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Technology Creates Endless Possibilities

“For people without disabilities, technology makes things easier. For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible.” ~Mary Pat Radabaugh.

Blurred image of an open laptopI am so grateful to have the opportunity to learn new things every day. Take a recent article I wrote the other day focused on how I use my computer. In response to my post fellow blogger, David Goldfield of Thoughts from David Goldfield directed me to a very comprehensive FAQs he wrote on this topic.

What I like most about David’s article, How Does a Blind Person Use a Computer or Smartphone, Anyway? is the way he explains not only the ‘what’ but the ‘how’ of assistive technology for a person who is blind or has low vision. When you have a moment pop into David’s place to check it out. He also encourages additional questions he may have missed.

Have A Happy Hump Day!!

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How Do You Use A Computer When You Can’t See?

“I am not what happened to me. I am what I choose to become.” ~C.G. Jung

#1 - Screenreading & Magnification Tools located on my bottom toolbar.
#1 – Screenreading & Magnification Tools

One question I’m frequently asked as it relates to my sight loss is how I’m able to do some of the things I do like; work on the computer, read, watch tv, cook, grocery shopping, travel independently, walk my dog, makeup application, coordinating outfits, to name a few. The short answer is with training I’ve learned how to accomplish day-to-day tasks with low-tech labeling tools like fluorescent bump dots or Ott lamp to high-tech gadgets like video magnifiers or CCTVs (closed circuit televisions).

#2 - Magnification Controls
#2 – Magnification Menu
#3 - Magnified page
#3 – Transparent Magnifying Glass

Several decades ago when I first heard the term “paperless office” I thought there’s no way this will work. I couldn’t comprehend what would happen to my paper filing systems I mean I had many years worth of pay stubs, bank statements, health records, financial records, household data and on and on.

#4 - Full Page Magnified View
#4 – Full Page Magnified View

Thankfully as technology evolves I do too. I went from someone who had to keep every scrap of paper because “you just never know when you’ll need it” to a shredding maniac and transferred my paper filing skills to digital. Today, I do everything online and I have no need for paper other than to scan it to my computer if need be.

#5 - Magnification Options (full, lens, docked)
#5 – Magnification Options (full, lens, docked)

Since my life literally revolves around my computer I felt the time was right to show you how I use it especially in view of the fact that my magnifying/screen reading software of choice is not compatible with my system. Windows has built-in accessibility or “Ease of Access” which includes a narrator, magnifier, high contrast, closed captions, keyboard, mouse and other options.

#6 - Magnification Lens
#6 – Magnification Lens

My laptop is connected to a 32-inch flat screen television which I use as a monitor. With such a nice size screen, I have more desktop real estate to manage multiple programs with increased magnification. I’ll describe each of the screenshots in this post to give you an idea of how I use Windows 10 built-in accessibility.

#7 - Narrator Options (general, voice, commands, minimize)
#7 – Narrator Options (general, voice, commands, minimize)
  1. I’ve pinned the narrator and magnifier tools (highlighted) to my taskbar at the bottom of my screen. This way I don’t have to hunt for the settings.
  2. When I open the magnification tool the control menu pops up. In this screenshot, the plus and minus signs allow for an increased or decreased view. There are 3 optional views from which to choose (full screen, floating lens or docked lens). The magnifier goes up to 1600% however at this setting there is very little on the screen.
  3. No matter what optional view is chosen (this is full screen) there is a transparent magnifying glass (arrow highlight) that I can click on at any time to change my settings.
  4. When I click on the magnifying glass the magnification menu appears so I can alter my adjustments.
  5. This screenshot shows the available viewing options and keyboard shortcuts.
  6. The highlighted circle shows what the lens option looks like. It will magnify wherever the mouse is moved.
  7. The narrator menu has a number of options such as voice, speed, pitch and volume. In addition, you can select how the narrator starts, navigation and create keyboard shortcuts.

Life is different after you develop a disability, but when the focus is placed on what you can do, with some adaptations, life continues onward.

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Coping With Confidence Draining Chronic Illness

Coping With Confidence Draining Chronic Illness Featured image quote is in the body of the post. The quote is white text on a black background.

Coping With Confidence Draining Chronic Illness

“I am confident because I can admit who I am, what I’ve done, and love myself for who I’ve become.”

For close to 50 years I’ve lived with chronic depression. Being on medication for many of these years I don’t have a point of reference for what “normal” feels like. Yet “normal” is the one thing in life I’ve desired most.

One would think it would get easier living with a chronic illness for so long but it’s just different. I’ve only learned recently how to identify some of the triggers which send me into a downward spiral.

How It Feels

It [depression] begins with a feeling like something isn’t quite right but I can’t articulate what’s wrong. The more I try to figure out what’s causing my angst the more apprehensive I become. This pressure begins building in my chest making it almost impossible to do the simplest of daily tasks. Things like getting up, making the bed, taking a shower, heck, even breathing are difficult. I’m hyper-aware yet at the same time paralyzed.

I feel overwhelmingly exhausted and I’m experiencing panic attacks. Thinking to myself, ‘not again, I can’t do this, I can’t be feeling this way because I have so much to do.’ No amount of telling myself to ‘calm down, it’s only a panic attack’ helps. I can feel my heart rate increasing as my anxiety continues to grow.

Anxiety Takes Hold

There are so many thoughts like rapid fire running through my head. Unfortunately, it’s the feelings of self-loathing, guilt, helplessness, and hopelessness that threaten to take me over the edge. Oddly enough when it’s a beautiful day I feel worse. Something inside of me is telling me I should be energetic, I should soak up the sun and feel alive. But I don’t want to, yet at the same time, I do. I know it sounds crazy and I wish I could get out of my head but I’m so tired and so incredibly sad. What’s worse is remembering I’m a fighter but I feel so weak, so depleted.

I try to recall past struggles I’ve overcome but it’s just too much and I just want to stop thinking. No matter how many times I go through these episodes they scare me. I feel like I’m hanging by a strand and one more thing might cause it to break, cause me to break. It can last one day or five and I really don’t know what ends the cycle and I don’t care I just want it to lift. Coming out of it is almost as scary as being in the midst of it because it’s a tentative thing. I mean, what if it comes back? It’s important for me to take it slow to avoid getting sucked back into the vacuum that is depression.

The Way Back Home

Today I feel a little better but I’m still hesitant. Life is so fleeting. It’s miserable that something as despicable as depression can suck all the good out of me but it’s a process. I hold onto the hope that it won’t last forever and I’ll come out on the other side replenished. Life isn’t a fairytale and it isn’t the perfect pictures we post on social media.

When I was younger I thought my depression resulted from my childhood experiences but now I’m not so sure. The one thing I do know is it certainly wrecks havoc on the confidence I’ve so carefully honed. Or just maybe accepting depression as part of me makes me confident?

There is no shame in living with a chronic illness. The only shame, in fact, is believing we have to pretend we are okay when we’re hurting. Do I like being labeled as someone with depression? Not particularly, my depression is a part of me but not all of me.