• 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?

  • Talk Tuesday: World Of Depression

     

    It is no surprise that we are living in an always changing world that is leaving long-lasting marks on people; some positive, and others not. As a result of the changes that may not be so positive, there can be a negative impact to a person’s emotional health, such as depression. Although in some instances, depression can be genetic, there is a lot that is acquired.
    Whether genetic or acquired, the World Health Organization (WHO) deemed depression to be the leading cause for disability across the world. Specifically, the organization found that about 300,000,000 people are living with depression; a condition that can have emotional and physical implications. Hopelessness, sadness, fatigue, changes in appetite and sleep, isolation, just to name a few, are some symptoms that are accompanied with depression. Not to mention, untreated depression has been linked to substance use and heart disease. For depression, there are a few types of treatment that a person can choose from; medication and/or counseling.
    It is highly recommended that when diagnosed with depression that a person do one or both of the available treatments mentioned. However, according to WHO, nearly half of the reported 300,000,000 people impacted by depression, are not getting the help they need.
    April 7, 2017 was World Health Day, thus the theme of this year was depression. The motto, “LET’s Talk,” is supposed to create dialogue around mental illness, while erasing the stigma. The more you talk about something, the more you understand it. Knowledge equals understanding, which opens the doors to acceptance. So, how are you going to walk the talk about depression? Tweet us, and share your responses. We want to know!


  • 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.

  • Talk Tuesday: A Right, A Necessity Part II

     

    Stand up, for your voice will be heard, it will rise. When you rise, at the end of the long fight, you will find the prize. For a Colorado family, and others across the nation, the long waited prize came in the form of a Supreme Court ruling in March. The ruling states that all children, no matter ability, deserve a high quality education. Specifically, the Supreme Court unanimously voted that each child’s educational program must be ambitious, in light of his/her circumstances. Every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives, even if the child is not fully integrated into the mainstream classroom. The court made it clear that the current standards were too low for students with disabilities. If you recall, Prominent Pathways wrote an earlier blog post about such standards, and how equality is important to success. As the Supreme Court believes, any standards that hinder the progress of students, defeats the purpose of education for those with disabilities. When it comes to education, every student deserves a chance to perform to their fullest capability. Limited education does not fix a problem, but rather prolongs it. This ultimately makes an even bigger problem; drop outs.
    In the past, it has been unclear on what type of uniform standards to hold students with disabilities to. This ruling fixes this problem. Within the imposed standards, there is a more equal playing field among families and school officials. Families will have more bargaining power when it comes to their student’s education; fighting for their rights. Education will be geared to each students individual needs; promoting ability, as it should be. Now, it is up to school districts to uphold the new standards. It is time to give students with disabilities a fair chance to excel to higher levels.


  • Talk Tuesday: Open Access

    Books are the gateway to a whole world of possibilities. Let your imagination lead the way. Whether it is printed, digital, audio, or Braille books, literature educates and motivates, thus making access to all a necessity. For those with print reading disabilities, such as visual impairments and dyslexia, access to information is not on the same level, as with those without a disability. However, libraries, such as the Colorado Talking Book Library seeks to create a more leveled playing field. The library provides formatted books to those with print reading disabilities at no charge. A variety of books can be checked out, including text books. It is. a Crucial service that provides an abundance of opportunity for their patrons.
    Unfortunately, the library’s existence is at jeopardy. According to the Colorado Talking book Library’s email, which was sent to it’s patrons, “President Trump’s budget eliminates the Institute for Museums and Libraries Services (IMLS). Specifically, “CTBL receives 25% of its budget and 6.75 of our 13 staff are supported with funds that come from IMLS. If this cut were to go through CTBL services will be seriously compromised.”
    Wondering how you can help? The Colorado Talking Book Library urges you to reach out to your legislatures and tell them how this service has made a difference in your life, as well as the impact it will have if taken away. To find your legislature, visit this site http://action.everylibrary.org/preserve_funding_for_the_neh_nea_and_pbs

    Also, the Colorado Talking Book Library has included a sample letter to write to your legislature…

    funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services slated to be cut in the recently released “America First” federal budget. The small amount of federal funding appropriated each year makes a huge difference in our lives. IMLS funds supports the Colorado Talking Book Library which makes a difference in my life every day. As one of your constituents who cannot read standard print, I would not have access to books that come directly to me. My quality of life will be compromised. As your constituent, I appreciate you supporting the IMLS and will watch as the budget moves through this Congress. Thank you for helping to make and keep me connected to reading.

    Prominent Pathways wants to hear from you. Tweet your favorite things about the Colorado Talking Book Library. We look forward to hearing from you.


  • 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.

  • Talk Tuesday: Growing With Google

     

    Google has made great accessibility strides, from their internet ventures to mainstream products. Google realizes that accessibility should not be a luxury, but rather a right. Most recently Google has created a new feature in their maps application. So, not only can a user get directions to a given location, but they can now tell whether or not a place is wheelchair accessible. This is a really convenient and handy feature. Can you imagine going to a place to find out that you can not enter because there is no ramp or elevator to accommodate you? The time and effort it took is wasted. I imagine that could be very frustrating, to say the least. Google’s aim is to prepare a wheelchair user on what to expect from various locations, before traveling there.
    Let’s examine the new feature more closer. How is the data gathered to tell whether or not a location is accessible or not? The answer is, patrons themselves. Data is collected from people who use the Google Maps application. Within the application, there is the newly added category, accessibility. Under the accessibility tab, people write a review. But, what is exactly accessible? That depends on the detail of a person’s review; could be very detailed to limited information. In addition, to whose standards are accessibility viewed? What may be accessible to one person, may not be to another. Therefore, it would be advantageous if the reviews category had a template to base answers off of; questions that are based off the ADA criteria. The accessibility feature is a great idea and has potential to create awareness, but has some revising that needs to take place. If you have used the Google Maps accessibility feature, tweet us and let us know what you think. We want to hear from you!


  • 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.