About Us

This blog is about how the world is viewed by the visual and the visually impaired. The intent of this blog is to bring the two worlds together. It is administered by two fabulous sisters, Toni, who is sighted and Robin, who became visually impaired in 2002 at the age of 18 due to misdiagnosis.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Moving Forward With “MovieReading”

It is a great feeling to witness audio description becoming more of a discussion topic in the entertainment industry. With the television to movie theaters, audio description is more readily available than ever before. With this in mind, there is an app called “MovieReading” that makes the movie going experience even more enjoyable for blind viewers. For example, instead of trying to locate a theater that offers audio description, you have the option to travel to any show; all you just need is your smart phone. As exclusive U.S. partners with Universal Multimedia Access, Hollywood Access Services is releasing Solo-Dx on MovieReading, the first ever auto-syncing audio description app available for first-run movies. The debut title on this new platform will be The Weinstein Company’s Philomena, already in theaters. According to Hollywood Access Services, using acoustic fingerprinting technology, this new auto-syncing method will completely change movie going for the blind and visually impaired via their smart phones. The company says it's really easy to use… download the app, download the description track and then go to the movie theater. Even if you arrive late, you can simply hit "sync" and your audio description will pick up in the right place. Listed below are some instructions for the app provided by Hollywood Access Services. How it works: • Download the MovieReading App on any smart device running iOS 6 or higher. • Go to Settings and create a login. • Choose PHILOMENA – It will ask you to "Download the movie." Hit YES. This will download the audio description into the app. • To use go to MY MOVIES on the bottom. It will sync automatically. Have to grab some popcorn or go to the bathroom during the film? No problem! It will resync when you sit back down. If it doesn't, simply hit SYNC. If you decide to download this app, please let Beautifully Blind know what you think!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Turbulence On The Tarmac

If you have ever been on an airplane, then you know how limited space can be, well at least in the economy section where I sit. It seems as though many airliners try to cram as many seats as they can in that small aircraft, so that more profit will be made. However, for the consumer, the confined space can be a little uncomfortable. With this said, when the seat belt sign is turned off and the flight attendant announces that it is safe to move about the cabin, many people, especially tall ones, make a sigh of relief as they have the chance to get up and stretch their legs. Now that pets are allowed on airplanes, it is expected that they will have the same yearning as humans to stretch their legs, particularly since their space is even more restricted. Specifically, one story has been making news within these past days regarding Albert Rizzi and his guide dog. The plane was a small turbo, where Mr. Rizzi was seated in the last row and there was no underseat area to place his dog, Doxy. As a result, Doxy was then placed in front of another passenger’s seat. But after waiting for over an hour on a US Airways flight to depart from Philadelphia, guide dog Doxy became restless and wanted to be near his owner. Mr. Rizzi said that earlier he had requested an open seat where there was enough space for him and Doxy, but his request went unanswered, thus placing him in the current situation. The flight attendant aboard the plane told Mr. Rizzi to stow Doxy and after much debate, the flight attendant had them both removed from the flight along with thirty something other people who came to their defense. Since the airline failed to accommodate guide dog Doxy, Mr. Rizi believed that he was discriminated against. Mr. Rizzi is quoted as saying, “If I allow myself to be beaten down, then I allow people who come behind me to be beaten down.” Following the incident, many people have shown support to Mr. Rizzi and the other people who took a stance with him. When we tweeted this story on Thursday, there were several tweeters who were just as disappointed in US Airways as we are. One good valid point that was brought up more than once is, US Airways needs to train their employees more on ADA compliance. We at Beautifully Blind, are interested to see what comes out of this story. Please share your thoughts, we would like to know!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Under The Watchful Eye

The true test to one’s character is not only measured by how he/she acts in front of others, but also the type of behavior that is exhibited when they think no one is watching. A person’s moral compass helps them distinguish from right and wrong, but is that compass thrown out the window if he/she thinks there will not be any negative consequences for their actions? Here’s a scenario for you to ponder… Let’s say one beautiful day you are standing in line at an ice cream store waiting to be served, when you notice a customer has unknowingly dropped some money. No one that you know of sees the money but you. So, what do you do? Do you tell the person or pocket the money? Well, a woman at a Dairy Queen in Minnesota found herself in a similar situation when a blind customer dropped $20. Instead of returning the money to the customer, she decided to take the cash and keep it. Little did she know the store manager, Joey Prusak, had her under a watchful eye, thus seeing everything that just transpired. Prusak confronted the woman and told her to give the money back, but she refused. Therefore, as a result of her actions, Prusak refused to serve the woman, then took $20 of his own money and gave it back to the blind customer. Prusak didn’t know that he was under a watchful eye as well; his co-workers and the customers commended him for his actions. It is true, no good deed goes unnoticed. Prusak has received monetary rewards and national recognition for his positive actions. Props to Mr. Joey Prusak for standing up for what’s right!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Accessibility With Comcast TV

Whether we like to admit it or not, TV consumes many hours of a person’s life; it is a tool for relaxation. When you think about it, just like music, TV has several options for a person to choose from that is in accordance with their mood. TV can uplift a person or make them feel validated when sad. In the midst of TV’s popularity, people have adopted various rituals while engaging in this pastime. Such rituals include, vegging out on the couch, exercising, sitting in the bed, cleaning, etc. Whatever the case may be, millions of people watch TV everyday. How many times have you turned on the TV and flicked through the channels or used the guide to find a good show? It’s an easy task, to which many do not think twice about doing. However, for me and other blind/visually impaired individuals, it is not such an easy task. In fact, speaking for myself, it can be quite daunting. Whenever I am trying to find something to watch/listen to, I really have to pay attention to sound, so that I can try to decipher the show/movie. Some channels may announce the upcoming show or movie, while others just flash the name across the screen, which frustrates me. This is why I absolutely love my Apple TV because I can easily navigate show and movie titles without sighted assistance, all thanks to VoiceOver. Well my friends, it seems as though in addition to Apple’s accessibility efforts, Comcast is trying to make an accessibility mark too. Taking their blind/visually impaired customers into consideration, Comcast has developed a talking TV guide to make channel surfing for those without sight easier. The program might even incorporate a selection of synthetic voices that the user can choose from. The program is still being tested, but hopefully, it will be released sometime next year. YAY!!! This makes me happy because one the program is made available, I don’t have to play the guessing game anymore. So, applause to Comcast!!! To learn more about the talking TV guide and how it was developed check out an article by the Philadelphia Inquirer: http://articles.philly.com/2013-08-29/business/41542138_1_guide-disabilities-act-comcast-corp

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Keepin’ It In Drive

It’s the last day in July; wow, where has the summer gone? It seems like the older one becomes, the faster time passes by. Particularly for me, I can’t believe that I will be 30 in less than two days. For many, with age comes wisdom; we gain more perspective on life experiences. However, as I age, I think about all of the dreams and goals that I set for myself. As a child, the possibilities are limitless and you don’t think about the chance of your life vision not happening. Ever since I was a child, I knew that I wanted to enter into a profession where I could help people, which is the reasoning behind my interest in social work. I stayed on my path to helping others by going back to school and finishing both of my degrees, then attaining my license in social work. But, since I graduated four years ago from my master’s program, one unfinished goal keeps nagging at me everyday. Specifically, a goal that I feel I should have attained by now; a goal that will keep me on the path to completing my life’s vision, the goal of becoming gainfully employed. In February, I decided to give myself a 6 month time frame to accomplish this objective Well, it is 6 months later, and my goal is still not completed. Therefore, after running out of options and still wanting to keep my gear in drive, I decided to focus my efforts elsewhere. I am temporarily putting the job search on the backburner, and devoting more time to volunteering. I am sad that I didn’t make my goal, but I am not discouraged. I refuse to put my gear in park or reverse, I want to move forward with my life, and I feel this is the best way for me to do so. It is really important to remember that when life hands you lemons to make lemonade!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

One Snap Away

When I was sighted, I absolutely loved snapping pictures; they can leave a lifetime of memories. Pictures are a gateway into how a person views the world. Despite my blindness, I still have that fascination and yearning to capture precious moments. Some may be wondering why I would want to engage in such a visual activity, to which there is no simple answer. All I can say is that if you have an imagination, the possibilities are limitless. However, I have to admit for me, snapping pictures can be daunting at times for one main reason; pointing the camera. Encompassing the whole subject to which I am trying to capture in the picture is a challenge for me, and often leads to much frustration. Lately, I have been experimenting more with my iPhone, and found out some helpful key elements that VoiceOver helps me out with. When in the camera mode, you can switch between two different cameras; front and back facing. I have been trying the front facing camera to take pictures of myself. VoiceOver lets me know how many faces are in the picture, if it’s centered, and the image size. So awesome! Toni is probably tired of me sending her random pictures of myself for feedback, lol. Thanks sis! In addition to being excited about the new found interest with the camera on my phone, I was elated to hear about a new app that will make snapping pictures even easier for people with visual impairments. Specifically, a graduate student at the University of California at Santa Cruz is collaborating with others to create an app that seeks to help blind/visually impaired individuals line up the ideal snap shot when taking pictures. The app enables face detection, voice accessibility, and audio reminder clips. The app was unveiled in Greece during the latter part of May at a technology conference. Can’t wait to see if this innovative app makes it to the app store. What are your experiences with snapping pictures? Do you have any helpful tips? Beautifully Blind, Inc. wants to know!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Prepare For The Nightmare

If you found yourself in an emergency situation, such as a natural disaster, would you know what to do? I realize that many people do not like living their lives on the what ifs, and I am not asking you to, but I do believe it is important to be prepared. Therefore, being prepared does involve taking the what ifs into consideration so that the proper precautionary measures can be taken. I have been thinking about emergency preparedness a lot lately as I listen to the natural and human inflicted travesties occurring across the world. When thinking about these types of situations, it is always important to have a plan of action; what to do, where to go, and what to take. The best advice I can give you is, know your environment because doing this and having a plan of action can increase the probability of a better outcome. To learn more about emergency and disaster preparedness for individuals with disabilities, you can check out https://www.disability.gov/emergency_preparedness So do you have a plan of action? Beautifully Blind, Inc. wants to know your thoughts!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

It's Been A Long Time....

It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you without a blog to listen to!  LOL  listening to Eric B & Rakim "I Know You Got Soul" on my iPod and it just flowed!  It's been sooooo long since I've posted a blog, but Robin has been holding it down.  We've been super busy this year, let me telling you running a non-profit and working a full-time job is A LOT of work...but definitely worth it.  We were able to do 2 presentations with the Colorado Department of Labor, set up educational booths and run a few fundraisers. We're hoping to get out to more employers and educate them on blindness and help them understand that someone who is blind can do a job just as well as someone who is sighted, there just needs to be adaptive equipment.  It amazes me and is very sad that in this day and age it is still extremely difficult for one with a disability to find employment.  It can be frustrating at times because we see so many holes in the system as far as inclusion and leveling the playing field for those with disabilities and there is so much that we want to do, but it is challenging.  I'm an optimist, and I wanted to do it all; transportation, counseling, grants for research, grants for assistive technology, education and home care; getting everything registered with the State and getting funding took a lot of work and resources.  We decided to take a step back and and focus on just a couple of areas, education and grants within the State of Colorado.  Through our journey we have learned so many lessons and met so many amazing people.  It is the wonderful people that we've met who keep us going. Through them we see that we are going in the right direction and are making a positive impact.  Thank you to all of the wonderful people that we've met through social media and all other supporters, your support keeps us pushing forward!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Don't Count Out The Green Rose Part II

Continuing with my post, “Don’t Count Out The Green Rose Part I”, I am going to list a few strategies that I used to help me cope with my frustrations. If you have any other techniques that are not on the list, to which helped you deal with a trying situation, please share them. 1. Talking it out: Having a listening ear, whether it is a person or pet be your sounding board can help immensely. Voicing your feelings is an emotional release that allows healing because you are not keeping unresolved pain bottled up inside. In addition, talking is a mechanism that can help a person find a solution to their problem. I know when I talk some things out; I realize the answer to the issue at hand. 2. Journaling: For those who love to write, this is a great way to express your feelings. Some people write in a personal diary or in a more public form, such as a blog. Again, journaling is another way to attain that emotional release. It is a great tool for the shy person, someone who does not like vocalizing their feelings, or simply for the individual who feels better after reading their thoughts. Like talking, journaling is another way for realization because as people write, ideas come to mind, which ultimately gives clarity. With Beautifully Blind Inc.’s being exhibit A, I like to journal because it enables me to gain clarity and express emotions that I don’t necessarily feel comfortable saying in conversation to someone. 3. Music: Playing an instrument, singing, and/or listening to playlists can help a person channel his/her emotions in a positive way. Music is so relatable; there is a tune to fit every occasion. I love, love music! I can feel the emotion of the songs, as though the lyrics were meant specifically for me or at the least, the singer/song writer understands me. 4. Crying: Many people have deciphering opinions on this type of expression, but I believe it is healthy. I know I feel better once I have a good cry, even if it is only for a minute. Out of all of the techniques mentioned, crying for me is the best way that allows me to feel better. There is a quote that I love by an unknown author that sums up the impact of crying, “Tears are words that the heart can’t express.” Crying does not equate to weakness, but rather strength. 5. Nature: Studies have proven that depression is linked to isolation, so being outdoors can boost a person’s mood. The variety of sounds that nature has to offer, gives me a sense of serenity. Taking walks, jogging, hiking, playing a sport, or just sitting outside can do volumes. Fresh air does a soul good! However, I admit with the extremely cold temperatures, nature is a lot harder to enjoy in the winter. LOL.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cookin' It Up With Robin

Like a taunting sound, I could hear the clock steadily ticking away, reminding me that the time was drawing near for me to start my task. “Tick tock, tick tock”, the clock chimed as the hours turned into minutes and the minutes turned into seconds. I slowly edged my way into the kitchen, creeping upon the stove. Standing there, with my heart beating rapidly, it’s like the stove was daring me to a challenge; a challenge that I was not going to lose. Taking a deep breath, I turned on the oven; there was no turning back now. Mentally checking that I had everything; chicken, rice, and vegetables, I began the process of cooking dinner. Now, you see, I am accustomed to cooking dinner for myself, but when it comes to making food for someone else, I am an amateur. In fact, I have never cooked for anyone besides myself. So to say that I was nervous about cooking dinner for one of my friends, would be an understatement. Although, baking chicken, boiling rice and vegetables may seem easy, I was still praying that I didn’t burn up anything. When it came time to eat, I acutely listened for any sound that would give an idea of how my food tasted to my friend. However, to no avail, the only thing I heard was my friend quickly retreating from the table to put her plate away. My facial expressions must have been transparent because my friend apologized for being a fast eater and said the food was great. Hmmm… I’m not sure how much she ate, but I’ll take her word for it. LOL. Do you have a similar story to tell? Beautifully Blind, Inc. wants to know!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Don’t Count Out The Green Rose-Part I

I have been thinking a lot about life lately, particularly my goals and aspirations. Therefore, I titled this post “Don’t Count Out The Green Rose”. To me, the color green, coupled with the flower, signifies rarity, life, growth, health, and resilience. I believe that we all are like the green rose; rarity in our form, everyone has the power to grow into the person they are meant to be. If you don’t already know, I am an aspiring social worker with my master’s and license in the field of social work. I love helping people and have felt this way from a very young age. However, when it comes to employment, lately, I have been letting my frustrations get the best of me. I have sent out my resumes and had personal job interviews, but to no avail. I know statistically, it is not against the norm for a disabled individual, particularly a blind person to find themselves in the same situation as me, but I refuse to be just a number. Behind the figures, are real people with real talents and capabilities. It can be hard when you feel that you have so much to give, but some employers don’t want to take a chance on you based on assumptions. So, what am I doing to cope with my present circumstances? Well, stay tuned to “Don’t Count Out The Green Rose” Part II, to find out. As always, feel free to leave your feedback because Beautifully Blind, Inc. wants to know!