Welcome to The Blind Perspective
Volume 2, Issue 9
Table of Contents
Greetings from the Editor
Movers & Shakers
Feel, Look, and be Better
Have I Got A Story For You
The Braille Highway
Make Your Money Work
Kaleidoscope of Krafts
APPetizers: Byte size tidbits to help master your iDevice
the Rotating Trio: The Windbag
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Greetings from the Editor
By Karen Santiago
Whether your season will be changing to fall or spring, remember to always read your monthly issue of The Blind Perspective. The authors of each segment work hard to bring you articles that are both informative and entertaining.
This issue contains Munawar’s debut article, in his segment titled Make Your Money Work. Who couldn’t use some financial advice, and in plain English? Also in this issue, find out what our winner of the KNFB Reader app has to say about it since she has had it for several months now.
I am always looking for individuals from different countries to either write their own article, or for me to interview them about life in their country as a blind person. If interested please email me at karen@theblindperspective
Remember if you have a comment, question, or suggestion for any of the authors, just email them at their address at the top of their article. They all look forward to hearing from you, their interested in what you have to say!
At A Glance:
KNFB Reader, Life in Pakistan, Stretching, Humor, Lighthouse For The Blind, Finance, Scarf, Orbit 20, Google, Abacus, Stuffed Peppers, Riddle & Brain Teaser.
As always, hope you enjoy reading this issue!
Movers & Shakers
The KNFB Reader: A New Window Into the Sighted World
By Emmie Lo
karen@theblindperspectiveEditor’s note: For this month I reached out to our KNFB Reader contest winner (March 2016 issue), Emmie, to get her thoughts on this wonderful app.As soon as I downloaded the KNFB Reader last spring, I rushed to grab a printed piece of paper and test it. If my memory is correct, the first thing I ever took a picture of with the app was an informational letter from the University of Kentucky, a generic introductory letter that they send to probably thousands of students who’ve taken the PSAT and checked the box to allow colleges to send them promotional materials. I don’t remember the contents of that letter. I think it probably had a couple of sentences explaining why UK was a unique school, and then a web address and maybe the contact information of the Admissions Office. There was something very special about that letter, though, which had nothing to do with its contents.
I live in a bustling house with eight other people. It’s a chaotic and wonderful place to live, but it also leaves that usually, when I got mail that wasn’t a birthday card or a letter of pressing importance, it was shoved away in a desk drawer to await the day when someone could take the spare time to read it to me (if I hadn’t forgotten about it by then). Now, with the KNFB Reader, I can open mail that’s addressed to me, and it’s suddenly more than just blank sheets of paper. Often, the mail ends up being discarded and unimportant, so to the average person, this new ability may seem inconsequential. But for me, it was a tiny increase in independence that left me feeling empowered and excited for new possibilities.
Because my sophomore year was beginning to wrap up when I first got the KNFB Reader, and by that point, all my teachers knew to email me assignments and handouts in the formats I needed, I didn’t really have a need or opportunity to use the KNFB Reader in a school setting. However, I was able to put the app to test in a way that has changed the rest of my academic career. From the beginning, I had been ecstatic about the KNFB Reader’s ability to use OCR to convert PDF images to text. I tried out this function on a flyer my teacher had sent me about a local speech contest, and the app did its job flawlessly. I think PDF recognition is my favorite feature of the KNFB Reader, because it saves me the headache of trying to explain to my teachers that my screenreader can’t read scanned documents. Now, I can just convert the files easily and save them to Dropbox. I definitely think this feature will continue to be useful to me once I leave academia and enter the workforce.
So far, I’ve only completed a week of the new school year, but I’ve already used the KNFB Reader. Throughout the first week, almost every teacher handed out a syllabus that outlined the objectives of the course and the teachers’ expectations. I had forgotten to email my teachers asking for digital copies of the syllabi beforehand, so most just handed me hard copies, and although they touched on the main points of their expectations, none of them thought to read the whole document out loud. With the KNFB Reader (with varying degrees of accuracy) I was able to fill in what I’d missed in class. I also used the KNFB Reader to help me keep track of all the printed material that had inevitably accumulated in my backpack. It’s no longer in a confusing pile where important papers are mixed up with unimportant ones.
I want to take the time to note that I am by no means a KNFB Reader expert. Because I’ve been busy with school and distracted by summer vacation, I haven’t been meticulous about controlling lighting or other conditions that could interfere with the camera. I haven’t tested the app with sighted people around, so I’ve never taken a picture of text where I knew about its layout or font. I haven’t yet tried to use the KNFB Reader to scan books or read labels, and I’m still experimenting to perfect my positioning so that I don’t get a lot of cutoff text. But I think the fact that I’ve been able to accomplish as much as I have without much outside assistance is a testament to how incredible this technology really is, and I believe that, as I grow older and live on my own, this technology will become increasingly more valuable. The uses I’ve so far found for the KNFB Reader were not Earth-shattering. I could have probably found work-arounds for a lot of those problems, or just ignored them altogether, like I would have in the past. To the average person, promotional mail, flyers, and first-day-of-school handouts may seem inconsequential. And on the surface, maybe they are. But to me, they’ve been the cracking open of a window into a world of ink on paper that I’ve never seen before.
By Karen as told by Iram Shabbier of Pakistan
karen@theblindperspectiveI was very pleased to be contacted by one of our readers from Pakistan. Her name is Iram Shabbier and I recently interviewed her about life in Pakistan as a blind person. She is 32 years old, married, and has two children; a girl and a boy. Read on to learn more.
Pakistan is an under developed country located in the northwest part of South Asia. The eastern and southern parts of the country are dominated by the Indus River and its tributaries. Most of Pakistan’s population, approximately 200 million, lives along the Indus. West of the Indus the land becomes increasingly arid and mountainous. To the north the land rises to the great mountains of the Hindu Kush and Karakoram—including K2, the world’s second highest mountain after Everest, at 8,611 meters (28,250 feet).
Iram was born and remains in Gujranwala, a very old and historical city. She was born blind, due to optical nerve damage. She attended a residential school for the blind at the age of four in Lahore. She stayed there through seventh grade, or seventh class as they call it in Pakistan.
Schools for the Blind:
Iram says that there are several schools for the blind in Pakistan, some are private, but most are Managed by the government. Most of these schools are residential, however if you live close by then you are bused daily.
Pakistan is divided into 5 provinces. Each province has its own educational system. So they run schools according to their own rules and regulations. In Pakistan more than 300 schools are serving to special needs students. Some institutes are just for blind, whereas in some centers they serve students with hearing impairments, mental challenges, and physical handicaps. In schools they are provided with free Braille books, uniform, and 800 rupees monthly scholarship.
*Orientation and mobility are taught at the schools for the blind. However, most of the students learn more about moving from one place to another on their own, or with their peers.
*Braille is taught to the students upon entering the school, and materials are provided.
*Boys are taught how to play cricket, a popular sport in Pakistan. Note; the blind cricket team has won the World Cup twice!
*There is music education as well as learning how to play harmonium instruments. These are either hand or foot pump instruments that sound similar to an accordion.
*Now many blind students are using laptops, computers and touch mobils.
Most of these schools begin at the Kindergarten level and continue to the Middle level. There are some that continue on to high school, which is known as the Metric level in Pakistan. After finishing her seventh class at the school for the blind, Iram was mainstreamed into a “regular school” near her home. She was the only blind student in the school. Her parents were very supportive and assisted her with her schoolwork. Her mom would record the lessons on a cassette. Iram was able to complete her homework verbally. As for any papers she needed to complete, she would dictate them to a writer.
*Iram went to a local college and studied psychology and education. She received help from her parents and peers.
*From there, Iram attended the University and received a Master’s degree in Gender Studies, and was third in her class.
*She then went on to obtain a Master’s degree in English Literature as a private candidate. In addition, she received another Master’s degree in Special education, ranking second in her class.
* In 2005 she applied for a teacher’s position in special education. She taught blind students in kindergarten through eighth class for 6 years. Iram is currently working as the Head Mistress at a school for the blind in Gujranwala.
*Men can travel independently with the aid of a white cane. However, women do not use the white cane to travel, they must have a sighted guide instead.
*there are no tactile strips or audible signals at intersections.
*As of 2009 blind individuals can get a half rate fare for train and plane travel.
Guide Dogs Schools:
There are no guide dog schools nor guide dogs in Pakistan.
Braille in the Community:
*There is only braille on some of the lifts (elevators).
*ATM machines now have audio in the metropolitan cities.
The government is currently collecting data with the expectation to provide some type of monetary support in the nearby future to people with disabilities who are totally dependent.
*Pakistan Association of the Blind; is the only nationally organized and recognized movement of the blind themselves, working for the welfare and betterment of the blind community since 1960. Its primary objective is to make the blind person able, self-reliant, respectable, and productive member of society by creating a sense of equal participation among them in all aspects of life.
*Pakistan Disabled foundation; for the betterment of the disabled community
Some of the things it does is advocacy work, arrange for necessary equipment (braille writers), and provide workshops, seminars, & trainings.
* Pakistan Foundation Fighting Blindness: provides education, information and entertainment to the visually impaired persons through audio books.
*It is very difficult for persons with disabilities, especially those in the middle class to advance their education and opportunities for employment. They must rely on the support and assistance from their family members in order to be a productive member of society.
*One of my goals is to create some type of career education for blind people. Iram would love to be able to help blind students learn about different job opportunities, and help them create career goals.
*Iram would also like to educate special needs teachers to be more motivated in their jobs. She feels this would be beneficial to the blind students; making for a more positive learning experience.
Feel, Look, and be Better
By Ken Roche RMT
kenrochermt@theblindperspectiveStretching Our Mind and Body:
In the previous article we talked about the importance of utilising full active ROM (range of motion) as a base for all development and training effort, but especially after injury and prolonged periods of inactivity.
I hope you are becoming more consciously aware that some of your muscle and connective tissue may have crept shorter over time resulting in you not being effectively able to use all joint ranges available. Hopefully you are starting to actively stretch your mind and body in directions you want it to develop. If so, I’m sure you have already noticed working on A ROM (actively moving body parts through available ranges yourself) with and against gravity requires both muscle stretching and contraction to accomplish. Especially if you do the same movements of your head, arms and legs, regardless of which position they may be in; standing, quadruped (on your hands and knees), on your back, and lying on both your left and right side, you are manipulating gravity’s resistance for your benefit. Additionally, you are providing lines of use/force for physical growth/healing while the body starts adapting to its new use. Remember small and slow changes over time are easier on the mind and body and tend to lead to a more sustainable healthier lifestyle.
When discussing flexibility, I believe rather than asking how far can you reach, a more appropriate question is how often can you reach. Given consistent effort over enough time the body will adapt longer, stronger and tougher.
Now that we have stretched our minds let’s talk about stretching our body more specifically. I won’t be going into general routines or even specific stretching exercises at this time because the best stretching program for you to apply is the one that you believe in and will do on a regular bases. Where you find your stretching instruction is less of a concern to me for now. At this point, I only hope to give you principals to follow that will guide you towards learning appropriate stretching activities for your own abilities and lifestyle. However, over time I will tell you very specific ranges and muscles that often cause poor postures and mechanical use of our bodies that require stretching.
1. As stated, I believe the number one reason we should stretch is to provide effective lines of force/use to stimulate and guide the body’s many continuous growth and healing processes. It is important to understand that all tissue is constantly being remodelled and all injuries heal with scar tissue accept bone, which heals with its own bone tissue. Therefore, it’s not a matter of will scars form, rather how scars will form; structurally repairing minor and major tears regardless of what it sticks to or functionally being able to act independently and effectively with stand demands placed on it.
Typically in rehabilitation we suggest stretching at tolerable perceived pain level of 4-5-6 out of 10 and holding it a minimum of 30 seconds. Considering the minor or major injury we are trying to heal, expected range (stretch) is understandably reduced by pain or discomfort associated with the injury. Although it is expected to improve back to normal or better as healing occurs.
Sustaining injury rehabilitation type stretches is for the sole purpose of providing a positive line of influence because without guiding tension provided through stretch and contraction the body lacks the stimulation and information necessary to accomplish effective functional healing. This is not just for significant injuries, it is also a guiding principal for better healing after exercise induced delayed onset muscle soreness and the general aches and pains we experience periodically in our day to day living.
We obviously need to give different tissue different considerations: Ligaments are designed and used to stabilise moving parts so it’s not advisable to lengthen them, especially if you are already too joint flexible. However, gentle tension type stretching is recommendable because it creates lines of force/use for healing/toughening to occur along and provides the stimulation to continue functional healing processes long after structural healing has been completed. Muscles are similar, but because they have a contractile component we can speed the healing process by including active contraction of the unit from end to end creating a second form of tension. It also increases blood flow which supports metabolic healing processes. as far as bone goes, although it does get stimulated by stretch and compression it’s generally better to let a fracture solidify until progressive ability re-introduction can start working on its functional healing once there’s no risk of a rebreak. However, similar principals applied respectfully throughout the process can assist in speeding and improving the eventual healing outcome. Similarly, even cuts in the skin can be aided with progressive stretch after the initial closure is stable. In this case gentle skin rolling and respectful stretching in many angles around the lesion in every direction, but especially towards opening the wound because this is the direction that needs to toughen the most.
2. The second reason we should stretch is for prevention of injury. Tight structures tear easier and elastic stretches before it tears so keeping muscle, tendon and ligaments able to flex with and without load is the best way to prevent injuries and minimalize those that are unpreventable. Activity prestretch is a good example of this and is only necessary through a few degrees more than the range of motion required for any given activity. For example, walking requires less pre stretching than running and martial arts style kicking requires much more. I’m sure You have heard professionals say that we should not do any biolistic (bouncing or quick expansion, contraction style stretching), but I propose that the ladder example of kicking is by definition a biolistic activity that according to sport specific training principals needs to be trained for bolisticly. However, after saying I believe there is a time, place and method for all movement type training I re-iterate, that I believe it should be accomplished like everything we’ve talked about so far. First, slowly developing biomechanically respectful range of motion through repetitive progressive stretch and contraction, then increasing the speed, and finely introducing the shock and impact contact offers.
Generally speaking the further the stretch, the longer we should hold it. Thirty seconds is a good number because it is believed that there is continues dialog between sensory and motor centers in the brain and the many length and tension sensors located in muscle, tendon ligament and joint capsules that take about 20 seconds to diminish. Therefore, 30 seconds allows enough time for relaxation to begin and reduce general tension permitting more fluid movement for any given activity.
3. The final reason we will discuss why we should stretch today is attempting to increase range of motion. The reason I put it last here is because this type of full range, prolonged stretching should be done very often, but always at the end of activities. Stabilising and supporting muscles stabilise and support coordination of complicated movement patterns during activity so should not be subjected to a maximum type stretch because it tends to reduce tension, which stimulates messaging to the brain. Therefore, the information provided to the brain is less reliable, exposing joints to a higher risk of injury.
We will eventually talk about specific interactive tactics that can be used, but for now here’s just a few guiding principles about stretching to make tissue longer.
-Make sure you are stretching tissue that needs or would benefit from being longer like areas that are kept and used in shortened positions like the chest and hip flexors.
-Insure you can feel the stretch sensation along the muscle being stretched end to end not just in the joint area (s), which may indicate excessive movement (hyperflexability or instability). That requires strength and stabilising exercise not length training.
– Do it at the end of activity, ideally when preheated, such as when activity is completed.
-relax and breathe; inhaling is excitatory and exhaling is inhibitory so breathe in through your nose and relax as you slowly exhale.
– Hold stretches longer than 30 seconds, but the less the perceived tension the longer you can hold it up to 60-90 seconds and beyond.
– do it often and expect to continue improving ranges as you continue stretching over time.
For the next month just keep stretching your mind and body into the growth and healing directions you’d like to go, especially ranges that you do not use enough. I hope you are inspired to begin actively working towards feeling, looking and being better because I truly believe it’s possible. I enjoy gaining inspiration from you so thanks to those who have sent me an email already and if you haven’t please feel free to contact me with any specific questions, comments or suggestions you may have for future articles.
Have I Got A Story For You
By Carla Jo Bratton
carlajo@theblindperspectiveSmile Fellow Book Lovers!
That’s right, it’s time to laugh. We all need to chill out, relax, put life’s worries aside and read something funny! So, here we go!
The original Queen of the humor book in my opinion is Erma Bombeck. We lost her many years ago, but thanks to her wonderful books, we can still enjoy her funny looks at life. Yes, her books are somewhat dated, but still stand the test of time. I have reviewed just one of her many offerings here. Then we have two off the wall topics giggle books. One about aging and one about dying. Read on and Smile!If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I doing in the Pits?
Written by Erma Bombeck
Reading time: 3 hours and 35 minutes
You can count on best-selling author Erma Bombeck to show you the funny side of any situation – no matter how ordinary or difficult. In this collection of heartwarming essays, she ponders what it takes to survive the rigors of contemporary living.
As Erma shares her worries about the American way of life, she’ll have you chuckling right out loud. You’ll view cherished traditions such as the joys of motherhood, TV game shows, family togetherness, and the overworked phrase “Have a good day!” in a completely different light. So get ready to trade your stale outlook for a hilarious new one.
My comments: This is just one example of the many timeless classics written by the beloved Erma Bombeck.No, I don’t want to join a book club: Diary of a Sixtieth Year
Written by Virginia Ironside
Reading time: 8 hours and 28 minutes
Here’s a delightful novel about letting go of youth and embracing the sassy curmudgeon within. Don’t harass her about parasailing or taking Italian language courses. Forget about suggesting she join a gym. Marie Sharp may be a little creaky in the bones as she heads toward the big 6-0, but she’s fine with it. She would rather do without all the moving-to-Florida-bicycling-across-Mongolia-for-the-hell-of-it hoopla that her friends insist upon. She’s already led an exciting life: she came of age in the 1960s, after all. Now, with both a new grandchild and a new man on the horizon, all she wants to do is make the most of what she considers the most interesting stage of her life.
In this wonderfully astute novel, based on the author’s own experiences, No! I Don’t Want to Join a Book Club is the funny and often poignant fictionalized diary of an older woman a decade or two past her prime and content to leave it all behind her. So don’t tell her to take a gourmet cooking class, and whatever you do, don’t you dare tell her to join a book club. Fresh and truly unique, moving gracefully on in years has never been more hilarious than in this forthright grandma’s take on the “third phase” of life.
My comments; This book is for everyone. All ages, both genders and all stages of life.Being Dead is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Funeral
Written by Gayden Metcalfe and Charlotte Hays
Reading time: 5 hours and 3 minutes
Folks in the Delta have a strong sense of community, and being dead is no impediment to belonging to it. Down South, they don’t forget you when you’ve up and died–in fact, they visit you more often. But there are quintessential rules and rituals for kicking the bucket tastefully. Having a flawless funeral is one of them.
In this deliciously entertaining slice of Southern life (and death), inveterate hostess Gayden Metcalfe explains everything you need to know to host an authentic Southern funeral. Can you be properly buried without tomato aspic? Who prepares tastier funeral fare, the Episcopal ladies or the Methodist ladies? And what does one do when a family gets three sheets to the wind and eats the entire feast the night before a funeral?
Each chapter includes a delicious, tried-and-true Southern recipe, critical if you plan to die tastefully any time soon. Pickled Shrimp, Aunt Hebe’s Coconut Cake, and the ubiquitous Bing Cherry Salad with Coca-Cola are among the many dishes guaranteed to make the next funeral the most satisfying one yet.
My Comments; I was very familiar with the dishes and traditions in this book. My parents were born and raised in Mississippi and we went back every summer during my childhood. For those of you who may be curious about some of the Southern traditions and just what is tomato aspic? This is the book for you! Entertaining and educational. For those of you from the South, it’s just a handbook or a walk down memory lane.
So, until October book friends, share a book with a friend, or a stranger and for heaven’s sake, Smile!
The Braille Highway
By Nat Armeni
nat@theblindperspectiveHappy September with us soon leaving behind one season and beginning a new one. A little housekeeping, thank you to everyone who replied with their opinions of my questions in the August article. If the word puzzles and or the tactile puzzles ever get produced I will definitely let you all know, and how to buy them.
For this month’s article, I was in pursuit of an organization or someone who is as excited about braille as me. I happen to find an organization and in turn a person who is a big braille advocate. Please read on and learn about Mr. Andrew Stauffer and The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.
It was my pleasure to have the opportunity to interview Andrew Stauffer, from The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. I found him to be very articulate and his enthusiasm for braille was evident and infectious.
Andrew was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania and he was born blind. He attended regular school along with his sighted peers. Andrew started learning braille at the same time as his sighted counterparts learned the printed word, at around 5 years old.
While living in Boston, in his twenties, Andrew was involved in a para teaching program where he taught a student both English as a second language and braille. His first love is making music. Andrew plays the keyboard among other instruments. He travelled all around the United States performing and even all the way to Alaska. He still plays but mostly for fun these days. Andrew now makes his home on the west coast in Seattle, Washington.
The following has been taken directly from the Lighthouse website. The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. is a private, nonprofit social enterprise providing employment, support, and training opportunities for people who are blind, DeafBlind, and blind with other disabilities. The Lighthouse has provided employment and support to people who are blind in our community since 1918.
Our philosophy maintains that each employee is provided with the support necessary for success in the workplace. This includes an in-house sign language interpreting department to ensure effective communication for DeafBlind employees, staff mobility instructors to teach independent travel with a white cane or guide dog, and over 100 computer workstations adapted for use by individuals who are blind. The Mission statement is: to create and enhance opportunities for independence and self-sufficiency of people who are blind, deaf blind, and blind with other disabilities.
Mr. Stauffer has been employed by The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. soon going on 6 years. He used to work as a tri pod builder. He is quite proud of that since he was only 1 of a handful of people building tri pods. He also worked for the Lighthouse Contact Center for 2 years. He was working at the braille library on a part-time basis until about 9 to 12 months ago when it developed in to a full-time position. One of the big claims to fame for The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. is their machine shop. This machine shop is AS9100 certified. They make parts for among others aerospace companies such as Boeing. The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. has eleven other locations they run. These are located primarily on the west coast with a new facility that opened in April in Summerville, South Carolina.
Andrew teaches fellow employees braille. It is all part of the braille literacy program. He informed me that pay stubs and work orders are offered in braille. They have their own internal transcription services. The library of which he works from has many magazines, and books in braille. Currently Mr. Stauffer has 24 students at differing levels to whom he teaches braille. He uses a braille writer, slate and stylus, and even a braille display to teach his students. At the moment he teaches one on one basis. When I asked if braille is a dying code? He emphatically stated no. All one needs to do is look around in our community and find signage in braille, hotel door numbers, and many other new places where braille is being implemented. Andrew thinks that Unified English Braille (UEB) is an excellent change since now braille readers can see exactly what the sighted person reads. A couple of letters italicized or part of a word being boldface and the remainder having an underline. From a transcriptionist point of view when a red circle with blue lettering appears they now have the ability to transcribe that as a transcriber’s note.
Speaking with Andrew Stauffer, I have learned that braille is healthy and its knowledge is growing at The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. I would like to send out a big bouquet of kudos to Mr. Stauffer and The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. for implementing the braille literacy program.
Until October, remember to stay on the dotted line of life!
Make Your Money Work
By Munawar Bijani
munawar@theblindperspectiveMany times when people hear the word “finance,” they tune out because there is a stereotype going around that only mathematically inclined people or people who have a lot of money to go around are the ones who really worry about this thing called “finance.” What if I told you that this is, in fact, not true? What if I told you that you, the average Joe and Jill reading this newsletter, should worry about this word? Chances are you’d look at me as if I was smoking something I shouldn’t be smoking, or at the very least you’d say I’m simply blabbing on and on, like those all too well-known university professors who don’t have enough material to cover a day’s lecture so end up going off on tangents.
Whatever your reaction is, I’ll still write it: you should pay attention to this word. Yes, yes, “But, why? I hardly make enough to support myself–forget having extra!” Gotcha number one! Did I ever write that you need extra cash? In reality, you don’t need thousands of dollars to get started. But we’re jumping ahead of ourselves here. So let’s slow down a little bit.
Why am I writing this series? The answer is I’m writing for two reasons. First, I’m just like most of you. I am not some fancy rich person who goes out to buy a house just because I feel like it. I make a living through hard work, just like you do. I put in long hours, just like you do. I went to university on a government grant, just like many of you did, or will soon do, depending on where you are in life. My point is: I don’t live in gold. So let’s destroy that image, m’kay? Here’s the sticker: I’ve made some financial decisions that have helped me tremendously in life, and I want to share them with you. Again, not from a billionaire’s perspective (and, yes, if you want my tax return, ask me) but from an average Joe’s perspective. Many times, financial advisors on the radio talk about “building equity on your home,” or “investing in your 401(K).” I have neither a home, nor a 401(K). So those options are out the window. Many of these decisions I made were during a time when I was living paycheck to paycheck. And if I did it, you can too. And no, I don’t have a degree in business or accounting.
Second, in my experience, because many of us as blind people are on some sort of government benefits program, our “financial IQ” is lower than it should be, and many times through no fault of our own. Together we will raise that IQ and become more familiar with the financial side of things.
In essence, we’ll assume we have no savings, no investments, no home to build that equity thing on, and absolutely no plans for retirement. Yes–unlike your university professors who insist they’re starting from the beginning but actually start in the middle, we will start at the real beginning. So you can get rid of that calculator you just pulled out; you won’t need it, at least not yet.
Here’s the next question: Why bother? Because financial decisions absolutely WILL impact your future; and, whether it’s a positive or negative impact is mostly up to you. I write “mostly” because there are some things beyond our control, but we’ll get to that later. Finances are a thing worth getting smart about. It will make the difference between you living comfortably later, or living how you were when you were fresh out of school: paycheck to paycheck and having to decide between eating or leveling up in Candy Crush. What if you could eat, and also level up in Candy Crush? Do I have your attention now?
In this series, we’ll talk first about your everyday finances; things like managing your money and trying to have some left over at the end of the month.
Next, we’ll talk about priorities: what should you do first? It’s a very bad idea to walk straight into a full-blown brokerage firm and be like “Hey Mr. Money Man, help me save my money!” Chances are they’ll steal half of it first, and then throw you out.
After we get our priorities straight, we’ll start taking bigger steps towards really securing a good financial future. And with that, I’d like to leave you with this disclaimer. Because this newsletter is international, I’m hesitant to target one specific audience. I hope to be as general as I can, so that no matter what country you are in, you will be able to apply the concepts we will discuss to your specific situation. That said, one thing you must be careful of are your government benefits, if you receive them. I can write a book if I were to include all the rules and regulations surrounding what you can do with your government benefits, so I won’t do that. Instead, I’d like to warn you. Make sure to research your specific benefits program. I’ll give you an example of how Supplemental Security Income works in the U.S. The laws are in the process of being changed, but as it stands right now, an SSI recipient is not allowed to have more than $2,000 in savings at any given time. So, if you fall into this category, sadly you will be restricted by the regulations you have to follow as a recipient of SSI. But I’ll leave all that up to you. I’ll be writing from the assumption that no one reading this newsletter is restricted by such government regulations to keep things as simple as they can be, but it will be your responsibility to make sure you are within the legal bounds of your particular benefits program.
In the next article, we’ll talk about day-to-day financial decisions that can have a huge impact on your financial success later on. So stick around if you want to see how others are doing it!
If you have any questions or comments on this article, you can Email me at my address above.
Kaleidoscope of Krafts
By Lindy van der Merwe
lindy@theblindperspectiveIf you can’t knit or crochet, why not try to make this knotted scarf from bulky yarn?The only materials you will need are scissors, any kind of fairly smooth, bulky yarn and a clipboard or tape to hold your yarn so that you have something to pull against when tying your knots. If you do not have a clipboard on hand, you could use any kind of hard surface to work on. Simply tape down your yarn to hold the strands in place while you work.
Step 1: Cutting your yarn
For this scarf, you will need 16 strands of yarn that are around one and a half times the length you would like your scarf to be. For instance, if you want the scarf to be 80 inches in length, cut your yarn pieces to around 130 to 140 inches long.
To keep things simple, use one color for your scarf, but you could also choose two or even three complementary or contrasting colors to make this scarf. Decide beforehand how you would like to group your colors if you use more than one color and place down your strands in the chosen order before starting to knot.
Step 2: Grouping your strands
Group your 16 strands into four groups with four strands in each. Secure the4 groups with an overhand knot, leaving a tail of around 6 inches.
Before starting the next step, make sure you have four strands in each group and that your yarn is not tangled or knotted.
Step 3: Placing your project
Secure the four groups onto your clipboard or a hard surface with tape so the overhand knots are lying next to each other. Make sure that the four knots form a straight horizontal line from left to right before starting the next step.
Step 4: Making square knots
You will be using the square knot for this project. If you have ever done macrame, you will already know how to make this knot. You will always be using four strands at a time, with the two strands at the center being the filler cords while the left and right strands will be the working cords.
For those not familiar with this type of knot, here are the directions:
To make a square knot, do the following two steps:
First step: take the left cord and bring it over the filler cords and then under the right cord. Then, take the right cord, bring it under the filler cords and pull it through the loop on the left. Pull on both sides to tighten your knot. This forms a half knot and completes the first part of your square knot.
Second step: take the right cord and bring it over the filler cords and then under the left cord. Then, take the left cord, bring it under the filler cords and pull it through the loop on the right. Pull on both sides to tighten your knot. You have now completed one square knot.
Remember to always start with the left cord to make your half knot and then to make the second half knot by starting with the cord on your right.
For this scarf, you will be tying square knots in rows. Leave even spaces of 3 to 4 inches between each row.
Row 1: Starting from the left, using four strands at a time, tie four square knots to complete your first row.
Row 2: Skip the first two strands on the left-hand side and start to make square knots, moving to the right. You will have three square knots in this row with two strands left untied on the right-hand side of the scarf.
Repeat rows 1 and 2, alternating between 4 and 3 square knots in each row.
Continue in this way until your scarf is the desired length. Remember to leave spaces between each row and check each row for mistakes before moving on to the next.
Step 5: Ending off
End on a row with four square knots. Leaving about 6 inches of yarn to form the end of your scarf, tie four overhand knots as you did at the beginning of the project.
Trim the ends of your scarf if necessary, or unravel the yarn to form a fringe.
I hope you will give this project a try. For any questions, feel free to contact me and I will do my best to help.
Happy crafting until next month.
By Cheryl Spencer
cheryl@theblindperspectiveI attended the NFB convention for the Blind in Orlando, Florida in July. The main attraction for me was the exhibit hall, which focused on technology of all kinds from low to high. Even a month after the convention, my head is still buzzing about everything I was able to see. There are some very exciting and cutting edge technology on the horizon. One of which is my spotlight item for this month.
I stopped by the American Printing House for the Blind exhibit and they had a wide variety of items on display. I picked up as usual, my braille calendar and then spotted this unique looking device. It turned out to be the new lower cost braille display that is due to be available for sale later this year.
I spoke with Larry Skutchan of APh and he showed me the machine. It is lightweight, and easily transportable in a purse or backpack. It is call the Orbit Reader 20. A 20 cell bluetooth or USB braille display with notetaking ability. It can connect via bluetooth or USB to a smart phone, tablet, or computer. It is by far the most affordable braille display on the market today. The price point coming in at about 500.00. Most braille displays before the orbit Reader 20 are over a grand, and have less cells.
The unique feature that sets the orbit Reader 20 apart from other braille displays is its standalone ability. It has a built in text editor, perfect for those on the go for notes and phone numbers we need to keep track of when we are out and about. It also has an SD card slot that will enable text to be read in braille.
The battery in it was designed to last a day but according to Larry, they get more than that but then it does depend on how much it is used. I was impressed with how clearly defined the braille dots were and how firm the dots held up under the pressure of my fingers. They stayed strong so even someone with less feeling in their fingers would have no trouble feeling these dots. It measures 6 inches wide by 4 inches front to back by just a little over an inch tall. Weighs slightly under a pound.
Its functionality and affordability, will give braille literacy the shot in the arm it has needed. For more information on the Orbit Reader 20 read the thorough article written by Larry Skutchan at www.aph.org
APPetizers: Byte Size Tidbits to Help Master Your iDevice
By Darrin Cheney
darrin@theblindperspectiveJust Google it!
What is “Google?” Is it a verb, a noun, or… I checked dictionary.com and “Google” is listed as a verb.
Google means to “search or to find something on the Internet. Others refer to Google as a noun meaning “search engine.” In this article, we’ll explore what Google is and how it can help you search the Internet with your iDevice.
A “Search Engine” is a tool used to look for information on the Internet. You may hear names of search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and others. Company’s like Google, use small programs that “crawl” around the Internet and catalog web pages. The information is collected and stored into large databases. Users can search these databases by sending a query through a search engine. A summary of what’s found is provided as a “Results” page.Getting Started:
You will need an iDevice connected to the internet, the Safari web browser, and access to the Google search engine. I have an iPhone 6 running iOS 9 and I use my Wi-Fi network at home and a cellular network away from home. My Safari browser is configured with the Google search engine. You can use Google on other iDevices and computers, but the screens may be different. You can check your search engine configuration by going to SETTINGS > SAFARI> SEARCH ENGINE.
I like to use Google because the results page is easy to navigate with VO. Results pages have three heading levels: Level 1 is the Google Logo and Home Page link; Level 2 is for search results and ads; and Level 3 is for individual search results title and ad title. You can navigate the results page by setting the Rotor to “Headings” and then perform Single-Finger Flick-Up or Down to jump to each entry. Be aware you may get some “unwanted” results you never would imagine would come from your search. You can limit or focus your search by utilizing a combination of search strings and filters., check out google support“Just Google It”
Performing an “Internet Search” in Safari with the Google search engine is pretty straight forward. I’m making dinner, so I’m looking for a good, simple “mango salsa” recipe. I type “mango salsa” into the Safari address bar and in a few seconds, I get a “Results” page of websites that contain the words “mango” or “salsa.” All I want is a quick, simple, yummy recipe to create mango salsa like at a local restaurant. I need to focus my search to webpages that contain all 3 words: “mango+salsa+recipe.” Or, I can put quotes around specific word(s) to search for an exact phrase: “mango salsa.”
Google can filter the search results to recipes posted in the last week, month or year. Once your results page loads, Single-Finger Flick-Right until you hear Search Tools. Then, Double-Tap the “Any Time” link to use the picker to choose the date range you want. I select the “Past Year.” You can also filter the search to only display images, videos, etc.
You can focus your search to a specific website. I enjoy exploring recipes posted on allrecipes.com. So, I’ll enter the search term, a colon, and the website address (mango+salsa:allrecipes.com). The results page will load with links to mango salsa recipes only on theallrecipes.com website.
One advantage of using Safari with the Google search engine is you can bookmark pages or download articles for reading offline at another time. Double-Tap on the “Share” button to add a bookmark or cache it for later reading.Learn More:
You can learn more about using Google at google accessibility answers
Another good resource is google web searchFinal Thoughts:
There are so many tools and strategies you can use to search the Internet. Try using Google in Safari until you become proficient. Then, you can use other search engines or apps on your iDevice. Make some notecards to remind you how to create a query to find the information you want on the Internet. Then, “Just Google it.”
The Rotating Trio: The WindBag
NO BATTERIES NEEDED
How many of you take some form of a talking calculator when shopping? Do you use a headset or ear buds to have private listening? Do people nearby hear your figuring and the results? Have the batteries gone dead when you need them most? I don’t have any of these problems. My calculator does not speak, and it does not use any electricity. I did have to replace the one I had used since 1972, and this was within the last 4 months. Not a bad investment for $30, is it? Interested? Read on!
I use the Cranmer abacus for the blind, available from aph.orgIt is easily learned, silent, and works well. Here’s how to get started:
The Cranmer abacus is a Japanese Soroban that has a cushion between the beads and the back of the device. This cushion keeps the beads from sliding unless they are moved by your fingers. The abacus consists of 13 rods in a plastic frame. A bar separates the beads. Four are below the bar and one is above it. There is a dot at the bottom and along the bar at each rod’s position, and a line between each group of three rods starting from the rightmost rod. These are used as dividers.
To start with, let’s do some adding. Move all beads away from the bar. Only those beads that are pushed toward the bar are used to make each digit. Each bead below the bar represents one. Each bead above the bar represents five. Start by moving one bead up to the bar on the rightmost rod, or column. This is the number 1. Move another on that same column. Now, you have 2. Move the two remaining beads to the bar and you have 4. If you wanted to add one to that, there are no more beads below the bar on that column, so you have to do the next best thing. Move the bead above the bar down to it. You have added 5, which is 4 more than you wanted. So move all four lower beads away from the bar, thus subtracting 4. The number 5 is shown as the only bead touching the bar.
To continue adding, move one of those lower beads to the bar to represent 6. 5 plus 1 equals 6. The digit 9 is the highest that can be shown on any column, then, just like counting, you move to the left one column. In order to add 1 to the existing 9, move one lower bead on the column to the left of the 9. In essence, you have just added 10. Clear, or subtract, the 9 from the rightmost column. Read the digits, 1 0. That’s ten. Moving a lower bead to the bar on the rightmost column will result in 1 1, or eleven. Moving the upper bead down on the rightmost column gives a digit of 5 on the rightmost column. 1 6 is sixteen. And so it goes until you can have 9 on both rightmost columns. To add more, you move one column to the left. Think of the columns as ones, tens, hundreds, a dividing line, thousands, 10,000, hundred thousands, dividing line, millions, and so on as you move left.
With practice, it will become second nature. Now for the thinking process of adding other numbers. In any column, if you want to add 3 and you already have a 3 there, you would always do the next best thing. You could add a 5 if it already hasn’t been used. Because you added 2 too many, move two beads down from the bar. You have now made that 3 into a 6. If this could not be done, you would add 10 and subtract 7.
When at a store, you’re working with dollars and cents. Use one of the dividing lines as your decimal point. For example, $1.52 would be created by moving one lower bead on a column to the bar. The column would be just to the left of a dividing line. To the right would be the number 5, represented by an upper bead moved down, and the digit 2 on the column to the immediate right of the 5. So you have 1, dividing line or point, 5, 2, or $1.52 on the abacus. Add $0.35 by seeing if you can move 3 beads up on the column where the 5 is. You can. Now, see if you can move the 5 down on the column where the 2 is shown. You can. Now, read the result. $1.87 is correct.
Here’s a very important point. Never figure ahead. Even if you know that 4 plus 6 is 10, don’t think of the answer. If your work is done correctly, the right answer is automatically shown on the abacus. This is the beauty of the device. If you can count from 0 to 9, you can use it.
Once you get good at it, it is fast, it is easy, and it is accurate. Your batteries won’t run down, and you get the result with privacy. And, it’s portable. Mine fits into a shirt pocket.
Editor’s Note: The Hadley Institute for the Blind offers two abacus courses. Learn more at hadley.edu
maxine@theblindperspectiveWhether you will soon be harvesting or growing some bell peppers, here is a great recipe for stuffed peppers.
Stuffed Green PeppersIngredients:
4 large even shaped green peppers
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup cooked rice
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 tablespoons half and half
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash ground black pepper
Dash cayenne pepperDirections:
1. Wash peppers. Cut off tops, and remove seeds and membrane; discard.
2. Combine ground meat, rice, onion, celery and egg. Blend well.
3. Add half and half, parsley, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt and peppers. Mix to blend well.
4. Place green peppers in an oven proof dish, large enough to hold peppers upright.
5. Fill green peppers with meat mixture, mounding a little on top of each. The filling will shrink while baking.
6. Bake at 400 degrees for about 35 minutes, or until filling is set and cooked through and peppers are tender.
*Red peppers can be stuffed the same way.
*Bread crumbs can be substituted for the cooked rice. Add 2 tablespoons half and half to filling.
*Leftover chicken, finely chopped, can be used in place of ground meat.Microwave Directions
Same as above
1. Wash peppers. Cut off tops, and remove seeds and membrane; discard.
2. Prepare filling. Place onion, ground meat and chopped celery in a microwavable safe baking dish. Microwave on high for about 3 minutes.
3. Remove from oven and stir well. Return to microwave oven and microwave for another 3 minutes on high.
4. Add remaining ingredients to beef mixture. Stir to blend.
5. Place peppers in a microwavable safe baking dish. Fill peppers with mixture. Cover with waxed paper or plastic wrap.
6. Microwave on medium-high for about 8 minutes, turning dish once if oven is not a self-rotating one.
7. Cook on high for about 2 minutes until peppers are tender and filling is done. Glaze tops with a little tomato sauce, if desired.
Serve hot with crusty French bread.Variation:
Sprinkle some grated Cheddar or Swiss cheese on top of each pepper. Return to microwave oven and microwave for 2 to 3 minutes on high until cheese is melted.
Makes 4 servings.
By Alex Smart
alex@theblindperspectiveHe shaves many times a day, and yet he still has a beard. Who is he?Answer to August’s riddle:
What has four wheels and flies:
A garbage truck
By Alex Smart
Provide an opposite for each word or phrase that is also that word or phrases rhyme.
Example: go away; stay*In stature, small
*for a fee
*not yet begun
*suffer a defeat
*full of vice
*feel certain aboutAnswers to August’s brain busters
*We watched the boxers BLANK from our first BLANK seats. Spar + Row=Sparrow
*Blank of the farm is on the other side of the blue BLANK mountains. Part + Ridge=Partridge
*Barbie, looking very BLANK in her new clothes, had a date with her boyfriend, BLANK. Chic + Ken=Chicken
*After the guest accidentally dropped the hostess sterling silver BLANK down the drain, the hostess ungraciously sent him a BLANK to replace it. Spoon + Bill= Spoonbill
*It took a domestic BLANK almost an BLANK to develop it’s modern oink. Pig + Eon= Pigeon