Snow Leapord – What The Media Have Forgotton To Tell

Apple – Mac OS X – Accessibility.

Snow Leopard the latest update to the popular Leopard operating system installed on all modern day Mac computers has got an update, it’s only a little one and mainly focuses around bug fixes, it’s not a complete overhaul of the way the system looks but at less than £30 you would not expect a miracle.

Opinion as I have understood it has been divided, many see snow Leopard as a bit of a waste of money and time, its well documented how it is faster than Leopard (which I have never found slow).

There are a collection of features that have not been spoken about in the public eye that I have seen in any way and that is the updates to the already good accessibility tools.

To put this into context most of the time I use something called Text- To -Speech or more commonly referred to in is easier form of TTS or a Screen Reader. For Mac this is something called Voiceover. Basically a lovely little American man called Alex reads me everything that happens on screen, all the things I would struggle to read. I navigate through different windows and applications with ease and am able to for the majority of my time edit the two websites and one forum which I own and manage solely using this software.

Its hard to explain to a person that has never used TTS but when Apple created Voiceover they took the manual on making TTS engines and threw it off  a plane before passing it through a mulching machine and stamping on its mussy remains. Voiceover is unique anyone can use it straight out of the box, no additional software needed.

A blind person can go along to an Apple store and say ‘I would like a MacBook please’, pay for it  return home open the box and use it straight off. Apple are the only computer and software developer to do this, they are incredibly committed to accessiblity and see there products as the way forward, even the iPhone3G S now has Voiceover and can be used by visually impaired people.

With the Microsoft  counterparts we all know and… hate that is simply not possible, you would have to purchase your laptop then spend an additional £800 on software to make it accessible and then install the software.

Snow Leopard is once again revolutionising the way that blind and partially sighted people use their computers TTS engines have forever relied on the keyboard to allow users to navigate their way around their computer, this is no more.

With Voiceover and Snow Leopard OS X 10.6 users can now not only navigate with the keyboard but also with the touch pad on MacBook’s using gestures. Now that for many people may well be the closest they ever get to using a computer mouse, something that if you have severe visual impairment you are seriously unlikely to ever do!  Voiceover is more powerful and better at handling complex web pages with the new release which will be very welcomed by many as there are certain web pages that Voiceover currently just does not have the power to understand.  For example the webpage I am writing this on right now, Voiceover cannot cope with all the information and the styling of WordPress, which is as much down to the design faults of wordpress as it is to the lack of Voiceover grunt. With increased power I hope that Voiceover will overcome the WordPress accessibility issues, but time will tell.

I must now buy Snow Leopard and quickly.

Alas I am not the only person jumping up and down giggling with technology fuelled excitement whilst drooling slightly at apples accessibility my freelancer friend Lesley Smith has decided to convert to the ways of apple, mostly because of the accessibility features I have just mentioned and a fair amount of persuading from me.

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BBC NEWS | Wales | Parking dispute blind man arrest

BBC NEWS | Wales | Parking dispute blind man arrest.

This is what blind people face every time they leave there front doors, drivers parking on pavements, people leaving there bikes on the pavement, overhanging branches, roadwork’s, and street furniture not to mention other pedestrians and road users.

The sad thing is this is a common story all over the country, I have had the same problem near my parents house and even worse in Southampton, it put the safety of guide dog owners at risk and threatens our independence.

It also causes problems for people with pushchairs and wheelchair users.

Car drivers please don’t park on the pavement.

Braille: A necessity for a modern day VI journalist?

Since my right eye deteriorated so suddenly I have been solely reliant on my left eye for every single day to day task, from reading large print resources to putting on make up one eye must to the job of two.

As a result I am getting more eye strain than ever before which tends to make life a little tricky, hopefully over time my eyes and brain will adjust to the way things are now but there is know way of knowing when or if that will completely happen.

As a result my university lecturers  have strongly advised me to learn braille and they are not just saying this out of the blue, they have been doing there research and have spoken to several blind journalists who have all have stated the importance of braille for VI journalists and have declared that it is a crutial must have skill.

The issue of course is that I have absolutely no experience of learning braille and will have to learn it from scratch, something that I know will be very difficult  considering how late I will be starting to learn.

In addition I can’t afford the price of even a basic Brailler something that is quite essential in order to learn how to write braille, I have been trawling the web already trying to find a cheap model or a second hand one but have so far come back with nothing. if anyone thinks they may be able to help with this please get in touch!

I also have to find a Braille tutor to teach me, I have absolutely no idea on where to start looking or who is going to pay for the lessons as cost is going to be a serious issue even if I do get a part-time job.

I really do see the possible benefits one thing I have learnt through the whole process of my right eye deteriorating is that nothing is guaranteed and all though it is a cliché nothing should be taken for granted. With this in mind I defiantly need to start learning Braille so I guess I will keep you posted.

BBC – Ouch! – Best days of your life?

BBC – Ouch! (disability) – Opinion – Best days of your life?.

School – for me it was not the happiest days of my life, in primary school I was isolated and ignored by my class mates, I had no friends was often bulled and did not have enough support for me to be able to access everything that went on in class.

Secondary school saw me make friends who accepted me for who I was, I had about 10 or so friends. The rest of the school saw me as an easy target and I was bullied, abused  and assaulted. As if that wasn’t all bad enough I had the teachers to deal with and the stigma of having an adult sat next to me in every class.

Then there where all the little problems that come up in class, having someone read to you in a room that is silent, having to sit right in front of the video to try and see it, missing out on posters, news and important events thanks to not being able to see them.

College was supposed to get better and at first support wise everything was a lot better I had more choice as to when I did and didn’t want support, but there where serious issues with members of staff. One such member of staff did not treat me well as a result of my disability, it was constant verbal abuse, that has damaged me forever.

College also saw my isolation return, for the first 2 years at college most days I had one of my best friends to keep me company at break and lunch times. By my third year I spent all breaks and lunchtimes either sat in the library, wandering around the campus in circuits or I just left and went for a walk.

It’s actually painful writing this post, there are many events during my education what I simply cannot write about, I have kept this post to the bare minimum but at the same time I feel I  have to convey what as a disabled kid I went through and now I feel thoroughly depressed!

Just Giving!

Good evening to you all dear readers, I am forever thankful that you actually look at this stuff and at least some of you apparently like it and come to visit time and time again!

I am however about to beg… In September I am going to be rescued from drowning by a Newfoundland dog.

I’m hoping I won’t actually be drowning but saying that I have not been swimming in  a long time, anyway I digress, I am after sponsorship for this event to raise money for The Guide Dogs For The Blind Association (UK).

As you should by now be aware I benefit from having a Guide Dog (Gus) so this is a charity very close to my heart. Having Gus has boosted my confidence and made me so much more independent, we go everywhere together and are very rarely apart. There are also the benefits that Gus is my companion, I am never alone because he is always their, at hospital appointments, at uni, at Guide Meetings, at cricket… The list would be endless.

Please help me to raise money to insure that Guide Dogs can continue there vital work for years to come.

Click on the button on the right to sponsor me or visit http://tiny.cc/kXB8M

BBC – Ouch! (disability) – Opinion – Disability Bitch – Disability Bitch vs blind people

BBC – Ouch! (disability) – Opinion – Disability Bitch – Disability Bitch vs blind people.

I have to say I would have to agree with Disability Bitch on this one, I don’t get what RNIB sees to gain by telling the world that blind people are a bigger drain on the econermy than many other disabled people.

It worries me take stats like that the wrong way and anything can happen, I worry it will open the doors to all kinds of discrimination and service cuts in many areas that are stretched already!

The country is facing economic depression – simple cure kill off all the blind people and it will all be fine. I seriously hope not, but look at history it has happened before.

BBC – Ouch! (disability) – Opinion – Disability Bitch – Disability Bitch vs blind people

BBC – Ouch! (disability) – Opinion – Disability Bitch – Disability Bitch vs blind people.

I have to say I would have to agree with Disability Bitch on this one, i don’t get what RNIB sees to gain by telling the world that blind people are a bigger drain on the econermy than many other disabled people.

It worries me take stats like that the wrong way and anything can happen, I worry it will open the doors to all kinds of discrimination and service cuts in many areas that are stretched already!

The Eye Unit Continues to Amaze

On Thursday of this week I got a interesting letter through from the eye unit appointments,  it contained 3 letters one saying my appointment was at 1 o’clock on Tuesday another saying it was at 2 o’clock and another saying it was at 3 o’clock now put that into context that I already had an appointment booked for this morning I was rather confused.

So I phoned the appointments line and was told that it was an error on the system, I needed to keep my Saturday appointment and that the appointment on Tuesday is actually at 1 o’clock.

So I got up at 6:30 Saturday morning,  fed Gus Got us both ready and headed out to get the 8:05 bus to Southampton General Eye Unit. Those of you that know me well will be aware that I am not a morning person at the best of times but on a Saturday, getting to the hospital for 8:45 was very difficult. My Bus was unfortunately late so I was about 5 minutes late for my appointment but the receptionist was very nice about it and because it was  a really small clinic with 30 patients and 3 doctors seeing them all they simply swapped me around so I was not late at all!

I’m getting to know the nurses quite well on the eye unit now, we are on first name terms in most cases they all love my dog and we have a bit of a laugh when I read out the lowest line of the eye chart I can see and they have no idea what I am going on about! (Due to the fact that all the letters are wrong)

So I did the distance vision test which is a laugh then went to have drops put in my eyes as normal in a attempt to dilate my pupils, I normally have to have 2 different kinds which normally don’t work to well anyway I told the nurse that I needed 2 different types and she assured me that I did not.

10 minutes later and I am approached and told I was right all along and that I need another lot of eye drops!

Anyhow I went in to see the doctor who was confused as to why I was there on the Saturday when I am going next Tuesday anyway, there where no consultants around because it was a Saturday so the doctor did all the usual checks and discovered that my Glaucoma was sky high in my left eye, the pressure is supposed to be around the 18 mark, my left eye was scoring 30. The doctor then got a bit worried and asked me a million questions and told me not to panic, I was very chilled out about it because I know eye pressures is all ways higher in the morning and after all the eye drops they had put in my eye must have had some effect on the pressure. Quite frankly the Doctor was telling me not to panic but she was more than me she then looked through my notes and pondered.

At the end of the day unfortunately my combination of eye conditions is both rather rare and complicated for this reason these days I all ways see a consultant so poor little registrar was evidently feeling rather out of her depth and did not know what to do. 

So I got a sorry I really don’t get why you are here right now and make sure you keep your appointment on Tuesday because I have no idea what to do!

Bless!

So I got up at 6:30 AM on a Saturday to go to the hospital for no reason, I remain unimpressed!

Seriously the appointments system is both fragile and ridiculously inefficient, 2 appointments in 4 days at the same place, now that’s just bizarre.

Also I used to get my appointment letters in large print,  but since moving to a new appointments system they are no longer able to produce the letters in large print, this is the eye unit the place where pretty much every patient could do with an accessible letter! I asked if my letters could in that instance be emailed through to me and was told that the system would not allow that either.

Happy BADD – Lets all be positive about disability

As you should know by now if you read this on a regular basis today it is Blogging Against Disableism Day, clicking on the BADD banner on the right will take you straight through to the hub and I would recommend it.

If I am completely honest I didn’t know what to write about for todays BADD. I was going to write something positive about the things I am proud of as a disabled person, not in a everyone smile and cheer at the poor little disabled person getting on with there every day lives but looking at the positive things we as disabled people bring to our communities and on a wider level society.

To oftern the media focus on the negatives of disability or use a patronising tone, unfortunatly this negativity oftern extends to the genral public or even worse service providers. Today at work I was asked to put our this statement on to our jobs database, written by the charity themselves

” Transport is a particular problem for people who are blind and partially sighted. Fear and uncertainty of how to get to their destination, often preventing people from going out altogether, which then can lead to isolation and depression.”

So this add would leave every person that reads it to believe that every blind and partially sighted person in the country feels isolated, scared to leave there own home and depressed. Not just that but its not exactly well written anyway is it? I’m not one to talk about grammar but its just not right in lots of ways. I know that there are pleanty of VI people up an down the contry who live happy contented and actives lives

So why am I not writing about the positives then? (and this is where it gets ironic) Today I have had a very bad day with all my impairments, my shoulder was very painful this morning which made me late, my eye has been playing up all day and you know what I am just having a bad day with my depression, I tried to book an appointment to see my GP today and was told that there where no appointments on the system yet so I would have to ring back and can’t be seen till June.

So basically whatever I wrote today would be utter shit, I have been trying to write something good for BADD all day, but today I just can’t.