Despite the intense rivalry on Olympic ice, Canadians and Americans are shooting for the same goal when it comes to blind hockey. When I first heard of a blind hockey program in Canada, I was skeptical. The ice has always been a comfortable place for me, with its smooth and predictable surface and good contrast for objects against its white color. Unfortunately, after actually trying to play a game of hockey, there were two big problems. I lost track of the puck when it moved through my huge centrally located blind spot, so I could only react to a passing puck at the very last second. Plus there were some fleeting moments where I couldn’t tell if someone was moving towards me or away from me – knowledge that’s critical for avoiding collisions.
Ice hockey is a quick moving, visual sport, right? But what if you made a few modifications and instead of playing with perfectly sighted peers, you were playing with and against people who had the same or even worse vision than yourself? Matt Morrow, Executive Director of Courage Canada, explains some of the modifications that make it possible for skaters who are partially sighted or blind to successfully play hockey in this enlightening Eyes on Success interview.
First, the puck is almost twice as big as a standard one, it moves a bit slower, and it contains ball bearings that emit loud sounds as the puck slides across the ice. Matt says they tried to divide up the teams as evenly as possible depending on skill and vision. Typically, goalies and defenders are totally blind, and forwards have partial vision. They put an extra net over the top front of the goal because you can’t lift the puck more than three feet. High sticking comes with a five-minute penalty and you’ll get slapped for unsportsmanlike conduct for holding the puck down with your stick rendering it noiseless. With a few other rule changes like the requirement to pass the puck at least once after skating across the red line before scoring and no body contact, you’ve got blind hockey!
Though the political climate is murky at best, the Paralympic Games begin in Sochi tomorrow. Opening ceremonies air tomorrow at 11 AM on NBCSN and the games begin in full force on Saturday with a full day of alpine skiing, biathlon, cross country skiing, ice sledge hockey, and wheelchair curling.
For a complete list of all events, visit the official schedule page. You can watch over 300 hours of live action online, plus there’s even more information on Team USA’s website as to how you can tune in on the television.
I read an interesting and very sad article regarding disabilities in Russia; back in the 1980s, Soviet communist leader Leonid Breschnev was quoted as saying “In our country, there are no disabled people”. The statistics clearly do not back that up; the Ministry of Health reports that 9% of the population lives with a disability. In fact, it’s only been since 1987 that disabled people were allowed to even appear on television; quite a paradox that the prestigious Paralympic Games are being held there this year. Many are hoping the Winter Games will turn the intense discrimination into something positive, something the entire country can be proud of.
Cheer on the athletes who have spent years of their lives in preparation for the Games. These individuals have overcome great odds, and are an inspiration to us all.
If you missed this story in the news, it’s a gem. I don’t want to give too much away, but suffice it to say that a man who is blind remembered what it was like to grow up isolated from normal kid activity. He didn’t want to see that happen again, so he went knocking on someone’s door and now his extra mile is being paid back threefold . . .
Give this heartwarming story a read (or a listen, there’s an audio version as well).
Using a Staples gift card I won, I treated myself to an Apple TV. After all, exploiting my luck to buy a year’s supply of paper was just way too practical. Paper, a known entity, did not hold the same intrigue as a little box, whose value I did not completely understand and am still discovering.
After opening the package, there were three questions I was eager to explore about the Apple TV:
- Given my low vision, how easy will it be to set up and use?
- Will there be enough free content to keep me interested, or will I end up paying more with monthly subscriptions?
- Can it replace my DIRECTV satellite service?
And, I wanted to see if the Apple TV could mitigate some frustration I’ve felt watching television. Despite the high monthly cost, I do not use my DIRECTV service or HDTV to their full potential. I can’t read the channel guide on the TV screen; I only use the basic options on the remote control; and I don’t have a way to watch Netflix movies on my HDTV because it does not have WiFi. The Blu-ray player I purchased a few years ago should have given me that ability but for some reason I could never get it to work properly. I wasn’t sure which hurdles the Apple TV might rectify, but the Netflix issue was high on my list.
It’s electrifying when two tools, used together, are even greater than the sum of their parts. Such was the case when it occurred to me to look for song lyrics on Bookshare. Typically, I use Bookshare’s material for listening to books using the Voice Dream app. For song lyrics, I search the internet. But an advanced search in Bookshare with “lyrics” in the title yielded some cool stuff – songbooks by Sting, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and more. And another search on “hymnal” in the synopsis yielded the exact hymnal used in my church!
But the tool that made these lyrics come alive for me is the Voice Dream Reader app. I downloaded all the songbooks and hymnals of interest. And now, without an internet connection, I can sing along using my iPad anywhere. I’ve customized the text style, size, color, and background color to my liking for best contrast and visibility. In December, I told you how the Voice Dream app made Christmas caroling a reality for me. At that time, I grabbed the lyrics online, made a separate Microsoft Word document for each song, and then accessed the document using the Dropbox integration within Voice Dream. This allowed me to organize the songs as I wished. While this worked wonderfully, it was time consuming. Fast forward to now: thanks to Bookshare, I have found a better way.
If you’re new to ZoomText Mac, you might be wondering how to adjust your settings or tweak features since there isn’t a toolbar that automatically pops up on screen. Everything is in the Preferences Panel – but how do you bring that into view? Since there’s no true “task bar” like there is in Windows, maybe you’re not sure how to do this on the Mac.
Today’s tips and tricks video will show you how to access the Preference Panel from the quick launch menu, or by using a hotkey.
Watch the video right here by clicking on the play button below, or go onto YouTube and watch it there.
Next week, a new show premieres on NBC called “Growing Up Fisher”. They’ve been promoting it pretty heavily during the commercial breaks of the Olympics, of which I have been absolutely glued (in my next life I’m coming back as an ice skater, I just know it). The premise of the show really caught my interest – the story chronicles Henry, an 11-year old boy, whose father Hal, is blind and about to get a guide dog. The show is based on the true story of executive producer DJ Nash.
Wondering if any of you have seen the promos and had any reaction to the show. I found myself scratching my head with some of the clips – one of which in particular was a little odd. Henry’s dad attempts to use a chainsaw to cut down a tree by himself; arguably not a safe endeavor for anyone who isn’t trained! In any case, he’s wearing safety goggles and his sister comments to Henry, “why is he wearing safety glasses??” As if being blind means you have no reason to protect your eyes because you can’t see. I’ve also seen several different clips of Hal driving a car, much to the shock and dismay of his friends and family.
Of course in another video, the actor voicing adult-Henry reflects back on his childhood and says, “my dad was blind, but he never let the fact that he couldn’t see keep him from doing anything.” There are also segments where Henry verbally explains the Olympic snowboarding tricks he’s watching as well as a curling match, which are quite cute and endearing.
What are your thoughts on this upcoming show? Are you offended in any way of the portrayal of Hal? Or is it just nice to see a blind character in a mainstream television show? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!
After interviewing local ski legend Wendy Cram last autumn, I had to try this format again. Sitting down and talking with another human was a nice diversion from typing all alone at my desk. So after reading Sue Martin’s book, “Out of the Whirlpool”, I knew I had to talk with her next. Her story of suddenly losing vision due to a suicide attempt, followed by a road of rehabilitation and reconciliation, is raw and riveting. Due to distance, we couldn’t meet at the local diner, so we met on Serotalk for an episode of the High Contrast podcast. While promoting her book, she had done quite a few interviews, so what could we do differently?
Thankfully, the night before our interview, I came across her chat with Dr. Robert Carter on the “Tech Doctor” podcast. Robert is a psychologist, so he fluently asked about the difficult cornerstones of her life; most notably, the darkness that surrounded her when she was in her early 20’s. It was a fascinating discussion and one that was best left to someone with Robert’s credentials and experience. Like me, Robert was also intrigued by Sue’s rehabilitation process. At the end of their conversation, I wanted to pick up where they left off.
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