Thursday, October 15, 2009

Growing up Blind

I have no memory of when it was discovered that I couldn't see like other children. I know from what I was told later that at first my parents didn’t realize there was a problem because I appeared to be seeing the appropriate objects. Eventually it was realized that even though it looked like everything was normal, in reality, it wasn’t. So I think I was taken for tests and then I was given glasses. They had to be very powerful glasses and they couldn’t really do that much. They made things clear, not blurry but they couldn’t correct all the way from 20/200. I don’t know if they are my first glasses but I still have a little pair that wouldn’t fit one of my eyes now.

So I began school. In pre-school and kindergarten I didn’t need all that much but then came 1st grade. I was given enlarged books that were twice or three times the size of regular books; a slant-board which was sort of a stand to put papers at an angle off. I don’t know when this was but my grandfather made me at least one slant-board and possibly more, I don’t recall. All of my papers were enlarged as well and I had larger paper. I think I may have taken tests in a separate room. This was before computer technology exploded upward, I realize I’m dating myself and I’m only 27.

I forget when we got our first computer but I do remember it lay flat and was the size of what a tower would be laying horizontally. I recall that it had a 5.25 floppy drive and a whopping 202MB of hard drive. So, as you can see folks, I grew up in the stone age when dinosaurs roamed there were strange devices such as VCRs, no combo, cassette players, no CDs, TVs without 900 channels, good cartoons, like bugs bunny and road runner and captain planet; none of the crap that’s on now. Well, I digress, back to the blindingly obvious. As I’m sure everyone has realized I use humor quite a lot. I find that I’d rather be self-deprecating than be bitter about the hand that I was dealt.

On our first computer there were no such things as Accessibility Options and there was no magnification software. I probably strained my eyes a little but unless it was a major shift, how would I know. I taught myself a lot of shortcuts, most of which still work even though the computer operating system has gone through many iterations; however, I no longer use them a lot because assistive technology has advanced as rapidly as computers. So I advanced from having huge books, papers and slant-boards and shortcut keys; to now, where there are such things as Zoomtext, Kurswile, books on tape, and many other assistive devices. Zoomtext is a screen-magnification program and you can magnify it pretty much as large as you want. This part of the program has many other features but it also has a screen-reading capability where a number of computerized voices read the text on the screen to you. Kurzweil is a scanner/reader; it first scans a book into the computer and the special program reads the text to you. I’m off to dreamland, I’ll pick this up again soon.

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