Blind With Vision Blog

SPORTS JAMBOREE FOR BLIND AND WHEELCHAIR PARTICIPANTS

Are you a blind or wheelchair individual and want to participate in sport activities that you usually are not able to participate in due to your disability? Are you age 40 or younger? If so, the International Sports Jamboree provided by the Verizon West Virginia Pioneers is the place for you! The jamboree takes place once a year during the third weekend of July at North Bend State Park in Cairo, West Virginia. The jamboree receives participants from both the United States and Canada with the majority coming from within West Virginia. The participants stay at the North Bend State Park’s lodge for Friday and Saturday evenings. Some of the participants and their family members stay in cabins within the park.

I have been attending a smaller version of the West Virginia jamboree in Runnemede, NJ, for about four or five years before I was first invited to attend the West Virginia sports jamboree in 2008. The first year I attended the New Jersey sports jamboree, I was introduced to a low-riding three-wheel bicycle. Prior to riding the bike, I was unable to ride a regular two-wheel bicycle due to balance problems. But the low-riding three-wheel bicycle allowed me to ride a bike without worrying about my balance. What a thrill it was as I rode around the paved area. Unfortunately, the New Jersey sports jamboree folded in 2012 due to multiple reasons. But luckily the West Virginia jamboree has obtained sponsors, which allows me to keep attending each year. Each year I eagerly await to hear if I will receive the letter asking me if I wish to attend. I never say NO, because the Jamboree is just too much fun to miss.

Most participants arrive some time on Friday, which allows them time to settle in their rooms, time to practice some of the events (especially good if you’ve never attended before), and time to meet old friends and perhaps some new friends. First, I should tell you about the park. The lodge is in the North Bend State Park, which is huge and offers areas for camping, trailors, fishing, and hiking. The lodge is at the top of the hill and the events are held down in the valley. Vans, some equipped to handle wheelchairs, take us up and down the hill all day long. Friday night dinner is held in the pavilion in the valley. Afterwards is one of my favorite parts; the LIVE entertainment (terrific country and gospel singers) at the amphitheater. Rows of seating are carved out in the hill facing the amphitheater. One of the performers, Tommy Griffith, does a little bit of country and gospel. During his performance, Tommy makes a point of going into the audience and shaking everyone’s hand. Tommy is also a little bit funny when he forgets a line or two while singing or when he can’t find his glasses to read the music! We have also seen his little boy grow and sometimes accompany his dad on stage.

Saturday morning is the big day. Everyone wakes eagerly for the day to begin, so they can participate in as many events as possible. The participants are anxious, smiling, excited as they enter for the opening ceremony. Roaring, cheering, clapping parents cheer each of the participants as their name is called. Then the fun begins as the blind and wheelchair participants each go to their first event. The day’s events include: a 40-yard dash (my favorite), beeping air gun, team relay, beeping basketball free-throw, golf putting contest, beeping horseshoe toss, beeping Frisbee toss, jam toss, bowling, and the bicycle race (also my favorite). Well, truthfully, I love participating in all of the events! And I should tell you that at each of the events, you get a couple of practice shots first.

Look out as the blind participants as they burn up rubber! They are harnessed up to a chain from a wired-track and we fly down the 40-yards! The 40-yard dash, one of my two favorite events, where I usually burn up the most rubber as I run like the wind to the other end of the track! Pretend Darth Vader is on your trail and run, run, run! They make sure to have two strong men catch me at the end. Next stop, air gun! The blind participants listen very carefully to the sound of the beeper to determine if they are aligned with the center of the target or not. The beeper will change pitch and frequency as you get closer to the middle of the target. Then, it’s fire in the hole! Afterwards you receive the paper target to see how you did. Sometimes, you hit the center and sometimes not!

After the firing range, it is time to see if I can sink a couple of putts. And yes, I had a couple of good putts. The putting contest is a lot shorter distance than what I experience at the golf outings I attend with the Middle Atlantic Blind Golf Association! Then I was off to beeper Frisbee toss where you attempt to throw the Frisbees into a beeping net. For some, it was challenging, especially when homing in on the beeper. But I gave it my best shot. Then, to end the morning, it was time for the jam toss. Jam toss is when you throw bean bags into in a slanted board with a hole. Let me tell you, this is challenging! Trying to figure out just how hard or gentle to throw the bean bag to make it into one seemingly tiny hole! I didn’t do too badly I thought.

After a quick lunch break in the pavilion it was time to try my hand at the basketball free-throw. You receive a certain amount of points for hitting the backboard, hitting the rim, and sinking a basket (of course that is the goal!). Everyone tries their best to sink the basketball, some with the aid of the beeper and some prefer someone tapping the basket rim. I gave it all my best efforts; ding it hits the rim; ding it hit the backboard; whoosh, it goes over the board; swish it goes in! Yeah! I thought I did pretty well.

Next event up: the team relay. Team relay has the blind participant run down the 40-yard dash and the wheelchair participant zooms back down from the other end of the track.

Heigh ho, heigh ho, it is off to bowling I go! First, this is not your typical bowling lane – it’s outside. Secondly, the pins are on a wooden lane lined with felt. And third, luckily, you slid the ball down a ramp onto the lane! So the challenge is to figure out just exactly how to angle the ramp, so the ball goes directly down the center, and luckily, all the pins come tumbling down!

The last event for me would have been the horseshoe toss. Both the blind and visually impaired participants are blindfolded and you attempt to throw the horseshoes at the beeping stake until one of the participants scores 21 points. I had never played horseshoes until I started attended this jamboree and I really enjoy the challenge horseshoes offers. And usually they have tandem bikes (another favorite of mine!). Two bikes are connected together with two bars in between them. A sighted individual is on one and the blind on the other. Going around the track, as fast as I can, is so much fun. I can’t wait for next year!

Saturday dinner is usually the most tender roast beef that they have been cooking all day long. So delicious! Fresh corn on the cob too! Generally, after dinner participants, parents, and volunteers gather at the amphitheater for the award ceremony. As each participant’s name is called, beaming smiles and cheers of delight expound from everyone. The excitement and joy is felt throughout the room. Once the award ceremony concludes we have the talent show, where everyone has an opportunity to perform something. Some people sing, some dance, some played a musical instrument, and some told jokes. Some acts were better than others. I participated in the talent show by singing “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley. Everyone enjoyed my performance and I believe I did a very good job. Of course mom cheered loudly for me!

And the evening does not end there, but continues with a dance. And this is just no ordinary dance. The volunteers tape bubble wrap on the floor. Each participant, blind or wheel chair-makes no difference, loves to pop the bubbles as they dance the night away! The energized dancers are rewarded with pizza and snacks.

Sadly, Sunday morning we wish all our friends, new and old, a fond farewell, as it is time for each of us to return home. We have been able to experience some sports that we never would have had the opportunity to try. And we can never thank all the volunteers too much for such a memorable weekend at the West Virginia North Bend State Park.

The West Virginia Verizon Pioneers are a non-profit organization. Some supporting Pioneers come as far away as Canada each year! There are many volunteers, young and old, helping the participants to take part in each of the events, cheering them on, and fixing and serving the meals. One volunteer, Bryanna, a West Virginia college student comes every year. She is very short compared to me, but she helps me run in the 40-yard dash. Mom says it’s too bad she already has a boyfriend, because she is so cute! I know, like the rest of the participants, that I really look forward to this event every year. The Pioneers rely on generous donations from businesses and supporting parents to run this event. So if you are a blind or wheel chair individual interested in attending this event, please contact Lonnie Pennington. You will be so glad you did!

If you want more details about the West Virginia jamboree, please visit http://www.newvision-wvapioneers.org/projects/jamboree or contact jamboree chairperson Lonnie Pennington at 304-722-3078 or wvufan1967@suddenlink.net.

Blind People Reading Print They Can’t See? There’s an App for That!

I am a legally blind individual with an eye condition called Bardet Biedl Syndrome and have difficulty reading printed materials. Typically, I read using electronic magnifiers such as a Close Circuit TV or Freedom Scientific’s Ruby magnifier. But, these have downsides. A CCTV, especially a desktop version, is not portable, and the Ruby, though it’s portable, is generally for quick reading and it is just one more item for the user to carry with them.

Now, thanks to the advances of mobile technology, there is another way! The National Federation of the Blind has made the dream of reading print for blind, visually impaired, and print-disabled individuals into a reality with the KNFB Reader, a fast, accurate, and easy to use app for an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. You can now also use KNFB Reader on any Windows 10 computer, phone, or tablet. The KNFB Reader mobile app reads print aloud and can be used to read just about any printed material accurately and almost instantly.

It’s so easy. You simply take a photo of the words with your mobile device, and the app reads these aloud with high quality text-to-speech through optical character recognition (OCR). The KNFB Reader has tilt guidance and a field of view report to tell you if you are getting the right photo. It doesn’t matter if you can see that you have the whole page in range or even if it happens to be upside-down. Talk about the miracles of technology!

The KNFB Reader app is really a great tool. I have used it to read my pay stubs and the printed mailing addresses on envelopes. KNFB Reader reads the text flawlessly. I first use the field of view report to make sure I have as much of the document captured as possible, then take a picture. You can also use the tilt guidance feature to make sure the camera is level with the document. If you are scanning a lot of documents, I recommend purchasing a stand to rest the phone or tablet on. The National Federation of the Blind’s Independence Market sells one for $12. We all have smartphones with us all the time these days, so this app gives you the ability to independently read printed material wherever you are, which is very convenient!

The KNFB Reader can be used to read bills, class handouts, PowerPoint presentations, business cards, song listings on CD cases, books, and so much more. The original device, which was invented in the 1970s by Ray Kurzweil, was the size of a kitchen freezer and it was not portable! Now it is portable and can be downloaded onto any device.

The KNFB Reader is available for Apple, Android, and Windows 10 devices for varying prices. You can visit the Apple AppStore, the Google PlayStore, or the Microsoft Windows app store to find current pricing. The manual for KNFB is posted on the home page of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey, www.nfbnj.org, the National Federation of the Blind of Illinois, www.nfbofillinois.org, and the National Federation of the Blind of Delaware, www.nfbde.org. The manual is also available within the app itself. Step-by-step instruction videos can be viewed at www.knfbreader.com. If you have any questions regarding KNFB, please direct them to the KNFB Reader Liaison for New Jersey, Rick Fox, at 973-743-6107 or richardfox1@comcast.net.

You can live the life you want with KNFB Reader!

Some of the above material originated from www.nfb.org/knfbreader.

Please download the KNFB Reader from:

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Golf for the Blind: Turning an Obstacle into an Opportunity

Golf is a great game to play from April to late October. What many don’t realize is that not only sighted individuals enjoy playing it, but blind and visually impaired individuals as well.

In 1948, four blind individuals from the Philadelphia area who enjoy playing the game of golf joined together to form what is now known as the Middle Atlantic Blind Golf Association. Sixty-nine years later, the organization has over 115 blind and visually impaired members, and sighted coaches who help with estimating distances and alerting the golfers to hazards such as sand traps and water. When the organization started, they had a handful of outings. Today the MABGA plays about 30 to 40 outings in the Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey area, including its annual Pro Am Tournament and annual fundraising tournament. When the organization was first formed, it only had male members and coaches. Today the organization has a mixture of both male and female members and coaches.

I first got involved with the MABGA back in 2001 when I attended their Junior Blind Golf program’s spring golf clinic at the Overbrook School for the Blind. While at that golf clinic, I had to overcome the challenge of doing a short swing since the course had very short holes! The MABGA Junior Golf program is for blind and visually impaired kids ages 5 through 21 in the Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Delaware area. In addition to attending the golf clinics at Overbrook, they pair the blind golfer with a golf pro at the blind child’s local golf course for free golf lessons. All junior golf clinics are free to attend. I enjoyed it so much that I graduated from the junior blind golf program into the main organization of MABGA back in 2009, but I didn’t start playing with the main organization until 2010 due to attending classes at Burlington County College (now known as Rowan College at Burlington County).

When a sighted individual learns that a blind individual is playing golf, they always wonder how the blind individual can play such a challenging game. The blind golfer goes out with a sighted golfer, also known as a coach. This individual coach assists the blind golfer with club selection for a given shot (if needed), determining the distance for a given shot, lining up the ball with the club, finding the ball after the shot, and anything else that may be needed for the blind golfer to make a given shot. Most blind golfers use nonvisual techniques such as putting different tactile distinguishing tape on their clubs. For example, MABGA president Mario Tobia uses this technique to independently determine the right club for a certain shot. He uses one type of tape for his woods, one for his irons, and one for his wedges. The tape is placed incrementally on the club shaft near the clubhead. Outside of that, it is up to the blind golfer to do what is needed to take a golf swing. Believe it or not, some blind golfers take better golf swings than our sighted peers!

I really enjoy playing golf. For me, it is both challenging and satisfying to play a mainstream game. When I graduated from the junior golf program in 2009, there were about 20 to 30 participants with golf clinics at two locations (Overbrook School for the Blind and Walnut Lane Country Club in Philadelphia). As of this year, the program has 78 participants with clinics at five locations located in the Philadelphia area. They have also expanded by adding a group in northern New Jersey. The director of the MABGA Junior Golf program, Norman Kritz is working on building golf courses at schools for the blind in every state. He started with the Overbrook School for the Blind in Pennsylvania which opened in 1996. Since then he opened one in northern New Jersey, and plans are in the works to build courses in Georgia and Maryland.

You too, as a blind or visually impaired individual, can turn the obstacle of blindness into an opportunity by joining the Middle Atlantic Blind Golf Association. After an individual submits a membership application form, and approved by the Membership Committee, the blind golfer becomes a provisional member until voted in as a full member at the annual Fall General Meeting which takes place in November or December. Once approved as a full member, the blind golfer is obligated to pay $100 a year for membership dues, which allows them to attend all of the outings listed in the current year’s schedule.

This year’s annual fundraising tournament is scheduled on September 5th at the Ace Club in Ambler, PA. The registration cost for the general public is $225 a person, and there are special reduced costs for a MABGA member and their coaches. The registration cost includes brunch, a round of 18 holes, cocktail hour, and dinner. Additional information on the tournament can be viewed at www.mabga.org/annual-tournament.htm. Since the organization is a 501c3 nonprofit, the annual tournament is the main vehicle to raise funds for the upcoming year.

If you wish to learn more about the Middle Atlantic Blind Golf Association, please contact President Mario Tobia at mabga@comcast.net or 215-745-2323. Please view their promotional video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chWLCsKCphE and visit their website at www.mabga.org.

Siri and the Visually Impaired: Call Me Apple!

When Apple first introduced the voice assistant Siri with the iPhone 4S in 2011, I can tell you that many people I know were thrilled to say the least. Siri with its ability to translate voice commands has the potential to make life so much easier for visually impaired individuals. Using voice commands to look up phone numbers and make phone calls is just the tip of the iceberg. In surveying my colleagues in the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey’s Technology Division, I heard countless other use cases, including creating appointments with reminders, setting wake-up alarms, sending text messages, getting directions, checking the weather, getting word spellings and definitions and even performing basic math.

In short, Siri assists those of us who can’t see by allowing us to use our voices to get things done just by asking. The wonders of modern technology never cease to amaze me.

Many individuals use Siri on their iDevices, but only know a handful of commands. I discovered a complete listing of Siri commands compiled by applevis.com, a website for blind and low-vision users of Apple products, including Mac computers, the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV and Apple Watch. You will find Siri commands for all kinds of inquiries. Here are some of the categories:

  • Making phone calls (including calling 911 and the fire department)
  • Managing phone conversations and voicemails
  • Using Apple’s FaceTime
  • Finding contacts
  • Reading, sending and replying to messages
  • Scheduling meetings and conference calls
  • Checking calendars
  • Receiving reminders
  • Making notes
  • Posting to Facebook and Twitter
  • Using maps and getting directions
  • Finding local businesses and restaurants
  • Playing music
  • Listening to podcasts
  • Making mathematical calculations
  • Searching the Web
  • Looking up photos and videos
  • Managing iDevice settings
  • Taking dictation
  • Getting the latest news, sports, weather, entertainment and stock market information
  • And the list goes on.

Despite the wonder of this amazing technology, there are definitely areas for improvement from my perspective. For example, those of us with speech impairments get frustrated with Siri. You know you said a word clearly enough, but Siri doesn’t interpret it correctly. Sometimes my “g” sounds like a “d” so Siri might have trouble that way even when I am speaking clearly. After several repetitions, I usually give up and enter my inquiry manually. I have read that researchers are working on technology that better recognizes unusual voices or speech patterns, so hopefully one day Siri will be able to learn how a particular individual speaks. This would make a big difference to those with speech impairments or people who speak with a hard-to-understand accent and allow us to use Siri more.

No doubt, the next iteration of Siri will bring even more improvements that address some of the existing deficiencies. In the meantime, perhaps Apple developers would like to talk to some of us “real users” with disabilities? We see and hear things from a different perspective and can definitely offer some opinions and useful feedback. Call me Apple!

You can also read this post at http://www.perkinselearning.org/technology/blog/siri-and-visually-impaired-call-me-apple.

Getting Into The Game of Life

Linda Melendez, before and after
From obesity to half marathon day. The picture on the left was taken on Mother’s Day 2013. The picture on the right was taken on April 16, 2016, 120 pounds lighter and wearing her pink Team Princess Warrior T-shirt

Editor’s Note: Linda Melendez currently serves as board member of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey (NFBNJ)and chairperson of the NJ Sports and Recreation Committee. I have done 40-yard dashes, but never half-marathon running! What follows is Linda’s presentation on being a half-marathon runner during the 2016 NFBNJ State Convention regarding various recreational activities.

Getting into the game of life began for me November of 2013. My mom had passed away On June 8th 2013 and I was devastated.  My only son was leaving for basic training. I was a mess mentally, emotionally and physically. In a desperate attempt to help me my son asked if I would work out with him while he got ready for basic training. To be honest, I had no desire to work out. I was morbidly obsess weighing 280 pounds and did not think I could participate in any type of exercise or recreation program.

To my surprise I was wrong. I began slowly and saw results almost immediately because I stayed focused, dedicated and determined. I worked out 4 days a week and lost 120 pounds in 15 months. During this time I evolved into the healthy woman I am today and became a Warrior Princess. I actually fell in love with working out and for the first time in my life I made myself a priority. I was also forming a healthy relationship with food by tracking my food daily and learning about calories eaten and calories burnt. With this new lifestyle I became a participant in my life as opposed to being a spectator. This new lifestyle was empowering for me. On a personal level I had never felt so strong and accomplished.

To help maintain my weight loss I wanted to incorporate a regular cardio regiment that I could enjoy besides going to the gym. I took a running class for beginners and absolutely fell in love with running. I was doing 5K’s runs on a regular basis and the head coach pulled me aside at the end of the six week course to tell me that I could run a half marathon. Doing a half marathon was on my physical fitness bucket list so I was excited when an accomplished runner/trainer saw this potential in me. This coach also voted me class valedictorian.

Three months later I took a 15 week half marathon training class that meet every Saturday in Asbury Park for weekly long group runs. We ran no matter what the weather was from January until April. We were given a schedule of other runs to do during the week so we could build up for our weekly long runs. Each week the runs got longer until we built up to 12 miles. At the end of this training class I ran my first half marathon. It took me 2 hours and 52 minutes but I completed it.  Also, in June of 2016 I joined the Jersey Shore Running Club “JSRC” to strengthen and solidify my relationship and commitment to running.

Everyone was amazed that a legally blind person could achieve this. I was not amazed because I knew I had it in me. The other runners who run by me week after week would always ask “if I was ok”.  My slogan became “I got this!” You see for the past three years since embarking on this journey I have been living the life I want. I continue to exercise regularly, eat healthy and run 2 – 3 times a week.  I also sign up for any races that I can get a ride too or Access Link will bring me too.  I am raising the expectations and awareness of everyone around me and this motivates me even more. I want to show others that being blind will not put limitations on me and dictate what I can or cannot do and accomplish.

Since becoming healthy every January I make a physical fitness bucket list of goals and activities I want to achieve that yeah. In 2017 I will complete another half marathon after knee replacement surgery. In 2018 I will begin my training to run a marathon in 2018. We need to get into the game of life by raising our own expectations. We are stronger than we think we are! We need to set reasonable goals.  We need to be dedicated, determined and focused on meeting them. Let’s all start living the life we want by getting out of our comfort zone. Let’s be a participant in our lives! You got this!  Embark on your journey and get into the game of LIFE!

Additional Information

If you wish to learn more about being a blind half-marathon runner, or about Linda’s story, you can contact her at lindamelendez220@gmail.com.

Literacy for the Blind

The large majority of individuals are able to read printed materials with their eyes. But what about the blind and visually impaired community?

Most blind and visually impaired individuals read printed materials through speech output. This includes audio books, scanned materials, or materials read through a screen reader on their computer.

About 10% of the blind community are Braille literate. There are a lot of stereotypes out there regarding Braille. Since the founding of the National Federation of the Blind in 1940, they have been advocating for Braille literacy. Since about 2010, the NFB has been educating blind youth how to read and write Braille through its BELL (Braille Enrichment through Literacy) Academy.

If you are interested in learning the truth about Braille literacy, please view and share the following video.

If you wish to learn more about Braille, please contact New Jersey Association to Promote the Use of Braille president Mary Jo Partyka at 609-888-5459 or choirnfb@gmail.com.

This post can also be viewed at www.perkinselearning.org/technology/blog/literacy-blind.

How My Dream Transformed Into A Reality

While a senior at Lenape High School, I applied to a couple of scholarships. One of those applications went to the Medford Business Association. In that scholarship essay, I dreamt that five years in the future I would be employed at a company performing bookkeeping. That was in 2006.

In November 2006, I was on the job hunt for that type of position. On November 4th, I attended an interview at a local accounting firm in Medford called Padden Denn Drewry. When I went into the interview, I was hoping to be hired to assist with some of their office work. But, I received a curveball. Dan Padden, one of the firm’s partners, suggested that I set up a self-employed company to do what I like to do best, data entry and bookkeeping. Later that month, my dream was transformed into reality, with a little tweaking, when I launched Mackey Enterprises.

My first couple of projects were subcontract projects for Padden Denn Drewry. Two involved with profit and loss statement generation from bank statement information, one involved with creating an Excel spreadsheet consisting of a client’s business related credit card expenses, and one involving performing bank reconciliations for two bank accounts. The last project concluded in 2014.

In June 2014 I began to self-advertise my company via word of mouth, emails, and flyers. In 2015, I obtained business cards and launched my company website. Also in 2015, Mackey Enterprises made its debut at the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey state convention.

In Spring 2015, I acquired my first two personal clients. The first one involved generating an inventory listing in Excel of his extensive model train collection for insurance purposes. The other involved tallying up their sales receipts from a bathroom remodeling project.

When NFBNJ was in need of a new webmaster, I was their first choice. I was up to the challenge. With the assistance of the Website Committee, I completely rebuilt their website and had it back up in late June. After the many compliments that came in, I added website design to m service listing.

Earlier this month, NFB of Illinois sent out a notice stating they were in need of a new webmaster. When I saw it was a WordPress powered site, I jumped on that opportunity to expand my knowledge of designing a website.

I have the experience, I have the skills, and I have the desire. The only thing missing to grow Mackey Enterprises is the opportunity for you to allow me to demonstrate what I am capable of doing for you.

Whatever your dream may be, be willing to take an open opportunity to transform it into a reality.

QuickBooks for the Blind

Most individuals use QuickBooks for their bookkeeping needs with point and click visual techniques.

But what about those who are blind, visually impaired, and print disabled? Up until 2013, it was a challenge. I know from personal experience. I had to use a combination of a screen magnification software called ZoomText and a screen reading software called JAWS (Job Access with Speech) in order to get tasks done in QuickBooks. Now I use JAWS with some specialized scripts produced by the nonprofit company MyBlindSpot, Inc. The scripts, QuickBooks Blind, have allowed me to become more efficient with bookkeeping projects for my personal company (Mackey Enterprises, LLC) and to open the door to become treasurer of the National Federation of the Blind of New Jersey.

Additionally, a powerful testimonial can be found by pointing your browser to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZklXouXyORk

These next 2 videos are examples of MyBlindSpot’s 60+ Self Paced Virtual Lessons that walk consumers, step by step, through the check writing process. It mirrors the instructions included in MyBlindSpot’s MBS User’s Guide, both of which were developed and drafted by people who happen to be blind, and built upon 20 years of source documentation used when training sighted consumers.

Lesson 50 Writing a Check:

Lesson 56 Sending an Email Directly from an Invoice Screen:

Thanks to MBS QuickBooks Blind and the programming improvements made by Intuit, QuickBooks has been made accessible and will continue to improve access for the blind, visually impaired, and print disabled users via the build in and scripted keyboard access to program features.

To view additional videos provided by My Blind Spot, Inc. which include sample virtual lessons, please visit their YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/MyBlindSpotInc. Additional information on MyBlindSpot and the QuickBooks Blind project can be found at http://www.myblindspot.org/.

This post can also be viewed at http://www.perkinselearning.org/technology/blog/quickbooks-blind.

Navigating Microsoft Outlook Nonvisually

As many people know, Microsoft Outlook is used to view email, contacts, calendar events, and so much more. Most individuals navigate Outlook using the mouse. But those who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled navigate it from a different perspective with the keyboard.

Here is a listing of keyboard commands to easily navigate Microsoft Outlook. These commands work for Outlook 2010 and later.

Main Outlook Features

Ctrl+1 = Switch to Mail
Ctrl+2 = Switch to Calendar
Ctrl+3 = Switch to Contacts
Ctrl+4 = Switch to Tasks
Ctrl+5 = Switch to Notes
Ctrl+6= Switch to Folder List in Navigation Pane
Ctrl+7 = Switch to Shortcuts
Ctrl+Shift+b = Open Address Book

Messages in Main View

Main Window

Tab/Shift+Tab = Cycle forward / backward between screen elements (Navigation Pane, Message List, Search, Reading Pane)
Ctrl+Shift+i = Go to Inbox folder
Ctrl+Shift+o = Go to Outbox folder
Ctrl+y = Go to another folder as specified
F3/Ctrl+e = Go to Search box
Ctrl+m/F9 = Check for new messages
Alt+Arrow Left/Alt+Arrow Right = Go back to previous view / forward to next view
Ctrl+n = Create new message
Ctrl+Shift+m = Create new message (from any Outlook view)

Navigation Pane

Arrow Up/Arrow Down = Navigate downward / navigate upward in Navigation Pane. Press space or enter to select.
Press shift+tab and/or tab to jump between Message List and Navigation Pane
Arrow Left/Arrow Right = Collapse or expand group in message list
a…z = Jump to folder with letter typed. If more than one folder exists, immediately continue typing second or third letter until reaching folder
F2 = Rename folder
Delete = Delete folder

Message List and Single Messages

Tab/Shift+Tab = Cycle forward / cycle backward between Screen Elements (e.g. Navigation Pane, Message List, Search, Reading Pane)
Arrow Down/Arrow Up = Move down / move up between messages
Arrow Left/Arrow Right = Collapse / expand groups (e.g. week)
Shift+Arrow Down/Shift+Arrow Up = Select multiple adjacent messages
press and hold ctrl, arrow up/arrow down and space = Select multiple non-adjacent messages
Ctrl+Shift+v = Move message to folder
Insert = Add Quick Flag to message
Ctrl+Shift+g = Add Custom Flag to message
Ctrl+Alt+j = Mark message as not junk
Ctrl+q/Ctrl+u = Mark as read or unread
Ctrl+Alt+m = Mark for Download
Ctrl+Alt+u = Clear Mark for Download
Ctrl+Shift+w = Display blocked content menu. Press ctrl+shift+w, then p to download blocked pictures/images.
Alt+Enter = Show email properties
Ctrl+Shift+s = Post to folder
Ctrl+Shift+y = Copy item to folder
Space/Shift+Space = Page down / page up through message text in Reading Pane
Enter = Open message
Ctrl+./Ctrl+, = Jump to next/previous message (in single message view)
Ctrl+p = Print Message
Most Shortcuts work in Message List and when viewing single messages

Messages in Compose View

Manage Messages

Tab = Cycle between To, Cc, Subject, and Message Body
Alt+m = Choose From account from which to send message
Alt+u = Jump to subject
Alt+s = Send
Ctrl+s/Shift+F12 = Save Message
F12 = Save Message as
Ctrl+click = Jump to URI while in edit mode
Ctrl+k = Insert hyperlink
Alt+n, then a, f = Attach File to message: Insert => Add F
Alt+n, then a,s = Add Signature to message: Insert => Add Signature

Format Message Body

Ctrl+x/Ctrl+c/Ctrl+v = Cut/ copy/ paste
Alt+o = Display Format menu
Ctrl+Shift+p = Display Font dialog box
Shift+F3 = Switch case between all upper, all lower, and first letter upper.
Ctrl+Shift+k = Switch case to/from small capitals
Ctrl+b = Switch format to/from bold
Ctrl+i = Switch format to/from italic
Ctrl+u = Switch format to/from underline
Ctrl+Shift+l = Add/remove bullets
Ctrl+l = Align left
Ctrl+r = Align right
Ctrl+e = Align center
Ctrl+t/Ctrl+Shift+t = Increase / decrease indent
Ctrl+[/Ctrl+] = Increase / decrease font size (or use ctrl+shift+;)
Ctrl+Space = Clear formatting (or use ctrl+shift+z)
Ctrl+Shift+h = Delete next word
Ctrl+Shift+j = Stretch paragraph to fit between margins
Ctrl+Shift+s = Apply styles
Ctrl+t = Create hanging indent
Ctrl+Shift+t = Reduce hanging indent
Ctrl+k = Insert hyperlink
Ctrl+q = Remove paragraph formatting

Create Items

Ctrl+Shift+a = Create appointment
Ctrl+Shift+c = Create contact
Ctrl+Shift+l = Create distribution list
Ctrl+Shift+x = Create fax
Ctrl+Shift+e = Create folder
Ctrl+Shift+j = Create Journal entry
Ctrl+Shift+q = Create meeting request
Ctrl+Shift+m = Create message
Ctrl+Shift+n = Create note
Ctrl+Shift+h = Create new Microsoft Office document
Ctrl+Shift+s = Post to this folder
Ctrl+t = Post reply in this folder
Ctrl+Shift+p = Create Search Folder
Ctrl+Shift+k = Create task
Ctrl+Shift+u = Create task request

Calendar Shortcuts

Create and Manage Appointments

Tab/Shift+Tab = Select next/ select previous appointment in Calendar View
Ctrl+n = Create new appointment (when in Calendar)
Ctrl+Shift+a = Create new appointment (in any Outlook view)
Ctrl+Shift+q = Create new meeting request
Ctrl+g = Set up recurrence for an appointment or task
Tab/Shift+Tab = Jump to next / previous input field
Ctrl+f = Forward an appointment or meeting
Ctrl+r = Reply to meeting request with message
Ctrl+Shift+r = Reply All to meeting request with message

Calendar Views

Ctrl+Alt+1 = Switch to Day view
Ctrl+Alt+2 = Switch to Work Week view
Ctrl+Alt+3 = Switch to Full Week view
Ctrl+Alt+4 = Switch to Month Week view
Alt+1…0 = View from 1 through 10 days

Navigate Calendar

Ctrl+Tab/F6 = Move between Calendar, TaskPad, and Folder List
Tab/Shift+Tab = Select next/ select previous appointment
Arrow Left/Arrow Right = Go to previous / next day
Arrow Up/Arrow Down = Go up / down in current view
Home/End = Go to beginning/end of current view
Page Up/Page Down = Jump one page up/ one page down
Shift+Arrow Up/Shift+Arrow Down = Day View: Extend / reduce selected time
Alt+Arrow Down/Alt+Arrow Up = Go to same day in next / previous week
Alt+Page Down/Alt+Page Up = Go to next or previous month
Alt+Home/Alt+End = Go to start or end of week
Ctrl+g = Go to date

Contacts Shortcuts

F3/Ctrl+e = Find contact or other item
F11 = Enter name in Search Address Books box
Shift+letter = In Table or List view of contacts, go to first contact that starts with specific letter
Ctrl+a = Select all contacts
Ctrl+f = Create new message addressed to selected contact
Ctrl+j = Create Journal entry for selected contact
Ctrl+n = Create new contact (when in Contacts)
Ctrl+Shift+c = Create new contact (from any Outlook view)
Ctrl+o/Ctrl+Shift+Enter = Open contact form for selected contact
Ctrl+Shift+l = Create new distribution list
Ctrl+p = Print
F5 = Update list of distribution list members
Ctrl+y = Go to different folder
Ctrl+Shift+b = Open Address Book
Ctrl+Shift+f = Use Advanced Find
Ctrl+Shift+. = In an open contact, open next contact listed
Esc = Close contact
Ctrl+Shift+x = Open Web page for selected contact (if one is included)
Alt+d = Open Check Address dialog box
Alt+Shift+1 .. 3 = In contact form, under Internet, display message 1 .. 3 information
Ctrl+Shift+d = Dial new call

Tasks Shortcuts

Alt+F2 = Show or hide To-Do Bar
Alt+c = Accept task request
Alt+d = Decline task request
Ctrl+e = Find task or other item
Ctrl+y = Open Go to Folder dialog box
Ctrl+n = Create new task (when in Tasks)
Ctrl+Shift+k = Create new task (from any Outlook view)
Ctrl+Shift+u = Create new task request
Ctrl+o = Open selected item
Ctrl+p = Print selected item
Ctrl+a = Select all items
Ctrl+d = Delete selected item
Ctrl+f = Forward task as an attachment
Shift+Tab = Switch between Navigation Pane, Tasks list, and To-Do Bar
Ctrl+j = Open selected item as Journal item
Ctrl+z = Undo last action
Insert = Flag an item or mark complete

Business Card View

a-z = One or more letters of name that card is filed under or name of field that you are sorting by will select specific card in list
Arrow Up/Arrow Down = Select previous / select next card
Home/End = Select first / select last card in list
Page Up/Page Down = Select first card on current page / next page
Arrow Right/Arrow Left = Select closest card in next / previous column
Ctrl+Space = Select or cancel selection of active card
Shift+Arrow Up/Shift+Arrow Down = Extend selection to previous / next card
Ctrl+Shift+Arrow Up/Ctrl+Shift+Arrow Down = Extend selection to previous or next card, regardless of starting point
Shift+Home/Shift+End = Extend selection to first / last card in list
Shift+Page Up/Shift+Page Down = Extend selection to first / last card on previous page
Tab/Shift+Tab = Move to next / move to previous field
Enter = Move to next field, or add line to multiline field
Shift+Enter = Move to previous field without leaving active card
F2 = Display insertion point in active field to edit text

Other Outlook Shortcuts

Ctrl+Alt+s = Define Send/Receive groups
Shift+F9 = Start send/receive for current folder, retrieving full items (header, item, and any attachments)
Ctrl+b = Display Send/Receive progress when send/receive is in progress
Ctrl+Alt+Shift+F12 = Save Form Design
Ctrl+Shift+F11 = Save Form Data
Ctrl+n = when on InfoPath folder. Create new InfoPath form
Ctrl+Shift+w = Select Message InfoBar and, if available, show menu of commands
Alt+F11 = Open Visual Basic Editor
Alt+F = 8Play Macro

Additional keyboard commands

If there are any additional keyboard commands not currently listed, please feel free and send me a comment. I will make sure they are added to the listing.

The Meaning of “Blind With Vision”

When most individuals learn that someone is blind, they believe that individual has complete or partial loss of vision. What they don’t realize is that the blind individual has only lost their physical vision, and still has the use of mental and tactile vision.

An example of mental vision is imagining something you want done through your mind’s eye. This is possible regardless if you have vision or not.

An example of tactile vision is using your hands to feel tactile objects or text. Some tactile objects or texts include LEGO bricks, 3D photos, and Braille.

As stated in the National Federation of the Blind’s one minute message, “blindness is not the characteristic that defines a blind person and their future.” Through learning how to use nonvisual tools and techniques, having a positive attitude in life, and willingness to think outside of the box to accomplish tasks, they are able to live the lives they want. This has been the NFB’s philosophy since its founding in 1940.

 When I was looking for a tagline for my company, Mackey Enterprises, I asked several individuals for their ideas and suggestions. During one of my workout sessions with Steve Murray of Rezults Never Lie, he reminded me that even though I might be blind, no one can ever take away my vision. That was when I came up with the tagline “Blind With Vision”. It falls in line with the NFB’s philosophy.

So what does “Blind With Vision” really mean? The best way for me to explain it is by giving you an example. A blind individual needs to take notes independently. So the best way for him to do so is by using a slate and stylus to write notes in Braille. Another method is by using a note recorder and type up their notes on a computer with the aid of a screen reading program. The individual is using his nonvisual vision to “see” this task from another perspective. Many blind individuals do this in their jobs, self-employed businesses, and personal lives.

So I encourage you to live the life you want by “seeing” things from a different perspective. It doesn’t matter if you are blind, sighted, deaf-blind, deaf, hard of hearing, Autistic, or whatever. Be willing to embrace having a “Blind With Vision” attitude to see whatever you are doing.