[bct] Re: Podcast on comparing JAWS and Window-Eyes

  • From: "Alan Mattison" <mattison@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 5 Feb 2006 05:57:15 -0700

In New Mexico, we have a commission For The Blind, which might as well be
named Of The Blind instead.  Most of the c ommission, and all of the top
administrators are blind.  Much care is taken to keep even the difference
between totally and partially blind out of the general conversations, though
I believe that most of the higher-ups are totals.  I am so glad we worked to
get a Commission For The blind as a separate agency from the general Voc
Rehab programs.  It makes dealing with them a little better than the
ordinary situation.  Of course, there are always the friendships among the
staff which shelter some bad eggs, but you get that in any agency.

Bruce Alan Mattison
mailto: mattison@xxxxxxxxxxxx

-----Original Message-----
From: blindcooltech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:blindcooltech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Maria
Sent: Saturday, February 04, 2006 10:59 PM
To: blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [bct] Re: Podcast on comparing JAWS and Window-Eyes

Hi David,

I dare say that your statement about blind managers is probably true for the
most part, but I have to tell you that in New York there are several blind
and partially blind workers from counselors on up.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "David Tanner" <david-tanner@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Saturday, February 04, 2006 10:04 PM
Subject: [bct] Re: Podcast on comparing JAWS and Window-Eyes

Let me tell you that even if you work within a VR agency for the blind you
would find that that is the general attitude of the majority of the sighted
employees toward the blind employees, and you generally will find that those
sighted managers make sure that no blind person gets into a management
position where they might do something to attempt to change those attitudes

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jake Joehl" <jajoehl@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Friday, February 03, 2006 1:27 PM
Subject: [bct] Re: Podcast on comparing JAWS and Window-Eyes

MessageHats off to both of you. I myself have been struggling to understand
why it is that some people in the blindness community seem to think that
every single blind or visually-impaired person is exactly alike. It just
doesn't work that way, and probably never will. I was born blind, and I have
low muscle tone and a slight learning disability. Yet I have been unable to
obtain the assistance I need from my VR agency, simply because I am
different in their view from their other clients. I admit I'm almost to the
point of giving up, but maybe that's not worth it. I mean, I can't even get
a return phone call from anyone at all. Not even the Client Assistance
Program. Yet when my mom tried to talk with my newest VR counselor, the
counselor asked why I hadn't been communicating with them? This counselor
told my mom that they don't want to deal with anybody but the clients. Funny
how that works out isn't it? Uh-oh, here I go again off on my little VR
rant. But i really think the system needs a major overhaul. Jake
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Neal Ewers
  To: blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  Sent: Thursday, 02 February, 2006 9:14 PM
  Subject: [bct] Re: Podcast on comparing JAWS and Window-Eyes

  Slithy, you bring up so many good points.  thank you for talking about the
hearing aids you have used.  It's a real incite to try to figure out how one
would deal with conversation, for example, in a world of microphones which,
even at their best, find it hard to tell paper rattling from the sound of
someone's voice.  I suspect that much of what you and others have to do is
to learn to concentrate on discriminating between those sounds even when
they are not really presented to you correctly in the first place.

  On another point, I believe one reason why people who are blind are pitied
and thought of as perhaps less able than people with other disabilities is
that sight is the sense which people who see use the most.  Some
psychologists say as much as 80% of people's perception is visual.  OK, so
maybe it's only 70 or 60 or even 50%, but the point is that without it,
especially if one looses one's sight later in life, one is suddenly without
at least half of one's perception.  I had it the easy way.  I have been
blind from birth.  Although it's no picnic, I did not have something I lost.
Thus, I never had to miss what I lost, and my world was never one which
needed me to come up with ways of some how compensating for a sense I knew.
Compensate, yes.  I have to come up with ways of dealing with what I am told
people who see have, but having never had it, it is more like a scientific
experiment for me than it is a readjustment to something I will always wish
I had.  I have gained immeasurably from being blind.  Had I been sighted, I
would still be back in Possum Holler Virginia, yes, you read it correctly,
and I would probably be doing what everyone else does there.  They work in
the paper mill.  Of course, it could have been worse.  A wee bit further
west and it would be the cold mines.  But, because I was unable to attend
public school, I went to a school for the blind.  It was not the best school
in the world academically, but I had teachers who taught me so very much
more than what I could have ever learned in books.  They are the reason why
I am the only person in my entire extended family who ever went to college,
much less graduate school.

  But, to many who see, I am just another person who can't see.  I think
you're right though in that even though I am blind, I have the ability to
speak.  There are indeed people who believe that people who are hard of
hearing are dumb simply because they cannot speak everyone's else's
language.  But isn't that where so much of hatred and political unrest and
discrimination come from anyway?  Many people seem to think that everyone
should speak like they do, think like they do, and act like they do.

  One of the things we were charged with at Trace where I used to work, is
to develop technology that was cross disability accessible.  Can you imagine
how hard it was and still is to get agreement on how something should be
designed when different disability groups have their own very strongly held
ideas and their own fears that if they bend just a little in order to allow
the product to fit the needs of other disability groups, the product won't
work as well for them?  Where does it stop?

  Oh well, I'm just mumbling along here on a stream of consciousness.  There
are so many things a person could say, and still there will be people who
never will accept people who are disabled as being human.  Of course, there
are some wonderful exceptions to this way of thinking, and I am happy to
know many of them.  And as for your message below, thanks for making me
think.  I like people who do that.


  -----Original Message-----
  From: blindcooltech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:blindcooltech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Slythy_Tove
  Sent: Thursday, February 02, 2006 8:20 PM
  To: blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  Subject: [bct] Re: Podcast on comparing JAWS and Window-Eyes

    Hi Neal,

    Nothing can replace normal hearing.  At least not now.  Maybe in a
hundred years, providing technology continues to advance, but not now.  The
first time I wore an aid it was like listening to someone holler down a
rainbarrel and it fit so badly I had a sore on my ear.  Now it is a godsend
to me and I have a new hypoallergenic ear mold that doesn't give me ear
infections.  Still, I don't know what it is like to hear like normal folks
because I can't remember a time when I could hear with both functional ears,
although before 18 months of age that was the case.  My mother did not
confirm my hearing impairment until I was about three - they could not
decide if I was deliberately disobedient or a space cadet until she played
the "whispering game" with me and I kept asking her to whisper in my other

    A good hearing aid specialist (not a discount store) will have an
audiologist with a master's or doctorate in the field who will realistically
describe what you can and can't get back.  It is easier for those who lose
hearing as adults because at least their brains understand what sound is and
can accomodate more of it, unlike folks like me who never really knew.  In
my case I am also losing the ability to discriminate fricatives (sh, th,
etc.) but I seem to be rebounding a bit with the new aid, so that's great.

    Hearing aids augment everything.   The rattle of a newspaper - boy, was
I suprised how much noise they made - and human voices.  The good ones - the
highly expensive computer adjusted aids - have the best filtering on them
but can cost several thousand dollars and ear and can do a lot to home in on
the sound spectrum of the human voice.  Since I only have one functional ear
I get by with a lower cost but I have no stereo hearing and the bi-cross
aids are not available in the very high end digital aids.  I have had
bi-cross aids before and it was wierd to look to my left to respond to a
sound when I have never done that before - but the wire running through my
hair got old and then they got lost.

    As to why the government favors the blind with jobs, I suspect the blind
have long been considered so incompetent that the government has to give
them jobs and they need tax exemptions.  That's an awful thing to say, but
it is likely the truth. I don't know why the loss of sight is considered so
much worse than the loss of hearing.  Maybe because way back when the deaf
guy could outrun the saber toothed llion but the blind guy could not.  Who
knows?  I do know, however, that being deaf (total) is like being dumped on
Mars without knowing how to speak Martian and there is not necessarily a
rosetta stone to find out.  Still, people have managed to cobble out trade
languages from signs for time out of mind, so deaf are probably considered
better able to cope than blind.

    The deaf were more likely to be considered retarded or mentally ill and
were more likely to be locked up in insane houses because they can't talk
and they can't communicate with hearing people unless some parent or some
enlightened person along the way has figured out that they are deaf.  I used
to date a man who was considered retarded until age 7 - when they found out
he was completely deaf.  The blind were not treated well either, but at
least they could communicate in the same language as those around them -
unless they had the misfortune to be deaf as well - a double whammy.  I
still hear people refer to deaf persons who use sign as "dummies" as if they
are mentally retarded.

    Unfortunately, both deaf and blind are sometimes impaired in
communication skills because the deaf have sign language which is not the
same as English and the blind have braille, which in its higher forms, is
also not the same as English.  Many of the deaf and blind don't use the same
gramm ar and spelling as the rest of the country and are therefore
considered uneducated.  It is not true, it is just the perception, just as
the uneducated foreigner is a myth.  Were the sighted to have to deal with
braille they'd be illiterate.  I'm probably one of the few sighted people
who ever learned braille because I had a blind friend I wrote to.  And he
was so kind he never told me I punched the braille in backwards.  (wince)  I
never found out until Dan learned braille.

    I don't know why the nation does not give the deaf or quads or paras or
retarded folk the same sort of treatment, but it does not.  I don't see it
happening any time soon, so I am not really going to sweat it more than I
have to because I've had to struggle with this all my life and I'm sorta
used to it - although somewhat irate from time to time.

    On the other hand, I think the deaf get better accomodation regarding
closed captioning whereas the blin d get the shaft on descriptive video.


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