Isolation at 19

Dear Readers,

There’s a virus or infection that is attacking our elderly. It’s not really a virus, not a bacterium or a spore. It’s not a real parasite. It’s called isolation, and it’s a weapon of war used by guardianship holders to destroy the person in the room. Here are the symptoms:

Irritability. When I became isolated, could not go anywhere, could not call anyone, I was highly irritable, and my parents wanted medication to stop it. They weren’t truly treating the root of the problem, just the side effect of their cruelty.

Anger. I was so angry, I became incoherent. I would cry easily, become depressed, was not able to understand today’s current music.

Loss of abilities and cognition. My parents might have lied about this one. Seniors who are isolated face dementia symptoms made ten million times worse from isolation and nursing home abuse.

Suicidal thoughts or ideations. I really wanted my own father to die so that the guardianship would be erased, and because he was being abusive, in my stunted mind, I was ready to throw any thing at him. My parents tried antidepressants to stop the anger and irritability and it only led to violence. I unfortunately was repeatedly told that nobody loved or wanted to be with me, which made me, the isolated 19-year-old me, even worses off.

How do you treat isolation?

The solutions are siimple but complicated.

1. Tell your elder or aging parent you love them. Allow them to socialize with their friends, whoever they want to see if possible. Be reasonable.

2. For younger disabled adults, let them go. Let them find meaning in their lives, a love that will last, and their own lives and families.

3. For elders, never put them in care/rest homes or nursing facilities period. There is no room for one more abuse victim in the inn of shame and disgrace of elders who are ixty, eighty, even a hundred or older.

While I was a victim of isolation, I had little to no friends, only Orien Henry was on my mind, and then there was Melissa. My mother refused to accept Melissa, and how she turned against me I will never know. But the issolation seriously put me in no place to stay with my family. I should’ve known this was happening to me, told the cops I was being isolated, and told them to tell my parents off for being abusive. One day, I could have a target on my shirt because of not only blindness, but elder age, deafness, perhaps diabetes, lack of ability to walk, whatever the case. I have a rule for anyone who thinks it’s okay to abuse elders: keep your hands off your aged loved ones. Keep the caretakers away from your elder parent if you feel they can’t be trusted. Granny/nanny cams should be used in situations to save your loved one’s life.

As for a younger adult with disabilities, you should know better than to isolate and drug your family member. If you’re gonna do that, just leave them in the care of a friend they trust, and it’s not about you anymore. When they become eighteen years of age, it’s them, not you who should have a life full of love, meaning, and romance. I am going to one day be the voice that speaks louder than the Austrians yodeling on a mountain so high. You won’t hear me cry out like that though, you’ll hear these words, and only these words: stop the isolation, violence, and abuse. If you’re a lawyer and you’re reading this, you should know. There are twenty things seniors go through when they’re isolated. And I will do a follow up to this post on Medium so that you guys can read the article on Web MD.

Thank you for reading.

Beth

Letter to Rosemary Mahoney, Concerning Fear of Blind People and Blindness, My Life Story, and how it lines up.

Dear Ms. Mahoney,

I read your book For the Benefit of Those Who See: Dispatches from the World of the Blind, and you’ve gone further than sighted people in trying to decode the fear of blindness. I am most notably proud of your work in Tibet and other countries that don’t value blind people. Blind individuals in those countries should be reading, writing, and living and loving with their disability, but violence, government corruption, and gender favoritism prevents and precludes all that. Even here in the United States, blindness being a low incidence disability is still feared. Here’s how my life as a blind woman is here in the United States.

Currently, I have no employment, and DVR Colorado (Division of Vocational Rehabilitation) or commission for the blind as some like to call it is a joke. It was a joke for a long time, and though things changed, I highly doubt they will change for the better. DVR forced me to visit Dr. David Benson, a psychologist from Colorado Springs, who was in the Anthem Building. An assistant gave me a battery of memory tests and bullshit like that, but Benson’s comments were highly inappropriate because a. I was studying Islam and hence wearing hijab in the office, causing him to think that I was “pretending to be Arab”; and B. He made brazen statements pointing to child marriage, though this is a hot button topic. It was all inappropriate and racist, and it didn’t help matters that I was blind, and he said I couldn’t do social work. I placed a complaint on his license from the Department of Regulatory Affairs in Colorado or should I say Agencies? Okay. After this complaint, I tried to pursue work, and was bogged by those comments. Why would a bigot even be allowed to test or evaluate people in any way? Why should he? He was not only an Islamophobe, he was a … should we pen the word blindophobe? I don’t think he cares enough about his job, and blindness means instability to these entitled assholes like the doctor I described.

So begins the next chapter of my messed up life. I met and moved in with a blind man, but did you know that this blind man was black? Oh, I’m not sure you did. I am being pestered to going to DVR for job placement, but this job placement could slot me at the bottom forever, and the job would mean no upward mobility. MOst blind folks who work in the U.S. don’t work in meaningful employment because of their state rehab services, and are sheltered in workshops that pay pennies per hour. Goodwill is an example. This is why I want nothing to do with work, and nothing to do with any business outfit that claims to prep blind people for work because it’s all a joke. It’s nothing but a joke, and … just imagine, not talking politely about subjects you enjoy, not allowing you to converse with anyone of the opposite sex, whatever else you can think of. Any job site could also be a risk of workplace sexual harassment, especially for blind women. As a blind woman, I’ve watched the news, and I blog because there’s nothing in my life worth doing except for the music I wish I could write. But nobody supports blind entrepreneurs here in the States.

In any case, my blind fiance and I are also going to have a pretty empty wedding guest list too. We cannot go on a honeymoon, nor can we celebrate properly with family and friends. So called friends say that we’re not worthy of their attendance at our wedding, and honestly, these people have some sight, but I bet the total blindness, the slut comments I’ve had spewed about me, and the words and names I’ve been called have something to do with it. This wedding should be a time of celebration, of love, of family and real friends, but in the blind world in America, there’s no friends. Only followers, people you get to know via social media. Our lives may not be as bad as those of your students in India, Tibet, and other developing nations, but the developed world should not be this far behind. Blind people should not be a microcosm of high school for the sighted, it should be a jewel on the community’s crown, should we decide to even wear the crown of pride in our work.

The average blind person, including myself, makes way under $1000, I was lucky enough to get my full check this month and such, and about 75 to 80% are un or under employed. Underserved would be another way to put it. While your students may contribute to the economy of the countries they eventually take root in, it is highly unlikely that any blind American reading this will get up, find your books, and believe in themselves. We as a society refuse to hire any blind people, and even ask irrelevant questions to throw them off which is illegal. I should go to job interviews determined that I will get a job position, but like my friends Clayton Jacobs, Blake Tucker, Trenton (my fiance btw), and even Jason Milyo and Josh Kennedy, there might even be a Barbie Roberts and Ken Roberts in there somewhere, but like this list of persons I know and love, I could be rejected too many times and age away from work. No job, no way to finance a family, and partially due to parental guardianship abuse too. Did you know that 80% of blind females in the U.S. have been direct witnesses or victims of sex abuse or assault? Such things occur I’m sure a lot more in India, China, Tibet, etc. Think about it.

As a result of this, people have skewed opinions and fears about female action and blindness. Females who are blind are seen as goddesses of sex, but for the greater society, having sex with a virgin does not cure AIDS, a myth that Africans hold. I don’t get this. My parents got their guardianship to protect me from not just one man, but to prevent me from being in the public eye, to isolate me, drug me, abuse their power with me, and possibly murder. There was the tragedy of Kelly Marie Bond, who died as a result of what my friend Lacey suspects is murder by her own family for being disabled, and Lacey had little time to express that. Kelly’s sister Emily didn’t even sound like she mourned her sister’s death, in fact the girl sounded like she just got a bouquet of roses at prom from a sweetheart. It was an unacceptable response to the murder of a disabled family member.

To prevent tragedies like Kelly’s, I’ve thought of creating a group for it, but no, nobody’s interested. I think it’s important that people be interested in the welfare of their own people, including me, without name calling. This is common with sighted women and girls. Girls are called slut in high school, but I was called that as an adult, and was called a bitch. I don’t care who did it, I swore at my counselor and said it wouldn’t happen again.

Blind women here in the U.S. are feared as much as if not more than your students in India or China or Tibet because we’re low incidence. Blind women should be examples for sighted women, but alas, we’re not.

I’d like to honestly say your piece I saw lately on wordpress was a treasure. Fear of blindness leads to lives like mine, suffered at the hands of bigots, and I honestly am exposing every little bigoted lie I’ve been told about myself and other blind women, whether we worship God, Allah, or Buddha. I don’t care. We’re women, members of the human body, and we should be respected. I am just one of over a million females with disabilities who has to deal with sexual assault whether from friends, done to friends, or done to themselves. I am one of about 90% of guardianship abuse cases that ends in isolation, abuse, and denial of rights because of blindness. I am one of only 2% perhaps that escaped guardianship, went to live in Colorado, and now has to tough it out on SSI because the job market has me at a statistic, 75% or more unemployed.

I am also one of 10% of blind adults and children combined who know Braille, which for 90% of Braille literate adults should have led to employment, but most employed blind are male. Most of these employed males who are blind show signs of entitlement over those who aren’t, and if you read my FB page, some of the males I’ve known on there ridicule me for all they want to, thinking it okay to do so. I wouldn’t work for half of them, but those who don’t forget where they come from are usually a lot nicer.

I know some males who work who aren’t entitled, but usually it’s those who do the DVR thing that feel like we females are fair game.

Anyway, take my life story seriously. Fear of the blind is not only in the developed world, but in the states as well.

Sincerely,

Beth Taurasi,

Denver, Colorado

How should we change the way we serve disabled customers?

Dear Readers,

In light of the recent snafu over the #strawban, I’d like to bring to light the ableism in society and the double standard that must be quelled for women and girls.

For starters, straws made of plastic help all forms of disabled folks. Imagine if my Nanna Taurasi was at IHOP with myself and Trenton. Mary Taurasi died years ago of pneumonia, but if she were a living soul during this so called #strawban, I’d have to say out loud, “Give Nanna a straw.” She would have to drink from either this or a water bottle with a plastic tete, and so would her late husband, Jim. Now, I caught this old guy at IHOP today with a tracheotomy in his throat. Probably from years of tobacco use, but even he needs a straw.

I would not mind if my grandma on either side was with us, but for the sake of physical exertion, I would have to say, “Give Grammy a straw!” Even if we were in California, where this ban is being implemented, Grammy (Marie Taurasi) might have needed a plastic straw. Saves me a little tremor or nerve picking up cups. While I can drink like a so called “big girl”, I joke with myself about this all the time, a straw is a definite yes for me not because of blindness, not because of physical disability, but because I just feel that the look of a soda is just as important as drinking it. Without straws, where’s the love a soda gets? Paper straws can rip easily. Plastic ones can do better.

Now, besides straws, let’s move on.

Women and workplace harassment have not always been working in tandem. One o the reasons I don’t work is because precisely of workplace harassment, whether by a boss or fellow coworker, I don’t want it, don’t wanna be shunned for sexual purposes, or have value placed on a hymen, which I repeat is not, not, not an important part of the body. It is nothing more than a piece of skin. That’s it.

As a woman, I feel that working for a male boss could put me at odds with myself, lead to whoredom, or worse, pregnancy by my boss, which should never, never happen. Trenton should be the father of my children, not a supervisor on the call center floor. Therefore, it is better for now that we simply do not work. And we can’t report the kids to social security either. Forget that.

SSI should not be the end all be all of a blind person’s life, but the stigma is still there. Writer Rosemary Mahoney writes candidly about even the developing world’s blind being abandoned, beaten, abused, etc. Africans often confiscate the land of blind people and their families, which is not fair. Therefore, the stigma is there in the world.

Talk about curing stigma for mental health. We need to cure stigma for all other disabilities, including but especially blindness. We need people in the developing world to quit trashing the blind folks, and start caring because blindness will not go away as a characteristic that some people must adapt to in everyday life. Thank you, Ms. Mahoney, for writing so eloquently about blindness. And that’s why we must, as a community, stop being a microcosm of the sighted and start being a jewel on the world crown.

For the women who are blind, we must be respected, not touched, no sexual advances anywhere. I have a soon to be husband, practically a mate for life, and I won’t allow a floor man to have my baby with me, and I want no child with anyone but the man I want.

Thank you all for reading. As for the #strawban, restaurant chains should take note that us losing plastic durable disposable straws will mean elderly customers aren’t welcome. Think if Mary Taurasi was still alive, or Rose Gravina, or any of my now dead relatives. In their golden years, I bet they used straws to drink, so that #strawban should be thrown out for good.

Beth

Astronaut Corps?

Dear readers,

While talking to a friend over text messaging, I could not help but wonder if blind people would ever be chosen to go to the Red Planet, space, etc. While my friend, Esoteric Quality on medium and other things, believes that blind folks are taking over science, tech, engineering, and math (STEM) professions more than ever, where is there room for us to go to outer space, deep space, or the Red Planet? Okay, notice that not one lead character in any classic sci fi books about Mars is blind or disabled in any way. In the real world, Astronaut Corps members live in Houston, Texas, which could be one of the worst transit spots for blind individuals if you are not lucky enough to have a driver. I have a friend in Austin, and she complains bitterly on Facebook about Austin’s transportation and the sisters at mosques don’t seem to take her seriously.

Now, what are the qualities that the Astronaut Corps needs in order for someone to journey to Mars? I have a few qualities that I’m sure NASA will have to consider. In my mind, NASA should consider a willingness to learn and perhaps a college degree in aeronautics. But what about adventure? Someone with spunk? I’m sure that should be considered, but NASA really needs someone in the Astronaut Corps or Navy, both closed to blind people, to go to Mars. I wish we could not colonize the Red Planet because people like myself and my fiance Trenton could be left behind on Earth, no kidding, and the Astronauts that do go to Mars will all be navy and army trained, something blind people don’t usually get.

Individuals with disabilities should be considered if, for example, the Earth is about to explode. We need to consider the apocalypse perhaps, but no zombies included. Earth will die one day, and it won’t really be us causing it. We will have to go somewhere with sentient beings on it, though, not Mars. Why Mars? Why should we bother colonizing the planet? Blind and handicapped/disabled people should be allowed to go there if Earth countries and inequality of able and disabled people is too much. What other choice do we have!

So how do you put an astronaut with disabilities in space, let alone Mars? Or some other planet? First, kNASA should open doors instead of close them, make the Corps accessible to ordinary people who are not Army or Navy trained. Training should be open and in some ways modified where visual content lingers, so that the blind can learn how to perhaps pilot the spacecraft, put it in control, and listen to guidance instructions from capcom, etc. There are a zillion ways that a blind person could become a space flier or spacefaring soul, but we must, if anything, drop the Navy and or Army requirements. Sure, living in Texas should never be required but it currently seems like it. We also need to find alternative spaceports other than Florida because Florida has winds, anvil clouds always in the way, and beaches and other things. Florida is also an ableist community, which would then lend the space port not friendly to those with blindness and other physical differences. IF I wanted to fly in a rocket somewhere into space or on another planet, we’d need a flat and easy trip but I wouldn’t ever recommend Florida, that is because in my experience with my dad working the program until its demise in 2010, there were more scrubs than launches and computer problems were only a quarter of the problems. We had mostly weather, and Florida weather sucks for some people. An anvil cloud could ruin time and date for many people, including the astronaut hopefuls. I’m sorry, but we need a better space port that doesn’t have as bad a weather problem. What about a flat piece of plain in Colorado? Or Arizona? Desert weather is a bit more predictable, and monsoon season can be avoided so the shuttles and rockets can go up. Summer could potentially be a better season in the Plains, but there has to be fair weather, no snow, at least for one time. Arizona might be a better place because there’s no beach, and their springs could potentially be good for space launching. Summer would be too hot, and what about the cold of winter? There has to be another way to do this other than fly up from a place that is not only unsafe, but whose weather is unpredictable, whose people don’t feel confident in blind folks going up, etc.

While a blind person is indeed able to train to become an astronaut, I’ve thought about how they’d do on Mars. There’s a Mars research station in Utah, so why aren’t any blind scientists going there? Why you ask? I think it is because people don’t feel we’re qualified in any way to go up there. Nobody’s going to colonize Mars and think, what about the Earth’s disabled inhabitants? It’ll be like Elesium, where only the wealthy and able persons can go to the big station in the sky. We don’t know if Max da Costa will ever come save the day, but truthfully I don’t know if there will be a Max da Costa who will depolarize the world of Earth and outer space, so brace yourselves. The colonization of Mars could be a whole fifty years away.

Beth

Why or Why Not Go to College?

Dear Readers,

As ambitious as every blind person is, going to college has more negatives than positives, and I’ve been told to make unnecessary sacrifices for this purpose. Leaving HUD housing, possibly having to leave Trenton behind, live on campus, and deal with tech that only gives kickbacks to rich folks. Freedom Scientific’s Jaws for Windows, for instance, is supposedly the best screen reader that works with current Blackboard software. Trenton glanced at this, and unfortunately, I’m not one to give Freedom any more kickbacks because JAWS though innovative is too expensive and if Rehab foots the bill, kickbacks happen. I don’t want anyone getting a kickback off my college degree, and until universal access to things with screen readers other than JAWS is promoted, I will not be going to college.

HEre are the pros of going to college. ANd they’re too general.

  1. You get certified in a degree, and if you graduate with honors, great. And you can get a job in your field.
  2. You get paid more.
  3. Getting a house or better rental would be in the horizon, no matter how much, because at least I’m not paying car insurance.
  4. The field I want to do, social work, doesn’t just take babies away. I was hoping to get a degree in social work and specialize in elder and disabled case management so I could help elderly and disabled people get out of situations where their children or family could manipulate or take advantage of their funds, lives, and health. I would probably not recommend nursing facilities unless there is no family, or the elder cannot take care of themselves compounded by aggression such as that what happens to a friend’s father.
  5. I could write a book about my experiences.
  6. I could impact the world.

But here, my friends, is a listing of six cons of going to college.

  1. Rehab won’t support because of possibly an outdated file from a psychologist who is ethnocentric to European AMericans, bearing in mind he thought I was Arab just for wearing a stupid veil. And he made brazen comments about me because of it. HE should be reeducated about Islam, and not make such brazen statements about Arab women. The subject matter of his talks are inappropriate at best.
  2. Having to use jAWS as mentioned before. Chromevox is a universally accessible thing in a Chromebook, but JAWS is a third party screen reading software that costs too much and takes up too much room in a Windows pc. Why Windows? I hate to say it, but Windows eats up a lot of space in a computer by itself, plus JAWS could mean other things and problems. Forget the free Microsoft Office 365 for the college, I’d have to use Windows in a pc with a third party screen reader instead of its own Narrator, which is universally available. Firefox is also becoming less accessible.
  3. Lecture halls suck. And professors who don’t accommodate suck as well.
  4. Taking a test with a human reader could lend itself to bias.
  5. Having to live on campus simply for academic access or success is awful. In my experience, it costs more than $18,000 to house a student in a dorm, and then what? The dorm could contain drunks, students coming in and peeing on your tile flooring, “That’s not the toilet.” Funny phrase, but so needed when dealing with that. Then there’s the chance of rape on campus if invited and cajoled to attend parties. I won’t have it.
  6. No cooking and even worse loss of other blindness skills along the way. As much as my friends think it best to sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice, it doesn’t work for blind individuals who don’t have blindness training, those who do but need to be allowed to cook in their own appliances, or those who would rather fix a crock pot meal instead of going to a dining hall, where lines are long and people don’t take me seriously. I hate cafeterias, buffets, and worst of all, the college dining hall experience. There are times I’ve been at the college in Tallahassee, FLorida State University, and their dining hall staff was short, and I had to rely on students just to get food in my stomach!!!!! Do you really think dining halls are appropriate too? Sometimes the a la carte selections aren’t right at all.

I might add that the Auraria campus does not have dorms, student housing, to my knowledge a dining hall, etc. They share three colleges: UCD, MSU, and CCD all in one campus. The Auraria campus is also a light rail or short bus ride away from my apartment. However, I might add that I would have to be a lot closer this time, but I want my own place so that I can cook and survive while doing classes. Part time college is the only way for me, but even that is unacceptable. I had a debt to pay with Metro State University and can’t pay it because of the exorbitant costs and the SSI and worse, debt collectors have called me about it. I’ve sassed at them because really, debt collection agencies contain bad people who have the potential to threaten lives and wives, and I have no money to waste on these stupid debt collectors. Thankfully, I appealed, but I was in a mental health crisis at the time and did not receive support from Rehab and any other agencies at all. Support always seems to make the difference, but I don’t want strings attached. I want to go to college, use what I have to get through college, and get a degree in something that would allow me to reverse the effects of probate abuse, etc. What to do! ANd why bother with JAWS training because I use a total of three screen readers. Voiceview on Amazon tablets, and then there’s Voiceover on Macs and iPhones, and then there’s CHromevox, with which I type this blog. Why deal with VFO and kickbacks and enriching folks who do corporate work only and don’t price JAWS for the average Joe blind person who can’t make enough to keep the JAWS license going. JAWS licenses are expensive.

Books. I know you guys want me to have books, but I won’t buy it. College textbooks need to be in an accessible PDF format and thankfully, CHromevox can read this stuff, but then … figures and diagrams. Oh no.

Really, I’d like to see colleges do a few things differently:

  1. Use only accessible education platforms, ones that allow universal screen reading software like Chromevox or Voiceover to access their stuff.
  2. Accommodate whatever the perwson has, and allow that person to have what they want in accommodations including universal screen reading design in their computers.
  3. Allow the use of laptops that don’t have JAWS.
  4. Allow a blind person to take a test on a computer, not with a human who may get sick and not make it.
  5. Allow blind people to cook in their own places. Rehab should support home living situations, especially those including wives and children, or husbands and children and let them do online classes so that they can also tend to household duties. Such things as a sick kid, a husband who wants a date night, or family outings or family time can interfere with traditional college tracks.
  6. Don’t require a blind college student to be in classes with huge lecture halls if possible. Lecture halls don’t accommodate. Small class size benefits not only blind college students, but sighted students who want more engagement in class.
  7. Serve better food in dining halls, or better yet, accommodate those with food allergies. Don’t push eggs or nuts on someone allergic to eggs or nuts.
  8. Don’t force blind people to pay for unaccommodated classes, or in times of civil rights violations.
  9. Be consumer driven. Since consumers pay lots of big bucks for university degrees, let them choose their future.
  10. Allow guide dogs in all classrooms, lecturing halls, and other places where classes and dining and things are done. I’ve seen great examples of this in Tallahassee. A young lady brought a beautiful German shepherd to class and was guided by this beautiful creature. Sada was a sweet and gentle natured dog, friendly I might add, but did as her mistress said. All guide dogs should be allowed given the rampant denials I’ve mentioned in a prior post. Thank you all for reading.

Beth

A Blind Sex Offender? ??? Yes!

Dear Readers,

I came across a Medium post in which my dear friend, rapper Esoteric Quality, wrote that boundaries and consent was one thing the blind community must change in order to become more solid and coherent and get things done. I couldn’t agree more. There were predators that I told him about that preyed on the friends I’ve made here in Colorado. A young woman from Idaho was preyed upon by a man who now lives the easy life in California and denies the existence of a ten-year-old son. This man, whose name I won’t mention, says the kid isn’t his, but my old friend Doc knows all. He’s hardly the only one, this California cassanova I speak of, and there are more blind men out there who have deviant sexual behaviors and attitudes toward women and young girls. HEre is a composite sketch of what sex offense treatment should look like for blind sex offenders, men and women.

 

Let’s suppose that the cowboy Cassanova in the previous narrative did get popped for sex offense, rape and assault. What is the consequence for normal sex offenders? Well, serial rapists get registered, their names and addresses get flared up on all sides of the Sex Offender Registry. This guy is hardly, like I said, the only blind person who needs sex offender treatment, but we often deny that there are predators in our midst.

HEre in my composite sketch, we have Jason, a man who is about six feet two inches, blonde hair, and blue eyes, and happens to be blind. He had a privileged childhood, for the most part, but when Jason turned 12, he was exempted out of sexual health and education class. His mom said, on the teacher’s right side without Jason knowing it, “He’s blind. HE’ll never have sex, and I don’t want him to get married. Who’d marry him?” Jason later went home one day, and got bored. As a blind person, he thought he’d be exempt from boundary issues, but his sister, Shannon, was hanging out with friends in her bedroom. Jason went in to Shannon’s room, and the next thing the girls knew, he had his poor sister on the floor, was fondling her down there, and squeezed her breasts. Shannon went ballistic, told her mother, and her brother, blind and a sexual deviant, went to juvenile detention.

Let’s suppose Jason did not do the deviant thing I outlined earlier. LEt’s suppose, then, that he is 24 years old, and is a student at a rehabilitation center for the blind. Jason with the clean record at this age could still have deviant sexual attitudes towards women because by this time, even without deviance towards a sister or a friend of his sister’s, Jason is lonely, bored, and anxious. Suppose by now, his mom has never told him one thing about sex, never taught him about sex, not through books or classes or anything. One day, Jason finds Susan, a young girl of 18, autistic and blind, perhaps in Jason’s mind, the perfect target. While they’re making out furiously one day outside in a gazebo, Jason takes off the girl’s clothes, and without her consent, he rapes her.

Either way, it is imperative that if we want to avoid blind sexual deviants in our midst, we must force them to take a sexual education and civics class. I will stress the class’s module design, for I don’t know if books exist for blind people that are up to date and talk about sexuality and disability. LGBTQIA peoples should get the best and most up to date information about sex and sexuality, period, and have healthy discussions about sex with family, friends, and neighbors.

HEre’s how the class would look, and who it would be taught to.

 

  1. Start with anatomy. Most sex books start with male and female anatomy, but do realize that the pictures of male and female anatomy don’t add up as much as seeing a 3d model. I’ve seen a plastic penis, for instance, so why not show both sexes the plastic penis and vagina models? Show them plastic nude male and female bodies, I mean plastic ones. This way, they know and are familiar with what is to touch and what is not good.
  2. Consent for both sexes. Blind male sex offenders should be encouraged to be accountable for their behavior as with normal sex offense. With the middle and high school students though, they should learn consent for both sexes. IF a female says no, it means no. IF a male is allowed to pressure a female into sex, he’s got it wrong. Males should learn not to rape, so let’s say we teach all males, blind ones included, to worship women in appropriate ways. This means sure, you can hug a female in crisis, but sexual parts of the body must be kept sacred for both sexes, period.
  3. STD’s and STI’s. All sex ed classes for high school and middle school folks should include comprehensive information about how you get STI’s. For example, AIDS cannot be gotten through handshakes. And not all teens who choose to have consentual sex get these. Blind female teenagers as well as their male counterparts should learn consent, and if they do decide, should not be ashamed of it. BLind teen girls and guys alike should know all the ins and outs of STI infections and how to treat these. AIDS may not have a cure, but Hepatitis C does, so does Chlamydia and many others. HErpes may not have a cure, but there is the gardicil vaccine that may be able to protect boys and girls against HPV, human papilomavirus, which causes not only warts and herpes, but cervical cancer.
  4. Sex is not a dirty word. Teens should be taught that marriage may never happen for them if they are disabled, not to say it won’t happen, but about 80% of blind adults are single, live at home with their families, or both. And how hard is it to find a mate? A lot harder for us blind folks than we’d like to admit. Relationships should never be judged on the basis of religious holy text and decrees that a disabled person should wait until marriage to have sex. Marriage costs a lot of money, more than the $30 license that says you are bound in marriage. For a blind couple, money is cut from their checks, and their checks might not be enough to live on. We are 80% likely not to find work, or able to get a meaningful job because employers simply won’t hire us. Therefore, sex without marriage is often the only expression of love that two disabled adults can do. So what do we say to those disabled teenagers who could or could not become sexually offending adults? It’s okay to tell your family how you feel, safely in words, of course, but the big thing is consenting on both parties. If a male doesn’t want it rough, that’s his call. Females should be allowed to pleasure themselves, practice feeling sexy, or perhaps find it within themselves to find all the sexy stuff within.
  5. For both genders, sex toys should b e used as an enhancement for the couple’s spiciness in the bedroom. If you’re alone, the toys are great for pleasuring yourself and relieving stress if needed. IF you’re not feeling particularly sexy enough, you could grab a stress ball, a stuffed animal, a favorite comfort object as my middle school teacher would say, and just hug the comfort object in your arms or squeeze the ball. A punching bag is much much better than punching out your spouse on Jerry Springer, which is happily over. Most adults who sexually offend don’t realize they are impacting their victims the way they do. They are told to take anger management classes, do therapy and group counseling, and for those who abuse children, they are not allowed contact with them. Back to my example. If Jason is in a group of sex offenders, he should have access to the treatment so he can of course be motivated to change, and the therapists should strip his right to use his disability as a means to abuse people, including a sister or girlfriend, and replace it with genuine empathy as illustrated in many books and templates by others. Empathy is hard to teach, sure, but my boyfriend, my fiance has empathy. He has the healthy image of me as a female, doesn’t have deviant sexual attitudes. I’d like to thank him for who he is from the bottom of my heart.

So what is the basics of sex offender treatment? Leigh Baker’s book Protecting Your Children from SExual Predators explains all the basics and how sex offenders, male and female, get treated. However, Dr. Baker forgot that blind adults sexually offend. So calling out such people is not a crime, it’s a service we must do in order to protect females from being impregnated unnecessarily by blind sex offenders. I’d like to thank Esoteric Quality for writing about this, and allowing me to share in the triumph of your writing, it’s amazingly awesome. I’d also like to give credit to all the guys who understand the all important “No means no.”

The Most Innovative Thing in Science, and It’s Not Rockets

Dear Readers,

The following is a highly revised version of an essay I composed for a chemistry assignment, which got me third place in a science essay contest that told us to write about innovative things in science that affect you. Since there were two people who did better than me, according to the judges, let me just say that I could’ve done better, but to me, it was the best essay I ever wrote because the thing I wrote about has become so popular and widely used not only in the blind community, but for other disabilities as well. What do you think this thing is? Speech to text, and text to speech perhaps, but let me now provide a history of the screen reader as it should now be written today. And it dates even further back than Ted Henter and Henter Joyce, the founding company behind Freedom Scientific, which was later eaten up by Vector Freedom Optelec, or VFO group.

 

Imagine you’re a blind person going to work. What’s the first thing you do in the morning? What do you do when you get to the office? You sit down at the computer, that is if you’re an ordinary sighted person, but one of my nagging questions I get from sighted people is, “How do you use a computer? Or a phone?”

Since computer technology is so widely used, one must think of how a blind person can accomplish the same tasks as the sighted, and the answer is simple but complicated. Enter screen readers. The first fully functional corporate interest screen reader was designed by a company called Henter Joyce, designed and invented by a blind veteran who lost his sight. Ted Henter wanted to maintain his ability to work in an office or do professional things, so he invented JAWS. Today, many years after JAWS was invented, hardly a day goes by that you don’t notice other screen reading softwares out there. Henter spearheaded not only the invention of a screen reading software, but an entire movement based on the idea that blind people should have equal access to computer software such as Microsoft Word, that we should be equally able to maintain job skills, etc. JAWS, back in 2003 when the last essay was published, was barely able to allow you to write word processor documents, check email, browse the web, etc. Compared to now, you couldn’t just pop in a DVD and expect to see text in an image, but now you can. JAWS now has so many more capabilities than it did in 2003 when I composed an essay on its history and how it works. So how did Henter’s invention help blind people use computers?

Henter invented JAWS so that blind people could gain access to employee trainings, places of work, websites, word processors, charts, all kinds of stuff, but today, JAWS has some buddies that compete with it. Enter Steve Jobs and the folks at Apple, the company NV Access, Microsoft themselves, and finally, the highly evolved VFO. Apple has done something that not only VFO and Microsoft want to do, but can only dream of doing when it was done. Apple put Voiceover, a universally built in screen reading software, into everything from its iPhone to its Mac lineup to its wearable Watches. Voiceover has the ability to allow you to do the same things you would do with a Windows computer such as talk to folks on Skype, surf the web, type up essays on a word processor, and did I mention or forget to mention planning vacations, buying things online, etc. The wearable Apple has allows you to do specialized gestures with haptic feedback so that you can know when you are supposed to stand or get out and walk. The watch is more a fit bit with voiceover on it, though you can do other apps as well.

Cell phones such as those produced by Apple and Google now have screen reading functionality built in, and I tried to justify getting one of those by stating, it’s like a JAWS for cell phones. Well? It took me years to realize there was access to iPhones and androids, but I got my first touch screen phone in 2014 or so. I ended up getting two more new phones, and then … then, I got my iPhone SE. My iPhone allows me to not only make phone calls, facetime calls, and such things as this, it allows me to find hangout spots, navigate around the world, surf the web (why not!), check email, tweet, send Swarm check ins, and much more. There are games available that work with Voiceovber and other screen reading software for the blind. For instance, I love playing DiceWorld, and it works on both Voiceover and Talkback as well as Amazon’s baby, Voiceview. Compared to other screen reading things, Voiceview right now doesn’t have keyboard support, but Amazon is working on it. This is their project, and after many years of no access to their Kindle lineup of books, Voiceview seems to have been the answer to the blind people’s prayers.

JAWS spearheaded many ideas as well as the ability for blind people to use a computer. Since it costs a lot of money, and since the average Joe blind person doesn’t make enough, not enough to support that price point, and since DVR, Departments of Vocational Rehabilitation, pay the bills for all purchases if not 90% of purchases for Braille and talking softwares for the blind, a movement has begun to include universal accessibility in product design. Henter would be proud because now, Microsoft is improving its Narrator screen reading software. It is now usable for Windows 10 builds, contains many familiar keystrokes, and the voices are much higher quality. Sighted people sometimes find those voices fun to play with, so if you search for Microsoft Sam on YouTube, you’ll find many creators who play with Sam and a bunch of other voices, which to blind people are so familiar they use it daily. Desktop David and Zira are among many other voices Windows now contains, and the Encore voices now use NVDA (nonvisual desktop access), a free screen reader. NVDA is popular in developing countries such as India, and many blind people there are poorer than those in the U.S., but a company there managed to break the price for a Braille display down to $550 in U.S. dollars. Who knows how much that is in ruppees? Indian currency is much more than American currency, but a display with that price in India made in India is hard to find.

Voiceover and voiceview both have Braille ssupport, but JAWS has it even more. WindowEyes, a screen reading software from a now eaten up company called GW Micro, has since died. We blind people are eager to see where VFO tries to take the screen reader market, but for those average Joes who don’t work, buying a computer is the last thing on their minds. Enter tablets.

AMazon’s Kindle Fire lineup has their Voiceview screen reader, which allows you to read ebooks, do surfing on their Silk browser, and shop and many more, The highest price point on a tablet from Amazon is only $100. Now, I own the following pieces of tech that currently work, and all have semblances of screen readers on them.

I’m typing this using Chromevox, Google’s Chrome OS screen reader, on an HP Chromebook. I love it.

Then, we have a working iPod touch, two working phones, one a galaxy S8 kwith Samsung’s own Voice ASsistant on it. Then we have two Fire tablets with Voiceview, then we have my iPhone of course. We are also playing with AI, so we have an Echo dot on the desk. Then we have a Google Home and a Google Home Mini, both of which have google’s AI on them. In tandem with our phones, we can control the home and echo devices, set them up independently, and do many more tasks. Henter wasn’t probably trying to spearhead what I call the Screen Reader Revolution, but many times we see it happening. My brothers use a gaming system, a Xbox to be exact. When they first did, Narrator wasn’t there. Now, Microsoft and Sony have both attempted to make gaming consoles usable for blind gamers, and Microsoft has done a landslide pound all over Sony, as must have happened and most of you know.

JAWS might never appear for Xbox, but the amazing invention of screen reading software has changed a blind person’s rank in society from the bottom to near the top. We still have to argue with employers about jobs, and we still have to contend with predators in guardianship cases, but blind people are going to be around no matter what sadism does to us. Screen readers have made it easier for us to work in executive positions, play videogames, and edit essays. We can now keep track of our diabetes should we have it, our exercise, mail packages, and many other things thanks to developer commitment to making it all work with screen readers. JAWS was the first fully compatible thing but I never saw the ones for Mac, but now Macs have universal access design, and when I attended NFB convention, they got a big award for making their product usable for blind individuals.

Screen readers and their voices don’t just extend to blind people. You might recognize Steven Hawking’s voice when he was alive, and the man used Eloquence to talk to his audience. Neospeak voices have been used in other popular ways, have been plugged into transit announcements, and so much more. Another company might use Vocalizer Samantha which is popular on iPhones to announce stops on a transport train, alert weather conscious folks about storms, and so much more. Blind people and their sighted counterparts are now able to stand equally hand in hand with each other. The voices you hear alerting you to floods, bus stops, AI answers, and many more are the same voices that read the world to blind people who can’t see the screen.

WHile space travel is ambitious, I don’t think it will change the world as much as earthbound inventions such as the screen reader because sighted people don’t need to worry so much. Going to Mars could be dangerous, especially if a blind astronaut is not chosen for the mission. So, what can impact people more than rocketting into space? ANswer: screen reading software and text to speech voices hands down. Everybody can understand each other, and even more so, text to Braille will make it even easier for deafblind individuals to work and communicate. Yes, braille display software and hardware are expensive, but we can’t leave our deaf friends out.

Thank you all for reading.

Beth