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Posts Tagged ‘braille’


 

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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Today on Home and School Mosaics, I share some of my favorite things. These are things that have helped me to be more independent or confident in the Dark Silence. These are things that have just helped me do and feel more like a normal person from day to day. You might be surprised to find out that you can use some of these things, too, even if you aren’t deaf and blind. Some are just plain cool for anyone to use and love!

http://homeschoolmosaics.com/my-favorite-things/

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At Home and School Mosaics this month, I am doing a little bragging! Yes, a little bragging. I love playing games, and I am good at playing all kinds of games. I decided to tell you what I play and how I am able to not only play but be good at it. After reading, you might find yourself wanting to have a game night. It is a lot of good fun and fellowship. Games teach a lot, too, so go on over and read all about it. You might learn something.

http://homeschoolmosaics.com/deafblind-gamer-here-and-proud-of-it/

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I have been working for months and probably longer informally to learn new music. Music has and always will be a very important part of my life. Many Deaf people can’t understand that, but some do. I love how it makes me feel physically, emotionally, and mentally. Problem was that I couldn’t learn new music, so I sought to change that. The results I wrote in an article that went live today on Home and School Mosaics. I am putting myself out there for the world to see, not just on Home and School Mosiacs, but YouTube, too. That is a little scary because people could think I am seeking attention, but that is totally false. I hadn’t thought of sharing until so many people (without hearing me) insisted that I should to show what disable/handicapped people can do. I do share that now for that reason only and for the glory of my Lord and Savior. Don’t expect an amazing performance because my voice is just normal. Do expect to be shown that DeafBlind people can do and learn many things. Singing is just one of them. It really doesn’t matter if they learn to sing or not. It is only important to know that everyone can get something from music including the DeafBlind.

Please enjoy it for the purposes it was intended. ASL version is also provided.

http://homeschoolmosaics.com/music-for-deafblind-ears/

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TeenCoder™ Logo image of professor reclining by the words TeenCoder Java Series.

I used to love programming, and I still love to watch my students learning to love programming. There have only been a few homeschooling programming curriculum choices, and we have used them. They are usually limited to basic stuff and not much in the way of modern languages. Past that, we introduce students to the various industry standards available at most local bookstores in the computer section. I go back to BASIC, Fortran, and COBOL (shh, like any respectable programmer from way back when, I am not really admitting that I know COBOL), so yeah, I’m old and old school. Having had to learn so much over again in life like reading, living skills, computer skills using assistive technology because I am Deaf and blind, I have lost much of my interest in programming at this age and time. However, there are many DeafBlind programmers in the industry, so it can be done. As a teacher though, I am always looking for good curriculum even for programming. I recently got the chance to review Homeschool Programming.com’s TeenCoder™: Java Programming course.

 

With TeenCoder™ courses, you get everything you need to learn and apply the skills taught for a good solid foundation. Course begins with using the basic textedit/notepad and terminal for hand coding and compiling for your first program which is the famous “Hello, World” popular since the beginning days of programmings. The course carries you through Strings, User Input, Basic Flow Control, Debugging, Object-Oriented Java, Graphical Java, Swing Input Controls, Arrays and Collections, Derived Classes, and more. Every concept you need to jump start your learning and carry you through to more formal applications. Explanations are clear and easy to understand with the why you do it fully covered. Activities are fun and apply the concepts learned well. There is plenty to allow you to build your expertise as you move through the chapters. Solutions are provided including screen shots to help you know what you are supposed to get. As you step into development packages, the course recommends and uses free software and gives detailed instructions for downloading and installing. You do not need to purchase anything beyond the course materials to complete the course. Having used other course materials and industry-standard, I can tell you that this textbook is a much better read.

 

My fellow reviewers at Mosaics Reviews have spent a lot of time with this course and other TeenCoder™ courses, too. I will let you read their detailed reviews and opinions here. As usual, my main objective when possible, is accessibility. Several felt that their students enjoyed the courses and could easily do the work on their own which is a plus for a family where the parent may not be into computers, especially programming. I know my students were reluctant to stop the course each day wanting to continue through more than one subject time. That sounds like a win to me. Another parent and I both agree that with other courses used or industry-standard texts the students just didn’t seem to learn much. These TeenCoder™ courses seem to get much more information across and allows the student to really be able to apply the concepts to very detailed activities. One parent stated that their student did the work on their own, but got  great help from TeenCoder™ staff when he emailed them directly about a problem. Some of the courses have videos available to according to one parent who used them. That could be a great help to some parents. Read the detailed reviews to get even more  information and tips.

Accessibility is the big question for me and my students always. My regular students loved the program and took off with it with almost no help from me or anyone. My blind and DeafBlind students along with me struggled at first trying to read the book. We had assistants sign in ASL or read the book to us which was slow, but because the book was so well-written we were all able to accomplish the tasks. The fun was there, but dampened some by the lack of true accessibility. I asked the developers if they would send us some accessible documents for the time-being because I felt from what we had done that the course materials could be useful and easily made accessible. They, after some thought, did so which I commend them for because giving strangers full access to your hard work can be scary. Upon looking at the materials, their were only a few images that wouldn’t be accessible to a screen reader and/or braille display which made it wonderful to us. Most everything including the code boxes to show exactly how the code was to look was actually text-based making it accessible to us. The few images could easily be tagged and the information listed as text, too, with little work. The document with the most images, of course, was the solutions book, but there were few screen shots even in that book. Almost everything had been described in text and text-based boxes. Perfect!

 

By making the books available through iBooks or e-pub formats from text-based source documents or through Bookshare.org, Homeschool Programming could offer their courses to not only regular education students, but also print disabled including dyslexics, blind, and DeafBlind with very little extra work and no extra expense. That would be a win for everyone as it would widen their market to all students and even schools.

 

Worried about the software they use for developing? Well, the textedit and terminal programs for hand-coding is text-based and naturally accessible. Their choice of Eclipse for IDE or Integrated Development Environments is perfect. It is almost totally accessible already. We found the tab close buttons were not linked to the screen reader, so we couldn’t close those, but opened tabs didn’t hinder us in any way. All of the instructions could be easily followed as listed by commands, instead of with the mouse as intended, of course. We used the command listings as is to use the menus for access. The initial screen had an image-based click environment where you had to click an image of an arrow. Of course, our screen reader couldn’t see that arrow image, but in the menu we were able to get get past the initial “desktop” image to get to the actual workbench area. Once there, we could use the keyboard to follow the steps in either the work area or the top menu to navigate, open files, type code, run programs, etc. Now, we are slower, especially since we didn’t have accessible documents in the beginning, but we are picking up speed now. Our fastest student has made it through Chapter 13 of 16 chapters which goes through page 262 of 310 including the Index. That chapter began activities that sight would seem beneficial to understand if you had never had sight. We had student assistants help our student with tactile representations of the images to give him the grasp of what the program was trying to accomplish. However, other activities to come shouldn’t be that difficult because all of our students play chess and other similar type games, so we should be able to understand the reading and some 3D representations of the visual aspects of the program will certainly help us know what the program is designed to do on screen for visual users. With that understanding, we blind and deafblind programmers can code visual games, too. This course will really go a along way helping our blind and deafblind students enhance their mental mapping skills, too.

 

This is a screen shot showing the working braille window in the Eclipse IDE program.

This is a screen shot showing the working braille window in the Eclipse IDE program.

As far as the few accessibility problems with Eclipse IDE, the program is totally usable, and we will contact the developers of this freeware program to help them make the few adjustments to accessibility. Even if that doesn’t change, this course is beneficial and usable to all populations if the interest to learn exist. Hopefully, the few statements needed to explain to blind and deafblind users how to follow the steps through the menu  instead of the mouse and the other couple of modifications or lack of access can be added to the course instructions because they really would be only simple additions. If the Homeschool Programming staff will make the course available through Apple’s iBooks or bookshare.org, we know we can learn programming through their material, and that would make us very happy, indeed!

 

The company has many different courses and different levels, too, so you need to check out their  web site athttp://homeschoolprogramming.com. The TeenCoder™:Java Programming can be purchased as textbook only $75, videos only $20, or package of book and videos $90. Videos, according to one parent may not be detailed, complete lessons, but can be very useful especially for those whose learning styles use multiple visual inputs and/or auditory input. Unfortunately, the videos are not closed captioned, so they are not useful for deaf students overly. That could be easily fixed, so maybe the company will do that in the future.This is an excellent course to introduce and build programming skills in Java. In fact, this old programmer may have just gotten interested again because the accessibility proved to me that I don’t have to start over learning again! Thanks, Homeschool Programming. You made my day for sure!

I have received a copy of the above product to help facilitate a frank and honest review. A positive review is not guaranteed. All opinions are my own. Your results and opinions may vary.

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The Classical Historian Go Fish card game deck showing Ancient History categoryThere is a simple, but interesting way to commit to memory those often tedious bits of information in history like people, places, general chronology. The homeschooling parents of The Classical Historian have taken old card game formats and applied them as new tricks for a tired, old dog called flash cards.

These cards are really more than flash cards, but the analogy still holds. Each card contains the information covered in a chapter  or more of a history book in a simple format for seeing and understanding while giving the freedom to do several game formats to spice up learning with fun and make remembering the facts easier.

The four card games that The Classical Historian brings to you with their set is Go Fish, Collect the Cards, Chronology, and Continents. With the simplest, Collect the Cards, the student will get familiar with pronouncing the name, repeat visually seeing the spelling, picture, and simple facts including category, and a time frame code. Simply asking for the names of cards to complete their set of four of a kind, the student is practicing memory skills. The other three games reinforces memory of facts, time, and place about each card in the deck. Two of the games which are played against a clock can even be played alone, if required, by trying to improve their own personal best at placing cards in the proper time order or under the correct continent the cards were found. Whether alone or in a group, the games are as fun as the original games, but teach even more now.

Game card of Cincinnatus overlaid with clear plastic brailled with card information.

You may be wondering how I played such a game designed for typical people meaning hearing and sighted. Well, my husband told me in fingerspelling what was on each card and even where (I used to see, so I understand visual placement). Using that information, I brailled a piece of clear plastic for each card. I did this in using a regular braille slate and stylus. For example, I also used a larger sheet of plastic to braille a separate “card” using jumbo braille as some older or younger students might need. The sheets are bigger in jumbo braille, of course, but for a blind child or adult playing with children, it is still quite usable. Yes, it can take some time to braille all these cards in either size, but the joy of playing a game and especially a learning game is worth the effort. I have lots of games that I still play with my husband that we have tactiled in various ways. Sometimes, we may even have to modify play slightly, but it doesn’t prevent us from enjoying the game or our quality time together. Be open and creative. It is worth the effort.Clear plastic brailled with card info to be used in the Go Fish games.

The Classical Historian sells the card games in three categories: Ancient History, Medieval History, and American History. You will also find on their website, classicalhistorian.com, A Memory game format covering these categories and other curriculum resources. The Go Fish card games are $11.95 each. You will find there is replay value (fun to play again and again) in the games, and the game cards are very durable which makes them worth the price.

I have received a copy of the above product to help facilitate a frank and honest review. A positive review is not guaranteed. All opinions are my own. Your results and opinions may vary.

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Thinkwell is an online math education site. I have heard so much about it that I thought I would try it out. I wanted to see if it was accessible for the deaf, blind, and deafblind. I also wanted to see if the program would be suitable for an accredited umbrella program that required the parent-teacher to submit documentation such as copies of tests and grades for credit. I had heard from many that it covered several age levels from middle school through high school and Advanced Placement and college level, too. While educationally, it might not be a suitable option for everyone, the program is high quality and proves beneficial to many.

While, I may not be discussing the academic portions of this program, I will quickly describe it to you. There are numerous chapters in each course covering a full curriculum of objectives for each course. Each chapter has a video lecture followed by practice assignments, a quiz, and a chapter test. There are also interactive activities for added interest, practice, and enrichment. Along with that, you will also find printable worksheet type exercises for off-line practice, too.  A fellow contributing writer and co-founder of Homeschool Mosaics reviewed this site a few months ago following actually using the programs for two years with her own son. You can get her educated opinion by reading her review on Homeschool Mosaics here:  http://homeschoolmosaics.com/thinkwell-for-math/ .

Now, let me tell you what I found out in regards to accessibility and umbrella programs. Although, the site isn’t totally accessible to a braille display, I was impressed by how much the site developers did try to consider handicapped students. Their lecture videos which are the key to the program are closed captioned. You can turn them on from the buttons at the bottom of the video window. In addition, I was shocked to see that they had a complete print transcript of the video’s audio with detailed descriptions of the examples written on a chalkboard in the video. This would make it very easy for a hearing blind student to follow the video during play. It also would make it possible for a blind student to use a screen reader to read the transcript for the video to further understand the teacher’s lecture. A deaf student could also use the transcript to augment the closed captioning, if needed, since the problem examples are described well. In addition, the transcript file is a text .pdf making it accessible to a braille display, too, so a deafblind student could use this transcript to access the all-important teacher lecture. I highly commend the site developers for taking this much needed, but rare extra step to add accessibility to the site. Normally, the deafblind student would not have the ability to use a site at all even if a transcript is provided, since most provide image-based rather than text-based .pdf files. The practice worksheets, quizzes, and tests that I have mentioned that follow each video lecture are also available in two formats:  the online, computer checked format and the .pdf format. There is no audio connected with the practice tests, quizzes or tests, so a deaf student can easily take the on-line test to receive their results. A hearing blind student can possible do the on-line format with the screen reader. I can’t verify that because I am DeafBlind, so I am unsure if the screen reader is voicing the on-line version. Regardless, the .pdf format of the worksheets, quizzes, and tests are also text-based instead of image-based, so a braille display will be able to read these. To facilitate this use, open the on-line version and let the student orally answer or open .pdf version , print,  and use a braille and slate to record the answers for these assignments. The teacher can then use the on-line format to record the student’s answers for computer grading and record-keeping.  This is definitely an easy way to do the program for the blind and deafblind. There are some animated flash interactive activities that are not accessible for blind and deafblind and possibly not to the deaf for the ones that have audio that is needed for completing the task. However, these are enrichment activities that are not critically needed to ensure successful completion of the courses. Although the blind and deafblind can’t do the entire site independently, the quality of the education is high, and there is sufficient access along with a simple step for modification to make this program a beneficial choice to those students who are already good with using a computer with a screen reader and/or braille display. So, if you need or want an on-line choice for your student’s math curriculum, Thinkwell is a beneficial option to try.

In addition to usable access for the disabled, Thinkwell pleases me as Principal of an accredited homeschool umbrella program, too. Regardless to whether the program is a divided home/center program or a home only program such as mine for the most part, Thinkwell has the capability to fit your documentation and contact hour requirements. The courses cover objectives for each subject and level well with suitable instruction and practice for a typical school year. All assignments can be printed as blank assignments to be used for on-site observation, as needed. Completed on-line activities can be printed with answers to show correct/incorrect questions specifically, as well as, the overall grade on the assignment. In addition, there is a suitable number of activities to allow for the programs that meet one, two, or three days a week and allow for practice at home through practice worksheets and interactive activities, as needed. Since there are also courses that are Advanced Placement level, students in these programs have access to AP materials that can be difficult for some students to obtain easily or affordably. Some colleges also use Thinkwell to provide actual college courses for them, so that adds to the evidence that Thinkwell provides quality instruction with a high quality content level, too.

A twelve month subscription to Thinkwell is $125-$150 for full year, full credit course, but there are many places that provide discount codes if you look for them. Either way, it isn’t too bad for a high quality program that is accessible and suitable for many accredited umbrella programs, too. You can find out more at http://www.thinkwellhomeschool.com/.

 

I was not asked by Thinkwell or anyone else to review this program. I chose it to review to provide options for disabled students and students involved in umbrella programs. I did use their advertised free trial to gain access to the program as any consumer can do. I have not and will not be compensated in any way for this review. The review expresses my honest opinion of this program.

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Well, today is the day I have a new post on Homeschool Mosaics! Please check it out. I think it is pretty interesting and informative. I enjoyed writing it, anyway. LOL http://homeschoolmosaics.com/mama-look-its-helen-keller/

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Well, this post is a look back, but it is written in more of a now time-frame. The last post at HKNC never got written. You see, I spent my last two weeks in New York in the hospital. I came home and was sick with pneumonia yet again. I was still recovering from pneumonia in early February when I had the worse case of vertigo that I have ever had in my life. The doctors were unsure what happened at that time, but evaluations in March with both ENT/audiologist and Retinal Specialist showed that I had significantly lost more hearing and vision. My audiogram showed that I needed more than 120 db of sound to even register that I might have heard something. The line on the graph ran along the bottom of the graph and at times below the graph. In other words, I had been profoundly deaf, now I was even more so to the point of almost hearing nothing. Vision-wise, I had had a 5 degree field at HKNC. I now had 1 degree field with acuity in the remaining field very poor. My life was changing again. What I had feared had now happened. I would never be the same again.

How did this all happen? Well, again we aren’t sure what led to the additional surge of loss in February except possibly extended illness. My last few days at HKNC were spent learning more ASL vocabulary and practicing braille reading fluency. I had already mastered all of contracted braille and could read about 50 words/minute. I needed more practice to improve that. My print reading had been more like speed reading levels, so this is slow and annoying to me, but it is what I will have to deal with and improve as much as possible. On Wednesday or Thursday afternoon, I had a late appointment with my pulmonologist as a follow-up to my previous hospital stay. I left the doctor’s office at 5:45 pm with a clear lung X-ray having been taken and reassurance that I was well and good. After stopping to get something to eat on the way back to HKNC, I arrived at the residence hall at 7:00 or so. I headed down the hall to check in with the nurse, but she was still on break. There were a lot of people in the hall, so I meandered through them and then back through them speaking to anyone I could. I went into my room and booted up the X-Box for some video time and game play with husband and friends. I noticed that I began coughing, but I had no clue what was up. I used my inhaler a few times. I finally went out in the hallway and being able to talk still I asked one of the hearing staff if there was anything going on because I was having a little trouble breathing. They said everything was normal, but then offhandedly said the lounge is closed because they refinished the floors again. I couldn’t smell anything, but I knew that was bad. I said that is it. HKNC maintenance had tried to use the odorless glue, but that doesn’t help those with asthma. I had specifically told the Resident Directors that I could not be around when the floor was refinished again regardless. The odorless glues and paints just get rid of the smells they use to let people know that chemicals are being used. The harmful fumes are actually odorless. Natural Gas is actually odorless. They have to add chemicals with smell to signal gas leaks. I was angry, but I said I would go in my room, use my nebulizer, and keep the door close hoping that would help. The last place I wanted to go was the ER again. I tried these steps including nebulizing double doses twice. By nine, I was in full-blown attack. I called for the nurse signing “nurse” once again to the Path staff across the hall. Nurse came quickly and helped with the nebulizer, but she signed that I wasn’t getting any air. She signed for other staff to call 911. I was unconscious by the time the ambulance arrived. I vaguely remember falling to the bed and someone trying to hold me up. Later, I remember paramedics trying to put the airway tube down my throat. I went out again. They weren’t able to get the airway tube in at all. I had completely closed up. At the ER, I was put in the trauma section and was hooked to all of these monitors. I was listed as non-responsive. They told me later that I did scream when the staff hit a nerve in my wrist trying to get arterial blood to measure my blood gases. I was also later told that my oxygen level was very low and carbon dioxide and other gases that are supposed to be low were higher than normal. Pulmonologist said he had never had the same patient almost die in the span of just a couple of weeks or so. I was in the hospital until Christmas Eve. Doctor was not going to let me go back to HKNC until well after the first of the year. I was still very sick. Despite having a clear lung X-ray that same afternoon that I was admitted to the hospital, I developed pneumonia within less than 24. This was my second bout of pneumonia in a month.

My husband had been trying to get information about my health repeatedly during my hospital stays, but due to privacy laws, the hospital refused to give much information to him over the phone and only told my HKNC case manager that I was doing fine. HKNC staff never did realize how bad off I was either time, I don’t think. I even signed a form specifically stating that I wanted my husband and caseworker to be given full details of my status and treatment. With my husband being in Georgia and not having a home phone (only a school phone), I knew it might be hard for the hospital to get my husband regularly. My case manager would be able to pass on the information if she knew it. I have no idea what happened with that form. I signed it using an interpreter, but it was never put into force. The day before Christmas Eve, I finally got an HKNC staff member visiting me for a while. She helped me call my husband who being worried out of his mind wanted to know if I wanted him to come. I said yes. He quickly packed, got my younger son to stay with the dogs, and drove the rest of the day and evening. The doctor did decide to let me go home to Georgia if my husband was going to take me. I wouldn’t not have been allowed to fly. I was given enough meds and emergency nebulizer equipment to make the trip home and get through the Christmas Day and day after, and copies of all of my hospital and doctor records while in NY. Pulmonologist wanted my home doctors to know just how serious and dangerous my condition was to avoid future issues. My husband took me to HKNC where we packed up all of my belongings including computer and monitors and X-Box that still were not packed, since I had not been there. We slept a few hours and left just before the sun rose. I said good bye to the few residents and staff who were still there for Christmas. I was unable to talk well and didn’t feel well, but I did have a little surge of energy due to the excitement of seeing my husband after six months, being back with my Little Joe who had spent much of his days alone in the dark of my room, and the knowing that I was going home for good having accomplished what I had come to do.

The excitement quickly left me tired and drained as we began driving toward home. I slept all day and evening as Scott drove only stopping to eat, take bathroom breaks for us and Joey, and get gas. I remember very little. Scott seemed terrified. He told me that he was afraid that I would get worse during the trip and not know where to get me help. I just told him that God was with us, so everything would work out. It did. We arrived home after midnight early Christmas Day. After hugging my two sons and being happily greeted by my Hartley Girl, my black lab, Scott and I slept until noon.

I awoke to the smell of Christmas trimmings that my mom had made sure we had and a Christmas tree surrounded by presents. My chest hurt, and I felt like I could sleep for a hundred years, but I was so happy to be home that none of that mattered. Christmas that year couldn’t have been any more perfect. Nothing had changed other than me. No one else knew braille or ASL or even fingerspelling. Communication was still the main issue, but at the moment, all was fine. I just enjoyed the feelings of Love.

Now, of course, the feelings of love and peace at Christmas are wonderful, and you hope that it will last all year round, but reality usually does seep in eventually. By March, after my illnesses and loss of more hearing and vision, I found that now that I knew life could be better for me if people signed and adapted for my needs that I was even more frustrated when they refused or couldn’t. Depression hit me and hit me hard. I withdrew even from my beloved students and staff, and the newly founded DeafBlind Hope seem to almost languish before it even got started other than helping an initial three clients. Family issues grew even worse because I quit trying. Sitting in the chair suddenly sounded good to me, so that is mostly what I did for a while. It was over a year before I began to see a light as God worked within me and sent his earthly angels to lift my soul out of its depths of self-pity.

Arise slowly, I did. I haven’t looked back. There is too much to do.

Now as I finish my look back at HKNC. I hope many that I met there will see this somehow and know that what you did for me there was tremendous, and I will always appreciate your help and friendship. There were way more people that touched me than I could ever mention in my blog, and some didn’t wish to be mentioned at all, but you did touch my heart and will never be forgotten. God bless you all.

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Week 2: Out of the Evaluation Phase

Well, they have moved me out of the usual 8 week evaluation period and straight into the training phase. Hopefully, that will mean that I will get to come home a little sooner. We shall see. I still have got to get this old brain to learn a lot of new skills. This week involved me transcribing more Braille and using the Perkins Brailler, which is like an old manual typewriter, but it only has 6 keys and a spacebar. The 6 keys each stand for one dot in the Braille cell. Depending on which keys I hit, I form different patterns of dots to form letters or punctuation. For example, there are 2 vertical rows of 3 dots in a Braille cell. 1 dot in the top left is letter a. If I want to capitalize that a, I use two Braille cells beside each other with the first having a dot in the lower right, 6, spot meaning the next letter is a capital. Then I would follow it with a dot in the upper right, 1, spot. The dots are numbered like this:
1 4
2 5
3 6
Here is the Braille alphabet, so you can get an idea of what I am learning:
Braille Alphabet:

Braille Pictures, Images and Photos

Words and sentences are made by combinations of those cells. However to write these letters so the dot show up on the top side of a page to be read, you have to type them backwards. Now that is a feat. If you are interested in learning more about Braille and Louis Braille, who invented the language, check out the American Federation for the Blind’s site, http://www.afb.org/braillebug/braille_print.asp.
I am continuing to cook blindfolded in the Independent Learning class. I cooked rice in a rice cooker that was quite simple, but try it blindfolded without burning yourself. I have to find all the ingredients for whatever I am cooking and place them on the tray (like you use to carry your plate at a school cafeteria). That is so I don’t drop something on the floor as I cut, open, stir, etc. Cutting, chopping is done by using the knuckles as a guide and sliding down through the meat or potatoes or whatever with my fingertips pulled back out of the way. It is still hard, but I only would scrape the knuckles a little as opposed to cutting a finger off.
In technology, they adjusted JAWS, a screen reader, to work with my FM system so I can hear it a little better. I hope now I can learn how to use it better. Some of you might remember my computer talking to me when you came to the school for finals or enrolling.
The coolest thing was finding out that I read Grade 1 Braille well enough to begin working with the Braille display. The Braille display looks sort of like a wrist board that some computers have. It sits under the regular keyboard with a part that extends out past the keyboard that has plastic bumps that fit through holes in the shape of the Braille cell that I showed earlier. Whatever is on the screen at the moment is shown in the Braille cells. In a short time because of my excellent teacher, Bill, I was going up and down a document reading various parts about the life of Helen Keller. I wonder why they use that document.
Another neat thing I did was in mobility. In addition to going out into the community to show them if Little Joe and I could maneuver safely on our own, they showed me how to get help as a deaf blind person alone. They give you a card that hangs around your neck with specific words and order of those words on it that you hold up when you want to cross the street. It says, “Please help me to cross the street. I am deaf blind.” The choice and order of words has been researched thoroughly. In fact, one of my instructors led the research recently for his Phd. dissertation . They found that if you said, “I am deaf blind,” first that it scared people away completely. If you put “Help me” first, people didn’t read far enough to see what the help was for and assumed you were asking for money. The current use of words was found to be the best to get people to be willing to help. After just a few minutes, a motorist actually stopped the car, got out, and asked to help me across the street. I thought it was a set up meaning a staff member who was waiting to show me how it worked, but no, it was an ordinary motorist who saw my card and thought I was completely alone. I have to admit that it was still a bit scary. The world is full of crazy people today.
For fun, I got to go to Shea Stadium and watch the NY Mets play. New Yawkers, as they call themselves, really take their baseball seriously. Most of the things I had heard about the NY fans seems true. They can be rowdy. It was fun. With each resident that went, an interpreter sat beside them and tactually signed to them and me what was going on during the game. Of course, they had to teach me some new signs at the same time to do this for me. It was very interesting. NY lost 10-9. In sign, the score is done by signing the numbers giving the winning score first and signing the home team or team that you are pulling for close to your heart. The other score is signed in front of you away from the chest. In other words, my interpreter signed the 10 in front of her away from her chest and then moved her hand to her heart and signed the 9. That was a new idea for me. It is amazing how in the way they do signs it gives so much information.Shea Stadium- baseball game from way up high
I didn’t get to take Little Joe to the game with me. They felt he would not be safe and would get too nervous. He stayed at the school in the office with personnel. They fed him treats and played with him with his toys all night. They really love Joe here. He gets more attention than any of the other guide dogs. He is truly spoiled. He even gets his own bed in my room.
I get to go to church tomorrow. The subject of religion up here has been a bit touchy. I have gotten tremendous help on every other subject, but going to church is like , “uh, we will see what we can do…, but I don’t know.” I guess that is because it is hard to get volunteers from outside for taking me to church. The staff is wonderful and really try. Well, tomorrow, staff is plentiful, so they have agreed to get staff to drop me off at a United Methodist Church about 5 minutes from the school. They will pick me up after church. I am a little nervous because I won’t know how to get around, and I don’t know how these people will know how to help me. I will trust the Lord to send me the helpful people. In addition, as I speak about religion at this point, I have to say I have gotten into “trouble” already. Most of you know that speaking of God, Jesus, how my faith sustains me, etc. just rolls out. I don’t preach or anything, and I don’t really witness except by example, I hope. However, in the Usher’s Syndrome support group that I have to attend on Monday afternoons, they asked if we had accepted our Usher’s, and if so how had we arrived at that point. I kept quiet until they specifically asked me to share. I am not ashamed, so I began with I believe that there is a God who is greater than I and that He has sifted everything that life and/or Satan wishes to throw into our path. If He has decided that I should face certain trials, then I know from experience and His word that it is for His glory and my benefit. I can handle all things through Christ who strengthens me. I then went on saying that it was still hard at times and how I have many family members and friends who support me. In other places, they also ask you a lot of questions to get to know you. Many times the questions of how are you coping, how are you handling these things, etc. come up. In a conversation with one lady, and I don’t remember who. She told me that we are supposed to leave religion and politics out of conversations here. I responded with the fact that I am not going up to residents or staff and trying to convert them. I was asked my feelings and thoughts, so I gave them. I will not respond with anything other than the truth. My faith is a big part of who I am, and I could not change that even if I wanted to do so. Of course, I understand the policy, and it is necessary in a place like this for the protection of residents, other staff and myself. The lady was not angry at all, and it was just a be aware kind of thing, so it didn’t bother me at all.
Well, Little Joe wants to go play in the dog run, and I need to walk my 3 miles. I will tell you more of my adventures another time. Keep praying for us.

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