Category Archives: Personal Experience

A way With words- Article on TexTexting

By James Boehm“
Article in response to “To be or Not To Be” by David Crystal
The Guardian,
2b or not 2b?”: That Presents a Question
A man tells his wife, “When I look at your face, time stands still. Another man tells his
ex-wife to be, “You have a face that could stop a clock.” Both men are saying the same thing. Yet, notice the striking difference in connotation. Now, consider this: You text your mom “Did you not receive the package I sent you?” She replies, “Yes.” Initially, you accept her reply. But then you begin pondering, “Wait a minute, is Mom meaning “Yes, I got the package,” or “Yes, I did not receive the package?” Why different connotations? Such examples prove that meaning is determined at times not by what one says, but how one says it.
Thus, we come to the subject of text messaging. The majority of readers will agree, especially now into the 21st century, that texting has advantages and is commonplace. However, there is a downside in utilizing such a form of communication. The texting population experiences first-hand daily the imperfections of mass communication in one form or another. What views have some expressed in regard to such interaction?
One such view is in “2b or Not 2b, where” David Crystal addresses texting and relates the modern form of messaging to centuries of communication among humankind in its various forms.. Crystal relates how puzzles of old and many words that we use today are actually born from larger words. He comments that some play the “blame game” on texting in reference to poor grammar and writing among the current generation. One reference accused mass messaging of messing up the English language. In a change of scenery, Crystal gives kudos to modern-day messaging as he points to the reasoning that kids must have a higher form of intellectual English to text. High levels of creativity are needed to convey a thought in a shortened version. “2b or not 2b” leaves a spread of both sides of the bread, as it were, giving the reader points to ponder. While “2b or Not 2b?” is quite informative, Crystal fails to address what’s lost in communication when texting; furthermore, Crystal’s argument also neglects the dangers of texting.

Crystal cites the reader’s perceptions and others comments on “SMSing,” which stands for short message service, The research done on the history of abbreviations and short-handed writing was impressive and informative. Crystal states, “Just a little over ten years ago, hardly anyone had ever heard of ‘texting.’” (Crystal 336). This statement is truly accurate; you can see even today, only four years since this article was written, that mass messaging has grown leaps and bounds. Even the use of the “emoji” keyboard, keyboard providing characters of facial expressions and art, permeates the messaging world. Likewise, in the Braille writing system that blind persons use, there are 189 abbreviations and contractions. Texting is such a coveted technology today that even the blind community wants to participate, that as of February 7, 2013, new software was released that replicated the braille keyboard so that users may braille to text other smart phone users.Such an application is interesting because the keys on a Braille writer, in comparison to an “Qwerty” keyboard that sighted people are accustomed to, has only six keys and a central spacebar.

Today, you see people as well who you may have never thought would begin texting are participants- such as my mother who now does on a daily basis as she surprises me with SMS jargon and abbreviations that I myself am uncertain of their meaning. At times I have to Google what she sends me to find out its meaning! Hence, from my own mother, to the silver haired grandma who lives down your street, more and more of the population participate in text messaging their friends and family. Next thing you will know, I will find my guide dog Shep shooting out a text message to his other guide dog buddy. How he will do this without opposable thumbs, I am not positive, but I am sure Apple well eventually make an app for that! Further, if Crystal has his way, such a future situation will be bound to occur. But consider this: Just because mom,grandma, down the street and a large population partake in this latest technological fad, should we automatically presume texting as the acceptable and preferred way of communication?
No it should not! History has produced many fine examples where the common idea and acceptable way of thinking is not always the best, appropriate, and understanding. For instance, some ancient eastern cultures held the belief that the Earth was supported on the back of turtle, serpent, or elephant. Eventually, these myths were put to rest with growing knowledge of earth science and astronomy. Crystal indeed has a “World Turtle” view of modern day messaging by claiming its popularity gives it validation.
Yet, regardless of how informative Crystal’s texting debate is, it’s ultimately ineffective if it can’t be understood. In addition, the flow of the essay leaves the reader somewhat confused as to the writer’s position and is at times as clouded as an abbreviated text with unclear meaning. It is not until you meditate upon completing the reading before you begin to grasp Crystal’s viewpoint. Such a stand could have been portrayed clearer. How often have you texted someone and the receiver depicted a complete different mood or meaning than you were attempting to portray? This scenario is common place and a major flaw. Furthermore, more could have been stressed on the meaning that is strained as it flows from your finger tips to the colander texting device.
The “2b or not 2b” essay uses the word “evolution” (Crystal 345). It refers to the advancement of the human age in relation to texting. Yet, when we consider the numerous weaknesses of texting can we seriously consider it an advancement? Or, can we consider it laziness and poor attention to detail? When you look at a common text message, the omission of punctuation, spelling, and proper grammar etiquette is prevalent. Further, can texting be a symbol portraying our modern day philosophy of never stopping to smell the roses? Do we really accomplish any more than our ancestors of old? With all our modern day conveniences, how can we still feel there is not enough time in the day?
There is no denial that abbreviating has been a pastime from the beginning of the concept of writing to communicate. Nevertheless, the issue of portraying a clear and concise message, free from misinterpretation, is evident, which is simply the nature of the beast. Consider a common day example: You text your girlfriend or boyfriend after you know that she or he has had a stressful day, “Are you feeling alright?” He or she simply replies, “Yes.” You begin to ponder what she really meant. Could her reply be taken with various meanings? Yes! Furthermore, just the slight mishap of not capitalizing a letter can change the understanding of a sentence completely. Consider the two: I helped my Uncle Jack off the horse. I helped my uncle jack off the horse. Truly an innocent misreading can have a tremendous effect on our desired meaning. True, the majority of comon people own a smart phone and find text messaging convenient;sadly, mss’s convenience often transforms into inconvenience.How more nice would it be to limit your use of the “relationship killer” and just hit the send button! Clearly, texting is far from a “linguistic phenomenon!” (Crystal 345). “2b or not 2b?” significantly brings meaning into question and has a face that could stop a clock!

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My article: A Blind Eye to Equality

Turning a Blind Eye to Inequality
Written by James Boehm
Your boss just handed you a check for a weeks worth of work. The payment reflects a week worth of work consisting of an eight to five time frame. As you glance down at the the piece of paper, looking at the total amount, you notice a minute total of $1.35. You rub your eyes to ensure that your vision is not playing tricks on you. As you verify with the calendar to your left, you verify that, yes, it is the year 2013, not 1803. How is this possible? Can such a form of recompense for services rendered be justified legally?
Now consider this: You have just become a proud parent of a beautiful baby girl! The newborn portrays a perfect balance of her parent’s features. What a proud moment in a new parent’s life! You hold your new addition to your family and observe this little one, who at first sight of his new parents, presents a smile of contentment. Soon, the nurses proceed to take the child from the delivery room and prepare the child for the nursery. You did not know as the physicians file out of the room, this will be the last time you would see your child for quite some time. In fact, later on you are notified that you are not perceived to be a capable parent, and thus the child has been put in the care of a stranger rather than you. What an indescribable feeling that words of pain and sorrow cannot even begin to portray!
No one would think, especially now in our advanced and civilized society, would such circumstances occur. Yet such occurrences are experienced by individuals with visual impairments so frequently it terrifies even the most courageous. Blindness should not be a factor in determining if a person is capable of raising a child. Such issues arise due to the misconceptions of abilities of the blind. When considering the qualifications for employment or parenthood, blindness should not be a determining factor.
There have been many advances in education and laws that uphold the unalienable rights of the blind and disabled. It was not until the second half of the twentieth century that attention was brought to the protection of rights of the blind in various aspects. In 1990, the statutes of the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act, outlined numerous regulations on healthcare, accessibility in transit, public education, housing, and labor, to name a few. While there have been many strides towards equality, the common discrimination brings to light the need to educate the public that there is still a lot of work to do. Many organizations, including the NFB, National Federation of the Blind,The American Council for the Blind (ACB), and The American Foundation of the Blind (AFB), actively take part in education, training, and legislation for the visually impaired. Likewise, these organizations educate the public on the misconceptions of blindness. History and numerous examples have shown that people who are blind, with the proper training, education, and tools, can competitively work along side the sighted public.
The blind have the right to receive fair and competitive wages in their employment. Sub-minimum wages are being paid to blind and disabled persons in the work force. According to the Braille Monitor, a 78 year old provision called the Fair Labor Standards Act, permits United States companies to receive certificates from the government when the company has hired a blind or disabled person (Danielson). With such a certificate, a person can be paid sub-minimum wages. Companies like Goodwill advertise and boast about their hiring of disabled workers. Nevertheless, these same companies have been documented as paying absurdly low hourly rates. “…Goodwill affiliates operate manufacturing operations that employ people with disabilities under special wage certificates at wages as low as 22 cents per hour…” (Danielson). Organizations, such as the National Federation of the Blind, and American Council of the Blind, protest against and boycott such companies, exposing the companies’ inequitable standards. In the aforementioned article, director of public relations for the National Federation of the Blind, states, “Don’t donate to or purchase goods from Goodwill until it adopts a responsible corporate policy to pay its works with disabilities at least the federal minimum wage Current legislation is in the works to amend the ADA so companies will no longer take advantage of the laws that actually were set forth to protect the disabled. The discriminating employers argue that changes to current legislation would create a financial hardship , causing them to either to shut down or terminate employees. Such idiotic reasoning is attempting to frame the employers as victims. How can employers consider themselves victims when the revenue they collect is beyond the income derived from the actual productivity of the worker who is disabled? Such companies that give the perception that they are helping the disabled community receive tax benefits, public funding, donations, preferred contracts before one of their employees even step foot into the factory. In contrast, such justification exposes the perverse exploitation the existing provisions authorized by the Fair Wages Act.
Now, another misconception that negatively affects the blind community is in parenting. Blindness should not be a determining factor in establishing if a person is capable of raising a child. According to The Huffington Post, in 2012, parents with disabilities “continue to be the only distinct community has to fight to retain and sometimes gain custody of their own children” (Crary). A Time Magazine article entitled “Rocking the Cradle- Ensuring the Rights of Parents,” notes that parents with disabilities face discrimination when the welfare of a child or family law, becomes an issue as well as adoption (Rochman). In 1990, The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed by Congress, implemented to protect parents with disabilities. Yet, the ADA at times has fallen short, pushing visually impaired parents into legal quicksand. Two thirds of state child welfare law list some type of disability as grounds for removing a child from the confines of a parents care and terminating the parental rights.
In a March 2010 ABC news report, a young blind family had just given birth to a lovely baby boy, but were dumb founded to find out that they could no longer have their child, could not hold the newborn, and would have to agree to supervised visits in order to see their son throughout the week (James). The NFB eagerly and rightfully brought suit against the hospital and child welfare services. The federation was successful in the legal battle, bringing an end to the discriminatory misconceptions expressed towards the capable, blind young family. One of the parents, Erika Johnson, stated after the ordeal, “We’re visually impaired, not mentally impaired. And you know we’re just like everybody else, we just can’t see as well. (James)
Luci Alexander, a blind parent of two children under the age of 10, and the director for blind services in New Mexico, stated in March of 2013 that “blind parents perform the same duties of caring for a child.” Blind parents can execute necessary tasks for their children auditory just as well as those who do those same activities visually. A visually impaired parent can tell by sound distinctions if a child has a baby bottle in their hand or toy, to see if the child has acquired an item it should not have. Likewise, no matter if a parent is sighted or not, a child can pick up things off the floor or get into mischief. The point is the parent has to be observant and mindful of the child’s behavior. Disability rights lawyer Robyn Powell comments on this in the Huffington Post article previously mentioned saying, “Of course there are going to be some parents with disabilities who would be lousy parents – that’s the same with parents without disabilities” (Crary). Obviously, orderliness, preparation, and a conscientious effort to have a safe home environment is necessary, and all of this can be done quite effectively by the unsighted.
In conclusion, today’s misconceptions of blindness cause inequalities in regards to fair wages and employment and the rights of parents. Those who place stereotypes are blinder than the blind themselves. The misconception is if you do not have sight, you do not have the capacity. What people fail to realize is that blind people develop alternate ways of performing day-to-day tasks. Thus, the blind have demonstrated effectiveness and the ability to be beneficiaries of fair wages, employment, as well as not allowing their blindness be a determining factor of if they are a capable parent. Blindness misconceptions must be addressed further because the blind community is growing. According to Tina Lubarsky, an advocate for the ACB and a physical therapist, “Diabetic rhetanopothy is the leading cause for blindness today, affecting thirty percent of people with diabetes.” In an article “Don’t Blame the Eater, , David Zinzinko stated, “by 2050, one in three adults will suffer form type two diabetes.” If such trends continue, this means that one ninth of the population will suffer from diabetic retanopothy or some form of blindness. Urgency is needed to educate the public regarding the many misconceptions of blindness, and that further legislation is needed to protect and uphold the equality of all persons regardless of gender, disability, race, etc. Likewise, blindness should not be a factor when determining employment, fair wages, or distinguishing the capability of a potential parent. The exploitation of the disabled as a resource for charity revenue and fundraising must come to an end! Next time you get your paycheck, remember that the visually impaired are just as capable and deserve the same treatment in all of life’s aspects including in employment and parenthood.

Bullet proof…How possible?

Here is the manuscript to a speech I gave in class in April 2013 about my life experience and the growing rate of suicide.
Bullet-proof
When I hear the word “bullet-proof,” the words that come to mind are strength and survival. With unwavering determination, life’s obstacles will be unable to stand in your way of success. I know that is easier said than done.
Today, many are overwhelmed by life’s pressures. According to the New York Times in 2012, researchers found that the rate of suicide between 2008 and 2010 quadrupled compared to the previous ten years. A study by the United States Center of Disease Control says that an average of one person dies every 16.2 minutes. Hence, by the time our class is dismissed today, six people will have taken their life. I was almost one of those statistics three years ago. A number of conditions, including a six year divorce ordeal, the onslaught of manic depression, and the crash of the automotive industry that my business depended on were a lethal concoction that caused me to give up on life on the 28th of January, 2009. Waking up three days later in the ICU, I was unaware of what had happened, why I couldn’t see. My arms were restrained so that I could not remove the breathing tube or other vital equipment. This was the scariest time of my life. I could not see, move, or speak. At first, I felt like an Etch-A-Sketch, shaken after a life of achievement, and that I had to start all over again from scratch. Yet, after surviving a fifteen percent mortality rate and only losing my eyesight to a gun shot wound, I was most fortunate to still be alive! After of two days of coming to grips with what transpired, I had a renewed determination. I had two choices. I could have either been cared for, or I could take care of myself. I learned that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I had learned to live, and now lived to learn.
Life’s hardships cannot hinder the success of a determined individual. I realized that just because my situation had changed, my life though had just begun. Since then, I have received the education and training so that I can do everything I did before I lost my sight, just differently. I started a new business recently and returned to school so I may be equipped to empower others. I have met so many influential and inspirational that I would not have had the opportunity to meet. I want people to see that disability fosters the ability to reach out and empower others.
Blindness has actually been a blessing, being a fertilizer for my soul, developing my growth into a once again strong, independent person. Around my neck, a brass dog tag is inscribed in braille with the word “bullet-proof.” It reminds me daily that not even a bullet will hinder me from pursuing great things.Works Cited

Carey, Benedict. “Increase Seen in U.S. Suicide Rate Since Recession.” New York Times 4 Nov. 2012.
“National Suicide Statistics at a Glance.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. N.d. Web. 22 Apr. 2013.

Introduction-Greetings! and Article on Stereotypes

I hope you find this blog useful 🙂 We will address new apps that are /aren’t accessible and useful…stereotypes, ADA laws, fair wages, mobility travel, education,assistive technology, braille related topics, guide dog issues, and much more. I wanted to start by sharing an article I wrote recently that was published in a magazine. Enjoy!
Clear Your Vision: Lose the Stereotypes
What did the blonde say when she opened a box of cheerios? “Oh, look! Doughnut seeds!” The above mentioned comment is an example of a stereotype, an attribute given to a particular group of persons. In this instance all blondes are portrayed as air heads Other examples include Asians being good at math, Jews being cheap, African-Americans liking fried chicken and watermelon, men being insensitive, and women being prone to gossip. Stereotype comes from the Greek word “steros,” meaning firm and solid, and “typos,” meaning impression. Are such solid impressions accurate? Obviously, the bias and prejudice of stereotyping is not reliable. For example, some people think that people who are deaf can not communicate effectively with the rest society, and that people with artificial limbs cannot participate in competitive sports. Anoter perception to consider is that the visually impaired are not as capable of being successful as the sighted community. Such an inaccurate thought, as well as the above mentioned stereotypes, exist due to an opinionated misconception, people’s ignorance or lack of education.
An underlying thought of some is that the blind in general are helpless, needing their hand held like a small child, because of inadequacies and incapabilities. A visually impaired friend from Indiana expresses,that “The public consciousness as demonstrated through literature and artwork through the ages depicts the blind as poor, beggars, dirty, and dehumanized individuals. The collective social perception may arise because this may allow us to disconnect compassion and remove any feeling of guilt with respect to the individual or their situation that we may not be able to fix or change.” Yet another friend of mine, Karen Nelson, a mobility and orientation instructor for the Middle Tennessee area, reminded me of an instance not long after loosing my vision.My father and I were in the waiting area at the doctor’s office. A gentleman was sitting across from us facing our direction. The man apparently noticed me, but instead of directing his words at me, he proceeded to ask my father, “So is your son blind?” I wanted to say “Yeah, and deaf too.” I wondered why the man did not address me. Karen aided me in comprehending the man’s actions by expressing that “People often think persons who are blind are unable to do for themselves. What I see that [the] public doesn’t approach persons who are blind because they don’t know what to do or say. There are not the visual cues indicating it is okay. But someone like you who opens the door verbally when near people helps them know that they are welcome to interact with you.” In a sense, it’s understandable because I myself had not met many blind people before my vision loss.Therefore, I grasp the uncertainty of interacting with blind individuals.
When it comes to the work place, can the blind provide comparable or even exceed expectations? The visually impaired have proven through many examples that lack of vision is not a issue when it comes to job performance when provided with the appropriate training and technology if needed. Today, numerous blind personalities carry out their own law firms, doctor’s practices, or are professional athletes such the blind golfer Jeremy Poincenot. However, some employers feel, due to the fact that they do not have the sense of vision, they are inferior, and thus they are not qualified to receive competitive pay. In fact, according to current federal laws, an employer can attain a certificate on a disabled individual mandating a wage less than minimum wage. This is justifiable by law. Reports have come to the forefront regarding certain employers, such as Goodwill, paying their disabled employees as little as one dollar or less an hour! Many advocacy organizations, including the American Federation for the Blind and the National Federation for the Blind, are working with legislation as we speak to ratify and provide equal opportunity to all United States citizens, even if they are disabled. A person’s disability should not be exploited by multi-million dollar companies who misuse outdated regulations. To abuse the hard work of their employees, pocketing the deserved wages and government incentives for themselves.
I personally know of many fine examples of blind individuals who have such an outstanding determination to vigorously pursue their goals and be an active, productive citizen. The examples I have in mind control their circumstances, and don’t let their circumstances control them. Jessica Beecham, a dear friend of mine, has been blind most of her life. Jessica’s eye disease has continued to worsen her limited peripheral vision. Has Jessica allowed her” lack of vision” to give her a “lack of vision?” Quite the opposite! I have never met someone with such zeal and devotion to helping others, advocating rights of people with all disabilities, working with troubled children, and assisting students at a university so that they may get the most of their higher learning experience through education and assistive technology. Jessica was one of the first blind individuals I met when I had first lost my vision. At the time, I was uncertain of my future, as well as what I was capable of doing with my life. Jessica’s vast knowledge was immediately perceived in speaking with her. Her big heart, and sincere eagerness to assist, moved me more than words can say. Jessica reminds me of “The Energizer Bunny”, always on the go, traveling and participating in a vast array of adventuresome activities that most sighted people have not even attempted to pursue or even had the opportunity for that matter. One instance, of Jessica’s “always on the go” mentality happened this past summer I called Jessica to see what she plans she had for that day. Jess replied, “Oh, just about to do a little sky diving.” She could not be more audacious with such a statement. I am aware I still have a lot to learn, but I owe much thanks for her example, assistance when I needed her viewpoint, and her friendship.
I have certainly been guilty of stereotyping groups of people, even intentionally at times. Human tendency is to prejudge. Everyone who is honest with himself or herself will be humble enough to admit they live up, or better said, live down, to such conduct. However, knowledge is power. Occasionally, interaction with the blind, widening out, making an effort to get to know such ones,can give a person a different perspective. Says one father of a recently blinded son, “My contact with the visually impaired while I was growing up was limited to television and musicians, such as Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and Ronnie Milsap. In the 1990’s I volunteered at the Guiding Hands for the Blind and worked at a radio station where for several years we read local newspapers to around three hundred local visually impaired individuals. I received feedback from such ones from the blind community who enjoyed my reading, but never had the privilege of meeting a fan face-to-face. As a parent, I had no idea what to do when my son lost his sight. I found through research a tremendous amount of support groups, organizations, and facilities that help parents understand the impact in their life and when an accident that leaves a young one blind and most important, how to get help. When I am with my son attending meetings and sporting events, and getting to know those involved, it is clear that many with visual impairment are very capable in organizational management and pursuing higher education and competitive athletics, with the goal in mind of helping others experiencing the same challenges…. A person who loses his sight or has never had sight can learn to do almost anything anyone else can do. I have witnessed it firsthand.”
So, the blind are as incapable and dependent on others, as every blonde when opening a box of Cheerios says, “Look! Doughnut seeds!” Stereotypes are often found unreliable and inaccurate. Never let stereotypes of any individual, color, race, or ethnicity give you a false perspective of one’s capabilities, characteristics, or demeanor. The same courtesy should be extended to those disabled, and more specifically, visually impaired. Many blind people have pursued productive careers that many sighted people only dream about having– like the attorney, Richard h.Bernstein from Michigan. Such fine examples have altered the vistas of certain opinionated people and have shown that blindness is not a disability, but a mere issue that becomes a non issue with the proper training , education, and assistive technology.Various governments as well are discerning the true abilities of the disabled and are amending legislation that reflects such truth. The blind do not possess super human capability. Once at Kroger, I approached the counter to pay for my goods. The cashier skipped the whole introduction formality and says, “Hey, so, do you have super duper hearing?”
I kind of laugh to myself, then reply, “Well, I do pay more attention to my hearing as well as other senses to navigate or do other things.”
The cashier then replies back by saying, “Well, I just saw the movie Daredevil , and he (the blind character) had super duper hearing. So, umm, tell me what else can you do?”
I had to hold myself from saying, “Leap tall buildings with a single bound and catch a bullet with my teeth!””
Another cashier Behind me finally said to the young man, “ Shut up and quit asking him stupid questions.”
Hence, are “solid impressions” always as solid as commonly thought? No! The point is the blind are just like everyone else. The blind are not super-humans with “super-duper” sensory abilities; they merely accomplish the same tasks, just in a different manner. Yes! Clear your vision– lose the stereotypes! Never underestimate the underestimated.