Friday, July 22, 2016

There and Back again, Twice, with summer weather, time warps, braille refreshible and otherwise

RantWoman is still trying to get both brain and body reliably home from recent travels. RantWoman is trying to get reliably home without falling into too many time warps. RantWoman is not succeeding. Welcome to more tourist voyages to RantWoman's childhood and general blindness tourism.

First RantWoman jetted off to Minneapolis to the American Council of the Blind National convention #acb16, theme Land of #10000dreams.  Lest RantWoman get homesick for all the construction in Seattle, the convention hotel came with a very large and noisy blocks-long construction project adjacent to the hotel. Weather was warm and Midwestern steamy. Between the construction and the low melting point people who have lived in Seattle a long time acquire, RantWoman did not work as hard as she might have to wander far from the hotel air conditioning. Oh well.

Next came a road trip to Spokane for an annual gathering of RantWoman's faith community, #NPYM2016, theme Moving from despair to Hope or some darned thing. RantWoman is talking freight generally travelling with a couple specific friends. The car ride was riotous. The weather in Spokane is hot and dry. This reminded RantWoman, time warp, that she used to live in hot dry climates and lately her nostrils are quite spoiled by the moistness in the Puget Sound. RantWoman's nostrils are STILL recovering despite having been back almost a week already.

As one speaker at #ACB16 put it quoting Van Jones, "Martin Luther King never said I have a complaint. He said I have a dream."  Both of RantWoman's conference experiences  have Adobe attached to them in some way or another. Both alsoput her in mind of dreaming about better, friendlier, more accessible and easily digestible information packaging and distribution and numerous event planning points. Stay tuned.

Then there is #braille, braille devices, education in braille, testing for whether children would benefit from learning braille.

First an item from a grandmother RantWoman knows.

RantWoman has had conversations with this grandmother about her grandson's education but until now Braille has never come up. RantWoman may now have to bring up braille. It sounds like actually the boy would be a good candidate to learn braille because of his interest in writing! RantWoman herself remembers giving speeches in school and having to hold either paper or notecards close to her face to read them. RantWoman thinks that it would have been so much nicer just to read braille.

RantWoman has learned braille imperfectly as an adult well enough to read slowly and take notes idiosyncratically though nowhere near well enough to want to rely on braille to give a speech. Still, discussions  at #ACB16 business sessions about Braille are plenty important for families RantWoman meets today. After the convention, a sighted friend asked RantWoman what is the most surprising thing she learned at #ACB16.

One thing that leaps to mind from a discussion in one of the ACB business sessions of  testing protocols to determine whether students need to learn braille. For most of RantWoman's educational career, RantWoman could read regular print out of one eye, sometimes with eyestrain. RantWoman knows this history comes with HUGE advantages though RantWoman suspects she compensated for that just by storing information more efficiently. In any case, RantWoman realized that, had she been tested with the protocol discussed about distance from the material and some other elements, RantWoman would probably have qualified to learn #braille. RantWoman has NO IDEA how RantMom or the school districts where RantWoman attended school would have reacted though.

As an aside, RantWoman is also interested in the exercise of asking speakers to make eye contact with the audience. Look, just because RantWoman is looking at you does not mean she is seeing you. In fact, one of RantWoman's visual issues, slow or poor fixation mixed with think glasses made the first grade lunchroom a continual zone of demands to "stop staring." On balance, RantWoman thinks mainstream classes were just fine but the "stop staring" time warp burbled to mind when RantWoman listened to some blind people she knows who have known each other since riding the same bus in Seattle as elementary schoolers.

Finally, back to this century. More very cool news: the impending arrival on the market of the Orbit Braille display, a Bluetooth-enabled refreshable braille display due to hit the market in fall 2016.

The Orbit promises to make it easy to deliver content in braille. RantWoman wishes this new device had its own option for internet connectivity though RantWoman  quite likes the dramatically lower price than other Braille display options. RantWoman really likes the direction things are headed; RantWoman just wishes arrival would happen sooner!  

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