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Sunday, February 22, 2009

How I Blog

Someone sent a comment and asked me to explain how I manage
to write my blogs. That is actually a good question.
Technology for the deaf-blind is limited and very expensive.
So many of us lack the means to access things like the
internet, blogs and Instant Messages. Either the technology
doesn't exist, or it's too expensive for us to purchase.
What type of technology a deaf-blind person can use depends
highly on their hearing and vision functioning. Most people
who are "deaf-blind" are actually deaf with low vision.
They can read enlarged print. They are able to use a
computer with some kind of text enlarging system. That
gives them access to more options than those of us who are
completely blind.
Some people are blind and hard-of-hearing. They can listen
to screen readers that speak to them. They have access to
audio files, Talking books and Pod Casts.
Then there are people like me. I am totally deaf-blind. I
can't see print and I can't hear speech. That means braille
is my only option. Braille technology is one of the most
lacking areas in assisstive technology.
At this time, I don't even have a computer. If I had a
computer and braille display, I'd be able to use a screen
reader to access Windows, Outlook Express and Internet
Explorer. You must have either Jaws or Windows Eyes to turn
print into braille. But braille displays are so expensive.
The Focus 80 braille display I want costs $6,000. Sorry.
Don't have that much.
So how do I write my blogs? I have a Braille Note M Power.
This is a note taker, like the Braille Sense and Pac Mate.
A note taker isn't a computer, although it does a lot of
computer functions. You have access to things like word
processor, address book. planner, basic internet, email, and
a book reader. It's a limited machine, however. It only
has so much power and memory, and can only do so much.
The biggest area where the Braille Note M Power is lacking
is the internet. It just does not handle the internet well.
Think of how graphical the web is and then try to turn that
into something that can be done with six dot cells. It
takes a lot more work than a note taker is capable of doing.
I can read very basic sites that don't have too many
graphics or too many links. It's still hard to navigate,
however. It's always hard to find the link or the text you
are looking for. I can't read PDF files. I need plain
text. No pictures or columns or tables. I can do Google
searches but more than half the sites I try to enter are
inaccessible. Either my machine freezes up, the page won't
load, or I run out of memory. It is so frustrating. I try
to avoid the internet as much as possible.
I wanted to start a blog so I could tell people my
experiences about being deaf-blind and my quest for
independence. I tried to access a bunch of different blog
sites on my Braille Note. Blog Spot and Blogger were the
only ones to load. So I decided to go with Blog Spot.
I got in but even that wasn't easy. You need a Google
account and I couldn't figure out how to get one. A friend
had created a Gmail account for me before so I used that. I
don't have access to that account. Gmail isn't an
accessible site. My friend has to check it for me.
Then I got stuck on setting up the blog. It wouldn't accept
any of my choices for a blog name. It kept telling me,
"Sorry, that name is not available."
I have one thing going for me. I've got really good
friends. They understand my issues with accessing the
internet and are always willing to help me. They know I
only ask when I've tried to do it myself and can't get it to
So my friend ended up setting up the blog for me. She also
set it so I can send my blogs to Blog Spot via email. This
is great. This means I can write my blogs using the word
processor, edit and proof read, and then insert into an
email. The emails are automatically posted on Blog Spot.
I am blogging without even entering the internet. That's a
great set up for someone like me.
My friend helps me manage my blogs. She checks for problems
and sends me comments. (And I do love comments so keep them
coming!) She even changed the layout to make it easier for
people with screen readers to access. Thank you very much,
my good friend.
So there it is. That's how I write my blog. It's 25%
technology, 25% friends and 50% brains. You got to love the
power of the blog.

1 comment:

  1. Your blog is great! Thanks for sharing your experiences with all of us. This last entry about how you blog is especially timely for me since I just created my own blog... I haven't posted anything yet though. Like you, I found it very frustrating to create! I'm blind and wear 2 hearing aids. I use Jaws for windows and a pac mate braille display. I use a conbination of speech and braille but found setting up the blog and my google account to be frustrating! I thought I might have to get sighted help with it, but it's done now. Keep the entries coming!