Thursday, October 10, 2019

Financial Independence for the Blind

Can a Blind Person become Financially Independent?

I am looking into gaining some financial independence. From today, October 10, 2019, I will attempt to build a nest egg for retirement. I am starting  from just $50.
A stack of dollar bills and coins.

The aim is to build this $50 up to over $10,000 initially. Taking some earnings from the occassional sale of items on amazon, some cash I save from housekeeping and daily expenses. It won't be easy. I plan on growing most of the  nest egg in a brokerage account. This will use cash, stocks in individual companies, exchange traded funds (ETF's) and mutual funds. I will share each step at least once per month, and give you the basics so you can follow and even try for yourself.

Why am I starting with such a small amount?   

I am starting with just $50 because it is an amount many of us can afford. We can all save $50 to start investing. The starting point in itself does not matter. What matters is where we end up.

Fifty dollars is also about the minimum amount that you can begin to invest effectively. It means that we cannot invest in a portfolio of amazon stock just yet. But we can invest in some property in the for or Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) and some nice low cost mutual funds.

To make this investment account more productive you could open this in a Roth IRA within the United States, that would allow you to grow the account tax free, but it is only available if you have earned income and you are funding the account from tax paid funds. Since many blind and visually impaired persons do not have jobs then such accounts are not available, plus any readers outside the U.S. may not have access to tax efficient accounts, so I want to keep this real. Not pie in the sky as can be found in so many quarters of the investment market.

So first I will go with an E*Trade brokerage account, I am familiar with their platform, it works well with my screen reader (NVDA) and best of all offers all kinds of investment types plus no-brokerage fees.

I will be staying away from things like options and futures trading. They are too complex for me to understand so I avoid dabbling in areas of the stock market that I do not understand.

A good book to start with basic investing knowledge is  Stock Investing for Dummies

But their are many more such books available:

I also like to listen to my Kindle books and podcasts about investing on my Echo "Alexa" device.
 The echo has good sound and it has a good interface where you can just say "Alexa, read my latest kindle book." or "Alexa, play Stacking Benjamins podcast."

So here it is a new series of blogs. Please follow this blog to read the latest updates on this series and other posts.

Please feel free to share this blog on facebook, twitter or any other social media.  Thank you.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

A long Awaited First. "Black Bear Diner, Fresno"

William, in check shirt and yellow hat, stands beside Black Lab Guide Dog Leif. Beside them is a wooden carved black bear holding a Welcome sign in its front paws outside the Black Bear Diner Fresno
Leif and I stand outside "Black Bear Diner" Fresno California

After living here in the United States now for thirteen years, I don't get to do many first time experiences any longer. Okay I have still got to visit New England, Kentucky, Arkansas, Alaska and Hawaii, But with most people who have a "Bucket List" I have visited the "Big Trees", dipped a toe in the Pacific Ocean, as well as both sides of the Atlantic.

   Today, I did get to have another, now rare first in my life. I went to "Black Bear Diner".

Well the trip to a "Black Bear Diner", was not the first. I have visited several "Black Bear Diner's in the past seventeen years. My first was in Gilroy, Ca. Back in 2002. I visited the original "Black Bear Diner" located in Shasta in the Fall of 2012. Even eaten in the "Black Bear Diner" in Reno, Nevada a couple of times too.

The "Black Bear Diner here in Fresno opened a year or so ago. I had marked it as a place to try a while back. But today was the first time I actually got around to trying it out.

The "Black Bear Diners" are famous for their large portions. And their HUGE biscuits. One biscuit could be a small meal in itself. I like their "Bigfoot", country fried steak, sometimes called chicken fried steak. But this morning I stood by the old breakfast standard of scrambled eggs and sausage. A good deal for a breakfast that sticks to your ribs and fills you up.

Since this diner is only a few hundred yards from the Valley Center for the Blind at Shaw and Valentine in Fresno, right beside the West bound bus number 9 stop, I should be visiting it more often.

The food is of good quality. Service is good and they also welcomed Leif, my guide dog with no hint of a problem.

It is not often I get to do a first these days. So it was nice that this first turned out to be a good one.

Maybe if you are passing one of these "Black Bear Diners' you might try them out. If you are in Fresno, then maybe Leif and I will see you at breakfast.

Friday, April 26, 2019

What do Blind People Use Bump Dots For?

Bump Dots are small pieces of rubberized  plastic which can aid the blind and visually impaired around the home or the office.

What Bump Dots Look Like:

Bump dots come in a variety of colors and sizes. You can even find clear bump dots which are less visible to the sighted so a sighted person who lives with a visually impaired individual can look at a kitchen or office and not see a myriad of red, black or orange dots all over the equipment.
Cooker hob control dial showing two clear bump dots marking the low and medium setiing on my cooker.
Clear Bump dots on Cooker

I live in an apartment and the apartment manager allowed me to place a large square bump dot on my letter box. The bump dot is placed just below the lock of the letter box so I can find the lock and I don't try to open the mail box of other tenants.

What Do Blind People Use Bump Dots For?

Apart from marking my mail box, I use bump dots to mark the keypad on my microwave  oven and use a large bump dot to mark the start button. I also marked my standard electric cooker and oven with bump dots. I used them to mark the medium level on the stove top rings and mark the 350 and 425 degree point on my oven. These were the commonest settings I use and it is easy to adjust to either side for higher or lower cooking temperatures.

What else do blind people use bump dots for? Click Link HERE

Bump dots are very useful items, they are small enough to mark objects using the Braille lettering system. Imagine I have a can for coffee and a caddie for tea, both about the same size and shape. I could mark the coffee can lid with a Braille letter C and the tea caddy with a Braille T, easily identifying the contents.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

How do I Get A Note Taker For My College Course?

I recently answered this question on Quora. The question and answer website.

Here is a link to my answer:

Read William Elliott's answer to Do colleges offer note takers for vision impaired students? on Quora

Notes are a sticky subject for many students. I like my own notes because I get to choose what I think is important. Other students think differently and so notes can be very personal to each student.

In my experience it is better to take a nice   Laptop   or tablet  to class

Having a note-taker can be difficult for you as a blind student because you are subject to the whims of your note-taker. What if they decide to drop the class in week seven? You are in trouble, even if the instructor is willing to ask for other volunteers to take over as a note-taker you are now going to have to either get used to their new style of note taking or try to get them to make notes that you would like.
Finding a note taker at community college

In my experience note-takers at community college do not ask nor want you telling them what you like in nites.

You may also consider taking a recording of your own notes. Don't just record a class lecture you will fail miserably trying to find a note in a hour long class is a fruitless task. Take quick notes using a voice recorder making each note something like a word and definition of repeat a teachers outline of work to be done. Keep each note down to a minute at most for speed and ease of recall.

I use a Victor Stream    myself

 So there  are a few reasons why I would suggest thinking twice about using a note-taker in your college classes. Let me know if this post has helped you by posting a comment or sharing on your favorite social media sites.