A Roadmap to Resources
This month was all about taking action and remembering to be mindful! We explored how to design a roadmap to guide you toward the resources you are looking for. The group also shared accessibility support numbers and websites that can get you started.
August 21, 2019
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Resource Roundtable –Roadmap to Resources
Presented by Steve Kelley and Jennifer Ottowitz
August 21, 2019
Steve K: Welcome, everyone, to this month's Hadley Discussion Group Resources Roundtable. My name is Steve Kelley and I'll be hosting the show today with Jennifer Ottowitz. Debbie Worman, my cohost last month, will return next month. Jennifer, welcome and thank you for joining us tonight. Would you mind telling us just a little bit about yourself for anyone who is not familiar with you?
Jennifer O: Sure. Hi, everybody. Thanks for joining us this evening. My name is Jennifer Ottowitz, as Steve said, and I am also a member of Hadley's AIR team, which is the Adjustment, Independent Living and Recreation team. I'm a senior learning expert and have been an instructor with Hadley for over six years now, about six and a half years. I've taught courses in braille, diabetes management, self-esteem and adjusting with blindness. And now I'm working on our new workshops on dialing the telephone, the phone that actually has buttons, telling time, and then I also have helped Debbie Worman on the resilience workshop that she mentioned in this group last month, as well as some other workshops. I'm really excited to have the chance to join you all tonight.
Steve K: Thank you so much. You've got a podcast that I think you probably want to promote just a little bit that just came out a few weeks ago, right?
Jennifer O: Yes, thank you so much. I forgot that. I just did a podcast on making your handwriting easier to see. That's part of our Hadley Presents podcast, which you can find on our website. I should also say, like Steve, I'm a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist by trade, which is a fancy title which means I'm a teacher that works with adults who are losing their vision, have lost their vision, or are experiencing changes in vision.
Steve K: Thank, Jennifer. For those of you who weren't here last month, I'm one of the newest members of the Hadley team. I, too, am a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist and I've worked in the field for 12 years, mostly with adults, and adaptive daily living skills and technology. It's so much fun to be here at Hadley working with the discussion groups. Let's jump into today's discussion. I just wanted to reiterate that the theme for today's discussion is roadmap to resources. Let's get started with the roadmap to resources. Last week, or it was last month actually. Time flies. The central theme from last month that kept coming up again and again was this theme from both Debbie and callers of resilience. That just seemed to resonate throughout the whole group. It was great.
Interestingly enough, two weeks ago I was listening to an NPR quiz show and Henry Winkler was one of the guests on the show. I guess here I'm going to date myself because Henry Winkler was the actor who played Fonz years ago and now has his own show called Barry, but one of the things that he said was that he lives by two words, gratitude and tenacity. I just loved that. I loved it because I had still been thinking a little bit about that whole idea of resilience. What he said keeps him levelheaded when he's having to be really tenacious is the gratitude. Rather than getting angry at always having to try, try, try, and try again, with a little bit of gratitude it just evens him out.
Those two words were words that I just put in my pocket after listening to that interview. Last month, several callers mentioned that they were information gatherers or information junkies. This got me thinking about the whole tenacity as part of the roadmap. Getting as much information as possible to create our goals, or figure out where it is, we want to move to, how we want to get there.
I also had an email from, or a phone call actually, from a woman named Christie in Orange County, California. She called to tell me that she and her husband, Bill, were thinking about calling themselves "seeing through darkness" because they've thrown themselves into locating resources as retirees who are blind themselves. They're just people who want to help other people meet their goals. She was giving me a whole bunch of the different resources that she and Bill had put together. She also shared with me a resource that she just wanted to put out to the group. We'll talk about that a little bit later when Jennifer and I share a couple of resources.
When I was doing a little bit of researching for the whole roadmap on resources theme, and last month Debbie suggested pretty early on that a resource could be your strategy. The strategies that you take. I think, oftentimes, we think of resources as something a little bit more tangible. Maybe it's a person on the phone who answers a question for you, the document that you pick up, directions. Those tend to be resources, but she suggested this idea that your strategy could be your resource. That got me thinking about how we ask questions when we're on the phone or trying to nail down the roadmap to our goals. For example, how do you become a good self-advocate when you're making those phone calls, or how can you clearly ask for what it is that you need and seek out what it is that you need or want? As I was looking around, I ran across this article called, "Introduction to Mindfulness."
Full disclosure here, I guess, I feel funny talking about mindfulness because I know that I'm one of those folks who, oftentimes, cannot be very mindful. I'm often thinking about other things or multitasking, or whatever. I read this in the article, and I'll just share this with you. It says, "Mindfulness, at its essence, is simply being present. This means paying attention to what is happening right now without judgment, without overthinking, without invalidating your experience. Mindfulness is just being willing to show up to the present moment. It is acceptance of the present moment." That really struck me because, as I read the rest of the article, and I'll put a link in the show notes to the article, the article is deep, but at its heart it was basically saying that a lot of us spend much of the day tuned out of the experiences that we're involved in and really tuned into our thoughts about these experiences.
For example, I personally can't read the way I used to, or see the computer as well as I did at one time. That's just the experience, it's there. Instead of being in the experience, or the moment, or problem solving something like that and figuring out a new way to read or use the computer, it could be the case that I'm thinking more, you know, I'm in my head about maybe my self-esteem is a little bit bruised about this, or maybe I'm sad about not being able to do it the same way I was. So what happens, then, is I'm really distracted from the whole problem-solving situation. I think that was one of the critical components that I think sometimes is missed when we start thinking about this roadmap, is just maybe step one is just to be mindful and ask yourself how is this going to affect your ability to advocate or develop the roadmap, or stay focused on it. So, Jennifer, if you'd like to jump in, that was just one of those things I thought we could put on the table as a starting point and see where we go with that, that whole notion of mindfulness.
Jennifer O: Sure. That brings to mind something I was talking with Steve about earlier today. I first want to share that I am blind myself. I am often looking up resources whether it's for me personally or to help the students that I'm working with. I remember, not that long ago, an incident where I had to call the pharmacy about something. I guess, for me, mindfulness brings to mind patience. I often need more patience when I'm trying to look up resources. This is just one incident, but when I called the pharmacy, I, of course, immediately started into my questions. I want to know such and such and such about this and that and the other thing. The person on the other end of the phone very sternly said, "What's your date of birth?" Just shut me down. I just glossed over it and kept going. She said again, "What's your date of birth?" I thought, "Oh, okay." It hit me in that moment that, as important as this was to me, as immediate this was to me, I had to be mindful that there's a process and that she needed information before she could go further in the process to help me.
From that instance, I've learned to prepare a little bit. When I think about roadmaps, I think about road trips and if any of you have been on a road trip, you've probably prepared a little bit before you took off. Usually, for me, that meant snacks, but whenever I prepare for a road trip and thinking about finding resources, preparing is a really important thing. What kind of questions can you ask to help you get the information that you want, the answers that you need quicker and with less hassle and stress. That's the key. I know, just going back to the patience thing, how many of you have done an internet search and if you can't find what you're looking for in the first five options, you get a little frustrated. That happens to me a lot.
I'm curious, along the way, if you guys have any suggestions, I'm always looking for ways of how to narrow my search or other things I can do to make the whole process less frustrating. That idea of being mindful, though, plays into that. Just being calm, trying to think about, "This is a process. How can I approach it systematically? What can I do to not get frustrated?" That came to mind whenever you were talking about the article. I'll just see if you have anything else to add, or anyone else has anything to share regarding this idea of mindfulness when you're searching for resources.
Steve K: One of the things that I heard from a couple of people, we had some self-declared some information gatherers or information junkies last month and sometimes, and they were describing trying to look for services or even the next steps, and it just sounded like that experience can be a little exasperating. Maybe you have to make a bunch of phone calls, maybe you're getting some people on the phone who may not know, or in a lot of cases, when we first start out we may not be aware of the right questions to ask, so we don't get the information that we need. I think that this idea of mindfulness and trying to keep yourself in the driver’s seat as you're going along is really important. It almost sounds like that's what happened with you at the pharmacy. You must have rallied at some point, I don't know whether it was the sternness in the pharmacist's voice, or what it was, but once you evened out, then the process probably smoothed out. I mean, you could have added your own little, I don't know, emotion or whatever into the conversation and it would have just taken longer.
Jennifer O: Absolutely. I think, I mean, emotions, it's hard sometimes to keep them out of a situation. I think whenever I have technology issues and I've been trying to get the computer to do something for a long time and I've tried everything I know, and I've tried the resources people have told me to use and it's still not working, and I call somebody, and I just want the answer. "Just tell me the answer." Right? Yeah, trying to keep a level head and just trying to find a solution. It's sometimes easier said than done, but a good thing to try to strive for.
Steve K: Does anyone have an experience that they're willing to share about just that mindfulness, or maybe the beginning steps of creating that road map? I think that, based on some of the phone calls that we've had in the past, there are people out there who may be just getting started with this and they're looking for, "Gosh, how do I navigate this? How do I find a little bit more support?" Part of it is just getting that attitude onboard. Sometimes that's difficult. Life is throwing us curve balls right and left, and it can be difficult to keep that can-do, tenacious attitude that Henry Winkler was talking about. Anyone have a situation that's similar to that that they'd be willing to jump in and share?
Helen: Yeah. When I had far better vision, looking things up was far different than it is being blind. I know that my mindfulness tends to wander because my eyes still want to do the work. I'm still arguing with the connectiveness that the eyes don't work, so now the hearing and the fingers have got to do it, where before I was still so used to, you know, take a phone book and you whop that on your lap, and you just flip big chunks of it back and forth. Doing that as a blind person, going through pages, I still don't have a lot of the adaptive devices, but the few that I've tried were incredibly frustrating because I couldn't do it the way I used to.
My eyes keep trying to argue with me, "This is how we do it," even though I can't see what I'm doing. The mindfulness, yeah, I have to retrain everything now. That's where I'm at, is I need to go at the beginning with training at the very beginning how I even approach this because that's where my frustration factor comes in. Because it's still going to be frustrating as a blind person, but in a different way, if that makes sense.
Steve K: It really does. It's a familiar territory to me, certainly, as a Vision Rehab Therapist because I think a lot of people are in a very similar situation, especially if you've acquired a vision loss a little bit later in life. You spent your life prior to that, whenever it was that you started experiencing a vision loss, doing everything visually. Really, that's the way, if you've got good eyesight, you're doing everything pretty much about, I think, 90 percent visually. That's the way we learn. All of a sudden, you have to do in a completely different way. I think that that's the thing that you are constantly falling back on the way that you used to do it. It's like any kind of a change, any time you have to change the way you've habitually done something, it can be really, really challenging. I do think mindfulness is really challenging in those situations.
Helen: Yeah, my mind isn't really sure what it's supposed to be doing yet. It keeps going, "Hey, eyes, how come you're not doing this?" They can't anymore. It's almost like an arguing going on between the wiring in my brain. I haven't figured out how to get it rewired so that that's the go to now.
I've never seen normally and I didn't even know it. I've never seen normally, never heard normally. Got in trouble my whole life because of it. Then when it became obvious that, "She wasn't kidding. She wasn't looking for attention. She wasn't making this up," I already had the cataracts and everything else, and it was wham, wham, wham. Never having had a normal vision or hearing to even go from in the first place, I had to take what people told me, "This is this," for my vision. I don't even know what was anymore.
Steve K: Sure.
Helen: Now, I'm even on a slipperier slope. I need far more help and I can't find doctors; I can't find a case worker. I've been trying for five years. Everybody puts it to somebody else's door, and they all claim that they don't cover my problems.
Steve K: This really sounds like one of those things that Henry Winkler was talking about when he said tenacious and gratitude and you're swapping back and forth. I see that we've got a hand up with an area code of 603. Did you want to jump in and, maybe, offer a comment here?
Jodie: My first name is Jodie. I really identify with what Helen just said because I've always been legally blind and have had a significant decrease in vision over the last 20 years. I mean, I remember trying to strain to see things and, you know, I constantly had back aches and neck aches. I was always trying to get blood out of a rock, basically, by trying to see things. This is going to sound very strange, but now that my vision is worse, it's easier because I'm not trying that way anymore. That way didn't work. I find that I really have been able to, you know, it's hard to explain, but I'm actually able to do things better now that I'm not trying to rely on the vision, that really wasn't that great to begin with than, using other methods.
If you're being distracted by your vision, for example, you're not paying attention to what you're hearing, or what you're sensing. Not having that visual distraction anymore has made things actually easier for me. I've taken the Hadley braille course, and now I'm not trying to strain to read print anymore because I've got this wonderful gift of braille and I've got a seeing eye dog. It's, like, "Wow, it's so much easier now." I hope I can get that across to Helen that if she can just let go of trying to do things visually that there's so many other ways to do it.
Helen: I've still got to pay my bills every month and I have no help yet. That's my problem. I've tried for five years-
Jodie: Five years is too long. Have you gone through your state agency for the blind?
Helen: I can't drive and I'm in a wheelchair.
Jodie: Okay. Have you gone through your state agency for the blind because they should have the resources that you need either with volunteers? Technology is absolutely awesome, and it's a whole other subject, but for example I use my iPhone to take pictures of documents and read them to me. You can set up payment options through your bank so that you can either autopay or you can pay going through the bank. There's so many ways to do things that you shouldn't have to be depending on your vision anymore. I suggest you get in touch with your state agency for the blind. They're a great resource for all the things that you need help with.
Steve K: Helen-
Helen: I hope so.
Steve K: Did you participate last month on the discussion?
Helen: No, this is my first time. I just found you guys. Hadley actually sent me a cartridge for my talking books machine. I was listening to some of the tutorials and training to live as a blind person and to negotiate my living spaces from a wheelchair. I have to use a guide cane with a wheelchair. So it's been really difficult, to put it mildly.
Steve K: One of the resources I gave last month and I'm going to share again is the American Printing House for the Blind Connect Center. They have an 800 number. It may be the easiest way, I think, to try to connect with somebody to find out what the resources might be in your state, perhaps, that you are overlooking or how to find additional resources. We also mentioned the VisionAware Directory of Services. That's visionaware.org. If you type in the search word "directory" you'll find it. That, too, is going to be in the show notes. Don't panic, we'll have that easily findable for you when the show notes get published. Those might be two resources that would help you find something that, maybe, you haven't uncovered yet already.
Helen: Yeah, I found it odd that every agency I've talked to either I'm dying from the wrong disease, I have the wrong types of seizures, I'm too old, I'm too young, I'm too rich, I'm too poor. I've been told everything that would just disclude me for the last five years, including Easter Seals. I'm really, really shocked that when I won my disability, I don't know if anybody is aware of what DAC is, I've been called disabled adult child. I'm 58. They put my age of disability before age 7. I still had no help. I can't count numbers, I've never been able to. Every time I go to these agencies, they say, "You seem very functional. See ya." It's very odd. It's been very odd.
Steve K: Sure. I think that that can really test your resilience and your tenacity. As Jodie suggested, you really have to continue beating the bushes to find some of these other resources that are going to help you. I just wanted to follow up, too, briefly on what Jodie was saying about the vision. It almost sounds counterintuitive, but one of the things that Christie shared, the caller from Orange County, California, was that she, too, was grateful when she lost the last bit of her vision only because it forced her, in some ways, to really learn those new skills. I know that most of us probably wouldn't embrace that if we've got some functional vision, but I think it's interesting, everyone has a different way of looking at their experience.
The last little thing that that reminded me of was there was a, he's still probably out there in California, Doctor Bill Takeshita, who was an ophthalmologist who had an eye disease that he eventually lost his vision. One of the things he said was he really struggled in trying to keep up with all of the medical research that he needed to read as an ophthalmologist. It wasn't until he lost almost all of his vision that he started to use JAWS. He realized in a short period of time that using the screen reader, JAWS, he was able, then, to increase the speed at which he was able to read. When he had low vision and was using a screen magnifier, as Jodie was describing, he found it was really slow and difficult for him to read. One of the things that he remarked on in one of his podcasts was what a big difference it made just embracing using a screen reader and he got back into reading again.
Jennifer O: Steve, I just wanted to share, too. Helen, thank you so much for sharing and for finding us, and for participating tonight because I know it can be very frustrating whenever you're not finding things, whenever you try and try and try. I do think the resources that Steve shared will be a good place to start. I know it's not easy trying to find what people call a “new normal way of doing things.” Especially if these new ways don't seem quite as efficient as using your vision or ways you've used in the past. It takes time. It takes patience, and it takes trying to be really, I guess, proactive is a good word I think of. To try to figure out, "Okay, how am I going to get this to work easier for me?" I try to do my name-that-tune approach where I've tried to do, "What is the least amount of steps I could do to perform this task even though it may be different and still take a little bit longer than it would for somebody that can see?"
It's getting comfortable with that new way of doing things. It's a journey. It doesn't happen instantly. That's the other thing to share that most of you probably already know, is that whenever you lose vision, a lot of people say your other senses get stronger and we like to say in our field of work that you actually pay attention to them more. It's not that you automatically start using your hearing and your sense of touch. You have to learn how to develop them and get used to them and all of the tools that help you use them better. Sometimes that can take a little while, too. Be patient and be tenacious, too.
Steve K: I like that term “new normal.” I think that that's interesting. It takes an awful long time, everybody is different, before we stumble into that new normal. I see Leanne has got her hand up, so I'm just going to unmute her. Leanne, did you want to step in here?
Leanne: Yes, please. I wanted to say, Helen, I think you are very tenacious. If it's been five years and you still haven't gotten help, you have tenacity. I'm so glad that they gave you two new resources and I'm excited to hear what you find out from them. The other thing-
Helen: Thank you.
Leanne: That goes with the ... you're welcome ... conversation is a little phrase that someone said to me and that is, "Take your eyes out of the equation." That has helped me to do what we have been talking about. Thank you.
Steve K: Leanne, do you mind if I just follow up quickly on that? It seems intuitive but when you say, “Take your eyes out of the equation,” where did you hear that?
Leanne: Excuse me, I didn't hear the whole ... I think you just wanted to know where I heard, "Keep your eyes out of the equation?"
Steve K: Yeah.
Leanne: I heard that from someone at Society for the Blind in Sacramento, California. I forget who it was, but they said it.
Steve K: That's okay. They were saying just, basically, forget about using your eyes for this new task? Try learning the new task in a different way?
Leanne: Yes. It was just, "Take your eyes out of the equation." Close your eyes and, like you were talking about, listen to what's happening. I don't know. I think of when I pour water out of my Brita water filter, you know, you use your finger to stick it in there, listen to how full it's getting. I got this thing called a Say When that beeps when the glass gets full enough. Just there's different ways to fill a glass of water without spilling it all over everything.
Jennifer O: I just have to share, my husband has low vision and whenever he is looking for something in the kitchen drawer, and all I hear is rattle, rattle, rattle, rattle. I go in and I say, "Let me find it." I just go in, feel it, grab it and go. I also heard someone, a client, once told me that she used her fingers like ten extra eyes. You can, kind of, think of it as we can use opposite senses for both to really help us. Take the eyes out of the equation, but then also think you have ten extra eyes, too, if you want to think of it that way.
Leanne: Oh, yeah. That's a good thing. Another thing is your long cane is a communicator. It's communicating to others that you can't see everything that they see and it's communicating to you what your eyes can't see.
Jennifer O: You got it.
Steve K: I just want to play devil's advocate if I can for both Jennifer and Leanne, here. It sounds like, in hindsight, you're both actually able to add a little humor to this.
Leanne: Oh, yeah.
Steve K: Really, at the time, I'm sure it was not humorous at all. This transition, probably for both of you, was very challenging. I'm guessing that some of the folks listening tonight may be right in the thick of it. How did you get past that?
Leanne: I'm still in the thick of it.
Steve K: Okay.
Leanne: I found hadley.edu, and these discussion groups have just been a God send. I just truly am grateful for these discussions. Talking to other people who are blind and how they've coped with things, and I have listened to different groups even if it wasn't something I'm interested in because you can apply things from one, you know, from the growers group or the sewing circle, or the Tech It Out, that might apply to other things in life. It's been very helpful talking to other people and just having that sense of community. Part of the frustration is just feeling alone, sometimes, if there's no one there to help you out of those difficult situations.
Steve K: I think there's a fair amount of isolation, sometimes, that goes along with this. I'm sorry, Jennifer, if you don't mind sharing some of your-
Jennifer O: No, that's okay. I was going to say having a sense of humor is actually a good coping mechanism to help. We certainly don't mean to make light of anyone's situation when we bring humor into something. I would say, too, and I remember as my vision got worse, too, taking risks was really important. I applaud all of you. Joining groups like this can be a risk, sometimes, if you're new to vision loss and you're trying to figure out what's out there to help me. I think you've taken a really great step in joining us tonight and continuing your search for resources. I think, too, just trying to think about who you are as a person and know that you're more than just an eyeball with feet, or an eyeball that doesn't work so well with feet.
Steve K: Right.
Jennifer O: Who you are as a person is much more than just eyes that don't work so well. You may be a kind person, a caring person, a trustworthy person, a reliable person, and none of those are dependent on your vision. Your vision can affect how you do tasks, but it doesn't affect who you are on the inside at the core. That's something to just keep in mind as you work through this and try to find that new identity, especially if you have some remaining vision and you feel like you're in an between world because you're not totally blind, you're not totally sighted, and you don't know where the heck you fit in. It can get really frustrating. That's something I wanted to share.
Helen: I've been trying to find other blind musicians. That's been my biggest problem-
Leanne: Oh, what do you play?
Helen: I play mandolin, bass, ukulele, and percussion. I was teaching for a little bit until I couldn't see well enough [inaudible]. I have not been able to find other blind musicians. That's one thing that's really surprised me in the last five years and that any of the programs, because I used to compose, any of the programs to write or to compose or to record are not aimed for the blind at all. All of my recording equipment, everything is sitting in a closet. I updated everything twice and it still doesn't work for a blind person. I've found it very, very, very odd. I know there's got to be other blind musicians out there besides me. So far, I have talked to hundreds of blind people and not another musician. Where are they hiding? Somebody has got them hiding some place.
Jennifer O: I will tell you, Hadley has an instructor, Linn Sorge, some of you may know her, but was that Helen that asked that question?
Jennifer O: Yeah, Helen. Maybe you can email me offline after the discussion group and I can put you in touch with Linn. Linn taught our braille music course this year and she's a blind musician. She, I'm sure, would have some ideas of some resources to try or people to reach out to about that. She loves talking with other musicians, too.
Helen: Thank you. I appreciate that. This is Jennifer, correct?
Jennifer O: Yes, I'm sorry. Yes, it is.
Jennifer O: I'll share my email at the end of our time.
Helen: Thank you very much.
Steve K: Jodie, did you ... I see your hand is up. Did you want to jump in here? I'm just going to unmute you.
Jodie: I just wanted to suggest the NFB has a blind musicians division and also the National Library Service has a lot of information for blind musicians.
Steve K: I think that it's just NFB.org, right?
Helen: Thank goodness I've been getting the taking book cartridges. Yes, I really totally appreciate listening to lessons. That's something I'm trying to learn to do now is to teach myself to do it without sheet music because I sight read and I was forced to sight read cold. When you wire your brain like that over 40 years, that's another big issue I'm going to have to figure out because I've got neuropathy. I can't do braille. So that’s been very, very helpful to me. I really appreciate it. Yes, I would like to get in contact with them to see, at least when I'm bridging the gap between sighted and not, and starting to play with other people, you know, even if it's virtually. That way they can help me go through learning to do it by touch alone with neuropathy.
Jennifer O: I know there's also a resource, and the name escapes me right now. Steve, I don't know if you're aware of it, but they offer options for learning music by ear and learning how to play particular instruments by ear. I know Linn would have that resource available, too, if NFB or the other resources Jodie mentioned, do not. There are some great ones out there. We'll give you some leads, I think, to try.
Helen: If anybody wants to try to start playing, this is something that makes you smile. I mean, pick up a banjo and strum it. Everybody is going to smile when you do that.
Steve K: This is a great opportunity just to ask the folks who are on the conversation if they think of anything in the future, you know, please give us a call or email us because we'll add it to the show notes so that others can get this information. Helen could read it next week, and so on and so forth. Please don't hesitate to forward that information along to us. Jennifer, no, I've not heard about that. It sounds like that would be a great resource.
I just wanted to share that, and I'm not sure that I recognize a whole lot of folks from last month's, but last month we gave the attendees some homework, so I don't want folks on the line tonight to get panic stricken about the homework, but we gave out a couple of phone numbers. One of them was the one that I just suggested to Helen, the APH Connect Center, and we also gave out the Hadley phone number. Let's see if I've got them. I do, so I'm going to give those out again. Here was the homework assignment, we suggested folks give those numbers a call and just practice some of their advocacy skills. Are you able to drill down and have the person on the phone understand what it is that you need, or what you're trying to look for? What kind of a response did you get from those folks?
The Hadley information and referral phone number was 800-323-4238. The American Printing House Connect Center was 800-232-5463. That phone number is answered during business hours between 8:00AM and 4:30PM. You can always leave a voicemail. Did anyone think to follow up and check on that? I see Leanne's hand is up and I'm going to unmute you. I'm going to assume that we had no one complete their homework assignment. Anyhow, we've given it out again, so that could be a possible resource for some of the callers tonight.
A couple of resources I wanted to share, and this was one that Christie wanted to share with the groups. This is a little bit more about technology. I was talking to Jennifer earlier today and said that these are a couple of phone numbers that I've just had in my contact list for quite some time when I was working with clients. Apple Accessibility Phone Support, and anyone that's using an Apple device who has got a vision impairment or any other disability that effects their use of the device can call the Apple Accessibility phone and there's no charge, and you can get some technical support. I've had nothing but positive experiences with it. They're usually very patient with me. They tolerate those of us who are new and, kind of, struggling with it. They just do a great job. The phone number for them is 877-204-3930. That's just a great service.
The other thing Christie wanted to mention was there is an app called Be My Eyes, which is a free app, and it's available for the iPhone or any iOS device, and the Android phone. The nice thing about the app is that you can simply just call the service using the app and get some help, like, locating something or reading something briefly, or getting the color, or anything where a second set of eyes might be helpful. The other thing that's very interesting and a relatively new feature of Be My Eyes is you can actually get a direct call to Google Accessibility, so if you're an Android user or maybe you need to learn a little bit more about your Google Home device, or something like that, you can simply pull up the Be My Eyes app and get a direct line into Google Accessibility. That's the only way you can get ahold of Google Accessibility short of an email address. That's a pretty handy thing to know about.
The last number that I'm going suggest is the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk and their phone is 800-936-5900. Again, if you're using any kind of accessibility feature with your Windows device, the screen magnifier, the screen reader, or whatever, you can call them and get help with that as well. I'm pretty sure that that's close to a 24/7 number, so you can call them anytime. I've found that they're not quite as great as Apple Accessibility, but in a pinch they're excellent. Did you have a couple of resources, or a resource that you wanted to share, Jennifer?
Jennifer O: Sure. This is one I just recently started using. It's technology related, again. I used the JAWS screen reading program with my computer and I've been attending, Vispero, is the name of the company and they have online training opportunities. I just went to one on using Outlook with JAWS. That was very helpful. Also, you can email them with a question. I had a question about how to change, I somehow accidentally switched my calendar in Outlook from week view to day view and couldn't figure out how to change it back, and so I contacted firstname.lastname@example.org. That's V as in Victor, I as in India, S as in Sierra, P as in Papa, E as in echo, R as in Romeo, O as in Oscar. Training@vispero.com. You can ask them a question about using JAWS with a particular program and they can help you.
There are some questions about setting up your email account that are beyond what they can do, that's something you'd need help from a computer person, but if it's a JAWS command related question, they're very quick to respond and very helpful. The training sessions are also very nice. You can join live, you can go to their website and listen to the audio recordings of the training sessions, and they also have handouts, which is a really good thing because I cannot remember all these commands that they are giving. Having them written down in a list is really helpful. They have trainings on using JAWS with lots of different programs. That's a really helpful one, I've found, lately.
Steve K: Was there any charge for those?
Jennifer O: No, they are all free, which is a really wonderful thing.
Steve K: I remember one time doing a similar search and I think it was just for JAWS basics and they did seem to have some nice audio recordings that you could just download and start listening to. I think, even with the trial version, for example, you can get some training material that comes along with it. Even if you're not paying for the full-blown version, you're just using the trial version, you can also get some free training that way, too.
Jennifer O: Then, of course, another one of my favorites... You mentioned already and I'm sure you and Debbie will discuss this in upcoming sessions, but VisionAware, visionaware.org is probably my favorite resource to share with people. It has a wide variety of information related to living with a visual impairment. Steve mentioned the directory of services that it has where you can look up the services available in your state, or local area, but they also have information about different eye conditions, adjusting to living with a visual impairment, ways to organize your home so that you can get around more easily and safely. Tips for everything from putting on make up to cutting vegetables. Just about anything and everything in-between. It's a really robust website that has a lot of information, so I would encourage spending a lot of time checking out all the different parts of it because it's a really helpful resource.
Steve K: That is a great resource. I just remembered the web address for the directory. It's pretty simple. It's visionaware.org/directory. That will take you right to that directory of services. Jodie, I see that you've got your hand up. I'm just going to unmute you. Did you want to jump in and add something here?
Jodie: You had mentioned the Be My Eyes app and that's excellent, but I wanted to mention that a brand-new thing that Aira has, of five free minutes a month. You don't have to subscribe to the service, but you can get five free minutes a month. Of course, they offer the same thing as Be My Eyes, but they have trained people on the website. The other app that I was going to suggest is the Voice Dream Scanner, which is a brand-new app that's $5.99 and it will scan documents and it does an excellent job, I think, even better than the [inaudible] reader. Then I also wanted to suggest to Helen that the NFB.org website would also be a great resource for finding people in her area that might be able to help her out.
Steve K: You mentioned two, those are two great resources. Everyone seems to be raving about the Voice Dream Reader Scanner even though there's-
Jodie: Oh, it's awesome.
Steve K: A little bit of a cost. Everyone seems to rave about that. The Aira, that's really, that press release came out, what, a week ago and there's no charge to download the app to the phone, and you get five minutes free. I think that's extraordinary. That's worth looking at.
Jodie: Amazon also has a great accessibility service.
Steve K: Thank you. Leanne, I see your hand is up. I'm just going to unmute you if you wanted to just jump in real quickly, here.
Leanne: Sure. I just found out about an app that I haven't tried yet called Voxxer, V-O-X-X-E-R. When I tapped using the microphone on my iPhone, it's not very good, it doesn't understand what I say, it makes mistakes and it's really hard for a blind person to fix it, but Voxxer instead of a voice call or texting you, it's like voice texting. You dictate what's said and then you send it and you don't have to worry about spelling and grammar.
Steve K: That sounds very handy. Yeah.
Jennifer O: That's excellent, Leanne. Were you saying V-O S as in Sierra or X as in x-ray?
Leanne: X as in x-ray. I think.
Jennifer O: Okay, V-O-X-X-E-R, right? Oh, that sounds great.
Jennifer O: You'd be amazed at some of the texts that come out when I dictate that I didn't mean to say, but my iPhone thought I said.
Leanne: Oh, yeah.
Jennifer O: That would be great.
Steve K: Barb, I see your hand up and we're a little short on time, but I wanted to unmute you and let you just jump in here real quick because you haven't participated.
Barb: If you wish to talk to the Aira support people, the number is 1-800-835-1934.
Steve K: Oh, thank you. That is awesome. We're going to get that in the show notes. Anybody who is interested and looking at finding out more about Aira will do that. Great. Thank you so very much.
Steve K: We have just about come to the end of our hour and I just wanted to thank everyone for joining us today. We hope you learned something from each other about continuing to develop that road map of resources, and with a little bit of resilience built in. We'd also like to hear from you between now and the next Resource Roundtable meeting. Please don't hesitate to send us an email or a phone call. Jennifer, do you want to give out your contact info?
Jennifer O: Sure. You can reach me at Jennifer, J-E-N-N-I-F-E-R, email@example.com.
Steve K: You can reach me at stevenk, and that's S-T-E-V-E-N K, @hadley.edu. Remember, you can find any of the archived discussion groups at iTunes or on the Hadley website, hadley.edu. You can just put them in your podcatcher, too, to make it convenient. They can come down as podcasts for you. Jennifer, have a great evening and thank you so much for joining in tonight, and everybody who joined, it was great having you tonight. Thanks so much.
Jennifer O: Thanks, everybody. Best of luck on your road trip with your road map to resources.