Category: blind guy user’s manual

Stop, Ask, Listen: Pretty Straightforward Stuff, Yes?

I know I have said it over and over and over again before, but I found someone else’s take on it that I thought was pretty well-written, and bonus, it included references to other “feel good stories” I’ve wanted to talk about, so double awesome! It also mentions an issue that I have talked about before, the issue of people getting so upset when I refuse their help. Yes, this is a thing. I don’t even have to be mean about it. I can say “No thanks, I don’t need a ride, I’m good,” and it feels like they sulk off in a huff. Or, I sometimes have to be aggressive, like when people don’t even ask me where I’m going and grab, or grab my dog’s harness or leash, and I loudly tell them to stop because that’s not ok and I get the pouty, snippy “I was only trying to help.” That’s great, but the first step in helping is asking what would be helpful.

Also disturbing is some people’s disregard for our feelings, as if we aren’t allowed to feel violated ever. The other day, I was on the bus and a woman said “I know I’m not supposed to pet your dog right now.” I said no now is not a good time. Then I told her that people don’t care, and pet her when we’re sitting on the bus. Keep in mind that she is sitting between my legs, and people just pet anyway. I said “not only is it bad because she’s working, but think about where you’re putting your hands! You’re getting pretty close to intimate at this point!” at which point the woman laughed uproariously. I couldn’t help it. I looked at her seriously and said “That wasn’t intended as a joke.” I don’t think she knew what to do. But in all seriousness, that was intended as an aha moment, not a ha ha moment, and although this woman seemed like a very sweet woman, her first impulse was not to be appalled or empathetic, but to think it was hilarious that I might not want to have someone’s hands there.

My friend’s mom also had a similar attitude, and if I wasn’t in the back of her car with a long day ahead of me, I would have eaten her for lunch. She told me that I wasn’t allowed to get upset, I just had to explain it nicely. “Please don’t put your hands practically in my crotch?” Really? This is a thing I must do? Incidentally, it isn’t. The person is lucky they don’t get slapped.

It kills me, because people can do studies where people show resistance at touching the private parts of a robot because they feel like they’re violating something. But they have no problem getting up close and personal with us. Great, we are considered less than human.

Anyway, this post does a great job, and hopefully it makes this stuff make a little more sense to people who don’t get why we get irritated

Kika The Spying Guide Dog

I read about this a little while ago, and had a few thoughts about it.

Amit Patel is a fellow who has recently gone blind, and he encounters a lot of jerks in his travels. So, he decided to attach a GoPro to his guide dog Kika and capture video evidence of said jerks. Unless I’m missing it, there are none of the aforementioned videos available to see, which is mildly disappointing. I guess he has used this video footage to get people at transit stations to be better trained, to report cab drivers for denying him access, all kinds of stuff, along with capturing the everyday incidents of people kicking his guide dog and other assorted run-of-the-mill crap people do, which his wife tweets about.

There are countless times where I’m pretty sure I know what happened, but I don’t want to assume the worst and be a jerk myself. For example, I hear the kissy kissy noise that usually means people are trying to talk to my dog. But there could be a toddler or a baby nearby that I just haven’t noticed yet. One day, I heard someone taking pictures and then someone else said “you should really ask her permission first”. I wondered if that was about me, but wouldn’t I come off as a pompous ass if I said “I’m offended that you took my picture.” and it wasn’t about me at all. Wouldn’t it be nice to have the proof of what did or didn’t happen?

I hope it’s easy to go through GoPro footage, because otherwise, his wife would have a full-time job going through the days events looking for jerks.

I don’t live in England where he does, but I really hope it’s not as bad as it seems every single day. I mean, I acknowledge that some people are special, but I’ve never been told to apologize for holding people up, or been deliberately shoulder charged. Most of the stupidity comes from people not looking where they’re going…I think, and then there’s the occasional numbnut that thinks I’m begging for money or I’ll take up all their time, or they say those offensive inspiration porn comments like “Oh just when I think I have it bad, there’s always someone worse than me…How do you even get up and face the day?”. I also think it’s harder to get people’s attention now because so many people are looking at their phones or wearing headphones. I’ve had to get a lot closer to people and face them because just speaking in their general direction isn’t going to cut it. Also, saying the words “excuse me” seems to get the response of people getting out of the way, rather than realizing that you want to ask a question. It’s like they default to the meaning of “excuse me” that requires the minimal amount of work. Or, they stop and wait, but they don’t say “Yes?” so you know you’ve got their attention. I don’t know what’s up with people not wanting to use their mouths lately, but it happens a lot. People will hold things out for me to take them and not say a word, like I’m going to know it’s there, even after we’ve had a whole blindness conversation.

I think part of it is that he hasn’t learned the trick of addressing a small group of people. If you yell “hello” at a whole crowd, you’re not going to get good results, but if you practically get right in a small group’s face and do the closest thing to giving eye contact and ask something, most times you will get a response. I have even chased people down when I’m desperate or *accidentally* given a leg a cane tap when I had my cane. Now I’ll sort of brush up against them and then go “Oh gee, sorry.” When they say that’s ok, then we’re talking. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but yelling at an in discriminant crowd is nearly always going to fail. Hearing the following quote makes me sad, if traveling in London and other big cities is really that bad. “Losing my sight is very lonely, if I’m travelling by public transport I’m sometimes like a scared little boy sat in the corner.”

I’m going to hope that since he has only been blind for a short time, maybe he hasn’t learned some of the tricks that have taken me a lifetime to learn.

Either way, good on him for catching some arseholes in the act and bringing them to other people’s attention.

Myths About Blindness, With A Special Emphasis On The One Where We All Want Full Vision Right Now

I wasn’t going to post this because most of it is stuff we’ve gone over here sometimes more than once, but then it got to the last one. We’ve probably covered it too, but since it never fails to blow people’s minds and turn them inside out, there’s no harm in repeating it.

No, Carin and I wouldn’t want our site back if we could have it. Not just because you can’t give someone something back if that thing never existed, though it’s surprising how many times we need to point that out since people often approach that question as if we’re longing for the good old days when we had all the high definition vision we could handle and then some and its mysterious disappearance is the only problem. The real issue is that we’re nearing our 40s and we’re pretty well adjusted to life as it is at this point. Neither of us has a great desire to go back to preschool in order to learn an entirely foreign system of reading, writing, colours, socialization and hundreds of other things that most folks don’t even think about, nor do we want to physically rewire our brains so they can process it all while simultaneously trying to live normal lives.

Not only that, but there’s no guarantee that it would even work. Neither of us is in any hurry to go through a complex, possibly painful operation just to maybe get a sliver of hardly useful vision. I understand why people think so, but if you’ve never had it, a wee bit of crappy eyesight is not better than no eyesight at all. It would actually make things worse because things that were going to be difficult anyway would now be that much harder.

Not every blind person is going to think this way. We all have our own opinions and for some of us it can be a bit of a touchy subject. But the video, as much as it can in a few seconds, does a decent job of nailing our thoughts on it. The bottom line is that though our lives may not always be perfect, neither are yours. But for the most part we’re all happy, so why risk everything to fit into someone else’s ideal when ours works just fine?

That’s So Inspiring!

Somebody posted this to, erm, Facebook, and I decided it needed a place up here.

This comedian had the brilliant idea of walking up to average joes while they did average things and telling them they’re inspiring, in order to demonstrate why that annoys us so much.

It reminds me of this Corner Gas episode, the part where Oscar gets a disabled parking sticker and starts to notice how everyone treats him differently. I saw this episode and thought if this was what they were going for, they were freaking brilliant.

To Read Post, Tip Over Computer

Michelle sent this my way. Aside from passing on the story of yet another entirely useless and equally ridonculous blind person world changing gadget, it makes an extremely vital point that everyone who invents these sorts of things needs to hear. Basically, if we don’t like your idea, it’s because your idea, in it’s current form, is probably dumb. And the reason it’s dumb is that you’re basing it on what you think you know about blind people through what you’ve picked up from movies or TV or some guy you talked to once rather than taking your time, putting in the work on some actual research that includes a good number of blind folks and then asking yourself some hard questions about the true value of what you’re doing. There are a lot of gadgets electronic and otherwise in a blind person’s life that are essential, and the last thing anyone wants to do is discourage you from inventing the next great one. But what we do want to do is discourage you from wasting your time, money, energy, talent and creativity on stupid crap that no sane person is ever going to use and that even the insane among us don’t need.

In particular, I noted a recurring type of disturbing phone conversation. Once or twice a week Bill would field a call from a complete stranger sent by one of his adoring connections, or possibly self-propelled through sheer doggedness or religion. It would start with Bill calmly, if tiredly, saying something like, “That’s interesting, but blind people don’t really need that,” or “Actually, that already exists,” or “Have you talked to any blind people about this?” The conversation would generally turn into a long discussion about the fundamentals of Braille reading, how screen readers work, cane technique, or some other incredibly basic aspect of the routine conduct of blind life.
It turns out that there is a type of person — usually a retired sighted guy — who has invented something that’s going to really help blind people. Unfortunately, guys like this don’t usually know any blind people, and they don’t generally have any idea what needs doing in the blind world, technologically or otherwise. They seem to be inspired mostly by pity, which is a powerful motivator, but poor preparation for addressing real problems. They are reasonably well-meaning, but they generally show little interest in learning anything about the field or doing any kind of market research. You see, they’ve already invented the thing that blind people need, and they just need a little help — usually with obtaining funding — to get it into the hands of the needy blind.
One guy had invented a special telephone that would call 911 if you gave it a hard bump or knocked it off the table. He was convinced that it would be perfect for blind people because if you needed help you could just… knock it off the table. I guess he thought blind people couldn’t dial 911. Or maybe he just figured we were really good at knocking things off tables. Either way, Bill had a hell of a time convincing him that it was not only a thing that blind people didn’t need, but would also constitute a serious problem for responders in the event of an earthquake. He did not even mention how offensive the idea was.
Throughout these conversations Bill was always polite and friendly, but firm and instructive. The calls always seemed to drain him. It was as if the thankless task of dashing the hopes of these poor old guys was exhausting physical work. Inevitably, the calls would conclude with Bill offering to send some information, make a connection, or help in some other minimally committal but magnanimous follow up.
When the call would finally end, Bill would put the phone down and lean back in his chair. He’d emit a long sigh followed by a laugh. “That guy has it all figured out,” Bill would say. He’s going to invent a new Braille system with three extra dots and it’s going to solve everything.”

Some Helpful Tips From A Deafblind Person

I saw this article called ten things deafblind people want you to know and most of them are things we’ve talked about in the good old blind guy user manual, like don’t grab our dogs/canes, stop moving stuff around, and don’t patronize us or say we’re inspiring if we’re just existing, stuff like that. But there are a couple of them that I’m kind of glad I know about in case I’m ever assumed to be deafblind, so I don’t freak out.

The first one, about grabbing my wrist rather than tapping me on the shoulder. I wouldn’t mind a simple tap, but I understand this serves a purpose, so if someone ever does this, I won’t assume they’re just being weird.

But the weirdest one is the reference to drawing an x on the person’s back. I totally understand the purpose, but if someone ever started drawing on my back, I think I might sort of loop out. Hopefully it never happens, but if someone ever decides to do this, thinking I might be deafblind, at least I’ll know what the heck is going on.

That’s about all I have to say about this, aside from I hope when my hearing inevitably starts to fail, they have super wammo awesome hearing aids. I’d like to have good hearing for as long as I can. I know I would learn to cope with hearing loss, I just hope I have enough brain cells to do it.

A Funny Refresher On Things That Annoy Blind People

I saw this satirical list of 17 ways to make a blind person happy, and after I finished laughing, I thought it needed a link.

Let’s see. How many of these have I experienced? Most of them. Thankfully no. 11 doesn’t happen much, but it has. The closest I’ve had to no. 12 was that chocolate randomly handed to me by that woman, but I have no idea what her intentions were. I’m also lucky that I don’t experience no. 15 a lot, although my juvenile room-mate from first year of university was a big fan of this one. But my point is none of these seem far-fetched or over-exaggerated. Think about that for a while.

Aside: isn’t it sad that she had to make it obvious that this is satire? But I don’t blame her when things like this story from The Onion are taken for real news. We don’t want people thinking these are actually helpful things to do.

Another Post About Touchy Feely People, Only Written Much Better

A while ago, in the comments under another post, I lamented that when I try to write a serious post about something that is bugging me, it always comes out long, whiny, convoluted and repetitious. Here is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Here’s my post, and here’s a much more succinct and eloquent post about the same thing.
I read it and thought “god damn, I wish I could write half as well.” So, because we can never say this enough, I decided to link to it. I’m also glad to see that I’m a. not alone and b. not over the top.

Verizon VelaSense: A Useful Service I’m Not Sure I’d Use, And Not Just Because The Press Release Is A Little Insulting

I don’t know how much Verizon paid Jay Croft for this advertorial puff piece on its new VelaSense blind person helper app, but they might want to see about getting their money back. Even if we look past all the silly hyperbole (Technology worthy of a Hollywood sci-fi movie?” It’s a cell phone camera and maybe some GPS.), there’s still at least one other problem on first glance which I will happily point out now for the benefit of anyone who may miss it when I quote the whole thing in a minute.

Listen, Jay. You may well be a very well intentioned, genuinely nice person. But if I may, here’s a friendly tip from me the potential customer to you, a public facing member of the sales team. If you want to sell me something, insulting me is a poor way to go about it.

I am not, as your press release claims, “afflicted with sight problems.” I’m blind yes, but day to day I feel as though I suffer more due to the all too frequent headaches, diminished memory from the years and years of sleep problems I used to have but am starting to shake, the weak shoulder, wrist that locks up when I do something overly repetitive or try to lift heavy things ever since I broke my arm 21 years ago, that thing in my hip area that makes it hard to walk around sometimes for no apparent reason and the repeatedly injured ankle than I do from the blindness I was born with and have adapted pretty well to over the last 35 years. I won’t lie. It can be a pretty big hindrance sometimes. But on the other hand, I wouldn’t be the person I am today or have the life I do without it, and most of the time I like that person and am pretty happy with how his life is turning out. Afflicted with blindness gives me a similar want to punch things feeling to that experienced by a girl I know who happens to spend her days in a wheelchair when someone tells her she’s confined to it. Blindness is an affliction only when you choose that route. The greater affliction is people who look at us as afflicted and take every opportunity to make sure we stay that way.

I say all of this while at the same time acknowledging that what you’re selling here is far from useless. It sounds, when you cut through all of that aforementioned hyperbole, like it could help with quite a few things we need. I’m not sure I’d pay $15 per month for it were I a Verizon subscriber mind you, but that doesn’t mean I’d actively discourage others from doing so. I’m just personally happy with TapTapSee which costs me around $28 every 3 months as opposed to $45 and the OCR and GPS apps I made one time payments for is the thing. But I honestly do appreciate the effort, hope it succeeds and wish for more companies to follow the example and perhaps even improve upon it.

Verizon Announces Life-Changing App for Visually Impaired
Using technology worthy of a Hollywood sci-fi movie, Verizon seeks to improve the daily lives of low-vision and blind customers.

by Jay Croft

For the millions of Americans who are blind or visually impaired, everyday interactions can be challenging and require dependence on others.
For instance, imagine shopping at a grocery store if you couldn’t see. How would you know what cereal you’re buying? Or the denomination of the bill you’re using to pay for it?
Now imagine a smartphone app that tells you all that information and more, in real time, when you need it.
Like an electronic best friend to guide you
The new VelaSense® mobile application turns a smartphone into a talking companion, an electronic BFF that can understand surroundings, process text, deliver voice commands through a headset and more. It can even provide outside navigation.
Visus Technology launched the app on Feb. 26, 2015. It will use Verizon’s 4G LTE network and smartphones with advanced cameras and sensors to deliver real-time information to visually-impaired Verizon customers. The app helps people understand printed words, enjoy articles, determine colors, interpret barcodes and more.
Users can more easily juggle daily applications like the phone and contacts manager, music player, weather reports, alarm clock and dozens more.
By combining multiple tools, the apps eliminate the inconvenience and cost of stand-alone equipment like magnifiers or readers.
Bringing independence and confidence
With Verizon and Visus, that shopping trip to the mall might go something like this: A blind or visually impaired person could use her phone and the app to determine if the sweater she’s holding is, in fact, the color she wants; and that she’s about to use a 50-dollar bill to pay for it.
Estimates vary about how many Americans are afflicted with sight problems—and the apps can help more people than just those with the most severe difficulties. The US Census in 2010 reported about 8 million Americans over the age of 15 were blind or had trouble seeing, even with glasses or contact lenses. The American Foundation for the Blind frequently cites the National Health Interview Survey’s estimate that 21 million adult Americans are blind or have trouble seeing.
Verizon is offering this service exclusively. Customers are eligible for a free 30-day trial before deciding to pay the $14.99 monthly subscription fee. Android OS 4.3 is required. For more information, visit

Today In Ridiculous Gadgetry Somebody Honestly Expects A Blind Person To Use: The TACTISPLAY Walk

Seriously, when are people going to stop trying to foist this sort of horribly expensive, impractical garbage on us?

Let’s do this one more time.

A: A lot of blind people don’t wear glasses and we’re not going to start for the sole purpose of making your camera and giant backpack full of processors work properly.

B: As a general rule, if your design calls for a giant backpack filled with anything, start over. If your helpful device is going to render me unable to carry things I need or want to carry, it’s not happening. A not insignificant portion of my navigation is done for the purpose of bringing things from one place to another, which renders your thing pretty pointless, no? Keep in mind that one of our arms is already pretty tied up because either cane or dog, so any remaining hand, arm and shoulder space is important to us for reasons that should be but apparently are not obvious.

C: Speaking of hands, in this specific case, if they’re full, how am I going to be able to touch the raised representations of the graphics coming out of the camera?

D: If your design calls for goggles that are going to make us stand out even more than we do already simply because look at the blind guy, start over. If I’m afraid to leave the house because I’m going to look like a goof at best or something out of a science fiction story at worst, why would I need to buy your navigation system? Where am I going?

E: How am I supposed to know what I’m looking at? figuring out how to turn pictures into shapes automatically is neat, but how am I supposed to be able to interpret any of it? How am I supposed to tell a light pole from a telephone pole or a tree from either one of those first 2, for instance? And how much of this stuff do I really need to know in the first place? There’s a big difference between useful information and things I just flat don’t care about or that get in the way of me getting around efficiently. For example, that there is a building nearby is often unimportant. What that building is is the important part. Is it the grocery store I’m trying to find or is it Frank’s house which I don’t care about because I don’t know Frank?

F: $7000? Are you kidding? A cell phone contract, a $20 app and an optional set of headphones is all it took me to get a system that will tell me almost exactly where I am whenever I need to know. Sure the phone bills will cost me more than 7 grand over time, but compare the number of things I can use my phone for vs. your backpack and glasses and let me know who wins.

Newly Developed Graphic Tactile Display For Blind People by Tactisplay Corp.
Mechanical eye for the blind people is ready for launching.
Mechanical eye for the blind people
    CHEONAN-SI, KOREA, May 04, 2015
— Tactisplay Corp. located in South Korea has developed a prototype of graphic tactile display for the blind people. This device has individually actuated 3,072 cells configured in 64 column with 48 rows. With this configuration, it can show graphic information in raised tactile dots.

There is an internal image processing engine which summarizes the image and extracts crutial graphic information for the display. When this device is connected to USB camera, image captured by the USB camera is displayed in the tactile dot array after image processing. When this device is connected to PC or notebook using ethernet cable, monitor screen image is automatically transferred to the device for the blind person to touch and feel what PC monitor is showing.
In this way, this device can be used as a mechanical eye for the blind people. There is no dangerous surgical operation required. User just need to carry the bag containing the device slung over the shoulder and clip USB camera to his/her eyeglasses to see the view.
This device, named TACTISPLAY Walk, is designed to be portable and be used outdoor. It has large battery inside which enables the device to operate 10 hours continuously. Its frontal area is little bit smaller than A4 paper and its thickess is 53mm (about two inches). Its weight is 2.5kg.
Pricing is not confirmed but they said that price will be under $7,000. It normally requires at least $20,000 for similar device.
They are planning to deliver commercial version of the device in two month. If you order today, you will be the owner of TACTISPLAY Walk in two months. Check website (
) for further information.
Tactisplay Corp. is a small firm located in South Korea and in the business since 2008. Our specialty is design and manufacture of microactuator and its robust controllers. This field requires in-depth knowledge and experience on a precision system design, micro-part machining, compact & low power controller design, robust firmware design, Windows/Mac/Linux S/W development and 3d printing for prototyping. Name of the company was changed from Santa Fe System to focus our business work force to tactile displays.
Contact Information
Jeong Yeol Lee
Tactisplay Corp.
Cheonan-si, Chungnam
Republic of Korea
Email Us Here