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Rank #51 in Tech News category

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Tech News

Blind Abilities

Updated 7 days ago

Rank #51 in Tech News category

Technology
News
Tech News
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Blind Abilities: The most comprehensive resource for Assistive Technology, Accessible Devices, Blind and Low Vision Technology, iPhone demonstrations, success Stories, Job Insights, College and Career Pathways and all with a Blindness Perspective.

Read more

Blind Abilities: The most comprehensive resource for Assistive Technology, Accessible Devices, Blind and Low Vision Technology, iPhone demonstrations, success Stories, Job Insights, College and Career Pathways and all with a Blindness Perspective.

iTunes Ratings

16 Ratings
Average Ratings
12
3
1
0
0

Love BlindAbilities Podcasts!

By Lainey302 - Mar 24 2018
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I listen everyday to these educational and informative podcasts! I love the IPhone101 Series!

Audio and Content is Awesome!

By JT6835 - Sep 10 2017
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Audio and content is superb!

iTunes Ratings

16 Ratings
Average Ratings
12
3
1
0
0

Love BlindAbilities Podcasts!

By Lainey302 - Mar 24 2018
Read more
I listen everyday to these educational and informative podcasts! I love the IPhone101 Series!

Audio and Content is Awesome!

By JT6835 - Sep 10 2017
Read more
Audio and content is superb!
Cover image of Blind Abilities

Blind Abilities

Updated 7 days ago

Read more

Blind Abilities: The most comprehensive resource for Assistive Technology, Accessible Devices, Blind and Low Vision Technology, iPhone demonstrations, success Stories, Job Insights, College and Career Pathways and all with a Blindness Perspective.

Rank #1: NFB17 Blind Alive Is About to Launch Their New App and iFactory’s Accessible Web Sites

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NFB17 Blind Alive Is About to Launch Their New App and iFactory’s Accessible Web Sites

Explore your world 

like never before

From exploring new neighborhoods and restaurants in the city, to traveling the globe - Aira empowers the blind to experience their world and surroundings like never before.

Accessible devices

Aira's platform works on wearable devices such as Google Glass and Vuzix that can be paired with your smartphones.

Real-time request

The tiny camera mounted on your wearable device provides instant feedback so Aira Agents can safely guide you with any activity.

Certified agents

Our network of trained Aira Agents, who could even be one of your family or friends, are able to assist you whenever and wherever.

You can find out more about Aira on the web at www.Aira.io

On Twitter @airaio

Thank you for listening.

You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilitiesc

On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com

Send us an email

Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Store.

Jul 13 2017

5mins

Play

Rank #2: BlindAbilities iAccess Demo: Blocking Unwanted Callers in iOS

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Blind Abilities presents this iAccess Demo focussing on blocking those unwanted callers from ever calling you again. Pete reviews the process he used to block a number from which he received a computerized solicitation call on his iPhone. Check out this simple and quick process.

Thank you for listening.

You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities

On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com

Send us an email

Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Store.

Jan 13 2017

5mins

Play

Rank #3: BVA17: The Hadley Institute and Orcam

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BVA17: The Hadley Institute and Orcam

BlindAbilities brings you more great audio from the Blinded Veterans Association 2017 national convention as Pete Lane introduces an old friend of the podcast. Meet Larry Muffett and The Hadley Institute. 

Larry discusses some of the programs offered for veterans, as well as some general information about Hadley’s 2017 focus.

You can find Hadley on the web

Also featured in this episode is Orcam, a smart glass device that offers many features, including OCR, facial recognition, bar code reading, color identification and more. Stay tuned as Orcam version 8.0 of their software is announced in the next few weeks.   Check out more about their two products at Orcam on the web 

Thank you for listening.

You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities

On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com

Send us an email

Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Store.

Aug 25 2017

8mins

Play

Rank #4: iPhone 101, Episode 2, How To’s, and Resource Books

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Blind Abilities presents Episode 2 in their new series: iPhone 101. In this segment, we address those who are still on the fence about whether or not to take the leap and buy that first iPhone. Pete introduces some feedback from other blind individuals who were also unsure if they should make the plunge, but later decided to do so, and they weren’t disappointed! Then we share three book titles that are specifically aimed at new iPhone users, or those who wish to do their homework to gather information to help them make that decision, because after all, information is knowledge, and knowledge is power! 

We’ll continue to provide all the information you’ll need to either make the decision, or to master the iPhone if you decide to buy one!

Our next episode coming soon will have prices, plans and more information to help you make an informed choice.

Thank you for listening.

You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities

On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com

Send us an email

Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Store.

Feb 23 2017

17mins

Play

Rank #5: Meet Kristin Smedley: Author, of Thriving Blind: Stories of Real People Succeeding Without Sight. Interview by Simon Bonenfant

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Full Transcript Below Show Summary:

Life is funny… sort of.    That’s how Kristin sees it! Kristin Smedley is an award winning non-profit leader, TEDx speaker, and author – but she never planned on any of that.

Image of the Thriving Blind Book Cover

however her personal path to greatness took an unexpected turn when two of her three children were diagnosed as blind. She had to learn the tools of blindness and build a team of experts that would help her navigate this path that she had not been trained for. Kristin’s two blind sons are now thriving. (taken from www.KritinSmedley.com)

Blind Abilities Teen correspondent, Simon Bonenfant, sat down with Kristin to talk about her book Thriving Blind. Kristin shares her experience from raising 2 sons who happen to be Blind, and how she found confidence from  others who were living successful lives without sight. Her journey through education and meeting parents who faced the limited expectations gave Kristin  the incentive to do more. 

Learn about the foundation she created and what led her to write her first book, Thriving Blind.

You can find Thriving Blindin paperback , and in Large Print, as well as in Kindle Edition. You can also go to www.KristinSmedley.comand get the Electronic Braille format.

Contact:

Thank you for listening! You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com Send us an email Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Storeand Google Play Store.

Check out the Blind Abilities Communityon Facebook, the Blind Abilities Page, the Job Insights Support Groupand the Assistive Technology Community for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Full Transcript:

Full Transcript

Meet Kristin Smedley: Author, of Thriving Blind: Stories of Real People Succeeding Without Sight. Interview by Simon Bonenfant

Kristen Smedley: I was pretty much told, "They might have to know Braille, they'll have to learn how to use a cane, and good luck."

Jeff Thompson: Introducing Kristin Smedley, author of the new book Thriving Blind.

Kristen Smedley: Nobody told me what was possible for them. I had no education on blindness whatsoever. I spent 19 years going out and finding people that were literally succeeding without sight.

Jeff Thompson: Thriving Blind on Amazon for paperback and Kindle, and large print, and you can go to kristinsmedley.com for the electronic Braille version.

Kristen Smedley: And how about this? I told our principal about it, and he sent Michael's entire IEP team to that high school to hear Eric talk.

Jeff Thompson: Kristin is an advocate for parents of blind children, and herself is a parent of two sons who happen to be blind.

Kristen Smedley: "I'm kind of nervous and all," and she goes, "Are you kidding? I was so happy to be invited because the first book I was in, it was about being a failure."

Jeff Thompson: An interview conducted by our teen correspondent, Simon Bonenfant.

Simon Bonenfant: We all have our cross to bear, and we all have something that's going on, and there's two ways to look at that. We could either get down about that, or we can find encouragement in each other through our sufferings, and turn into something good if we stand together through that. It sounds like your book promotes that as well.

Kristen Smedley: I love that, Simon.

Kristen Smedley: Whether they were blind from birth or came into blindness later in life, they all had a different strength that they found in themselves.

Jeff Thompson: For more podcasts with the blindness perspective, check us out on the web at www.blindabilities.com, on Twitter @BlindAbilities, and download the free Blind Abilities app from the app store and Google Play store. That's two words, Blind Abilities. And be sure to enable the Blind Abilities skill on your Amazon device just by saying "enable Blind Abilities".

Jeff Thompson: And now, please welcome Kristin Smedley and Simon Bonenfant.

Kristen Smedley: When you're first told that you think you're going to have this life plan, and now you got to rethink your whole thing, it kind of stinks.

Simon Bonenfant: Hello Blind Abilities, this is Simon Bonenfant here. Today I got a chance to talk to Kristin Smedley. How are you doing, Kristin?

Kristen Smedley: I'm good, thanks. I'm so happy to be here, Simon.

Simon Bonenfant: And you are the author of a book, Thriving Blind.

Kristen Smedley: That's right, that's my new book. First book, new book.

Simon Bonenfant: Very good, congratulations.

Kristen Smedley: Thank you.

Simon Bonenfant: And what is your book about?

Kristen Smedley: So Thriving Blind is stories of real people succeeding without sight. It highlights 13 people that are chasing their dreams, living in the careers that they choose to have, regardless of vision loss. And I say 13, it's actually 12 interviews that I did, and the 13th person is Erik Weihenmayer, the blind mountain climber and adventurer extraordinaire that wrote the forward for the book.

Simon Bonenfant: Very good.

Simon Bonenfant: Let's just go back a little bit. How did you get the idea for the book, and what is your past interactions with blindness? How did you get in the blindness field?

Kristen Smedley: I came about this by accident. Two of my three kids were diagnosed as blind 19 and 15 years ago. I was pretty much told, "They might have to know Braille, they'll have to learn how to use a cane, and good luck." Nobody told me what was possible for them. I had no education on blindness whatsoever. I spent 19 years going out and finding people that were literally succeeding without sight, because I wanted my boys to do that. I didn't want to just be that we would go home and be blind.

Simon Bonenfant: What was their journey like throughout school?

Kristen Smedley: They did all of the regular public schools. They were even on baseball teams and the swim team. All kinds of stuff in our town. I've worked myself silly to make sure that they could do everything that they wanted to do. Honestly, I never would've anticipated all of this, and I didn't think all of this was going to be possible when those first diagnoses came, until we met Erik Weihenmayer.

Kristen Smedley: He had just come off of Everest and was climbing the other seven summits, and I thought, "Well... " That was when Michael was six. I thought, "Well, if he can do it, we can do it. We just have to find all the tools and resources to do it." Which has been an interesting journey with getting some things and fighting for others, as I'm sure your family can attest to. But we've made it work.

Simon Bonenfant: And how did you meet Erik? How did you first meet him?

Kristen Smedley: You know, somebody sent me his book when Michael was a year old, I believe, and then... I have to remember. Through happen circumstance, I found out he was going to be speaking at an event in my hometown of Philly, and there's the Associated Services of the Blind of Philadelphia—

Simon Bonenfant: Yep. ASB, yeah.

Kristen Smedley: Yeah, they put on an awards banquet every year, the Louis Braille Awards, and Erik was being recognized. Somehow I was able to get ahold of Erik's dad Ed. I got him on the phone and said, "Listen, while you're here, we'd love for Michael to meet Erik," and it turned out that Erik was speaking at a high school right near my house. And how about this? I told our elementary school principal about it, and he sent Michael's entire IEP team to that high school to hear Erik talk.

Simon Bonenfant: Wow, that's incredible.

Kristen Smedley: Yep. And I really credit that moment with, when they came out of Erik's speech, their minds were wide open to all the possibilities for Michael, and then eventually Mitchell when he went to that school.

Simon Bonenfant: That's great. And I've heard you speak before [inaudible] and I've always taken away that you're a big advocate for the blind doing whatever they want to do.

Kristen Smedley: Whatever they want to do. Yeah.

Simon Bonenfant: It sounds like Erik really inspired you to get that way.

Kristen Smedley: He was the number one inspiration for that, and the second person along those lines was a woman by the name of Kay Lahey who's a mom of a blind man, because he's now in his late 20s or early 30s on Capitol Hill, but she was the first mom that I met that said, "You can still have them do whatever they want, you're just going to have to do a lot of work behind the scenes in the early years to get them the tools that they need, and then watch them soar." So I was lucky.

Simon Bonenfant: Very good.

Simon Bonenfant: And when did you have the idea first to seriously pursue the book and chronicle your experiences and other people's experience? When did you first get the idea to say this is something that you're going to seriously pursue?

Kristen Smedley: That's a great question. Right around 2011, I started the patient organization for our specific blindness. Initially it was set up to fund research for a cure, but then I was meeting all these parents through that organization that were pretty much, for the most part, sitting on the couch and crossing their fingers for that cure, because they still had no idea how to get out there and get the kids the tools and resources. A lot of schools were telling them that they didn't have the resources, and they were giving them some bad information in terms of Braille and activities and options and stuff like that.

Kristen Smedley: So then I started sharing all the stories that I knew of these folks that I was meeting, blind architect and mechanic, all the possibilities that were out there, and I thought, "Okay. We've got to get this to everybody." It was going to be either a website or a pamphlet for doctors to hand these families so that they knew there was some potential. And that pamphlet and website evolved into a book.

Simon Bonenfant: Wow, that's great.

Simon Bonenfant: Just going back to your foundation, what is your foundation called, and how did you get the idea to start that up?

Kristen Smedley: So crb1.org is the Curing Retinal Blindness Foundation, and like I said, it specifically started for kids like my boys that are, it's a mutation in the crb1 gene that causes their Leber's congenital amaurosis. We did initially start because there was work being down in the field that was using gene therapy to restore some vision, and initially that was my hope, that a miracle would come and they'd be able to see. All in a day's work, right? But then we quickly had to diversify the mission to realize that that's how we were going to help people get tools and resources to raise these kids.

Kristen Smedley: Because honestly, there's a lot of people out there that are blind and happy with their lives that way.

Simon Bonenfant: Oh, absolutely.

Kristen Smedley: And honestly, in my house right now, one of two is saying, "I'm good. I'm fine. This is me, and this is my life, and I'm just fine." The other one's saying—

Simon Bonenfant: That's the way I see it.

Kristen Smedley: Yeah. And there's a lot of people in the blind community that are like that. And then the other half is saying, "Well, if I have an option to do some things that I can't do without sight, I'd like that option."

Simon Bonenfant: And that's okay as well.

Kristen Smedley: Yeah! Yeah. But you know, for a while there, the blind community wasn't open to... one side of the fence wasn't open to the other camp's way of thinking, and I think that we can all live in the same world with those two different options and be cool with that.

Simon Bonenfant: Exactly. Because until that day comes, they're blind, and we can all learn from each other.

Kristen Smedley: Yep.

Simon Bonenfant: That's the way it works.

Simon Bonenfant: So going forward to your book, how did you get the people that you were wanting to get? When you first started it, did you have instantly in mind these 13 people, or did it kind of evolve?

Kristen Smedley: That's a great question. I just reached out to the people that I had met, and there's a few that I had not met at that point. It was just through conversations with the IEP team and other people. When I was saying, "I'm putting this book together," people said, "Oh you got to interview this person, and you got to interview that person." But for the most part, I met them all and they all jumped on board with it and said yes.

Simon Bonenfant: Very good.

Simon Bonenfant: So how did you conduct the interviews? Did you go to where they lived? [crosstalk]

Kristen Smedley: It was all on the phone.

Simon Bonenfant: Oh, on the phone. Okay. Very good.

Kristen Smedley: Yeah, I found an app called... if I remember right, it was called Tape A Call, and I was able to record all the interviews and take notes, because my mind can't do one or the other, I have to do two things [crosstalk] And then I transcribed all of those interviews, and interestingly enough, initially I was writing the book in my take on their interview. And then a friend of mine said... I was in this Mastermind group where we all got together on Skype and talked about our businesses and our ideas and help each other work through stuff. And my Mastermind group said, "Wait a minute. People are going to want to hear their own words. From your people that you interviewed, do it in their words." That actually made it way easier. I just edited it down to fit in the book.

Kristen Smedley: So it's totally written in, it's their own words, each of the people I interviewed, and you can tell one of my editors emailed me and said, "Is this guy that I'm going to... " it was Simon Wheatcroft... she goes, "Is he from the UK? Because he talks differently." The way I wrote it, I wrote it all in his voice. I said yeah. She's like, "Okay, I need to know that as an editor."

Simon Bonenfant: Wow, so how long did it take you from the time of the interviews to the writing?

Kristen Smedley: It was a few years, because I did all those interviews, and then it was trying to figure out what was the best mechanism to get it out there, and then it was... There was a lot of stuff that happened in my life, and kept getting put on the back burner, and the foundation was really taking off.

Kristen Smedley: If I'm being perfectly honest, one of the biggest issues I had was fear. I was really nervous about; I had never written a book before and I wasn't a writer. I'm very good at speaking and—

Simon Bonenfant: Yes you are.

Kristen Smedley: I'm used to parties and stuff, but writing was one of my least talents on the list growing up, and in my adult life, and I was so nervous about putting a written work out into the world. And then my life just happened that I had to do something, I had to start getting some income, and it was also... This mission just had to get out there. I was meeting way too many moms that were struggling, and I didn't have this resource to hand them yet.

Kristen Smedley: "You know what, Kristin? Get over it. You've got to get over yourself and your fears," and I went and talked to a lot of authors that had similar fears early on. Talked to people that published successful books, listened to a zillion interviews and podcasts, and just went for it.

Simon Bonenfant: Wow. And who are the 12 other people? You mentioned Erik is the 13th person, but who are the 12 other people that you got?

Kristen Smedley: Oh gosh, now I'm going off the top of my head. I'll give you a few highlights and then people can dive into the book.

Kristen Smedley: One that really stuck with me, especially when I was editing and going through some stuff in my life, was Monty Bedwell. Did you ever hear of him?

Simon Bonenfant: No, actually.

Kristen Smedley: He's a good friend of Erik's. He kayaked the Grand Canyon and his book is called 226. That's how many miles are in the Grand Canyon.

Simon Bonenfant: Wow.

Kristen Smedley: But his story... I should mention that half of the people in the book... I didn't intend it this way, but half were born blind, and the other half went blind as adults.

Simon Bonenfant: Oh, that's interesting. That's a good mix, then, I guess.

Kristen Smedley: Right? And I didn't even intend that. But Lonnie is one of the ones that went blind as an adult, and the stuff he went through in his life, and being in the service, and all this stuff, and he goes blind from an accident that was caused by one of his best friends. Total freak accident. And the fact that Lonnie came through that, and his life is incredible now. His whole story, the undertone is loving and forgiveness and friendship and kindness. It got me through so many of the struggles in my own life. I always go back to Lonnie's chapter, and I talk with him every now and again, because he's just a cool, nice guy. He's a single parent, and his stories of how he handled...

Kristen Smedley: It was actually his five-year-old daughter that was the pivotal moment of him handling his blindness. The story's hilarious of him... Let me just tell you, it involved driving a lawn tractor.

Simon Bonenfant: Wow.

Kristen Smedley: And his five-year-old putting her hands on her hips and telling him to get over himself and get on with his life. It's a hilarious story.

Kristen Smedley: But Lonnie, that was a really cool one for me.

Kristen Smedley: Chris Downey is another one that went blind as an adult. He was a very successful architect. Again, had a medical issue that there was something that saved his life, a surgery, caused his blindness, and when he woke up, totally blind. He said everybody came in and took his life away. Even his phone, because they said, "Your life is going to be different now. You're going on disability. You're not working anymore," and he said he had a 10-year-old son at home that he needed to set an example for. He got back to work as an architect within a month of that surgery, and he's more successful now than he was then.

Kristen Smedley: That is a TED Talk that you should watch. Chris Downey on if we would design communities with the blind in mind, how much better those towns would be.

Simon Bonenfant: Very good. Yeah, we could probably put that in the show notes.

Kristen Smedley: Oh, that would be great!

Simon Bonenfant: We have a show notes portion we put that.

Simon Bonenfant: Getting on to TED Talks, you actually did a TED Talk. That's a good segue, right? You did TED Talk?

Kristen Smedley: I did. I did. It was the hardest thing I ever did.

Simon Bonenfant: Wow. What was that about, the TED Talk?

Kristen Smedley: That was about how my perception of blindness changed, and it was from my two boys. Mainly Michael, because he was the first born.

Kristen Smedley: For a long time, I wasn't proud to mention how horrible I was in dealing with the blindness diagnosis. I mean, if you want to see an epic example of how not to handle a blindness diagnosis, that was me.

Kristen Smedley: But Michael changed my perception on that when he was three, and when I finally looked at the situation differently, that's when our journey just exploded into amazingness, and the talk is trying to teach the lesson that if you look at things differently, especially blindness, how much your life can open up.

Simon Bonenfant: I'm sure you learned a lot from the book. What was the biggest takeaway that you learned from all the interviews that you apply to your own life? Because a lot of these stories can apply to anyone, really, not blindness. Just the idea of overcoming obstacles, whatever that is... that means blindness to some people, maybe it's not, maybe it's just in the mind for some people, overcoming fear and things. So what was your biggest takeaway that you apply to your own life from your interviews?

Kristen Smedley: Oh my gosh, you have the greatest questions.

Kristen Smedley: So I could probably talk for hours on this, but I think... I went into this to teach people about changing their perception of blindness, and that was the goal of each interview. But I'm telling you, when I was going through the process... remember I told you it took a couple of years to get it written and everything... every time I was going back to these chapters to rewrite and edit and get them perfect, something was going on in my life.

Kristen Smedley: One of the biggest ones was when I got divorced. And then I was going through and editing these chapters, and I was taking stuff away from them, like Lonnie with forgiveness and friendship, and Diane Berberian is the iron man competitor, and her thing is just finding the fun in everything, and the joy. And her stories, you know, so much happened with her. She went through a divorce, too, and she went through a bunch of stuff, but she made me laugh through the entire interviews, and even when I was editing her chapter.

Kristen Smedley: So I guess it's hard to pinpoint just one thing, but each person gave me a different takeaway, most of them being resilience, and everybody's got something. Everyone has something they struggle with. And even all these people, whether they were blind from birth or came into blindness later in life, they all had a different strength that they found in themselves along their journey somewhere.

Simon Bonenfant: I always find that we could have encouragement from other people having struggled, because we all have struggles in our life. No one's perfect. I always say, "We all have our crosses to carry," and it's true that we all have our cross to bear, and we all have something that's going on, and there's two ways to look at that. We could either get down about that, or we could find encouragement in each other through our sufferings, and turn it into something good if we stand together through that. It sounds like your book promotes that as well.

Kristen Smedley: I love that, Simon. That's... how old are you?

Simon Bonenfant: 17.

Kristen Smedley: Oh my god. That's an incredible way to look at this world, and let's promote that perspective more, because if people would do that, could you imagine? If people would realize everybody's got something going on, and let's see what we can do to help the other person out, that would be an incredible way for things to not be such big things in this world.

Simon Bonenfant: Exactly.

Simon Bonenfant: And going back to the book, when you were doing interviews for the people, did you have a set of questions, or did you kind of make it go as the conversation flowed? How did you end up having a method, too, to where you asked the questions and things?

Kristen Smedley: You know what? I was so nervous about it, because I had never written a book before. So to that point, I had a list of questions, and then I'm like, "Nah, that's stupid. Let's do it this way. Nope. Let's do it this way." And then I was putting off all the interviews because I wanted it to be perfect. So then I'm like, "Okay, here's what I want people to get out of this." I went back to my, when I was trained to be a teacher, a lesson plan. What do they know? What do they need to know? What are the objectives? And how will I know that this will see success to measure it?

Kristen Smedley: So I figured, all right, I want people to know what this person's condition is, what the blindness is. Were they born blind or did they go blind? What are their big tools and resources that are going to be helpful to everybody else to know about? But the biggest thing that I wanted to come out of this, and that's in each chapter, there's a section at the end called The Bright Side, because I didn't want this to be a downer. I didn't want it to be heavy. So I asked every single person... We call them blind perks in our house. Hey, let's face it, when you're at Disney World and they see the cane and they go, "Do you want to go to the front of the line?" We're like, "Yep."

Simon Bonenfant: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kristen Smedley: "It's 100 degrees and I'm standing in this line."

Simon Bonenfant: I always do that in the airport with the security. That's a nice little perk, too.

Kristen Smedley: And you know what? There's several people in the book that highlighted the airport as one of the biggest perks, that they just get to be treated like the red carpet.

Kristen Smedley: Do you know Bill McCann?

Simon Bonenfant: Yeah, I know him very well. Yep. [crosstalk]

Kristen Smedley: So he's in the book, and he says that his partner Albert called—

Simon Bonenfant: I know him, too.

Kristen Smedley: Yeah, so Albert calls the cane the parting of the Red Sea. He's like, "Here we go. Stick the cane out," and everybody gets out of the way, especially when they're in a hurry. All that fun stuff.

Kristen Smedley: But yes, I did go through... I had a list of questions. I was still nervous, though. And actually, I talked about Diane Berberian being all about fun. She was my first interview. I was so nervous, and then we got to talking on the phone, and I said, "I'm so happy that you agreed to do this. I'm kind of nervous and all." She goes, "Are you kidding? I was so happy to be invited because the first book I was in, it was about being a failure!" I said, "What?" She had trained for a triathlon and totally messed it up. She was awful. I don't even know if she finished. So somebody wrote a book about what not to do, and she was highlighted in that book. She's like, "I'm so excited that I'm involved in a book with the success word in it."

Kristen Smedley: So then I had the questions and just kind of followed that format, but each of the interviews kind of took on a life of their own, and everyone's personality came through in those chapters. It was cool.

Simon Bonenfant: Very good. That's the way I do my interviews. I don't really come up with a set question. I have obviously a topic that's going to come up, but as the conversation flows, I think up questions in my head and I ask them and answer them and it kind of segues in [inaudible] follow a strict format, it's not a from-the-heart conversation. It's so strict and rigid. It's got to come from the heart, and it's got to be a natural conversation. And those are the best ones.

Kristen Smedley: Yeah.

Simon Bonenfant: That's with podcasting, interviewing, writing, that's really what that's about, is the conversation.

Kristen Smedley: Yeah. Again, your age and being able to do that, because that also takes a lot of... You have a very good talent for listening, then, because you really have to be a good listener to then know what you want to draw out of what that person is saying. That's cool that you can do that at 17.

Simon Bonenfant: Thank you.

Simon Bonenfant: Who is your biggest, or at the time was your biggest supporter when you were writing the book, and who really supported you in saying, "This is something that's going to be good," and supported your effort all the way through?

Kristen Smedley: I'm extremely lucky, and I say it all the time, that I know how blessed I am to have the team that I have, in terms of family, friends and whatnot. I know a lot of people don't have that. Some of it I built through a network and all of that, and some I'm just blessed with, with my parents and I have a really big family, and then my kids.

Kristen Smedley: But I would say, if I had to say who the number one person was, it was my three kids. They thought it was the coolest idea in the world. They knew that it was taking a lot of time and effort to get it together, and there was a lot of nights where they had to just... especially when I was doing the interviews, you know, you can't have anybody bursting in and yelling for something, and they'd have to sit outside and wait for me to finish that. But they had a lot of patience through the journey, but a ton of cheering, and now they're the ones out there helping me at book signings and interviews on Facebook and all that kind of stuff. Mitchell's here taking pictures and video for my social media. I mean, they're part of the book team, the launch team, and Team Kristin Smedley, I guess.

Simon Bonenfant: That's great! I'm sure it's been good for them to see all the blind role models, and luckily they're going to have a network when they get into working. They're going to have a network of great people that they can tap into. And you're going to have that as well. [crosstalk]

Kristen Smedley: Yeah. It's been cool. Of course, I guess they probably don't like it on the days where I'm like, "Really? You're acting lazy today? How about when this one had this issue," and I start quoting the book. They're like, "All right, get away."

Kristen Smedley: Yeah, no, it is cool. They have a very big network of support and inspiration, for sure.

Simon Bonenfant: Good.

Simon Bonenfant: Yeah, I know you have a very big network. I was at your event back in March you did. Will you describe all about that event, and what was that event for? Because I was actually there, and I did a comedy act. I was telling jokes that night. But what was the broad scope of that night?

Kristen Smedley: I'm still getting messages about how fun you were at the event, because we tend to always try to do something a little different than everybody else and you just really enhanced that that night. It was great.

Simon Bonenfant: Oh, thank you.

Kristen Smedley: So that's Cocktails for the Cure, and that is our big launch each year for the Cure Retinal Blindness Foundation. It wasn't actually designed in the beginning to be a fundraiser; it was a celebration of all the work that we've done. It's pretty much a gratitude party where we say thank you to everybody that's helped us, and get everybody geared up to do fundraising and outreach and help us build a network. The model of it has worked tremendously to grow that mission really far, really fast.

Simon Bonenfant: Yeah, I got to meet some good people. I got to meet a friend of yours, [inaudible] that night, who actually was a teacher who taught your son Michael. Me and her got to meet up and talk, and that was great talking to her. I've actually reached out to her since, so she gets a little shout out in the podcast.

Kristen Smedley: She's helping get book signings, too, for me.

Simon Bonenfant: Very good.

Simon Bonenfant: We ask this question a lot. It's sort of like a winding up question here at Blind Abilities. What advice would you give to either parents of blind children who are new to this blind world kind of thing, or blind children, or blind adults themselves who are trying to rebuild? What advice would you want to leave them with, listening to the podcast?

Kristen Smedley: Here's the thing, I don't sugarcoat that diagnosis day. When they're handed something that is not anything that they had ever thought, like blindness, it stinks. When you're first told that you think you're going to have this life plan, and now you got to rethink your whole thing, it kind of stinks.

Kristen Smedley: However, and I would say sit with those feelings for a little while. A lot of times, we say brush the feelings off and keep on going. I would say sit with it, find at least one person that you can talk to about all of your feelings around it, and then of course get Thriving Blind, and take a look at the different people in that book, and I would bet that each person that reads Thriving Blind will find one person, one chapter that is a person that's like them and start there. And then read through the stories where, because you'll see in every story, everybody grappled with that moment when their life changed, and then how they moved on.

Kristen Smedley: The biggest piece of advice, though, is besides changing your perception and your attitude and your mindset, is get the tools that you need. You can have all the positive thinking in the world and all the role models and everybody cheering you on, but let's be honest. If you're a blind person in this world and don't know the tools of mobility and independence, like the cane or a guide dog, or literacy with Braille—

Simon Bonenfant: And technology.

Kristen Smedley: And audio, and technology, if you don't learn those things... Even if you're scared. I hated the words "Braille" and "cane" when I first was on this journey, because they meant my life was looking different. A lot of people go through that.

Kristen Smedley: Once we embrace those, that's where it was Braille that Michael and Mitchell could sit in their school classrooms right alongside everybody and not only beat that 70%... they were expected to achieve a 70%... they not only blew that 70% out of the water... Michael was the class speaker at graduation, and stood up there surpassing everybody. That was Braille, that was confidence, and that was pushing the limits of what people expect you to.

Kristen Smedley: I would say the number one thing is get those darn tools of what it is you need to succeed.

Simon Bonenfant: Very good.

Simon Bonenfant: I'm sure you've had to deal with people saying that your children could not do something. When someone said that to you, did you rise to the challenge? And what did you make sure that you did so that they would be able to do it?

Kristen Smedley: I researched it, honestly, and I'll tell you a funny story real quick, if we have time. When they said at the kindergarten IEP meeting that Michael would only find his cubby... you know, the thing where you hang the jacket in? The hook?

Simon Bonenfant: Yeah.

Kristen Smedley: They said he would only find his cubby 70% of the time, that meant success because he was blind. And I said, "Hold on a minute." And we moved to a really nice school district, and I had been out of the classroom for years, and I knew that there was new technologies. I said, "Hold on a minute. The cubby. Does it move every day? Do cubbies move now? Or are they still the hook on the little closety thing?" I'm thinking maybe they circulate around the school or something, and they'd never be able to find it when they're blind. They're like, "No, it's attached to the wall."

Kristen Smedley: So my question became, "What's expected of the sighted kids in this classroom? If the sighted kids are expected to find their cubby every day 100% of the time, Michael is expected the same," and they said, "You can't do that because he's blind." I said, "If he's missing it 30% of the time, then we're not doing our job, because that's an easy one."

Simon Bonenfant: Yeah.

Kristen Smedley: It's not driving a car. It's not looking across a room and seeing something. It's doing what other people do that really does not require vision. There's other ways to do it. So that was the mentality.

Kristen Smedley: And honestly, I told you that it was right after that when I said that the principal took the IEP team to see Erik Weihenmayer. That sealed the deal for them that Michael could do all of that. So that was a game-changer for us.

Simon Bonenfant: And I'm sure you've probably impacted countless other people who maybe wouldn't have their expectations changed about blindness, and when they met you, probably even raised their expectations for themselves and the sighted people around them as well.

Kristen Smedley: Yeah. You know what? I just did a keynote for the Association for Clinical Research Professionals down in Nashville, and my one-hour speech was about setting extraordinary expectations and how I had to do that for Michael and Mitchell, and look where they are now. And usually people come up to me after my speeches and say, "You're such a great mom." Which is wonderful, everybody wants to hear that. This time, though, people said, "You just changed my life." And it had nothing to do with blindness. It was more what they're dealing with in their own lives, opening up their minds, changing their perception of it, and expecting a different journey than everyone anticipated for themselves. It's cool.

Simon Bonenfant: Good.

Simon Bonenfant: If someone wanted to find you on social media, what would they need to look up for you?

Kristen Smedley: So first of all, when you say "Kristin Smedley" and "social media", all three of my children will roll their eyes at the same time because they're just thrilled that I'm on there and their friends follow me now, too. Karissa gets so mad. She's 14. She gets so mad when her friends comment on my posts. It's hilarious.

Kristen Smedley: But anyway, my main ones are, on Facebook we have a Thriving Blind community, and it's just Facebook.com/thrivingblind. That's where you can follow stories of Michael and Mitchell, and now videos of the people in the book and then some. On Twitter, I'm @KristinSmedley. Same on Instagram, although Instagram is driving me crazy. I keep trying to learn it and it keeps surpassing me, but whatever.

Kristen Smedley: Linkd.in is my big one now. Linkd.in has a lot of connections on there.

Simon Bonenfant: Good. I always thought you do some Facebook live.

Kristen Smedley: Oh man, Facebook live is a cool tool, man, because Facebook loves to push out that content, because it's their platform only.

Kristen Smedley: Actually, Mitchell is my big Facebook liver. He does, on Thriving Blind, tech Tuesdays where he just highlights the technology that he's using. And the funny thing is, half the audience is moms and dads of blind kiddos that are watching it together to know what they should be asking for in their IEPs, but the other half is the sighted community. It just loves finding out this information, because they had no idea.

Kristen Smedley: Did you see that campaign that went around about the blind people using phones? Somebody had an attitude, they put some negative things... "That woman must be faking being blind. She's got a cane and she's looking at an iPhone."

Simon Bonenfant: Oh wow.

Kristen Smedley: So then they were trying to do this whole educational piece to combat that of blind people do use phones. Well here on our little Thriving Blind community thing on Facebook, we're showing people every week the different things and how you use the phone and Braille and all that, so it's pretty cool.

Simon Bonenfant: Oh yeah, technology has been a very, very big effort for the blind community. Well, for the sighted community, but also for the blind community in general, just open up a wide range of doors for us.

Kristen Smedley: Oh, it's huge. And you know, did you ever meet Tom Lukowski at Comcast?

Simon Bonenfant: No.

Kristen Smedley: We'll have to get you guys together. He's right at Comcast in the city. He's their head of accessibility.

Simon Bonenfant: I've heard about him, actually [crosstalk]

Kristen Smedley: Yeah, he's cool. He's in the book, too. He actually, I think he went to college with Erik. And they were completely different, it's pretty funny.

Kristen Smedley: His thing is, because he helped develop that X1 on Comcast where you talk into the remote, so his thing is don't build a technology product for the blind. Build it with all abilities and disabilities in mind, one product for everybody, and how that is such a positive impact on everybody is huge. Just like the X1. I mean, Karissa and I use that in our house and we can see just fine, but we're always yelling into that remote to change channels.

Simon Bonenfant: Yeah. That's a nice feature. Comcast have always done a lot of good stuff.

Simon Bonenfant: Yeah, and if someone wanted to buy your book, what formats do you have available, and where could someone find it, and what's the price and all that?

Kristen Smedley: So right now on the print, the paperback and Kindle version are on Amazon, and a little plug for ourselves here, we hit #1 new release for both of those when they came out. They're on Amazon. Just search "Thriving Blind" on Amazon. Large print will be available, as of the recording of this interview, it'll be available in a week on Amazon. Then the super cool one that was one of the reasons that I started this whole journey in a book is the electronic Braille. That's coming out in, actually, while we're recording this, it'll be out in I think two weeks. And we have a whole team of blind youth around the country that are going to be doing a social media campaign that'll be really cool to follow on Thriving Blind on Facebook.

Kristen Smedley: The e-Braille, the BRF file for that, was made possible by the CEO of T-Mobile, donated the money to National Braille Press to have that made.

Simon Bonenfant: That's great. And the time of this recording, for the folks who would like to know, is May 4th today.

Kristen Smedley: Hey, May the 4th be with you.

Simon Bonenfant: Yeah, there you go. May 4th, 2019. So for those who are interested in getting the Braille version, that should be out in about two weeks.

Kristen Smedley: And that'll be available at kristinsmedley.com.

Simon Bonenfant: Oh good. So once this podcast is published, it'll be up there on the website so everybody can go grab it. All the Braille readers. That's great.

Simon Bonenfant: Well Kristin, you're a very inspiring person, very inspiring advocate for the blind, and I truly want to thank you for the work that you do. Keep up the great work, because you are very inspiring and I know that your work is going to live on hopefully long past you.

Kristen Smedley: Wow. Well thanks, Simon, and right back at you, dude. You've got some great stuff going on. It's fun to follow you.

Simon Bonenfant: Oh, thank you very much.

Simon Bonenfant: Well this is it. Reporting for Blind Abilities again, I'm Simon Bonenfant.

Jeff Thompson: Be sure to check out the book Thriving Blind on Amazon and kristinsmedley.com.

Jeff Thompson: Such a great job by Simon Bonenfant on doing this interview, and thank you so much to Kristin Smedley for sharing with all our listeners your story, your book, your experiences, and your passion.

Jeff Thompson: A big shout out to Chee Chau for his beautiful music. You can follow Chee Chau on Twitter @LCheeChau.

Jeff Thompson: I want to thank you all for listening. We hope you enjoyed. And until next time, bye-bye.

[Music]  [Transition noise]  -When we share

-What we see

-Through each other's eyes...

[Multiple voices overlapping, in unison, to form a single sentence]

...We can then begin to bridge the gap between the limited expectations, and the realities of Blind Abilities.

Jeff Thompson:

For more podcasts with the blindness perspective:

Check us out on the web at www.BlindAbilities.com On Twitter @BlindAbilities

Download our app from the App store:  'Blind Abilities'; that's two words.

Or send us an e-mail at:

info@blindabilities.com

Thanks for listening.

Contact:

Thank you for listening! You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com Send us an email Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Storeand Google Play Store.

Check out the Blind Abilities Communityon Facebook, the Blind Abilities Page, the Job Insights Support Groupand the Assistive Technology Community for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

May 16 2019

35mins

Play

Rank #6: TVI Toolbox: A Conversation with Keith Ford l- Retired Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired and Orientation and Mobility Instructor (Transcript Provided)

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Show Summary:

(Full Transcript Below)

Please welcome Teen correspondent, Simon Bonenfant, as he steps into the interviewer role for Blind Abilities. While attending and presenting at the Pennsylvania NFB convention, Simon pulled out his recorder and went to work. Conducting 5 interviews from vendors and presenters. In this interview, Simon talks to Retired Teacher of the Visually Impaired/Orientation and Mobility Instructor Keith Ford. They talk about the importance of braille and how modern technology is changing the way teachers teach and Keith gives us some insight into the field of a Teacher of the Visually Impaired along with some tips for Transition age students.

Join Simon and Keith in this brief look back at the journey Keith has gone through and his optimistic view of the future of technology and training.

Check out previous interviews with Simon Bonenfant:

TVI Toolbox: Summer Academy, Total Transition to College Experience – Welcome Back Simon Bonenfant and Meet Fellow Student, John Dowling

TVI Toolbox:  Science, Technology, Engineering and Math: Carving His Pathway Towards Success, Meet Simon Bonenfant

Contact:

Thank you for listening! You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com Send us an email Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Store.

Full Transcript:

TVI Toolbox: A Conversation with Keith Ford l- Retired Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired and Orientation and Mobility Instructor

Keith Ford: I got a Masters Degree as a teacher of the visually impaired and a certification as an orientation and mobility instructor.

Jeff Thompson: Welcome to Blind Abilities. I'm Jeff Thompson. Blind Abilities presents Keith Ford.

Keith Ford: Back in the old days it was just kids that were just partially sighted and totally blind but over time I had to learn to adapt my instruction to meet the needs of lots of different children and actually learn new skills.

Jeff Thompson: A retired teacher for the blind and visually impaired and orientation and mobility instructor.

Simon Bonenfant:

I used the Perkins Braille writer for math because you could have lines horizontally, vertically where when the Braille was placed just a flat and horizontal surface and you can't do the spatial element of Braille which is missing but on the paper you get that.

Jeff Thompson: This podcast was made possible by our team correspondent, Simon Bonenfant.

Keith Ford: With this device that's being developed at the University of Michigan, it'll be like a Braille iPad which will just be like a sheet of Braille. The way it will produce lines and make it do graphs.

Jeff Thompson: For more podcasts with the blindness perspective, be sure to check us out on the web at www.blindabilities.com, on Twitter @BlindAbilities and download the free Blind Abilities app from the app store and Google Play store. That's two words, Blind Abilities.

Keith Ford: I'm real pragmatic. I would always tell students that they want to get into something that's going to lead to employment after college.

Jeff Thompson: And now here's Simon Bonenfant with Keith Ford.

Keith Ford: Well you certainly want to have dual certification as an O&M instructor and a teacher of the visually impaired, that's really important to have that flexibility.

Simon Bonenfant:

Hello Blind Abilities. This is Simon Bonenfant here and I'm here at the state convention in Pennsylvania of the National Federation of the Blind. I got a chance to talk to a man named Keith Ford. How are you doing, Keith?

Keith Ford: Hello.

Simon Bonenfant:

Very nice to talk to you.

Keith Ford: Okay.

Simon Bonenfant:

Keith, you are a retired mobility instructor, is that correct?

Keith Ford: And a teacher of the visually impaired.

Simon Bonenfant:

Oh, very nice. It's very interesting because as I was talking to Keith I found out that he's not blind and he's sighted so we were talking about how that worked. How did you get into the field of orientation, mobility and teacher of the visually impaired?

Keith Ford: That was way back in 1985 where I decided to make a career change and I thought something that a helping professional would be more something I was interested in pursuing and I guess it has to do with attitudes and interests and abilities and just a certain view of life. Maybe you just feel more comfortable working in a helping profession than something else. Maybe that's it.

Simon Bonenfant:

Yeah. Did you get a degree to do this kind of job?

Keith Ford: Yes. I went to the University of Pittsburgh and I got a masters degree as a teacher of the visually impaired and it also had certification as an orientation and mobility instructor. I graduated in August of 1986.

Simon Bonenfant: 

Wow. Very nice. Did you do orientation, mobility and TVI all in the same kind of job?

Keith Ford: As an itinerant teacher, yes.

Simon Bonenfant:

Okay. As you were working in this field, what did it teach you? What did you learn the most from your students as you were teaching them?

Keith Ford: In the time that I taught you saw a lot of change occurring where in the early years most of my students were just partially sighted or totally blind, but then as time went on you saw more multi-impaired children. We like to use in the profession terms like life skills and learning support. You had more and more students like that and then you saw more and more autistic children who were visually impaired and then more and more students that are called cortically visually impaired where that deals with trauma to the brain since you have more and more premature babies being born.

Keith Ford: CVI, cortical visual impairment, usually involves a long list of visual behaviors because it's trauma to the brain, it's not to the eye or the optic nerve. That's a whole different ballgame and it's still a relatively new aspect to what teachers of the visually impaired do.

Simon Bonenfant:

Right.

Keith Ford: But they're predicting that CVI students will be the new face of blindness or visual impairment in the future.

Simon Bonenfant: 

Wow.

Keith Ford: It's always been, to answer your question, over the time I taught there was just so much change. Back in the old days it was just kids that were just partially sighted and totally blind but over time I had to learn to adapt my instruction to meet the needs of lots of different children and actually learn new skills. Nowadays in orientation and mobility programs you're getting a lot more emphasis on students that are totally blind and totally deaf so that there's instruction involved with those kinds of students, which wasn't a part of my instruction back in 1985.

Keith Ford: But the field is always changing because the population is just changing. Nowadays kids that are just partially sighted or totally blind, they're in the minority. You're also seeing a lot of new approaches to orientation and mobility. Back in the old days we were always taught that you had to have a control mechanism to cross an intersection, like a stop sign or a traffic light.

Keith Ford: But now more and more travelers are encountering situations where there isn't a control mechanism so there's this emphasis on crossing at intersections where there isn't any control mechanism. There's a decision-making process involved in that called acceptable risk and non-acceptable risk. It's still a relatively new thing but it's blind and partially sighted travelers are running into situations now where they have to cross where there isn't a control mechanism.

Keith Ford: Not that every crossing could ever ... There's some crossings you just can't make, they just can't be done, you shouldn't try it. The whole idea of acceptable risk and unacceptable risk is something you have to learn. There are decision-making skills you have to learn for that. It's something that's happening more and more in making those kinds of crossings.

Keith Ford: Overall I would say what I've learned from my students is just learning new skills to work with students that have other handicapping conditions. That would probably be the most I've received from my students is I had to learn to adapt and learn new skills.

Simon Bonenfant:

Did you have to learn Braille when you were becoming a TVI?

Keith Ford: Oh yes. We had a heavy emphasis on Braille back in the old days, certainly. Braille is very important, but there are some students that are lower functioning that just can't understand Braille so they can't use it.

Simon Bonenfant:

 Right. I'm sure you've seen a lot of changes in your time in the blindness field in terms of technology.

Keith Ford: Oh yes.

Simon Bonenfant:

Were you using the Perkins Braille writers back when you started?

Keith Ford: It's always going to be there, the Perkins Braille writer, because technology breaks down.

Simon Bonenfant:

Exactly. Yeah.

Keith Ford: But the assistive technology they have nowadays is a much higher quality, much more reliable. Back when I started we had the VersaBraille P2C, which in its day was a wonderful thing but they had a lot of breakdowns and by the end of the school year you'd have to send the Versabraille P2C back to the manufacturer and they'd have to kind of do an overhaul just to replace things or just upgrade it to get it back to where it's totally functional for September.

Simon Bonenfant:

 Yeah.

Keith Ford: But as time went on you'd have little glitches here and there but the quality of the equipment they have now for visually impaired students is a whole lot better, plus you're seeing ... Like say the iPhone, you have the accessibility options are built into the technology so it's technology that is used by sighted people but also could be used by blind and partially sighted so that brings the cost down.

Keith Ford: You're also seeing, which I'm kind of excited about, up at the University of Michigan they're trying to build ... They're developing this ... It's like an iPad that will have refreshable Braille that will be less expensive. I've heard they're using, whether it's compressed air or some kind of gel technology to reproduce Braille cells on an iPad-like device with lines of Braille rather than the refreshable Braille units that are electronic and cost a lot more money.

Simon Bonenfant

Yeah, I know. Braille is very important.

Keith Ford: But getting the cost down is really important. There's probably always going to be a need for paper Braille but I think as time goes on the paperless Braille is going to be more the case.

Simon Bonenfant:

Bring down the cost.

Keith Ford: It'll be more common.

Simon Bonenfant:

Okay, yeah.

Keith Ford: Being able to carry Braille in a small device like you have with you now certainly makes a lot more sense than those bulky Braille books.

Simon Bonenfant:

Yes.

Keith Ford: But we're always going to have paper Braille and Perkins Braillers because things break down and you want to have a hard copy.

Simon Bonenfant:

Yeah.

Keith Ford: But in their day I think the Perkins Brailler came out in the late 1950s. That was a really big deal when it came out.

Simon Bonenfant:

Oh, I know. I still use the Perkins Braille writer. When I transitioned to the Braille writer I used to think, I don't know if I'll ever use the Perkins Braille writer. But then I found a use for it and I'm like, you know, technology breaks down, stuff happens. With the Perkins Braille writer you don't need a battery, it works. Sometimes the best low-tech solutions are the most high-tech to get things done.

Keith Ford: Yeah. I have a Perkins Brailler at home I used when I was working. It's a very reliable, very well-made piece of equipment and you always have to respect it. It'll always be there. 100 years from now it'll be still being used.

Simon Bonenfant:

Oh yeah.

Keith Ford: But it's exciting to see all the new technology because it allows for blind and partially-sighted people to have greater access to the world in getting employment and right along with sighted people. It is a positive thing in the long-run.

Simon Bonenfant:

Oh yeah. Have you heard of the [iWear] application?

Keith Ford: I've heard about that. I believe it's a device that you wear and then a sighted person at another location tells you what to look for or ...

Simon Bonenfant:

Yeah. It's a connection with a sighted agent and it can help in any kind of activity and it also helps in the mobility aspect. That's come a long way too because there are certain things that are not going to be visible with a cane like street signs or numbers on doors and things. That's something that [iWear 00:09:30] will help out with. The technology has come a long way with mobility and Braille and now we have things that will take print and read it out loud or take print that will put it in Braille material. Braille is getting to be more available these days.

Keith Ford: Oh yeah. When I used to teach children Braille, children that were included within a regular environment, I used to work with a classroom teacher and we would teach the sighted children about Braille too. We'd have Braille cells all over the place and numbers on a child's desk in kindergarten. We'd have the name of the child in print and in Braille so that they could learn in class and get some experience with what their blind peer in the class was learning. It made it really nice. The kids enjoyed that and it helped the blind child to feel very much a part of the class. When I was teaching young blind children Braille readiness skills I used to do a lot of stuff like that, creative things, to just make everybody aware of Braille and they just thought that was neat.

Simon Bonenfant

Have you also used tactile diagrams, how to utilize them?

Keith Ford: Well yeah, tactile graphics. I've used software that would produce tactile graphics for different things.

Simon Bonenfant:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Keith Ford: And plus Patton, they would provide ...

Simon Bonenfant:

 They do that. Yeah.

Keith Ford: Textbooks that had tactile graphic illustrations inside with Thermoform.

Simon Bonenfant:

 They're a wonderful service. That is still used today.

Keith Ford: Absolutely.

Simon Bonenfant:

I think that's the one thing ... Reading Braille on the electronic display, that's great but I think Braille paper is always going to be needed because tactile diagrams and stuff that can't come up on a flat display. I used the Perkins Braille writer for math because you could have lines horizontally, vertically where when the Braille was placed just a flat and horizontal surface and you can't do the spatial element of Braille which is missing but on the paper you get that.

Keith Ford: With this device that's being developed at the University of Michigan, it'll be like a Braille iPad which will just be like a sheet of Braille. The way it will produce lines and make it do graphs. From what I'm being told they'll be able to produce graphs and all kinds of tactile graphics on this new device.

Simon Bonenfant:

That's great.

Keith Ford: Yeah.

Simon Bonenfant:

Keith, my final question is: What would be your advice to blind students who are in high school or either transitioning to college or to the workplace, and also what would be your advice to instructors who are thinking about going into this field?

Keith Ford: I would say ... I'm real pragmatic. I would always tell students that they want to get into something that's going to lead to employment after college, so any kind of technology field would be beneficial. I would also say that you want to do some vocational interest training or testing. At Penn State here we have the CEDAR program and you can do some vocational interest testing with them.

Keith Ford: It's always good to gather data about yourself, whatever you've achieved in life, whatever area you've shown any kind of aptitude and interest and you want to get into a field where there's a need for your services. Any kind of technology related kind of degree is always going to give you a better chance.

Keith Ford: You were talking about ... The other part of your question about the instructors or people getting into the field.

Simon Bonenfant:

 Yes.

Keith Ford: Well you certainly want to have dual certification as an O&M instructor and a teacher of the visually impaired, that's really important to have that flexibility, you don't want to have just one.

Simon Bonenfant:

Right because you can get work in both and there's a high demand for that.

Keith Ford: Yeah. The field is always changing. You want to get acquainted with this whole new system of cortical visual impairment. There's a whole new evaluation tool to get acquainted with that so that you can evaluate those kinds of students. You certainly want to gain as much ... And the programs I'm hearing about nowadays are putting much more emphasis on multi-impaired students, deaf-blind students, which wasn't the case when I was getting my university training because it was just a different time.

Keith Ford: I would also mention the importance of just getting as much information and training and experience in dealing with just a wide range of visually impaired students.

Simon Bonenfant:

Yeah. Well, very nice. Keith, I want to thank you for coming on the program today, the podcast.

Keith Ford: Okay.

Simon Bonenfant:

Thank you for sharing your insights with all of us. Have a good one.

Keith Ford: Okay.

Jeff Thompson: Once again, a big thank you goes out to our team correspondent, Simon Bonenfant and to Keith Ford for sharing with us his experiences as a BTVI and O&M instructor. And a huge thank you to Chee Chau for his beautiful music. That's @LCheeChau on Twitter. Once again, thank you for listening, hope you enjoyed and until next time, bye bye.

[Music]  [Transition noise]  -When we share

-What we see

-Through each other's eyes...

[Multiple voices overlapping, in unison, to form a single sentence]

...We can then begin to bridge the gap between the limited expectations, and the realities of Blind Abilities.

Jeff Thompson:

For more podcasts with the blindness perspective, check us out on the web at www.blindabilities.com, on Twitter at Blind Abilities. Download our app from the App Store, Blind Abilities. That's two words. Or send us an email at info@blindabilities.com. Thanks for listening.

Dec 13 2018

12mins

Play

Rank #7: Google Lens on IOS, Just Picture It, Google did. Looking Through Google Lens is a Whole New perception

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Google Lens on IOS, Just Picture It, Google did. Looking Through Google Lens is a Whole New perception

Google may not be the new kid on the block; however, with the launch of Google Photos on IOS, the app does join up with the latest from Microsoft in apps that bring accessibility and object recognition to another level. It will be interesting how Google Photos is received and utilized with the Visually Impaired. Actually, Google Photos has been out on Android and now it just landed on IOS with a feature that is quite impressive and called Google Lens.

When images are viewed through the Google Lens, they are analyzed and for the most part recognized and then put through a Google search and identified. Interesting? Yes, it is. I spent over an hour checking out the details on my iPhone device and was quite impressed with Google Photos and the Google Lens feature.

Google Photos works with the cloud and Google Drive as it backs up all your photos to the cloud for free if you choose to do so. After the upload you can create photo books, mini videos and from my experience, Google does it pretty good all on its own.

With facial recognition and pet recognition as well, one can create folders of people, pets and a vast array of other collections.

I chose a couple of known photos and gave them a description and was able to conduct a search for a word in the description and sure enough, Google Photos brought up the image along with a nearly identical photo as the vehicle was the same one. Wow. But that is not all Google Lens can do. I chose another image and it identified the vehicle and a Google Search option that provided me with more information as well.

I was able to add a business card contact, send an email, and look up the business from the card on the internet. Landmark Buildings, Artwork faces, pets, and the list will probably grow as Google has really came prepared with this new approach to recognition and usability. It does seem practical. Maybe it’s a new toy? Sure, so why not give it a try and download Google Photos today.

You can get Google Photos on the App Store and on the Play Store.

Mar 20 2018

9mins

Play

Rank #8: Aira Presents Stephanie Hurd: Doing Ordinary Things Independently Every Day

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Aira Presents Stephanie Hurd: Doing Ordinary Things Independently Every Day

Aira Presents, Explorer Stories, a look into the extraordinary and  often ordinary stories of Aira Explorers and how they use this technology in their daily lives.

In this episode of Explorer Stories, Aira presents Stephanie Hurd. We hope you enjoy.

For some in the blind community horseback riding, surfing, rock climbing or zip lining might be the ultimate experiences to stoke their adventurer fire. For others, just shopping or taking a walk through the neighborhood are what really matter most. And then there are those who do it all because they've found that Aira brings with it the freedom to explore, experience and engage in virtually anything they might want to do.  Meet Stephanie Hurd.

Stephanie first heard about Aira through a friend, and as fate would have it had the opportunity to try it for herself at the Future In Sight offices where she creates and manages programs for the visually impaired community in New Hampshire.

Stephanie has found that this new service is making trips for work more enjoyable by enabling her to freely and confidently explore hotels. The information she gets from her agent gives her independence not previously possible.

At the end of the day, whether Stephanie is at work teaching a technology class for other visually impaired people, traveling for an event or conference, shopping or just hanging out with her family Aira is becoming a part of every day.  And when she sums it up, it is easy to see why.

  "It's pretty simple.” Stephanie says, "I found a greater level of freedom and independence for sure with the Aira Glasses.”

Stay tuned for more Explorer Stories, presented by Aira.

You can find out more about Aira, on the web and subscribe today!

Thank you for listening.

You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities

On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com

Send us an email

Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Store.

Dec 11 2017

10mins

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Rank #9: Amazon Prime Video App Now on Apple TV with Audio Descriptions! #ThatBlindTechShow

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Amazon Prime Video App Now on Apple TV with Audio Descriptions!

The Amazon Prime Video App is now on Apple TV. Just go into your Apple TV and click on the Apps icon and search for Prime Video. Do not type in Amazon. Go figure, eh?

You will need an Apple TV 3rd Generation or newer, and  you will need an Amazon prime account and then just sign in and the shows are at your finger-tips.

For Audio Description you will have to pause the show you are watching and then swipe down to media controls and then swipe to Audio  and in the audio section you will find Language and then swipe down to English US and swipe down again to the next English US and single finger double tap and Audio description is on.

I put the new Prime Video App in the top row of my apps right next to Netflix. It may be cold here in Minnesota but having this new addition to my Apple TV warmed things up a bit especially with Audio Description working as well as it does.

Thank you for listening.

You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities

On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com

Send us an email

Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Store.

Dec 07 2017

17mins

Play

Rank #10: A Success Story: The Transitioning Journey of Alycia Howard

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A Success Story: The Transitioning Journey of Alycia Howard

Transitioning from High School to College is a journey says Alycia Howard. She has graduated from high school and attended an Adjustment To Blindness training center, The Minnesota State Academy 18+ prep program and is now attending Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

Being ready for college and knowing what you want in a college is a great start in the transition process. Ashlyn Cahill joins us to explain what State Services is for transition age students and when they begin working with them.

Alycia talks about each step along her journey and some of the events that made a big impact on her along the way.

Join us as we travel through her journey and feel her confidence as she shares her transition experience.

You can find out more about State Services for the Blind on the web.

Or call the main office at 651-539-2300.

Outside of Minnesota? Check out the State Agency Directory on the American Foundation for the Blind web site at www.AFB.org

You can find out more about Vision Loss Resource on the web at http://visionlossresources.org

Check out the Minnesota State Academy for the Blind on the web at http://msab.msa.state.mn.us

Thank you for listening.

You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities

On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com

Send us an email

Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Store.

Nov 14 2017

14mins

Play

Rank #11: World Champion Lex Gillette: No Need for Sight When You Have a Vision

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World Champion Lex Gillette: No Need for Sight When You Have a Vision ™

AT&T and Aira Present: Lex Gillette – World Record holder, 4 time World Champion, 4 time medalists, Ted XTalk  Speaker, Mentor , and much more.

Lex Gillette is an American track and field athlete who has proved to the world that there are absolutely no excuses. Retina detachments in both eyes have left him with the challenge of living life with no sight. Fortunately for Lex, once he lost his sight, he gained a vision.

CONGRATULATIONS to Lex Gillette for winning gold in the long jump at the 2017 Para Athletics World Championships. This marks the third consecutive world champion title in the event for Gillette and it is a phenomenal way to start the four-year journey that leads to Tokyo 2020.

Join the Blind Abilities team, Pete Lane and Jeff Thompson, as they talk to Lex Gillette and discover what drives him to achieve such a high level of success.

You can find out more about Lex Gillette on his web site www.LexGillette.com

You can find his TEDx Talk on the web.

You can find out more about the AT&T #ExperienceMore campaign at ExperienceMore.ATT.com

Check out Aira and Subscribe today and have Instant Access to Information!

Thank you for listening.

You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities

On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com

Send us an email

Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Store.

Nov 07 2017

42mins

Play

Rank #12: iPhone101: Even More Tips and Tricks with the Single Finger Double Tap and Hold Gesture

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iPhone101: Even More Tips and Tricks with the Single Finger Double Tap and Hold Gesture

Nick D'amBrosio is back with three more tips and tricks for the use of the single finger double tap and hold gesture. Join Pete and Nick as they present the following new gestures using Voiceover accessibility:

* in the drafts folder in your email app. Double tap and hold on the compose button, and watch your drafts folder open up magically! This is a quick and easy way to resume working on an old draft email, or start a  new one.

* double tap and hold on the reader button in your Safari app. This reveals several options regarding setting your reader feature on websites, either a specific one, or all websites. It’s a quick and easy way to employ the Safari reader view to remove various web characteristics from your reading material and make reading quick and smooth .

*  double tap and hold on the Reload button on the website and watch as the desk top version of that website magically appears! Often the desktop version of these sites contains more information that you may find necessary.

Nick DamBrosio is our Canadian correspond it on the Blind Abilities team. Nick has contributed previously to the Blind Abilities line-up, and the  iPhone 101 series with various gestures, including other very cool applications for the single finger double tap and hold gesture. Check out those previous Podcasts now!

iPhone101 Series on Blind Abilities

Thank you for listening.

You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities

On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com

Send us an email

Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Store.

Apr 14 2018

5mins

Play

Rank #13: iPhone 101: Introduction To Voiceover Settings - Part 1

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iPhone 101: Introduction To Voiceover Settings - Part 1

Pete Lane continues the new Blind Abilities series: iPhone 101 with an introduction to Voiceover gestures. In this episode, Pete walks through the very basic settings needed for new users to operate their iPhones using Voiceover, the built-in screen reader that comes on board all Apple products. Pete describes how to turn Voiceover on and off, using three different methods: first, by walking us through the Settings app, flicking down to General, then Accessibility and going to the very bottom of the Accessibility screen to turn on the Accessibility Shortcut. Second, Pete demonstrates how to use the shortcut by pressing the Home button three times quickly. Finally, Pete takes us into the Voiceover settings screen and shows us the Voiceover toggle button. his is where we would show a sighted person how to turn Voiceover  on and off. Caution: be careful with this button as it is often difficult to turn VO back on if you toggle it off. In addition, as a sneak peek into an upcoming episode in which we’ll learn about more Voiceover gestures, Pete introduces us to the Voiceover Practice area where we can work on our gestures without triggering any of the normal VO actions. So sit back and relax, as Blind Abilities takes us through the basic Voiceover settings in this ten-minute demo, presented as only Blind Abilities can!

Thank you for listening.

You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities

On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com

Send us an email

Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Store.

May 09 2017

13mins

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Rank #14: Introducing A New Series - iPhone 101

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Blind Abilities presents a brand new series: Introducing iPhone 101. In this new series, Jeff Thompson and Pete Lane will introduce listeners to the world of the iPhone. While we know there are several different iDevices, including iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch, they’re all similar and possess so many of the same attributes. So, we’re going to keep it simple, and refer to all of those devices as iPhone! 

For those who haven’t yet taken the plunge to purchase their first iPhone, we offer information, resources and knowledge to help you make that life-changing decision. For those who have already made the decision, we’ll provide all the information you’ll need to learn and even master your iPhone. This may be the only resource you’ll need for all things iPhone! That’s right, we’ll take you to “iSchool," We’ll help you overcome your “iPhonaphobia”! So keep it right here as Blind Abilities helps you enhance your “iPhone-abilities”.

Thank you for listening.

You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities

On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com

Send us an email

Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Store.

Feb 14 2017

10mins

Play

Rank #15: iPhone 101: Introduction To Voiceover Gestures - The Basics

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Blind Abilities presents another installment in its series: iPhone 101. In this segment  Pete Lane introduces us to the most basic of the Voiceover gestures. While there are many gestures, these are the most basic gestures that will be needed to get acquainted with your iPhone as a new user. Pete not only explains the gestures, but he demonstrates them using his iPhone 6 to fully illustrate how they are used in real-life situations. 

The gestures covered in this installment are:

1. The "Touch and Slide” gesture: touch the screen lightly with one finger. Whatever is touched will be read by Voiceover. Slide a single around the screen to explore the screen’s contents.

2.  A flick to the right: a light flick with a single finger, usually your index finger, as if you’re flicking a bug.

3. A flick to the left: this is the same as number 2, except it is done in the opposite direction: from right to left.

4. A single-finger double-tap: using a single finger, usually your index finger, lightly tap an item quickly to activate a button or open an app.

Stay tuned for more installments in the series, including How to set up a new iPhone, and a review of all of the other Voiceover gestures.

Thank you for listening.

You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities

On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com

Send us an email

Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Store.

Apr 17 2017

12mins

Play

Rank #16: Job Insights: Helping Find Careers and Gainful Employment Through Innovations and Opportunities (Transcript Provided)

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Job Insights: Helping Find Careers and Gainful Employment Through Innovations and Opportunities (Transcript Provided)

Welcome to the Job Insights introductory podcast with Serina Gilbert and Jef Thompson. We focus on Employment, Careers, enhancing opportunities and bringing you  the latest innovations from across the Vocational  Rehabilitation field to ensure your choices lead you down the career pathway that you want and succeed in gainful employment.

From getting started with services, to assessments, Individual Plan for Employment (IPE) to gaining the skills to succeed and tools for success, Job Insights will be giving you tips and tricks to help your journey to employment and break down the barriers along the way.

In this introductory episode we will learn about Serina Gilbert and her job as a Transition Counselor and get her perspective as a person with vision loss and navigåating Voc. rehab. With her experience living with vision loss and working to get clients onto a career pathway, Serina knows what works and wants to share to help you find the career that you want and help you succeed in landing that job.

Jeff Thompson teaches woodworking to Blind students, is a board member on Minnesota’s State Rehab Council and has been an advocate for the blind for over 20 years.

Check out this introductory podcasts and send us your feedback and topic suggestions by email.

Follow the Job Insights team on twitter @JobInsightsVIP

Job Insights is part of the Blind Abilities network.

Thank you for listening.

You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities

On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com

Send us an email

Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Store.

Transcript

Apr 24 2018

15mins

Play

Rank #17: That Blind Tech Show: Apple Event iPhone 8, 8+, 10, Apple Watch, Apple TV4k and practicing Safe iPhoning

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Apple Event iPhone 8, 8+, 10, Apple Watch, Apple TV4k and practicing Safe iPhoning

Bryan Fischler is joined by Allison Hartley  and Jeff Thompson for coverage of the Fall Apple Event where the new iPhone 8, 8+ and the iPhone 10 were announced. The Apple Watch Series 3, Apple TV4K and iOS 11 are all just around the corner.

You can check out apple.com for all the latest order, pre-order, and delivery estimates.

A big Thank You to Drew Weber for his original music! You can find more of Drew's music on the web at www.Weber-Air.com and follow Drew on Twitter @RadioDrew1

You can find That Blind Tech Show on twitter @BlindTechShow

and contact Bryan and his team of co-host by email

You can find Allison on Twitter @Hot4Technology

Bryan Fischler on Twitter @BlindGator

and Jeff Thompson on Twitter @KnownAsJeff

Thank you for listening.

You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities

On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com

Send us an email

Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Store.

Sep 17 2017

1hr

Play

Rank #18: Job Insights: Meet Business Relations Specialist Pam Gowan – 45 Years of Enhancing Job Opportunities and Educating Businesses of the Possibilities and Abilities of the Blind and Visually Impaired

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Full Transcript

Show Summary:

Business Relations Specialist, Pam Gowan, has worked at State Services for over 45 years and with retirement just around the corner. Lisa larges, Outreach Coordinater at SSB, sat down with Pam to talk about Pam’s history at SSB and walk through the process a customer/client would experience or expect when a counselor enlist the services of an employment specialist such as Pam Gowan.

With October being National Disability Employment Awareness month, we thought Pam would be the one who could best talk about preparing for the workforce and Pam does a great job. Not only working with individuals to help them with the job search and application process, Pam works with businesses and employers to educate them about the possibilities and abilities of the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Pam has seen a lot of changes evolve over her 45 year career and shares with us some memorable moments. She also gives us some great tips and suggestions for job seeking and putting your best self forward.

Contact Your State Services

If you reside in Minnesota, and you would like to know more about Transition Services from State Services contact Transition Coordinator Sheila Koenig by email or contact her via phone at 651-539-2361. To find your State Services in your State you can go to www.AFB.org and search the directory for your agency.

Contact:

Thank you for listening! You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com Send us an email Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Storeand Google Play Store.

Check out the Blind Abilities Communityon Facebook, the Blind Abilities Page, the Career Resources for the Blind and Visually Impairedand the Assistive Technology Community for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Oct 27 2019

39mins

Play

Rank #19: iPhone101: SeeingAI Update: Channel Switching and Exploring a Photo

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Show Summary:

Upon popular demand, we bring you the SeeingAI Update. This demo was previously published on That Blind Tech Showand to break it out and let it breathe on its own, we bring you the iPhone101 SeeingAIUpdate.

You can find all the iPhone101 seriesin our extensive library of over 500 episodes and you can find That Blind Tech Shows there as well. Remember to subscribe and stay up to date with all of the episodes from Blind Abilities.

In this episode of iPhone101we demo the Channel moving feature and the object recognition in a Scene. Yes, the Swiss Army Knife of an App just got a bit bigger, and that is not a bad thing at all. You can find all of our SeeingAIpodcast and listen to the developers talk about SeeingAI from the beginning.

Be sure to check out our Facebook pages, groups  and communities where we share ideas, give advice and learn from others. Job Insights Support Group, the Blind Abilities pageBlind Abilities Communityand the Assistive Technology Community for the Blind and Visually Impaired. There is something for everybody so be sure to check us out.

Contact:

Thank you for listening! You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com Send us an email Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Store.

Apr 22 2019

6mins

Play

Rank #20: Menus4ALL: Accessible Menus Supporting Screen Readers, Braille Refreshable Displays and Low Vision – Over 50,000 Accessible Menus in 12,000 Cities!

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Stephanie Jones joined Jeff Thompson in the Blind Abilities Studio to let us all no about Menus4ALL. A web based database of over 50,000 menus from over 12,000 cities across the states. Accessibility is as accessible as your screen reader on your smart phone, tablet or computer. If you use a refreshable braille device, then you are all set. Menus4ALL is ready anytime and anywhere.

From having heading navigation and categorical price ranges, one can actually just take a glance at the Menus4ALL menus or dig in deep and find out the full details of the Seafood Platter or what is in that Mystery Burger.

Check out Menus4ALL on the web and see what’s on the menus in your area.

Follow Menus4ALL on Facebook and stay up to date with the latest from the Menus4ALL team.

Contact Menus4ALL by email at sales@menus4all.com

Thanks for listening.

Contact Your State Services

If you reside in Minnesota, and you would like to know more about Transition Services from State Services contact Transition Coordinator Sheila Koenig by email or contact her via phone at 651-539-2361. To find your State Services in your State you can go to www.AFB.org and search the directory for your agency.

Contact:

Thank you for listening! You can follow us on Twitter @BlindAbilities On the web at www.BlindAbilities.com Send us an email Get the Free Blind Abilities App on the App Storeand Google Play Store.

Check out the Blind Abilities Communityon Facebook, the Blind Abilities Page, the Career Resources for the Blind and Visually Impairedand the Assistive Technology Community for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Oct 25 2019

16mins

Play