Encouragement for Blind Fathers

It’s Father’s Day weekend, a time to recognize the efforts the man we call Dad has put into forming us for a prosperous and encouraging livelihood. While the next post will focus on our thanks to the fathers in our lives, this one seeks to encourage you who are blind fathers that parenting, let alone a stable livelihood as adults should remain one of your goals.

Of course, many will wonder how can someone who is blind support a family financially, emotionally, and yes spiritually. After all, it’s very tempting for people who are fully sighted to transfer that question to a default parental posture toward us who are blind. It’s easy for men, in particular, who do not have firsthand experience with adaptations to wonder how we can play sports, fix dinner on a grill, handle a family’s bank account, etc. Even in our egalitarian society, men are seen as the ones who do these activities.

Well, the good news is that we who are blind men and head of our households don’t need to tiptoe through our responsibilities or defer them to someone else supposedly more capable than us to handle them. Even if we live on a fixed income, we can still balance checkbooks and monitor the amount of cash in the bank. If we have family-wife and kids-we will lead them in many different ways-sometimes requesting help with signing forms or accessing screens that our software doesn’t always read for us.

Yet, like our sighted friends and neighbors, we who bear the responsibility of planning family outings such as to the ballgame or a movie or help prepare our children for college can do these tasks with as much confidence as anyone else. In other words, we don’t need to succumb to two very important tendencies that stunt the maturation of many fathers. First, we may have run into family members or even friends whose coddling or ignoring us has emasculated our ambitions. We may be told at a get-together to let others fix and serve the meal. Some may wonder how we can let go and enjoy a card game or watching sports. That misperception leads some to pass over us when getting a Euchre tournament underway or even talking about current events.

Sometimes, it simply takes asserting ourselves enough to show interest. Perhaps, bringing our own set of cards that have both braille and print on them might make others think twice. Don’t be shy either when speaking of the gismos we use when fixing dinner like talking meat thermometers, locklid spatulas, and bump dots on the stove. Asking our nephews or nieces about how their classes or sports are going will help deflect attention from the perceived impossibility of our enjoying others’ company to the joy we have in it.

Secondly, we need not feel ashamed of our economic status or the adaptations we do make. After all, adaptations are meant to help us join in the same work and leisure that everyone else enjoys. Yet, many perceive them as being accommodations to make life doable for us among ourselves. This perception hits us hard because we live in the world of work, school, political and sporting events. We are just as capable as the next person over to socialize. Perhaps, you’re still learning to grill; go out and hover around the conversation while the steaks are cooking and find places to interject what you can add to the conversation. Don’t take “no” for an answer when folks at your family gathering say they are organizing a group to hit the links or watch your local baseball team on the spur of the moment. If you’re present, the invitation is open to you as well and it can be an opportunity for you to share how you participate with others. Be a caddy for golf. Take your headphones and tune into the baseball or football game so you also can cheer or talk smack with others about the action.

And when parenting sighted children, assert your role as that person who does know best and can model it for your family. Yes, that may mean work behind the scenes to navigate an online bank account for you and your wife, let alone your children’s finances. You can show your persistence in seeking work if you are jobless or diligence with your job if employed. These traits show others and yourself that, yes, blind people can and do parent with as much confidence as anyone else and navigating the same considerations which are common to any family.

If you do attend church that involves training children such as through Sunday school lessons or Confirmation instruction, take the lead in helping them memorize Bible passages. Engage in discussions with them so they can also grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. The more you help them grow in faith and life the more you will keep yourself grounded in the Word.

Here, then, is a brief list of things that can help you maintain the leadership that you as head of the household can do.

  1. Keep aware of what your kids are learning in school and accumulate the same worksheets and books they have for class. Yes, it will take some time to scan them or download them in an accessible format. But, your children will be grateful when they can look to you for help with assignments or as a sounding board when studying for tests.
  2. Attend your children’s sporting events and other extracurricular activities with other parents. The more you can share in a common concern for your children’s maturation the more you can pave the way for their growth into adults themselves be it in their educational, entertainment, or religious livelihood. In our era when children are being taught to be little automatons, you can still show them that family informs school, choices in friends, and exploring future career paths.
  3. Maintain an active civic life. If your children see you voting, attending church regularly,  engaging in chess or martial arts clubs which have a family friendly environment, they will see your adaptations as the contours that you navigate rather than tedious necessities to help you get by.
  4. Show ongoing care for your wife. One of the myths we who are blind have to bust on a regular basis is that we can’t or don’t manage stable commitments well. Helping your spouse prepare meals, encouraging them to do the best at their work, and giving them abundant affection will go a long way toward keeping your marriage well-grounded.

So this Father’s Day, let’s keep standing firm as blind fathers and heads of our households. After all, children deserve to know and love both their biological Mom and Dad. Rejoice in the responsibilities that being a father gives you replete with the leisure, work, and overall care involved.

Know The Symptoms: Cataracts

June is cataract awareness month which means that we who are or are not blind have every reason to learn more about the condition and symptoms of cataracts. The Lighthouse for the Blind has a short synopsis here.

After all, the vast majority of those who reach eighty years old have experienced some form of cataracts. With that said, people as young as four to five years old can develop them, especially in tandem with another eye disease.

Believe me, I know. I can distinctly remember the fading colors as my mom drove me to nursery school when I was four. Sometimes, those colors would darken like when I mistook my friend’s blue-sided house for another nearby because it looked a shade of gray. The shimmering light and shrinking of farther away objects gave me the idea that my parents had realized all along. So at age four, we traveled down to Florida to visit one of the leading specialists in retinal detachments (my other major condition). It was then or soon thereafter, I was diagnosed as having cataracts along glaucoma.

Surgeries followed that early-in-life experience. But, because of the scarring on my retina and other deterioration, my cataracts were never removed.

That’s why awareness of cataracts is vitally important for both blind and sighted alike. If caught early, cataracts need not mean much loss of sight. However, as in the case of retinal detachment, if untreated, cataracts can lead to blindness that cannot be reversed.

So if you are blind or have low-vision, get your eyes checked regularly so as to discover any presence of cataracts. Or if you are a sighted friend or relative, encourage your blind friend or relative to keep on top of his/her eye care.

Yes, the fear of potential vision loss can numb you into complaisance, but that need not happen. Eye clinics are in every mid-sized to large city as are resources for coping with the damage caused by cataracts and many other eye conditions. As you learn to navigate life’s contours boldly blind, you have every reason to afford yourself of the many resources available to you.

Sunday To Sunday for May 22, 2022

The readings for the sixth Sunday of Easter are Acts 16:19-15, Rev. 21:9-14, 21-27; and John 16:23-33.

God promises to gather all who hear and trust His Word into His one Church. That’s why He foretold the sending of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, which we celebrate at Pentecost. By His grace, the Spirit brings us to faith in Jesus Christ so that we may call on His Name and freely receive eternal life. Surely, we face hardships of many kinds in our daily lives, yet our Lord who has overcome all sin and grief on the cross sustains us through these troubles, through death, and into His heavenly bliss forever.

Catching UP With Tips: Pouring Liquid and the Liquid Measurer

One of the questions we who’ve been blind for quite some time is: Where do I start when adapting my home for my blind child? My blind husband or wife? My parent who has low-vision? It’s a good question since blindness affects and is interwoven into every fabric of our lives.

One of the first areas I’d sugges is the kitchen. That’s because it’s a convenient and relatively simple space where someone can begin regaining their footing after a major wave of vision loss.

We’ve covered the use of bump dots for navigating appliances like toasters, microwaves, and crockpots. Another handy low-tech friend will be your liquid measurer. Many companies make them but the design across the board is very similar. Two little prongs stick over the edge of the cup or glass you are using and they connect to a small battery pack either exposed or inside a plastic case.

These wires sense when your coffee or soda or water gets close to the top. Some older models let out a shrill alarm while others play a more pleasant tone to let you know to stop pouring.

Now if you’re like me, it takes a bit of time to stop sticking your fingertip over the glass’s edge. Nevertheless, with this little device, you can help family members or visiting guests trust that you’ll hand them their drink without having overflowed its edges. The more you get comfortable using the liquid measurer the less you’ll find yourself needing to clean the counter top when preparing drinks for dinner.

Of course, a liquid measurer will need cleaned and then kept dry until the next time you use it. That way, its sensor will not detect even the slightest dampness when you want to measure your next drink. The first wet sensation it should get is the liquid in your glass or cup, not the remainder of the last one or water from the faucet used when cleaning the wires’ ends.

Check out a demonstration of the liquid measurer on a video about methods for pouring liquid produced by The Blind Life here.

Back From a Week’s Hiatus

Good late Saturday evening to you all. I know that it’s been a few days since a post has gone out. That’s because I have been on a brief hiatus, working on re-editing Jag and a few other matters that required my time and attention.

But, now, I’m very thankful to return to this forum to give you ongoing, up-to-date insights into the blindness community personalities, events, and trends. I am continuing to look at the podcast and improving it so that no one has to subscribe to Spotify to listen but you will be able to click a link and get the episodes.

In short, it’s continuing to be a joy raising awareness of our capabilities as blind people and the adaptations we make while among those of us who are blind giving encouragement for navigating life’s contours.

So, now that posts will be returning, check in, read, and stay tuned! Also, check the subscription field if you’d like to follow this blog.

And, as always be boldly blind or, if sighted, join us in being informed!

Sunday To Sunday for May 15, 2022

The readings for the fifth Sunday of Easter are Acts 11:1-18, Rev. 21:1-7, and John 16:12-22.

Whether it be a gift or a full-out celebration we know will be given us, anticipating it is tough. We want what’s been promised us. As Christians, we long for the Lord Jesus, risen from the dead, to return to make everything new, even changing our mortal bodies to immortal. Like the disciples, we ask when or how long “a little while” will be. By His Spirit speaking through the Word, our Lord keeps us firm in His promise, for He will return to reveal His new creation for us.

Audio Podcast On Hold For Now

Every endeavor has its set backs. And this one is no exception. I didn’t realize until today that to hear the podcasts, you had to get a Spotify subscription-free or otherwise. My hope is to rework the podcast so that when you click on the link from the article, the page displaying all uploaded episodes will appear and you can listen to them with the simple push of the “play” button.

The good thing is that if we need to change platforms, the episodes are already catalogued on my computer. So, all I would have to do is upload them to the new service I will use.

Otherwise, keep reading the articles, spread the word and always be boldly blind, navigating life’s contours.

How We Describe Ourselves

While we discussed people first language versus identity first language a few months ago in a post,, it’s important to revisit the issue when a new twist arises.

And one has. In episode 7 of the Boldly Blind podcast, we discuss how over the past few years, people who experience varying degrees of sight loss other than total blindness have begun preferring the term low-vision instead of visually impaired. That’s understandable since speaking of oneself as being impaired gets the perception of being a bad thing. Low-vision, then, becomes a nice work-around for many because it does describe the condition.

So, in this seventh episode of the Boldly Blind podcast, we review when we might use people first language and when we may not. As noted before in many social settings, many of us still prefer speaking more casually, e.g. the blind pianist, the blind athlete, the blind director.

Take a listen, learn and as always, leave a comment if you so choose.

Fitness Friday Night: Warming Up For Your Workout

I hope you’ve enjoyed these past few Fridays’ survey of various sports adapted for the blind and a few products that make good fitness adaptable for us who are blind or low-vision. Of course, not all of us will be a full-force fitness guru, paraolympian or even an everyday gym rat. What the next few weeks’ survey will give is an overview of a good workout, and reasons for engaging in a regular action plan. Of course, along with describing some of the steps I take, I give credit where credit’s due since many personal trainers and coaches have helped me along. In addition, since beginning to use the ReVision Fitness App which was developed by U.S. goalball standout, Tyler Merren, I’ve learned more about the benefits of good posture and exact movements in exercising.

Whether you’re an attuned athlete or just keeping toned, your workout will involve warming up, then the body of your session, and finally a cool down period. Since my big emphasis is running several miles when I’m at the gym in two or three long segments, I develop my dynamic stretching, core/mat work and weightlifting for the purpose of making myself a better runner. That means on days when I don’t go to the gym, I do stretches that will help build my endurance and stamina for when I am at my home away from home.

Today, let’s focus on the warm-up. Before getting into the physical benefits, you should be aware that it will affect your emotional drive. Doing a combination of toy soldier straight leg lifts, jogging in place, and arm circles-among other things-will get your mindset zeroed in. “It’s time to put other stresses aside and fixate on the rush of adrenaline, the rising heart rate, perspiration, and the endorphins giving your body the eagerness to be active. One lesson I had to learn over the years is that soreness is a byproduct of working various muscles groups when starting or restarting a workout regimen. It’s going to happen. Yet, as you have the goal of toning up, weight loss, and or gaining strength in mind, you will feel satisfied even though your body feels the soreness.

Another important benefit of the warm-up is injury prevention. When your muscles get moving and more flexible, the less chance you’ll have of those terrible pulled muscles, shin splints, cramping up, or muscle strains. That’s why dynamic stretching must come before a long run, sparring on a mat in wrestling or judo, or swimming laps. So even before I hit the treadmill, I do the following list of stretches-sometimes more-beginning with my head and going down to my feet. Of course, you can adapt this list to your needs and time limits.

1.Neck rotations

2.Arm circles

3.Side bends and lateral stretches/windmill toe touches

4. Waist rotations and washers

5. Full body rotations where my legs  and ankles move in circles in sync with my waist

6.Toy soldier marching where I raise one leg and the opposite arm simultaneously and fully extended, then alternating for twenty to thirty reps

7Jumping jacks

8. At this point, the blood is pumping as I jog in place for three to five minutes, increasing my speed throughout, sometimes kicking my heels toward my buttocks but mostly running stationary

Then the time comes for my first long run which usually lasts forty to forty-five minutes.

Maybe, you’ll include a couple sets of sit-ups, crunches and push-ups as well. I tend to do those after my run along with other calisthenic stretches since my muscles have warmed and are more pliable.

Negating the warm-up may result in shocking your system if you immediately run too fast or jump right into lifting heavy weights. Of course, more experienced athletes can customize their weightlifting routine to gain the aerobic and cardio benefits that doing as many reps and sets as possible will bring. But for most of us who are far from this status, building up from the basic stretches and foundations is vitally important. After all, fatigue can set in both in the case of negating several days of working out in a row or if we overdue ourselves from the get-go.

For more about the warm-up, you can set up a routine via your Alexa app or speaker or you can go to the Revision Fitness App and begin with a free two-week trial period.

Next week, we’ll cover some aspects of running.

Low-Vision, Learning, And Writing? Here’s some help.

The technology is there!

That’s one of the recurring themes we at Boldly Blind wish to convey when talking adaptations and accessibility, and the latest post from Perkins E-Learning perfectly illustrates this point. Check out how the Writing Wizard can help teachers of the visually impaired (TVI’s) and families whose children are low-vision. Putting apps like this into use will help us advocate for better mainstreaming conditions when striving to keep pace with fully sighted peers. The cost of this app also makes it attractive. While a $4.99 charge purchases the full version, a free download exposes teachers and students alike to the potential improvement they will experience in literacy. Perhaps, this factor will help quell the fears held by many teachers in the mainstream classroom and school administrators that accommodating students with print disabilities is a financially expensive venture. Whether during an IEP or meeting with an individual teacher, parents can make their case for their child’s inclusion in classroom activities by showing the ease with which adaptive software interacts with this simple writing app.