A blind person learning how to sew puts a new spin on the term blind stitch. I want all my students to learn to sew but it really is up to the individual. If they want to do anything, I want to find a way for them to do it. Astonishingly, I have had many students who want to learn to sew. Therefore, to set up a class, I went through lots of legwork and work and work and there will be more work in getting permission for this, but it is worth it. A class is set up where I teach the students adaptive methods.

We start with needle and thread. You can get a self-threading needle at any fabric store or online (go to self-threading needle). They made these special needles for people who had difficulty putting thread through the eye of a needle. Well, they are perfect for anyone who cannot see. Use a thimble at first also, so the child can poke the needle through the material and be able to feel the needle coming through without drawing blood on the other side. They will get to the point where the thimble is no longer needed, but to begin with, is a great tool. The basics are learning how to hem pants and sew on buttons. For practice, we take a piece of fabric and just start sewing buttons on, then when they are ready they usually have buttons they need re-sewn on their own clothes. The lesson allows them to now be able to fix their clothes.

Then we move onto the sewing machine. You can go to any sewing store and also buy a needle threader, which enables the blind person to easily thread their own needle–you can get one the size of a dime and very inexpensive to very fancy, costing much more, all work well. Next, I braille a large 11 x11 paper with lines from top to bottom: The student practices putting the sheet of paper in the sewing machine and lining up the braille line with the needle. They practice sewing the braille line repeatedly until they can sew a straight line. It does not take long. Once they have mastered that, we move onto material and a pattern. Depending on capability, it may be pillows or a skirt or vest pattern. They gain enough skills so they know if something rips, they can at least repair it.

I have had girls go onto jewelry making and design, making beautiful beaded necklaces' and bracelets. It is all a matter of attitude. If you want to do it, there is a way.

Watch video of student who uses the above techniques and uses a sewing machine

Think of space age technology or "Star Trek" and you describe the JORDY (Joint Optical Reflective Display)

The JORDY™ headset, "when worn like a pair of glasses, enables people with low vision to see objects at any range."

Whatever your eye condition is and you are having difficulties with seeing print, watching TV or watching people play sports, this could be the headset for you. It is not glamorous and you will need a bit of self-esteem to put it on, but it could be well worth it. Yes, people will turn and look but more out of believing you may have just beamed down from outer space.

This piece of equipment is especially advantageous for older adults who do not want to pursue learning Braille or computers or any other type of technology. It is simple and easy to use and has a small control panel that is quick to learn.

The older adults I work with find this very easy to learn and describe the above situation. They want to continue life visually and the JORDY allows them a quicker transition into options for low vision.

Other lessons that will help with low vision

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

 

Low Vision – Increase the cursor size and add effects so you can find it FAST

1. Turn on Computer
2. Go to the Internet by clicking Find large cursor
4. Click on the link Large Color Cursors
5. When the dialog box opens, hit S for SAVE and save to your desktop so you can find it easily
6. Go to desktop and right click on it to exact the file—a wizard will automatically open and take you through the process—if you need more help, it is on the web page under this link: ScreenShots.asp
7. Now, Hit the START KEY
8. On XP, Hit C until you jump to control panel and enter to open
9. Hit M until you jump to mouse and enter to open
10. On Windows 7, after you hit the START KEY, type in MOUSE and down-arrow and enter on it
11. CTRL+TAB to pointers for both XP and 7
12. ALT+B to jump to Browse and enter to open
13. Your cursor options will open—SHIFT+TAB up into your list view of files and go to BIG CURSORS—they will start with BIG BLUE
14. Double click or arrow to and enter on the cursor you want to use
15. You will automatically go back to your pointers dialog box when you do this
16. ALT+A to apply your choice
17. Windows will ask you if you want to replace your original scheme
18. Hit y for yes and your cursor will now be the selection you choose
19. CTRL+TAB to POINTER OPTIONS
20. ALT+S to – Show location of pointer when I press the CTRL key
21. Now, if you cannot find your cursor, all you have to do is hit the CTRL key and you can immediately see it—try it now after you select this option
22. TAB to ok to close dialog box

Now you have a large cursor that you can see well. RED has been the most popular with my students. They can easily find that cursor by hitting the CTRL key. You try it now. Find your cursor quickly by hitting the CTRL key. Even if you want to use a smaller cursor, keep the CTRL key option and be able to find it FAST anytime.

Other lessons that will help
 Low Vision Skills-Windows 7 Office 2010  
 Low Vision-XP-Office 2003

 

Here are some Low Vision tips to see Words in Word better

1. Open Word
2. CTRL+N to open another new document, and ALT+TAB between these two documents
3. In Document1, Type: We can become bitter or better through tests and trials.
4. Hit ALT+V for view and Z for zoom
5. Up arrow to 200% and press enter
6. Your document is now at 200%
7. ALT+TAB to Document2
8. Type: There is a test in all testimonies.
9. Hit ALT+V then Z again for zoom
10. ALT+E to jump to percent that you want to increase and type in 500 and hit enter—hint: you can type any size in this box
11. Your page is now at 500%
12. ALT+TAB between both documents to compare document size
13. ALT+V, then z again and hit 1 for 100%
14. ALT+V, then z again and hit 2 for 200%

It is better to increase the zoom versus the font as the font will become distorted on the page as you type and if you forget to decrease the font size when you print it out, you will waste a great deal of paper. By increasing the zoom, you can see what you are doing and then print it out at the 12 or 14 sized font which is the typical font size of reading material.

Other lessons that will help

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

 

I have taught many Little People with little fingers and many children who just did not have strong fingers because of a health condition or something similar.

Enter the Mountbatten Brailler (MB).

Watch video of 3 year old brailling alphabet:

Even at 2 or 3 years old, young children can press these keys. It is ideal for young learners because as they press the keys, the MB will give you verbal feedback on what letter you just hit. If the braille is correct, you move on. If it is not correct, with a quick keystroke, you can erase and rebraille the letter all with one movement or you can do it in two if the child needs to work on more finger dexterity. You use paper in this brailler, so as the child brailles, he gets the verbal feedback he needs, and he can place his fingers on the braille that he just embossed on the paper, giving him that perfect cause and effect of his actions.

I have also had children who were using two fingers on each key of a regular brailler and really struggled with pressing the keys. As soon as they were put on an MB all the problems disappeared and they were able to successfully braille with ease.

So any child that needs easy keys to press and/or who needs that cause and effect of pressing a key and getting the verbal and tactile feedback they need to understand what they are doing, this could be the machine for them.

Lessons and articles to help you:

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

As the school year begins, there are many things to do, but one of the most important at the beginning is getting our children familiar with their surroundings so they can walk anywhere they need, safely.

Ideally, they can come in before school begins the school year. That way it is quiet uninterrupted time for them to focus. I meet them in the office and we start walking to their room. As we walk, I have them touch easily identifiable parts of the wall, as my elementary kids, I know, will be running into them periodically and I want things familiar. I point out the water fountain and they take a drink feeling everything around it. The bathrooms are usually right next to it, but I want to keep them focused on walking directly to their room.

When we get to the room, I have them start at the perimeter, walking all around it, feeling all major obstacles and how to get around them when they come to them: Like the dictionary cart that protrudes about 2 yards from one wall, or where the teacher's desk area is and how to walk on the outside of it and around to the next wall. Then I have them go to the middle of the length of the wall (every wall) and walk from side to side so they get the idea of the length straight across and how big the room is. Then they start at the front of the room and walk through touching each desk so they know all placements. The names of the students will be on the desk, so they can learn where "Bobbi" or "Suzy" is sitting. At last, they will practice going from the front door to their locker, to their seat. From the teacher's desk to their seat. From Bobbi's seat to their seat and so on.

Then we walk back to the office and redo those steps until I can say, "OK, I will meet you at your room,” and they meet me there by themselves. When they do this successfully, we work on the bathrooms if they are not in the room, the cafeteria, library and so on in the building. Practicing one path at a time until success, then adding more. Then we go outside and practice these redundant skills until they are comfortable walking anywhere in and outside of school. This usually occurs over several days and that is best for their knowledge base to grow accordingly.

I am not O&M certified but I have been in so many areas where there were none. Fortunately, I have many classes in O&M and only lack a few credits from certification. I believe all Teachers of the blind need this type of background so if there is no one, we can at least be teaching the basics so our children can get to where they need to go, with confidence and safety.

 

Can I see a raise of hands of how many of us wanted to scream at inaccessible PDF files? I see 100% of our hands on the site.
For those of you who are not sure what PDF files are, they are files you open and JAWS says "no text found" or "blank". They are image files of text. In general, sighted people do not know this. All they see is the text. When I open one, I see a picture of words and then it is my quest to put it into text for talking software to read.

Yesterday, some of my most gifted Protechs-who used to be paras but have gained that training that has made them highly skilled, came to my place. I love it when people can come to my home as I have many tools of the trade that people can immediately see and use to their benefit. One of the main topics was how to access those PDF files. Most books come electronically or downloaded from the Internet, but they are in PDF format. They had been putting these through a scanner to process them into text, which was taking vast hours and one Protech was assigned to the task because of the quantity of students they have.

With a big smile, I said. let me show you something faster that will save you hours. I had one of those inaccessible PDF files sitting on my desktop from a teacher's email the day before. It was in Spanish however, which makes the scenario even worse. With a quick START KEY+M to access my desktop then an A (first letter of the icon I was going to) to access the PDF file, I hit that applications key (see lesson on this key in blog) and down arrow to open with, right arrow and down arrow to choose default program (now once you have your options in this menu, you can automatically go to it and if you arrow around you will see other programs there, most likely Adobe or other PDF programs) Once I open the dialog box, I go to browse and pick the program Openbook–Kurzweil will do this also. I hit enter a couple of times to confirm everything and the PDF file is immediately opened into Openbook.

I turn around from my desk and all mouths are open then a huge burst of smiles. I LOVE that! Making life easier for someone! They all immediately got the vast hours of time that would be saved using this method and couldn't wait to get back to school to tell the others.

In another method that will open many otherwise inaccessible PDF files is a Gmail email account. I send these PDF files to my Gmail as an attachment. When I open it, bring up links, I hit v for view and open a view of it in the internet. Once this is open, you can go to view option and view it as an HTML document. VIOLA, within seconds you have text that Jaws will read. VERY VERY fast…and free.

Of course, you always have the options of buying a PDF file converter. That lesson is for another time.

Have you ever gone to a page and sat there wondering what you should do to get to where you want to go. Have you ever been ready to shoot your computer because you hit a key and it got you lost on the URL express highway? Well, here is a way for you to take control of JAWS and get him to do what you want to do.

On any page, you go to, and for now as a learner, any page…you need to hit INSERT+F1. The command will give you all the keystrokes of that page. It will tell you information that you need to know to get around and do what you want to do.

Next, when you open an Internet page and JAWS starts gabbing along, just know that his cursor is moving very quickly down that page. That typical command that you use and sometimes does or does not work is because the cursor has moved beyond that command. So hit the CTRL key to shut him up. Get him to the top with a CTRL+HOME. Now your cursor is at the top of the page and you can move according. In the Internet, hit the letter H to jump to your headings, then SHIFT+H to move back. Bring up your links and notice that you are exactly in your links as where you are on a header. If you stop some place in a page, your links will follow your cursor, or vice versa. CTRL+HOME again. Now it B for button and move through finding all the different buttons; CTRL+HOME; Now hit; and move to your landmarks.

Now INSERT+6. Major commands are here to tell JAWS what you want done. For now, just TAB and arrow around to see all the features. A lesson could easily be written everywhere you stop in this dialog box.

Practice taking control with the above commands to start on your journey of "Being the Boss of JAWS"

Lessons that will help teach and learn

Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2003 and XP  
Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2010 and Windows 7 with JAWS  
Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2010 and Windows 7 with Window EYES
Eight lessons on Bookshare.org and JAWS  
Everything you need to use GMAIL in basic HTML or standard view  
SKYPE—for Regular Vision, Low Vision, and Blind  
JAWS and Internet—how to get Going and Moving

 

Many people do not know that this key even exists. It is very powerful and enables you to move around your computer quickly, giving it commands and taking control in every window. I am talking about the APPLICATIONS key, if you do not have one, SHIFT+F10 works also. The applications key is like hitting your right click on a mouse to get sub-menus. On a desktop, it is the third key from the right of the space bar…on laptops; well it can be any place, so hunt it down, either on the bottom or top of the right side of the keyboard.

Let's practice some commands to see this power. START KEY+M to minimize everything on your computer: all your windows drop to the task pane and you now have access to the desktop icons. Hit the letter J for JAWS. If you are not a JAWS user, hit the letter of any icon on the desktop. You jump to the icon and it is highlighted, hit your applications key and up arrow to properties. TAB to shortcut key and hit the letter J. CTRL+ALT will automatically be inserted with the letter J. If you are doing an icon other than Jaws, hit the letter of the program you want to make a hotkey for, but be aware you can not use the same letter as another keystroke that has been used. ENTER to close the box. You have now made a hotkey or shortcut key for JAWS. Turn off Jaws with insert+F4; now turn him back on with CTRL+ALT+J. So when JAWS gets a nasty hiccup on you in the middle of going somewhere, turn him off and turn him back on and the hiccup disappears.

Next magic: Open Word. Misspell a word. Arrow into the misspelled word and hit your applications key. You will have the correctly spelled word in the list (if you did not butcher the word too badly—WORD needs to have the spelling somewhat close to figure out what you wanted). Misspell several more words to see the power in this key.

Now let's make a list. Type the word cat, hit ENTER, type dog, hit ENTER, type fox. NOW, shift+up arrow and select all those words. Hit your applications key. If using Office 2010 , hit N for numbering and right arrow to the number and enter and everything will be automatically numbered. For Office 2003, after you hit the applications key, hit n for bullets and numbering, CTRL+TAB to Numbered and right arrow to numbers and enter to select. Your list is now automatically numbered.

Hit your applications key again and down arrow through all your options to see what is available to you every time you hit that key. It will change as you go through different windows.

Lessons that will help you

Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2003 and XP  
Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2010 and Windows 7 with JAWS  
Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2010 and Windows 7 with Window EYES
Bookshare.org and JAWS-Eight lessons to get you moving  
GMAIL- Everything you need to use in basic HTML or standard view  
SKYPE—for Regular Vision, Low Vision, and Blind  
 JAWS and Internet—how to get Going and Moving

 

Are you one handed and wish you could type faster? Are you missing your hands or arms? Are your hands shaky and it is difficult to type? If you have any difficulty typing at all, this may be a solution for you.

Office 2003 does have a speech recognition built into it to use. You speak and the computer types out what you are saying.

However, Windows 7 has taken a leap in speech recognition abilities. By speaking to your computer, you can get it to open any menu and go anywhere. You can dictate letters, do your homework and print it off or go into the Internet and email it. You can surf on the Internet and scroll through pages of information. With a quick "Start Listening”, the computer listens to your voice and commands. With a "Stop Listening”, the computer stops listening.

If you are using talking software, you will need assistance in setting up the program as nothing else can be talking while you are training the program. Once the computer gets to know your voice, you can control it anyway you need. If you want to dictate in Word, you will need to limit JAWS ability to talk until you want him to, a quick hit of the CTRL key is enough to control him, but you may want to restrict him even more. You begin talking and a dialog box opens where you say all your sentences. Once you finish dictating, you say "insert" and the text is inserted into the document, you can make corrections as needed with F7 to spell check with Jaws.

Click on this link to go to: Common commands in Speech Recognition

If you need a really serious program that packs all the power of combining speech to text then giving feedback with JAWS (as they actually work together), go to JSAY

Other lessons that may help you

Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2003 and XP  
Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2010 and Windows 7 with JAWS  
Everything to get you going in WORD Office 2010 and Windows 7 with Window EYES
Bookshare.org and JAWS-Eight lessons to get you moving  
GMAIL- Everything you need to use in basic HTML or standard view  
SKYPE—for Regular Vision, Low Vision, and Blind  
JAWS and Internet—how to get Going and Moving

 

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