Saturday, March 31, 2012

Setting up a computer.

Some of us got together and got my mom and IPad for her birthday. She has never used a computer before but I am sure she will be great with her IPad. I offered to take it home and set it up for her. In the past, I never could have set up a system for someone else. But, this time I did it. Plugged it in. Triple clicked the home button and the voiceover came on and I could do everything. It is a much bigger screen than I am used to so had to get used to that. I set up an e-mail for her, downloaded some apps,, put some of her friends in her contacts, and did it all without any help. What a liberating feeling that is.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Watching swimming.

Many of you may not know this but I was a competitive swimmer. I went to two paralympic games and many national and provincial championships and I have some medals to prove it! Smile! The Canadian swimming olympic trials are on right now and I am watching. I wish they had more swimming coverage on. I love it when I can watch olympic swimming or national swimming. Brings back great memories. Tomorrow, will tell you about things I had to adapt to be a swimmer.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

An audio picture.

I am working on a possible project. I am trying to create a sound picture of what I experience while traveling about and doing things. I have some fairly good audio of me walking. You can hear my guide dog's paws tapping along and I have some good street crossing info and other things. It is harder than I originally thought but lots of fun too. Will share it here if I do het it finished.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Speed listening

I listen to the text on my i devices at 100 percent speed.  Very few people can understand it but I can.  People say things like "How can you stand that?"  I like it.  I like to get my information and know it and think about it.  But, reading e-mail in braille is peaceful and quiet and I like that a lot. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

e-mail in braille

I am brailling this post for the first time. Writing in
contracted braille with lots of short forms. It is miraculous! I
can read e-mail in braille. I know what people's names are and
the spelling of them without having to check letter by letter by
letter. I can read silently without computer voices talking to
me. It is wonderful. My new braille note taker lets me do this.
Now, if I can only get it to act as a braille display for my i
devices, I will be extremely happy!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Recording my activities.

I am recording my activities regularly these days.  I'm trying to make a sound scape of a day in my life.  It is proving more challenging than I originally thought it would be.  I tried to record myself pouring boiling water into my tea pot.  You can hear the sound of the water as it fills the pot.  The sound gets higher.  I used to use these liquid level indicators that beep but I hate them.  I use funnels and measure the water I put into the kettle so not too much goes into the pot.  But, when I recorded that sound it first sounded like nothing.  I was too far away or my mike was.  Then I put it really close and it sounded like a waterfall.  Not like pouring tea at all.  And when I have interesting encounters, I'm not recording.  If I get some interesting things, I will share it here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Standing in the middle of the sidewalk.

The other day, two women and a dog were standing right in the middle of the sidewalk. As tulia and I approached, one woman said, "We have a little dog here. I am holding it." Tulia had slowed down. At first, I thought she was distracted by the dog. She wasn't. The thing was, these two ladies and their dog were taking up most of the space on the sidewalk. tulia slowly and carefully moved over close to the curb. In order to get around them, she had to take me around a pole, then a tree, then a parking meter, then back to the middle. "Oh I just love watching those dogs work," one woman said. I stopped, turned back, smiled politely and suggested that they could have watched her work without taking up most of the sidewalk. It would make her job much easier. this whole time, their dog is barking and struggling and coughing. Tulia marched past it with a bit of a swagger and a glance back. As I talked to the women, she sat regally beside me, chin tilted up, still as a statue. "See how dogs should behave?" she is saying to that little dog. They didn't say anything to my request but tell their dog to be quiet and not bother the working dog. The dog didn't get the message but tulia and I moved on.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

the smell of spring.

As I stepped outside with my guide dog this morning, the air smelled different. Like spring. a smell of the earth. Not yet grass or tree blossom smells or flowers. But different. A few more bird songs too. I started to think about the smells of the seasons. Fall has a very distinct sharp almost bitter smell when leaves are coming down. There is a smell in summer when things are very hot. Winter there is a smell when it snows. I can't always describe the smells and what they are like. Different places smell different too of course. The city smells different than the country. communities near the ocean smell different. I will try to think about this more and describe it better in future.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saint Patrick's day fog and irish speech synthesizer

Happy Saint Patrick's day to all of my followers and readers.
Tulia and I set off for yoga this morning in a thick fog. No, we weren't in a fog of sleep or confusion. It was literally foggy although I didn't know that until I talked to a sighted person much later on. On my I device, I turned on the irish english accented voice in honour of the day and my irish Gran. How I love an irish accent. I actually love all accents. When new Canadians tell me they are sorry that their English is bad, I tell them I love to listen to them speak it with their particular accent. It adds spice and colour to the language for me.

Friday, March 16, 2012

When do I use technology?

Someone asked me the other day to list when I use technology to help me as a blind person. I thought about it for a while. Then made a list of what technology helps me to do. At the moment, my i devices are the ones that help me the most although I love my braille notetaker too. Sometimes, technology helps me a little and sometimes a lot. For example, I can use GPS aps but they are not totally reliable and I still have to have some idea of where I am going. So, here goes. I use technology to: read news articles, listen to podcasts, listen to audio books, read books in braille, record notes and storytelling practice, work on stories for storytelling, identify paper money, scan and read articles, send e-mail, surf the internet, blog, create documents, keep track of finances, set timers and alarms, use gps aps to help in travel, light detector aps to help with knowing when lights are on or off, taking pictures to identify things that I don't know what they are, for social networking, and there is probably much more. I know I was able to be productive before technology but it has helped make things a lot easier. My I device is always in my pocket.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I am sorry for not blogging more these days. I've been incredibly busy and hardly home. I flew off to give a workshop the other day and started thinking about airplanes. When I first flew on a plane, I was sure that the plane landed with its back wheels first. It felt like that to me. The plane pulls you back into your seat as you land. It was years before I knew that that isn't how a plane lands at all. But I wonder about planes. I know they are pretty high off the ground just sitting on the run way. but how big are the wheels? What are they like? Do the wings actually move or just stay still? Do they look majestic when you see them flying or do they look awkward? Lots of questions I know. Thanks to those who spent such time telling me about birds and their flight. It was all fascinating.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Walking in the quiet of the morning.

It was awfully quiet out there this morning when Tulia and I first ventured outside. We had a quick walk and then both were glad to come back for breakfast. as we neared home, I heard a growling and a coughing and a tugging on leash. I stopped and got Tulia to sit. A man called cheerfully, "Good morning." Dog growling, pulling, coughing. "Hello," I say tentatively. "Don't worry. I have him under control." I don't say it but that is not what I'm hearing. He moves across the road from us. Dog jumping now I hear the claws on pavement. Then, "Whiskey you be good." he says. I almost laugh out loud. "He's okay. He's under control." Then as they go off up the street he calls, "Have a nice day." He did keep whiskey away from us but I wouldn't call that under control. Perhaps the dog should have some whiskey? It really made me laugh. Tulia sat still like a statue and took it all in. Then, she got up and off we trotted for home. Thanks to him though for moving away from us and not letting his dog near Tulia.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Learning new skills

I know I've been absent from my blogging recently. I've been very busy for the past few days. Yesterday, I attended an excellent day of training to help me be a better reporter for AMI accessible media incorporated.
today, I was with several others once again at one of our university radio stations discussing the possibility and practicing for doing a radio show about disabilities.
I am learning always learning. I'm tired tonight in a good way. My mind is full of new thoughts and ideas. But, I think I will let them simmer and settle down with a good book. Thanks to all who continue to comment on this blog and who have described birds to me. Much appreciated.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The ordinary for me is extraordinary for others

yesterday, I was paying for a purchase. I ran my hands over the coins I had. Here in canada we also have one and two dollar coins as well as pennies, dimes, nickels, and quarters. I was llooking for a quarter. First I found my loonie (one dollar coin) then my toonie (two dollar coin) my dime, and then my quarter. I said that I was sorry for taking a while. He was fascinated. He asked how I knew what they were? I explained about feeling the edges, the shape, the size. He wasn't being patronizing. He just had never thought this through I am sure. It was fun to tell him about it and have him learn. Maybe next time he makes change for someone he'll close his eyes? Probably not.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Finding a quarter.

The other day, a nieghbour of mine was having some work done in her place. A repair man was working on things for her. As I climbed up my porch steps with my guide dog, he told me that he had found a quarter on my door mat and put it in my mail box. It was kind of him for sure. Somehow, we then started talking about blind people identifying money. I told him about the ap I use called Look Tell money reader on my I device. He was amazed. I then told him about the light detector ap I have to tell whether lights are on or off and also the colour identifyer I use. He found this fascinating. I thought blog readers might too.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Reading PDF documents.

Pdf documents can be very frustrating for people who are blind. Sometimes they work and you can read them. Sometimes you can't. If the document was created by taking a picture of a file, the file often says graphic or can't read. Then, the blind person is faced with an unreadable document. If the document was created using a word document and then converted to PDF, it seems much easier to read. I recently purchased a piece of software from the makers of system access serotek. They have a program called docuscan plus which allows you to scan pages of text and have them read to you. But, you also can get it to scan a pdf for you. It does a very good job. It has saved me several times lately. So, for those creating pdf's, can you please try to make them accessible? And serotek, thanks for docuscan plus and for all you do.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A sad anniversary.

We just returned from yoga class. It is a sort of mild day here with lots of slushy puddles and very strong winds. As I walked along with my little black lab girl, I remembered that a year ago today, we lost our lovely Gia dog. Gia was a regal and smart golden retriever. She was my third guide dog and guided me for nine years. Miss Gia was calm and confident and had a wonderful way about her. She saw me through some rough times with my health with dignity and solidity and calmness. When she retired, I wondered, I really wondered about the next guide. Who could fill her paws. Of course, no one could. But the little black lab girl who danced and wagged her way into my life and heart has filled her own paws. Tulia wakes up every day knowing life is an adventure to be lived. She is the most loving and kindest dog in the world. One of the smartest I've ever known with an incredible memory and sparkle that touches the hearts of all who meet her. And so, with each loss, my heart is sad and grateful, and with each new guide my heart opens to a whole new doggy being at my side. I miss you Gia. I love you tulia

Thursday, March 1, 2012

small animals in the forest.

I wrote yesterday about birds and how I wonder about them. The things I would love to see the most are things in nature. I've been blind since birth so don't pine away for what I've never seen. Being blind is normal and natural and seeing would be scary and overwhelming in that I wouldn't know what anything was. I wouldn't know how to read or write, what colours were or anything. But, I am curious about things. Especially nature. Sunrises and sunsets, birds, mountains, and animals. One time I was listening to a chip munk in the woods beside us. My friend told me what it was. It made a lot of noise rattling in the dry leaves so I asked if it was about the size of a cat. They said it was much smaller. Writing about birds yesterday also caused me to wonder about animals. Common ones, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, raccoons, and those types of animals. What they are like, how they move and so on. I also wonder about huge animals I will never touch like lions or tigers or bears! Not that I want to touch them but I wonder about them too.