Self-consciousness blows up in the face of some teenagers an they feel as though everyone is staring at them and judging them for every little thing. They worry about facial acne or their clothes, and blind students have the additional worries of being seen with a cane, or reading braille in front of their peers.

This fear of a superficial judgement also grabs us as adults. We judge ourselves and other on everything from what we wear to the job we have or the house we live in.

Here is what we must realize.
Everyone has something they are dealing with.
It's okay to be different, because generally it is seen as "cool." Not everyone can use a cane or read braille.

People in general who are beating themselves up about every little detail because they THINK someone perceives them in a certain way, are getting a mixed-up view of reality.

In general, everyone is so involved with their own lives that after the 3 initial seconds of talking with you or seeing you, you are pretty much out of their mind.
In general, your perception of yourself is not reality for the way others are thinking about you. Everyone is too caught up in his or her own lives.

Even if you trip and fall (OK, the exception is a President, where the media decides to play the same video over and over for the world) so even if you trip and fall and we all do it, after 3 seconds, you are pretty much out of everyone's mind.

We need to get over ourselves, so we can go on uninhibited and do greater things. As long as you are trapped in a self-absorbed reality, you cannot see the bigger picture of what can be accomplished. You are wrapped up in the fears in your world that are not true reality and then you cannot improve yourself, because all you see are your faults. Figure out your faults and correct them.

You will make your fears and faults your REALITY if you don't change.

All you who are using talking software and are trying to use FACEBOOK.com, it is time to switch to m.facebook.com

m.facebook.com is an HTML version of Facebook. All the information is lined up vertically so you can easily move through the text. You will save tons of time reading the Wall and responding to people

So save time and frustration…go to m.facebook.com and TAB through the pages. You will start smiling about your Facebook experience.

You can download lesson about facebook from the Jaws/Internet Tab above

If you are looking for a few IPAD apps for kids check out the link.

Baby Finger is an IPAD app that has been touted as a great tool for children with cortical visual impairment or low vision children learning their colors and shapes.

With large bright objects and verbal feedback giving directions on objects to touch, children are absorb in this interaction. It is also free, which makes it something great to try out to see if this would be right for your child.

Interesting article to read about how to use the IPAD with low vision children

Another free app iFarkle which is a dice game for iphone or the IPAD–and a completely blind person can utilize this game..fun for adults too.

A whole list of apps at

Apple Applications for Students and IPAD- ITOUCH- or IPHONE

I always think about the tricks I use for teaching the blind and realize almost all the same techniques work great for sighted too. How many sighted people have placed their hand on a burning stove? Yep, me too! LOL! We are a funny bunch of human beings.

As I take my students into the kitchen, the first thing we do is feel EVERYTHING with it off. They feel every burner, or flat cooking surface, all dials, open oven and pretty much almost climb inside. They need to feel every corner, racks, pull out and in, feel what they will need to clean on the bottom when something spills over. I relieve their fear on this immediately. Yes, food will spill over and YOU will have to clean it. They practice using oven-mitts while pulling the racks in and out of the oven. Then they practice with heavier dishes so they can get the idea of how much harder the rack is to pull out with weight on it. All with the stove off! Same thing for the burners, lifting different sizes and pans of water off and on the burners.

They turn on the burners one at a time, so they can see which dial goes with which burner. They hover their hand above the burner. If I have a scared and reluctant child, I have them put that oven-mitt on their least dominant hand, touch the burner and hover with non-mittted hand to get the idea of distance between the heat and their hand. We do this with each burner and this takes some practice. Once again, I relieve their fear of being burned and tell them, "You most likely will get burned if you are cooking."

What does not kill us does make us stronger. How can we pass knowledge along, good and bad, without experience? If you are going to experience life, you will be injured along the way. Oh yes, I teach first aide too–smile

After they make their meal, and need to place it in the hot oven, I have them place their least dominant hand on the side of the opening into the oven, then slide it down onto the rack, so they know where the food is going to be placed. Then their dominant hand places the food on the rack and slides it in. When done, using the same method of placing their hand on the side of the opening of the oven, down by the rack so they can get their bearing and support themselves, then with the dominant hand joining the least dominant hand, they slide the rack out with the dish of food. The other hand reaches for the dish and they easily left the dish of food out and place on the stove. Bend over, push rack in, lift door up and they have just baked their first food item in an oven. The oven-mitt is essential at first because they will touch hot surfaces and if the mitt covers their whole hand, then they will not be burned and the fear level goes down tremendously. If the child is afraid, they will tentatively do something and are more likely to make errors, such as dropping the dish because they fear getting burned or other silly things we humans do when afraid.

By using the method of them touching everything when it is cold and getting the idea of place, position and heat, the fear starts to wane and cooking begins to be more of a part of their life.

I even had one student who became a great cookie baker. When her sisters would come over, they always would ask, "How did you get these cookies so perfectly round and baked?" She told me this story and of course, after mixing the batter, she used her hands to form the perfect round ball, flattened it with her hands and placed it on the baking sheet. She knew her oven (oh yes, side note, 350 degrees is not the same on every oven, so get to know yours) and knew the exact time to cook them, because of experience and lots of practice.

Good articles to read on this subject:
Cooking Without Looking"….for Kids
COOKING MADNESS
A huge list of other cooking ideas

Be that person who stands up and takes responsibility for your actions. If you do not have knowledge you need, you go out and find it and learn. If you fail at something, you look inside yourself and ask the question, "What more do I need to know to achieve this goal?"

Don't point your fingers at others and say, "You are not doing enough for me?" "You are the reason I am failing!"

Look at others and see how you can help. What can you do to improve someone's life? In turn, you make yours better. If you are always looking for ways to add, you will not subtract.

The only way to grow is to continually add. Life is math!! If you are always taking, little by little, you become less. You are subtracting from life itself.

The opposite is true too: If everyone keeps adding to the good and to knowledge, then everything grows.

AND, if you feel offend by this, maybe you are taking too much away from life….Something to think about!

One-step further than just digital handwriting into text: The Digital Ink Pad with Voice Recording. Compare this to the previous Digimemo on the site, which did not allow voice recording, or to be used as a functional PC Tablet when hooked to a computer.

This notebook sized pad allows you to hand write information (or a sighted person to do take notes in class, then hand back to someone who cannot see the board) But also add verbal notes, that when you upload it to your computer, the voice recording will be linked to the page. The product comes with Handwriting Recognition Software; Using MyScript Notes, OCR handwriting recognition software & you can transfer your handwriting to text.

In addition, In PC Tablet Mode; once connected to computer through USB port, Digital Ink Pad + could be used as fully functional PC tablet. If you already have a computer, this is a great addition to computing capabilities. The handwriting recognition software is also already included in the package when you buy it. After you upload your work, you can edit it on the computer.

The feedback on this product has been very positive: "What makes it better than the DigiMemo (my second option) tablet is that it has voice recording capabilities, a headphone slot for playing music (via a SD card), and if you connect it to your computer via USB, it becomes a fully functional tablet with the pen as a mouse"

Some tricks you will need to keep in mind if you buy this. Have several sheets of paper on the pad, use your best penmanship or tell the person who is taking notes for you to use good penmanship. Hold the tip of the pen up and don't rub your hand on the pad as you write. This is true for the digimemo also.

Are you wasting a lot of time ironing…or worse walking around with wrinkled clothes? Here are some great tricks to keep you looking good.

You can buy a board that helps you fold those clothes perfectly, with the perfect creases and lines, so it looks like you just picked them up from the dry cleaners without the dry cleaning bill attached.

For about $10-$20 you can buy many types of folding boards. Here are a couple links for you to choose from and you can explorer wider for more of a selection.

Bed, Bath and Beyond
Flip Fold I prefer this, due to the holes in the board that allow air to pass through for an easier fold.

You lay your article of clothing down on the folding board — just flip, flip, flip and fold. It's that simple. A bit of practice and you will be a pro. The flipfold board even has a video you can watch or listen to to understand the perfect folding method. Some come with magnets, so you can just stick it to the dryer to keep it out of the way. It is light and easy to use. You will get to the point where you may not need the board any more, but just may keep using it because it gives you such perfect looking clothes

Today, with permanent press clothes or just cotton and other blends, the first trick is to get your clothes out of the dryer IMMEDIATELY, so you have less wrinkles. I use this trick and rarely have to iron anything. However, collars on shirts are usually wrinkled so I re-wet them in the sink, press the collar the way it needs to look and hang up…When dry, it looks like someone ironed it. I have my stack of hangers and hang all our good shirts and pants up in the closet for the perfect crease in the slacks and shirts. Match the sewed seams first and feel for the crease that was ironed in on those slacks when you bought them, Then use hangers with 2 clips, one clip goes at each corner of your pants. If I try to fold dress pants, many times I cannot match the crease of the pants all the way down the leg, then you have 2 tiny ugly creases that run the length of the pant. By hanging them up on pant hangers click on link to see the type, you will have the perfect pant.

To match the colors of your clothes, you can use braille clothing labels and if you are a seamstress, you can easily braille in dots for the colors, but that takes a lot of time.

When you are done wearing socks, pin them together to drop in the dirty clothes, so when you are done washing and drying, you have the matched set of socks right there. No hunting for them. You can do this with anything that has a pair. Before placing anything in the dryer, shake your clothes out so you are not throwing a tight ball of waded up clothes in. You will just press wrinkles in that way. Then when the dryer cycle is done, you take them out immediately, hang up the good stuff, fold the daily wear stuff and you will always look pressed and put together.

Here are a few great articles on clothes preparation and grooming.
This is the Way We Wash Our Clothes
Ironing Things Out
Clothing, Grooming, and Social Acceptability: Part 1
Clothing, Grooming, and Social Acceptability: Part 2

Low vision-XP using HIGH CONTRAST options to see better

1. Turn on Computer
2. Hit your start key then C until you get to CONTROL PANEL and ENTER to open
3. Accessibility options is your first option, so enter to open
4. CTRL+TAB to display
5. ALT+U to select the option of high contrast
6. ALT+S to go to settings options
7. TAB to select—use shortcut-hit space bar to select
8. TAB to High Contrast appearance scheme
9. Keep hitting H until you jump to High contrast black #2 (extra large)
10. And enter to select and you will go back to the display option
11. Hit ALT+A to apply these choices and your screen will change
12. TAB to OK and close box
13. ALT+F4 to close control panel
14. The hot key to switch back and forth between regular screen and this option is: left ALT+LEFT-SHIFT + PRINT SCREEN –the print screen is all the way to the top right hand corner of your keyboard—on a laptop you will usually need to use the function or FN key and F11 to make this change—this varies depending on laptop layouts
15. Try another option-go back to accessibility
16. CTRL+TAB to display
17. ALT+S for setting and TAB to high contrast schemes and hit H until you jump to, High contrast #1 (extra large)
18. TAB to Ok, then hit ALT+A to apply
19. Open Word
20. ALT+V then hit z for zoom
21. Hit ALT+E for percent and type in 300% and enter
22. Begin typing—change the zoom size according to what you see best
23. Try other options–you can download this lesson from the Low Vision TAB above

Other lessons that help teach low vision skills

Low Vision Skills-Windows 7 Office 2010  
 Low Vision-XP-Office 2003

 

My fastest Braille readers are 2-handed readers, with butterfly motion.

So picture this: Both hands begin the braille line, and as they pass about the 3rd or 4th word on the line, the left hand goes back and down to the next line ready to begin reading as the right hand finishes the line. Smooth and seamless, floating down the page.

All fingers are down on the line, so the pinky fingers can tell when they are getting close to the end of a line, whether it ends in the middle of the page or at the end. If the child reads with the book on her lap, all those fingers support the book so it does not fall to the floor, giving the student the ability to easily read. This technique is especially helpful when they go into the elementary grades and read to younger students, impressing them with the beautiful flow and movement across those delightful dots. The sighted students come up on their knees to watch closer when they sit on the floor surrounding the braille reader, OH’s and AWES as they watch this wonderful braille butterfly movement. They truly believe it is magic to read those dots.

The students who read 300-400 words per minute, do their homework and pleasure read everyday and are always looking for their next novel.
The students who read 200-300 wpm, do their homework and pleasure read several times a week
The students who read 100-200 wpm, do their homework and maybe will pleasure read a couple times a week
The students who read 40-100 wpm, do their homework and rarely pleasure read during the week

To gain in speed, you need to use hard copy braille and the butterfly motion: Getting the flow and movement down on the page. On adapted laptops, you can use the book-reader and speed up the braille display to increase reading speed also. But the most important part of gaining speed…is to just READ!! And read a LOT.

Lessons and articles to help teach

First Steps in Great Braille Readers

Beginner Braille Reading

Braille Instruction begins at 3 years old

Braille Cheat Sheets

How to STOP scrubbing While reading Braille

Fast Braille Reading

Tricks to Learning Braille in your Teen Years or Later

Free Braille Books-Where to go to get Books

The Synchronicity of Braille & Technology

Braille Rap Song Lyrics

Rap Song to Learn Braille

It is that time of the year, where pumpkins abound and are ready to be picked, cleaned, cut, and eaten.

This is a great opportunity for blind children or any child for that matter, to help eat and decorate but also learn about math through counting pumpkin seeds and baking pumpkin pie, bread or cookies. But first, you need to go to a pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect pumpkin. Really, all the way to a field. Blind children will not understand how things are grown, if they only get food from a store, so head to a pumpkin farm.

After you pick the perfect pumpkin, it is actually best for you to have your child help you bake the "good" pumpkin pie, cookies or bread first, so they taste the end result, before diving their hands into all the goo of string, mush and seeds. They eat and enjoy, then onto the pumpkin. They will be more likely to dive in if they know they get more "good" at the end.

As you help them cut open the top and scrape out the insides, have them separate the seeds from the goo. Then they will count out the seeds into parts of 10, 20, etc., depending on age. Then have them place the seeds in a baking dish and bake the seeds, having them count as they place the seeds on the baking dish. They will find out how many seeds will fit flat on the dish. Have them spray the seeds with some cooking spray, salt the seeds and put in the oven to bake.

While the seeds bake, cut the pumpkin up, put in another baking dish, and bake that until soft and ready for pie, bread or cookies…whatever is the favorite of the child.

The other pumpkins, you get to help your child decorate for Halloween. They will start gaining incredibly fond memories of this time of season if you do this every year.

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