Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Everyone is talking about the blackberry. But is it accessible?

Everyone is talking about RIM and the launch of the new blackberry's and blackberry operating system today. Being Canadian, I do always feel proud when Canadian companies succeed. But, no where have I read anything about accessibility of the new blackberries. For a while now, people who are blind have begun to have more accessibility with smartphones and touch screen devices. Apple's iphone, ipads, ipods of all kinds are totally accessible to me right out of the box. android accessibility keeps improving with its now jelly bean operating system being very accessible I am told. However, I have heard or read nothing from RIM. Does anyone know about the accessibility of their new products? I hope they jump on the accessibility band wagon.

Monday, January 28, 2013

So many choices for typing on my touch screen.

Coming up this week, there will be a new app called "braille touch" which will allow me to type in braille on my I device's touch screen. It is hard to believe that not so many years ago, I did not even imagine how I would even use a touch screen as someone who is totally blind. When I first tried it, I was confused. I'm so used to a keyboard. I learned to touch type at a very young age but felt I needed the physical keys to type. i have gotten faster with typing on screen. Then there was an app called type in braille which I still use sometimes. It lets you type in braille on screen but is a little complicated in how you have to do it. Next came an app called fleksy which allows you to type where you think the letters may be and it predicts words for you. It does a pretty good job really. Next, I tried apple's dictate feature which works really quite well. I also use a refreshable braille display to type and read. I am using it right now. I can read everything on my phone's screen in braille and type in braille too. So, will I try Braille Touch? Probably. I'm just amazed at how quickly things have changed.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

How do sighted people see ice?

It has been a somewhat slippery winter around here.  I was thinking about this last night.  I had taken my guide dog out for the last time and was coming back in when someone told me there was a little patch of ice.  They said good thing it wasn't black ice.  I have heard people describe black ice before and know that it is difficult to see. So, what is black ice?  How is it different from other slippery icy sidewalks?  What do the icy sidewalks look like?  How do you know there is a patch of ice ahead?  How do I know?  When my foot touches it!  I do find my guide dogs get to know it and become more careful with the ice.  Thank goodness for that.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Winter and its challenges.

It has been bitterly cold here all week.  Before the cold, things had warmed up and melted.  So now there is quite a layer of ice about and freezing temperatures.  This means I have to wear heavy gloves or mittens.  This means that I don't know what anything is when I touch it with my mittens on.  I have to quickly remove a mitten and touch the object or find my keys or put on the guide dog harness etc.  Then just as quickly throw the mitten back on again.

And, in the cold you have to wear a thick hat or hood.  This makes hearing what is around you difficult.  Traffic sounds, the sounds of echoes bouncing off buildings do not sound as clearly.  It is easier to get disoriented.  So, at street corners or challenging places, off comes the hood.  Freezing air on my head until I cross or sort myself out and back on the hood goes again.  Also, thick heavy boots.  You can't feel the terrain underfoot as well either.  But no I don't take off boots to figure out what is underfoot.  Next time, the adventures of guide dog coats, boots and snowbank climbing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I love my job coordinating the GTT (Get Together with Technology) program.

Last night, we held our monthly GTT (Get Together With Tecnology) tech drop in group.  As usual, everyone was full of questions and tips.  Everyone was happy to help each other and share and learn.  There was a wide range of ages and knowledge about access technology for people who are blind.  But everyone was keen to learn and help.  I love the feeling in the room when this group is taking place and everyone is so engaged and helpful.  Thank you to all who took part.  It makes coordinating this group a great pleasure.

If anyone wants to know more about our group and its activities, please e-mail:

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

So thankful for those around me.

My one woman storytelling show "Flying in the dark" is being performed on January 17 at the NAC Fourth Stage in Ottawa. I am a little jittery and excited today. But, as I practice and think about the show, I keep coming back to how thankful I am for the family and friends who have always surrounded me.
My parents and relatives had never met a blind person before I was born. But, they carried on. They treated me like I was smart, capable, and loved. Blindness was there but it didn't hinder what I did. Instead of saying, "We can't. You can't." They said, "How can we. How can you." There was laughter and humour. There was always support of who I am. My friends too. My blind friends get it in a way others don't. I'm grateful to them for that and for their support always. My sighted friends may not have known a blind person before me but jumped in. Offer me help when I need it. Describe things to me. Laugh with me and treat me like a friend who happens to be blind. Thank you to you all. Thanks to Caitlyn and to those at two women for helping with the creation of this show. The times we've spent working on it are precious to me as is your friendship. On with the show! Deep breaths!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Interviews for my upcoming one woman show on January 17

As I have mentioned on this blog before, my one woman show is being performed at the NAC fourth stage in Ottawa on Thursday January 17 at 7:30 PM.  Here are two links for interviews I did this week.  One is a tv interview and the other is for a University radio station.

Here are the  two links:


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Technology in 2013.

It seems that with every year that goes by, technology changes more and more quickly and it is difficult to be on top of all of the changes.  Yesterday, I had a miraculous technology experience.  I have been using a computer since the late 1980s.  Before that, I used a typewriter.  I learned to touch type in grade 4.  being totally blind, the actual typing was not the problem.  The problem was the proofreading of the typing.  I could not read anything I wrote.  Also, the ribbon sometimes ran out on the typewriter and I would not know it.  I typed a whole exam in university that was blank.  With the advent of the computer, I was able to proof read using screen reading software which reads what I type and what is on my screen.  But, I have been a Braille user since I was in grade 1.  I wanted to use Braille on my computer.  Yesterday, I took my braille display and paired it with my mac computer.  Suddenly I was reading, writing, and editing in Braille.  This makes editing much much easier for me and much more of a pleasure too.  Thank you Apple and thank you Humanware for the braille note.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The great adventure of putting on dog boots.

I admit it! I put boots on my guide dog in the winter. It isn't to make a fashion statement. She is cute enough all by herself. So shiny and black and full of personality. I put them on to protect the paws against road salt and other chemicals. Yesterday, I took all 4 boots out and called her to me. Usually she bounces about and it is easy to hear her collar. She started over in usual fashion, sniffed the boots on the floor, and disappeared. It turned out she had not gone far. A few feet. But she was being very quiet just standing there. I called her. She moved slowly a pace or two forward and got within reach. She sighed. I heard it. One boot on. Kibble treat. Next boot she tucked her front paw up close to her body but we got it on. treat. Then she resigned herself to the back feet being handled. Once they were on she dashed down our stairs and stood impatiently by the front door. wanting me to hurry up and get my own boots on. If she had to have boots on, let's go out and get on with it.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Happy world braille day.

Happy world braille day. Hard to believe in some ways that over 200 years ago, a blind man named Louis Braille invented Braille. A system of 6 dots which helps blind people to read with their hands. Even though technology has evolved and I can use a smart phone, a computer, a light detecter app, a scanner with software to read printed materials, GPS apps and programs, get audio books. I still love braille the most. How happy I was to be able to pair my braille display with my I devices and to be writing and reading this blog in braille. I firmly believe that all blind kids should learn braille. It is vitally important keeps us more literate and working and besides you can read braille in bed at night under the covers and not get told to stop reading your book. thank you Louis Braille.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

promotion for my one woman show in Ottawa

I am very excited to present my full evening, one woman, storytelling show "Flying in the dark" at the NAC Fourth stage on Thursday January 17 at 7:30.
Tickets are $20 with student and senior discounts and can be purchased through ticket master or at the NAC box office.
Without a great audience, storytelling is not the same.
I really hope that you can come.
For those of you who heard the show last year, the second half has been reworked and is quite different.  So come again and enjoy this new version.
Thank you to all of you for your continued and ongoing support.
Thanks to two women productions and Caitlyn Paxson for your help with creation.
Thanks also to the CAnada Council for the arts for providing the grant to make the creation of this show possible.

If you are unable to come but wish to see the show, I would be happy to discuss house concerts or other performances.

If you wish to contact me about this, please do so at 
Here is the little blurb about the show.
Kim Kilpatrick

Jan 17 - Flying in the Dark – Kim Kilpatrick

So, she was born blind!  For those of us who are sighted, Kim would seem to be hemmed in by dark.  But that's not how she sees it. For her, the darkness is no barrier - it's the refusal of others to acknowledge her competence that weights her down.  Laughter, language, and relish for living have freed her - that and her trusty guide dogs!  Join us for a story of gentle adventure to send you chuckling into the night.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Question from an avid blog reader. Do I like fireworks?

Someone asked me yesterday that reads this blog all of the time if I like fireworks.
No not really. I don't hate them but find them dull. The noises are the same after a while and I can't see, well, can't see the fireworks so it is a bit boring for me!
Last year, while working on my one woman show, the women from two women productions and I got talking about fireworks! They were trying to describe them to me. What they did. How they moved. What they were like.
If any of you wonderful describers care to try this, I'd be happy to know your thoughts.
Happy new year to all and may 2013 be wonderful. Thank you as always for reading my blog.