Today is #WorldBrailleDay where we celebrate Braille Literacy and Learning!
We all know what Braille is....
We've seen it on just about every signage on doors, walls, and a multitude of other places.
While I was surfing Twitter I came across this tweet:
This made me sad, these teachers and counselors forget a major group that's usually dependent on Braille - the Deafblind.
Sure, there are some Deafblind individuals who can rely on their limited hearing for auditory input from audiobooks and screenreaders. Then there are some Deafblind who can read enlarged print (like myself). But that doesn't help those who don't have this capability.
Did you know that many Blind and Deafblind are lagging behind in school and colleges because their textbooks and materials aren't readily available in a Braille format? Thanks to technology like the refreshable braille display this problem is being remedied to a point.
These refreshable braille displays are not cheap - they range from $3,500 to $15,000, depending on the number of characters displayed. Some are complete "notetakers" with computing capabilities, while others plug into a USB port on your computer and acts as a keyboard/screenreader.
Thanks to an organization called iCanConnect - the National Deafblind Equipment Distribution Program - Deafblind individuals can obtain equipment and software to help "connect" with their family, friends and the world around them.
Deborah Kendrick summed up why we need Braille in her article in the Braille Monitor and I agree!
Can y'all help me out and support braille literacy through the Braille Institute?
I was sent this post from the Complete Communication Blog & I want to share it with you:
Why I Will Never Stop Fighting for Language Equality
When you continually fight for a cause (or multiple causes), it can be easy to get discouraged when you see what you perceive as a lack of progress. In this post, I'm going to focus on the cause of language equality. Specifically, that all Deaf children are given full access to ASL (or the sign language of their country) as their first language from birth.
Full access to ASL from birth only happens for 1 out of every 4 Deaf children. Getting language access to those other 3 out of 4 children can seem like such an insurmountable goal.
There are doctors telling scared parents that their only option is for their child to use hearing aids or a cochlear implant and learn to lipread and speak. There are parents that become obsessed with the idea that they must "fix" or "normalize" their Deaf child. There are even entire organizations *cough* Alexander Graham Bell *cough* that are committed to denying the devastating effects of language deprivation.
Access to ASL for deaf children just makes sense. While some children may learn to speak as well, they will still never be able to fully access spoken English. How can giving someone a partial language set them up for success later in life?
So, we have to be even more committed than the forces working against us. Even more committed to continually educating ourselves. Even more committed to raising awareness. Even more committed to donating our time and/or money to organizations that promote language access. How do we stay committed? How do we keep fighting every day for what we know is right?
I was watching a few videos the other day of Deaf babies communicating in or being exposed to ASL. Little hands get me every time. I felt warm and fuzzy. When I see those types of videos or read those types of stories I know that that is the way it should be. It reminds me what I'm fighting for.
The day I stop fighting will be either:
Now, I'll share a couple of my favorite videos with you. There are plenty more as well, so feel free to search away!
This video of sweet, 22 month old Ayla is one of my favorites! This is what I'm fighting for! This is what all Deaf children deserve! There's also other videos in this series of Deaf babies signing ASL that are equally as heartwarming and fabulous.
And then we have this video of a Deaf grandmother teaching her Deaf granddaughter ASL. How sweet is THAT? This grandmother is passing on her language and culture to her granddaughter and it's beautiful.
If you would like to read more of her blog, head over to Complete Communication.
If you want to know more about ASL - contact me!
I was asked to test out a new iOs App for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people called MyEar. It's a speech-to-text App to help in communication.
MyEar came about when a CODA (Child of Deaf Adult) saw how much his Deaf father was struggling to lipread day in and out. He decided to create an App to help his dad.
I think this is a great App! Even if you're a skilled lipreader - you'll still only catch about 30% of the conversation. Not fair is it? MyEar will help transcribe what's being said - it's not perfect - and they state that clearly - but I've found it to be much, much better than other Apps available out there.
This will help in various situations:
Here's a video demonstration on how it works:
Pretty simple right! No advertising,, no asking people to download the same app, no popups, no more buying "minutes"!
One drawback I found with it - you need an internet connection for it to work, so sometimes it won't work on my iPad. But, very few places don't have public WiFi these days.
So, check out their Facebook Page or download it yourself with this link:
Everyone enjoys a good homemade meal, but before you can dig in, you have to prepare it first. Cooking can be a hard task, especially if you have vision or hearing loss. However, if you only make a few adjustments to your kitchen and get a few aids, you’ll be preparing delicious meals in no time.
Here’s what you can do to create a functional kitchen for people with vision and hearing loss.
If you want to make cooking and navigating your kitchen even easier, you might consider removing all sharp edges and opt for rounded tables and countertops. These will cause less painful bumps and fewer spills caused by bumping into something.
Also, pay attention to how you orient your pot and pan handles on the stove, since knocking them can cause severe burns. Additionally, make sure you don’t have any wires and cables over the floor because they can be serious trip hazards.
Smooth and shiny surfaces for countertops, flooring and appliances easily reflect light and create glare. Additionally, glass cabinet doors and clear glasses can also cause glare, but more importantly, they are completely invisible which makes them a hazard unless you mark them clearly.
Adjust the lighting
When you have vision loss, every space needs ample and appropriate lighting, especially a kitchen with all those knives and appliances. Increased illumination makes it easier for people with low vision to navigate their kitchen and prepare food.
On the other hand, poor lighting increases the risk of falls, bumps and even more serious accidents. So, your best bet is to invest in good lighting for your kitchen. Fluorescent strip lights with diffusers offer great distribution of light while spotlights direct ample light in all directions.
Also, bringing light closer to the task at hand is a great way to improve visibility. For instance, installing strip lighting under the kitchen cabinets will provide good lighting in the countertop area. You can also install some lighting in your cupboards and on the shelves for easier food identification. If you combine these lighting fixtures with some standard lamps and hanging pendants, you’ll get a well-illuminated space ready for meal prep.
Another way to make food preparation easier for people with vision loss is to create contrasts. Painting doors, cabinets and walls in contrasting colors with respect to the rest of the room will make them stand out more and make the space easier to navigate.
You can opt for neutral colors and go with dark colors against bright colors (black and white contrast, for instance) but combining darker and lighter shades of the same color can also work, it all depends on your vision level and your personal preference. You can also invest in appliances that have contrasting surfaces such as colorful Viking refrigerators that come in icy white, black, gray, red, blue and beige. Additionally, get contrasting cooking utensils, such as chopping boards, bowls and knives, which will also make it much easier to locate and handle them.
When choosing appliances, make sure they have some sort of contrast on controls to make setting the dials and pressing the buttons simpler. You can also use tactile markers, such as bump-ons or Velcro dots, and apply them to the controls.
Adapting the kitchen for hearing loss
People with limited or no hearing can also benefit from some easy kitchen adaptations. The main issue in the kitchen is the fire alarm. However, there are gadgets that will send visual signals instead of audio ones if there is a fire situation in the kitchen.
People who are deafblind can find vibrating pagers that will alert them of any kitchen happenings, from fire alarms to oven timers. All of these easy fixes will make cooking a much easier, safer and less stressful experience for people with hearing loss.
Don’t be afraid to venture into cooking waters. These kitchen safety tips will keep you safe, so all you need is some inspiration and a good appetite.
Please Note: This is entirely my opinion and may not reflect others who are Deafblind.
There was a recent court case where a Deafblind man, Paul McGann, demanded that Cinemark Theaters provide him with a Tactile Interpreter so he can attend "Gone Girl".
Now I'm wondering how this would work.....
There'll be two interpreters to take turns - not just the dialogue, but screen actions, descriptions of people, places and so on and so forth.
Some of you have seen Captioning - print descriptions of every sound happening:
[dog barks in distance]
[paper rustling on desk]
Then there's audio description for people with vision loss - describing nonverbal happenings on screen, scenery, etc:
Now a Tactile interpreter would have to do BOTH these jobs and the two switch turns (usually every 20 - 30 minutes).
It's just my opinion that this guy is asking for a lot and expecting a lot.
Maybe he can't get access to TASL for movies at home, so he goes after the "big guy" with the money? I don't know his reasoning and I don't care.
I'm sorry, but just be like many other Deaf and Deafblind person who don't want, or can't access, the standard captioning service at the theater and wait for it to come out on DVD and watch it at home.
Pretty soon there'll be technology for Captioning to Braille for television watching available, and then probably adapted for movie theaters as well.
Now I'm all for equal accessibility and everything, but right now, this Deafblind woman is baffled and bothered by this lawsuit. In the current state of things it is an "undue burden" on the owner of that particular theater - not the Parent Company. Sure, the lawsuit names Cinemark, but they'lll just pass it off onto the small business owner of the Pennsylvania theater. If they don't pass it off and absorb the costs themselves, and other DB folks request it - the costs are going to be passed off to the consumers. Moviegoers already pay a ridiculous amount to get into a movie, how would they feel with another price hike?
So, have patience grasshopper.....technology will improve to where we all can enjoy movies without any waiting, without any requests, without any barriers.
.I’ve recently been asked by Sonic Alert to review two of their products.
I was given the Sonic Boom Travel Alarm clock and their NEW Bluetooth Sonic Boom Super Shaker Alarm.
Sonic Alert is a company that specializes in alerting systems for people with hearing loss and for those who are hard to wake up. They sell alarm clocks that have extra-loud ringers and "bed shakers" which are small pods that vibrate for you to feel. They also sell amplified telephones and home alerting systems (visual alerts to important sounds).
Now the products:
The Sonic Boom Travel Alarm Clock
The picture shows the clock portion upright, but it actually can fold flat.
I tried the alarm in several scenarios:
- Tucked under two pillows.
- Between the mattress and boxspring.
- Clipped to the fitted sheet in between the pillows (on a queen bed).
- Clipped to the fitted sheet, but dangling over the side (in case you knocked it off)
- Clipped to the end of the bed in the middle (by my feet).
It didn't work in only 2 scenarios - dangling off the bed and clipped to the sheet in the middle between the pillows. I figured out why - there was no resistance to the vibrations, meaning there was nothing on top to enhance the vibrating. If it bounced freely, the vibrations are lost - so using a blanket or pillow helps.
In all the other situations - Man did it ever work! You could be in a coma and still wake up on time. That's why the name "Sonic Boom" fits it perfectly.
It was very easy to set up, Just install the batteries, one look at the diagram bof where buttons are and I was done setting the time, the alarm & the vibrate alert. It also has a snooze button, night light and options such as vibrate only, buzzer only, and both vibrate and buzzer.
The only suggestion I have for improving this product is having a pocket in the storage case for the batteries, (as they advise removing the batteries while not in use).
Sonic Bomb Bluetooth Super Shaker Alarm
So whenever you receive a new phone call, text, a new e-mail on your smartphone - it sends an alert to the sonic boom.
The vibrations can be adjusted - short bursts, long vibrate, and so on. Sadly it cannot be set to different vibrations to different alerts. (short bursts for texts and long vibration for email). I don't really care for that option but thought some users might.
I really thought this would be AWESOME for Deafblind people like myself! Why? We often lack peripheral vision and miss seeing the visual alert flasher or the smartphone's own light. Sure, we could just have the phone vibrate in our pocket - but that gets uncomfortable when you're in a chair or on the couch watching TV, reading, or other activities. Stick the Sonic Bomb alert in your couch or chair cushion and you'll never miss anything else.
Another bonus I liked - the Sonic Boom alerter can either be plugged into a wall socket (with included plug adapter) or a USB port. The bonus is that the USB adapter has another USB port for you to plug in your smartphone or tablet into. So only one plug outlet is needed for the vibrating alert and to charge your phone How cool is that?
Both of these great products and Sonic Alert's other products, can be found on their website, on Amazon, and in my Store.
So never be late for anything while away from home, or miss any more notifications with Sonic Alert.