All those wonderful flat screens from the IPhone to the IPad to the IPod, Kindles, etc are going to make a leap into touchscreen braille writing given the new technology that has just come out.

Standford University just released a newsletter describing the Touchscreen braille writer. it is intuitive and however you hold your fingers in the 6 key fashion, the tablet will adjust to your fingers and allow you to braille on this flat screen.

You can watch a video at this link Touch Screen Braille writer and learn move about this upcoming technology at Braille Writer Tablet

When you are using Windows 7, every time you hit the start key, think of it as entering a huge search engine for your computer. Any word you type in, Windows 7 will find.

Your Start Key or Windows Key is the second key in on the left of a desktop keyboard (the key with the windows symbols picture on it). For sighted people it is the round button you most likely click on at the bottom left hand corner of the screen.

Let's do some keystrokes to see how fast Windows 7 is:
Hit the start key and type in: volume and down arrow to adjust system volume or what is applicable to your version of Windows 7. Enter on the volume and your options open. Up and down arrow to adjust the volume. Hit ESC –top right hand corner on keyboard to get out of the volume

Hit the start key again and type: documents and down arrow to documents and enter to open–down arrow through all the documents you have already created on your computer
ALT+F4 to close the documents folder

Hit the start key again and type in the name of a file on your computer, down arrow to find the file and enter to open it. The file opens.
ALT+F4 to close the file

You can search for anything on your computer with that START Key….it is very powerful. Now go have some fun and look for other things on your computer using the Start key.

If you would like to learn how to use Windows 7 and Office products using just the keyboard or keystrokes with JAWS, go to the links above and go through the site either with a mouse or with JAWS using Insert+F7. You can move through your options easily on every page, using your TAB key.

If you don't see a lesson you want, just go to the contacts page and request a particular lesson you need and it will be added to the site.

I have the students who take on everything I have to teach them and rise to the top of their class, eventually with no accommodations at all. Completely supported by parents who fight for this independence also and let their child know they can reach this goal.
 
The children have learned how to read their Braille work, so their fingers fly across the page, then they quickly turn to the computer and output the answer. When the teacher says it is time to hand in the work, they open their email, attach the lesson and send it off before all the other work is collected in the class from the sighted students. The teacher grades the work, using TRACK CHANGES to mark the paper. The teacher emails the lesson back with grade and remarks and the student can easily read it with her JAWS commands, all independently. All these children, are  powerful and everyone looks up to them. One particular child even scores the highest on state tests in the spring time and she is only in the 6th grade. Greater things follow and people seek her out to be her friend and she becomes middle school president of the ASB and later successfully enters the college of her choice.

I also have other students, who are backed or rather fronted by parents who seek unlimited time for their child to finish work and they do poorly in class because their lessons have been cut in half or less, so they are not learning the same amount of content as their peers. This child has the same abilities as the fore mentioned child but because of the limited work and due to an unlimited amount of accommodations insisted by parents, they child cannot rise to their potential. Children like this are frustrated by their poor grades and it hurts their self esteem and they either act out or go into depression or just mediocre silence and apathy. They feel sorry for themselves and believe the school needs to do more for them. The parents believe this also. The more the school does, the less the child does and the less they learn other than they have become pitied and pitiful. They do not have friends. They stay home every weekend and do not even have the skills to go to camps in the summer. They graduate school and cannot get into college or find a college to finally go to after many rejections. They go and within the first month cannot do school and drop out. Some call later to ask what to do, others stay with their parents. Some insist that their rehab counselor find them a job and the pity from others and themselves grow.

This is not a blind thing or a sighted thing, this is a human thing. I have seen it in every age, ability, creed and color. You have the people who believe the world owes them something and you have the people who actively put out the energy to make the world a better place. I go back to what Kennedy said decades ago "Ask not what your country can do for you— ask what can you do for your country." So what are you doing? Are you taking or are you adding?

You can be pitiful or powerful, but you cannot be both. Life is choices. What choice will you make?

I have spent the last few days with my mother in law—an incredible woman. She has a bit of age on herself and as many older people she is having difficulties SEEING the computer screen.

So, with indelible ink , using large black letters, I wrote on the hard space of her laptop to help her remember the important keystrokes.

To enlarge the Internet, use CTRL+

To reduce the size, CTRL-

When you are in WORD and having difficulty seeing the words, keep the same font size so you don’t print out large letters, but use a ZOOM effect

ALT+V then hit Z, then hit 2 and enter and you will have 200%. No matter what Office you are using, just keep hitting those keystrokes and ZOOM effects will open

Just little fast keystrokes can make all the difference in your life. For more ways to make your life easier in using your computer,

Lessons to help you

Low Vision Skills-Windows 7 Office 2010

Low Vision-XP-Office 2003

There are a couple great advantages in using Firefox over Internet Explorer (IE).

The biggest one is the advantage of automatic spell check on any and every word you write. It will be underlined in red for you sighted people, and for JAWS users, it will say the word oddly. You can arrow back and hit your applications key (3rd key to the right of the space bar on a desktop keyboard), which is just like using the right click on your mouse. The keystroke is faster—try it out.

The next and most important for any JAWS user is the great accessibility and interaction with websites. Where they are problematic in IE, they are not in Firefox. Even if you do not know the h for headings, or ; for landmarks, you can easily TAB through content, slowly, but TAB through content to move through a page.
For more quick keystroke lessons go to the TAB on JAWS/Internet

 
TAB through your lessons or Insert+F7 for your links and just down arrow through all the possibilities of keystroke lessons of JAWS with the Internet.

 

When a blind child first starts school, the child needs to learn everything about the print world AND the blind world. You will need to find the balance between cutting down lessons and still getting the point of the lesson; allowing more time to finish an assignment because the child may be using technology that he is just learning to output work and reading Braille books where he is just learning the Braille code and if he has some sight, may be using a CCTV that enlarges pictures and graphs for math class.

The biggest goal to aim for as a teacher every year is to diminish how many accommodations the child needs. The child needs to get to the point where he can finish the same amount of work everyone else is doing in the same amount of time given. That means the child needs to be gaining enough skills each year to reduce the accommodations.  By high school these accommodations should be very minimal and by graduation, the child can do what he needs to do to go onto college, self-advocate and find the answers he needs to be independent. That independence may be in hiring a “reader” where the reader comes in and helps the student pay bills or shows him the campus so he can travel independently with his cane; the student needs to know all types of technology to scan the printed work the professor just handed out, or the ability to go to the Internet and find anything he needs to complete his work or use an adaptive Braille note taker.

This independence goes after graduation from college to the job when the young person is confident in his/her abilities to travel anywhere, asks assistance for the tasks that are completely visual, but for the most part knows how to take the visual world and put it into a tactile or verbal feedback so he/she can access what is needed.

If you are asking for accommodations by the time you want a job and you are competing with others that are NOT asking for accommodations…who do you think is going to get the job? Go back and get the training you need to gain the skills necessary so you can go in with skills and confidence to do the same job within the same general time period as your potential colleagues. That is the way to compete in a global market that is looking for people with talent and skills to ADD to their business.

Register, Login, Lessons, Contact, About and Your Lessons, etc., are at the top right hand corner of site-If using JAWS, access with insert+F7

Register first–Then Login

Then choose lessons from main menu of Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, JAWS/internet, Teacher and other—If using JAWS, access with insert+F7

TAB will always move you through all options

When paying, TAB through options, when you arrive at a combo box, keep hitting U until you arrive at United States, or hit the letter of your country, then continue to TAB through all other options

TAB will always move you through your options

After you pay for you lessons, you will be sent an email with directions

Come back to site and login, YOUR LESSONS will contain the lessons you just purchased. You will have 2 weeks to download your lessons.

 

I have had many students who fight the chance to become independent because they would rather be needy…worse I have parents who back that neediness up and insist that a para educator be glued by the child's side all day long, walking them everywhere and doing everything for them.

Where this backfires is WHEN the child finally wants to do something, or go somewhere, or apply for a scholarship or an award, they cannot prove to anyone that they can do anything by themselves because they never have. They have never gained any independent skills to even walk from point A to point B in the easiest of locations, let allow to a bus stop or in an airport. They cannot hang up their own backpack or type on a computer nor do their work by themselves. Moreover, the family refuses to let them try because they know they have no skills.

As we encourage children to reach their potential and have them do things for themselves, it will not backfire.

Teaching the children to be assests, instead of deficits, opens up the opportunities.

It takes years to gain those independent skills and the earlier you get started the more opportunity and doors will be opened for you.

Be aware as changes in technology occur. I have been working with several school districts that have been having a terrible time installing JAWS correctly. If your JAWS is not working well, it could be a video intercept problem. This is a major issue –are you getting a video intercept error message? or maybe no message at all and your Jaws just does not work well, which means it very well may be a video card problem..if so–click below and download this lesson to fix the problem

It is an easy fix but JAWS and the hardware of the computer want to use the same video drivers if you only have 1. You can either force the issue to make JAWS work OR sometimes you cannot.

Some of the newer computers have integrated video cards that refuse to move and JAWS will jump in and out of laptop layout and desktop layout if you are using a laptop. The .msi driver, just know it is important, will not load correctly and when you try and use JAWS with a laptop, that the laptop hardware wants to use too, you will have a fight and your talking software will not work well. I have asked leading people in the industry about this who use JAWS all the time. I have asked JAWS people, thus far, no solution.

So, BEFORE you buy a computer, especially a laptop, get the following: A dedicated video card–geforce video card pererrably (this is the one I use with GREAT success) but there are many good ones out there….be careful, there are also many that do NOT work. If you get a dedecated video card, then JAWS takes that one and the hardware of the computer takes the other. Everyone is happy and you have a machine that works well. Get enough RAM also!!! Yes, lots of numbers to look at on those purchase slips, but look for this. Now, I would want 4 GB, but 2GB is ok.

Lesson to help you

JAWS 12-fixing mirror display or video intercept problems

It will take just 37 seconds to read this and change your thinking..

     Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation.. Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and colour of the world outside.
     The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake.  Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every colour and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.
One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man could not hear the band – he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Days, weeks and months passed.
     One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.
Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, 'Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.'

Epilogue:
There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can't buy. 'Today is a gift, that is why it is called The Present .'
–anonymous

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