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Good day everybody. The title sums it up. I've never done one of these before, but am happy to participate. I am going to my parents' place this afternoon for the Easter weekend, but I'll have my Mac with me so will be able to check for updates and such. I was going to post this later today, but figured I'd do it now because one of my tutors is coming and I'm going to hang out with a neighbor. So long for now, and happy Passover/Easter to everyone.
Hello everyone. This is just an entry to let y'all know that I signed on as a tenant for at least one more year here in my apartment complex. It seems they just cannot get rid of me, no matter what. My Service Contract Meeting took place earlier today, and it went well if I do say so myself. Major props to all the great people of Center for Independent Futures, including the office staff. Of course I cannot forget my neighbors here in the building, or our landlords. Thank you especially for fixing my toilet! That creepy whirring sound was driving me and others nuts! We're making some changes, or should that be *trying* to make some changes? The biggest of these is that I will hopefully be getting out some more. For one, I want to go back to the place where I was trained on my iPhone and learn a bit more from the same guy. I'm also hoping to work a bit with an O&M instructor who is on staff there. Hopefully she's not too busy with her other clients. The thing I want her to show me is how in the heck to use Maps on the iPhone. I mean, I already know the basics such as what a map is. After all, I have a relief map of the world right here in my apartment. But how to use Apple's on-board app, and how to use it in conjunction with a 3rd-party travel app such as Blindsquare or Soundscape from Microsoft. I've looked at Soundscape and Maps, and I think this will definitely be doable. So that's it from me tonight. Off to bed I go!
Entry title is pretty accurate. My neighbor's cooking business is currently taking a hiatus, due to personal reasons on his part. But I think I just found myself another job to do either in the meantime or alongside helping my neighbor out and stuff of that nature. That is, I'm going to start helping out a bit here on Dreamwidth. Or at least when I am free of a social commitment here and there. I've already started answering support requests. I don't know programming that well, and it doesn't know me that well. But I recently registered over at GitHub, and am going to hopefully try and figure that out. I also applied for a Dream Hack, but it appears that Dream Hacks are no longer being given out or something like that. But I'll figure out something. I also want to branch out and help others with their technology needs. I've used computers and inclusive technology in one form or another now for a number of years, and I feel that I am qualified to at least help out. I am passionate about the accessibility side of things, and I feel this is what I should do for a living. I headed off a panel discussion about inclusive technology on April 4
Hi! I've been asked to write about exceptionality. Specifically, my own exceptionality or why I feel that I am exceptional. I feel that I am exceptional because I have used inclusive technology in one form or another for a number of years. Since I have used it for so long, I know how it works. At the very least I know how certain inclusive technology works; only the stuff I have used. I don't even pretend to know everything there is to know about inclusive technology, because I am only one person and there are things that I have not used. I learned Braille grades 1 and 2 as a child, and am now fluent in them. I do not know grade 3 braille, or the new form called the Unified English Braille Code. But besides that, I have used screen readers with speech output. It is possible to use a screen reader with Braille, but I've yet to do that. I might never do that though, given the high and prohibitive cost of Braille displays these days.





But I'm not the only one who says that I am exceptional. Other people have said this too, and they've also told me that I am an asset to their class or whatever. This means a lot to me. I do not and have not let it dictate who I am though. After all, I cannot let this get to my head too much. I know that some in the disability community consider that sentiment not to be true, however. Some consider it an insult when they're told they are assets. .

Illinois

Mar. 28th, 2019 11:39 am
I moved to Illinois with my family back in 1985, because my father accepted a position at one of the hospitals here. In addition, a sister of mine needed a kidney transplant. The transplant happened, and was a success. Center for Independent Futures wasn't even a thing yet, so obviously none of us knew about it. But I'm sure the founders knew about it and perhaps were making plans for it. Or at least dreaming. But as of this writing Center for Independent Futures has been going strong for several years, and we are happy about that. heARTwords wasn't born either in 1985, but it's here now and thriving. Even without some of the members it is thriving. I might go back there one of these years, who knows?
Hi everyone. I have been asked to post the following sample letters, which can be modified for each individual or group according to their needs. These letters are specifically about people who are visually impaired dealing with healthcare professionals and such, but people who have disabilities in addition to or other than visual can benefit too. I am happy to report that I have had nothing but positive experiences dealing with various healthcare professionals, both where I currently reside and when I lived in another state. In addition, both the online patient portal run by my local provider and its accompanying iOS app play nicely with the 2 screen readers which I use. I'm not sure about the other screen readers or any other assistive technology though. Update: I was just informed by a neighbor that he has been timed out both online and with this provider's Android app, when attempting to contact his doctors' offices. This neighbor is not visually impaired, but does have another disability. While I've never experienced the time-out issue with this online portal, the issue has happened to me on other sites. I've yet to find out if it happens in the iOS app with VoiceOver. Feel free to download the letters at the following link, and use them accordingly. The text of each is also available right here in my entry. Thank you all for making this information accessible to everybody. My thanks also goes out to Bob Branco for making this information available at his website. https://www.brancoevents.com/advocacy-letter-for-visually-impaired-patients/ . Below I've pasted the text of each letter:




Patient Letter for the United States







To Whom It May Concern,

My name is -----, and I am a patient of Dr. -----. As a patient who is blind/visually impaired, I am writing to ask for specific considerations when visiting your medical facility, as I believe I should receive equal access to my own information as any sighted patients would automatically be granted.

Specifically, I am asking that you please take the following steps to make your documents, forms and all other processes accessible to everyone, including blind people like me:
1. Provide all bills, instructions, labs, reports and other correspondence in an accessible, electronic digital text format that is prepared and tagged in accordance with existing industry best practices, guidelines and standards, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
2. Make sure all processes, including check-in and check-out, are designed and implemented in a manner that works for all patients whether or not they are able to see. For example, if kiosks or tablets are used, the vendor should have a clear plan for making them accessible to patients with disabilities.
3. Draft and implement an accessibility policy and provide training to all management and staff to ensure it is followed consistently.

While you are working to address the long-term accessibility concerns I have just outlined, I am asking for the following considerations, which include:
1. Accessibility to your health services and documentation. Some examples of these requests may be to ask that I receive correspondence from the health care provider in: Large Print, Braille, Email, or a phone call.
2. I would also ask for a private place where a staff person can help complete necessary medical forms.
3. A text message or phone call to remind me of my appointment instead of a printed letter or postcard would also be quite helpful.
4. If you provide a patient portal, I may need assistance with setting it up and learning to use it with assistive technology. If the patient portal has not been designed for accessibility, then I may need considerable assistance from a staff member over the phone from time to time.

Thank you for giving consideration to these issues. Not only will following these examples benefit me as a patient regarding independence and privacy, but much of what I refer to is mandated by the effective communications and reasonable accommodations provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act, https://www.ada.gov/, which is a Federal law that must be followed just like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to which you are already bound to comply.

I thank you for your thoughtful consideration and I look forward to working with you on these matters.

Respectfully,

Patient Letter Globally

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is -----, and I am a patient of Dr. -----. As a patient who is blind/visually impaired, I am writing to ask for specific considerations when visiting your medical facility, as I believe I should receive equal access to my own information as any sighted patients would automatically be granted.

Specifically, I am asking that you please take the following steps to make your documents, forms and all other processes accessible to everyone, including blind people like me:
1. Provide all bills, instructions, labs, reports and other correspondence in an accessible, electronic digital text format that is prepared and tagged in accordance with existing industry best practices, guidelines and standards, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
2. Make sure all processes, including check-in and check-out, are designed and implemented in a manner that works for all patients whether or not they are able to see. For example, if kiosks or tablets are used, the vendor should have a clear plan for making them accessible to patients with disabilities.
3. Draft and implement an accessibility policy and provide training to all management and staff to ensure it is followed consistently.

While you are working to address the long-term accessibility concerns I have just outlined, I am asking for the following considerations, which include:
1. Accessibility to your health services and documentation. Some examples of these requests may be to ask that I receive correspondence from the health care provider in: Large Print, Braille, Email, or a phone call.
2. I would also ask for a private place where a staff person can help complete necessary medical forms.
3. A text message or phone call to remind me of my appointment instead of a printed letter or postcard would also be quite helpful.
4. If you provide a patient portal, I may need assistance with setting it up and learning to use it with assistive technology. If the patient portal has not been designed for accessibility, then I may need considerable assistance from a staff member over the phone from time to time.

Thank you for giving consideration to these issues. Not only will following these examples benefit me as a patient regarding independence and privacy, but much of what I refer to is mandated by the effective communications and reasonable accommodations provisions required by your country’s laws.

I thank you for your thoughtful consideration and I look forward to working with you on these matters.

Respectfully,
Hi everyone. Here I am, back online at least for the time being. Yesterday AT&T sent one of their technicians out to look at my wi-fi. The appointment ended up getting canceled, but only for a few minutes. I still don't quite understand how that happened, but that's okay because the technician seemed to know his stuff. I've always had good luck with AT&T technicians, on the phone and in person. Their website and apps may actually be a different story, but tbh I haven't checked them out that much. But anyway, yesterday's technician came and did some testing. I told him that I thought I needed a new modem, since I had the previous one for several years and it was starting to show its age. After fiddling a bit with the wi-fi signal, he agreed with me and went to get me another modem. He then promptly came back, hooked everything back up including the modem itself, and my neighbor from across the hall came over. The 3 of us had a nice chat, and the technician hooked up my neighbor's Android phone. We thanked the technician and he told us some stuff, and then left. My neighbor was able to get his iPad re-connected, and somebody is going to help re-connect his wi-fi printer this coming week.





But one thing that the technician recommended to me was moving some stuff off of this desk, because I have a lot of cords here which are cramping the place a bit. I agree with him, so am going to discuss this with one of my tutors. That might smooth things out a bit with the wi-fi, which will be nice.
Hi everyone. I wasn't going to post anything, but upon logging in just a minute ago I was taken to a page which said "Welcome back to Dreamwidth." Perhaps we're seeing the beginning of a site update? That would be cool, but even if this place isn't getting another face lift just yet it's okay because I love it here all the same. But you knew that already, didn't you? Why would I even be on here if I didn't like it? I dunno!





But anyway, I thought I'd just chronicle my day for everybody's reading pleasure. I woke up bright and early this morning to open the front door downstairs so that my cleaning lady could get in and come up to work her magic here in my apartment. Fortunately, I was able to go back to bed while she did her thing. Then she left, and I got my geek on as usual. Then I had B-fast. That's short for "breakfast," ya know. Then my neighbor from across the hall came over for our morning chat. He only stayed for a short while, because one of his tutors from CIF was scheduled to come do stuff with him. One of my tutors and I walked to the local grocery store for my weekly shopping, and came back. Then I had supper and went across the hall to hang out with said neighbor. So I'm about to close up shop and turn in for the night. My other tutor is scheduled to come in the morning. That is all for now. Thanks for reading.
Well folks, the entry title pretty much gives it away. I steered clear of any and all news today, which I have pretty much attempted to do ever since this racist Asshole-in-Chief got elected. But of course there was yet another mass shooting, this one right here in Illinois. Fortunately I don't/didn't know anybody involved, but I of course send my deepest sympathies and condolences. But what did I do today? Well, for one it was my turn to do laundry again. I did it on Sunday last week only because the water was being shut off on Monday and Tuesday. But of course we all had advance notice of this, so that was good. The water is now back on, and the workmen did their thing. Today I also met with one of my life-skills tutors, and talked with my neighbor across the hall. Part of what we talked about was the business which we are launching. He is letting me be co-owner, which is awesome. Some of the details are still up in the air, but it will be a cooking business which we're calling Chef's Delectables. I've actually been fortunate enough to have some of his food before, and he really knows how to cook. So no trouble there. I'm going to try my hand at building him a website, so I went ahead and applied for a Dream Hack. Apparently this is some sort of development thing here on Dreamwidth and GitHub, and I'm excited to get it. It cost me absolutely nothing except for good wi-fi. Speaking of technology, I'm still having fun with my Amazon Echo and am discovering new things all the time.







Well y'all, I think I shall bring this entry to a close. It's been fun as usual, even though it has been a bit chilly outside here and perhaps elsewhere.
Today has been very, very rainy. As a matter of fact, I'm getting so soaked that I about fell off my chair writing this entry, lol. My little princess is forecasting storms all through the night! Lol guess she'll be a bit wet in the morning but I *think* she'll survive. But perhaps not. Anyways gotta go now. Alexa, make it stop already! Oops, she can't hear me because her microphone is turned off. Perhaps I'll try back sometime tomorrow.
Hello everybody. I'm here this evening to talk about my birthday. Specifically, one of my birthday presents. Last weekend when I was at my parents' place celebrating, one of my siblings handed me a big rectangular box that was wrapped up. I opened it and took out a cylinder thing about the size of a can of pringles. I really wasn't expecting much in the way of B-day presents, since I already have kind of a lot of stuff. But I must admit this cylinder thing sparked my curiosity right away. It turned out to be an Amazon Echo. Some other family members have these devices and now I can proudly claim ownership of one as well. One of my tutors and I set up the device earlier this week. I had already downloaded the companion iOS app, and I have to say that in terms of accessibility, this app needs a bit of work but it is usable. Fortunately I shut off VoiceOver and this sighted tutor took over. We got my Echo up and running with little if any difficulty. I have played around with it a good deal throughout the week, and am very impressed thus far. I was honestly a bit surprised that I could actually enable a skill from my iPhone with no trouble. Regarding the device itself and Amazon's accessibility pages, I'm very happy though. Somebody was kind enough to label the device's 4 buttons in Braille. Not sure whether it came like that, or the Braille labels were affixed to the device when it arrived at my parents' place. But in any case, I greatly appreciate the gesture. I'm sure I'll continue to have fun with all my toys, and perhaps even learn a little something more in the process. Regarding the iOS app, I plan on contacting Amazon and giving them a piece of my mind as I've no doubt others have been doing. Just a little friendly reminder though to those who may be a bit heavy-handed in their advocacy approach to Amazon and/or any of these other companies: remember that they are human beings like us and have feelings too. They may not know as much about accessibility as some of us do, and in some cases they might not know a thing about it. But having said that, I for one commend Amazon on their great accessibility efforts thus far, and there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that they will continue the trend of good access.

Happy 2019!

Jan. 4th, 2019 09:44 pm
Hi everyone. Entry title says it all. Happy New Year. 2019 promises to be yet another good one for me, and perhaps even better than previous years. For one thing, I will have had my iPhone for a year as of the end of March. Though I haven't yet mastered everything, I think I'm well on my way. But enough about my iPhone for now at least. I'll just leave it at this: I'm happy to have it.





I keep telling other people that I'm going to get another job one of these days, and I'm going to try again this year. In a previous entry I briefly mentioned quitting my most recent job. I did so mainly due to the fact that I wasn't being given enough responsibilities. Given the mission of this organization, I think that's a powerful statement. But I felt and still feel that despite their claim to fame, they aren't all-inclusive. To be honest, I don't think they're trying that hard. In the beginning and after that, yes they did but not now. For those unaware, Illinois has been ranked very low in terms of services for those of us who happen to have disabilities. What's even worse is that very little if anything at all has been done to remedy this situation. But that's why Center for Independent Futures was founded, right? I happen to know some people who want me to go through the vocational rehabilitation agency to get a job, but I don't want to do that and I've told these people. After all, there are ways of obtaining employment without involving joke/rehab. I know this for a fact because that's how I obtained all my previous jobs. Yes indeed, joke/rehab did not help me get any of these jobs. I received a few calls from them when I was volunteering at a now-defunct nonprofit organization, but I'd rather not discuss that here. Suffice it to say, those calls increased to the point of harassment. Not good. The staff ended up putting me on their payroll after awhile, but those calls had little if anything to do with their decision. Hint hint: I was grandfathered into the organization.





After thinking things over a bit, I've arrived at the decision to help a neighbor out with launching his cooking business. I'm going to try my hand at creating a website for him, and I think I have at most 3 options there. But the website will probably not be launched for awhile yet.





So that's a sneak preview of the year ahead for yours truly. Finally, I'd like to leave y'all with something by one of my favorite singer/parodists of all time. I'm speaking of course about the one and only Weird-Al Yankovic. I thought this would be the perfect ending, after I went across the hall to watch a special on TV about one of the incidents that Mr. Yankovic sings about in this parody. Enjoy.

http://povidi.com/YourTube/index.py?playVid=1;id=dU95v23MQ4c

Brexit?

Dec. 19th, 2018 08:28 am
Hello everyone. A neighbor friend and I were talking yesterday about the news, as we always do and he informed me that there was a lot of useful information from the BBC regarding something called Brexit. I knew this wasn't a little kid's word for "breakfast", but what I did not know was what a mess this whole thing has turned out to be. I guess y'all can tell I haven't been following the news much if at all lately. Well, you're absolutely correct! I'm happy to report that this is slowly but surely starting to change. So I thought I'd provide a one-stop location where people can go and read up on what appears to be a catastrophe, if they haven't already done so. I've not read it myself in detail yet, but I briefly glanced over it yesterday. It seems to me that some of this is a review, but it's always good to have a refresher course about these things. Check it out at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46318565 . Sorry URL shortening appears to be broken again.
There haven't been many of these, if any at all. The reason is that I've never had trouble sleeping. I think part of this is because I don't drink coffee, although I've heard and read that for some people coffee is not bad for sleep. I like coffee ice cream though. I find it rather amusing that a lot of automated emails I get go out at odd hours, such as 3:30 in the morning. Or sometimes it's actual people who email me at these odd hours. But that's okay, because I know that I'll get their emails when I check mine. Email never sleeps but I do.
If I could work anywhere, it would probably be right here in my apartment, at my computer. But this computer is portable, so if I could find reliable transportation and if I weren't so bogged down with engagements here in my building, I would be happy to travel. I would really like to be a computer consultant: testing for accessibility of websites and software that people run on their computers and/or smartphones. I just got my first fully-accessible smartphone earlier this year. I am still learning, but I really like it! I'd also like to train people on accessibility. Believe it or not, some people still don't know what accessibility means.





But the part about employment which I don't like is going through the voc/rehab agency here in my state. It is a very, very slow process and that fact has been painfully obvious over the years. Yet people keep telling me and others to stick with it and stick with it again and again and again. But nothing ever gets done.

War

Nov. 11th, 2018 04:51 pm
War is not good at all. My brother-in-law did 2 tours of duty for the war with Iraq: one in Iraq itself and the other in Afghanistan. This was before he became my brother-in-law. I'm not saying how he voted, but I voted against going to war with Iraq. I did so because I don't like it when people get killed, no matter the cause. I think the way to peace currently is to elect a different President, and to impeach Donald Trump! I know others will disagree with me, but this is how I feel. Donald Trump is very immature and not fit for office. He is also very cruel, and we don't need cruel people in our lives. He is a bully and I don't like bullies.
Hi there everyone. I was in the mood for some nostalgia last night, so I looked up the following album on YouTube and sure enough, found it. Those of you Disney fans out there who are old enough, might remember this fun little album. It was the year before my immediate family and I relocated to Illinois from another state. Enjoy! http://povidi.com/YourTube/index.py?playVid=1;id=6NnCJBrbXq4 . My apologies in advance, but for whatever reason this YouTube service doesn't like shortened URLs. So if the link doesn't work no matter what you try, I guess either you'll have to type it in by hand or you're just shit outa luck!
Hi everyone. Title pretty much sums it up but not all the way. I am still learning my iPhone, but I've done more with it since my last update and like it a lot. But what I'd like to discuss in this entry is a specific 3rd-party app. I've tried out a few apps, some native and some 3rd-party ones. But the app I'd like to discuss today is relatively new, and it's from Microsoft. I was a Windows and DOS user up until Christmas of 2013, which was when I made the jump to the Macintosh platform. I used 3rd-party screen readers on Windows and DOS, since at the time Narrator wasn't that great. No offense of course is intended. My parents ended up having to pay out of pocket for the most part for the majority of it. But I also used NVDA, the free and very good Windows-based screen reader. Windows worked very well for me, and I could get everything done that I needed.





But I'd like to discuss a Microsoft app called Seeing AI. I downloaded this app a few days ago from the App store. I was able to use Touch ID in order to initiate the download. The app took a little while to download and install, but as I will explain in a bit it was well worth the wait and thus far is working pretty nicely. This app is free, which I honestly found a bit surprising given all that it can do. Just point your favorite browser to http://www.seeingai.com . This link will take you to a dedicated section for the app on Microsoft's website. It might refresh a bit though. You have been warned.





I won't bother describing the app in detail, since their website does a very good job of that. But suffice it to say Microsoft has packed several great features in and rolled them all into one app. I'm proud to report that one of these is great accessibility with VoiceOver. I think this is pretty sweet. I've not yet tried out everything, but here are some of the highlights for me.





Product channel: I've frequently heard the beeps of those bar-code scanners at the grocery store, and was always curious about them. I've also been to http://www.directionsforme.org . Hats off to Horizons for the Blind for developing Directions for Me. Well, the Product channel in Seeing AI does just that and it seems to work very well. The only problem appeared to be that on the days I tried this channel out, Mother Nature decided for whatever reason not to cooperate and the days were rather cloudy. So I can only guess that even with all the proper lighting from my apartment and from within my iPhone, the scans tend not to go well on cloudy days. But having said that I was able to scan a few items from my cabinets and one frozen item. The freezer item seemed particularly difficult, which again might've been due to the lighting. Either that, or I didn't have my iPhone and the food item positioned correctly. Or perhaps both these factors joined forces. But I did hear a few beeps, which indicated that the scan was perhaps in progress.





The other highlight for me was the Currency channel, which I think is still in beta but seems to work great. My neighbor from across the hall happened to be over here again at the time, and he offered me one of his bills to scan. So I accepted and Seeing AI correctly identified the bill right away. I of course gave the bill back to my neighbor. I wanted to steal it from him but he had another idea, lol.





I have not yet explored the other channels, but I know they're there. I truly hope Seeing AI isn't one of those things that sees development for a while and then disappears off everybody's radar screens, never to re-surface. This app has some wonderful potential and is very well thought out. So hats off to Microsoft for that, and I hope to see further enhancements.

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