5 - Star Spangled Seniors Holiday Show
8 - Board Meeting: Biscuit Country Café, 7026 E. Broadway, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, meet at 10:00 AM to order your brunch.
12 - Roxanna Baker Accordion Player: Holiday Concert, stay until noon
19 - Holiday Party & Gift Exchange, Las Margarita Mexican Restaurant, 3602 E. Grant Rd, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. To participate in the gift exchange, please bring a gift valued at $10 or less.
26 - TSB Closed
2 - TSB Closed
9 - Tanner Gers, " How to Be a Super Hero" a blind, motivational speaker and athlete, please see details below.
12 - Board Meeting: Biscuit Country Café, 7026 E. Broadway, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, meet at 10:00 AM to order your brunch.
16 - Tucson Expo, 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Double Tree Reid Park Hotel, 445 S. Alvernon Way. TSB will have a booth, free entertainment and health information, there will also be food vendors, and free giveaways
23 - Jean Baxter, Outstanding Storyteller
30 - Janet Dylla, Desert Low Vision: Newest in assistive technology and basic supplies, so bring money for your purchases!
Save these dates:
Feb 6: Craig Turner, " Piano Guy with 50 yrs of experience, playing the Oldies,"
Feb 15: TSB Rodeo Concert Tom Chambers, silent auction, Fellowship Square, 8111 E. Broadway Blvd, Villa 2, Great Room, 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM.
Feb 16: TSB Rodeo Concert, Janice Deardorff, same as above plus raffle drawing.
Tuesday, Jan 9, Tanner Gers : After losing control of his car in an auto accident, Tanner lost his sight at age 21. The biggest tragedy in Tanner’s life, wasn’t losing his sight. It was not living life, and taking every day by the horns, like he does today. Tanner has gone on to graduate from college, is a Paralympian silver and gold winner, a 2-time National Beep Baseball Association World Series Offensive MVP, a published author, public speaker, and when he’s not doing that stuff, he dabbles in business.
Thank you for buying and selling Jim Click Raffle tickets and supporting TSB. At press time, TSB has raised $2075 from raffle ticket sales.
It's time to pay annual membership dues for TSB of $15 for 2018. Dues help to pay for luncheon, entertainment and the printing of the newsletter. There are three ways to pay your dues; by check in person or via mail to: Tucson Society of the Blind, P.O. Box 57655, Tucson, AZ 85732, or in cash in person to our Treasurer, or using PayPal on our website, www.tucsonsocietyofthelbind.org (service fee of $0.50 applies).
The TSB website is updated regularly with new photos of members at our activities, upcoming calendars, current and past newsletters, among other information.
Erma’s Eye Opener
The Power of Peppermint
Please look for Erma’s article in our next issue. Meanwhile she says:
Wishing everyone a blessed merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year
- Love to all from Erma Seal
News You Can Use by Barbara Macpherson
Do You Dream In Color? I sure do! That is the name of a documentary about four high school students overcoming the obstacles of blindness. You can download this from Amazon or watch it at the national Federation of the blind, meeting Sat Jan 6 at SAAVI 3767 E. Grant, 1-3:30 PM. NFB will even provide soda and popcorn.
At Park Place Century Theater, they now have comfortable recliners and head sets with a volume control, you wear to hear the description narration of the movie. No more long cords to trip over.
Wesley did an outstanding job on What the Echo Dot can do for you. Please see the short article on the Echo Dot below in this newsletter. Now the Echo Dot can dial telephone numbers for you. You can buy an accessory ," Let's Connect" for land lines only, $35, which acts like an answering machine, telling who is calling and can be used to call by voice the emergency number 911. With 3 echoes in the house, I will be able to ask Echo to dial 911 anywhere in the house. I use mine every day to listen to the news, play music, and to add appointments to the calendar. So If you have a smart phone, computer, or tablet, ask someone to get you an Amazon Echo Dot $49 for Christmas.
- Have a Wonderful Holiday Season and a Happy and healthy New Year. After our late December break, we will see you back at TSB on Tues Jan 9 for Tanner Gers, " How to Be A Super Hero."
What Can Alexa Amazon Dot Do For You?
I love my personal digital assistant called Alexa. She will give you the weather forecast anywhere in the U.S. and tell you the outside temperature and read articles from Wikipedia about famous people. Alexa will connect you to any radio station and play Amazon Music - $8 a month or play music from your Spotify music account. She can play Jeopardy with you, and play podcast, weekly radio shows, such as cool blind tech or the happiness podcast by Gretchen Rubin. Alexa will set timers and alarms while cooking and read recipes for you. Alexa will tell jokes and order Pizza from Dominos. She will read the news and audiobooks from Audible. But best of all Alexa will order anything you want from Amazon. What exactly is Alexa Amazon Dot? Amazon Alexa Dot looks like a hockey puck, cost about $49.95. She is completely voice activated which makes her perfect for the visually impaired. Is Alexa easy to use? Ask Alexa, “What is the seven day forecast for Tucson?” You need to have wireless internet and sighted help to set her up on either a computer, tablet, or smart phone. Once installed, Alexa is very easy to use.
I'm visually impaired but...
Below are responses by people from the Macular Degeneration Support community who were asked to finish the sentence as it relates to their vision. We encourage you to make your own list, and then allow your specialties (you know you have them) to balance, or even outweigh, the challenges in your life. How many of these can you identify with? How many more can you add?
“I’m visually impaired. but . . .
… It doesn’t define me.”
… I’m very thankful for the good things I have.”
… I’m a trouper!”
… I have a strong and determined mind.”
… it’s just one part of my life, and I’m getting on with it.”
… I’m a good planner.”
… I know how to adapt.”
… I’m persistent.”
… I’m otherwise healthy.”
… I’m financially secure enough to take care of myself.”
… I’m proactive.”
… I don’t hesitate to ask for help.”
I believe in myself.”
… I have a full life.”
… I have supportive friends and family.”
… I’m anxious to learn new ways to do things.”
… I can dance.”
… I make things happen.”
… I believe in dreams.”
… I believe in a higher power.”
… I still have my sense of humor.”
… I keep busy volunteering.”
… I’m working through it and overcoming the fear.”
The Promise - by Dan Roberts
You came to the raging river
Where the roar gorged the air.
You cried, “Show me where you crossed over,
If you’re really there.”
We replied, “Yes, we’re here together,
And we’ll show the way to you.
But there’s not yet a bridge for crossing:
Our way was not over but through.
There is no short cut when dealing with vision loss. You have to work your way through the challenges.
Tech Bytes by Wesley Derbyshire
Microsoft recently launched Seeing AI, an iOS app that one could describe as a ‘talking camera for the blind’. This impressive free iPhone and iPad app available in the AppStore allows users to point their iPhone at anything, whether it’s a document, a menu card, a room or even a friend, and Seeing AI will tell you what it is with its voice.
The app is broken into five areas, the first two are related to reading text. The Short Text option is at the left and is an extremely useful and fast tool for reading signs, envelopes, colorful advertising, and handy in the kitchen to read labels on cans, frozen foods, and bottles. Some visual acuity will benefit in locating signs on the street or at a buffet, but placing the camera lens near the center of a piece of paper with brief wording and pulling outward will automatically start the Short Text option to read out loud. Amazingly it will also work on curved edges, such as cans of food making it easy to read labels and nutritional info when shopping at the grocery store. Users have reported that the Short Text option read letters perfectly and was much easier to aim than the KNFB reader.
Entire pages are best suited for the Document option, which is the second button from the left. Once all edges are located by pulling the camera out from the center of the page, a photo is taken and the text is processed. In order to read the text out loud, you must use Voice Over to read the captured text.
The third, and center button, is useful for identifying products with bar codes. While the database doesn’t contain everything, it handily provided details for many packaged food and compact disc titles. One doesn’t need to know exactly where the bar code is located, by simply rotating a can of soup, a beeping tone identified that a bar code was found. Processing immediately occurred with a verbal read out of the product at that point.
The last area is the most complex, and truly breaks into Artificial Intelligence. Seeing AI has the ability to recognize objects and spaces. The Scenes option allows the user to take a snapshot and the app will quickly do its best to identify the scene. Yes, that is my kitchen, a wooden table, my guitar, a tree, and lawn chairs. The previous button handles face recognition, which is best for identifying persons you interact with commonly. But, even without knowing me, the app described me within one year of my age along with other general characteristics.
Each button is spoken out loud when pressed, but you must have Voice Over turned off to hear and navigate the five options. This limitation makes Seeing AI a difficult app for blind persons as they will need to turn Voice Over off and on to successfully navigate the menu and other features. But since this is a research project at Microsoft, this app is still under development and users can expect incremental improvements over time.
I find Seeing AI to be the old adage, you get what you pay for, with one caveat. The Short Text option by far is the fastest way to have bits of text read out loud. The remaining options, especially the Document and Bar Code options are handled much better in other apps such as the KNFB Reader and Digit Eyes. Of course, using the best tool for your needs will likely find Seeing AI in your tool chest for those specific moments, and Seeing AI has found a lot of love in the community due to its simple yet rich feature set.
Sharp Elbows, Sharper Thoughts by Ryan Strunk
Braille Monitor Nov 2117
What I particularly like about this article is that Ryan takes head-on the issue of how seriously we take ourselves as blind people. Anyone who knows me knows I love a good joke, and anyone who has seen me in the right circumstance knows I love a good dirty joke. I don't know as many of them as I used to, but when I was a kid, I had a stockpile, and I let them fly pretty regularly. Have you heard the one about the lady who ... nah. I can't write it here. But I was perfectly happy to tell it to my ninth-grade buddies one afternoon after school, standing around in the nearly empty junior high parking lot.
I was so focused on the joke, on impressing my friends, that I was completely oblivious to the world around me. Halfway into the joke, as I was establishing the pattern, somebody kicked me in the foot. I didn't think twice about it; I just kept on chattering. A moment later, Chad started coughing. No big deal, I thought. He just had something in his throat. A sentence or two before the punchline, Jeremy straight-up elbowed me in the ribs, and still I didn't give it a second thought. Just wait till they hear how it ends. It was at that climactic moment-the one with the shock-and-awe curse word in the punchline-that the adult standing nearby decided to speak up.
"Young man," he said in that purposeful voice authority figures use on unruly students; a voice which, I'm sure, is much larger in my memory than it was at the time, "We don't use that language at school. I stammered my way through the last few words of the punchline, then trailed off into silence, stunned at being caught and suddenly terrified, even as I didn't recognize the speaker. "I won't hear any more of that talk, right? he asked.
My face burning, my stomach roiling, I sheepishly mumbled that he wouldn't, and with a perfunctory "good" the man walked away. After a moment of stunned silence, I swallowed my rising horror and plucked up the courage to ask, "Who was that guy? "Dude," said Jeremy, starting to snort laugh. "That was a cop. You just dropped an F bomb in front of a cop! "Why didn't you tell me? I demanded. "I tried to," he said. "Why do you think I kept hitting you? I felt like an idiot, not only because I hadn't landed the joke, but because I felt my blindness had betrayed and embarrassed me in front of my friends. Had I not been blind, I told myself, I would have known there was a cop standing there, and I would have either landed the joke harder as a rebellious backhand to authority, or-more likely-I would have saved it for when he wasn't around and not gotten in trouble for telling it.
These kinds of things can still happen to me today. I walk through the office, and my toe hits the protruding foot of a whiteboard. It clangs, and I feel like an idiot for not using my cane better. I turn down a different aisle than my shopping assistant. I realize they're suddenly not there, and I kick myself for not paying better attention. My cane slides under a sign, and I find said sign with my shoulder. I curse my luck and myself. For years I have struggled with negative self-talk, berating myself over every little slip-up that happens in my daily life. Every kicked whiteboard, wrong turn, and missed sign ends up being an incredible ordeal because of the stories I tell myself after-because of the things I tell myself about myself: "Everyone is watching you;" "everyone is judging you;" "you are setting a bad example for other blind people.
I have spent a significant portion of my life carrying around a great deal of insecurity about who I am and what I'm capable of, and I have spent far too much time and energy focusing on things in my life that, in the grand scheme of things, don't really matter that much. I'm finally beginning to realize just how destructive these negative thoughts are, and I'm learning just how much they've been holding me back. Instead of shaking off my occasional mishaps, I have been fixating on them. I have worried about what other people will think and how I'll be judged until I become tense and edgy. With all this negative energy, is it any wonder that I get embarrassed, angry, and self-effacing?
One of the great truths about blindness is that, no matter how good someone's cane technique is, no matter how many skills a person has, they will eventually encounter a situation that might have been different had they been able to see. But one of the great truths about life is that, for a variety of reasons, these sorts of things happen to everyone-blind and sighted alike. The difference, I'm beginning to understand, is that most people don't have blindness to blame these accidents on. When mistakes happen, most people laugh them off, shrug them off, and maybe do something better next time. Many blind people I know are good at this too, and I haven't been one of them. I'm working on it, though.
I told a dirty joke in front of a policeman. He called me out for using bad language, and nothing else happened. My parents weren't called, the principal wasn't summoned, and I didn't get in trouble. And even if there had been bigger consequences, so what? These things happen. They will continue to happen, and all I can do, if I want to be a happier person, is keep going and, if possible, do better next time. "Ok Jeremy, I got a good joke. Any cops around?