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Blind Friend Caught in the Web



I recently telephoned an out-of-state friend to talk. He became legally blind just after birth due to retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), which the National Institutes of Health defines as a "potentially blinding eye disorder primarily affecting premature infants weighing about 2.75 pounds or less and born before 31 weeks of gestation." Most cases leave no permanent damage, but in more severe cases about 500 U.S. infants each year become legally blind.

My friend, who I'll call Tony (a pseudonym), age 35, said he had been able as a child to see shapes and colors, but now could sense only light. He uses a white cane. His current concern has been over trying to participate in the digital revolution.

In a telephone interview, he said, "In terms of print, I learned to read Braille when I started school years ago. I was fortunate to have a teacher who taught it. I was able to get a lot of my books in Braille, too. Now I just get Rolling State and Science News magazines in Braille. They don't cost me anything. I also have a Braille Bible that takes up two large plastic crates (to store), and my New Testament alone has four large volumes."

While reading Braille publications comes easy, he finds using the Internet problematic. Online content doesn't come in Braille, of course. He does have a text reader called JAWS, which converts text to speech, but other online content, such as pop-up ads (the worst, he said), videos, photos, and the like, makes perusing many websites impossible.

He said, "One particular website I used to visit, Worldnetdaily.com, reformatted its web page and now it has so many graphics (JAWS) can't make heads or tails of it. They've lost me as a reader because of the change. As for the musical site Pandora.com, I can visit it now, type in an artist and hear music, but I'm unable to add variety, delete music I don't want or give feedback. I've been told Pandora.com is fully aware of its accessibility problems but has no desire to change. So I don't go there anymore either."

He also would like websites to figure out ways to describe videos and photos over his text reader, so at least he could get some idea of content. For example, he would visit Facebook if the site offered blind people basic photo descriptions, such as "three men smiling."


Sponsored by Blue Valley Sod.

Daniel J. Vance is a licensed professional counselor and national certified counselor from Vernon Center, Minn. His weekly newspaper column Disabilities has been published in more than 260 newspapers.

Daniel J. Vance may be reached at www.danieljvance.com



Placer County News Headlines

Chicago the TRIBUTE to play Opera House Saloon in Roseville(ROSEVILLE, CA) - Chicago the TRIBUTE, a 9-piece tribute to the band with the horns and hits will be playing the Opera House Saloon Roseville on Thursday, March 30

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Auburn Art Walk begins April 7The Auburn Art Walk will take place on the first Friday of April, June, August and October 2017, from 6 pm to 9 pm

Achieve Tahoe to Host Ability Challenge Fundraiser at Squaw ValleyAlpine Meadows, CA - Achieve Tahoe, a leading provider of winter and summer adaptive sports instruction at all ability levels for adults and children with disabilities

Guys and Dolls at William Jessup University in AprilROCKLIN, CA. - William Jessup University's Creative Arts department presents Guys and Dolls for six weekend performances, starting April 7-8-9.

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Roseville Skatetown to Host Curling BonspielRoseville, CA -Brand New Barrel Bonspiel Brings 16 California Curling Teams to Roseville on March 24-26.

Placer Valley Tourism to operate Placer County FairgroundsAUBURN, Calif. -- The Placer County Board of Supervisors today approved Placer Valley Tourism, a private nonprofit organization, as the new operator of the Placer County Fairgrounds

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