Posts Tagged ‘blind’

Laugh For Sight NYC Postponed due to that Bitch Sandy!

October 29, 2012

Well, I should be on my way to LAugh For Sight NYC but that bitch Sandy had different plans. Our yearly New York City Benefit scheduled for tonight at Gotham Comedy Club has been postponed due to the hurricane. Unreal, as I ask for nice weather one day a year, and the weather out there is anything but nice. We had such a solid lineup for this year’s benefit with Celebrity Host Bonnie Bernstein from ESPN, Legendary Comedian Robert Klein, Eddie Brill, Bonnie McFarlane, Paul Mecurio, Jim Norton, Colin Quinn, Rich Vos, and of course Nash and me. Oh well, six months of work down the drain.

We are looking to reschedule this year’s LAugh For Sight NYC for some time in the next six weeks. We will have to rebook the entire lineup and re-promote the entire benefit, but we will do it again. For the latest information on Laugh For Sight follow us on Twitter @LaughForSight and everyone getting hammered by this storm, please stay safe.

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Lou Gehrig May Have Been the Luckiest Man On the Face Of the Earth, but I met the Dumbest Man On the Face Of the Earth!

July 10, 2012

Nash and I headed in to the city today, and what a relief as it was not for a doctor appointment or a hospital visit. We did start out going to the Animal Medical Center, but not for a Nash check up. We had to pick up his allergy meds. Unfortunately, they weren’t going to be able to fit him in to get his nails clipped. When we got to the dispensary only one set of Nash’s pills were there. Yup he is on two kinds of allergy pills. Poor little guy. They paged his vet, and she came out, and I snuck in a by the way, any chance you might be able to clip his nails? Of course, how could anyone resist the Nashee, and she was very kind to fit him in. His nails had gotten real long which was a problem, because when I would lay down with him within two hours of his feeding time Nash smacks me I assume telling me not to fall asleep as it is in the two hour window of his dinner time. I don’t mind the playful smacking, but the nails had gotten a little painful.

After our visit to the Animal Medical Center we headed over to the cross town bus. It really must have been our day because the bus pulled up immediately. Now Nash is trained to go to the door when I tell him the door, and like a good guide dog he went to the bus door, the only problem it was the rear door on the bus. I realized it and told him sorry pal unlike you, I actually have to pay to ride the bus, so we have to go to the front door. We were greeted by the bus driver, and he said, haven’t seen you in awhile. I said, ugh yeah we had to move to Queens. The people on the bus were so nice to move over and make room for Nash and me at the front of the bus. Wow, three things in a row going my way. As soon as we sat down, Nash let out a big sneeze, one passenger chuckled politely and said I’ve never seen a dog sneeze. Hey, he has allergies.

We took the cross town bus over to the Apple Store. My iPhone has been having a few problems, and I finally had some time to get over to the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue. I decided to test out a new app called Blind Square, it is another GPS specifically designed for blind people. I found the Apple Store on it, and set the tracking on to see how it worked. The cool thing about the app is even while we were on the bus it was telling me stores and restaurants we were passing, but I am not sure of how accurate the accuracy is, but it is nice to know what sores are around you. I had a blue tooth earpiece in, so I could hear what Blind Square was announcing. We got off the bus on 57th and Fifth Ave. I wasn’t sure what side of the treat the Apple Store was on as I had never been to this one. I have always heard that this particular Apple Store was an absolute mad house, so I have always avoided it. Another cool thing about Blind Square is the app will tell you the direction of the store you are tracking according to the hands on a clock. We were heading North towards twelve o’clock so when the app told me the Apple Store was at two and than three o’clock I was able to tell it was on the East side of the street. The only thing that didn’t work well, is it kept jumping between 200 and four feet sometimes telling me the latter number as I was getting closer to the store. When I was right outside the Apple Store the app still told me I was 60 feet away from the store. I have traded tweets with the developer of the app and this is something that is supposed to be fixed in the next update to the app. The app definitely has a lot of potential.

Wholly tornado of people Batman. It was packed Disney World style with people in the Apple Store. Of course, the Apple Store staff was very helpful and took us right over to the Genius Bar, but I was able to tell that it was an absolute zoo in there. The Apple Store reinstalled the latest version of IOS so hopefully that will fix the battery life, Siri, and speaker phone issues I have been having. Only time will tell. It is amazing how much you can sense going around you. I asked the man helping me if he knew how much all the Apple products in the store were valued at? He said, he couldn’t tell me. I said you don’t know or you can’t say? He said he wasn’t allowed to talk about it. I than said, so how’s your security? If that Apple store gets robbed tonight, I might be in a little trouble.

Nash and I then headed over to the Lighthouse on 59th Street. It was so great to walk all over the city today. When you get banished to Queens you really enjoy all the energy of the city when you are there. We got to the Lighthouse front desk and the man sitting there asked where we were going. I told him to the Light Expo. Of course he had no clue what I was talking about. I told him the exhibit going on here today. Still no clue. Then the dimly lit lightbulb in his head went off and must have told him the thing on the second floor that all the people are going to. He told me it was on the second floor, and said take the elevator. Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it. He than actually said while working at the front desk of the Lighthouse an organization where blind people are coming through all hours of the day, and me who is standing there with dark sunglasses and a guide dog, he says, go where I am pointing! I said what, he says where I am pointing. The only thing that could come out of my mouth was you could be the stupidest man on the face of the earth! I know the Lighthouse isn’t going to shell out the big bucks for the people who work at the front of the desk, but are you kidding me, Go where I am pointing. And they say there are no jobs out there, well fire this moron and than there will be one job available.

Introducing You To Fleksy A Revolutionary Way Of Typing For the Blind

June 20, 2012

We are going mobile! Not only am I typing this blog on my iPhone but I am using a very exciting new technology designed specifically for blind touch screen users. While the app has yet to be released to the general public, I have been selected as one of the beta testers the name of this new amazing technology is called Fleksy and after only using it for a few days all I can say is wow!

There have been several amazing apps released on the iPhone for the blind. There are money identifiers, color identifiers object recognizing technology, even games but one of the biggest problems the blind encounter is communicating. And while I know a lot of you think siri has fixed that I am sorry to say that it hasn’t while siri has definitely improved blind users ability to use a touch screen siri doesn’t always work. Additionally the ability to type something instead of dictating it when you are out and about is very nice as sometimes you do not want the entire world to hear what you are sending.

So how does it work? Fleksy is designed to work with voice over which is already preinstalled on every iPhone. You will toggel voice over on and off with a triple click of the home button. You do this to switch between the typing mode and the menu mode. If you are like me and know the position of all the keys on a standard keyboard than typing on a touch screen can be quite annoying as it really slows you down. And the problem with siri and other dictation programs is a lot of the time it misunderstands what you are saying. The amazing thing about Fleksy is all you have to do to type is touch and swipe. That’s right it is that simple.

While the iPhone has improved the typing with Voice over since its initial release, as you now have to choices you can double tap to select a letter, or touch a letter have it read and then selected, this is still a pretty big time constraint. The amazing thing about Fleksy is you just touch the screen where you think the letters are to the word you are typing, than swipe right when done and Fleksy reads the word it believes you have typed. It is amazing how accurate the app is if you know how to spell. Though sometimes you are off a letter, and it announces a wrong word, when that is the case, all you have to do is swipe down and Fleksy announces the words closest to where you have touched. If you hear the word you want you just swipe right and continue on typing. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world, and computers are even less perfect so some times it will not recognize the word you are typing. When that is the case all you have to do is swipe left and it delete the entire word you are typing so you can start again. On the traditional iPhone keyboard you would have to take the time to hit the delete key several times to delete every character. Also sometimes Fleksy may not recognize the word you are typing if this is the case, just slow down make sure you are spelling the word you want correctly than just flick up once to select it. There are also some nice shortcuts built in to Fleksy swipe twice to the right and it inserts a period, if you want a comma or question mark, etc just swipe up or down to choose what you want.

After typing the message you want you can than again triple click the home button and swipe to the right to access the main menu. You are than presented with the choices to email, text message, tweet, or copy the text where you can than go and paste in to another app like I am doing here with this blog.

Up until now, I have loved my iPhone and all the amazing apps that help me in my daily life, but absolutely hated typing on the iPhone. Well, thanks to Fleksy that is no longer the case!

Does Your Guide Dog FaceTime?

April 1, 2012

Guide Dog work is not all work and no play. For years, guide dogs have been tasked with leading blind people around. They are trained to go from corner to corner. Now I have no idea about the history of guide dogs. I am sure there was some caveman out there who was blind and slapped a harness on the back of a T-Rex. And that is how it all began. When dinosaurs became extinct, blind people had to find a new animal to lead them around, and who better than the family friendly dog? Then came guide dog schools to train the dogs, and the great people who raise the dogs before heading off to the guide dog school, the puppy raisers. And things have pretty much progressed since there.

With technology being what it is these days, and everyone having a camera and GPS system on them at all times, I am sure the future of guide dogs will be interesting. Guide dogs already have GPS chips in them in case they get lost, so they can be found by satellites. Pretty amazing, try explaining that one to World War II vets. With GPS becoming more and more advanced. I can see a time pretty soon where the guide dogs harness comes with a chip in it that will help a blind person navigate even down to the slightest millimeter. With my great guide Nash now, I still have to rely on the kindness of strangers to help me find the door to a business, especially a place that I have not been before. If there are a bunch of stores in a row next to each other, and I tell Nash left to the door, I can still be at the wrong store. With a GPS system built in to his harness where I can click a button and have a bluetooth earpiece in, I could find the door on my own, if GPS directions get down to it. That would be quite a nice world to live in.

Now that we have covered the work part, lets get to the play part. Does your guide dog FaceTime? For those of you not familiar with FaceTime, it is a program built in to all macs, iPhones, and iPads, allowing you to chat via video with someone else running FaceTime. I believe it is the same concept as Skype. The problem with Skype is it is no longer accessible, meaning that a blind person who uses a screen reader, in my case, voiceover over the mac cannot use it. There are several programs and websites that are inaccessible and we are not going to get in to that today, as that is a long topic. When a site or app is inaccessible it means that the site or app has not been properly designed where a screen reader cannot read the page elements. That is a novice understanding of it. I am sure a computer programmer could explain it in much more detail to you. You do have to remember I was in college at a time when the internet and email hadn’t blown up quite yet, and we were still just using it to download pictures from Entertainment Weekly. Remember Prodigy?

So now that you have a basic understanding of FaceTime, what good is a video chat to someone who is blind? None. Yes, the person you are speaking with can see you, but you can’t see them, but to a guide dog, it can be quite fun, and a way for him to see those family members and friends that do not live near you. I have Facetimed a few times with friends and family. And I know what you are thinking, how does Nash get anything out of it? I didn’t think he was either, until I noticed that every time I FaceTime with my Mom, someone who Nash knows quite well, he wants to lick the screen of the iPhone when he sees her face! Sorry to let you other people know, Nash doesn’t do that when he sees you. Pretty amazing, as I know he is color blind, but he is obviously differentiating between my Mom and everyone else I have Facetimed with. So, yes, my guide dog does FaceTime!

When You’re Blind, Technology Can Be An Amazing Thing

December 23, 2011

We all have those days when nothing seems to go right. Being blind this seems to be most days for me. So tonight when I got ready to walk my guide dog Nash and went to put my sneakers on, it was no surprise when I went to tie my sneakers and the shoelace ripped right off in to my hand. UGH! Lately I have been wearing sneakers most days, so what am I going to do now. I went in to my closet to find another pair of shoes, as I don’t think Nash is going to understand, sorry pal my shoelace is ripped so you can’t go out. I hadn’t worn another pair of shoes in quite awhile, so I was a little flustered, as I wasn’t a hundred percent certain the shoes I was putting on were the same pair. Yes, my vision has gotten so bad, that I can’t tell if a pair of shoes match. Then I remembered an app I had downloaded on my iPhone awhile ago called VizWiz. I had never used it, but I recalled, that you could take a picture of something and then add a question to it, and send it out in to cyberspace. Well, no time like the present to give this thing a whirl. I took a picture, but then when I went to ask the question, nothing happened. Great yet another app that doesn’t work properly. Then it hit, try turning a light on, as maybe the camera needs a little light. When you are blind, you do not sit around with a lot of lights on, especially when you have the severe glare issues from light that I have. Every time someone comes over to my apartment, I have to remember to turn a light on, as I could imagine my apartment without light could be a little creepy to the sighted. Hey at least when it is just me here I am saving on that damn con ed bill. So I turned a light on, relaunched the app, took the picture of the shoes again, then asked are these the same pair of shoes? After that VizWiz took me to a screen with a few options, AI for artificial intelligence, web worker, I assume for a human to answer the question, Facebook, sorry not hitting that one, as I do not want my Facebook friends to see this, and twitter. I selected the first two options. Immediately VizWiz sent me back an AI answer that said black leather shoes. Ok, cool, I guess that means they are the same pair. Then a few seconds later I got an answer from a web worker that read, yes they are the same pair, but on the wrong foot. I was like whoa. How do they know what foot they are on. The shoes were sitting on the floor, and not on my feet. Then I tried to put the left shoe on, and sure enough it was the shoe for the right foot. Wow, this is unbelievable. And the best part, VizWiz is a free app. Now most of you who read my blog are probably sighted, and will not need an app like VizWiz, but I implore you to pass this along to your blind or visually impaired friends. The only that disappointed me about the app, was there was no way for me to send a quick thank you to the web worker for answering my question. So I guess this blog entry goes out to all the web workers for VizWiz, and the creators of the app. I definitely will be getting a lot of use out of this app and sharing it with all of my blind friends. Now if there was just an app that could replace my shoelace.

Since I was having such good luck with technology tonight. I decide to try on the new sweat pants and sweat shirt my Mom had just bought me. She was so nice to buy my two pairs, one black and one gray. Now she did do a great thing and put a pin in the grey pair, but I wanted to test out the new color identifier that I recently downloaded. Why did my Mom buy me new sweats? Well, I guess my old pair was pretty worn, and even though I am living in Queens now, I guess I don’t have to look like I live in Queens. And just so you know, I do not wear sweats out to the store or anything, just to lounge around the house, and walk Nash. I have fallen in to the category of giving up which you let the world know once you start wearing sweats out and about. So I put on the black pair, and fired up the color ID, and sure enough I ran it over the sweat shirt, and the app said black, then I tried it over my old sweat shirt, and it said dark yellow. Wow, yes, it was a dark yellow shirt, and wasn’t that way from being dirty. Wow, technology has really come along way, now if they could only find a way to cure my retinitis pigmentosa that would really impress me!

Laugh For Sight is thrilled to Announce that Judah Friedlander from 30 Rock and Tom Papa from The Marriage Ref have joined the All Star Lineup for Monday, October 3 Gotham Comedy Club New York City

September 29, 2011

Greetings all,

Tickets are now on sale four Laugh For Sight NYC at Gotham Comedy Club on Monday, October 3 Silent Auction and Comedy Show beginning at 7pm. Legendary Comedians Robert Klein and Steven Wright will be joined by Judah Friedlander from 30 Rock, Tom Papa from The Marriage Ref, Eddie Brill The Audience Warm-Up at The Late Show with David Letterman, Jessica Kirson from Comedy Central Presents, Dan Naturman from Last Comic Standing, and of course myself and Nash. Tickets can be purchased by going to http://www.gothamcomedyclub.com, by calling 212-367-9000, or by visiting this link directly.
http://gothamcomedyclub.com/show.cfm?id=99171&cart

Tickets for Laugh For Sight are $35 for General Admission and $75 for VIP Reserved Seating. The Silent Auction Presented by Patron Spirits begins at 7pm, the Comedy Show will begin at 830PM. Donations to the silent auction include: Comedy Central, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Colbert Report, The Jimmy Fallon Show, NY Yankees, Susan Michel Limited, NJ Devils, NY Rangers, Felix Rey, Exhale Spa, Eli Manning, Charlize Theron, Top Gear USA, and much more.

Corporate tables are still available, and donations can still be made for the silent auction, please contact us at info@laughforsight.com.

Looking forward to seeing everyone.

Please makre sure to visit our website at http://www.laughforsight.com and Follow us on Twitter @LaughForSight

Nash is the New King of Queens

August 2, 2011

I know once again it has been awhile since I have blogged. What can I say it has been a complicated year, but things are beginning to pick up. So what have we been busy with since last writing? Well, Nash and I have a new zip code. After eight years on 8th Avenue down the street from the Letterman Show and 11 years in Manhattan, it was time to move on, or move out of the city. We didn’t want to, but things have been slow, and rent in the city will kill you. Nash and I are now living in Queens. Funny, as I have probably only been to Queens a handful of times if you don’t count trips to the airport. It is funny, as I move to Queens and save a boat load of money, yet I get a lot more space. That concept is still weird to me, but hey that is New York. Ends up some friends of mine happened to have an apartment in Jamaica, NY, although it is not really Jamaica, the apartment seems to fall right on the border of Jamaica, Kew Gardens, and Flushing, as I seem to be in a different area wherever I go, and that includes different sides of the street.

After eight years in the pad on 8th ave, moving was bitter sweet, as my building was great, but seemed to be under constant construction. I was used to the noise of the city, but the buildings noise was starting to really drive me crazy, and then there was the club out back of the building. That place drove me nuts as several times a year I could feel the bass music from the club. It would even annoy Nash as he would jump out of my bed when it was really vibrating the apartment, and he would go and sit in the bathroom, as it was the quietest place.Also, about a little over a year ago, the tourist bus companies decided to start dropping flocks of tourists off right in front of my building. Now don’t get me wrong, as I have been guilty of being a tourist before, but something strange happens when people come to NYC. It is like they don’t have tall buildings where these people come from, and forget about them ever seeing a blind guy before because they would never get out of my way, and would always try and pet Nash even when I told them not to. What are Nash and I part of the tourist attraction?

So on to Queens it was.

The really tough thing about moving this time is that it was really the first time I was moving since I became blind. The last time I moved in 2003, I did a good portion of the move on my own taking things on the subway with me. This time, I really needed a lot of help, as I couldn’t even tell what a lot of the things were in my closets. I was very thankful for my Aunt coming in to the city and helping with a lot of the packing. I began packing up the apartment days before she came, as my good relationship with the employees at Duane Reade paid off, as they gave me plenty of boxes. Nash freaks out when I pack a suitcase, so packing an apartment was going to be interesting. I guess I am smarter than your average bear, as I started the packing process late at night while Nash was fast asleep in my bed. He had no clue what was going on. I was able to pack a lot of DVDs and books on my own, but that was about it. When my Aunt Lona came in to help, Nash was wide awake. He and we did get lucky for a little while as my Aunt brought Nash a bone. So while we started packing the breakables, Nash was playing with his new bone. But that only lasted for so long, and then Nash became the supervisor. If we set a box on the ground to prepare to tape the top portion, Nash would walk over and stick his nose in it to check things out. Also during this process, Nash kept rubbing up asainst my legs, and would camp out on my feet. I think this was his way of protesting. We got a lot done the day my Aunt came over.

Luckily, my buddy came in to the city to help me with a lot of the move. Without a sighted person, I never would have been able to do it, or would have at least been at the mercy of the movers. The day the movers arrived, most of the apartment was packed. I put Nash on the leash for the time the movers were there, and he was definitely a little frazzled, like where is everything going? He kept going back and forth, maybe he wanted to tell the movers careful with that, and where are you taking that?Everything got packed up very smoothly, and after a few last passes around the apartment, and of course one last bathroom stop for Nash in front of the Letterman Show, it was off to Queens, and a new adventure. This was all this past Saturday, so come back soon for part two of The New King of Queens.