Category Archives: assistive technologies

Credit makes the world go round, if you have it

I don’t regret the past. That’s a lie. I don’t regret most of my past, but I do regret the part where I didn’t understand money and credit.

I remember my parents telling me not to fall for the credit card companies that would line the mall of the college campus, stalking their prey in the naive college freshman. I listened and ignored the calls of “fast money! Sign up now! pre-approved!”.

I was taught not to get a credit card until I had money to pay the bill every month. When I was twenty, I had said money in the form of insurance money after my mom’s death. I wish my previous ability to ignore credit cards had stuck with me, but it didn’t.

I didn’t work while I had that money. It wasn’t a ton of money, but more than I had ever seen. I joined a gym and hung out at the coffee shop. I took my friends shopping and out to dinner. I finally opened up a credit account at a department store when I was stalling for time with a friend who’s surprise bachelorette party was being prepared.

I injured myself at the gym but couldn’t prove the injury happened there. Turns out the only way to get out of that membership had been to either sell the contract or die. First strike on the credit. Soon enough the insurance money ran out and I couldn’t pay the credit card. Strike two.

Enter the start of my drinking and working low end jobs and what little money I did make went for rent and bills and alcohol. When I was in my early twenties, I wasn’t thinking about my future.

I take total ownership of those mistakes. I’m lucky I didn’t do more damage by taking out a loan for a car or opening up more than the gym membership and the credit card. Unfortunately, let’s start adding in medical bills since my jobs didn’t carry medical insurance and suddenly a couple strikes on my credit turned into thousands of dollars.

After I got sober I began working on making those financial amends. I was cleaning up the wreckage of my past, still feeling lucky after hearing stories of others who had hundreds of thousands in debt. My situation wasn’t that bad.

Unfortunately I got sick when the MS struck in 2006. I had just changed jobs, having left a good company for a better one. Health benefits had not kicked in yet. More medical bills.

I was denied disability twice and Gamma was supporting me. I went back to work, figuring my disability must not be bad enough if the government and family were urging me to work. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake before of not having health insurance so I pushed through forty hour work weeks to carry insurance. The MS was angry and struck again four months later and I was blind.

At that point I had payments set up again, once again working on clearing up old debts. I got a low limit credit card to start building credit. I bought eyeglasses with it and was blind the next day. I had good insurance but not good enough. Soon the medical bills started pouring in from the two and a half day hospital stay I underwent while they tried to restore my vision and figure out why MS had taken both my eyes.

No matter how hard I kept trying, more just kept adding up. I no longer work and no longer bring in a good amount of money. They want thousands of dollars I will just simply never have.

I’m not trying to say woe is me or this isn’t my fault. I still take ownership of the mistakes I made in my youth but I can’t understand why I am penalized so much for this. It’s still not hundreds of thousands of debt. In fact it’s so little debt I was advised not to file for bankruptcy because my debt isn’t big enough.

So why then, does Verizon require a $400 deposit from me to start an account? Maybe that doesn’t seem like a lot to some people, but it’s huge for me. I was told their lowest deposit is $125 and then jumps to $400. I can’t help but think that if it hadn’t been for all the medical bills, my deposit would only be $125 because of the mistakes I made when I was younger. I could live with that.

The thing is, my current phone is dying. A year after I went blind, I got a good tax return. I’ll never get one again since I can’t work. I was able to purchase the only phone T-Mobile had that was compatible with Mobile Speak, a screen reader for cell phones. Since I was at the end of my contract, I got a good deal on the phone. I spent $295 on Mobile Speak and my sighted friend had to install it on the phone for me.

It worked well enough. I was able to scroll through my phone book and do text messaging. I didn’t carry a data plan because it was too expensive.

That was two years ago and now my contract is up. Right on cue, the phone is dying. If it’s not on the charger, it turns itself off. Not exactly a reliable phone to take out with me and for safety purposes, I need a working phone.

If I stay with T-Mobile, I’ll need to find another phone compatible with Mobile Speak. Since Mobile Speak has been upgraded, I’ll have to pay additional money for the upgraded license. I’ll have a phone that will fulfill my basic needs but constantly crash since the program just doesn’t seem very stable. I could go that route but it just doesn’t make sense.

The only phone accessible to the blind out of the box is the iPhone, just like all other Apple products. Verizon has it now. In order for me to sign up with Verizon I have to pay that $400 deposit up front. I’ll get it back after twelve months of on time payments, which I’ll make because I am a responsible adult. I’ll have a phone that is reliable and completely accessible to me as a blind person as well as all kinds of apps that can assist me as a blind person. The iPhone just makes sense.

I don’t have all that money up front. I’ve been saving since I heard Verizon got the iPhone. I was expecting maybe a $200 deposit. But $400? Wow. This whole thing has really got me feeling down. I feel like I’m being lumped in with irresponsible people and I’m not one of those. I budget and am good with money. I pay my bills. I don’t live outside my means.

Hopefully I’ll be able to swing things and get a phone that works for me, maybe by mid month next month. We’ll see. I’m cutting everything out aside from the absolute necessities like food and things for Jayden. I get a massage every three weeks but it’s not just a fluff and buff make you relaxed massage. I get it to ease my pain and make it bearable. I’m canceling that until I can pull the money together for this phone. It’s frustrating, but it’s what you gotta do, right?

I’m not blogging this to make anyone feel bad for me. I’m not blogging this to share my woe is me tale. I’m blogging this because I’m angry. I’m angry that only those with money get to keep it and get more. I’m angry that being sick is not differentiated between irresponsible and criminal. I feel like I’m on probation for a crime I didn’t commit. That might sound dramatic, but what are you supposed to do when things happen that are out of your control?

I’m just really down about all this because this phone is not a luxury. I’ve drooled after the iPhone since it came out in my sighted days but it was more than I needed so I wasn’t willing to spend the money on it. Now I lust after it because of how amazingly accessible it is. I look at it now as a blind person and think wow, that phone will work for me without additional software. It can do a lot for me from the accessibility side of things. For me, the iPhone isn’t just cool, it fits what I need perfectly. It will even talk to my computer, something any other phone wouldn’t do.

I’m just angry at this whole situation. I’m angry for the people who decide not to even try with credit cards, going only by cash so they don’t get sucked into the credit hole and even they are penalized because they have no credit. They’ve never defaulted on a thing in their life but they are still penalized. I’m angry because the mistakes I made were minimal in comparison to the holes a lot of people are in and couple with my stupid health problems, I’m screwed for life. I’m just angry. I’m not trying to by some thousand dollar computer that I’ll have before I ever pay a cent. Seriously, who doesn’t pay their cell phone bill? Don’t we all need a stupid phone? If I can’t pay for something, I cancel it. I’m not gonna cancel my phone. I’m not gonna default on that. But because of what I look like on paper, it’s assumed that I will.

Fine, assume that. But then just make me pay for my service before I use it. Have a pre-pay option. Let me buy the phone and pay for a month up front. Then make me pay before I use it the next month. They have an unlimited plan anyway. I plan to use it. Why can’t I just pay for it up front? Then you’re losing nothing.

I could go on about this forever. I’m just feeling really depressed about it all. “The system”, “the man”, whatever you want to call it, screws good people in my opinion. I’ll get the phone at some point. I’ll just have to do without some things for awhile. I’ve accepted it in a way but it still makes me feel like a useless dirder.

Oh yeah, someone on Twitter suggested contacting Verizon’s disability department. They only help you with home phone service. What, they assume that disabled people never leave the house? Hmmm, those people don’t need a mobile phone; they never leave the house. That’s probably not what they think, but that’s how it feels. I am afraid to leave the house right now, thanks to a non working cell phone. Arrrrrrg.

I’ve gone on long enough. I just had to get this out there. Maybe someone else is feeling the same way and they’ll find this and know someone else out there feels it too.

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Filed under accessibility, apple Inc, assistive technologies, cool product, Gamma, gratitude, rant, screen reader, sobriety, spoons, twitter me this

WebAim’s third screen reader survey

Please take a few moments to take the WebAIM screen reader survey.

I’ve taken these surveys since I started using a screen reader. It’s a really invaluable tool for web developers, and it’s also really fun to see the results when they come out. I can’t wait to see the percentage of Voiceover users this year!

The survey only took me about five minutes. No personal information is shared. The survey is all radio buttons, check boxes and drop down menus, with one spot to write comments. It’s simple to do, so please go take it.

Whether you use a screen reader often or not, your opinion matters. If you use screen magnification, your opinion matters. If you have a reader on your phone, your opinion matters.

The WebAIM folks are my heros, so please take a moment and take the survey.

It will be available until January. I’ll post the link to the results when they compile them. I can’t remember how soon the results come out, but it’s really interesting to see how closely your opinions match your peers.

So, go take it and have fun!

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Filed under accessibility, advocacy, assistive technologies, gratitude, plugs, proud geek, screen reader, survey says, Voiceover

Voiceover basics

Someone on my web accessibility list has been asked to test with an Apple. He’s a Jaws user and doesn’t have an Apple in front of him, but apparently his job is asking him to learn stuff before he even lays hands on an Apple, yikes! I was asked about this from another from another list too, but she was going to wait and see what was gonna happen in her situation. I’ve got several sighted readers with Apples who have expressed interest in playing with Voiceover, and who knows who else it might help, so I decided to post what I wrote this morning on the very basics of Voiceover.

This should get any of you interested started, and then you can play from there. I have no idea if my instructions make any sense since I’m pretty foggy, so good luck. 😉

Oh, I wrote them to make sense to the blind.

***

Keys you’ll need that are slightly different from Windows are the Voiceover keys, or the VO keys. These are control and option. Control is the third key to the left of the spacebar. Option is the second key to the left of the space bar. Get familiar with those two keys because they are how you access Voiceover.

The command key, or the Apple key, is just to the left of the spacebar. This key has the same function as the control key in Windows. Command plus tab will let you toggle between windows in a program, or when used with “c” and “v”, copies and pastes.

To turn on Voiceover:

On a desktop: Command plus F5
On laptop: Command plus function plus F5 The function key is the last key to the left of the spacebar.

You will hear, “Voiceover on”.

To quickly change verbosity settings, press the VO keys plus command and arrow right or left. To change a setting, arrow up or down.

To change more VO settings, press VO plus F8 to bring up the Voiceover utility.

You will need to know how to interact, first and foremost. If you hear html, or scroll area, or table, or anything like that:

Press VO plus shift, plus down arrow.

You will hear, “interact with” and then whatever you are interacting with.

To stop interacting, press VO plus shift plus up arrow. You will hear “stop interacting with”.

There is a Voiceover getting started tutorial on every Apple. Press VO plus command plus f8. This will walk you through the very basics, without going live on the computer.

To hear what each key does, press the VO keys plus “k”. You will hear, “starting keyboard help, press escape to leave this mode”. In this mode, you can press any key and VO will tell you what it is. When pressed with the VO keys, it will explain the command. Do this a lot to familiarize yourself with what each key does. For more advanced commands, press VO plus shift and the key. Not every key has a job. Press escape when done.

When you are ready to browse, find Safari. I am going to assume most of this stuff will be the same, regardless of if your computer will be running Snow Leopard. I run Leopard, so things might be a little different.

To quickly find Safari, go to the dock. Press VO plus D. You will hear whatever application is in focus on the dock. To navigate the dock, release the VO keys and arrow left or right until you hear “Safari”. Up arrow until you hear “open” and press enter.
To get to the location bar to type in your address, press command plus “L”. Type your address and press enter. Depending on the current settings, the VO cursor might focus on the html of the website. If not, you’ll have to arrow over with your VO keys pressed until you hear “html content”. The focus might be in the toolbar, so if you hear “back” or “forward”, stop interacting. (VO plus shift plus up arrow).

You might hear things like “top sites” or “news” or “popular menu button”. Find where it says “html content” and interact. (VO plus shift plus down arrow). Now you can use VO plus arrow keys to navigate the site.

If you run across a drop down menu anywhere, press enter on it and then up or down without holding your VO keys. Press enter to select anything in the drop down.

The main things you’re really gonna have to master is the interacting. You’ll use that a lot when navigating websites.

Anything more advanced might be different depending on the operating system the computer has. But you have enough now to get started. Use your keyboard help as much as you need to figure out what each command will do.

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Filed under apple Inc, assistive technologies, proud geek, Voiceover

A blind man talks about the iPhone

If you’re wondering about the iPhone still, wondering if you’d ever be able to master a touch screen, check out this post.

This is one of the first blogs I found when I got into the whole blogging thing. The author is in Malaysia and has been blind about as long as me, if not a little longer. I’m so grateful he was one of the first blogs I found because man does he tackle life. The guy golfs. He’s quite the inspiration for those of us who go blind later in life. Like me, he’s of the opinion that anything is possible.

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Filed under accessibility, apple Inc, assistive technologies, cool product, gratitude, plugs

ACB – Apple does it again. Oh. My. Gosh.

I think I have to switch to A.T & T.

EYES AUDIO LABELING SYSTEM ADVANCES INDEPENDENCE FOR VISUALLY IMPAIRED
Digital Miracles, LLC, is pleased to announce a major advancement in
assistive technology
for people who are blind and visually impaired. The Digit-Eyes Audio
Labeling System
has been approved for sale on the Apple Apps Store. As of June 23rd, the
millions
of people worldwide with substantial vision loss can begin downloading the
iPhone
application to recognize and label the important items in their lives.
Reasonably priced at $29.99, the Digit-Eyes phone app is a powerful tool
that fits
into any budget and life- style, turning challenging tasks into easy, safe
activities.
The Digit-Eyes system gives users a simple way to make custom labels for
everyday
items and it identifies packaged goods-joining advanced software with the
iPhone,
the Internet, home computers, printers, and inexpensive off-the-shelf
labels. People
of almost any visual ability can now put groceries away and grab the right
prescription
bottle independently.
“This is the most exciting product I’ve worked on,” says Nancy Miracle,
president
of Digital Miracles and software engineer with 40 years experience. “The
limited
functions and high cost of existing assistive devices just seemed wrong, so
our objective
was to develop a product that performed better than any comparable
technology and
offer it at about 10% of the price. Combining the need for identification
with a
natural, powerful and robust tool like the iPhone made the project
irresistible.”
With Digit-Eyes, users can print custom text labels or record audio labels
that they
make by scanning specially coded labels and speaking into their phones. They
attach
the labels to household items, and the messages are played back whenever the
codes
are rescanned with their iPhones. This Digit-Eyes app can also scan
manufacturer
codes (UPC, EAN, ISBN) and say what’s inside the package after checking the
vast
Digit-Eyes product database. Each iPhone stores over five hundred hours of
information
and can be used just about anywhere.
“This product is amazing! By labeling leftovers with their contents and date
refrigerated,
I can determine if my dinner will be edible or not. Next, I’ll be labeling
my jungle
of AC adapters so I’ll never again have to guess what they all go to. The
ease of
use and flexibility of the process make it an invaluable tool!”
Randy Builder, Seattle, Washington.
The first public display of Digit-Eyes is at the National Federation of the
Blind
convention in Dallas, Texas, July 4 – 7, booth B113. The exhibit then moves
to the
American Council of the Blind convention July 10 – 15 in Phoenix, Arizona,
booth
#41. Attendees can experience the use and capability of the system with
hands-on
demonstrations. Details, explanations, and examples will be available at
both conventions,
or immediately on-line at
www.DIGIT-EYES.com.
Digital Miracles, LLC, the parent company of Digit-Eyes, is a Texas-based
corporation
that develops customized software solutions. The Digit-Eyes Audio Labeling
System
was created by a team of engineers, software designers and members of the
visually
impaired community.
Product Reviewers can get a review copy at:
reviewcopy@digitalmiracles.com
or by calling: (817) 571-3083.
————– next part ————–
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Filed under ACB, accessibility, apple Inc, assistive technologies, cool product

ACB – Intel Read Aloud Reader

Got this on my ACB list. Another really cool product, another wad of cash needed.

***

Ben Foss was a bright kid, but as a student, he struggled with
reading even the
simplest text. Afflicted with severe dyslexia, he relied on
parents and tutors
to read him his homework since the words on the page made no
sense to him. At
Stanford, he managed to earn two advanced degrees by laboriously
scanning books
and then running them through synthetic speech software so he
could comprehend
the words.
As an adult, much of the content he wanted in professional
journals and
magazines wasn’t available in audio form.
So, when he was hired as a researcher at Intel, he vowed to make
designing a
reading device one of his first priorities. At CES 2010, his
brainchild, the
Intel Reader made its debut. “Feelings of loneliness are often
the experience of
not being able to read easily,” he says, based on years of
trying. “We hope to
open the doors for people who have dyslexia, blindness or other
reading-based
disabilities.”
The device, designed by Silicon Valley design shop, Lunar, for
Intel’s Digital
Health Group, is about the size of a paperback book or a
hand-held video game.
It works by taking a picture of a page of text, then converting
it to speech.
“It’s designed around the ergonomics of reading,” says Gretchen
Anderson,
director of interaction design, at Lunar. “It’s purposefully not
designed as a
digital camera. You can use it with your elbows on the table, at
the right
height.”
There are an estimated 55 million people with dyslexia, low
vision or blindness,
who find reading printed text difficult or impossible. In
addition to students,
the device is designed to be convenient for older people who find
it hard to
read restaurant menus or mail, and it has clever tactile cues,
such a corner cut
off like a dog eared book and buttons distinguishable by feel and
location, to
help the blind orient themselves.
A portable capture station allows users to scan larger amounts
of text, such as
complete books or journals. They can be saved, much as one would
with an ebook,
for listening later. The device comes with earphones for
listening privately, in
the car, or in class, and files can also be exported to MP3
players.
The device has been endorsed by the International Dyslexia
Association and will
be available for about $1,500 through CTL, Don Johnston
Incorporated, GTSI,
Howard Technology Solutions and HumanWare. The capture station
costs an extra
$400.
“At CES, we see people who love their iPhones,” says Lunar’s
director of
engineering, Robert Howard. “When Intel demo-ed this, people who
have dyslexia
could see their futures change when watching the device. It’s
truly a
transformative device for people who haven’t had a lot of
transformation in
their lives.”
[Intel Reader]
Copyright Ággc) 2010 Mansueto Ventures LLC. All rights
reserved.
Fast Company, 7 World Trade Center, New York, NY 10007-2195

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Filed under ACB, assistive technologies, cool blinky stuff

Amazon Accessibility

So if you’re a regular reader, you’ll know about my fairly recent addiction haha! I think I first ordered from Amazon months ago, just to give it a try. But it wasn’t until recently that I really started using it. Back when I first started using it, I could review items. It was tricky, and not clear, but I was able to select stars. Well, they’ve done something and now I can no longer select stars, and therefore, can’t review. I rely heavily on customer reviews. Product descriptions usually suck, so I read the reviews to get a better description of the product. I won’t buy anything with less than 4 stars.

Recently I wrote to Amazon and I cannot for the life of me remember why. I must have been in that winter fog or something, and I didn’t keep what I wrote. But I did keep the reply, which mentioned their “accessible site” which I looked at for a minute and laughed. It’s the mobile site, and it sucks. Now, I use the mobile Facebook, and I like it. I don’t get all that fluff. The here is a pretty sparkly star to decorate your wall because you are a shining star, stuff. But with Amazon, I want the fluff. I want to review items.

So yesterday I got an email asking me to rate the seller of a recent purchase. I didn’t think it would work, but I followed the link, and low and behold, the stars option worked like a charm. It had clearly labeled links. I was able to rate all my sellers, including the dreaded ring seller. They all got glowing reviews, except the ring siller who got a 2. But I digress. I thought, maybe if that worked, I can review products now. Nope. Still the same. I even tried group mode with Alex to no avail.

So I dug out that email they had sent in reply to the email I can’t remember writing, and I wrote their accessibility department. Below is the email they sent me weeks ago, followed by the email I sent last night. They actually did make a great change to their “my orders” page, which I pointed out. I’ve got a few more suggestions for them if they write back. I’ll update here as this goes. Blinks, if you have any issues with Amazon you’d like to address, the following email from them has their accessibility email address, or you can tell me and I’ll include it in any future correspondence. You know I live for this stuff 😉

Oh, I had copied and pasted the email address because for some reason clicking it didn’t work. There is a period right after .com so make sure you delete that.

***

Hello from Amazon.com.

Thank you very much for your feedback. While the Amazon.com website is generally usable for people with screen readers, we’re always looking for ways to improve usability of the site for all customers, including those with disabilities. To that end, we have formed an alliance with the National Federation of the Blind to work together to improve the accessibility of our website platform in the coming months and years.

In case you weren’t aware, Amazon.com has for many years offered a different version of our site optimized for screen readers and mobile devices at: www.amazon.com/access

We’ve also gathered together products for the visually impaired (such as large print and Braille books, and voice-recognition software). I hope you find this store helpful: www.amazon.com/visuallyimpaired

We always appreciate suggestions on how we can improve the shopping experience at Amazon.com, and I’m forwarding your feedback to the team responsible for website accessibility. If you have additional feedback for our website accessibility team, you may contact them directly at accessibility-feedback@amazon.com.

Please Note: We cannot respond personally to messages sent to the feedback e-mail address. If you have a question or need help with your account or an open order, please contact Customer Service by visiting our Help pages at www.amazon.com/help and clicking the Contact Us button in the left-hand column.

Thank you for shopping at Amazon.com.

***

Hi there, 

I am blind and use a screen reader. I recently became very active on Amazon as it is so convenient for me to shop independently. However, I’m having some issues. I used to be able to leave reviews for products, but I can no longer select the number of stars. There is nothing to select. I just heard “please select stars” or something. Today, I was asked to leave seller feedback, and there I could select stars. They appeared as links I could click, with a clear description. I was hoping this would work for products now, but it did not. 

I use an Apple computer with Voiceover and Leopard with Safari. 

I find the mobile site an insult as a solution for screen reader users. It leaves out options, such as writing reviews at all. This might be fine for mobile devices, but as a screen reader user, I want the same options as sighted users. Please do not suggest I use that site. 

I do have a compliment though. I really like the new “my orders” page. This set up is lovely! First, I can navigate my orders by heading, which is great. Additionally, I love the “track your package” link. It is wonderful to have the latest tracking information so readily available. I would love to see the heading option on the main search pages, as scrolling to different products is quite tedious. I’ve heard this complaint among other blind people as well. 

I will never stop using Amazon. I wish to tell you though, that I’ve had countless screen reader users tell me they won’t even touch Amazon, which is a shame. If I can help in any way, I would love the opportunity. I would also like to leave reviews because I rely on reviews to buy things. Product descriptions are usually pretty weak, so I rely on what others say, and would like to do the same for the wonderful products I have found. 

Thank you very much for your time and consideration of my suggestions. 

***

Well I just listened to their email again, and it sounds like they won’t respond directly from the accessibility email. Hmmm. But, the same thing was true with Facebook, and I had a human write me, so here’s hoping.

Also, I had forgotten that the NFB was involved. I wonder if the NFB thought the mobile site was good enough. Ick. I’m all ACB all the time hahaha!

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Filed under ACB, accessibility, advocacy, Alex, Amazon, assistive technologies, letters, proud geek, screen reader, Voiceover

Doggy Countdown – Surprise at Saavi

I don’t have a whole lot of time to write. Georgie is coming over in 2 hours and we’re gonna tool around and hit a meeting. I got home from Saavi a bit ago and just had lucnch and then I gotta shower. I worked up a good sweat today as they had the heat on, yuck.

When I got to Saavi, the receptionist said hello and told me S was there! Yay! He’s my little blink brother who I met when I first started taking classes there, who was friends with me and Miss A. I haven’t seen him since Halloween. We’ve talked on the phone, but not in person. So it was sooo good to see him. He’s gonna try and start working out at the same time as me, if they can get it cleared. So he hung out in gym while I worked out and then we sat and chatted till my van came. We also got to get the things Miss A’s son wanted us to have, so that was nice. We both got talking alarm clocks and he took the magnifyers since he’s got got some vision.

So I got to fill him in on getting my dog next motnth. Several other people were there too, that I got to tell, so it was a fun day.

I’ve got so much to write about fake service dogs and silly sighties, but it’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

41 days!!!

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Filed under assistive technologies, Doggy Countdown, Doggy Diaries, fellowship, guide dogs, She loved her salad dressing, workouts

Doggy Countdown – Packet, supplies and shopping

I got my packet from GDB on Thursday and forgot about the cd until this morning. I’m a little confused, because the woman I spoke with on the phone said the cd would have class lectures on it. With the new training regime, they send the lectures ahead. Well, if what I listened to were the lectures, I don’t know how they filled an extra week lol. I think I must have misunderstood. I thought she had said it would be text files, and the cd is an audio cd of a man reading all the forms and such, code of conduct, brief discussion of dog care, suggested packing, that sort of thing. I’m expecting another package from GDB with my plane tickets and luggage tags and stuff, so maybe there will be more info in there. I’ll call them on Monday.

Looks like the only things I have to wrry about bringing are clothes and shampoo and deodorant. I hate packing that stuff lol. Oh well. I’m glad I ordered the rain parka I did, because the cd mentions reflective clothing for night walks, and the rain parka has reflective stuff on it. It’s gonna be cold there. Cold cold cold lol. I’ll bring my warm Cubs hoodie to wear under my parka. The cd also said to have 2 pair of broken in walking shoes, one preferably water proof. So I’ll be getting a pair today. B is taking me shopping for my birthday. He said I could get whatever I wanted, and my first thought was a promise ring, but shoes will be more productive haha! That will give me time to break them in if I get them today. He had also mentioned a suitcase, but I’m not sure we can do both, or rather he can do both. He needs to save for his trip. He mapped it out yesterday and is so excited.

He asked if I’d want to do anything on that Sunday and I can’t answer that. I might just totally crash on Sundays lol. We’ll play it by ear. I’m just glad he’ll meet my dog before we come home.

I’m also gonna get a few packages of Hanes t-shirts. I figure those will be nice and easy to throw in a suitcase and keep track of, to wear for training. They have them in black. No white in a rainy city lol! I think I’ll also get more socks. Best to have plenty of socks in rainy weather, even if I do get waterproof socks. A dry pair of socks will live in my street pack lol.

So yeah, shoes, socks, shirts, travel shampoo. I think that’s really all I need to buy, and maybe a suitcase, though I can borrow Carol’s. She said it’s big.

Another thing I’ll need to figure out is the laptop. First I’ll have to see if the airline will allow it in carry on. If not, I have a decision to make. I absolutely do not want to check it. Especially since on the way there, my suitcase will not be packed tightly, and I wouldn’t want the laptop floating around. So, if I can’t carry it on, I might not bring it. If I don’t bring it, I will have no internet access, because I do not know Jaws, and don’t really want to know Jaws lol. B said don’t worry about that right now. Easier said than done.

If I can take it, I need to figure out what these keys are that are on the cd. I’m assuming that means passwords to the network. I don’t think I have any configuring or anything to do. I’ll call Apple anyway, just to make sure. Please pray that I can bring my laptop. I want to document training, and would have no other way.

Yesterday I ordered 2 stainless steel non tip non skid food bowls. Yay! And a Vittles Vault 2 food storage container. Woot! Once I have those, I’ll feel more prepared.

This brought up a question. I think it would probably be best to feed the pooch in a room different from the cat food. There are 2 possible spots for this. One is right outside the bedroom, so it would be noisy. B said he doesn’t know if it would wake up. The other spot is by the spare room, which would be right in the path of the cats getting to their litter box. I asked my list, and several people agreed it would be good to feed them in different rooms. Again, people are telling me to put the catfood in a place non accessible to the dog. This will be an issue if it’s necessary. Obviously I will do it if I have to. Some people have told me they have successfully trained the dog not to touch the cat food. Others have said hide it. The best solution for this if it’s needed, will be on the kitchen table that we don’t use for human eating. Would the dog still try and get up on the table to get at the food? I’ll ask GDB and the raisers too, but I want to have plan A, B and C, if needed.

I think once I start feeling more prepared to go, it’ll help the excitment. I’m uber excited, don’t get me wrong, I just feel unprepared at the moment. I know that will change though.

So today we go shopping, and we have reservations for the Melting Pot tonight for my birthday dinner. It’s becoming our birthday tradition to go there, and I like that tradition. Yummmy yummm yummmmmm fondu hehe!

Oh yeah, another thing I need to get is something presentable for photos and graduation, as the cd said. So Carol and I might go look for a simple wrap dress I can just fluff in the dryer.

45 days!!

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Filed under apple Inc, assistive technologies, birthday, cats, Doggy Countdown, Doggy Diaries, GDB, guide dogs, Jaws, pooch preparation, proud geek, screen reader, weather

Random randomness and maybe a rant

Oh I’ll be relieved when November is over. I mean, I know I didn’t actually officially commit to writing a post every day for national blog month or whatever it was, but I told myself I’d do it, and I hate letting me down.

but man, I’ll all of the sudden get this panic like, oh crap I haven’t written today. I think yesterday I just copied and pasted an email lol. But today I guess I’ve got some random stuff to write.

I think I’ve officially forgotten to write about Silicon Sassy and the vacuum. I’ve just lost the urge.

this week has been busy. Well, really most of last week, the weekend, and this week have been busy.

I think I wrote about hanging out with Kevin and Georgie on Saturday. And then it was the normal Gamma on Sunday, and then it got interesting Monday.

I had braille scheduled for 10am. I hadn’t been for 2 weeks since I had been sick. And that guy had rearranged his schedule, since I had to be paired up with an over 55 for funding reasons. We hadn’t had our first lesson together yet, so Monday was supposed to be it.

I scheduled my transit, told them I had to be to Saavi by 10am so they scheduled me an 8:50 to 9:20 window. Ick.

After being sick, getting up and being ready to go for braille and a workout by 8:50 pretty much zapped my spoons. I get to Saavi at like 9:15 and have 45 minutes to kill. I decide to get on the couch and rest and try to get some spoons back.

Well, there’s this guy who takes a lady to Saavi and then hangs out. I don’t know why he hangs out there all day, but he does. And he’s taken to wanting to talk to me. Every time. How’s your MS? How does it affect you? I used to be a caregiver blah blah I delt with MS blah blah I knew so and so with MS and all of the sudden they were in a chair blah blah.

I’m slumped on the couch, eyes closed, nodding and grunting. Finally I say, I don’t listen to other stories about MS. MS is so different with every patient, that I don’t dwell on what could happen to me. My doctor told me from the get go not to go online. Don’t get over educated on MS. I took his advice. I know enough, I know how it effects me, I don’t want to hear about a thirty year old woman who couldn’t walk one day.

I was nice about it. I wasn’t like, shut up!! Just shut up!! But he got the hint and said, I’ll let you rest now.

So finally I can just rest my eyes. Now, I hadn’t looked at my braille. I’m realizing that I can’t do braille on command. Sometimes at 7am I feel like looking at braille. Sometimes at 5 pm. But I can’t be guaranteed to be able to do it at 10am on a Monday. So its about 9:45 and I remember that last time, we met in the back module, which I need help getting to. I haven’t mastered the route on my own yet. So I go up to the desk and ask if I’m meeting back in the back module. She’s like oh I don’t know, let me call. She calls my teacher and is not getting her on the phone. She’s like, maybe they took you off the schedule since you weren’t here. I’m like, no, she knows I’m gonna be here. I sit back down. Then she’s like, I’ve got her on the phone! So I pick up the phone and my teacher’s like, I totally spaced that I had a lesson today, I’m so sorry, I’m helping with the planning for the parade of lights. But L is there right? I want you to sit with him and go over punctuation.

At this point I’m thinking, I’m exausted. I could have caught my ride at 10 and avoided the last 45 minutes of falling asleep on the couch. I say, no. I’m here, but I’m not here mentally. I think I’ll just head back to the gym. She says oh, ok. And gets on the phone with L to let him know she spaced the lesson and I went back to the gym.

I pretty much decided right then and there that I’m gonna do self–taught grade 2 braille. I talked to another teacher and she was like, yeah once you have grade 1 down, you could do grade 2 yourself no problem. So that problem solved. I don’t like having someone else’s life being contingent on my spoons like L was, and I don’t want to feel guilty when I have a bad couple of weeks. So I’ll get the book and learn at my own pace.

The workout kicked my arse, but it felt good, and I was able to do everything I’d been doing, just a tad slower.

Yesterday I went to a meeting at noon, then was looking at some stuff for the job, then Carol and I had an impromptu diner meal before choir. Went to choir, came home exausted and passed out.

Go to Saavi today just for the workout and I like that, because I can head straight to the gym and bypass the guy that hangs out in the lobby. I worked out and i twas great! Weighed in, and lost 5 pounds! Even though I had been sick, I still lost 5 pounds, yippee!!

Go out to wait for my ride and MR. How’s the MS is there, but he doesn’t say anything. So the other how’s the MS guy asked how the MS is today. I’m like, oh I’m fine, just sore from working out. Oh, how does MS affect the workouts for your legs? I’m like, not really any differently knock on wood. I only have fatigue and blindness, knock on wood, and I”m knocking on the coffee table there. I like this guy though, and I was able to steer the conversation to computers. He’s really struggling because he used to program and really misses computers since going blind, and he feels like Saavi is taking too long to teach him. I told him he should say something and he has. He was told everyone in the class gets started off slow. Man, did I dodge a bullet there by teaching myself the Apple. I’d hate it if I was held back. I asked if he has Jaws at home, and I told him practice, try and find online help, you’ll get it, you’ll be amazed, its tedious, but you’ll get it. He thanked me for my positive attitude. I want to help this guy, man. I can’t imagine feeling all stunted with the computer. When I made the decision to learn the Mac, I dove right in. I didn’t have to wait on anyone.

So thats it. I really wanted to title this something like I’m not MS. I’m not dammit. And I never feel that way any place but Saavi. Its like, come on, we’re all blind, can we focus on that? Guess I need to just get used to it. Some days it bothers me more than others.

Oh yeah, there’s only one more official choir rehearsal before the concert. Yikes! Hope we can pull it together.

Oh, and I’m going to B’s fancy company party on the 19th, so my girlie girl part of me is getting excited about getting a new dress hehe.

Going to a nice buffet with the family tomorrow for Thanksgiving, where I plan on putting on those 5 pounds I lost. Yummmm turkey and prime rib and lamb and stuffing and desserts oh my!

Oh yeah, B just called and I got sidetracked. I forgot I was writing a blog. I decided to try on the brown dress that I tried on a month and a half ago that fit, but was too tight. Guess what? It fits perfect! So I can wear it for Thanksgiving yay!!

Oh yeah, I caught my microwave on fire today. That takes talent 😉

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Filed under accomplishment, assistive technologies, braille, Choir, Gamma, NaBloPoMo 2009, proud geek, random stuff, rant, silly girl, spoons, workouts