Archive | October, 2011

Parenting Stories

31 Oct

If you are on Facebook and are a parent, this should be of interest to you.  We have been invited to share the experiences, the joys and sorrows of being visually impaired or blind parents.  Below is what it’s about and where you could post a story.

Fragments of Parenthood is a collaborative global project based on storytelling that explores the impact parenthood has on mothers and fathers of all kinds.

This is a participatory project that reveals what parenthood is really about: what is lost and what is gained, your struggle to maintain your personal life, your career and how to keep a sense of who you really are. The project aims to expose the most relevant issues faced by parents around the world.

We welcome participation from people across the world. We invite parents and parents to be to share their contributions in the form of a short video, photography, written text, or music. All stories and pieces of art submitted will form part of the Fragments of Parenthood gallery and, in time, we will create a growing virtual tree – a visual depiction of data and a metaphor of the ever-growing ‘tree of life’ that will symbolize the fragments of your parenthood experiences.

In the second stage, Fragments of Parenthood will create an interactive documentary which will be made out of your interconnected stories and cultures, in an effort to represent local and global voices.

Now we just need your stories!

Please visit our Facebook page “Fragments of Prenthood”, like us and share your stories.

Creative Person of the Week

28 Oct

James Holman (Oct. 15, 1786 – July 29, 1857), known as the “Blind Traveler,” was a British adventurer, author and social observer, best known for his writings on his extensive travels. Not only completely blind but suffering from debilitating pain and limited mobility, he undertook a series of solo journeys that were unprecedented in their extent of geography. In 1866, the journalist William Jerdan wrote that “From Marco Polo to Mungo Park, no three of the most famous travellers, grouped together, would exceed the extent and variety of countries traversed by our blind countryman.”

Holman was born in Exeter. He entered the British Royal Navy in 1798 as first-class volunteer, and was appointed lieutenant in April 1807. In 1810, while on the Guerriere off the coast of the Americas, he was invalided by an illness that first afflicted his joints, then finally his vision. At the age of 25, he was rendered totally and permanently blind.

In recognition of the fact that his affliction was duty-related, he was in 1812 appointed to the Naval Knights of Windsor, with a lifetime grant of care. The quietness of such a life harmonized so poorly with his active habits and keen interests, physically making him ill, that he requested multiple leaves of absence on health grounds, first to study medicine and literature, then to go abroad on a Grand Tour from 1819 to 1821 when he journeyed through France, Italy, Switzerland, and parts of Germany.

He again set out in 1822 with the incredible design of making the circuit of the world from west to east, something which at the time was almost unheard of by a lone traveler, blind or not – but he travelled through Russia as far east as the Mongolian frontier of Irkutsk. There he was suspected by the Czar of being a spy and was sent back forcibly to the frontiers of Poland. He returned home by Austria, Saxony, and Prussia.

An account of his remarkable achievement was published in 1834-1835, titled A Voyage Round the World, including Travels in Africa, Asia, Australasia, America, etc.

Holman was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (UK). The British Government named the Holman River in his honor, commemorating his contributions to fighting the slave trade in the region during the 1820s.

His last journeys were through Spain, Portugal, Moldavia, Syria and Turkey.

While his early works were generally well received, over time competitors and skeptics introduced doubt into the public consciousness about the reliability of Holman’s “observations”. In a time when blind people were thought to be almost totally helpless, Holman’s ability to sense his surroundings by the reverberations of a tapped cane or horse’s hoof-beats was unfathomable.

(Excertp taken from

Tomorrow’s Bridge

26 Oct

by David Combs

Tomorrow’s bridge, as I look ahead,
Is a rickety thing to view.
Its piers are crumbling,
Its rails are down,
Its floor would let me through.


The chasm it spans
Is dark and deep,
And the waters foam and fret.
I’ve crossed that bridge a thousand times,
Though I’ve never reached it yet.


It has crashed beneath me
To let me through.
Although it is miles away
How strange, the bridges I’ve crossed
Have all been safe today.


Perhaps I shall find
When I reach the one
That lies in distant blue,
Some hand may have mended its rickety frame
And its piers are strong anew.


And I shall cross over –
Light-hearted and free.
Like a bird on the buoyant air.
Forgive me Lord, for my fearful heart,
My anxious and foolish care.

David Combs wrote this poem at age eight, in response to all who told him that by losing his vision he would become incapable of helping himself.  He has proven them wrong!  David is blind, hard of hearing and has cerebral palsy.  Now age sixty-one, he resides at Friedman Place in Chicago.  This poem originally appeared in an NFB publication.

Special Edition Post: Let Me Hear You Now

24 Oct

composed by Jeff Flodin

The purpose of this blog is the exchange of ideas and information.  One of the pleasures of writing this blog is reading and responding to the comments it engenders.  Recently, readers are reporting difficulty with the mechanics of posting comments.  The difficulty rises proportionately with increased vision loss. To address this issue, the following observations and suggestions are offered.

 Every reader of this blog has the opportunity to leave a comment or reply to an existing comment.  This process takes four steps.  First, compose your message.  Second, type your email address.  Third, type your name.  Fourth, activate the “Post Your Comment Button.”

 Sighted readers and visually impaired readers using screen magnification software report little difficulty with this process.  They click each edit box in turn, enter the text, then click on the Post comment Button. 

 Screen reader users report the most difficulty.  The following steps have worked for me.  If there is a better way, please let me know and we’ll all benefit.  My scientific method may need improvement.  I have used what I have: Windows 7, Word 2010 and JAWS 12.  Other operating systems and software applications may require tweaking these steps.  Here goes:

 1       Press Enter on “Leave a Comment” or “Reply” after the blog you wish to comment on

2         Press Insert F5 to bring up a list of form fields

3         Down arrow to “”Enter Your Comment Here” and press Enter

4       You will hear, “Type in Text”

5       Type your comment here or cut and paste your comment  that you composed in a Word Document

6       Press Insert F5 and down arrow to “Email Address” and press Enter

7       Type your email address and press Insert F5

8         Down arrow to “Name” and press Enter

9         Type your name and press Insert F5

10      Down arrow to “Post Comment Button and press Enter

 Still with me?  Now for the “Yes, but” department.  You only need to fill in the email and name edit boxes your first comment.  Subsequent comments from the same computer will already have your email and name filled in automatically.  If in doubt, press Insert 8 to read that edit box to see if it’s empty or if it contains your info.

 So, there you have it.  I hope this works and works well.  Let’s give this remedy some practice.  If we need further modifications, we will address them.  We will assemble our combined experiences and present them to the administrator of the blog site, which is the company called Word Press, which makes the rules for the mechanics of how  comments and replies are created and posted.  Meanwhile, happy reading!

Creative Person of the Week

22 Oct

Sarah Helen Aldrich De Kroyft, (1818-1915) was born and raised near Rochester, New York. As a young women, she taught school in the winters while attending classes during the summers, thus learning mathematics, French, and Italian, and she graduated from Lima Seminary in New York. In 1845 she married Dr. William De Kroyft, who died tragically by falling out of a carriage on their wedding day, and a few weeks later she awoke to find that she had suddenly gone blind.

Taking up a brief residence at the New York Institute for the Blind, she began to write submissions for newspapers and periodicals, as well as lengthy letters to family and friends. Widowed and disabled, she endeavored to support herself by publishing a collection of her correspondences in which she explained that “these letters are simply copies of my own thoughts and feelings … laid bare … to the world for the sake of dollars.” This book, A Place in Thy Memory (1850), published on both sides of the Atlantic, went through several editions, as did her other works Little Jakey and Mortara.

(Excerpt from

Oscar’s Mama’s Funeral

20 Oct

by Mani G. Iyer

Oscar’s blind mama,
sick and dying on a hospital bed,
one day,
summoned Oscar to her bedside,
told him she had a vision
of a beautiful place
where it was all white,
worthy of being called
the kingdom of god,
and how badly  she wanted to be there.


Poor Oscar, beside himself,
implored her not to leave him.
His mama laughed a weak laugh,
chided Oscar
on how he should not be selfish
in wanting his mama to live on forever,
when god wanted her,
and smiling,
she went on to discuss
her funeral arrangements.


She wanted no one to wear
black and mourn for her,
instead, it had to be white, the color of eternity,
and everyone celebrating
her journey to an infinite life,
and finally, she wanted to be buried
in her Georgia hometown.
She then sent Oscar to buy her fresh flowers,
so she could smell and feel them when she was alive, 
not when it was tossed into her grave.


The young Oscar set forth
to buy himself a suit, vanilla though,
for he thought white was too white,
and deciding to add color for celebration,
green shoes, a green tie, a green hat and
when his mama passed away,
he had her transported to her Georgia hometown,
instructed the near and dear
to wear only white and celebrate
his mama’s journey to eternity.


The near and dear thought it was a joke,
and at the funeral,
it was only Oscar, who appeared in not so white,
with splashes of green.
His cousin gawked at him,
and inquired if he was on his way to Hollywood,
to which Oscar replied, it was his mama’s dying wish.
A sad Oscar tried to stem his tears,
and pretend to smile in celebration,
when his mama’s  coffin was laid into the earth.


His cousin needled him about his colorful attire,
and finally, an exasperated Oscar told him,
it looked like he badly wanted Oscar’s outfit,
and proceeded to give him
the green hat,
the  green tie,
the not so white suit, but
not his green alligator skin shoes,
for that was too dear.


Mani G. Iyer was born and raised in Bombay, India and has lived in the United States since 1985.  He is deaf-blind due to Usher Syndrome.  He became deaf by the age of 4, night-blind by the age of 12, and now has very little usable vision.


Bonded Through Blindness

18 Oct

by Marilyn Brandt Smith

Melinda stole the sugar bowl tonight,
We stayed in study hall till almost eight.
With cinnamon and bread in secret flight
We ate it all down by the campus gate.


I never thought when I set out from home
About the boring hours after class.
The lengths to which we go astonish some,
“Don’t break the rules, don’t chance the sure harass.”


I see myself a teacher years from now
And wonder, will I know a girl like me
Who needs to know the when and where and how,
But wants her mind and body to be free?


We’ll find a prank tomorrow to contrive,
It keeps our creativity alive.


Marilyn Brandt Smith’s writings reflect memories of her childhood at the Texas School for the Blind (1955) and at home on a ranch in south Texas.  She taught children in summer programs and adults in year-round rehabilitation centers and in their homes. Marilyn also worked as a counselor and a director of rehabilitation for several agencies across the country. She is now totally blind and lives with my family in a hundred-year-old home in Louisville, Kentucky.


Quotation of the Week

17 Oct

Your only disability is your own attitude.  (Unknown)

Creative Person of the Week

15 Oct

Andrea Bocelli (September 22, 1958 – present) Bocelli was born in 1958 to Alessandro and Edi Bocelli. They lived on the family farm in La Sterza, Tuscany, Italy. It was evident at birth that Bocelli had problems with his sight, and after visits to many doctors, he was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma. In 1970, at the age of 12, he lost his sight completely following an accident during a football game.  As a young boy, Bocelli showed a great passion for music.  At the age of six he started piano lessons, and later also learned to play the flute, saxophone, trumpet, harp and guitar.  At age 14, he won his first song competition with O sole mio.  After finishing secondary school, he studied law at the University of Pisa.  To earn money Bocelli performed evenings in piano bars.

In 1992, Italian rock star Zucchero held auditions for tenors to make a demo tape with of the song Miserere, to send to Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti. After hearing Bocelli on tape, Pavarotti urged Zucchero to use Bocelli instead of him. The demo tape was from Caterina Caselli, who had discovered Bocelli and is his current manager and producer.  Bocelli is known for his crossover from modern or pop music into operatic.   Bocelli’s career is present day history in the making.  (Excert taken from

Whispering Moth

13 Oct

by Sarah Martin

The moth whispered
Fluttering beneath my eyes
Once caught in the cracks
Wings covered in loves dust
Landing amongst the clutter
Of forgotten dreams
Words in bottles never thrown
Flecks of gold blow in the wind
I’ve got nothing to give
It flutters in my ear
You have your love I answer
Kissing the moth with my breathe
The cracks open
The gold falls

Sarah Martin is 32 years old and lives in Melbourne Australia.  She was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at age 16.  Since that time, she has been on a journey of light and dark.  The one thing that has become clear over the past few years is Sarah’s passion and joy in poetry and exploring her world through words.