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  • Gaming With Grief

    Ever since I became blind in 2002, I have a profound interest in grief, as it pertains to life transitions and loss. However, more recently, after the loss of my longterm partner, I have found myself focusing on my grief pertaining to his death. Whatever the loss is, grief can come in waves, and hits hard when you least expect it. It is not something you truly get over, but as I have become all to familiar with, you learn to cope. Coping can be done in various ways, as I have mentioned in previous posts. For the sake of this post, we are going to focus on coping with a video game.
    As a way of expressing their most inner thoughts/feelings and opening the door for others to bear witness to the impact of their loss, a family has created a video game. The game is called, “That Dragon, Cancer.” You see, two parents found themselves grappling with the terminal diagnosis of their youngest son, Joel, who had an aggressive brain tumor. With the idea of literally putting yourself in this family’s shoes, the goal is to have the player asking themselves, what is the motive behind the game; what was trying to be expressed and why. Within the game, the narrative allows for the player to make decisions, making them feel that they can change the outcome, but they find out that no matter how hard they try, the outcome can’t be changed. The desperate decisions that are made, the anticipation, the fear, leads down the same path for Joel. On the flip side, the story is not only one of tragedy, but one of hope, everlasting love, and joyful moments. It was very fitting that this game ended up being nominated and won the “Impact Award” from the Gaming Awards because it truly has left an imprint on many hearts. To find and play this game, check out www.thatdragoncancer.com

  • Ten In Ten

     

    Being the champion in technological accessibility, as I have mentioned before, Apple has opened many doors for people, including those with disabilities. No one is left out. I became a Mac user in elementary school. In fact, it was the first computer I had ever owned. I was re-introduced to the Apple line in 2010, when I was on the market for a new phone. This time around, I was a blind user, unlike my experience in elementary school, thus my needs were different. When I was in the market for a new cell phone, I had done research on the best accessible phones for those with visual impairments, and the iPhone came up as one of them. Although the accessibility feature for the iPhone was fairly new for the iPhone, Apple was generating buzz. Particularly, for their built in screen reader, VoiceOver.
    Initially the sales person, through my cell phone carrier, was hesitant in selling me the phone because of the touch screen. I told him about the positive reviews I have heard about it, to which I was told that if it didn’t work out, I could bring it back. Let’s just say that I did not take back the phone, and in fact, I have had several iPhone models since then. Here are 10 ways the iPhone is accessible.

    1. VoiceOver ~ Built in screen reader for those with visual impairments. In addition, some people with dyslexia use this feature as well.
    2. Zoom Text ~ Magnification capability for those with low vision.
    3. Magnifying glass ~ A real magnifying glass, but on the phone. Point the iPhone to whatever needs to be magnified.
    4. Camera ~ Allows independence for taking pictures. People have the option to set a timer for selfies, while telling how many people are in the frame. The camera also tells the position of the people in the frame.
    5. FaceTime ~ Allows people the option to see each other when conversing, such as hearing impaired individuals. Sign language is at a person’s fingertips.
    6. Dictation ~ This feature is not only a time saver and convenient, but it helps those who my not be able to type for varying reasons, such as a disability.
    7. Siri ~ The built in assistant that many have grown to love. You can ask Siri anything, to which she always has a clever response. Information gathering made easier.
    8. Hearing Aids ~ Made for iPhone hearing aids allows a person to control what they hear through Bluetooth technology. A person can adjust volume, etc., making participation in conversations easier.
    9. TTY Capability ~ Built in software allows a person to make TTY calls without added hardware.
    10. Switch Control ~ Allows people to have access to their phone with no need to touch it. Good option for those with physical impairments that impact movements.
    These are just a few accessibility options that the iPhone has to offer. So, as a tribute to 10 years, how about you take full advantage of the iPhone, by noticing all that it has to offer?

  • Empowering Eyes

    When you enter into a room, what is the first thing you notice about someone? For many, it is a person’s eyes. You notice if they do or don’t make eye contact. You take notice of not only where they are looking, but how their eyes are looking. Are their eyes, wide open, squinted, rolling, etc. The point of the matter is that you can truly see into a person’s soul by their eyes. It is like Helen Keller said, “Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.” For some, looking the world straight in the eye is a daunting task though. One main cause is due to self esteem, especially among those with differing abilities.

    Living in an abled bodied society, people with differing abilities are looked down upon, causing insecurities to fester. Some people believe that those with differing abilities can’t be intelligent, capable, fashionable, fun , and the list could go on, but I will just name a few. These misconceptions will continue to be present, and even worsen, if not challenged.
    On twitter, there is a hashtag campaign to show that you can have a disability, while still being cute. Yes, disability does not mean inability. The hashtag, #DisabledAndCute brought body positivity about disability. The campaign encouraged people to tweet pictures where they felt attractive and/or cute. This is a pushback against the notion that attractiveness comes in one form. There are some other hashtags that people have used to celebrate their differing ability. Such hashtags include, #disabodypos, #BarriersWeFace, #DeafTalent, #ChronicSex, #AbleismExists. My hashtag will be #DisabilityNotInability. What is yours? Tweet Prominent Pathways with your hashtag. Let’s get tweeting!

  • Playing With Grief

    Grief is a constant game, where it is the opponent, and the inflicted person is on the defense; trying to defend their sanity. Grief goes up and down in waves, making a person feel like they are losing their mind or “going crazy.” How can something shake a person so much, causing them to lose their balance in life? Well, it is because when we lose something or someone, it causes us to question the stability of everything around us, including ourselves. We start to second guess ourselves, actions, and life as a whole. Things do not seem fair, and are quite unbearable at times. Grief never really goes away, you just learn to deal with it. Over time, it does get easier to live each day, but, the grief is still there. It is a part of you, and has forever changed your outlook..
    Although grief is universal, the way it is expressed varies. Some people cry, some people don’t. Some people are open about their grief, while others like to keep it private. The way you grieve is your process. The important part is that you are allowing yourself to feel, and not avoiding what is within.
    Today, I became annoyed with a comment former basketball player, Charles Barkley said in regards to current Celtics basketball player, Isaiah Thomas’ grief. For those of you who are not aware, Mr. Thomas’ sister died in a car accident a day or so before Easter. Shocked and grief stricken, Mr. Thomas decided to play in the playoffs, scheduled on Easter. He was seen crying before the game, and rightfully so, he just lost his sister. Apparently, Mr. Barkley disapproves of the Celtics player showing that type of emotion. Mr. Barkly said he felt uncomfortable for the basketball player, and his crying was not a good look. Well, Mr. Barkley, who are you to judge the way someone grieves? The fact that Mr. Thomas made it on the court that day, is amazing. The fact that he was open enough to share his vulnerability with others is amazing. The fact that he scored 33 points is amazing. You see, grief can be debilitating, and it takes great effort to make it through the day, especially when the loss is so fresh. I don’t know if Mr. Barkley realizes this, but with his comments, he is creating more hesitation in others, especially men, in expressing their feelings. I choose not to follow Mr. Barkley’s example, but rather, the young basketball player, who stood up against adversity, by continuing to play the sport he loves. What do you think? Prominent Pathways, LLC would love to hear your thoughts. Please send us a tweet.

  • Grieving With Cupid

    February 14 is the day of love. A time cherished by many, while also dreaded by some as well, and the rest just don’t care. Viewed as a day to celebrate couples, it is a reminder that you are alone, if you don’t have a significant other to celebrate with. For those who recognize Valentine’s Day, but are feeling left out, they may choose to celebrate in other ways, like recognizing everyone you love in your life. Who said the day has to be reserved for romantic love? Come on, get with the times.

    For me, since I recently lost my longterm partner this past Thanksgiving, I chose to spend this day of love remembering all of the good times we had. Sure, we constantly showed our love to one another on a daily basis, so this day, February 14, is a time of reflection of how deep our love was, and to me, still is. When a person is grieving, it can be helpful to write, as a way to get out your emotions. Writing, not thinking, just allowing your hand to flow. When you write from your heart, you will be surprised by what comes out, your true emotions; just like when you talk. My partner liked to read my writing, so I wrote him a poem, to which I thought I would share with all of you. Hey, if you are trying to fill the void on Valentine’s Day, writing is one suggestion. It works for me. Some people also listen to music to cope, which is another favorite of mine. Our favorite song was “All Of Us” by John Legend. I do these things in remembrance, in sadness, but most importantly, in love. Grieving over a loved one, lost relationship, whatever the case may be, what do you do to cope? Tweet your answers, and let me know, I want to hear from you!
    Without further suspense, here is my poem, A Single Rose…

    I yearn to hold you close,
    I yearn to feel your presence,
    Without you,
    I am a broken rose.
    Petals wilted,
    Petals crumbling to the touch,
    what happened to our future?
    I feel so jilted.
    Tears fall day and night,
    my chest heavy,
    I need you, I want to hold you tight.
    Color fading, so dim,
    a reflection of my pain,
    the green is disappearing from the stem.
    Quenched for thirst,
    searching for that bit of light,
    I will try to move on without my first.
    I love you to intrinity,
    I love you to the moon and back,
    which will forever be.
    Now, in spirit you are,
    please promise you won’t leave me.
    My love, my sunshine,
    with you by my side,
    I will try to be fine.

  • Benefits Of Fiction

     

    “You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild to pick up a book and read to a child.” -Dr. Seuss
    Children are the gateway to our future, thus it is important to help them realize all that life has to offer. Being the little impressionable ones they are, children model off of the adults in their lives. So, what are you teaching the future generation? Think about it… Are you showing them messages of hope, strength, compassion, trust, honesty? What about empathy for others? If you yourself find it hard to incorporate these qualities, then it is likely that the children in your life will find it difficult as well. So, in addition to modeling, how can you help incorporate positive influences into children’s, and even your life? Start with the things that you and the children in your life are exposed to. One thing is reading. Do you and the children in your life like to read? If not, how come? If so, what type of books? Reading has many benefits, one being that it offers the reader an escape from their current reality. Every once in a while a person needs a distraction, especially if they are facing a lot of stress in their life. A distraction, such as reading can cause a person to feel calmer, even if it is only for a moment. Those moments add up; making it through the difficulties. Also, what about knowledge, many books offer wisdom and insight that was not previously known. Not to mention, empathy. Yes, there has been studies that books, particularly fiction, helps a person become more empathetic.
    In the journal, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Psychologist, Keith Oatley, talks specifically about how fiction can impact a person’s social skills. This is not a new phenomenon, and with that said, Oatley’s aim is to build upon existing research. He, along with other researchers, devised a test to evaluate respondents way of thinking.
    The respondents were given 36 images of people’s eyes and were instructed to select 4 phrases that they believe most accurately matched what each individual might be thinking or feeling. The 4 choices were reflective, aghast, irritated, or impatient. The results concluded that when compared with respondents who read non fictional books, those who read fictional books have a lot higher scores, indicating a greater level of empathy. Remember, empathy is all about understanding.
    The takeaway is that fiction, whether it is books or television, helps a person have an increased understanding of their social world; the relationship between ourselves and others. Fiction creates a world of imagination, and each story invites us, the reader/viewer, to take a trip through another’s journey. The next time you find yourself reading or viewing some type of fiction, ask yourself, what have I gained from this story? You might be surprised by the answer.

  • The Great 15

    In remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday on January 15, I have compiled 15 of my favorite quotes from the great civil rights leader. Here goes…
    < “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
    < “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
    < “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
    < “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
    < “Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
    < “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
    < “People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
    < “As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation — either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
    < “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
    < “Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
    < “The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But…the good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
    < “One day we will learn that the heart can never be totally right when the head is totally wrong.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
    < ”The major problem of life is learning how to handle the costly interruptions. The door that slams shut, the plan that got sidetracked, the marriage that failed. Or that lovely poem that didn’t get written because someone knocked on the door.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
    < “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.
    < “A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.

  • A Right, A Necessity

    ”The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
    Education should be a given right, rather than a privilege. Everyone should have the opportunity to gain prosperity, stability, and security, which is largely awarded through attaining an education. Unfortunately, across the world, and even some places in the United States, students are not offered access or the level of education they need. This is particularly true for those with physical and mental disabilities. There has been the debate of ability grouping, special education verses mainstream classroom instruction, etc.
    So, who’s duty is it to create and uphold the education standards for our students? It starts with the Department of Education; recognizing the needs of each and every student of all abilities. If those needs are not being met, then it is up to the student and/or their families to speak out. It takes one person to create change. More than likely, that person is not alone in their experiences, using others to speak out.
    In 1975, congress passed a federal law, which requires school districts to provide an individualized devised public education for each child with a disability. With the law, the aim is that the student will have the opportunity to learn with their peers and achieve their potential. To assist in these efforts, within the law, there is an agreement that in exchange for the accommodations, the federal government provides some financial incentives for the offered services. But, under this law, what type of services must the school districts be held accountable for? Do they only need to provide the bare minimum to meet the law’s guidelines? A little over 40 years after the law was passed, these standards are being challenged.
    Wednesday, January 11, 2017 was an important day for many across the United States, as the Supreme Court heard arguments for re-evaluating the public school’s standards for students with disabilities. It is not enough for any student to get by in school. In life, a person does not excel by just “getting by.” So, why should the education arena be any different? In fact, education is supposed to prepare students for the “real world.” According to Francisco Negron, the Chief Legal Officer for the national school board’s association, if the Supreme Court tightens the public school’s standards, it could cost some districts a lot of money. However, Mr. Negron, I thought you could not put a price tag on a child’s education… For you, it is about money, for others, it is about the right to learn.
    To learn about the case that brought this debate to the forefront, check out http://lakewoodsentinel.com/stories/US-Supreme-Court-hears-case-involving-autistic-Douglas-County-student,241399

  • Talk Tuesday: Independence With iDentifi

    Thank goodness for the era of technology. There are a lot of innovative ideas that keep surfacing everyday. With the surfacing of different apps, there is a need for developers to compete by making their product better and more enhanced than the others. Have you heard of the app, TapTapSee? It is an object recognition program that allows a user to take a picture of something in front of them, and be told aloud what it is. Very cool, to say the least. I had downloaded the app years ago, but only used it a few times. Since then the app has made enhancements and has become more efficient. I re-downloaded it at the urging of my partner. He tested it out and recommended I give it a second chance. I am glad I did because it has become a staple in my daily routine. Did I mention it is free? Yes, it is!
    Well, it looks like one of my favorite apps has competition. The competitor is iDentifi, created by a 12th grader in Toronto, Canada. Bright and ambitious at a young age, Anmol Tukrel began working on his app about a year ago. iDentifi uses Google Vision, CloudSight, and Google Translate to help deliver the given information in a reliable, trusted manner. Just like TapTapSee, the app is geared towards those who have limited to no eyesight. As TapTapSee, iDentifi is free in the iOs store, if you want to try it out. For a little suspense, Tukrel plans on incorporating 96 languages, object recognition in video mode, panoramic mode for navigating streets/addresses, and street crossing signs. All to which are not present in TapTapSee. I am looking forward to seeing the additions to the iDentifi app.

  • In The Midst Of Grief

    “When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.” -Henri Nouwen
    Loss can be a hard thing to navigate and deal with. For many, it is not trying to take it one day at a time, but rather one moment at a time. As a part of loss, people grieve over what they have lost and possibly would’ve had. Grief can be complicated, and the severity of the loss impacts the intensity of feelings a person will feel. Grief will last a lifetime with emotions coming and going.
    Today, I find myself in the midst of grief. The day before Thanksgiving, my love, my life partner unexpectedly died. He was my best friend, my rock. I sit here today, on our anniversary, missing him dearly. My life is forever changed. But, through these past days, do you want to know what enables me to keep going? The answer lies within God, family, and friends. They allow me to cry, vent, express all of my raw emotions as they come. As the quote says above, the best thing you can offer a grieving person is a listening ear.
    In dedication to the person who meant the world to me, I wrote a poem for him.
    Bryan…
    You came into my life, offering a simple preview;
    A glimpse into the amazing soul I would grow to know.
    Thank you for being you.
    The gentleness and depths of your soul that you let me see through,
    You allowed me entrance to witness the light within.
    Thank you for being you.
    Your wit, your humor, your laughter, all contagious.
    You brought a smile to my face, put a pep in my voice,
    You made me happy, to which you knew.
    Thank you for being you.
    Your calmness, patience, and listening ear, provided a space for me to vent,
    And even shed a tear or two.
    There is nothing you wouldn’t do.
    Thank you for being you.
    Without your presence, the world is at a loss.
    Your magnetic personality will forever be missed.
    For all of this is true,
    Thank you for being you.
    I love you!