Tag Archives: visually impaired

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.

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I phone Home Button Issues

Has your Home button ever seemed like it was unresponsive or lagged behind? Or even worse- did your home button seem to play dead like an armadillo on a summer road? No worries! You have some options. Try this first:
After just a ffew easy steps, you can recalibrate your home button:
Step 1: Navigate to, and launch one of the stock applications on your iPhone. If you don’t already know, the stock apps are things like weather, YouTube, stocks, settings etc (any that come as part of iOS).
Step 2: When the app is launched, press and hold the Power button located at the top of the device until the ‘Slide to power off’ appears.
Step 3: Press and hold the iPhone home button. Keep the button depressed until the Slide to power off slider disappears and the application quits back to Springboard.
Step 4: Voila! Your home button is now re-calibrated and should be more responsive for you.
Now, what if your home button has kicked The Bucket, with no hope for resurrection? Check out another alternative, for all is not lost:
“Is your iPhone’s home button busted? Do you have to press it down as hard as you can ten times in a row before it actually takes you to the home screen? Are you contemplating buying a new phone because you just can’t stand it any longer? Don’t do that! There’s a simple fix for your problem, and it won’t cost you a dime.
I’m going to let you in on the secret: AssistiveTouch. This is most assuredly the good kind of touch — one that will gently wake you from your home button nightmare.
Before I get into how it works, here’s how to turn it on:
Open up Settings
Tap on General
Scroll down and tap Accessibility
Scroll down almost to the bottom, tap on AssistiveTouch, and switch the button to ON

Once you complete these steps, a small, semi-transparent button will appear on your screen — think of it as the closest Apple will ever get to a widget. And it won’t just appear on your settings screen, it will appear on every screen. You see, this is the button that’s going to take you back home.
You can drag the AssistiveTouch button wherever you please on the left or right-hand side of your screen, but it never disappears, so put it somewhere out of the way. When you touch it, a small menu pops up over whatever screen you’re on, with options for Favorites, Voice Control, Device, and, yes, Home.
Tapping on Home will make the pop-up menu disappear and bring you right back to your home screen, just like your physical home button did. It works like your physical home button in every other way as well. For instance, if you tap on it twice it will activate your phone’s multitasking capabilities.

You’re probably wondering why Apple even snuck this feature in there in the first place. It’s almost like your home button was destined to break all along, right? Actually, AssistiveTouch was designed for people who can’t hit the physical home button properly. Apple understands that it’s important to make modern devices accessible to as many people as possible. It’s just a happy coincidence that it’s also a cheap fix for your broken home button.
And while it may seem a little obtrusive at first, you start to forget the AssistiveTouch button is even there after a while. Give it some time, and you’ll find yourself wondering why it wasn’t there all along, and what’s so good about physical buttons anyway?
Once you’ve sworn off your old home button for good, you may even start to notice there’s a lot of other cool stuff you can do with AssistiveTouch. Want to take a screenshot? Go for it. Turn the volume up or down? You can do that too. In fact, the AssistiveTouch button makes it so that you never have to press another physical button again… Except your power button. If that one goes, and you’ve got a got a busted home button, get yourself to the Genius Bar, and fast.”
One phrase of wisdom I always try to keep in mind is “When all else fails, Reboot! Nine times out of ten, a simple reboot or powering off and on the phone will whip your phone back into shape like Richard Simmons on Sparks.

There are a couple different ways to reboot. How are these two reboots done and which reboot is appropriate for the specific issue that you are having?Stay tuned for a future blog! 🙂

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.