by David Flament
It feels like a bright sunny morning as I step out into the darkness. I head down the alley and come out at the bus stop. Here comes a bus. As the bus stops it opens its doors and yells out “147 Outer Drive Express!” Great, that is my bus. This bus has just one more stop, and then it will run express on Lake Shore Drive to downtown Chicago.
As I get ready to step up into the bus my cane brushes against someone. Is someone getting on ahead of me or is the bus full? I hear the ding of a payment and know the person is just getting on. When I get on the bus driver tells me the bus is full. Where am I going to stand and hold on? Further inside the bus I hear someone offering me their seat. I happily take it knowing that now I will not be blocking the traffic on and off the bus when we reach downtown.
As we arrive at my stop I prepare to get off the bus. As I reach the door I put my cane out to find the sidewalk. What I find is a 1 foot gap between the bus and the sidewalk. Good thing I checked. I step off the bus and begin listening to the sounds of the city. Rush hour downtown is very, very busy and I do not want to miss anything. The sound of people tells me how crowded the sidewalk is, the sound of traffic tells me when it is safe to cross the street and the sound of construction tells me to be on the lookout for scaffolding. Before you know it I have arrived at work.
Now at work I prepare for a busy day. I unlock the classroom and computer lab. Then I check my email and voice mail. Nothing from the VA yet about the technology evaluation I sent them for one of the veterans we work with. I update the time sheet and the DHS and Quarterly reports. Wow, is it time for the morning class already.
This morning we will be covering topics in MS Excel using screen readers. I have 8 students in my morning class ranging in age from the mid-twenties to mid-sixties. They are an interesting group of people. One of my students has recently lost his vision due to gang violence. Another due to diabetic retinopathy. They are coming together as a group and sharing their experiences of vision loss while succeeding in the classroom.
Before you know it its lunch time. There are plenty of places to choose from. Being downtown has its advantages. Of course everyone else goes out for lunch at Noon too and again downtown is a very busy place to be. Never the less I find my way to the deli. Now where is that line? Found it. Did the person in front of me move up yet? I softly sweep my cane to check. Ah there is the friendly voice of the deli owner Ed telling me it is clear for me to move up and place my order. Now back in line to pay. As usual Diana is there with my drink and sandwich ready to go.
Lunch over it is time for my afternoon class. This group is very different from my morning class. They use screen magnifiers to access the computer rather than screen readers. This class has only 4 students and all are middle aged. We are currently covering MS Word with screen magnifiers. Just as my morning class struggles learning to listen to the voice of the screen readers, this class struggles to learn to use the keyboard more than the mouse. This will help them to concentrate on the screen and make them more productive in completing computer based tasks. Also, for those with progressive eye conditions this will help them should they need to transition to using a screen reader later in life.
The afternoon class comes to an end and the day is almost over. I again check my voice mail and email and before you know it 4:30 has arrived. Yes, I leave during the beginning of the evening rush hour. I make my way across the six lanes of Michigan Ave. traffic to the bus stop. Just as with the morning wait at the bus stop my fellow commuters inform me when the 147 is approaching. Those also taking the 147 will usually insist that I board first. I can’t say enough about the kindness and friendliness of my fellow downtown commuters. Chicago is after all the big city with small town friendliness.
I arrive home after a short walk from the bus stop with a quick stop at the Mariano’s market to pick up a few things. The shopper who helped me at the market with especially helpful pointing out a few sale items and saving me some money. I even picked up a prepared dinner at the market so no cooking tonight. Time to check for any new podcasts on my Victor Reader Stream. There is a new episode of the BlindBargains podcast and of course todays episode of the Daily Tech News Show. Okay, now time for a little gaming. I have really gotten back into playing A Dark Room again. Cat fed, dinner ate, news digested and games played, time for bed. See you tomorrow.
David Flament is the lead instructor for all training classes and workshops on adaptive technology at Second Sense blind service organization. “I love technology and want to share my passion — working with our clients is the most rewarding part of my job.” David’s teaching philosophy follows an old Chinese proverb: “Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.” He will do his best to help students understand the materials and he expects them to do their best to learn. David has a Bachelor of Arts in Education and a Master of Science in Computer Science from Northeastern Illinois University.