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You can find all of my articles including those on the now-closed Homeschool Mosaics site at Tactile View.org . The adventures of my life in the Dark Silence continues there with a few surprises, too. Follow along! I would love to see there.

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Independence Day- So many seem to be unaware of why we celebrate today other than BBQ and fireworks. America was considered a grand experiment because we were the first country on earth to formulate a nation’s government based on the rights given to us by our Creator rather than an earthly King. You can see that in the words of the Declaration of Independence. We were a little slower giving those important rights to all that the Creator endowed, but we did finally after a terrible war to sort it all out and show us what was most important. Men’s hearts took even longer to fully change, but our nation was growing. Because we were trying to grow, God blessed this nation richly and used us to bless the world. Those rights were fought for from the very beginning and tested again and again as we showed the world they were worth not only standing up for but dying for. We are a nation founded on the beliefs that there is a Creator that is all powerful and all knowing. The phrase “In God We Trust” was first printed on our coins in 1854 and signed into law by Abraham Lincoln. That is who we are as a nation. Beginning before but marked by Roe v Wade in 1973, we began to forget who we were and are supposed to be. We began to strip away the rights that so many had fought and died to gain and protect. We began to forget that our nation was founded on the belief that people are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, rights that you are given when God creates you. From there, we have begun stripping away more and more of the foundation of America. There is still hope. America isn’t what she was, but she can be again and even better. Remember who we are, America. Remember that we are thankful to our Creator for the rights we are founded upon. Remember why so many men and women have been willing to sacrifice everything including their lives for what America stands for. Remember this day and everyday. Turn back and truly mean “God bless the USA!” I love this country, and I love the God who brought her into existence to be a light shining from the hill. We have become as lukewarm water that is spewed from the mouth. Be bold, America, for that which you have always stood for. I thank those who have stood in uniform and died in uniform to protect my rights. I stand with them now as a proud American.Thank you, God, for being the One who loves us and still calls to us.

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This is a very interesting look into the world of DeafBlindness from a hearing blind who was DeafBlind for a while and now works with the DeafBlind community.Toward the end, she gives detailed descriptions of hearing ASL, hearing where people are by footsteps, how big a room is, etc. I know those things, too, but not from sound. I feel how big a room is by the amount of airflow and backflow from the air “echoing” off walls at different distances. I can feel people near me signing and can sometimes catch a sign or two by the vibrations of hands meeting. I feel the air move when people walk, and the floor vibrate when people walk, and the vibration of a cane against a door or a wall. I enjoy music by feeling. I agree with her that DeafBlindness isn’t the end of good things. I just experience them differently. The lady also got how I feel when hearing people tire of trying to communicate with me and say, “Never mind.” Or, a Deaf or DB who has signed for most of life tires of my slower, sloppier sign and slaps my hands away. So, check out the latest article on DeafBlind Think tank:

http://dbtt.org/being-deaf-blind-in-the-hearing-world/

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Recently, I got a text message series on my phone. I say series because it was three texts sent from the same number one right after the other. Occasionally, I get spam text messages. I just forward them to Spam which is AT&T’s spam notification address. It reports that message and then I text back the spam number when AT&T replies. This was different. One stated a name and the cost and how to subscribe. The second was a sports trivia fact about Wilt Chamberlain from March 1962. Third message said, “Welcome! You will receive 3 msgs/week at 9.99/mo billed to cell. Reply…” Oh, no! Now what? I got so nervous that I stupidly replied to the text with “Spam” as I tried to forward the message to AT&T. That was a bad idea. It lets the spammer know that they had found an active telephone number. Finally, I got the Spam forwarding right, and AT&T’s system replied that it was a script and to reply STOP to stop the charges. I wasn’t happy about doing that, but I thought AT&T said to do it, so I did.

Later, I mentioned what happened to my husband. He wasn’t happy at all. Hubby was irritated more than usual because he knows that DeafBlind people can easily be targeted for these things because they can’t see everything with a braille display and may not realize what it is and just delete it thereby continuing to be charged monthly. Scammers anger him, especially when it also affects the disabled.  The first time was an accident, and I admit that it was stupid of me to respond, but it is easy to get confused about where you are typing in a message when you can’t see. Second time, though, I was doing what AT&T said to do I just told the spammer that they had an active cell number that they could spam as often as they wish, and probably sell my number to other spammers, too, as they often do. I was very irritated at these scammers because it happens a lot to and to just about anybody.

How did this happen? In this case, it is almost a legal way to scam due to the practice that AT&T allows called third-party direct billing. I am pretty sure Verizon has this practice, too. This practice allows a company to text you, and then they can direct bill you for their service. If done properly, you can get up to date news, weather, sports scores delivered to your phone several times a day. As long as you subscribe to it knowing that you will get charged a monthly fee and charged to your text messaging limit, it is perfectly legal. Of course, scammers will always take advantage of a loop hole. By creating a script that has a computer randomly dialing phone numbers and sending texts to these numbers, the scammers will eventually hit an active one allowing them to directly bill that active number for any fee they desire. It works because most people do not pay close enough attention to their phone bills to notice the extra fee at all or not until many months later. If the company stops charging before the consumer notices, the money is most likely theirs to keep. If not, AT&T may have to refund the money if you can show that you did text subscribing to the company’s service, and most likely, AT&T will never recover any money from the company which probably changes names and locations often to avoid detection.  It is called “Cramming”. FCC finally told AT&T and others, I guess, that they must stop this third-party direct billing by August 27, 2012. The scammers may very well be punching hard to get as many targets as they can before the loophole is closed. Well, that is until they find another loophole, anyway.

Being DeafBlind had nothing to do with me being targeted. There is no way for them to know that, but it does make it harder for me to notice and clear it up.  I did realize fairly quickly because I read those text messages carefully, and I check my bill carefully every month. You should do that, too. I need to be more careful about knowing where I am before I type Spam to make sure I am in the Forward address area and not the text message field. I also learned that even if AT&T sends me instructions that I should think carefully before I follow them. AT&T just “assumed” that I had requested the subscription normally. I say assumed because AT&T really wasn’t against this despicable scamming practice because they get a percentage of the fee for the third-party direct billing process. Hence the reason, the FCC had to step in and force them to do what is right to stop this “cramming” loophole. I definitely learned or was reminded that most scammers use scripts, so they don’t actually know if a particular number is real or active, so if I respond, I give them that information. It is like waving a white flag and saying to not just that scammer, but all scammers, “Hey, I am here. Come steal my money!”

How do I protect myself then? Well, I had to go to the AT&T store and turn on the free Purchase Blocker Option. You can’t do it from the web site or even find out about it anywhere. So, take my advice and go to the store and tell them what you want turned on to protect yourself. Now after August 27th, this way may not be available, but there are other ways for purchases to be made to your bill, so the Purchase Blocker Option will still be a good idea.

Also, the article I am going to share with you states to always read your text messages and reply “STOP” when you get one as the text will instruct you and even AT&T’s Spam Notification process will, but I think I like my husband’s suggestion better. Again, by replying form your cell phone with the text “STOP”, you are telling the scammer the phone number is real. You can bet that the scammer keeps a list of all numbers that he gets a hit. You can also bet the scammer will sell that list. So, we suggest that you go to AT&T and have the support person cancel that through their system. It will be less likely the scammer will be able to detect the live number from their side of rejected numbers. Either way, though, it will stop future charges. AT&T couldn’t remove the charge that was already there, yet because it had not been applied to my bill. I will have to wait until it shows up next month and have them remove the fee then. I will definitely go to have the charge removed once I see it on my bill.

It is a hassle, and being DeafBlind doesn’t help. I had to use help speaking with the store personnel, or I would have resorted to using my communication technology, iPhone and braille display. I am thankful I could do it somehow, though. I also hope you, my readers, will learn something from what has happened to me, so it won’t have to happen to you. Or, at least, if it does, you will be better prepared to deal with it.

 

You can learn more about this practice of “Cramming” here:  http://www.wisebread.com/are-you-getting-charged-by-a-text-message-scam

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Check out Homeschool Mosaics today, and better yet, follow the site, so you always know when the great articles are posted including mine. Today, I tell you a little about how I am able to be Principal of an accredited private school that serves homeschoolers. You don’t want to miss it! My Life as a DeafBlind Teacher should give you some insight into what I do, how I do it, and most importantly who deserves the credit. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it because I got to show my appreciation to some truly special people. Check it out!

Make sure you come back here soon, too, because now that school has started back I have some posts coming on a couple of curriculums that I have been looking to use, and I have a few on some my musings about certain educational topics like labels. You might get a slightly different perspective on some things when I am finished, so come back soon to read these new posts.

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Yep, today another post went live for my column, Living and Schooling through the Dark Silence. You don’t want to miss this, so pop on over to The Hospital Experience for a DeafBlind Patient. While you are there, check out the whole site. There are even more writers and columns now. You are sure to find something that interests you. Well, besides my column, of course! Now, go on, and check it OUT!

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Laura Dewey Bridgeman

This week is DeafBlind Awareness Week! Helen Keller’s birthday was June 27th. She and her predecessor, Laura Bridgman, made advancements for all DeafBlind people. Both worked hard to overcome their disabilities to become educated. They both wrote and spoke about the needs of the disabled.
Today, there are approximately 100,000 DeafBlind children and adults. We all work hard to overcome the obstacles in our life. We all want to be as independent as possible. We all want to contribute to society and make the world a better place. We are capable of learning and doing many things. We prove that every day.
Sometimes, though, we need help. Education, training, assessable technology, support service providers, etc. are all expensive. There is also a lot of medical research going on to help improve our lives and even one day to provide cures for the causes of DeafBlindness. There are a few organizations that help the DeafBlind. Your support would be appreciated.
Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youth and Adults in Sands Point, NY is the largest by far. They provide intensive training in all areas of a DeafBlind adult’s life. You can learn more about them at http://www.hknc.org.
The American Association for The DeafBlind is another. It is an organization run by the DeafBlind to help educate the public, government, etc. about the needs of the DeafBlind. They also work to provide support to the DeafBlind. You can learn more about them at http://www.aadb.org.
Another organization that helps to provide training and accessible technology to DeafBlind children and adults is DeafBlind Hope. DeafBlind Hope is a small non-profit, but over 99% of the donations go straight to the DeafBlind clients of DeafBlind Hope. We assist parents in learning how to teach their DeafBlind children and raise funds to provide training for adults. We provide technology to children and adults that is suitable for the individual needs. We also work to teach the public that the DeafBlind can do if given the tools they need to become independent. DeafBlind Hope is another organization operated by the DeafBlind for the DeafBlind. The CEO is Renée K. Walker who is DeafBlind and writes this blog. Yes, I am talking about me. I sincerely work every day to make the lives of the DeafBlind easier and more productive. We all just want to become as independent as possible and do our part in making the world a better place. You can find out more about us at http://deafblindhope.org
Please learn more about deafblindness and how it affects these children and adults. Consider helping one of these organizations. You will be bringing Hope to the DeafBlind!

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