Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"You Are Depressed"

A few weeks ago I was talking to someone I know just socially about stuff that goes on. The people shouting to make me see better, the people who stand in my way to drive me around an obstacle that I could findwith  my cane quite easily. The general day to day grumbles of a blind person really.

They waited a few moments, then entoned that "You must be very depressed, losing your sight suddenly."

So why is it that sighted people think that for every mutter and grumble that I might have, it identifies me as depressed. Oh,yes it is because I am blind and I have unresolved anger. Don't forget the childhood anger that I have too, how I was deprived as a child because my parents never took me to McDonalds and I didn't have a cell phone let alone a $500 iPad. OK there were no McDonalds or iPads back in the 1960's in England. HELP! We were all deprived then! I was deprived.

Acquaintanceswho have read self-help psychology books are a dime a dozen these days.

I imagine though the next time I see this person, ooops used the word see there, just a figure of speech. The next time I hear this person and they complain about traffic congestion and not finding a parking space, I'll just console them with how depressed they must be. Was it caused by the deprivation of childhood or the break up of a marriage.

Anyone can be a freelance psychiatrist in California. What the hell I'll open a stall and charge 5cents per consultation. Peanuts anyone?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Repair Your White Cane Replacing the Roller Tip

No matter how little or how much you use your white cane, one day you will need to replace the tip of the cane.

In this vlog I offer you a quick guide on how to replace the roller tip easily and safely.

I explain the following procedures:

  1. Equipment needed
  2. Removing the old rolling tip
  3. Attaching the new rolling tip
  4. Reconstructing your white cane.

I hope that you enjoy and find the video useful.


The new rolling cane tip seen in the video is the Ambutech Rolling Ball with hook

For my opinion of the Ambutech Rolling Ball tip after three months of use read:  Ambutech Rolling Tip product review.

The Kindle Touch An Inexpensive Book Reader for the Blind

I used to love to pick up books and just read. Going to a bookstore was like dying and going to heaven for me.

After I started going blind and found it evermore difficult to read a printed book I took to buying or borrowing CD Books which I listen to even now in the car or on my Sony CD Walkman. I also enrolled at the local Library for the Blind in Fresno CA. They provided me with a free cartridge player. I provided them with a list of my favorite types of books and they exchange my old books on cartridge by mail as I finish them and send them back.

I also have my Intel Reader (For my review click here).

Of all my favorite devices though and one which I use daily is my Kindle Touch

Kindle Touch
An Excellent Low
Cost way for the
Blind to access books.
TheKindle Touch is retailing at just under $100. You may think that using the touch screen would be difficult for a blind person, but if you can get a sighted friend to give you help aligning your fingers to where the on screen selection areas are using the touch soon becomes natural. It can be difficult to find older downloaded books though as you need to key in page numbers for your book list. A hit and miss affair with the small number buttons and big fingers like mine.

Books can be ordered to download from any computer or the kindle itself and many of the titles available today come text-to-speech enabled for the same price or even less than a standard printed book.

Kindle also has access to its own lending library of free books which can be ordered just like any other book except you need to return an old borrowed book before the download completes. The free lending library service comes with Amazon Prime membership which also entitles you to free expedited shipping on purchases which need to be delivered to your door by UPS or USPS.

The Kindle Touch has a good battery life, I often have the voice reading my books to me for eight hours per day and it can take up to three days to get a battery low warning.

The Kindle Touch has two voice settings, male and female. Personally I prefer the male voice, it is less synthetic sounding than the female voice. Though at times my Kindle can sound a little Like HAL the computer in the movie 2001 A Space Oddessey.

If you are looking for an inexpensive way to keep reading, I would recommend the Kindle Touch as a good place to start.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Blindness Described to the Sighted Through Photography

Today I read an article about how a group of blind men and women in New York City, NY, helped a photographer,  Gaia Squarci create a portfolio of work aimed at expressing the lives and experiences in visual terms which sighted viewers could recognize.

The New York Times article written by  David Gonzalez. The article appeared on the New York Times Blog and is entitledGuided by Blindness .

Take a look at the post, it is both moving and powerful and raises many thoughts that I had once considered as to how blindness changes both our view of the world and also how the world views us, the blind.

I found the interview clips very moving too. They are a little hidden within the script of the article so it can be tricky to play them. Hope you enjoy the article too.

If you do, then please comment below. If you don't like the article tells us why, that may then work into a really good conversation.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Blind Workers Face Discrimination in the Workplace

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that US blind and visually impaired men and women are facing considerable discrimination in the workplace.

A study by the non profit group  National Industries for the Blind (NIB) questioned over four hundred hiring managers and human resources managers as to their policies for employing the blind.

These managers reported that they were willing to employ the blind and visually impaired, but cited workplace dangers, higher costs for employing the blind and poor attendance of blind workers.

These excuses however are contrary to the evidence as blind workers do not have more workplace accidents in companies which employ them, the accommodations for blind employees are often inexpensive especially if the work involves the use of computer systems which now often have computer software freely installed within the operating system that aids blind or visually impaired workers. Disabled workers in general have an overall better attendance record at work taking off fewer days than their "able bodied" counterparts.

This is a very interesting report. I count myself lucky to have a job, and a job which I like. To read the Wall Street Journal article in full follow the link below.

 Wall Street Journal Report 

What are your views of discrimination in the workplace?

Do you have experience of discrimination?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Day at the Beach

Last Saturday was a nice warm day here in central California. A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I, decided to go up into the Sierra foothills for the day. The ground above 4,000 feet was still covered with snow. So this last weekend we went to the beach instead.

Morro Rock, Morro Bay CA.

I always like going to the beach. It is generally cool, rarely cold and even more rarely hot. In a couple of hours driving west we can go from high summer temperatures of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit to just 60 or 70 degrees Fahrenheit at the coast.

Saturday at the beach we went from periods in bright sun with blue skies to rolling sea fog swirling about us. It was almost magical.

Then we also decided to try out a new place to eat. Even though we go to Morro Bay, CA. several times a year we had never been to the Dockside Too Restaurant.

It is a outdoor restaurant right on the quayside and their seafood is quite delicious. I opted for Fish and Chips, no idea why Americans call chips Fries in all other combinations, but Fish and Chips it was. My wife went for Fish Tacos, fish and salad on a small folded tortilla.

My Fish and Chips Lunch

Another great thing about Dockside Too is that the owners love dogs, Labradors actually, so the locals all take their pet dogs there after a walk on the beach.

I will be sure to remember this if I am choosen to get a guide dog.


Dockside Too Morro Bay, CA.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ten Positive Things About Being Blind

While wandering about the beach yesterday. I got to thinking of what are some real positive things about being blind.

Just for fun here are some of my ideas. Maybe if you have some positives you can share them with us in the comments section.

  1.  I don't have to worry about seeing something nasty that will make me feel so sick to my stomach that I can't eat my dinner.
  2. I get to board the airplane first. Even before those people in Business class, and I get a personal escort to my seat too.
  3. I can go to Las Vegas, and meet a friend with his mistress and his wife would never know. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.
  4. I get to visit the most beautiful parts of the United States for free with my National Parks Free pass.
  5. I get to have a chauffeur driven car. OK That bit is tough on my wife and other people who drive me.
  6. My wife never has to worry about a wrinkle. She is always the most beautiful woman in the room.
  7. If I want to drink beer or go wine tasing, I can. See #5
  8. I get to park in disabled parking because I have a blue placard. Lots of places also accept blue disabled parking placards to give a discount on entry fees too. So save money and take a blind person with you next time you go out. Don't forget the placard.
  9. Sex is always with the lights off for me.
  10. I can walk to the front of any line with impunity. What do you mean there's a line? I see no line!

This is of course just a fun list. There are some pretty bad things about being blind, but we don't need another down day. Do we?

As I mentioned if you'd like to add to this list or would like to give us a list of your own, please feel free to make a comment.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Library of Congress/ National Library Service Survey

Many of you may know of the Library of Congress and National Library Service books for the blind and disabled.

Your local library, here in the US, will be able to put you in contact with your local service center if you are not already registered.

The Library of Congress and National Library service will provide you with a free digital reader which acts as a reader of special digital cartridges. The books are sent to you  via the US Postal Service in your normal mail delivery, you return the books in the same manner.

Unlike a normal library there is no fine for late return of a book. I have had books for two or three months without penalty.

The Library of Congress has constructed a survey for people who are or may want to use the service for the disabled.

By the way you need not be blind or visually impaired to use the service, you just need to have a medical condition that prevents you reading books or other printed matter as usual.

The survey takes about twenty five minutes to complete, but you can save it part way through and come back later.

The survey may be taken on the telephone, a Toll Free number is provided on the front page of the survey if you prefer. I wish that I had used the number to complete my survey.

I tried to complete the survey myself, but there are lots of radio buttons to click, my wife eventually had to help me to finish after a little swearing and cursing on my part.

To take part in the survey, US Residents only please, follow this link:  Library of Congress Survey

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How to Use a White Cane Safely

Recently I created a video blog on what to look for when purchasing a white Cane. There are some problems with using a white cane, however, you do need to take care and learn how to use a cane safely.

The White Cane is a great piece of equipment for aiding your mobility. I use mine everyday and walk many miles quickly and safely.

In my couple of years using the cane I have learned a couple of valuable safety tips when using the white cane.

First, nearly all canes come with an easticated strap on the handle end of the cane. This strap is sometimes described as a wrist strap and also can be used to hold the segments of a folding cane closed when you need to break it down and store it.

NEVER use this strap as a wrist strap though. Putting your hand through the strap as you walk can be dangerous and lead to injury, a torn shoulder or even a broken arm. If when you walk at full speed the tip of the cane becomes lodged in a crack in the sidewalk or other obstruction, you are tied to the cane. The leverage can be enormous and you can easily injure yourself.

Instead of looping the wrist strap around your wrist, let it hang loose or hold it in your hand with the hand grip. This way if you hit an obstacle or obstruction your hand can slide freely down the cane or drops freely from your hand.

Also some sources say for you to hold the cane directly in front of you with the handle in the middle of your belly, above your belt buckle, if you wear a belt.

Personally I hold my cane directly at my side. It only took one incident where I hit a crack in the roadway and the cane flipped me to the ground in front of a truck to disuade me from the center of the belly style of holding my cane.

Letting your arm hang loosely by your side and allowing the cane to roll freely is more comfortable and less tiring in everyday situations too.

I hope these tips on using your white cane prove useful.

Do you have any tips or stories that you would like to share on these pages. Feel free to add your tips to the comments section below.

Checkout our canes and cane tip selection at   Low Vision Store Canes

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Choosing and Using a White Cane

Today I have published my second video blog.

The vlog describes the various types of white cane and how I choose and use my cane in my day to day life.

There are three main types of cane, a solid long cane, a telescopic cane and a segmented cane.

I hope that you will find this video of use and you can view it in full by clicking the link below.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Don't Shout T-Shirt

A few weeks ago I got totally frustrated at people who insist on shouting when they speak to me.

They see the white cane and I guess assume that I am both blind and deaf or that if they shout I can see what they are talking about.

Anyway I came to the conclusion that I need a T-Shirt for the summer to clarify matters.

So now this "Don't Shout. I am Blind NOT DEAF" Shirt is available from To purchase

Emergency Treatment

Tuesday, March 5, 2013, saw me involved in an eye emergency.

It is not uncommon for me to wake in the morning to see very little so it did not worry me unduly when that happened on Tuesday morning.

As the day went on however my vision did not improve from the morning sleepy state.

A call to my retinologists office at lunchtime brought the call to action I always hate.

"Get here as soon as you can."

With no public transport that meant getting my wife to drive me the 60 miles and so she had to leave work early. Picking me up at just after 2pm we got to the retinologist office at a little after 3pm.

There there they dilated my pupils and did an OCT scan. This is a scan of the back of the eye and retina which shows up any abnormality.

It has been many months since I had done one of these emergency runs. With declining vision in my left eye due to retinal nerve damage, both my retinologist and I were looking at lengthening the time between visits. In this case I was not due to go back to her for another two weeks.

The OCT however showed massive swelling in my left eye. My last Lucentis injection, six weeks ago, had definitely worn off. Surprising to me was the devastating affect the poor left eye vision still had on what was left of my overall vision.

Anyway my retinologist decided to treat me with avastin this time and move me back to a four week  period between injections.

Not news I really wanted to hear but I'd rather the injections than the constant emergency dash every few weeks.

Thank You Again

A year and one day ago, March 5, 2012. I posted a note to say thank you to you. All my readers.

Here we are a year later and I wanted to say thank you again.

In the message last year I told you that we had just passed the 4,000 visit mark. We had reached that figure in just under nine months. Today we have more than doubled that number of views as we have passed the 10,000 views mak at the end of last week.

I still have to pinch myself that we have reached that mark and hope that you will keep coming back for more.

This blog is not static, I try to put together as much information as I can about a variety of subjects. Though the common factor althrough is the blindness issue and the problems it causes, I hope that it allows you to see that blindness has some common problems and that there are solutions to many of those problems.

I am also pleased to see that more of you are leaving comments. This is a great help as I can see what interests you and I hope that I can supply more information upon those topics.

In the future I hope to expand the video blog area, initial interest has been encouraging.

So thank you again for your continued interest. I hope that you will all  continue to follow this blog in the coming weeks, comment on posts and introduce more ideas for contributions and please share any posts that you find interesting.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Benefit of Blindness

I think that I have found a benefit of blindness.

Yesterday one of our local schools was involved in a major basketball competition. They were playing in the finals for the championship, so a really big deal for a small town. Most of the town, including my wife and I, packed ourselves into our cars , trucks and buses. Then  made our way off to the game.

Well for most of the first half of their game our school was leading by a massive margin.

My wife got to  go down courtside with her friends, all the other teachers. I stayed up in the gallery, my own decision because the stairs down were very steep and no continuous hand rail.

Anyway from my vantage point I couldn't see the scoreboard, nor the game for that matter. I just got to enjoy the cheers and squeals of delight from our fans.

After half time both teams came out again and play resumed, the cheers and squeals continued loudly and I enjoyed every minute. Then came the final disappointment. Our school lost by just a fraction of a second and one basket.

I had missed all the tension of seeing the scores draw closer, the disappointment of every one of our missed baskets and the sorrow as realization comes as everyone else saw the clock countdown.

I had had a wonderful time just enjoying the atmosphere and living in complete ignorance.

Wow I had discovered a benefit to being blind!

Thanks for reading. Any thoughts and comments are gratefully received.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

"He's Blind you Know"

This week was a frustrating one for me.

I had to take two days off work to go to visit two different doctors. Ok so why can't doctors all work like the rest of us and not only see patients on certain days?

I suppose it is too much to ask.

Anyway, so on Wednesday, my appointment was for 11am, my bus journey from home to Fresno is three and a half hours and the bus left thirty minutes late at 8:30am. Not an auspicious start.

Luckily the bus was not too full so we made up some time on the journey arriving at 11:20am.

Then my pick-up was late. Caught in roadworks. So we were pushing time as we drove round and round in circles because the Doctors website gave the wrong address we had to travel twenty miles out of our way, evrntually we arrived at 12:26pm. The office was closed, but some of the staff were returning with lunch and llet me in to change the appointment.

My driver went in with me. So all the conversation went between him and the receptionist.


They made the appointment for  the end of March. Fine. They made the appointment for 10:30am. Er! So I pointed out that the time was not possible.

To which my driver pointed out to the receptionist that I was blind and so very obstinate. That time would be fine.

Sorry, obstinate I may be. If obstinate is pointing out that an appointment is set before my bus can get me even within thirty miles of the appointment under ideal conditions is pretty nigh on stupid.

But there it remained. Blind makes me obstinate, because I insist on making appointments that I can actually keep.

Please tell me that I am not alone in this frustrating world!