The Right To Live In The World

Businessman putting a card with text Job offer in the pocket
Businessman putting a card with text Job offer in the pocket

Today I received a notice that I was tagged in a Facebook post from @bettyFord concerning a job posting for the @UniversityArkansas. The job is entitled Access Coordinator. The job description in part says, “The Access Coordinator will facilitate access to the academic programs, services, activities, and facilities of the institution for students with disabilities.”

This job sounds innocuous enough. The university wants someone to help, in various ways, to provide and coordinate services for students with disabilities throughout the university. However, if one reads further in the job description they would find this: “Employee is required to have close visual acuity to perform an activity such as: preparing and analyzing data and figures; transcribing; viewing a computer terminal; extensive reading; and/or visual inspection at distances close to the eyes.”.

Continue reading

2019 National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind Review

NFB Logo
NFB Logo

I want to reach out and tell you of my experiences at the recent 2019 National convention of the National Federation of the Blind. For me it was a great opportunity to again be part of the @Aira experience and to be with over 3,300 blind people to discuss the issues facing blind and low vision people today.

I had the chance to catch up with many friends and colleagues. One of my relatively new favorite friends is @EricBurton. I met Eric last year through Aira. For years, after losing his eyesight Eric sat on a couch believing that his life was a thing of the past. When he discovered #Aira everything changed.

It is a beautiful thing to see Eric blossom and evolve into a productive and quite incredible testimony to the fact that, as Mark Riccobono the president of the National Federation of the Blind says, “Blindness is not what holds you back”.  Check out Eric’s web site at http://www.elburton.com. He is an inspiration to us all.

Continue reading

Do More Foundation

Do More Foundation Logo

A Further Way Aira is beginning to work to address the issue of the cost of its service comes through the formation of a nonprofit organization called the Do More foundation. Recently I have been asked to accept the position of donor relations within the foundation to help it secure funding. Our initial effort will be to secure funds to help cities and other public facilities establish Aira access within their borders. It would be great, for example, if any blind person could go visit any city public building and travel independently to any office with Aira and not have to pay for the service because the service was subsidized by the city with the help of the Do More foundation. How about visiting public libraries? How about visiting city parks or even going to the county fair and having full access to Aira? These are all the immediate kinds of things we will be working to make happen with the help of the foundation. You can learn more about the foundation by visiting http://domore.io. Continue reading

Aira & Aira Access

Aira
 
I am saving the best new open window for last. In March 2015 I received an email from Larry Bock, a gentleman who said that he was representing a company called Aira tech Corp. As he explained it, Aira was a new company that had developed a unique and innovative product for blind people. The product consisted of smart glasses with a high resolution live streaming camera built into them, an app that would run on any smart phone and live agents around the country. Continue reading

We’re Back!

It has been a few years since I have corresponded with all of you through my newsletter from the Michael Hingson Group. There is a lot of truth to Alexander Graham Bell’s adage that “when a door closes a window opens”. Even when a door doesn’t close more than one window can open. The cross ventilation can stir up all sorts of challenges which one must address in one way or another. Let me take a moment to catch you up. 

2014 my wife, Karen, became critically ill. We posted on Facebook about this and in one of my last newsletters we also discussed it. Karen recovered. At the urgings of our family we relocated from northern California to the Southland and rented an apartment in Victorville California. We never thought that we would be back so close to the areas where both of us grew up. However, sometimes things just happen, but usually for the right reasons.  Continue reading

Libraries and Blind People: Looking Toward the Future

As a blind person growing up in the 1950s and ’60s, I did not have real access to libraries. Instead I, like most blind persons, received borrowed books through a program known as the Talking Book program funded by the Library of Congress. Under this program professional actors and readers were hired to record books which were then transcribed onto records. If I wanted a book I could call my local talking book library, 65 miles away, and, if the book happened to be recorded, it would be sent to me. Also, often, library staff would send me what they thought I should get, especially if my requested manuscript was not available. Usually books I wanted were not recorded. Only a few hundred and then a few thousand books were transcribed nationally. Sometimes books were even made available in Braille, the only true reading and writing language available to blind persons. Continue reading

College freshmen: You Could Go Back To School With Aira

Dear Students:

The National Federation of the Blind is committed to exploring how technology helps blind students live the lives they want. Exciting new technologies are fundamentally altering the ways in which students succeed in and out of the classroom. If you’re an incoming college freshman, you could have the chance to try out a new technology from Aira that may help you as you start this important chapter of your life.

The National Federation of the Blind is partnering with Aira, a company that uses smart glass technology, live agents, and artificial intelligence to assist blind people in understanding and navigating their environment. You might use it to help you explore your college campus and new community, for example. Continue reading

The Saga of Flight 1241

Last week I wrote an article discussing the decline of customer oriented services by airlines in the United States. I promise to tell my own personal story of a recent trip I took involving an airline. Now it’s time for me to tell the tale. You won’t believe what happened.

On April 23, 2017 I flew on American Airlines to Gulfport Mississippi to attend a meeting the following day. While I had planned to fly back in the evening of April 24 I was unable to do so as, at least from my computer searches, American Airlines, my airline of choice, had no flights available for me. I decided to take the first flight out from Gulfport on Tuesday morning of April 25. At 6 AM I left Gulfport Mississippi on AA flight 5788. We arrived in Dallas-Fort Worth right on time. I went to my gate for my second flight, AA 1241, which was to leave at 8:44 AM Central daylight Time. Continue reading