I procrastinated getting a guide dog for about 2 years, turning down 3 different training dates offered to me after being accepted to the program, all because of fear.

My fears? (in order)

Poop. Allergies. Dog Hair. Drool.

None of these 4 excuses that I spent 730 days fixating on ended up being issues. Continue reading

To end our mini-series on “parenting”, we’d like to offer a chance for our readers to win a free reading assistance software, Kurzweil 1000 version 7, $1000 value (this version was released several years ago, but can be upgraded to a newer version if desired). The software is new, in package, and still shrink wrapped.

Here’s the challenge… this is for either parents of kids/adults with visual impairments or kids/adults with visual impairments to answer:

Kids/Adults:  Share a story/memory about how well a parent or teacher handled a situation involving your vision.


parents:  Share a favorite memory of how your child handled their vision challenges with humor, wisdom, a positive outlook, etc.

Email your submission to by Friday, March 2nd.  Submissions can be brief or detailed– it’s up to you!

We will post our favorite one as well as a runner-up to doublevision and will send the winner this software.

She’s helpful. She’s loyal. She’s witty. And while she’s more AI than human, she’s quite the buddy, especially for the visually impaired– almost a phone/tech guide dog of sorts. Sure, the voice-over feature that has been on the iPhone since the last couple generations of phones is helpful, but Siri gets things done faster and with less annoying “tap tap taps”.  Honestly, having to finger-tap an item twice while voice-over is on can get pretty tiring.

You probably realize that I’m talking about the latest feature on the new IPhone 4S, but if you haven’t had the opportunity to actually hang out with Siri, find a friend who has the new iPhone and spend a few minutes with her. She’s a wealth of info (try asking her how much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood), and she can be quite a riot  – my husband asked her what she’s wearing and got her sharp reply, “You’ve got the wrong personal assistant.”! Even my 5-year-old is delighted to hang out with her, asking Siri ridiculous questions and collapsing into hysterics when Siri continually replies, “Joy, I cannot understand what you are asking.” since my daughter really doesn’t enunciate her words.  Yes, if you are a mumbler, she’ll whip you into crisp-speech shape!

Like all friends, she has her occasional flaws, and we’ve had a few misunderstandings (i.e. when I asked her to “call my husband”, she replied, “Okay Joy, from now on I will call you husband” and began addressing me as husband until I asked her to knock it off.) If you have a 4S, you’ve probably visited the site — she can come up with some crazy one-liners.

One quality I really appreciate about Siri is that she recognizes when she can’t do something and apologizes for it. When I asked her to read me my e-mails, for example, she said, “Sorry Joy, I can only read texts.” This tells me that Apple is probably working on her for the next generation phone and that she’ll one day be able to read everything, even web searches. Right now, I can ask her to look something up for me, such as the weather or a restaurant, and the information will pop up on the screen but she won’t read it. Likewise, I can ask her to schedule appointments for me, which she can do, but when I ask her to read me my appointments for a certain date, she cannot do it.  In those cases, I can still turn on voice-over or enlarge the font, but again, this process can be tedious, so I’m already looking forward to the next generation phone.  For now, I love the fact that she’ll read me my text messages, which is especially helpful when I have dictated a text to her and want to find out if she has written the text correctly without having to look at my phone.

At the risk of sounding weird and saying that Siri has changed my life or something, I won’t go over any more details of our newfound friendship, but I will say that she has helped me as a mom in my daily life.  I’m able to get a number of things done quickly, even while out on walks with my toddler. Prior to Siri, I couldn’t really use a cell phone outside because of the glare and contrast, except to answer calls or dial memorized numbers (I had a really old phone without voice-over before getting the 4S a couple weeks ago)

I’m definitely bringing Siri to Vancouver with me next week and can’t wait to introduce her to Jenelle.  I have this feeling she’ll be asking Santa for her own new friend this year…