Monday, April 30, 2012

Light detector app.

I admit it. I am pretty adicted to acquiring apps for my IPhone. I've simmered down a little lately but, at first, getting apps was fun and interesting. I got one app for blind people called light detector. I guess others could use it but there may not be much of a reason to do so. I use it a little at home to try to figure out whether or not the lights are on or off. Sometimes I can see them but sometimes I can't. but, yesterday, I was volunteering and learning about how to use radio equipment at one of our local radio stations. You have to push different buttons to turn on different systems (microphone, computer, cd player, IPod, etc) When you pressed a button, there was no difference in the height of it or position of it if it was on or off. I suddenly thought of my light detector app. The app has a tone which gets higher and higher the brighter something is. We turned all buttons off. I ran the phone along the row of buttons. There was a low beep that was continuous. Then I turned one on. Ran the phone along the row of buttons and suddenly a high squealy noise. I was amazed. Now something else I can do independently.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

20 year anniversary.

20 years ago today, I met my very first guide dog. At the time, I wasn't sure whether or not I would like traveling with a guide dog. I had been a white cane user from a young age and felt confident with that. I was a good traveler. A part of me wondered though what it would be like to travel with a guide dog instead. It was tough adjusting at first for both of us I am sure. But soon, it felt like the most natural thing in the world. With each dog, the first few walks seem strange. Gwenny pulled hard and swerved around things at the last minute. Margaret pulled less but was very dog distracted. gia floated along in a way. Tulia bounced. After a few walks, each dog's gait and movements seemed normal and I am sure they took some getting used to me too. This morning when I got up, I listened for Tulia squeaking as she stretched and then bouncing over wagging her whole self to say hi. Gia always stayed in bed until I was ready to go downstairs. For my wonderful guiding girls, (black lab Gwenny, yellow lab Margaret, golden retreiver Gia, and black lab Tulia) thank you for sharing the adventure. For allowing me to walk with dignity and confidence and for being who you are. For those who trained them, (you know who you are smile) thank you from the bottom of my heart. For the puppy raisers of any of my dogs (you know who you are) what an amazing gift you give us. Thank you.

Friday, April 27, 2012

My wonderful friend Lisa's blog about my blog.

I first met my friend Lisa many many years ago when we both worked at a campe for kids with disabilities. We lost touch for several years and then found each other again electronically. Lisa is a writer and a fine one at that! I love reading her blog and as you will see, she enjoys my blog too. She wrote about me in it today. Very eloquently. Thank you Lisa. I am also your number one fan. here is the link. enjoy! Fifty good deeds blog by Lisa

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Got a grant thanks to the community foundation of Ottawa.

Yesterday, we got the good news that we got a grant from the community foundation of Ottawa for our program "Get together with technology" in which we will organize training in technology for people who are blind or have low vision. At the moment, we are in the midst of a pilot program in cooperation with the apple store introducing people who are blind to their products. We are very grateful to the community foundation for our grant. Stay tuned for more information.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

e-mails from my mom.

My mom has recently learned to send and receive e-mails. She sends them to me regularly. It is so wonderful to open up the inbox and find things like: "Have a good day honey. I love you!" And: "I miss Tulia." Notice she doesn't miss me smile! Or, "Good luck with your workshop." Things like that. It reminds me of the fact that my mom learned braille when I was small. She wrote me lots of notes. Notes on the fridge. Notes in my lunch. Notes from santa and the easter bunny and the tooth fairy. I never quite knew how a rabbit could write braille! Notes when I was away at boarding school and university. Tags on christmas gifts. We haven't exchanged notes for several years. Just talked on the phone but now the notes are back in my inbox and I love it! Can even read them in braille with my braille display.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

You never know where the blog will reach.

My heart is warm and glad this morning. I was e-mailed yesterday by the parent of a baby who was born very recently and is totally blind. The parent said she was filled with despair and worry about this and then she read this blog. Now she feels much more hopeful and we have been e-mailing each other back and forth. Her message touched my heart! Thank you! If I can help someone who is wondering about blindness or worried about it or scared, I am so honoured to do so. this is one of the reasons I started this blog after all. Thanks to all for reading and thanks for your comments and support. On this somewhat cold and rainy day, I feel warm and energized.

You never know where the blog will reach.

My heart is warm and glad this morning. I was e-mailed yesterday by the parent of a baby who was born very recently and is totally blind. The parent said she was filled with despair and worry about this and then she read this blog. Now she feels much more hopeful and we have been e-mailing each other back and forth. Her message touched my heart! Thank you! If I can help someone who is wondering about blindness or worried about it or scared, I am so honoured to do so. this is one of the reasons I started this blog after all. Thanks to all for reading and thanks for your comments and support. On this somewhat cold and rainy day, I feel warm and energized.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Turning on any mac computer to make it accessible for me.

Yesterday while at the apple store, I turned on a mac computer and turned on voiceover their screen reading software. This doesn't sound like a big deal to most people. After all, sighted people turn on computers all the time. They use computers at work, at school, in other locations. They just turn them on and they work. For people who are blind, this has not been the case. We always had to buy special screen reading software which could be very expensive. We had to install it on computers and could often only install it on two or three of them. When we got jobs, we worried about the computers at work being accessible. but, I can now turn on anyone's mac computer, put voiceover on, and it works. If you have a mac and want to try it, use the function, command, f5. furthest key to the left on the bottom row, plus keeeey right next to the space bar on the left of the bottom row, plus f5. To turn voiceover off, use the same key combinations. Very liberating for me.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

souncs and touch.

I discovered a new podcast the other day. Not that I need to listen to more podcasts. I am already subscribed to very very many and I love them. I found this one called radio lab from national public radio. I may have this quote a little wrong but in one episode, sound and touch were described as follows: Sound is like touch at a distance. I liked that a lot. The podcast too is fascinating.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dog manners.

I had a busy day of work yesterday. In the morning, I had a
performance and in the evening I lead a disability awareness
session. During both events, people commented about how good and
calm Tulia was. In fact, she was under a table in the morning
and when I got up to speak (after having sat there for about half
an hour) some people said they didn't even know she had been
there. Last night, she lay quietly beside my chair for the
hour-long presentation. A great day of work with lots of great
interactions and questions. And a great guide dog with me too.
What can be better?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

If you could touch anything in the world, what would it be?

I overheard someone the other day asking someone else on the bus if they could go to any place in the world, where would it be? it got me thinking. Many times, people ask if I could see, what would I look at? What would I want to see most? then, I thought some more. What things if I could would I like to touch that I have never touched? Things that maybe it wouldn't be safe to touch or that I probably never will touch. Say like the surface of the moon for example. A lion or tiger or polar bear! The feeling of being on the top of mount everest say! But I'll have to think more about things I would like to touch and try to find a way to do that.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Blogger's block.

I have no idea what to blog about. I'm sitting here in a comfortable chair with a cup of tea and listening to my washer spin as the laundry goes round and trying to think of something interesting to write about. Nothing odd or terribly out of the ordinary has happened. I've been working away at various projects, spending time with friends and family, and enjoying the spring weather. My dog is dreaming right now. Making some strange smacking noises with her mouth, running her paws against her bean bag bed with a swish swish and wagging her tail furiously. I always wish I knew what they dream about. I wonder if they dream about us as we dream about them. Last night I dreamed Tulia was small enough that I could pick her up and hold her on the crowded bus. That would come in handy but think it would make it tough for her to guide me around. Anyone have any questions or suggestions for blog topics?

Friday, April 13, 2012

What you don't see, could be better sometimes.

last night while out owith a friend, she mentioned a possible blog post idea for me. She said that she was recently in a taxi and the taxi was getting very close to other cars. A bit nerve wracking for the passengers. Sometimes being blind would help with those nerves I would imagine. However, I will say that drivers who drive in a jerky way or slamming on brakes and moving swiftly about with jerky turns, you know and can feel this whether you are blind or sighted.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

windows are open and now I can hear the world again.

the spring is here I think at last. Windows are open this morning. As I sit here working at various projects, I hear more noises outside. Noises I don't hear in the same way during the winter when windows are closed. When windows are closed, I am in my own world. If something is very loud outside, I hear it. But, I don't realize how busy things are outside of my windows. This morning for example, I hear people walking, talking, car doors opening and closing, sirens, dogs barking, dog claws on the sidewalk, birds, people pushing carts or strollers on wheels, kids laughing, bouncing a basket ball. It is fascinating to listen to but now I must get back to work.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The smell of the air.

There is something different and wonderful about the smell of the
air today. A fresh smell. A smell of growing things. I
breathed it in. I thought about how the air smells and what I
like. Like the smell of the ocean air which smells different
than the watery smell near a lake or river. The smell of the air
just after it rains. The smell of the air when leaves are
falling with a sharper smell to it. There is a different smell
when it is very very cold. And, if I can smell all of these
things in the air, just think what my dog can smell as her nose
is huge compared to mine and their senses of smell are so much
more heightened.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The stars.

So, I was reading a book of short stories last night. In one of the stories, they talked about going outside and gazing at the stars. How bright they were. How easy it is to see them. Because I know how far away that is, I can't even begin to imagine how anyone can see that. I tried to think of sound equivalents. I'm not sure there are any. You can hear sounds from across a lake or something like that but it is no where near what you can see in the sky. I can see the sun but not the moon or stars. What makes the stars so beautiful? What are they like?

Monday, April 9, 2012

The titanic


I was reading some statistics about the titanic last night as it makes its anniversary journey.  I guess some people might like to be on such a journey but it would give me the creeps!  I wouldn't want to re-trace the route.  As I read about the ship, I thought about how little I knew or thought about the structure itself.  Its size.  Its furnishings.  Its newness.  I always thought about the people that were on board.  The workers.  Especially the musicians.  The people who were in steerage.  Those who didn't get to sail on it.  But, I hadn't thought much about the ship itself.  Then I started thinking about ice bergs and their sizes.  Trying to imagine them.  Wondering about the cold emanating         from them.  It is very fascinating to think about these things.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bird song.

This morning while still lying in bed, I heard a very happy bird
chirping and singing. This always lifts my heart. I started to
think about how certain animal sounds make me feel and wondered
if the visuals of those animals are the same. For example,
birds. Nice singing birds, also the whistling cardinal, make me
feel happy. Crows (yes I know they're smart) get on my nerves.
The mumble of pigeons bothers me too. I don't like it. I like
to hear gulls flying over water but do not like to hear them on
the ground. As for little easter bunnies, well they are pretty
quiet but chocolate is good at any time! Happy Easter if you
celebrate that, and if not, happy spring.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The sounds of food.

Someone on the radio this morning was talking about how the
sounds of foods contribute to our enjoyment of them. I've known
this for a long time. Imagine the crunch of an apple or raw
carrot. The sound when you pour your tea into the mug. You
almost sigh with happiness for a good cup of tea or coffee.
There is a different sound when you pour cold drinks. A
refreshing sound. They even talked about ambiance in
restaurants. If noise is too loud, you do not enjoy food. One
man even offered people an IPod with sounds of the sea when he
served fish. Very interesting. I'm glad I'm not the only one
who thinks about food sounds.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Thinking about ancient Greece.

The storytelling community here in Ottawa is becoming very excited about an upcoming event. A storytelling performance of Homer's odyssey. 8 hours of storytelling. 17 storytellers taking about half an hour each. Not reading! Storytelling. I've been trying to learn my book and it hasn't been easy. Somehow, the language isn't flowing for me. We suspected yesterday at rehearsal it is because the images from that time aren't clear in my head. What were the palaces like? The clothing? The feel the smell of the place? Somehow I have to get myself more into that world so that I can tell my part of the story with real flow and conviction. Very interesting process. Any helpful descriptions would be welcome.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Accessible birthday greetings.

I've celebrated another birthday and I have been amazed and touched by all of the birthday greetings I've received by phone, by mail, in person, by e-mail, facebook, and twitter. It struck me today that these greetings are more accessible than actual birthday cards made from paper. That is unless you braille on the cards for me which friends have done. This way, I can read all messages for myself. How liberating that is. Thank you to all for your kind words and messages.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Thanks to all for reading and commenting and clicking on ads!

Hello all,

I met someone yesterday who reads this blog faithfully.

It is wonderful to know that people are reading it.

I do love writing it but it is even better to do when you know others are reading too.

Also, got a payment from google because you clicked on ads that interested you.

It is nice to be paid to blog.

So thank you.  If you continue to find any ads interesting, feel free to click on them for me.

Just a reminder that my guide dog Tulia also has a blog at

Happy spring.



Sunday, April 1, 2012

Guide dogs identifying money.

Did you know that guide dogs are trained to identify paper money? It was tricky for me because my dogs are trained in the U.S. and I live in Canada so they had to learn two currencies. They tap their paw once if you show them a five. Twice for ten etc. Aren't they amazing?
One more thing!
Happy April fool's day!