Category Archives: cool blinky stuff

Awesome Teaching Tool for Blind Children

I’m getting closer to writing all the promised posts, promise. Today was a much dryer day here and I felt a lot of relief. Unfortunately there’s still rain in the forecast. Lots of typing just causes some nasty nerve pain in my arms and shoulders right now. I had to share this though.

I read about it this morning. It’s a toy that combines braille with the shapes of words a child reads, like four blocks that make up the shape of a fish and have the braille dots for f, i, s and h on them. How amazing is that???

Go read about it here. I think it sounds pretty amazing!

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Filed under braille, cool blinky stuff, cool product, spoons, weather

Solo-Dx – The Next Wave of Audio Descriptions

I used to enjoy movies back in the day but since going blind, they have lost their appeal for the most part. When I do take in a movie it’s usually alone when I can get my hands on a described version. For those who don’t know, audio descriptions are sometimes available for the blind and visually impaired. This will be a narrator describing the action on screen when there is no dialogue.

While this is great, it’s not easily accessible since it will be in a DVD or Blueray menu and not available at all for streaming movies. B and I have watched a few movies together when he was renting DVDs. If a movie sounded interesting to me he would check to see if it had descriptions and most times it didn’t. So I only got to do a few movies with him that way and while it was great for me, it was annoying for him because sometimes the narration would describe action before it happened on screen. The narrator can only speak when there is no dialogue so often times something is described right before it happens visually on screen. I’ve completely gotten away from enjoying movies, so imagine my intrigue a few weeks ago when I checked the Roof’s mail and found this from a company in Los Angeles that specializes in audio description, hollywoodaccessservices.com.:

“Located in the heart of the entertainment industry, Hollywood Access Services, LLC produces audio description that is faithful and appropriate to the source material, offering a vivid experience to visually impaired consumers of motion pictures, home entertainment, and television programming. 

Here’s a little bit about our new product: Solo-Dx Solo-Dx is a new premium audio description MP3 file that you can play along with your favorite movie at home. Each Solo-Dx track is written and produced by experienced entertainment industry professionals. Solo-Dx helps bring movies to life for individuals with visual or cognitive impairments.  Solo-Dx works with any standard media player. The only other thing you need is the movie itself on DVD, Blu-ray, streaming, or Video-on-Demand.  Simply follow the directions narrated at the start of the Solo-Dx file, sit back, and enjoy!   You can learn a little more from our website at solo-dx.com.” 

I was able to choose Hunger Games to try this out with and was sent the Solo-Dx track. Time kept passing and I kept not having a good chunk of uninterrupted time to enjoy a movie. It’s amazing how quickly you get out of the habit of setting aside time for movies and television when you no longer enjoy such activities. Finally today I had time so I rented Hunger Games from iTunes. Solo-Dx had sent me the description track and I had that loaded on my iPhone all ready to go.

Wait, back up! I can hear your thoughts. Rented a movie, track on the iPhone, what what? The Solo-Dx track is an mp3 file you download from iTunes or Amazon. Currently the tracks are $1.99 but I was lucky enough to get Hunger Games complimentary. Unfortunately I don’t have a Netflix or other streaming subscription so I needed to rent the movie from iTunes. Lucky I don’t need hi-def so I only had to spend four bucks on the rental. I had never rented a movie before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Once you download it you have thirty days to watch it. Once you press play, you have twenty-four hours to watch it. I couldn’t get the movie to start right back at the beginning again after I messed up the syncing of the track. I was able to get it all lined up though and we’ll get to that in a minute. I was jus able to start the movie again after completing it so I presume you can watch it as many times as you can in that twenty-four hours.

I put the Solo-Dx track on my iPhone but you can put it on any device. I would think it would be difficult to play both on the computer since you would need to play the Solo-Dx track using a different audio player. On the Mac you could do this with Preview by showing the Solo-Dx track in finder and pressing space to play the file at the appropriate time. So this would be possible without another device.

I had misgivings about doing this with my iPhone since it’s a phone and phones interrupt things. We’ll get to that. You sync the track and the movie by first listening to the track and the directions. Using Hunger Games as an example, the instructions said music would play for about ten seconds and then a distinct guitar would sound. When you hear the guitar, start the Solo-DX track. After it told me that, it counted down to three and there was a beep. You pause the track at the beep and wait for your guitar. When this was explained to me I thought it all sounded rather complicated though it made sense and I figured actually doing it would make it clear and it did.

I was disappointed when I had the track all cued up on my iPhone, paused at the beep, and the darned movie was too quiet and I didn’t hear the beginning music. The guitar started but that too was quiet so I quickly paused the movie and tried to find a way to restart it. I couldn’t find how so I got frustrated and thought how will I ever sync this? I checked the time elapsed and it was thirty seconds. The instructions said there was about ten seconds of music so I restarted the Solo-Dx track and paused and unpaused both track and movie until I got it lined up. I was lucky because the description said something about a girl running down the stairs and I got it lined up perfectly with the sounds of running feet. Lesson learned so I’ll be prepared next time. After finishing the movie I replayed the beginning and got it all synced up perfectly the first time and it was pretty sweet that way! I hadn’t missed anything with my syncing attempts before luckily.

So wait, you put the descriptions track thing on your phone? You didn’t get any phone calls or anything interrupting the description track?

That had been my first huge misgiving about this. I could have used my iPod but I didn’t want to use earbuds and I keep it in my room with my audio books on it. I know, luxury problem. I thought I would just use my phone and my Bluetooth earpiece so I’d have the descriptions in one ear while the movie played on my computer speakers. I ran this by Solo-Dx and it was suggested to either use airplane mode or the new do not disturb feature in iOS 6. Perfect! I would just use airplane mode I decided. Do not disturb would still allow favorites to ring through unless I went and changed settings so airplane mode was just easier. Only problem with that was it also disabled my Bluetooth earpiece so I was back at the ear buds issue. I decided to just use the built in speaker on the iPhone.

It turns out that my pickeyness here was a benefit, at least in my opinion. The female narrator’s voice on the Solo-Dx track took on a different audio tone than the movie so it was easy to separate the two. Also, neither ear was taken up with anything so the movie took center stage and the Solo-Dx track was secondary. I was comfortable on the couch with the phone either resting on my shoulder or sitting on the arm of the couch. (Obviously in a theatre or with others I’ll use my earbuds.)

An awesome thing about this was I could control the volume of the audio descriptions. When the movie volume increased, I just put the phone closer to me and when it got quiet again I moved the phone again. This was great, because I’ve noticed when watching movies with audio descriptions built in, sometimes the volume of the narrator isn’t adjusted so when the scenes get loud, you can barely hear the descriptions. It’s either that or sometimes the volume of the action fades out so you can hear the description. Either way it’s disruptive and draws your attention solely to the narration.

With the Solo-Dx track on my phone, the voice of the narrator at a comfortable volume, easy to control when I needed to, the movie was brought to life more than I’ve ever experienced since going blind. It was truly remarkable, being able to completely control both aspects of the movie. I never thought about it before but just like with a bad audio book narrator, a bad descriptions production can really take away from a movie. The Solo-Dx track was clear and easy to understand and the narrator portrayed the emotion of scenes without going overboard or being boring. It was really freaking awesome, no other words I can think of!

I emailed Solo-Dx excited to let them know I’d finally watched it and how cool I thought it was. They let me know some exciting news:

“We just came out with Solo-Dx for the first 4 episodes of the Walking Dead.  On iTunes it’s album-only
for $2.99.  On Amazon, it’s 99 cents per episode, or $3.96 for the album of all four.”

I’m excited about this because that show has sounded awesome but just like with movies I’ve been unable to really get into TV. I will be checking these out for sure!

So, what do you think? I think this is pretty fantastic. I had a lot of misgivings going in but now that I’ve tried it, I’m very impressed. By the way, Solo-Dx isn’t paying me to write this or anything haha! I feel very lucky to have been considered a good test subject to check this out and help get the word out to the blind and visually impaired community. I think I have a pretty good grasp on this product so please feel free to ask questions in the comments or email me and I’ll see if I can answer your questions or forward them to the Solo-Dx team.

I’m really excited about this. I think the opportunities are great in that we might be able to take descriptions with us to the movies even! I can watch movies with B and have descriptions all to myself. He no longer rents DVDs anymore since he as access to any movie he wants with his streaming subscriptions and since he does that now, descriptions are out of the question since you don’t get cool DVD menus.

Once the Solo-Dx catalogue really expands, maybe I’ll be able to say, “hey, I have this movie available, want to watch it?”

The only real lingering question I have is pausing when I watch a movie with him or someone else. Today it was simple, I just unlocked my screen and put my iPhone on my shoulder. I put my keyboard on my lap and on the second two fingered tap of the pause/play double tap, I pressed the space bar at the same time with my other hand. I paused the movie several times in this manner and only once did I get a little out of sync when my phone didn’t play it. It was easy to get it back but I’m not sure how this would work trying to pause a movie with another. I think B would probably need to let me control that when one of us needs to pause. He would need to just show me the button on the remote I suppose. I hope anyway! I look foreword to trying it eventually.

This is going to make me want to get back into movies and TV, I can tell you that much for sure. And the cool thing about these tracks being on iTunes and Amazon is you can get gift cards from friends and family to help with this. I know even $099 on a tight budget can be a lot for entertainment. I think those of you who have Netflix and such will really benefit. I might look into that myself since if I start doing more movies and TV, that might offset the cost of iTunes rentals. As of right now, Amazon streaming isn’t accessible with my Macbook which is too bad since I have a Prime account and get a lot of free streaming content. I need to email them about that. Ah, I digress.

Is Solo-Dx the next wave of awesome assistive technology for us? Could be! I’m very impressed. Oh and Hunger Games? That’s a hole other blog post. What a messed up movie!

Oh one last note, I listened to the entire credits at the end of the movie as well. The narration reads all the credits and the music was nice at the end. So if you’re wondering who played who and don’t feel like going to IMDB, just listen to the credits haha! Ok, I think that’s it.

Oh except this, follow Solo-Dx on Twitter @SoloDx1

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Filed under Adjustment to blindness, Amazon, apple Inc, assistive technologies, cool blinky stuff, cool product, iPhone, iTunes, plugs, twitter me this, word pictures

Demo: Digit-Eyes

This is yet another goofy demo of an iPhone app. I don’t think I’m capable of doing anything not goofy. This also turned into a commercial for several products haha! There a couple I give you the chance to guess though I don’t really give you too much time. I also experimented with adding an intro but I didn’t have the volume up high enough.

So without further delay, here is the forty minute Digit-Eyes demo. Here is the Digit-Eyes website. Here is the link to the AppleVis page about the app. I read through the comments there before deciding to get the app. It’s quite helpful.

Enjoy! My next demo is going to be on Text Detective. It kind of took a back seat when I got Digit-Eyes so I need to get a little more practiced with it.

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Filed under apple Inc, assistive technologies, cool blinky stuff, cool product, demo, iPhone, num num food, plugs, screen reader, silly girl, techie tips

Conceptualizing a redesigned guide dog harness

Through the ether, a university student has found my blog and has asked for help with her school project. I think it’s an awesome idea for a project, and volunteered to help pass the word and help her gather information. Here’s what she wrote when I asked her why she was asking the questions she asked, I will post after her description:

“The reason why I need the feedback from the users is that I am a Industrial Design Student at U of I and I am working on an International Housewares Student Design Competition. I picked Pets category at first and found out that most of the pet products are overpriced and unnecessary after volunteered to help at a pet show in Taiwan . Then I saw the flyer of a Guide Dog Organization and I realized how meaningful guide dogs are yet not many people have noticed it. So after some research, I decided to redesign the Guide Dog harness. Users feedback are one of the most important part in a design process. I need to know how the users feel and think to be able to put myself into their shoe. Beth has been helping me a lot through this process. However, I need more of a variety of users experience that is why I made this survey.”

Isn’t that cool???
The Beth referred to is Beth fink who had contacted me before about Eva’s project, and gave Eva the link to a post I wrote about a day Jayden and I had.

If I’m not being very coherant, my apologies. I’ve been fighting a migraine since yesterday.

Anyway, Eva needs our help gathering information for her project, due at the end of the year. She’s sent me some of her concepts, which I have to say are pretty darned cool.

Here’s her survey, copied from her comment

“1. How long have you been having a Guide Dog? How many harnesses have you used before?

2. Do you have an offset handle or straight one? Do you like it the way it is? Why?

3. Do you clean the harness? Why or why not?

4. Would you like to have different material and/or shape for the handle part for more comfort? Would you prefer to hold the handle vertically?

5. How do you buckle up the harness? Where do you hold the leash when buckle up the harness? Do you use both hand to buckle up?

6. Do you have a trekker GPA navigation system? If not, why? If yes, how do you like it?

7. Lastly, do you have any problem with the harness you are using? (left arm does not feel comfortable after holding the harness after a while? Hand gets sweaty from holding the handle? Dog developed lumps from wearing the harness?….etc)

Thank you so much for taking time doing this survey.
Much appreciate your help.”

If you are so inclined to answer her questions, you can leave your answers in a comment here, or email her at: eva617 at gmail dot com

She gave me her email with permission and I’ve spaced it out here so she doesn’t get spam bombed. Please feel free to link to this post if you think others might want to participate on this project. Ok, here are my answers:

1. How long have you been having a Guide Dog? How many harnesses have you used before?

I’ve had my first guide dog for about nine months and have used one harness.

2. Do you have an offset handle or straight one? Do you like it the way it is? Why?

I have an offset handle. When I first began training with Jayden, I used a straight handle and didn’t know the difference. Then one day the school asked if I’d like to try the offset and I did and it was instantly much more comfortable. My arm seems to be in a more natural position, with my palm angling more towards my body. With the straight handle, my palm faced straight out behind me. This position was quite unnatural and caused pain. The offset is just much more comfortable for me, and also helps me walk closer to Jayden without stepping on him, since I can hold my arm closer to my body.

3. Do you clean the harness? Why or why not?

*Sheepish grin* I have not cleaned the harness yet. I think it’s mainly because I haven’t felt that it’s dirty. Since I do everything by touch, I can usually feel when something is grimy and I can’t stand it, so I clean. But the harness just hasn’t felt icky, so I haven’t cleaned it.

4. Would you like to have different material and/or shape for the handle part for more comfort? Would you prefer to hold the handle vertically?

Vertically, I’ve never thought about that. I’m not really sure how that would work, but it might be fun to try it. I think having some variety in how you could position the handle might come in handy, since we all naturally change positions. It might help to be able to move the wrist or the arm during long periods of work. I haven’t really thought about the material and using a different kind.

5. How do you buckle up the harness? Where do you hold the leash when buckle up the harness? Do you use both hand to buckle up?

If we are inside, and I don’t need to control Jayden, I put on the harness before his leash is attached. If we’re out and I take the harness on or off, I was trained to step on his leash to control his movement and keep him from walking off. I use both hands, since I use my hands to see and guide the pieces together. I don’t think it would be possible to buckle it with one hand. Maybe, but I need both hands to do just about anything, since one hand acts as “eyes” and guides the other hand.

6. Do you have a trekker GPA navigation system? If not, why? If yes, how do you like it?

Nope, too expensive. I just use a good old fashioned braille compass.

7. Lastly, do you have any problem with the harness you are using? (left arm does not feel comfortable after holding the harness after a while? Hand gets sweaty from holding the handle? Dog developed lumps from wearing the harness?….etc)

I haven’t noticed any problems with Jayden developing any problems. One of my biggest complaints is adjusting the belly strap. There’s a buckle along with the quick release clip. The buckle is for adjusting the looseness or tightness around Jay’s belly. It’s rather difficult to do, but I’ve only had to do it wonce and really the dog’s weight shouldn’t fluctuate much, so it’s not a gigantic deal. Jayden just filled out a bit after we got home.

My palm does get a little sweaty, and my arm gets sore, but that all depends on what kind of day it is. If Jayden is working beautifully in a place I’m familiar with, there’s no discomfort. If Jayden is working a little off, or we’re in a place I’m a little uncomfortable, there’s more pain because I’m tense.

I used to drive, so I can make the steering wheel analogy. You know when you’re in terrible traffic, you’re on high alert and you grip your steering wheel a little tighter maybe. You might “white knuckle it” when driving is stressful. I find I do that with jayden sometimes too. I have to remember to shake out my arm a bit here and there. Other than that, I don’t have any complaints, because frankly, I don’t know any different. 🙂

***

I’ll paste the survey without my comments at the bottom of this post, so it’ll be a little easier to answer. Plese take the time to answer if you can. It’s nice to think that someone out there is thinking about us, and I can’t wait to see what grade she gets! 😉

Again, you can answer in the comments here, she’ll be checking, or email Eva at the address provided above. Please feel free to link to this post on your blog as well.

Here’s the empty survey:

1. How long have you been having a Guide Dog? How many harnesses have you used before?

2. Do you have an offset handle or straight one? Do you like it the way it is? Why?

3. Do you clean the harness? Why or why not?

4. Would you like to have different material and/or shape for the handle part for more comfort? Would you prefer to hold the handle vertically?

5. How do you buckle up the harness? Where do you hold the leash when buckle up the harness? Do you use both hand to buckle up?

6. Do you have a trekker GPA navigation system? If not, why? If yes, how do you like it?

7. Lastly, do you have any problem with the harness you are using? (left arm does not feel comfortable after holding the harness after a while? Hand gets sweaty from holding the handle? Dog developed lumps from wearing the harness?….etc)

Yes, I posted the survey three times. Blame the migraine lol!

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Filed under cool blinky stuff, gratitude, guide dogs, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2010, plugs, survey says

Yoga cds for the blind and visually impaired

I got this in email and definitely plan to order it. Sounds pretty cool!

***

Get Healthy With Yoga: 
  Beginning Yoga for the Blind and Visually Impaired is a dynamic, 
inspiring five-CD set produced by Gretchen Hein, a certified Kripalu yoga 
instructor, and Marty Klein, a blind author and workshop facilitator. The 
goal of the series is to help blind and visually impaired people use yoga 
to reclaim and sustain strong, flexible bodies. The series also provides 
encouragement and information about how to find a local yoga class that 
will be suitable for blind or visually impaired people. 
  The packaging has bold, dark lettering with a contrasting background 
so it can be read by those with low vision. Each CD is numbered with bold 
markings as well. Gretchen’s descriptions of yoga postures are detailed and 
explained in language specifically intended to be clear to blind students, 
while Marty’s comments and insights as a blind man create an informative 
and enjoyable learning experience. The CDs are engineered so that each pose 
is on a separate track. This allows the listener to design his or her own 
yoga sequence once the series is familiar. The set also contains one CD 
that is similar to a yoga class. Another CD has specific tracks that inform 
prospective yoga teachers how to be thoughtful toward a blind student. 
Students are encouraged to share this CD with a teacher of their choice. 
The cost of the five-CD package is $39.95 plus shipping and handling. You 
can order the set at: www.blindyoga.net
 
 
Also, 
This article concerns exercise, with some online resources: 
http://www.fredshead.info/2006/10/exercise-library.html  

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Filed under cool blinky stuff, cool product, yoga

Doggy Countdown – A nurse, a writer, and trash, oh my!

Man today has been busy. I got back a little while ago from Gamma’s, did some chores and got caught up on email and now I’m finally getting the doggy countdown post in for today. There are days where I’m almost afraid I won’t get it posted.

Anyway, this morning while I was in the shower getting ready, I missed the call from the GDB nurse. Everyone on the list said it gets even more real when you start getting the phone calls! I was really shocked to get one on a Sunday. I called her back, but she was on the phone. So I was getting ready and she called back. Sweet! Man, they think of everything! She started going through the information she had and she said, “multiple sclerosis made you blind?” So I had to tell that story. Then she said, “but you’re not on any medication?” I explained that no, I’m not. I used to be on injections that I gave myself every other night. I decided to stop taking them. They didn’t stop me from going blind. I didn’t want to inflict pain on myself anymore, and the morning after, I always felt like I had the flu. So I stopped them. You think I have bad spoon days now? It was nothing compared to when I was on that stuff. I felt like hell all the time. I decided quality of life was more important. If I have another attack, I’ll deal with it. But there’s no guarantee those injections will stop an attack anyway. I could hear in her voice that she thought that wasn’t a good idea. And, if I get any comments scolding me, guess what? They won’t get published. It’s a personal decision, one I often think about. But, they didn’t stop me going blind, so I stopped them. It might not be the right decision, but it’s a decision I made. I’m going to be seeing a new neurologist and I’ll be discussing alternative treatments with her. So the nurse seemed to understand this after I explained it. She went down a possible list of ailments and when I told her that sometimes my knees realy hurt in the rain, she paied extra attention to that, recommended good shoes, which I have, and asked what I take for that. I told her ibuprofin. She asked if I have chronic headaches and I told her I get migraines if I’m low on caffeine. I said it wrong. What I meant was, caffeine helps the migraines when I get them. She asked if I was on medication for those. I told her no because I really only get one severe one a year, if that, and I pop ibuprofin the second I feel a twinge. I was starting to fear she’d tell me I couldn’t come because I’m not on any meds lol.

She then asked about balance and fatigue issues and I explained that it happens, but I’ve really noticed a difference since exercising regularly and eating better. She asked if I was active and I said yes. So, I guess I passed lol. It was rather intimidating. She also recommended travel insurance, since medicaid usually isn’t transferable state to state, so I’m gonna get that.

Beyond that, she really didn’t tell me much I didn’t already know. Oh, she sounded like I drink too much caffeine. Wow. Carol, if you’re reading this, I totally related to how you felt at the dentist.

I was really impressed when she said, “I see you’re in recovery. Will you need to get to meetings while you’re here?” I told her I was going to look up contacts in the area, and she said they already have them. They already have them. They already have numbers of people in the fellowship who have come to take students to meetings. Wow. That. Is. Cool.

So B and I left as soon as I was off the phone to go to Gamma’s. We had a nice visit. It’s my last Sunday before I leave, because we’re going over on Saturday for my Uncle’s birthday. And the Sunday before I leave, I’ll be packing. So the next time I’m at Gamma’s on a Sunday, I’ll have Insert! Wow!

Ok, so the writer part of my title. You’re probably thinking I mean an author type writer. Nope. I totally have not blogged about this little piece of news, ops. And because of that, I’ve kept it from Carin. I almost slipped on the list but caught myself.

So Friday when I got home from being out with Dave, there’s a knock at my door.

Hello?

Hi, it’s the post lady!

Hi!

I open the door.

You have a package.

I’m not expecting one, is it addressed to me?

Yeah, it’s a big one from…

She tells me who it’s from.

Oh! It’s my braille writer!!

So yay! I got the Perkins braille writer that Carin found for me on one of her lists. These things are way expensive and I got a steal on it. The guy went blind 6 years ago, learned braille, and then lost sensation in his fingers. So he sold me the brailler. Carin had found out that I was looking into buying one and she put her feelers out and got a hit at once. So, now I’ve gotta play with it. I’ve only used one sparingly. I want to wait until I have a good chunk of time to sit with it to play. Wooo hooo! I have such amazing friends. L literally gave me the cardigan off her back last week to wear with my dress for grad. Wow. And Carin has never met me and she immediately ran to find me a brailler. Sweet.

And now trash. You know, something about doing the laundry yesterday had me wanting to go everywhere today haha! So when we got home I had some groceries and needed to clean out the fridge. I filled the trash can and told B I was walking it down. He always takes care of the trash, so I just always let him. But I wanted to do it. So I was walking to the trash when a neighbor said quietly, “I don’t want to startle you…” I stopped and said hi and she went on to explain that her little shihtzu rescue dog is amazed by me. Usually the dog runs when anyone is outside, but when she sees me, she stands at the door and watches. So I knelt down and put my hand out palm down, and felt the slightest brushing of whiskers. She was sniffing me timidly. I guess she never gets close to anyone but her person. Awwww. I told the lady about Insert and she said that’s so wonderful. We stood chatting for a bit and then I said I’d better get back or my boyfriend would worry. So I dumped the trash and went back to the apt.

Then B made out our checks for the electric bill and I was like, I want to walk that down. Haha! So I took it down to outgoing mail. Part of why I wanted to do that was to scope out a potential relieving area. Plus, it was so lovely out! There was a light, playful breeze tossing my hair about my face a bit. My skin could feel the slightest bit of chill in the air. It was warmer today then it has been in quite awhile, and it just felt so good to be outside.

So, that was my day! Now it’s time to edit and publish and return a call I couldn’t answer this morning. Yay for busy days!

15 days!!!

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Filed under Adjustment to blindness, braille, cool blinky stuff, Doggy Countdown, Doggy Diaries, dogs, family, fellowship, Gamma, GDB, gratitude, Insert, pooch preparation, sobriety, spoons, weather

What do you want to hear/see?

It’s been too much fun sharing Alex with everyone! I know my sighted friends were so amazed when they saw me work this computer fir the first time. I’ve had a lot of friends ask me to show them how on earth I do iTunes or what have you. I know I’m curious about Jaws, like how it sounds to navigate, or maybe how it sounds to start a post, that sort of thing.

So, is there anything you guys are curious about? Have you ever wondered what it sounds like when a blink starts a blog post, or does a google search, using a screen reader? Are there words you want to hear pronounced, or anything I’ve mentioned on the blog that you’re curious about? I’d be happy to share it.

I’ve asked Carin, and tomorrow, hopefully, I’m going to get audio of Alex reading one of her blog posts. Sometimes I really wonder if things are even funnier to me because of how deadpan Alex is. So, do you want to hear how your writing sounds to me?

I know it was fun to hear my post read by Jaws in the comments on this post.

So, let me know! I love educating people on how we do stuff. I think it’s all part of advocacy, and I also think it shows just what all we can do. And I know I’m damn proud of what I can do 😉

Oh PS – On a different note, I know my friends have all wanted to hear Alex swearing and stuff lol. As you know, for the most part this blog is PG. But I might do one a little more risque and just put a disclaimer on it. We shall see.

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Filed under accomplishment, advocacy, Alex, cool blinky stuff, Jaws, proud geek, screen reader, silly girl

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

6 Comments

Filed under ACB, assistive technologies, cool blinky stuff

Blinky light

Yesterday Sadia gave me an interesting link to an NPR story about light sensitivity and migraines. They mention how blind people with migraines still end up with light sensitivity. I’m not gonna try and remember why the said this is, because it’s too technical and well, I just gave you the link.

I really find this interesting. I still have a bit of light preception. This is different from light perception. I learned this when I had my home interview. Basically, if I walk into a room, I won’t necessarily be able to tell if a light is on or off. But if a light is turned on or off, I will often notice that change. At home, I can now walk into a room and know if the light is on, becuase it makes edges of furniture noticeable more than they are if the light is off. But if I’m somehwere unfamiliar, I won’t notice this.

One thing that was really bad when I first went blind was sleeping. I had the hardest time sleeping. Falling asleep wasn’t a problem, but I would wake up at 3 in the morning and not know what time it was, and not be able to go back to sleep. At the time, B wondered if it was because my body didn’t know if it was light or dark. I have since learned that melatonin levels in blinks can be low. I don’t have a link for this because I’m too lazy to go look it up, and I think I actually read it in an email list. This was interesting also, because I started taking melatonin supplements months ago, and it works like a charm.

I also found this story interesting because I have been a migraine sufferer since I was a child and always had to go lay in a dark room. Nothing has changed even with being blind. Light hurts when I have a migraine, and I thought this was just odd. But after reading about this study, it totally makes sense. I was so confused because my optic nerves are shot, and they transmit light to the brain. It’s not necessarily that I can’t see, but since my optic nerves are shot, light can’t get to my brain to “illuminate images” if you will. But my retinas still work, and this article touches on that.

So yeah, just wanted to share, because I think it’s interesting. But I’m wondering if this post will even make any sense haha! I’m still a bit blah, but I’m definitely coming out of it.

8 Comments

Filed under Adjustment to blindness, cool blinky stuff, plugs, random stuff, spoons