2016-06-29 08:21 pm
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2016-04-13 11:30 am
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On Canes and Guide Dogs, and Travel?

Hi all. I recently read a post on another website which really got my attention. Not in a negative way, but I took away some things from that post. The post talks about some of the pitfalls of owning a guide dog. I have previously been asked by some people if I ever thought about getting a guide dog. The short answer is no, but I thought I'd elaborate a bit on this. First off, I'd like to thank the author of said blog post for doing a great job and enlightening me on some things which I didn't know. The post itself might be a bit outdated as of this writing, but I think a lot of what this guy says is still relevant. Before everyone goes running to the nearest closet and slams the door shut, I want to mention that this is not a bad post at all. It can be found at this link: http://serotalk.com/2015/03/18/5-reasons-why-guide-dogs-are-a-terrible-idea/#comments .

Now for my explanation as to why I don't want a guide dog. Or perhaps more accurately, why I don't think I can get one even if I wanted it. I have heard from a number of people--including a former roommate who was a guide dog user--that in order to even be considered for one the recipient needs top-notch independent travel skills. The key word here is "independent." These are things that I currently lack to a large extent. I was taught many moons ago how to use the long, white cane to get around. So no trouble there. I had a lot of good instruction in the use of the cane, and for that I am very grateful. So grateful, in fact, that I don't know what I'd do without my cane. Well actually, I do know. I would be unable to travel far unless I went sighted guide with somebody. The exception to that is traveling within my apartment, and on rare occasions within the entire complex where I live. But even those rare occasions are going by the wayside these days, because the place is being renovated. The workmen are currently doing stuff on the ground floor and outside, and I think they will work their way up. They also replaced my bathtub-shower and toilet, but they are soon going to start making other repairs. I have therefore started taking my cane with me more when exiting my own apartment, so as not to get banged up or anything. In addition, I could travel on my own without a cane throughout every house in which I lived while growing up. This of course after being taught how to do it safely. Sighted guide is another thing which I was taught long ago. Just in case you're living under a rock or otherwise have never heard of this technique, it simply means that the person who needs to be guided takes another person's elbow and is taken somewhere. Pretty simple and straightforward, eh? You betcha! There are just some simple guidelines that sighted guides need to know, but I'm not going to cover those here as that's not the point of this entry. I was also taught the trailing technique for walking down hallways. Besides trailing and sighted guide, I was taught other simple techniques for navigating my surroundings. Cardinal directions are another of these skills, e.g., north, east, south, west, etc. These techniques were honed throughout school.

I have retained most of these skills and they have been a great help throughout my life. However, one skill which I have not retained for the most part is knowing which direction to travel to get to a certain destination. Sure I can ask for sighted assistance, and I have as a matter of fact done this many times throughout my adulthood. These inquiries have almost always been met with pleasure. However, I think there's just something pretty cool about being able to do this task independently just like those of you with perfectly good eyeballs. The same holds true for crossing streets independently, although I have in the past crossed some quiet streets with relative independence. When I approached the local voc/rehab agency about the need for more travel training, the response I got was far from satisfactory. What they basically told me was that in order to get any more of this training, I would need to have a good, paying job and be working full-time. So to make a long story short, I contacted my state's Client Assistance Program and told them about this. CAP is an entity which assists people with these sorts of issues, or so I've been told. The CAP representative who was assigned to me ended up being very good, and opened up a case for me. After waiting awhile, I received a phone call one morning from an orientation&mobility instructor. For those of you non-technical readers out there, this is just a fancy term for a travel instructor. So the instructor and I began working together, but we weren't able to meet for very long. Nobody actually told me this, but I suspect that the reason for us not being able to work together for long is that I don't have a full-time job. Well actually I kind of do, but that's a whole other story. The irony here is that I was told by some people at the voc/rehab agency, that under no circumstances whatsoever was I to work with somebody on these skills unless that person was a qualified orientation&mobility instructor. Then they had the balls to do this to me.

I have over the past several years been on walks with friends and neighbors, and they've done a nice job with me. However, they have never been formally trained in the type of skills which O&M instructors work on with their clients. So I think there's a liability issue coming into play here.
2014-12-04 04:08 pm
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Abandoned Software

Hi all. Today I'd like to share with you something that has been on my mind more or less for awhile. In a previous entry on here I mentioned that I only have a few pet peeves, and today I'd like to talk about another of them. That is, software and website developers who just abandon their projects. Not so long ago I used a very cool program called Klango. In that particular case, the developers did eventually come back and make a formal announcement as to why there were no developments in their software for a somewhat lengthy period. One of their hiatuses was due to a flood that occurred in Poland, where they were or are still located. However, they eventually ceased development of Klango without any explanation. A similar thing happened with Winamp, a popular audio player. There was even a petition to keep Winamp alive and in good hands, but last I checked that petition went virtually nowhere. WeatherGale is another example. The developer of WeatherGale even placed a notice on his website clearly stating that his program had been taken down but would hopefully be restored.

But these stand-alone clients aren't the only ones to have been abandoned. The Friend Mail--a very accessible web interface for Facebook--was also abandoned not long ago by its developer. So my question here is this. Does this just happen to blindness-specific software, or is it common among other software too? Whichever the case may be, I find this trend rather disturbing. Not only were all these great programs, but one would think that their respective developers could show at least a little bit of love and actually tell us what is going on. In the case of commercial software that has been discontinued, couldn't the developers at least offer users a refund? That seems most logical to me. In addition, they could make the code open-source. I'm no software or hardware developer, but I'm quite certain that there's at least someone out there who could pitch in and take up development of said software.
2014-07-02 09:04 pm
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Has Advocacy Gone Too Far?

Hello folks. I have been meaning to post this for a little while, but never got around to it until now. Not only that, but to be honest I was a bit weary of posting something which has apparently become so controversial to some. But I figure why not give it a try. After all this is Dw, and anything goes so long as it's not attacking another person or group of people or violating copyright. Rest assured attacking is not what I'm about to do in this entry. Nor is it something which I ever intend to do. The same holds true for copyright violations. Having said that though, here goes!

I'm not naming names, but I have repeatedly been told that I should be more independent. Specifically, that I should be more independent with financial matters and with handling my medication. I should mention before proceeding any further with this, that I am to an extent pretty independent with my medication. I know when I need to take it each day plus the correct dosages, and I just do it by myself. I've been self-medicating for many years and now I just consider it part of my daily routine. I'd also like to point out that I'm not referring to things like pot or marijuana. I have never done drugs of that sort, and I'm never going to. I've recently started ordering my own meds. This has thus far presented no problems. I am not, however, currently in a position to have my meds delivered directly to my apartment or mailed to my building. I vaguely recall hearing several years ago on the radio, a story about a mother who allowed her son to take his prescription medication only on the weekends. I don't remember all the details, but I can assure all readers of these pages that my parents would never even think of allowing me to take my meds only when I felt like it, let alone my mother. Heck, the doctors and nurses most probably wouldn't allow me to take my meds only when I wanted to although I do suppose they're not obligated to tell me what to do. My meds are, after all, too important to be neglected like that. The exact same thing is true of my body. As it stands right now, my parents handle all medication shipments and most if not all of my financial matters. But this will change eventually. When exactly it will change I can't say for certain though.

My point in giving this example is to illustrate that everyone has something with which they need help. Some of us just can't be quite as independent as others, and that's fine. I'm talking about people with disabilities for the most part, but there might be some people without disabilities who for whatever reason are still reliant on their parents or what have you. I titled this entry the way I did for a reason. I truly believe that advocacy for people with disabilities has gone a bit too far in some respects, and I can't help but wonder if this is in some ways influencing the direction of our government. I mean, is there too much fighting in order to get things passed? For instance, is there too much pressure being put on the US government in an attempt to get the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities passed?
2014-05-18 10:40 am
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