The Pad Perch

Thank you to those who frequently follow my silly and sometimes serious stories. I temporarily need to use this space to advertise the ‘megafta’ that finally got a name.

The Pad Perch.

It is not a device holder, but a rest on which you can place your iPhone or iPad (some androids fit too) so that you can use it as an electronic magnifier. This fantastic function is on most smart devices, but zooming in on anything is largely counterproductive if you cannot hold the camera still… hence tripods for photography. I often need both hands free underneath a magnifier so that I can pick up stitches in my knitting, put plasters on cuts, replace a battery, read medicine inserts (try that with one hand holding phone still). It also allows the display screen to be close to my blurry eyes while I still sit up relatively straight (posture problems and low vision are close acquaintances). It gives me freedom to write, fill in forms and, my favourite, colouring in.

The iPhone has a particularly useful magnifier that you turn on in accessibility settings. It has a lock button which locks the focus on the page, so that when you write, the camera does not focus on your hand or the pen. It has a useful flashlight setting and many options of color filters and brightness to cater for various eye conditions. All of the features are great, but not very useful if you cannot hold the phone or pad still, hence the need for a perch!

Pad Perch pitch

This stand is collapsable,, adjustable, lightweight, and easily moved from desk to counter to coffee table (for toenail painting) to the work bench. It is free from grips so you can lift up one side to take freeze frames of screens, boards and posters while still resting on a base.

It is not just fun for LOVI’S …my new term for us with low vision (who-are not totally blind) , but also for those who just want to slouch on the couch with a Pad on the Perch and search (this is sounding like a Dr. Seuss story book) or watch their favourite series or play their games without getting a cramp in the forearms.

For LOVIS in our third world setting, there is a very slim chance of getting access to desk top magnifiers or screen reading software (unless you are employed by a company that complies with current policy and is willing to make the relevant accommodations). The solution to access technology is usually in your pocket, but now, it is not your wallet….but your phone! Some of the Apps for low vision are expensive, but there are free alternatives that are perhaps more cumbersome. The camera on most phones can zoom in adequately and if you add the `zoom gesture (activated in accessibility settings) it is fantastic….especially if you can put it on a perch.

The stand is also useful if you use an OCR App like KNFB reader. If that sounds like gibberish, that is an application on your phone that uses the camera to capture an image of a page e.g a magazine article, and then it cleverly identifies the text and reads it aloud to you. Because the perch is static, you just need to position the document in the same place each time. Yes, that takes a little practice, but is very helpful if scanning a batch , like a whole chapter of a text book.

(FYI, KNFB reader can be used to read Pdf’s from your email and is fabulous because you turn the pages with your fingers like a normal book and it makes that cool swishy sound).

So stop your search, pick up a perch by emailing me at cell2see@gmail.com to order this R500 gadget (You need to pay postage, but it’s very light) and you will have a real eye – opener!

For the sake of seeing

Jenny

FREE YOUR HANDS

PAD PERCH TODAY R500 (excl postage)

Sign up for a personal lesson on how to use:

Magnifier and related gestures

Zoom and related gestures

Siri and dictation

Voiceover basic

KNFB reader – scans and text in English and Afrikaans

Or search on You Tube (Facebook page and links coming soon)

Cape Town: Durbanville, Pinelands, Somerset West, or by arrangement.

Cost R200 per hour. Call Jenny: +(27)84 531 2122

http://www.blindhope.co.za

To Order (South Africa only) email: cell2see@gmail.com Subject line: Pad Perch Orderwith the following detail:

Name

Postal Address

Cell Number

Postage Type: courier, Postnet to Postnet or registered mail.

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Mind the gap

A lot can happen in gaps… you can fall into them, bridge them, wear them, whistle through them, take a year to grow up in them, they can be dangerous or determining and I want to tell you what has happened in my gap between blogs.

I have had to mind it!

‘Mind’ also has so many meanings. In my inter-blog gap my mind ( brain) was reasoning, thinking, judging , solving and re- inventing. I could not get these thoughts out of my mind. I had half a mind to give up my idea, but then I kept in mind the reason for these thoughts traipsing across my mind when I was actually trying to sleep. My heart told my head to mind my own business…so I did… my own business.

As a child minder cares for and nurtures a young one, I began to mind what I conceived out of my own need. In this gap a product was born and I have a whole new respect for The Creator and understand too why even He needed a day of rest. it is exhausting and exhilarating and I see why creating is a team effort. (Read Genesis 1-3 in Bible to meet the team members).

So here it is: The Pad Perch.

It is not a device holder, but a rest on which you can place your iPhone or iPad (some androids fit too) so that you can use it as an electronic magnifier. This fantastic function is on most smart devices, but zooming in on anything is largely counterproductive if you cannot hold the camera still… hence tripods for photography. I often need both hands free underneath a magnifier so that I can pick up stitches in my knitting, put plasters on cuts, replace a battery, read medicine inserts (try that with one hand holding phone still). It also allows the display screen to be close to my blurry eyes while I still sit up relatively straight (posture problems and low vision are close acquaintances). It gives me freedom to write, fill in forms and, my favourite, colouring in.

Pad Perch pitch

This stand is collapsable,, adjustable, lightweight, and easily moved from desk to counter to coffee table (for toenail painting) to the work bench. It is free from grips so you can lift up one side to take freeze frames of screens, boards and posters while still resting on a base.

It is not just fun for LOVI’S …my new term for us with low vision (who-are not totally blind) , but also for those who just want to slouch on the couch with a Pad on the Perch and search (this is sounding like a Dr. Seuss story book) or watch their favourite series or play their games without getting a cramp in the forearms.

So this is what befell me in the… between blogs.

Now I will see if there is a gap in the market.

Email me at cell2see@gmail.com if you would like to place an order for a R500 Pad perch.

Finger licking not so good.

Having hands is a wonderful privilege. To be able to feel and touch and hold and twist.

Our fingers can interpret texture, temperature and substance … and that is why, when you reach out to touch one thing and it happens to be something else which you do not expect, it can make you ‘gril’
(no single English word for this )- shocking shiver and shriek. For those who have good eyesight I am sure you have eaten a fruit whilst distracted by watching TV only to taste that you have bitten into something rotten. As you peer down and see half a worm you probably reacted beyond the scale of reason and have this firmly etched in your memory.

Recently I have glimpsed shapes, thinking that they are one thing , only to reach out and touch it and realise how wrong my interpretation was. Whilst cooking dinner, I rinsed off my hands (not literally) and flapped the dripping digits over the sink while I scanned the counter for the dish towel – it is seldom where it should be. I spotted a crumpled white object that seemed to have straight edges and so lunged for the prize, only to plant my hand firmly in the butter which stood boldly exposed in the silver foil. Yuk! A few days later I was putting lids back onto bottles of pickles, dressing and mustard. I reached for the small pale lid and slid my fingers into a splodge of mayonnaise.

Someone with worse vision than mine once joked,” don’t worry, you’ll get a feel for it”. Well, my favourite worst place to feel stuff is in the fruit and veggie market. My fingers are destined to plunge into the frot spot on any aging product. It seems like there is a magnetic attraction between my fingertips and the worms and wounds of any soft centred food. When I unexpectedly hit the spot my whole body shakes and weird noises escape my lips. It must look really funny if replayed on a security camera.

Getting a ‘hole in one’ is fantastic for a golf handicap , but it makes fun of my handicap on other types of greens…of course!

Acknowledgment: Thank you Glynne for being my shopping chaperone.

img_4230

I am going …what?

I am going … what?

It’s hard to fill in the blank in that statement, ‘I’m going …’. The shock of hearing that you have a degenerative eye disease is enough to make you think you are dreaming.  Thoughts waft through your semi- conscious brain saying, “This is not happening to me“; “this only happens to people I don’t know “ or “I will wake up tomorrow and find out it was just a bad dream”. That word ‘Blind’ is terrifying to a sighted person.  And so begins the first stage of grieving – denial.  I love denial. It is like having permission to live in the cuckoo land of unreality. It works so well … at least for a while.

I was in denial for years as I pretended and found tricks and clever ways to disguise the fact that I couldn’t see well at all (understatement!), and I let the submerged fear out by running and running and running some more .  In our own time we all go through the grieving process as anger comes short on the heels of denial (thumbs up to all loved ones who stand by us through that!).This is generally followed by fits of bargaining with ourselves and God or both – a good time to take up a contact sport.

I found myself faced with questions about the value of my life that no ten-year-old should have to ask.  Now that I think of it, no one did ask for blindness – that treacherous ocean between sight and no sight that all VIP’s (visually impaired people) are forced to navigate. You have no choice about being there and as much as people are with you, they cannot extract you from the reality. It can be a lonely and also selfish time. The currents of depression, disappointment and self-pity threaten to suck you under and pull you along paths you don’t want to go, but eventually the acceptance spits you out and you can finally take a deep breath of relief and joy as you recognise that you are still you and will always be you!  You realise that you are okay, and when you wipe the salt out of your eyes you see, or rather, hear a whole community of thriving survivors cheering you on and suddenly you know you are not alone and it is not a shame to get help… it is actually fun.

Find something that makes you tick and get involved, whether it is using your talents for fundraising for cures, awareness for prevention of blindness, support groups, sports, writing or motivational speaking. Your life itself can be a motivation and an eye-opener to others. If you have a degenerative disease you will go through more grieving, but there are plenty of people and great organisations to help you thrive.

Let’s do this together.

 

…teh wood for the trees

can't see teh wood for the trees

You are probably very familiar with the full saying, “You can’t see the wood for the trees”, where you are so busy looking for the solution everywhere else that you are blind to the fact that it is right under your nose… like looking for your sun glasses and all the while they are on top of your head, or in your top pocket.

Well, I was looking everywhere for a magnifier App that could be used to zoom in on a piece of paper and lock on the page… so I could write on the line without the camera focusing on your hand or the pen.  I have spent hours searching , downloading ,and  at times buying Apps only to find out that it has been in my hand all this time…. built in on  my iPhone. If the magnifier was alive it may have bitten me on the nose.I am so excited about the journey of discovery. I would love to meet the clever person or team at Apple who created this awesome technology and left it in a treasure box so some unsuspecting visually impaired person would come across it and think it is a miracle sent from heaven!

Being a teacher at heart I now need to increase my skill on this function and then lay it out simply so that it can be taught to others looking for specific help with magnifiers.

….forget the trees, I have found the wood!

 

Where’s Wally?

WallyThis is a brilliant read for young kids and parents to bond over. If you have never read a ‘Where’s Wally?’ you have a missing link in your education. It is this little guy in a red and white striped top who is hidden in plain sight amongst people and objects of similar colours and shapes.  It is a lot of fun in a book, but not a concept that transfers meaningfully into the real life of someone with little or no central vision especially when it is inadvertently left unedited in your pathway.

I am talking about hidden levels and camouflaged steps accidentally abandoned in public spaces and even in modern constructions.

There are three buildings I have been in quite often lately and all of them are specifically for children, the sick or the elderly- two hospitals and an education centre.  I love the modern sleek designs, the gentle greys and muted stone hues that are earthy and relaxing. ..except on the stairs! When you intend to go on a trip , this is not really the kind you meant.  And, the ‘landing’ between stair cases, I don’t think was named implying a safe foundation where something generally considered  dangerous comes to an end…like an airport runway or the mat at the other side of the gymnastics vault. A stairwell landing should provide maximum safety for ascent and descent. In all these cases there is either no contrast colour for the edge of the step or a dull grey that is the same colour as the shadows on the steps, making it confusing even for the sighted.  (In one case the stairs double as the fire escape route, not making for a quick safe escape.)

When you think of having an access friendly building, one usually thinks of a ramp and a wheelchair friendly bathroom and occasional braille bumps on the lift buttons.  It is very seldom that the needs of a vision impaired person, or a short sighted senior , are taken into consideration. Colour contrasts, clear lighting and tastefully bold signage can easily be incorporated into the theme of the build.

When these aspects are short-sightedly (excuse the pun) excluded at the design phase , the afterthought can land up being a thick yellow or white  stripe sloshed on the edge of the step that looks unsightly and out of place and frankly ugly! And then, it is sometimes blamed on the unfortunate needs of the disabled.  I feel sorry for some of these beautiful, elegant   buildings as they nervously await an unavoidable desecration. Some steps are clear at only certain times of the day when there is a shadow on them.

There are so many attractively clear stairwells where the light catches the minimalistic shine at the edge because it was planned with high visibility in mind.

I think Wally would agree with me as he too wears  a large pair of black- rimmed spectacles, but  I get so passionate about this; I may need to watch my step!

Wally stairs

Love, loss and Levi jeans

jeans

There is nothing more relaxing and calming than putting on your comfiest jeans. They are usually the oldest and softest, bearing rips, patches, paint and other scars that hold memories and reminders that life is an adventurous journey. They are best worn with slippers and accompanied by a good book and a warm drink. We seldom wear these in public, especially if we are meeting people   for the first time. First impressions are important, but are only a glimpse of a person’s whole life journey. They can be misleading at times. So, my spaghetti brain (every thought touches every other thought) related this to how relaxing it is to be with people who don’t appear perfect.  Perfection has its place in the beauty of music, fashion, sports and mathematics, but it is a bit unhelpful in relationships.  This got me thinking about the strength of being real with our weaknesses.

“My power is made perfect in your weakness”- God himself.

Just as love conquers strife and forgiveness is sweeter than revenge, so is vulnerability a key to strength.
I have learned that being open with my weaknesses allows an opportunity for others to feel strong and, asking for appropriate help empowers me. No matter how hard, I tried to be independent; it was only when I admitted my need for help and got the skills to cope with my vision struggles, than I found real independence. Thanks to the professionals, at Helen Keller Low vision services, I got the freedom to move around independently even on public transport.

Asking for help takes courage as it can seem that we have failed. I know that family members can feel frustrated when they see us struggling, as they know that if we just asked for help then everyone is happier. I get that we need to be determined and persevering, but, if we don’t acknowledge our weakness, the frustration can easily become anger (at ourselves) or even aggression. Asking for help is not a failure. Being honest with our pain is helpful for everyone.

It cannot be easy to live with a person who appears to have ‘no need for help –no weaknesses‘. Hats off to all friends and relations of super- strong, perfect people. If a person is so independent and self –sufficient, without a gap, then how do you love them?  Softness can triumph over perfection as it opens an opportunity to value others and transact with humility, kindness and appreciation.

In the process of embracing my blips and blemishes and it is no easy process (especially for an A type personality), I have become less stressed and, in a way, more able. I am more comfortable in the worn jeans of my inability which opens up opportunity to ask for help and make someone else feel trusted and valuable. It’s a bit like letting an acquaintance come into your house through the back door and asking them to turn the kettle on. It makes them feel like family.

chair 2

For me, old jeans are an allegory of a life of loss, laughter and love… far more satisfying than clean-cut lines of pristine perfection. I love them so much that I restored an old wing back chair with the family’s old jeans and it is my favourite place to sit with a cup of tea, snuggled by the life journeys of my loved ones …and the scratchings of our naughty kitty!

‘Let the weak say I am strong’

(Thanks to Botha and Budler editors)