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VIBES

VIBES Number 4: I Believe I Can Fly

Introduction

Sometimes, it’s great to go on a nice vacation, but it can be scary, especially if you have not flown before. To top it off, many people get scared because of the “You’re gonna die!” stories that many people tell to try and scare others, to discourage them from taking an adventure. We’ll have you know, at Screenless Allies, we have flown many times and it can be quite fun! It is just a matter of being prepared, and on this article, we will show you how to do it when you are blind!

Choosing The Right Airline

The advantage to flying is you can have different experiences. This is why there are many airlines to choose from. When looking for an airline to travel with, here are some things you should ask yourself.

  1. How accessible is it to book a flight?
  2. Have others flown this airline before?
  3. Do they have good reviews?

We will go over these now in a bit more detail.

Accessibility

One big thing to consider is if the airline in question has a website. Let’s be honest. Nobody wants to wait on the phone for three hours just to book a flight. Now a days, many airlines have a site that can be used to search for, and get a flight booked. Most airlines follow common practices to make these sites useable with a screen reader or magnifier. However, in the rare instance where that is not even there, you can always go the phone route. Also, consider the fact if you do not have someone traveling, how would you navigate. You typically can specify to the airline that you have a disability, and someone can escort you around the airport to your flights and baggage claim. If you are nice enough to them, they may be able to get you to restaurants, assuming your flight schedule permits it. You can also use smartphone apps to navigate. This is a bit more risky, due to the fact that you’d need to pay extra attention to traffic around the airport, while wearing headphones to respect privacy. The most important thing in these two situations is, USE GOOD JUDGEMENT!

Experiences and Reviews

It always helps if others have used the airline before. It will help when conducting research and can hear from someone who has flown, in order to hear an honest opinion. Reviews are also a great way to form a decision. There are some airlines, who sadly also make it onto the news, due to some sort of discrimination. This is even more common with the blind and their guide dogs. So if you are a guide dog user, it is recommended to pay attention to those articles as well, unless you want to have a delay, or be brought off of a plane.

Pre-flight Preparedness

Assuming you have booked the flights, it is time to prepare! The best way to do this is to determine how long your adventure will be. If it is more than a week, you may want to check bags into the flight. That is, rather than carrying your luggage with you on the plane, you can give it to the ticket counter, and your bags will be put under the airplane. No worries, you will get them back. Also, we all love technology! However, we do not want to overdo the amount we wish to take. Pick out all the gadgets you know you are going to need. It is heavily recommended to take any technology on board with you, in order to not risk any damage to it. There is no compassion to luggage at all, unless specified by the customer.

Minimum On-Person Inventory

You may want to carry very minimally at the airport, due to security checkpoints. You will need to empty out EVERYTHING you have. If it is a laptop computer, the lid must be open and in a separate basket. You will be given a basket to put the rest of your items into for checking. Also, your shoes must be removed when this happens. Try wearing something that you can easily remove. Yes, this is quite embarrassing to many people, but you would be surprised at where people can keep dangerous items. Have your identification card (ID) or passport, depending on the destination, in a reachable place as well, since you will need them to get a boarding pass, and you will also need one of these at the security checkpoint.

Boarding Passes

There are a few different ways to obtain your flight boarding passes. You can either grab them when checking into your flight at the airport, or you can usually print them out at your home about twenty-four hours prior to the flight in question. If taking the twenty-four hour option, it saves time at the airport which can be used to go do other things, like security, which we will discuss further down in more detail. Some airlines will let you have an electronic copy of the boarding pass on your phone. this can be accessed by the Wallet app on iOS, or through an email on Android devices.

Transportation

One important thing is to have a transportation plan before or after flights. You don’t want to stay in an airport, right? Obtaining transportation now a days is much easier. If a friend/family member cannot assist, you can use a taxi cab, Uber or Lyft. Keep in mind, though, that taxis are a bit more expensive than the Uber and Lyft apps. You’re still riding with strangers, though. Coordinate everything on times you would need transportation. When catching flights, it is recommended to be at the airport about one to two hours early. Some flights can arrive earlier than expected, and they can take off without you, if you fail to arrive in a timely manner. If you have a family member or friend waiting for you, have them meet you at a certain point. For instance, yall can either meet at baggage claim, or outside in front of the airport somewhere. Be sure to communicate where you are at all times, if this is the case.

At the Airport

Once at the airport, it is almost time to start your journey to a destination via a flight! Now, we shall look into the sequence of events that will take you right on board!

Checking In

This is the first department you will head to at the airport. Here, you will have the opportunity to check in any heavy baggs. In that situation, the worker at the counter will instruct you to put the luggage on a specific place on their counter. They can also help fill out luggage tags with your contact information. If your luggage is lost, people can use these ttags to let you know it was found. they will also print out any boarding passes needed to show the gate agent to board the flight. If you have a disability, some airlines have the option of what is known as “Pre-boarding.” This means you get to board the flight before anyone else! It is a good idea to remind the agent you will need assistance through the rest of this process. Family members cannot go past here unless arranged prior to a flight, so it is a good idea to say “goodbye” to them here. The agent will have you sit and wait for a worker to assist you. As a fair warning, many workers will ask if you need a wheelchair. Unless you really need one, make sure they know you are able to walk. Laziness should NOT, be an excuse.

Security

It is that time! Time to show people all that athlete’s foot you got, I mean, remove your shoes and any belongings you have on your person! You’ll put your shoes in one basket, any laptop will go on a separate basket as well. Then you will have another basket with your items. At this point, the security agent will do one of two things, which we will outline below. One thing to note, if you hear a beep coming from close by, one of two things happened.

  1. You forgot to remove an item from your inventory. This can be fixed by just giving said items to the agent and you can still go through.
  2. Hopefully not, but something dangerous was detected. At that point, you better say goodbye to that flight, and may have a vacation somewhere else. They offer free amenities, and there are also people there! The only downside to this is, you can’t pick your room. In fact, the room is made of bars. It’s actually called “Jail.”

If you have anything in your body such as braces, metal screws, or anything else, it is a good idea to inform the security prior to going through the scanners. Remember. The beeping can happen during either of the next two methods.

The Quick Method

This method basically consists of the agent holding your hand, and both of you will pass through a narrow camera field. No worries, they use gloves. Don’t correct them on the proper way of guiding, because this is a very quick 3 second or so method. Once you pass through, all items will travel on a conveyor belt, which you may hear beside you. Assuming everything goes well, you will then be given to your temporary assistant, and they will help you get organized.

The Awkward Method

This method consists of the agent guiding you to a small room. You will be instructed to put your hands above your head, while a camera scans you. The awkward part of this method is that agents have the ability to perform a patdown, if needed. These can be extremely uncomfortable to some people. Essentially, the agent will begin going around your body with one hand, from head to toe. They may also pull out a small handheld camera and scan your head with it. Do not panic. It does not take long. On average, it should take about two minutes total. Once finished, and all goes well, you will be taken to your assistant afterwords. You have successfully made it through the hardest part! It’s now time to wait for the flight!

Waiting Time

Now that security is done, it is time to go to the flight’s gate! No, it is not a gate like you would find on a fence. Think of it as an open area with a door which leads to a runway. You will be taken to a chair, to wait for the flight! This is where the assistant and you go different ways. You will start your journey, and the assistant will report back to her boss and await another person needing help. From here, just listen to music, socialize, or take a nap until the flight arrives. When it does, you will hear an announcement over the gate’s intercom. Pay attention to the cities the airplane will land in, to make sure the destinations match your flight. When the flight is ready, an agent from the gate or a flight attendant will assist you to board the plane. Have your boarding pass ready to show. It’s now time to fly!

On The Flight

At this point, you are helped by flight attendants for the rest of your flight. This part is simple. You just sit and enjoy the feeling of flying! You will first hear instructions on how to wear the seatbelts of the plane. In many planes, the seatbelt buckle slides into the locking device. To remove the seatbelt, lift the plastic flap on the locking device, and the buckle will release. You will also get evacuation instructions, which is important to listen to if it is your first time. In some cases, you can request a braille version of a safety card with more information on these instructions. Once all the formalities are done, you will be in the air, heading to your destination! The flight attendant will go around asking if you want a snack or drink after a while. When the flight is almost finished, they will collect any trash you may have.

The Call Button

If for some reason something goes wrong, and you need a flight attendant, you can find a button on the plane’s roof above your head. It is recommended you have someone assist with this, because the button for the lights and the “Call” button may look very similar. Or, if you are at the front, memorize the attendant’s name, and simply say it to get their attention.

Post-Flight

Once you get off the plain, an attendant will help you out of the runway and into the destination airport. If you have a connecting flight, the assistant will assist you there. Otherwise, it is time for baggage claim, if you have checked bags in. If not, it’s time to start exploring!

Ready To Go

Remember the transportation plan? It’s time to get out of that airport. At the airport, there are taxi’s lined up outside that you can use. Just have the assistant take you to one. If you are calling an Uber or Lyft, have the attendant take you to the pickup location for these services. All airports have a specific place for these services to park and pick up passengers.

Baggage Claim

If you have bags that have been checked in at the counter, it’s time to go get them! Baggage claim consists of a large conveyor belt which will carry the bags in a circle around a certain area. It is VERY important to remember either the color of the bags, or anything that may stand out. You can also use a bluetooth luggage tracker such as an AirTag to play a sound to locate it using your phone. Regardless, once you find your luggage, you are good to go! Remember, your assistant will be with you until you locate the luggage.

Conclusion

Wow! So much information, right? It can be overwhelming, but we promise, it will all be worth it once you have flown a few times. Have any ideas or suggestions we missed? Let us know, so we can include them here! Of course, questions are also welcome! Happy travels!

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VIBES

VIBES Number 3: Labeling Something, NOT Someone

Introduction

Sometimes, we don’t need all high tech gizmos to get things done around the house. The gadgets we already have like stoves, laundry machines, etcetera, are pretty good, especially if you are lucky to have the older machines with buttons. To make these machines more accessible, you can label each button for a better experience when using them. “How, though?” No worries! Read on to find out four of the most common ways to label such things! All of them are very inexpensive, and you can be sure that they will last a very long time! This not only applies to appliances, though. It can also apply to food items and practically anything else you have that needs some sort of identification.

A Quick Labeling Note

Depending on how advanced you are, labeling items can vary from very minimum labeling, to labeling every button on the machine. Let’s say you are labeling a microwave. For myself, I only have three labels on the microwave on the number “5,” “Start,” and “Stop.” This is because I can tell by feel and spacial recognition that the number “2” is slightly above the 5, and “4” and “6” are to the left and right of “5” respectively, even if the microwave is a touchscreen style. Each person will have their own style of labeling. Most teachers of the visually impaired try to go for the minimum labeling, so the child can practice their spacial awareness, and in situations where something may not be labeled, they can use deductive reasoning to still figure out something based on its familiarity. With that note out of the way, let’s get to some labeling! “But hey! I won’t be able to see that! Man, blind people really know how to ruin stuff!” Don’t worry! the items that will be covered are transparent, so sighted people can still use the labeled items in question.

A Braille Labeler

Remember the good old print labels you could slide into a printer and be able to have a label for let’s say, a box? Well, we have the same thing in braille! The difference is that these braille labelers use a roll of special tape which is the exact width of a braille cell. This goes into the labeler, and as you input letters, the tape will move. There are actually two types of braille labelers. We will cover these below.

The Dial Labeler

This will show how long these babies have been around. These braille labelers had a special gadget inside, which was controled by a pretty large dial. Around the dial, you would see all the possible letters and punctuation you could turn this dial to, in order to then squeeze the trigger on the underside of the labeler to input that letter. I know, tedious, right? When you were done, you would then turn the dial to a picture of scissors (represented by a tactile rectangle) to then squeeze that same trigger to cut the label. Sometimes it would not be a clean cut, because the tab you would use to pull the cover off of the tape would disappear, and you would either have to do it again, or use something to get that cover off. However, despite the tediousness, it gets the job done for quick labels. You can purchase this device right here!

The 6dot Labeler.

This labeler came out five years ago. I guess many people complained about their hand strength with the previous labelers enough to the point where a company took it upon themselves to create a much better idea, and as of now, this is the new standard! The 6dot is a labeler with a braille keyboard. You can also use a QWERTY keyboard with it to label items, perfect for family or friends to create the labels as well! In the middle between dots “1” and “4” of the unit, you will find a magical button that when pressed, does a precise cut of the label when you are done creating it! No more needing to cut labels with knives or remove dials just to get your label back! The price tag is a bit hefty though, but it is a worthwhile investment. It uses the same tape as the Reizen devices discussed above. Here is the 6dot if you wish to find out more information!

The Dots

If you want something much simpler to label items, we highly recommend you purchase what is called “Bump dots.” They are dots on a piece of paper that you can remove, to then stick anywhere you want to have a label! These dots come in different sizes and colors, which will be very helpful to distinguish different things that are labeled. For instance, you could use a larger dot for a “Stop” button or a small dot for a number on a microwave. The colors mostly help the people that are low vision to distinguish the different labeled items. here is a variety pack of these bump dots so you can figure out what is best for the person using the labels in question, or they may even have a personal preference.

Paint, You Puffed It Up!

Did you know that puff paint, which you can find at craft stores or even Walmart, is used for labeling as well? Yes my friend, it is! In this situation, you can make either dots, or small pictures/markings to label things as well! Best of all, this works on things like cans. Let’s say you’ll be using a can of flour and sugar and will be re-filling these. Well, you can have a more permanent label on each one with the puff paint so you know which one is which! You would have to wait about twenty-four hours for this to dry, but once it is, you have yourself a much more permanent label! You can also use puff paint to draw very detailed pictures, but we will save that for another article!

Cards for Groceries

This method is most effective on cans and boxes. You can take a note card, such as the ones you use as flashcards, and write braille or large print on those. Once finished, you wrap a rubber band around the card and item in question. That makes it a good reusable item! Once you are finished with the item in question, for example cereal, you can then create a shopping list with those specific cards, and when you buy new items, you can reuse the cards again!

Conclusion

These are just some of many ways you can label things around your house to make life a lot easier. These are the more common methods that many people use. Do you have a different way that you label items or show your students how to label? Let us know, and remember that there’s no “right by the book” way to label things! Every method counts! Happy labeling!

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VIBES

VIBES Number 2: The Screenless Holiday Gift Guide

Introduction

Welcome to a special edition of VIBES! Since as of this writing, it is the holiday season, we would like to share some gift ideas that are both fun, and accessible to your friend, family member, or significant other who is blind or visually impaired. “Jose, you do realize everyone has different tastes in gifting, right?” Yes, I know! However, here’s a basic list of some non and high tech gifts you can give to someone on your list, if said person, like myself, is NOT a fan of clothing. I mean, we get that yearly! (well, at least the majority of people do) So, why clothing for Christmas? Okay, rant over. We will sort it into categories, starting at non-tech, and building up!

Non-tech Items

These gifts are if you do not want to spend a ton of money on a very expensive gift. Of course, the friend in question should understand that the most important part of a gift is the gesture, and not the gift itself.

Gift Cards

You can NEVER, go wrong with a gift card from practically any store of your choosing! They can go from five dollars, to practically one thousand dollars! If you decide to go for the thousand, and you have a significant other, you better hope they don’t break up with you right after! Keep in mind though, if you would like to make life easier for a visually impaired person, it is highly recommended you purchase this gift card online. There should be an option to email it to someone. Once you purchase and send it by email, all the person has to do is click on a “Redeem now,” or a “Redeem wizard” link on the email. They can then follow the instructions to add the funds to their account, which most places after clicking the link, and if they already are logged in, it will be done automatically. :After that, they can either save that towards that new piece of technology, or buy themselves a five pound bag of candy!

Braille Games And Cards

“Dude, it’s 2020! No one plays board games now a days! Why do you even bother?” Some people actually still enjoy playing board games and/or cards. We have a braille/large print equivalent of the most popular games out there! “But it’s all braille! How are we supposed to play that game with no braille! I ain’t learnin no new system of reading just for them blind folk to have fun!” No worries! These board games come with print as well. It’s just a braille overlay. Here is a great place where you can get a few selections! Want some accessible playing cards for different card games? Right this way!

Greeting Cards

This one may sound like, “Uh, they can’t read that.” True, but this is where you come in. Want to improve your description skills? Well, this is a good way to do it! Describe everything on it. Try getting one with pictures so you can have a bit more of a challenge. Now, if you want to be a little more advanced, you can get a talking card with a pre-recorded message, or, you can even record a personalized message on a blank greeting card! If a card may sound basic to you, you can replace that talking part with a bear! We all know where you can go buy said specialized teddy bear! Just make sure the message isn’t too tear jerking, because if you have a blind significant other, and they decide to leave you, that message is gonna hurt! Bad, especially if they keep that bear!

Food

You can NEVER, go wrong with food! It can range from cookies to full blown meals! If you are creative enough, you can even add braille or tactile markings to a cookie or cake! “What’s Tactile?” Seriously? How could anyone not… Sorry, got a little carried away. Someone at one point actually asked me this question. Just remember this, and you will be good! Tactile means touch. Whether it is raised lines or braille, that falls in that category!

Message In A Mug

Many people buy customized coffee mugs, or shirts with a certain quote or something funny written on it. As mentioned above, if you purchase this, ensure it is raised or written in braille. Most of us can read a bit of print to tell what it says, as long as it is raised properly. If you can feel it, chances are we will too. It is also a good idea to go ahead and read the message to the recipient, just in case.

Technology Related Items

Here it is! If you want to spend slightly more on a gift, here’s some ideas on items that are more technological!

Headphones And Speakers

If your gift recipient is an audio fan, like myself, you can get them a nice pair of headphones or speakers! Headphones and speakers now a days come in many different prices, shapes and sizes! It is all up to what you think they will like. Most of these also talk or make noise if they are bluetooth enabled devices, offering the ability for independent setup and connection.

Cables and Chargers

Has the recipient of the gift complained on how their charging cables to their smartphones or tablets have broken? You can never go wrong with purchasing them more of these said cables, that are more durable! Here is a good resource to purchasing some good tough cables! Of course, if you’d like to get them an accessible power bank to charge said devices, you can get them the Ennergrid VS 150 power bank, which we actually reviewed! If you would like to find out more about it, Click here!

Phones And Computers

Okay, you want more? Well, now we’re talking “I really love this person!” If you really love the person you are giving a gift to, and you have decided there is no budget, why not get them a computer or smartphone? Of course, you probably are going to skip this section because it is rare that a gift is this expensive. But for those that decided to read this far, here are some things to keep in mind when purchasing these kind of devices.

Smartphones

Now a days, the smartphone is the most common device found out there. You may have that person with a flip phone, but most of the time, it may be a senior citizen using these, or that blind person that refuses to use a smartphone because it is “Too complicated, and I refuse to upgrade!” Make sure you do your research on accessibility of said smartphones. I will go ahead and tell you right now, the iPhone from Apple, is the most accessible for someone who is totally blind, while an Android phone is more accessible to someone who has limited vision. Of course, there are cases where the iPhone has also helped a person with little vision. “How DARE YOU SAY THAT?” It is true! As someone who has tested both screen readers on both sides, I can say iOS has more powerful features, and the app store actually has more apps that are compatible with VoiceOver, the built-in screen reader on iOS devices. Android has a smaller app set, but TalkBack is not as up to date as iOS. Remember, you don’t have a budget if you decided to read this far. The iPad is also a great entry level tablet if you want a good modern device, but not as expensive as the iPhone. It will save you about $500 minimum, if you decide to go the iPad route. Fear not, blind seniors. There is also a phone out there for you! This phone has buttons and has a modified version of Android. Think of this phone as the, old fashioned smartphone, due to the internals being in 2020, but the physical body of the phone is still stuck in 2005. This is called the Blind Shell, and you can get it in a few different variants. Don’t worry, it works with all major carriers, just make sure you buy a sim card for it. You can find out more info on this phone right here.

Computers

This part is a bit different when choosing a computer. The main two things to remember when getting a computer for someone who is blind or visually impaired are to make sure they have enough storage and RAM. With most computers, they have built-in accessibility features that a blind person can use to set them up. For Windows computers, after setup, the recipient can install other programs to make them accessible. That being said, I recommend the computer has 4 gigabytes of RAM (used to load the programs when launched) and five hundred gigabytes of internal storage MINIMUM! If you intend to get a Windows tablet, the same RAM minimum applies, but in this situation, we highly recommend purchasing an external hard drive. Those have many different storage sizes, and can range from economical to, “Only my workplace purchases those because of price!”

Conclusion

Here we are! Here are just SOME, ideas on what kind of gifts you can give a blind or visually impaired person for any festive holiday. Of course, you can give them anything you would like, as long as they can enjoy it equally like their sighted peers. If you have any ideas, questions, or unique gifts you have given to a friend, feel free to email us! Happy shopping!

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VIBES

VIBES Number 1: Hollywood Versus Reality

Introduction

Welcome to Hollywood! I mean, hang on a sec, let me rewind the tape a bit. Welcome to, Reality! Yes, we will be looking at a bit of common stereotype questions we blind and visually impaired people get! You’re probably asking yourself, “Jose, why are you even mentioning Hollywood?” Well, if you have seen movies or TV shows with a blind character in them, (which are actually quite a few of them out there) you know that they make them all cool, with interesting features. The only TV anything that really portrayed a blind person correctly, in my opinion, is “The Miracle Worker.” In this film, Helen Keller was not a superhero, and I commend the writers for portraying her correctly, even though she was also deaf. It was a two in one great comparison, based on her story.

DISCLAIMER

This article may be too sensitive for some readers. Please note that this is written by a blind person, and it discusses facts. So, before we get emails saying, “You don’t know heck about what we’re going through!” Reader discression is STRONGLY ADVISED!

A Quick Note Before We Begin

This post is going to be a little different in format. This is going to be a “Frequently Asked Questions” edition article of Screenless Allies, where I will put the most common question that matches a stereotype, followed by the answer. So, without any further delays, let’s dive in!

So, You’re Blind, Which Means You Ain’t Got No Eyeballs?

Uh, that question should NOT even come out of anyone’s mouth. You see, dear Reader, a lot of blind people are not comfortable with that question. Yes, you will find those, like the Screenless Allies team, that will answer the question with a bit of humor. But, the majority of blind people do not like talking about their blindness in general. Some will probably give you the very basics, if you’re lucky. Even if you become their close friend, you may not even get questions like that answered. So, let me enlighten you. Just because a person is blind, does not mean they do not have eyeballs. Some blind people have prosthetic eyeballs, which are fake eyes. Some reasons as to why they use those follow:

  • They like having those just to look cool.
  • They may have lost an eye.
  • They do not like showing their real eyes.

You may also see some blind people wearing sunglasses. No, this is not a weird habbit. Some blind people do get bothered by the sun, or may have a bit of light perception. So yes, we DO, have eyeballs. They just do not work.

Do Blind People Keep Their Eyes Closed All the Time?

No. While a lot of us have our eyes closed and cannot blink, there are some blind people that can open their eyes. They don’t work, but hey, at least they can be opened, which makes doctors and the blind person happier because there isn’t a need to pry the eye open with your hand to look inside it for check-ups.

So, You Have No Vision, Which Means You Have Powerful Senses Or A Sixth Sense, Right?

Absolutely not! Just because we don’t have vision doesn’t mean we easily become a superhero, who then turns into a lawyer, and then just wipes people out of the world because the hero can tell they’re lying! I’m looking at you, daredevil movie franchise! When a blind person is quite young, special teachers and therapists will come over to the blind baby’s house to train their other senses by playing with the baby. This typically consists of in depth training by either making the toys make noise, having the child touch different textures, or heck, even food can be used to train the senses of taste and smell! But training begins in the crib, encouraging the baby to explore their surroundings of toys and textures. The more training they get, the more they use and develop those senses. Since vision is not there, those senses are trained on heavily so we can rely on them even more as we get older. Heightened, not quite. Powerful, yes, through training, not naturally from out of the womb!

So All Yall Use That There Echo Location Thang Bats Use In Caves To Find Food?

Nope. While some blind people do use echo location, which is a routine consisting of making a sound that can bounce off of a wall to tell where we are, it’s not always the case. This is used a lot by bats. I don’t wish to go into scientific explanation to how it works, but here is an experiment you can try. Find a wall in your house. Step away from it a little, and click your tongue, talk, or do something that makes noise. Listen to the sound as it bounces back to you. Now, find an opening in your house, and do the same thing. Notice how the sound doesn’t bounce back? That indicates an opening. You may also hear more of a reverberation when doing this. Now, walk with the wall and opening beside you and do the same thing. You’ll notice the change if you listen hard enough. That, is Echo location. However, while some blind people rely on this tool exclusively, a lot of others will use a cane or guide dog to navigate. Echo location can be used a little when navigating with those navigation aids, but at the same time, we don’t have to make the sound to know where walls are. Remember I mentioned the training of the senses? Well, again, this is where your hearing should be trained enough to pick walls and openings up without making noise.

Ooooo! So Since You’re Blind, Does This Mean You’re Getting A Cute Little Dog To Help You So Then I can Actually Be Your Friend?

NO Way! Just because someone is totally blind, doesn’t mean we all have service dogs. Some of us, like yours truly, prefer the cane. Let’s face it, white canes are much, much cheaper. Plus, no vet visits, bathing, etcetera! Each blind person has their own preference on what they will use as their traveling companion, but it is not good to assume everyone has a guide dog. “Jose, why did you include the being your friend part?” Unfortunately, due to the weakness of humans with dogs, a lot of blind people that are guide dog users get a little bit more of a, “Special Treatment.” They are included in a lot of social gatherings, get special privileges, and just overall use that dog to their advantage. I’m not saying every dog user does this, but I know a few that have been through that. While as a cane user, we are practically ignored. Pair a guide dog user with a cane user, and you will see who gets more attention. I would like to ask that if that happens, please don’t do that! You are making yourself, and the service dog user look bad. You, for having a weak heart when looking at, “that cute puppy that I wanna take home with me!” and giving that blind person what they want because of that. It looks bad for the blind person, because some of them may realize, “Hey! If I use my dog as an excuse, I could rule the world! Wahahahaha!” Now, there are some blind people who will NOT, allow you to even get near the animal, which I heavily encourage, because they have their independence, and their dog is safe. We may cover service dogs in a future article, but for now, let’s move on!

Poor You!

This is going to be a little strong to some people, but this is necessary. WE DO NOT, WANT YOUR PITY! All blind people get this all the time! “I’m crossing a street!” “No! Stop! Let me help you! I was crying so hard when I saw you lining up!” This unfortunately makes us look even more helpless. A lot of us have been fully trained to do a lot of things you can do like cooking, cleaning, crossing streets, etc. While I understand you are only trying to help, a lot of us, like yours truly, would rather us ask YOU for help if we need it. Unfortunately, some blind people use this to their advantage, going as far as to finding a way to get a product they found online or may have heard about that they would love to have! They will spin you a tale on how it is a great product, and ‘We can’t afford it.” That instance when you think, “Oh, poor thing! Let me see what I can do!” Then you call schools and other places to see if you can get donations or get a school or other organization to buy said piece of equipment. Then you get the equipment, knowing perfectly well they are capable of finding a job, and buying it themselves! The point to that scenario is, you just proved how pitiful they are, no matter if you are their friend. If they are capable of doing things like that themselves, let them do it! That, would be a TRUE friend in my book. I would unfriend that person who went out there and used me for pity like that. “Jose, you just don’t know about friendship!” It’s a question of pride and dignity for a very independent blind person, who wants to be as independent as possible. It just makes the people who are trying to “fit in” with the sighted world look bad because everyone will assume, “Oh, so, no blind person can afford a computer. Well, guess we’ll all have to call the CEO’s of big companies to see if they can donate money so we can get it for them,” even though we get a paycheck. Now, there are a few blind people that would just rather stay home, to either have pity for themselves, or be on a computer talking to other blind people who are the same way, and rely on either family or governmental assistance.

Religion and Disability

This topic will also sting a little more to some people. It has been a personal experience of mine, that people who are blind or are disabled in general, get the people that think they can “Pray for their healing.” I’m going to stop you right there and say, you will NOT get brownie points for praying for a disabled person. You may get critiqued pretty bad, or in some cases, you may get punched in the face. That is utterly disrespectful to that person. It may make you feel good, but not the other person. Sure, you may get that rare person that accepts prayers for healing, but I promise you, others are pretty sensitive. So when you ask for permission to pray like that, be prepared to either get yelled at, or have them walk away. No, being disabled is not a “curse from God because you did something bad.” Please keep that kind of prayer to yourself.

Conclusion

This is just a few of MANY, stereotypes on blindness. There are quite a few more, but these are the essentials to know. Maybe in a future installment, we can cover more of these. Of course, if you have any questions, feel free to email us if you have any questions about blindness in general! We are happy to answer any of them you may have, and who knows? Your question could be included in another installment of this style of frequently asked questions!

Categories
VIBES

Introduction to VIBES

Introduction

Welcome to another new section of Screenless Allies! This section, as the title says, is called, “VIBES.” This stands for “Visually Impaired/Blind Experiencing Success.” This is a section that we feel you will enjoy, because this will have a bit more variety than Atechability. This is the “Non-tech” section of the site. Here is what you will find in this section.

How Do You Do That?

How on earth does a blind or visually impaired person do this? It’s just so INSPIRING to me the fact they can do it, I’m gonna cry for five hours, then call the news and tell them about this! Oh, sorry, got a little carried away. One of the things you will find here are a lot of how-to’s for basic independent living skills. Things can go as basic as labeling items, to more advance topics such as cooking. This is primarily designed to inform, but if you are a teacher of the visually impaired or maybe a friend of a blind person, and you wish to get a blindness perspective about doing everyday life activities, this kind of article will tell you all about it!

I Didn’t Know Blind People Actually Have Eyes!

In this type of article, as the heading suggests, we will discuss misinformation about living with a visual impairment. There is so much stereotype floating around about a blind and visually impaired person, it is not even funny. While unfortunately, many people have tried addressing this, we feel like we can do it in a bit of an informative, with a touch of humor kind of way. I have seen that when I interact with people who have never been around a blind person, humor can get you quite far. I have made acquaintances that way. While this may work on some, others may not appreciate it, but I, with the rest of the team, would like to share, OUR, experiences.

What Else?

You will just have to find out and stay tuned to this section for other types of articles! You never know what we will publish here. We may even publish personal stories that we feel may educate others! We will not do audio books, sorry. We promise, this section will be just like the Atechability series in regards to information; detailed, but easy to understand. We thank you for reading this introduction, and we are looking forward to your feedback!