Consumer Vision readers can come up with folks who've actually accomplished activities and actions that have touched lives and have present, tangible positive consequences. So, though it's written to you and not to all the rest of CV readers, "Come on, folks! I've thrown the ball; let's see who can catch it and throw it harder." - Marcy Scott

Cynthia Washington

I know of someone that I have been working with for three years who came out of prison in March 09 and has done so much to help the homeless and her church. She helps with clothing and food pantries, and spends hours just loving people. I think it would be great encouragement for her to win the Humanitarian Award of the Year. Her name is Cynthia Washington. - Allison Vigna

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A Very Accessible Web Site for the Blind

By Christine

As a visually impaired individual, I have struggled with the massive amount of information available on the Internet. I have constructed a website to stockpile relevant data in one spot for the blind and visually impaired communities. The website is an amalgam of different information. There is a very useful job links page that is constantly being updated. By the way, most of these positions are specifically for the blind or visually impaired. I also have an interview page in which I interview noted blind or visually impaired individuals. The resource and vendor links are also very useful tools for those seeking this information. It is my goal to make my website a useful tool for my blind and visually impaired peers.

For more information go to

Would it be possible for this notice to go in your newsletter magazine or place a link on your website going to the website address listed above?

Thank you for your time.


Marketing the Blind And Visually Impaired Christine visit

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Mentoring, the Experience of a Lifetime

By Paul and Lucille Burkhardt

It all started on Friday, November 20, 2009. A very dear friend from Massachusetts had sent some home-baked items. After delivering some to our next-door neighbors, we had also decided to give away four medium-sized teddy bears to one of the grandchildren, who graciously accepted them. The truly amazing thing is that the child was only 19 months old. Her name is Brooklyn Asia Williams. We have never seen such a polite little child before. We have had several visits with her family, who also include her six-year-old sister Brakayla and 13-year-old brother Brakell.

Ever since we have bonded with little Brooklyn, it's as if it was meant to be from the beginning. In fact, after bringing items to our neighbors, Brooklyn tries to escape to our apartment. Whenever she sees Lucille, she runs toward her and tries to leap into her lap. We have never felt so close to anyone before in such a short time. They are extremely accommodating, no matter what the situation.

On the following night, we had the lovely pleasure of meeting Crystal Howard, the children's mother. She could not have been more hospitable and grateful for what we had done. Since she does not visit our neighbor, Cleola (her mother), that much, we don't see her as frequently as we'd like. But all in all, we wouldn't change a single thing about the way this friendship is progressing. Mentoring is one of life's greatest experiences. Until you do it, you'll never know how rich and satisfying it can be for all concerned. Anyone wishing to mentor will gain more than they will lose. It's something that money can't buy. In this day and age, it is so important to take the time to realize how important people really are, as life is so precious and we don't know how much of an impact we might have on just one individual. Anyone wishing to mentor will never regret it.

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COASTLINE ELDERLY NUTRITION NEWS Kimberly Ferreira, MS, RD, LDN Coastline Elderly Services, Inc.


It's the New Year and like many people, weight loss is on the top of the list for New Year's resolutions. This may not be the first time you have claimed, "This is the year!" or "I'm going to lose 30 pounds by the summer!" While these familiar phrases are positive, it's important to keep your goals simple, measurable and REALISTIC! Let's take a look at how to keep a healthy approach when it comes to weight-loss goals:


On a scale of 1-10, how motivated are you to make lifestyle changes to achieve weight loss? If your motivation factor is less than a 7, you may want to reassess your goals. If your motivation factor is between a 7 and 10, you are ready to lose weight!


Now that you are ready and motivated to lose weight, it's important to look at goals as lasting changes. When the word "diet" comes to mind, it is often accompanied with impressions of sacrificing and/or avoiding certain foods. "Diets" are typically short-lived and stressful.


Safe and successful long-term weight loss is 1 to 2 pounds a week. Remind yourself daily why you want to lose weight. Reward yourself each time you reach your short-term goals. Write down what you eat and the specific changes you are making. For example: "I will enjoy ice cream once a week instead of everyday".


Enjoy ALL foods; just be aware of the portion you are eating and how often you are eating it. Choose nutrient-dense foods often such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and soups. These foods are higher in fiber & water and lower in fat & sugar. You will feel full longer and consume less.

Weight Loss Tips to Remember:

? Eat regularly - Don't skip meals ? Drink 6-8 cups of water each day ? Increase activity a bit each day

? Get support from family & friends ? If you splurge, don't give up


Did you know?

A packet of hot cocoa made with water has about 120 calories while the "No Sugar Added" kind has only about 60 calories.

If you are trying to stay warm this winter & craving something sweet choose the "No Sugar Added" hot cocoa mix and save half the calories!

Please contact me with any questions at (508) 999-6400 x194 or email:

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Let's Be Informed

By Sharon Hooley

Hi all!

It is my privilege to offer you another article for this issue of The Consumer Vision. In this column, I would like to focus on blindness, and list some resources that can empower us to live more safely and independently. For your convenience, I will list some resources with descriptions at the end.

Some of you reading this probably have to walk on snow and ice, and, if you're like me, you are nervous, afraid of falling. Although I mostly walk with someone (which is my choice) and that person supports me, I'm sure some of you have to walk alone to work or to run errands. I also think of those who have osteoporosis. Surely that would heighten your fear of going down! I never put enough effort into fully developing confidence in my sense of balance, and I believe it was compromised a bit when I had the cochlear implant surgery; so, in some cases, I'm a bit more nervous.

As blind folks, we do not have the option of jumping into our cars to get where we want to go, especially if we can't afford a driver who would be available at any given time. So some of us have to walk for a distance in not-so-pleasant weather conditions to catch a bus or get to our workplace. Fortunately, there's something that might help! They're called ice treads. (You can find them, as well as many other products, at one of the below websites.)

I'm sure some of you are also struggling to come to terms with vision loss. You remember what it is like to be able to see the beauty of white, freshly fallen snow that blankets the trees. In warm weather, you could go outside to enjoy watching the sun rise and set, and to observe birds building their nests. You also miss being able to appreciate the details of pictures or experience all there is to see when taking a tour. One of the saddest parts, I'm sure, is not being able to see the faces of your loved ones, or never being able to look into the eyes of your new grandchild. I cannot pretend to fully understand your pain, as I have never really experienced vision in the first place, but I can imagine your intense grief if you've suddenly lost your eyesight. Others of you have lost your vision gradually, so perhaps the sense of loss is not as painful, because you gradually adjust. But I can understand denial, since my hearing loss had slowly worsened over many years. There was a time when I didn't want to wear hearing aids, or later, to use a transmitter and receiver when in a crowd or when in church or a lecture. So it makes sense to me that there is denial with slowly deteriorating vision. You might feel angry when you are told that it is no longer safe for you to drive, when you are pressured to get a cane, when you are advised to get special help to learn independent living skills with your eyes covered. But I can also remind you that it isn't worth trying to drive if there's the possibility of injuring or killing someone, who cannot be replaced. This was brought home to me when, while out on a walk with a guide dog, one of my fellow travel trainees was struck by a vehicle whose driver had recently had cataract surgery. Though not killed, he was injured enough to delay his stay at the Commission for the Blind.

I have learned that blindness is a nuisance, not a handicap; that we can accomplish just about anything, even if it means borrowing a pair of eyes! And we are blessed to live in this modern age where we can access technology that makes life easier.

It is sad to note, however, that many blind individuals in this nation are still unemployed. Perhaps it's due to factors such as lack of motivation, confidence, or knowledge of where to go for help. Fortunately, there are agencies and organizations out there that can help financially, give personal support, or provide recycled and refurbished items. So even those of us who don't have the necessary funding to buy expensive equipment can benefit from this technology. We also have greater opportunities to participate in leisure activities, such as emailing and chatting with people all over the world, or playing audio and Braille computer games. And we can even do a lot of our shopping without sighted help!

It is my hope that each of you who reads this will take advantage of resources such as I provide below, and you can always try to contact me. My info is also in this list.

Until next time, stay warm, stay safe, stay well, and be informed!

Sampling list of resources

Contact me at:

Sharon Hooley, 2505 S Middleton RD, Nampa ID 83686-8747

Also, please visit my website:

Shop for useful products:

Maxi-Aids, Inc. 42 Executive Blvd., Farmingdale, NY 11735 USA

To order products: 1-800-522-6294

For Info: 1-631-752-0521

TTY: 1-631-752-0738

Fax: 1-631-752-0689

Here's a one-stop place for personal support:

Everything Blind, 4135 Vasco St., Punta Gorda, FL 33950 561-459-3972

Recycle equipment you no longer need, and get other help:

Visual Innovations & Solutions, 119 S. Plametto Ave. Suite 180, Daytona Beach, FL 32114


You can get financial and other technology info here:

AbleData, 8630 Fenton Street, Suite 930, Silver Spring, MD 20910. 800-227-0216 or 301-608-8998.

Fax: 301-608-8958.

Find many accessible games here:

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Up and Down

My Experience with Middle-Age Bi-Polar Illness

By Steve Brown

Katy Perry says it playfully in her song, "Up and Down": "Your condition is such you must be bi-polar." The late and great Jimi Hendrix has a song about it: "Manic Depression - All In My Brain." However, for me, nothing was very fun about my bi-polar illness in the beginning.

I don't know what triggers it. Some say heredity - In my case, I suspect earlier use of hallucinogens. But whatever hit me, hit me good, surprisingly enough, in my mid 50's - when it usually does not. Parenthetically, one should know bi-polar illness first strikes teenagers and young people up to age 25. Also, young human males are far more prone to it than young women.

If you had not had the experience before, it will come as an insidious, often gradual, surprise until, as in my case, it was in "full bloom." The first signs include the desire to spend money, particularly on projects that usually come to nothing. In my case, the bug for collecting oriental art grabbed hold of me. The following background might be useful. Five years before, my mother had died, leaving me with a small but tidy inheritance. Before I knew it, about 80% of that inheritance was wasted, lost or stolen.

Then there were the racing thoughts and the continual spur for activity any activity! Why not? You suddenly find that sleep becomes difficult and maintaining calm, impossible.

Next there comes your effect on other people. You start to get an intense almost bulging in the eyes. People start to become scared about and for you, although you really do not know why. "For Goodness sakes," I would think, then, "Don't they understand how much fun eel fishing would be during a full moon - who cares if they want to sleep!"

Then in my case incidents began to occur. While substitute teaching, I freaked out a girl in a high school class, which led to my being fired.

Then my decision to beat a Chinese drum up and down a country road earned a disturbing-the-peace citation. Suddenly I found myself in jail, even spending New Year's Eve in a State correctional facility. You see, I raised such a commotion in the local jail, they decided I needed a more expansive dominion to calm down. Let me tell you, it sure worked. After that, I was sent to the Corrigan Center in Fall River, Mass., for evaluation, and then immediate treatment. Suddenly I began to know what was wrong with me and strangely I accepted it with little difficulty.

Soon after that, I found myself living in a boarding house for people with various kinds of mental illnesses. This was not much fun, and I was depressed in varying degrees for over three years. However, looking back, this was exactly what I needed: to be taken care of and recover at my own pace. There I learned the most critical lesson: Take your medicine religiously.

Now the soap opera part is over. Let me speak of an upward climb. First, I want to acknowledge my years of therapy at a center called Day Treatment, now owned by Seven Hills. There are too many people there to acknowledge in this short article, but let me give unqualified thanks to them all. Second, let me give an unqualified tribute to two different Commonwealth social workers. The first one, Sue, entered me into SSDI, which gave me money in time to recover, and finally found for me a living arrangement which allowed me to recover more fully and to become independent. The second really enlarged my life, benefits and activities. With her help, even my future burial is prepared and ready.

The system that the first social worker introduced me to is called "The Fellowship." Briefly, I call it an aid organization to assist you in taking your medicine (meds), housing in pleasant inexpensive homes, helping to get groceries, and of course taking me to medical appointments. It is a little bit of a very soft "boot camp," too. They supervise your timely taking of meds until you can become almost completely independent and clean-living. (Men that live together can be such slobs.) As for me, I am now living almost fully independently in a shared duplex house with another recovering individual. I cook - he cleans the kitchen. We keep a fairly neat house. Very importantly, we both work part time. My roommate has worked steadily for five years; I, for four months. At 68, I am looking forward to a bright future. Presently, I am primarily in charge of food distribution at a Salvation Army headquarters. Life begins at 70.

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Poor Customer Service Practices

By Bob Branco

A radio announcer just told a story that I'm sure a lot of us are quite familiar with in these modern times where life gets more complicated than it should. He lives in Newton, Massachusetts, 100 yards from a well-known department store. One day he decided to phone the store to ask if they had a particular shirt in stock. One operator transferred him to another, and then to another, and then to a fourth operator. By this time, the man found the whole process ridiculous. If he knew that his local store had the shirts, he would simply walk there and purchase them. He then asked the fourth operator where she was located. Well, she was definitely not in Newton, Massachusetts. She was in Mesa, Arizona. Why should we be connected to Mesa, Arizona to find out if the store around the corner has a particular product in stock? Did we forget how to check local inventory and return to the customer on the phone with a direct yes or no answer? Is that too difficult to figure out any more? Why does life have to be so complicated?

One of these days, when I call my local Papa Ginos to order a tuna sub, they will connect me to Outer Mongolia where a foreign customer-service man will take the order by reading from a script, have me repeat the order seven times, and then ask me ten times if there is anything more he can do for me. Oh, and all of this happens before he thanks me for calling Papa Gino's twelve more times.

My local newspaper, the New Bedford Standard Times, has its customer-service department in the Philippines. No offense, but how does someone in the Philippines know how we feel in New Bedford?

I hate to call my own computer tech-support service because they speak broken English, read from a script, and ask me to repeat and explain the problem over and over again. When you operate a computer but know nothing about the source of a problem, you, as the consumer, want someone to guide you who understands you and the problem, giving you, the consumer, a comfort zone.

Can we keep things simple if they should be simple? Can we remember this?

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COASTLINE ELDERLY NUTRITION NEWS Kimberly Ferreira, MS, RD, LDN Coastline Elderly Services, Inc.


February is American Heart Month and also recognition of Cardiac Rehab Week (Feb 8 - 14). How well do you treat your heart? What do you know about cholesterol? Do you know what foods to limit to keep your heart healthy and strong? Let's put your knowledge to the test! Be sure to participate in our contest - see details below!

1. In additional to your total blood cholesterol number, you should know what your LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol numbers are.

a. True

b. False

2. High Cholesterol has no symptoms, so the only way to know your cholesterol levels is by having them checked by your doctor:

a. True

b. False

3. Lifestyle habits, such as diet, exercise and smoking, will not affect your cholesterol levels.

a. True

b. False

4. Which of the following is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke?

a. High Blood Pressure b. Smoking

c. Family History

d. All of the above

5. Which fats raise your LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease?

a. Saturated & Trans fats

b. Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated Fats

6. Which food items typically contain high amounts of saturated fats? a. Plant foods, like Nuts and Vegetable Oils

b. Animal foods, like Bacon & Whole Milk

c. Palm & Coconut Oils

d. Both B and C

Source: American Heart Association,

Answers: (1) True (2) True (3) False (4) d (5) a (6) d


Did you know?

One ounce of avocado on your sandwich has about 45 calories and 4 grams of healthy fat, while one ounce of American cheese has about 105 calories and 9 grams of fat (most coming from saturated fats).

Use avocado on your sandwich and save about 60 calories and 5 grams of fat!

Please contact me with any questions at (508) 999-6400 x194 or email:

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Cruise of a Lifetime

By Karen Crowder

It was Sunday, October 12, 2008, when 15 of us boarded The Norwegian Dream for a seven-day cruise to and from Bermuda. We had planned this trip since June. The excitement had caught us after American Star Travel placed an add in Braille publications. At noon, we left Falcon Cruise Terminal in Boston, leaving chilly autumn breezes behind. We had met our travel agent Hussaam R Awaad before being whisked through Customs and boarding our ship. Our dream had come true; we felt the carpeting under our feet and felt cool sea breezes as we left Boston. The courteous crew escorted us to our state rooms.

I had two roommates, Kathy and Donna; this would be our home for seven days. We were on the fourth deck; our rooms were small with two twin beds, a convertible couch, two closets and a small bathroom. Our joy overshadowed this; we were friends who would enjoy this trip. Every room had a speaker, so the captain could make announcements. Many of us had lunch in the sports bar on the 12th deck; I admired passengers eating outdoors as chilly breezes blew. We had soup, finger sandwiches and French bread with generous amounts of butter. After a private muster drill at 4, Julie, a member of the staff, described the layout of the six restaurants on the ship. She also showed us how to use the life jackets if it was necessary.

On Deck 9 there was a coffee bar where a few of us enjoyed coffee and flaky apple strudel. We sat, enjoying the upbeat disco music while letting the cares of the world float away. We ate our dinner at La Bistro, a lovely French restaurant on Deck 9. Our service was impeccable and the food was delicious. For an appetizer I had two helpings of escargot (snails in garlic butter and French bread crumbs). I had velout'e soup with frogs legs turbot, potatoes and vegetables. For dessert, I chose the dark chocolate moose in an edible chocolate cup. The staff was attentive and unfailingly courteous throughout the cruise. They would always pull out our chairs, repeatedly asking, "Madam or Misre, is there anything you want?" They would always fill our glasses with ice water during meals. During the meal we became acquainted with our group. One couple, John and Karen, were from Connecticut, and two other friends, Midia and Feoria, were from the Newton, Massachusetts area. Rick was from California, Donna from Medford, Massachusetts, Kathy from Maryland, and I from Leominster, Massachusetts. Hussaam R. Awaad is from Dennis and had planned this cruise. Others who had joined us were Lucille Reed from Quincy, Massachusetts, Bob Scheff from Framingham, Sue Hall from Methuen, and Josephine Fletcher and her friends Loretta and Megan all from the Cape. There was also a newly married couple on this trip.

Monday morning we awoke to warmer weather from the Mid Atlantic. As we went to breakfast at The Four Seasons, we anticipated the day's events. After breakfast, Sue, Donna, Kathy and I browsed the gift shops. We bought perfumes. All the designer brands were at deep discounts. As this day progressed, we would be sailing into the warmer waters off the Carolinas, on the way to our destination to the subtropical island of Bermuda. That afternoon, we enjoyed delightful jazz music and delicious chateau brione at the Four Seasons. Hearing the music, we felt the responsibilities of and pressure of daily life melt away.

Donna and I walked on Deck 12, a kind passenger guiding us through throngs of people listening to music, barbecuing food and diving into the swimming pool. Everyone was enjoying the sunshine and warmer air of the Carolinas.

That night, we dressed for Formal Night. We had dinner in Terrace's Restaurant. I enjoyed the grilled asparagus, French bread and coffee.

After the comedy show at the Stardust lounge, several of us participated in Karaoke night. Lucille sang "Stand By Your Man" with soul, Rick Miller sang, with expression, "A White Sport Coat and a Pink Carnation," and Kathy sang a newer song. I admired all who performed; it takes courage to sing in front of total strangers.

On Tuesday morning, Kathy, Donna and I ate breakfast outdoors under the warm sun and mild Bermuda breezes. As we drank our coffee, the breezes came up, and the ocean grew choppy, so we could not dock in St. George. We stayed in Hamilton for the day. That afternoon, Donna, Rick and I toured Hamilton. Much had changed since I had been there in 1990. The cost of living had gone up and big companies had come to the island. Others from our group had tea at the Fairmont Hotel. After eating at the Italian restaurant that evening, we looked forward to our days in St. George.

Wednesday morning, four of us, Sue, Kathy, Bob and I, rented a cab to go shopping and see the perfume factory. This was our first stop, The Bermuda Perfumery, where warm and polite staff explained how their perfume is made. They demonstrated the fragrances they carry. They have eight fragrances for women, the first the prettiest being Lily; also Franipani, Jasmine, Oleander and Paradise. Paradise is a classic, and an understated mix of flowers and woods. The best men's fragrance is Cedar Wood. The Cedar is partially extracted from the cedar tree in Bermuda.

Our kind cab driver took us to a drug store that sold Swiss chocolate. We also went to A&S Cooper's and Paradise Gift Shop. The proprietor attentively waited on us. She was helpful by getting the appropriate t-shirts for my family.

Laden with purchases, we boarded our ship. That night we ate at the Four Seasons. Conversation flowed. The couple from Connecticut had gone on a carriage tour around St. George. Donna and Rick had visited a local restaurant. I enjoyed beef stroganoff, chocolate Bavarian cake and good coffee. We all shared laughter that night at a comedy show, after which we went to Josephine's room and enjoyed each other's company.

Thursday, we took advantage of our last full day on St. George. Late that morning, many of us went on a two-hour boat ride around the edge of the famed "Bermuda Triangle." As the warm sun shone on us, we also felt the gentle spray of the water. The tour guide emphasized that the island was changing insurance companies, replacing some hotels and department stores. In Hamilton, bigger cruise ships were replacing smaller ones that had been able to dock on St. George. Bermudians loved the plants and fish on this island and are doing all they can to preserve this wonderful paradise.

After the tour, Lu, Bob and I went to the White Horse Tavern. We enjoyed conch fritters Awaho, fish sandwiches and ginger beer. After going to a local gift shop, we took a carriage tour around St. George. We would be sorry to leave this magical island full of happiness and kindness from the natives.

Kathy, Sue and I went to La Bistro's. I had escargot and salmon, which was so tender that it was falling apart. The lady who waited on us was lovely and could not do enough. After our meal, she took us on Deck 4. We loved the balmy night while dancing and hearing upbeat music. It was like mid-August, 72 degrees at 10 o'clock. You could revel in the summer-like night dancing, music and laughter. All too soon, we went to a bedroom where Lu and the staff had planned a belated birthday party for Rick and Kathy. The staff helped with a birthday cake and gracious service.

Friday, we had a cookout; the sun and 78-degree temperatures made it seem like late summer. At noon, we left St. George and would be leaving the lovely island of Bermuda. We were sad to see our cruise come to an end. Saturday night we had our farewell dinner at Terrace's. I had vegetable soup, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding. After the comedy show, we finished last-minute packing. We were saying goodbye to new friends and staff who had made us feel welcome. Hussaam, who had made the trip possible, said he had also made new friends.

Sunday, at 8 o'clock, we docked at Falcon Warf and disembarked from our ship. We were back to the realities of daily life. It had been a wonderful vacation; we will long have memories of this cruise, and the new friends we made.

You can reach Hussaam Awaad at 508-815-4327. You can also look at his web site,

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Letters to the Editor

Bob, There is a concern about an issue of software and game accessibility.

Steven T wrote a great article about adaptic technology in the last issue of The Consumer Vision which I found very interesting. There are games on the market that I'm sure that blind people would like to be able to play: Deal Or No Deal, The Price Is Right and Family Feud just to name a few. The problem is these games have lots of graphics that a screen reader wouldn't recognize. Even if you try to label the graphics with Jaws using the graphics labeler, it says that 0 graphics were labeled. I do not put the blame on the screen readers, I blame the software manufacturers that put out these games. They don't even give accessibility a thought when programmers put together these games. It's frustrating when you hear about a game you want to buy, and you find out after you purchased it that it is totally nonaccessible. Granted, the game is self-voicing and it talks to you, but when it comes to actually playing the game, you have to use the mouse. Nine times out of ten, when you contact a manufacturer about a game not being accessible, they either don't respond, or they say that they will take what you said into consideration, but do absolutely nothing about it. This is a case where blind people are being treated like fourth-class citizens. Some of the sighted world doesn't care about the needs of blind people, and that's wrong.

And what about other types of software that are not accessible such as certain sound-editing programs, certain programs to use when downloading music or movies, etc? Well, I suppose that if those who know how to write scripts which incorporate screen-reader support for particular applications could make software more useable, but one would have to know the ins and outs of the nonaccessible application before attempting to write scripts for it. Not everyone can understand the scripting language for screen readers; otherwise, if we all could easily understand scripting language, we would all be writing scripts. Then, we would not have to worry about software or games being nonaccessible.

The question is, what do we do about this world of nonaccessibility? Well, in my opinion, there should be stricter guidelines for software manufacturers so that accessibility would become a part of designing software instead of merely catering to just the sited world. In closing, I hope that something will be done about the issue of making software accessibility friendly so that we, as blind people, can benefit from games and software that sighted people make use of, for this is important to all of us who use computers and are visually impaired. We can and should be equal to the sighted world when it comes to technology, and how technology can help us in a predominantly sighted world.

Ron Febba

Hi there to you Bob

I smiled when I read your post, but could not believe the stupidity of our politicians. Why are they wasting their time on silly legislation that no one cares about? Let us get at real issues, lack of jobs across the country. Adequate affordable medical care is hard to find, as is affordable housing, but our legislators would rather concentrate on non-issues like making the fluffer-nutter the favorite sandwich, or the issue about rest-rooms. As for the silly law in Kentucky, no child would put an ice cream cone in his or her pocket - it gets eaten to fast on a hot day.

from Karen Crowder

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Am I a Fireman yet?

In Calgary, Alberta, a 26-year-old mother stared down at her six-year-old son, who was dying of terminal leukemia. Although her heart was filled with sadness,

she also had a strong feeling of determination.

Like any parent, she wanted her son to grow up &

fulfill all his dreams. Now that was no longer possible.. the leukemia would see to that. But she still

wanted her son's dream to come true.

She took her son' s hand and asked,

"Billy, did you ever think about what you wanted

to be once you grew up?

Did you ever dream and wish what you would

do with your life?"

"Mommy, I always wanted to be a fireman

when I grew up."

Mom smiled back and said, "Let's see if we can make your wish come true."

Later that day she went to her local fire department in Calgary , where she met

Fireman Bob, who had a heart as big as Alberta

She explained her son's final wish and

Asked if it might be possible

to give her six-year-old son a ride around the block on a fire engine. Fireman Bob said, "Look, we can do

better than that. If you'll have your son ready at

seven o'clock Wednesday morning, we'll make

him an Honorary Fireman for the whole day.

He can come down to the fire station, eat with us,

go out on all the fire calls, the whole nine yards!

"And if you'll give us his sizes, we'll get a real fire uniform

for him, with a real fire hat - not a toy - one-with the emblem of the Calgary Fire Department on it, and a yellow slicker like we wear and rubber boots.

"They're all manufactured right here in Calgary ,

so we can get them fast."

Three days later Fireman Bob picked up Billy,

dressed him in his uniform and escorted him from his hospital bed to the waiting hook and ladder truck.

Billy got to sit on the back of the truck

and help steer it back to the fire station.

He was in heaven.

There were three fire calls in Calgary that day and Billy got to go out on all three calls.

He rode in the different fire engines, the paramedics' van,

and even the fire chief's car.

He was also videotaped for the

local news program.

Having his dream come true,

with all the love and attention that was lavished upon him, so deeply touched Billy, that he lived three months longer than any doctor thought possible.

One night all of his vital signs began to

drop dramatically and the head nurse, who believed

in the hospice concept - that no one should die alone - began to call the family members to the hospital.

Then she remembered the day Billy had spent

as a Fireman, so she called the Fire Chief and

asked if it would be possible to send a fireman

in uniform to the hospital to be with Billy as he made his transition.

The chief replied, "We can do better than that.

We'll be there in five minutes. Will you please do me a favor?

"When you hear the sirens screaming and see the

lights flashing, will you announce over the

PA system that there is not a fire?

"It's the department coming to see one of its finest members one more time. And will

you open the window to his room?"

About five minutes later a

hook and ladder truck arrived at the hospital and extended its ladder up to Billy's third- floor open window--------

16 fire-fighters climbed up the ladder into Billy's room

With his mother's permission, they hugged him and held him and told him how much they LOVED him.


His dying breath,

Billy looked up at the fire chief and said,

"Chief, am I really a fireman now?"

"Billy, you are, and

The Head Chief,

Jesus, is holding your hand," the chief said.

With those words, Billy smiled and said,

"I know, He's

been holding my hand all day, and

The angels have been


He closed his eyes one last time.

My Instructions were to send this to at least four People that I wanted God to bless and I picked you.

This is a true story

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Political Correctness Affects the Holidays Again

By Bob Branco

They are at it again, those individuals who think they are making a statement out of political correctness, probably because they have a personal dislike for a particular holiday or celebration. In Chelmsford, Massachusetts, an elementary school will be opening a gift shop from December 1 to December 4 to benefit the PTO. So far, there is no problem. It is very nice of this school to sell gifts for four days because the PTO is very important. Well, brace yourselves. It seems that some politically correct people at this school are placing restrictions on what is to be available at this gift shop. There will be no Santa Claus, no candy canes, no Christmas stockings, no Hanukkah items, Kwanza items, or anything else relating to a religious holiday during this season.

Why the heck are these officials doing this to our children? Children should learn about all the holidays, how to celebrate them, and about the different cultures which evolved into these celebrations. I learned about them, and was proud to. Yet, these politically correct Grinches want to take away the spirit that these children in Chelmsford would enjoy, even if it's for a four-day period in a gift shop.

We often wonder why some people wish to take issue with tradition. Is it because they hate the holidays and want to take it out on everyone else? Is it because they believe they are trying to change the old days? Yes, there were a few things wrong with the old days, but Christmas wasn't one of them, Hanukkah wasn't one of them, and neither were Kwanza and Thanksgiving! Last year, a politically correct group tried to ban a Thanksgiving celebration at a school because supposedly the story of the Pilgrims and Indians sent a negative message to kids. Did I miss something? I never got that message. I learned the theme of Thanksgiving at age six, and I celebrate every year.

I wish I knew who decided to ban the sale of holiday gifts at this store in the Chelmsford school, because I would probably want to arrange a picket. This is not right. Innocent, impressionable children are being victimized by something they don't understand. Two mothers who have kids at this Chelmsford school are up in arms, and are ready to take action.

By the way, if any of you don't feel like celebrating the holidays, that is your choice, but no one should take it out on an entire school of children who are probably looking forward to Christmas and Hanukkah any way they can, because it is a very nice time of year.

Before you know it, some radical group may decide to ban Santa Claus because he offends overweight people. We may have to stop singing about Rudolph because we're not supposed to make fun of other people's noses. Someone may decide to ban the singing of the Twelve Days of Christmas because they feel that six geese a-laying has sexual connotations. There may be a ban on naming one of Santa's reindeer Vixen because it pokes fun at ill-tempered women, Comet because it violates the drain cleaner's copyright, or Cupid because the name is associated with match-making, which sometimes leads to promiscuity. Maybe every grandmother in the world will get together and stop the playing of the song "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer."

Can we all please continue with tradition and celebrate what we want to celebrate? If someone is unhappy with the holiday season, then he or she should privately go about their business.

I welcome your comments on this matter.

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Rap Music Can Be Corrupt

By Bob Branco

When I was growing up in the sixties and seventies, radio and television were limited in what to put on the air. Songs were banned from top-40 radio stations, and graphic language and video was restricted from your television sets. In 1954, you couldn't say the word "pregnant" on television, but now, they tell you how to get that way.

Much of today's music is full of suggestions to impressionable teens about how to have babies and become rich off of their heroes who provide bling, nice fancy cars, gold, etc. Often times these same perceived heroes lose their money as fast as they make it, which never gets mentioned in these crazy songs that are designed to impress teenagers. To put things into further perspective, modern music encourages sex and never sends the proper message. In the fifties, Elvis said "Love me Tender," which meant simple love between two people in a classy manner. Similarly, the Beatles said "Love Me Do," the Platters, "Only You," and Ray Charles, "I Can't Stop Loving You." These are normal things I would say to my girl, and I would be totally satisfied with that. Today, you have Fifty Cent telling you how to use your body parts with your partner in the song "Candy Shop," one of the filthiest songs ever written. Little Wayne has a song out called "Lollipop," but I won't say any more about it out of deep respect for you. Listen to the song "Hotel Reservation" by Pit Bull and hear all the steps required in order to have successful sex. I'm not kidding.

I realize that most of us don't want government to tell private industry what to do, but there has to be some kind of moral faction that can exercise control over these music companies and make them understand what they are doing to society. Half the songs I hear on the top 40 talk about sex, gangs or killing. No wonder we have all these problems. Don't these companies know how impressionable kids are? Remember Elvis, the Beatles, the Partridge Family, and all these stars that kids simply fell in love with, just because?

How can people ban together to stop this madness before it gets out of hand even further?

Consumer Vision Trivia Contest

Here is the answer to the trivia question submitted in the November/December 2009 Consumer Vision. A googol has one hundred zeroes. Unfortunately, there are no winners this time.

And now, here is your trivia question for the January/February Consumer Vision:

In 1985, this pop music group constituted half the members of Duran Duran. Name the group. If you know the answer, please e-mail or call 508-994-4972.

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