Dumb post to the Stargardts Facebook group

Don Raikes don.raikes at oracle.com
Mon Apr 8 13:07:02 EDT 2013

Hi all,

Just wanted to throw my 2 cents in.

I went blind at the age  of 8 years old due to  a sinus infection that went untereated.

I went to our state school for the blind for 3rd - 5th grades and was then mainstreamed into the public schools.

Due to religious beliefs my parents never really accepted my blindness, but were supportive of anything I tried.

In highschool I was not only in the top 20 in my class of 600, but marched in the marching band, and was introduced to computers there.

I went to college got my B.S. in management information systems, and have been working in the computer industry since then.  I have worked for small companies (3-20 employees) and huge ones (10,000-100,000 employees).

Now at age 52, I am enrolling in a masters program to get my degree in cyber security (pending acceptance of my application).

I have had the good fortune of being able to work from home for the last almost 20 years, although I spent the first 12 years of my work life actually going into the workplace.  

I have had to break down a lot of barriers in my 30 years of working.  I was one of Oracle's first full-time telecommutor employees, but that has worked well especially since my customer base has been world-wide.

Sure I get frustrated when my screenreader(s) don't cooperate and I can't do my work, but eventually I find a solution and things get back to normal.

Now on to whatever hardware/software challenge lies ahead for me!

-----Original Message-----
From: Bill Cox [mailto:waywardgeek at gmail.com] 
Sent: Monday, April 08, 2013 9:05 AM
To: Speakup is a screen review system for Linux.
Subject: Re: Dumb post to the Stargardts Facebook group

At one point I wanted to collaborate with Sina on a book about being blind in the age of technology, where stories like your's and Sinas would make excellent examples throughout the book.  Then I got busy at work, and now I'm more busy than ever.  I still like the idea, though.


On Mon, Apr 8, 2013 at 7:17 AM, <acollins at icsmail.net> wrote:

> Hi Bill and all.  I think we need to keep in mind that as far as 
> blindness is concerned, each of us have different experiences when it 
> comes to learning to deal with our blindness.  Some of us get lucky, 
> and find ourselves in contact with people who can teach us that 
> blindness is not the end of the world.  Others have a more difficult 
> time, and have no one who can help shield them against the terrible 
> attitudes that most of the world has concerning blindness.  My friend 
> Keith Watson was a draftsman engineer, before he slowly began to lose 
> his sight.  Like Bill, he fortunately ran in to some of us on the 
> Speakup list, who could give him advice about what kind of help was 
> available, and not allow him to sit around feeling sorry for himself.  
> He went back to school, and his company moved him over in to their ip 
> department.  He has since gone to work for a company monitoring the 
> quality of accessible documents they produce for the Social Seccurity Administration.
> On the other hand, there are guys like me, who have been blind all my 
> life.  I went to the local state school for the blind here in Iowa.
> Then because I was just out of high school, and didn't really know 
> what I wanted to do with myself, I attended a one year course at our 
> state comission for the blind, where I learned a lot of coping skills 
> and attitudes that I didn't pick up when I was in school.  The upshot 
> of it all is that I went to tech school, got a job as a machinest, got 
> laid off, went to computer school, and got a job in tech support for 
> one of our state universities.  I worked as a machinest for ten years, 
> and then worked as a tech support consultant for the university for 25 years.
> I think it behoves all of us to spread the word that being blind is 
> not the end of the world.  Is it sometimes difficult?  Yes, but so is 
> life in general.  The glass is either half empty, or half full.  Each 
> of us gets to decide individually.
> Many others here could tell similar stories.
> Gene Collins
> >I just posted the following to the Stargardts group on Facebook in
> response
> >to a post from a kid who was asked to write about what it's like to 
> >go blind, for a publication in Canada.  She posted her opening, and 
> >asked
> what
> >we thought of it.  I found it wanting.  She said she could not see 
> >the professor's face.  This is what I said:
> >
> >For the first two years, I lived in denial. Losing central vision 
> >meant losing my job, my house, and the ability to raise my kids. It 
> >paralyzed me with fear, and threatened everything I cared about. Yet I was lucky.
> Losing
> >sight meant losing my ability to program, which is the skill that has 
> >defined my value to the world. I found a blind mentor who showed me 
> >that
> it
> >is possible for the blind to be outstanding programmers. I began to 
> >contribute to software for the blind. I worked so hard at improving 
> >such software, that I sat too long at my computer and gave myself 
> >blood clots, which moved to my lungs and came close to killing me. Still, I was lucky.
> >What is it like to slowly go blind? The world crashes down around you 
> >and you fight dragons every day to stay alive. That's if you're 
> >lucky, like
> me.
> >For the rest, possibly the majority, I fear it may be far worse. I 
> >was lucky in that I had the chance to build something I cared about
> desperately
> >before losing central vision. It gave me the will to overcome the 
> >obstacles. What is it like for kids losing vision while going to college?
> >That's what really breaks my heart. They don't yet know what is worth 
> >fighting for. Not seeing the professor is no big deal. How many of 
> >you people out there with Stargartds have learned speed listening? Do 
> >you know the potential you have, and the value of the life you will 
> >lose if you don't fight for it? I'm lucky, because I got to build 
> >that life before losing vision. I grieve for all the kids who will 
> >never get the chance to know why they should fight so hard.
> >
> >I don't think any of the kids out there with Stargardt's will 
> >suddenly change their lives because of my post, but you guys, and 
> >especially Sina, have changed my life.  Thanks for showing me that my 
> >central vision impairment need not cripple me, and for the chance to 
> >help write the software I need.  I am using Speech Hub, Mary TTS, and 
> >NVDA just to write this email.  Working together, we can build great 
> >tools like Speech Hub, and great organizations like the Accessible 
> >Computing Foundation.  We can make a difference one vision impaired 
> >guy at a time, or at least try like Hell.
> >Bill
> >_______________________________________________
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> >http://linux-speakup.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/speakup
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