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Welcome to 287.. 2

I Will Miss Michael Mosley. 2

iOS 18.. 4

ListenLater 6

AI Is a Game-changer 6

Accessible Ways to Learn About Yoga.. 8

Be My Eyes and Their Bonkers Inclusive Language Guide.. 11

Bryan Bashin From Be My Eyes Discusses the Be My Eyes Inclusive Language Guide.. 17

Sonos. 31

Serious Facebook Messenger Issue on iOS.. 34

Chapters in Apple Podcasts. 34

Melatonin.. 35

Apple Watch and Talking Obsolescence.. 36

ListenLater, Braille, Experiences With Lawyers, Independent Voting.. 37

Zoom Recorders and Beatles. 39

Blind People and the Legal Profession.. 42

Closing and Contact Info.. 43




Welcome to 287


Voiceover: From Wellington, New Zealand, to the world, it’s Living Blindfully – living your best life with blindness or low vision. Here is your host, Jonathan Mosen.

Welcome to the show!

This week: iOS 18 has some welcome new VoiceOver features. We’ll discuss a couple of them, more thoughts on engaging with the legal profession as a blind person, and Be My Eyes now has an inclusive language guide. Is it forward thinking or completely bonkers?

At the end of our WWDC keynote special, I did ask if any of the panel knew whether there was an area code 286 allocated in North America. There is not.

And now, here we are at episode 287, and there’s still no area code allocated to that either.

What are we going to do? We’re going to press on regardless. That’s what we’re going to do, because we are resilient.

I Will Miss Michael Mosley

I want to start this episode by paying tribute to Dr. Michael Mosley.

Now, Michael Mosley hasn’t done anything directly in the blindness space. So you may be thinking, why are you talking about him? You may not know who he is, although he’s a global phenomenon. Not so much so in North America, I don’t think, though.

He was a medical doctor, and he found that he had a bit of a gift for communicating information via the media, and he’s been doing that for around about 20 years now. He’s well-known in Britain in particular, but he’s also well-known in Australia, New Zealand, and some other countries.

I’ve been on radio in some form or other since I was four years old (That is a very long time ago now.), and someone told me very early on when I used to go into the radio station a lot and do those things that when you’re on the radio (and of course, the same thing applies to podcasts, too. Podcasts hadn’t even been thought of back then.), but when you’re communicating like this, the way to try and do it is to think that you’re having a conversation with one person. Have someone in mind that you’re talking to. It could be somebody mythical. It could be a listener that has contacted you recently or whatever. And try and talk to that person so that you are not broadcasting to a whole bunch of people. And as this person told me, “Jonathan,”, he said, “if there’s one thing that people can’t help overhearing, it’s an intimate conversation.” and Michael Mosley had that gift.

He did various shows over the years, and I think the first really big one that he did was called Trust Me, I’m a Doctor, and that’s a TV show in Britain.

But I religiously listened to his podcast (which I think the BBC still have out there. I don’t think they’ve pulled it. There’s no reason why they should), and it’s called Just One Thing. If you’re interested in improving your health outcomes, I’d highly recommend checking this out if you don’t subscribe to Just One Thing already.

It had seasons, so it wasn’t on all the time. But when there was a season going and a new episode of Just One Thing dropped in my podcast app, I would drop everything else and have a listen to it. And I felt like Michael Mosley was having a conversation with me. He wasn’t some sort of learned doctor preaching to me about what I ought to do. He was having fun.

Sometimes, he would experiment on himself. So he was the doctor and the patient, and he’d explain things so clearly. And, you know, I think that is such a rare gift. There are plenty of people who are smart, who have lots of knowledge. But to have that knowledge and communicate it in an accessible way, that really is a skill. Boy, did he have that skill.

Michael Mosley’s responsible for getting a lot of people’s type 2 diabetes reversed, because he was such a clear and calm communicator. He wasn’t confrontational like a lot of low-carb keto activists tend to be. And over time, he successfully challenged the orthodoxy. And thanks to him and others, it’s less orthodox now that somehow, if you eat fat, you get fat.

He successfully demonstrated and proved that if you go keto, there’s a good chance that you can reverse type 2 diabetes. And the earlier you switch to keto if you get the symptoms, the better.

And he demonstrated that you could do it because he had to do it. He thought he was healthy. And then, he discovered that he was developing type 2 diabetes. He did a lot of research, and he shared that research with people. He developed a diet called the 5-2 diet, which is essentially an intermittent fasting diet, and that has become very popular. It’s huge here in New Zealand now. It’s probably even bigger in the UK.

He’s written at least one, possibly two excellent books on sleep. So there’s a bit of a blindness angle, if you’re looking for one. He’s got some very useful tips in that book about sleep, and I think it may be on some of the book repositories like Bookshare. So you can search for his name and find some of the books that he’s written. Michael Mosley – M-O-S-L-E-Y, and they’re great reads, very accessible. A truly gifted communicator.

And sadly, last week, as I put this podcast together, it was last week, Michael Mosley and his wife Claire, who is also a doctor, were on a Greek island. He decided to walk back from a beach to the place where they were staying. He took a wrong turn. He got lost, and it was incredibly hot out there – about 38 degrees Celsius. He almost made it to shelter, but collapsed and died just before he was able to get to shelter. He was 67 years old.

And the outpouring on social media after his death says all that needs to be said, really. I never exchanged a word with him on email, or in person, or anything like that, but I felt like I knew him, and so many other people feel the same way. And although his loss must be incredibly tough for his wife and his 4 adult children, the fact that people feel that way about Dr. Michael Mosley will hopefully, in time, provide some comfort.

Because what a legacy to leave? I was listening to the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 the other day because I knew they were going to be paying tribute to Michael Mosley, and they had people calling in with their personal stories of how he changed their life and improved their health outcomes.

I’m going to miss Just One Thing terribly, and the other books that he might have written. But it is a wonderful thing that through the work that he did, through his stellar communication, and his research, and his compassion that shone through so clearly, he made the world a better place. And when we go, as we all will have to at some point, if someone can say that about our contribution, then it hasn’t been all wasted.

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iOS 18

Phew! Yeah, phew!

When we release a post-WWDC keynote episode, it’s always one of our most popular episodes of the year. This year has been no exception. So thank you to everybody who has listened to this.

There’s a lot to be interested in this year, isn’t there? Looking at some things that we weren’t able to cover at the time when we recorded that right after the keynote, there are some pretty cool things in VoiceOver, and we’ve got a comment coming up from Bryant, who’s going to talk about some of those things, so I won’t steal his thunder.

But one thing I did want to say is how delighted I am to see Apple investing a lot of product development energy into Braille screen input. Braille screen input in iOS 18 is significantly developed, principally because they’ve got this new command mode.

So if you use a Braille display with a Perkins keyboard (and the majority of them do have a Perkins keyboard), you’ll probably know about the chord commands that you can do like dot 4 chord to navigate to the next element, and dot 1 chord to move to the previous one. There is a whole suite of these commands that you can use to navigate with your Braille display, and they take a bit of memorizing. But when you’ve done it, it’s quite efficient.

Well, with iOS 18’s Braille screen input, you can get into a command mode. And then, you can use all of those commands without pressing the spacebar. So when you’re in the command mode, you could use dot 4 to navigate to the next item, and dot 1 to move back. You can use all those different commands to quickly mute the speech, or turn screen curtain on and off. It’s a pretty efficient way to work, actually.

And then, when you want to enter text, you get out of command mode and Braille screen input works pretty much as it always has done. You can also now ensure that Braille screen input is activated by default when you get into an edit field.

There is a bit of a knack, I guess, to Braille screen input. And a while ago, we had Judy Dixon demonstrating how to use Braille screen input efficiently. When you master it, well, it really can improve your productivity on your iPhone significantly. So having this new navigation method is a whole new way of working. And for people who like to work with Braille, this will speed you up significantly once you get used to it. So well done to Apple for getting that into iOS 18.

[Voice message]

Bryant: Hello, Jonathan and other Living Blindfully listeners. This is Bryant here.

I want to talk about iOS 18 and the Apple keynote address because there’s a lot of things that I am excited about this year.

I’m pretty excited about all the Apple Intelligence stuff, even though I can’t take advantage of it, at least on my phone. I can on my Mac because I’ve got an M1 2020 MacBook Pro that I can use the AI stuff on. But it sounds like you need an iPhone 15 Pro to take advantage of a lot of the AI stuff.

But I am glad that Siri is finally getting noticeably better this version, because Siri has always been really behind, and one of the worst personal assistants I think that I’ve had experience with. The amount of stuff it can do is just really bad. But now, it finally sounds like it’s gonna get a lot better.

For a lot of years in the iOS cycle, it was always necessary for us blind people to have to dig around in settings or VoiceOver to figure out what was new in the operating system concerning VoiceOver, because Apple’s usually really vague on VoiceOver changes and they don’t document those in their presentations. However, that has all changed because in iOS 18, there is a new setting in the Settings app called What’s New in VoiceOver. And if you double tap this, you’ll be able to see a change log of what’s new, and it is a very comprehensive tutorial. I recommend anyone to go check this tutorial out because once you complete it, you’ll know how to control your phone completely with VoiceOver.

I’m also really excited about the remote features that will let you control your iPhone from your Mac – the iPhone mirroring, which I’m hoping is going to be accessible. I’m pretty sure the Watch mirroring is accessible, so I see no reason why the iPhone remote control mirroring can’t be accessible. And the new Passwords app sounds cool. It’s kind of too bad the iCloud for Windows accessibility is so bad because I would really like to take advantage of this on Windows. But I’ll have to play around with the Passwords app.

Now I have heard, and I can’t confirm this because I don’t have the developer beta installed right now, but my friend does, which is why I know about a lot of these features because he showed me, but he doesn’t have the appropriate iPhone to test this. I have heard from some people that if you have an iPhone 12 or newer, you are now able to use a personal voice with VoiceOver. As I said, I can’t confirm this because I don’t have the hardware to test it, and I’m not installing my iOS developer beta on my main phone. I’m going to use an iPhone 11 Pro to do that, and that’s too old.

Jonathan: Yes, Bryant. I can confirm that if you have a personal voice set up, you can now use it as your VoiceOver voice. That is the ultimate definition of talking to yourself.


Christopher Wright says:

“ListenLater is awesome! Well, everything is awesome, except the voices, which sound horrid.”

What? What? I like those voices.

Anyway, he says:

“I wrote to the developer, suggesting the possibility to use ElevenLabs. I’d much rather have Adam or Bella voice reading to me than these horrible voices.

Please don’t tell me these are what will be used for the new version of Be My AI.”

No, I don’t believe they will be.

“The service itself is very interesting. I converted a 9 to 5 Mac article, and it was an absolute joy to listen to on the SensePlayer. It sounded like a human was reading to me.

Sadly, the podcast feed doesn’t work in Luna RSS, so I’ll have to contact Nathan about that.”

AI Is a Game-changer

Caller: Hi, Jonathan! Walt Smith here in Seminole, Florida.

Just listening to the brand new issue of the podcast, and I wanted to echo your comments regarding AI in general. I have said from the moment I first discovered PictureSmart and what it could do that AI as a technology is going to be the biggest single improvement in the provision of information to blind people, perhaps in all of history, and certainly since the invention of Braille. It is just going to completely, as you have said, revolutionize the entire issue of information delivery for blind people.

Yesterday, I was trying to construct a document, and I needed some strange words that were appearing on a screen in Windows. I couldn’t capture those words using any of the normal JAWS functions like using the JAWS key and copying the words to the clipboard, that sort of thing, so I used PictureSmart with the W function. That is, capture the entire window. When that was placed into the virtual viewer, I could then read it with normal JAWS commands, capture the words that I needed, and paste those into the document I was creating. This in itself was just a huge benefit.

And it’s such a tiny problem compared with the others. But as you said, it just blows my mind to even begin to think about what AI is going to do in the coming months. And I say months, not years. In the coming months for blind people.

There’s a lot of political comment, of course, about AI and its potential for bad results. And there’s no question about that. I’m not looking forward to the upcoming political campaigns in this country because of what I think is going to be done using AI to mislead voters.

But its potential for good, and particularly its potential for good for blind people, is just totally off the charts.

Jonathan: Great contribution, Walt. Thanks for sending that in.

Yes, it is an exciting time. We also have to be vigilant on a number of counts though, don’t we?

One is that AI can simply inherit the biases of human beings because it’s scouring the Internet and collecting knowledge. And we have to make sure that the A in AI doesn’t stand for ableist. And that is very possible because of all the biases from the material that it’s inheriting. So it’s vital that competent people be around the table of some of these big AI companies, particularly at this formative time, and make sure that they get this right.

Many of us have had AI apologizing to us for the fact that we’re blind, and all sorts of malarkey like this. We should not let that stand, and it’s really important that people with a strong disability rights focus are helping to influence this technology.

And the second thing is that with the technology in the state that it’s in right now, it still just makes stuff up, and it can get stuff horribly wrong. And we do need to be concerned about this, particularly if we’re trying to depend on it for mission-critical things.

You may have heard the controversy in recent times about Google and how they’ve modified Google Search, which is their prized possession, isn’t it? It’s generally respected. And I think this is only happening in the United States for the moment. But they’ve been using a little bit of their Gemini AI.

Now, in my experience just using these things and testing, Gemini is pretty weak compared to OpenAI and also compared to Anthropic. Actually, I don’t think it’s a particularly strong proposition.

But this Gemini AI, and AI in general, of course, can’t tell the difference between satire and proper sensible advice. So it was coming up with ideas like it’s okay for people to eat rocks, and if you want to keep your cheese on your pizza, you should glue it to the pizza. And it was coming up with this as serious advice. So Google took steps to try and stop the dispensing of this ridiculous advice.

But here’s the interesting thing. You kind of get into this cyclical situation a groundhog day. Because there were so many articles reporting these hiccups from Gemini, it was then upsetting Gemini and making it even more likely that you were going to get advice to glue the cheese to the pizza because so many people were talking about it. So this stuff is still a work in progress.

I heard somebody, I think it might have been from OpenAI the other day, making the point that the ChatGPT we have now is the worst AI you’ll ever use, and that it’s growing in leaps and bounds. And we keep hearing about version five and what a significant breakthrough that will be.

And I look forward to that, because I still check very carefully any information that AI is giving me. I’m using it more and more. I have to say, I find it’s great for rewriting things, or giving me an angle on something that I might not otherwise have had.

I’m using it to automate a few tasks pertaining to this podcast now. So it’s very useful indeed, but it still has some way to go, and we’ve just got to make sure that it gets nudged in the right direction.

That doesn’t detract in any way from what you’ve said, though. It is a very exciting time.

Accessible Ways to Learn About Yoga

You may remember that Carrie Francis was asking about blind yoga. Paul Hopewell’s writing in on this and says:

“In response to the question in episode 283, I use the app Revision Fitness on my iPhone.”

That is a good app, isn’t it? I didn’t actually realize it had yoga in it.

But we did interview the creator of Revision Fitness. He won a Holman Prize.

Paul continues:

“The instructor, Tyler Mirren,” There we go, that’s his name. “is severely visually impaired, and so, understands our problems.

If you go to the classroom section of the app, you will find detailed descriptions of some 34 yoga poses, with details of how to get into each pose. In the studio section, you will find 2 sequences of yoga poses put together into two 10-minute workouts.

The app also has details of many exercises unrelated to yoga.”

Thanks, Paul.

Stefanie Magura says:

“I also recommend Aaptive” (that’s spelled A-A-P-T-I-V-E), “for anyone who wants pre-recorded classes. I currently don’t use it because I can’t customize it as much as I can other apps, but I have used it in the past and benefited from the classes. In fact, the classes offered helped me get back into yoga.

Right now though, if I want to practice yoga, I use an app called DownDog.”

Whoa! That’s an interesting name for it. [laughs]

DownDog is all one word, by the way.

“If you look for it on the app store of your choice, you will want to look for DownDog Yoga.

I really like this app because someone using it can customize classes in multiple ways such as length, pace, type of yoga, and the amount of instruction. A user can also decide between several instructive voices, at least when using the app in English. It is available in other languages, which I haven’t tried.

Several of the types are based in learning or working with physical yoga poses, and these styles vary in intensity based on how strenuous they are or not, but the app does include several yogic practices which are more meditative, and it includes meditation as well.

To go further with this, if anyone likes those practices, they can try an app from this company which has even more meditation types. Searching for DownDog Meditation should bring this up.”

Well, this is good, Stefanie. This is good. I’m a bit of a collector of meditation apps, I have to say. [laughs]

“The system in place for account members is such that if someone subscribes to one, this person gets access to all the apps.

In addition to apps for iPhone and Android, there are web apps available as well. The company makes other apps for all 3 of these platforms, including ones for HIIT (that’s High Intensity Interval Training), and BAR. But I really don’t use these because I think the verbal cueing could really use some work. And this has been the situation for a while, which is certainly frustrating.

While I am not saying this to condone what is happening, I will note here that the development team seems to be a small one, and it hasn’t helped that there don’t seem to be many blind people using these apps. I think I’ve met one or two online. If you’re out there, please let me know.

I believe the subscription is $7.99 or $9.99 a month, but can often be gotten for less through the website. There is usually a free trial available for a few classes with all the customization options. And unlike other companies, users aren’t forced to transition to a paid membership. I believe some options are always free.

This DownDog Yoga app was the inspiration for the JumpyCat app, which you mentioned several episodes back.

I’m in the Facebook group, as are the developers, so I was pretty much there as the app was being created. They were essentially polling users on whether they would use such an app.

By the way, the JumpyCat app is still available, but it hasn’t been updated in forever, and the website gives one of those weird security messages when accessing it, so I think it might have been abandoned.

I really do hope someone will develop an HIIT app in a similar vein with really good verbal cueing.

Another resource I would like to name is called Yoga to Hear. Like my previous resource, this website has yoga and meditation classes. I haven’t used it, but I have poked around the website and listened to a few class previews, and I think it might be what the listener is looking for, if the listener is okay with paying for a class which can be accessed from their account and downloaded to a computer or any devices which play mp3 files. These classes are all taught by one person, and the resource isn’t or doesn’t seem to be blindness-specific. But I like the previews and feel comfortable recommending this as a resource.

I suspect there are audio-based yoga classes on YouTube as well. In fact, I came across some while doing research for this, but I haven’t tried these.

While I think someone can start to learn yoga poses by taking a class once a week, which is how I began with yoga when I took it for a semester in college, as with anything someone might want to learn, I would recommend this listener do it a little more often if possible and when she is comfortable doing so, whether it is a home-based practice or in-studio.”

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Be My Eyes and Their Bonkers Inclusive Language Guide

Oh my goodness! There’s nothing that gets people going quite like discussions about language, so here we go.

This person has written in, and wishes to be known as JS.

“Hi, Jonathan,

Here I have provided a link to the Inclusive Language Guide, posted on the Be My Eyes blog. because I strongly feel that while language does have power, this is an excellent example of how not to do advocacy.

There are some decent recommendations here, even if expressed in an unnecessarily confrontational tone. Some of the bullet points are just absurd. And honestly, I find the whole attitude here to be a bit ableist in and of itself. I don’t appreciate the way in which Be My Eyes is speaking to the wider world on my behalf as a blind person, nor will I allow them to demonize the perfectly reasonable words I use to describe myself. The whole thing reads as if it were written by a bunch of chronically online Twitter addicts and self-important HR supervisors. The most extreme and cynical interpretation for why a word or phrase could be used is frequently cited as the reason we should stop saying it, and the overindulgence in hyperbolic, dramatic language leads to the whole thing sounding like a whiny tirade rather than a cohesive set of guidelines.

Frankly, I don’t think this makes us look very good at all, and I definitely don’t think it does an adequate job at representing most of our opinions either.

Be My Eyes provides some extremely valuable services to us, and I respect them greatly for that. But someone over there should really address this largely out of touch and misleading blog post.”

Thank you very much for writing in on this one, JS. I’m sure people will want to comment on this.

I clicked through to the link (which I will endeavor to remember to put in the show notes), and I was expecting to be pretty annoyed and outraged.

Actually, I found myself applauding most of it. [laughs] I had a different reaction from you.

So let me read this, and we’ll see what people think.

I should say by way of preface that this is written by Bryan Bashin, and I think it’s fair to say that Bryan and I are probably largely on the same wavelength with a lot of this sort of thing.

For those who don’t know Bryan, he’s been around a long time. He has a background in journalism, done a lot of things. In 2010, he became the chief executive at the San Francisco Lighthouse, and was there for a long time. Now he is involved with Be My Eyes, I think in an advisory capacity, predominantly. But he’s written this blog post, so he comes from strong blindness rights credentials.

Now as I read this, I’m not going to be able to resist responding in real time. But hopefully, you’ll be able to tell when I’m departing from the script.

So the thing says:

“Join Be My Eyes on our mission to redefine communication norms and promote respectful and modern language practices with our newly unveiled “Inclusive Language” Guide”

Whoa! [drum roll]

And it’s got Bryan Bashin’s byline here, and he’s listed as Vice-Chair.

“Part 1 – Terms to Avoid

You may have heard of the newer term ableism. It’s a modern concept for when non-disabled people think of themselves as ‘normal’ and people with disabilities as exceptions. Just as racism assigns different values to races, ableism calls into focus the non-equal treatment of people with disabilities. Sometimes ableist thought creeps into our terminology, so we present below some examples of terminology to avoid:

  • “Visually Impaired”, “Partially-Sighted”, “Visually Challenged”: all these terms are grossly ableist, out of date or cloying.”

I must confess, I had to look up cloying in the dictionary. I haven’t come across that word before.

“• “Vision loss”: this is a strongly inappropriate term for people who have been blind for years or decades. After a few years, most blind people do not go around focusing on their “loss”, but rather on who they are.”

Now, I’ve got to stop here and say I just so agree with this one. Vision loss is one of these terms that a lot of these blindness agencies have started to use because they’re worried that using the word blind too much means that they’re going to deprive themselves of potential business, that there are a lot of people there that they can help who view blindness as a very negative thing. And because they can see a little bit, they don’t identify as blind.

And actually, I relate to that. You have to meet people where they are so that you can get them into the system and provide them with services.

But when you’re describing somebody with a vision loss, you’re not describing me. You’re not describing someone who was blind from birth because they never had vision to lose.

So I’ve got no problem with talking about blind and low vision people at all. I understand that people may not identify as blind who can see a little bit. And also, if you’ve recently gone blind, you have undoubtedly experienced vision loss.

But don’t alienate and marginalize me by using the term vision loss to apply to me when it absolutely does not. I never had vision to lose. These agencies need to stop that already.

Alright, next one. I’m going back to the script.

“• “Severe Vision Loss”, “Profoundly blind”, “Morbidity Condition”, “Problem”: once used by the field over two generations ago, these phrases now put too much emphasis on “the tragedy” of blindness, rather than the simple and neutral terms of blindness or low vision. Today, people are best said to have disabilities – not “problems” or “conditions” or “issues”.

Yup, no problem there.

Next one.

“• “Suffering from”, “Impacted By”, “Challenged With”, “Living With”: there is no need to place emotional judgements on the experience of people who are blind.”

Okay. I’ve got to stop there and say, aren’t you breaching your own language guide?

We’ll come back to this by using person-first language in that sentence. Person-first language is something I detest.

Anyway, we’ll go on.

“And certainly not negative adjectives like the above. If you need to mention the state of blind people you might say that someone has the “Lived experience” of blindness.”


“• “Listen to TV” or “Hear a Movie”: These contortions of the English language are often a misguided attempt to not offend a blind person by avoiding the word “see”. Of course blind people don’t see, but they don’t want to live in a world where every ordinary phrase needs to be changed in an effort so as not to offend. What’s offensive is for people to speak to blind people differently than anyone else. Blind people see movies, watch TV, see friends.”


“• “Handicap”: This term has been hated by disabled people for the last 50 years, in all its forms (i.e. “handi-capable”).”


“• “High functioning” and “Low functioning”: this term denotes a disabled person’s ability to live in the world. This judgmental term is an affront to blind people everywhere and should always be avoided.”

Yeah. I have little difficulty with most of it, and I wouldn’t kind of die in a ditch over any of it. Actually, I think that’s pretty sound advice.

So now we’re going on to “Part 2 – Unbuttoning the person-first straightjacket”.

I will just note before I read it that people with disabilities are mentioned frequently in the previous bit. But anyway, here we go.

“A trend in recent decades has been to advise that references to disability be framed using a ‘person-first’ construction, i.e., “people with disabilities” rather than “disabled people”. Further incarnations of this trend would make for phrases such as “a person with blindness”. The belief has been that terms of disability are somehow negative and need to be intentionally balanced by pointing out that the disability is attached to a person.

Trouble is, this is a special construction used only for disability. One might never say, for example, “a woman with riches”. The word rich isn’t considered derogatory and so we’d normally say “a rich woman”.

Rather than making disability language different, it’s encouraged to avoid the old formats and construct phrases like “a blind woman” and so forth.”

Oh my word! Ladies and gentlemen, if I believed in a heaven, I’d believe that the angels were blowing their trumpets, or whatever they do.

This is just so absolutely spot on. It’s just so cumbersome and contortionist. No one ever says people who are young. It’s young people. So why on earth we feel the need to do this is utterly beyond me.

So may the odds be forever in their favor for pointing out this appalling bunch of contortionist malarkey.

Alright. Why are they using people with disabilities then in part one, eh? Why? Why? It’s not consistent.

“Part 3 – Avoiding Negative Tone or Second-Class Thinking

The tools that blind people use are sometimes different from those used by sighted people. But they are not inferior or substitutes. Rather they are all called alternative techniques.”

Now, that term alternative techniques is one that I have not heard outside the NFB. So this is very much part of the NFB lexicon. And I think it’s very good, by the way. I support it 100%.

It continues:

“The thought that what blind people use is inferior creeps into old-fashioned language and conveys a sense of difference. Here are some examples of outdated and modern tones:

  • Outdated: “Assistive Technology”, “Adaptive Technology” – these terms place emphasis on need and difference.
  • Modern: “Access technology”- this term places emphasis on accessibility and socially-constructed barriers instead of neediness.”

Well, I’ll stop here and say I have never thought of this. I mean, it never occurred to me for a moment that assistive technology might be an outmoded phrase. But I’m willing to admit when I might need to have my thinking updated.

And I think this is a pretty interesting point. I mean, if somebody talked to me about assistive technology, I don’t think I’d get offended or correct them.

But it’s a useful point, and I think I’ll try and use the term access technology from now on.

Yeah, I’ll continue.

“• Outdated: “Support”, “Help”, “Helper” – Using words like “Help” and “Support” emphasizes a perceived power imbalance that is already uncomfortable.

  • Modern: “Partner”, “Describer”, “Interpreter”, “Volunteer” – Words like these are based on a relationship of equality.”

I’m having some trouble being down with this one. I’m not digging this one.

And the reason for that is I think all of us are interdependent. Whether we are disabled or not, no matter where we are in life, sometimes, we are going to need help from other people.

When I’m in an airport, for example, and I choose to get assistance because of my hearing impairment rather than my blindness, I think the combination of the two just means it can be quite difficult to navigate in those exceptionally noisy environments.

If I have a great experience and someone chats away to me, asks how they can help, (there’s that word help again), gets me to my gate, or the frequent flyer lounge or whatever, I will say to them, thank you so much for your help. I appreciate it.

Don’t we all need help from time to time? I mean, surely we’re not going to rename the Beatles song, “I get by with a little partnership from my friends”, you know what I mean? I think this one, I just, I’m just not feeling it. No, I’m convincible, but I’m not feeling it.

Next one,

“• Outdated: “Went blind”, “Lost Their Vision”- These terms imply that someone’s whole being has somehow changed.

  • Modern: “Became blind” – This is a more neutral and non-dramatic term.”

Yeah, I’m not feeling the love for this one either. It just seems to me to be incredibly picky, without any major positive outcome to come from it.

Next one,

“• Outdated: “Totally blind” – This term conveys a maudlin sense of catastrophe.

  • Modern: “Fully blind” – A more neutral or even positive sense of blindness.”

Okay. Now, I feel like I’m turning into a curmudgeon because I’m not getting this one either. We’ve talked about totals and partials for a long long time, and I don’t really see what the difference is between totally blind and fully blind. I just don’t understand what the benefits are here.

“• Outdated: “Getting independence back” – Never suppose that blind people have a lack of “Independence” or that the state of “Independence” is what they are seeking.

  • Modern: “Uses powerful or elegant or efficient tools” – It is better to just describe how useful, powerful and cool access tools are. Let the blind person speak about their own independence.”

I was a bit confused about this one, but I think I understand what they’re driving at.

You do get these products that come along, and they claim they’re going to give sight to the blind. I mean, how often do we see that in the headlines? And you get them, presuming that blind people are not independent without this particular product.

So I think I’m largely on board with that one.


“• Outdated: “Inspiration”, “Inspirational”, “Brave”, “Courageous”- For many blind people or people with disabilities, …”

See, there they go again. They’re doing the people with disabilities thing.

“being called an inspiration actually turns out to be a kind of othering. Many simply wish to be considered capable and unremarkable and not to be called out as something different.

  • Modern: Leave out the sentimental and gushing attitude these words convey. So many organizations make money by focusing on a person with disabilities as a kind of mascot, somehow wanting to write an ‘overcoming’ narrative to make people feel better. Avoid terms like “courageous, amazing, inspiration”.

There you go. That’s the blog post from Be My Eyes with their inclusive language guide.


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Bryan Bashin From Be My Eyes Discusses the Be My Eyes Inclusive Language Guide

I thought it would be useful to get Bryan Bashin on the show to have a chat with us about this. It’s good to chat with Bryan because Bryan, you’re a legend, so I’m delighted to finally be able to speak to you on the podcast. Welcome to Living Blindfully!

Bryan: Oh, thanks for devoting some time. It’s actually an interesting subject.

Jonathan: It is an interesting subject.

Before we get to that though, you have had a wide and varied and distinguished career inside and outside the blindness system. Tell me about your involvement with Be My Eyes and what you’re doing there.

Bryan: Sure. Well, after I left the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco a few months afterwards, Mike Buckley at Be My Eyes said, “Do you have a little time for us?” [laughs]

And what became a start as a part-time job has become really a full-time crusade to add all these cool features to this app.

I’ve been on the board of Be My Eyes for 10 years, and I joined because I wanted to add AI to the system and add all these other features that we’re doing. And it looks like we’re doing a bit more stably economically, so we can hire more coders to do more projects and get things done. And you’ll be seeing some of that roll out in the next few months.

Jonathan: What do you think of the name Be My Eyes, by the way? Is there some potential paternalism in there?


Bryan: I was never crazy about that name. I mean, there’s just something, maybe a little overly sentimental about it.

Jonathan: Because it implies eyes are necessary, right? And we know that as blind people, we can live good-quality lives without eyes.

Bryan: Yeah. Be My Description. Be my, you know, something like that. It is not about the eye. It’s about the information.

Jonathan: So you’re going to rebrand it?

Bryan: Well, as I learned from my old institution, Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, there is a lot of brand equity in an old name for donors and philanthropic orientation, so it needs to be done intentionally and directly. And the successor name has to be positive and cool.

Jonathan: And that brand equity doesn’t seem to have stopped a lot of agencies around the world from deciding that blind is a dirty word.

Bryan: We’ve seen that across the United States and beyond. So many agencies have taken the B word out of their name, as if it’s something to be hidden or soft-peddled.

I know the thought. The thought is well, people who are entering the world of blindness might be put off by that word blind.

But in fact, if you use it with pride and with a little swagger, it becomes an attractive word, instead of something that needs to be maybe put in the closet again for fear that it might offend someone.

Jonathan: This is the thing. We’ve allowed society, frankly, sighted people, to hijack the word blind. So it’s become a pejorative that means ignorant, incompetent.

We need to claim the word back. We had it first.

Bryan: We had it first. And you can check the Oxford English Dictionary and see references to that word going back to the 14th century in England, at least. So it’s got tremendous pedigree.

Jonathan: Now, some of us are happy living a peaceful life. Some of us like to be in the arena, challenging and trying to make things better, rocking the boat a little bit. And I guess you and I are both in that latter category.

How did this language guide come to be, and why have you opened this can of worms?

Bryan: Well, it’s practical business stuff.

Be My Eyes has a few dozen employees. Most of them came to Be My Eyes as coders, marketers, sales, with no background in blindness. And we work together.

And so, the blind employees of Be My Eyes said, you know, we should have a standard about all these words we use. Because every day, we put out blog posts, and emails, and this and that. Every day, we have this challenge to make sure we’re on brand, and respectful, and using modern and progressive language.

So internally, it was that as we hired new employees, we train them in blindness history, philosophy, and all this other stuff beyond just the digital aspects of Be My Eyes. And part of that was cobbling together a language guide. So it was meant to be an internal guide only, at first.

And what we found is that our marketers who were selling accessible customer services to companies Found that the companies were saying, what should we call those people, and how can we write this better, and what are the terminologies? Because they’re even further from blindness. So we informally started sharing our guide with some of our major customers.

And when Global Accessibility Awareness Day came out this May, we decided, why not just share it for anybody who could find benefit of it? So what you see is basically a version of our internal language guide at Be My Eyes.

Jonathan: And many entities have such guides.

Is it Be My Eyes’ place though to tell the world how they should be talking about blind people?

Bryan: Well, your mileage may vary.

We have a distinct idea of who we want to be, which is progressive, respectful, modern, non-ableist, all those things. And like any business, we get to have our brand. So this is our brand. We’re not saying thou shalt, thou must. These are practical things. If you’d like to use modern language instead of older language, our guide suggests many options for you. If you’d like to avoid words that offend the population that you purport to serve, pay attention to this guide. And as we said when we introduced it and blogged it, this is our snapshot today. The language will and must change. So that a year from now, if these words are exactly the same, we haven’t done our job. It has to be a living document.

Jonathan: You’ve been a CEO, so you’ll be familiar with the maintenance of a risk register. And some of those risks are reputational risks.

At the moment, Be My Eyes enjoys an amazing amount of goodwill from all over the place, from blind and sighted people alike.

Isn’t there some reputational risk for the organization taking this issue on in such a public way?

Bryan: Well, I might want to say the converse, which is there’s a reputational risk in keeping the old language on. And you could find it in corners of our sprawling website, and parts of our blog and our Facebook pages. Even yesterday, there was some old language there that is not really particularly consistent with our style today.

So reputational risk is, do you, as a company, seem out of touch? Do you, as a company, seem like not connecting with the people that you want to use the product, and all of that?

This is more important. We’re not preachers in the world. We just offer this as one more tool people can take or lose. We’re not legislating. We’re not politically correcting. We’re just offering this as our best guess about what modern progressive business language is concerning blind people.

Jonathan: There’s a lot of intellectual laziness about, and it frustrates me to no end. And what What tends to happen when you try to have a discussion about this is that people who don’t agree with you, for whatever reason, just shout at you words like woke. And, as you just said, politically correct. They won’t go into detail about having a good philosophical discussion about what’s appropriate and what’s not, why do these words matter. Some people would say to you, if they can get beyond shouting woke and PC at you, that they’re only words. It’s not that important. So why go out on a limb on this?

Bryan: Right? Because it’s not about words, or some sort of syntactical or grammatical problem. It’s about our thinking and making our thinking sharp.

So for instance, if you say in a classroom that students with sight get books and students who are blind need Braille, it sets up a kind of thinking process in which the blind are needy, and people who are not blind, well, there’s no point in talking about it, because that’s so-called normal. That underlies this ableism concept, which is an overarching concept in the disability community. If you examine some of the ways that these words convey a philosophical Truth, it might help understand why we’re spending some time talking about this. We can go into many many examples if you like, but that’s why it’s worth spending time.

For instance, when I came to the Lighthouse, everybody who came to the Lighthouse was called a client, as if the agency would take a certain responsibility for a charge, like a client, like a social service system or something like that.

Actually, people who are coming to the Lighthouse were coming there to learn something, and were autonomous adults. We call them, and we’ve called them for 15 years, students, because that’s what it is. You come and you learn, you’re not being taken care of, there’s no custody here. It’s more like a respectful adult transaction. If you start viewing how we talk about this through this lens, you may arrive at different final destinations.

Jonathan: Even assuming that people agree with what you’re saying in this guide, you will have heard the listener who wrote in and drew my attention to this, saying that he thinks it is a little bit confrontational in its tone.

Do you catch more flies with honey than vinegar? And have you got the tone right here?

Bryan: [laughs] Well, I’m a blind guy myself. I have suffered through being called all the things, and all the assumptions that you and every other blind person who’s been around for years has had.

So when asked about this as a practical guide, we just wanted to list one after the other. This term, not so much. This term, this is a good term, and all of that.

Maybe it might seem uppity to those who like the status quo, but the linguistic status quo is not our friend in many cases.

And so, you know, whether it’s my time at Be My Eyes, or my time in blindness services with the Lighthouse or the federal government, it’s really important to diffuse modern progressive thought about who blind people are, not as objects of charity, not objects of pity or maudlin sentimentality, but just human beings who need tools and respect, and not to be othered.

Jonathan: We’ve dug a hole for ourselves, haven’t we? Because I think what’s happened is that language around disability has become so convoluted, in a way that grammar around any other group in society has not, that people are now very nervous about what to say. And that stifles good-quality communication and dialog.

But now, when you publish a blog post like this, is this making the problem worse?

Bryan: I think anything that gets people to take a moment to think about your terms is a good thing.

When we released it, I said to our CEO, Mike Buckley, well, some people might not agree with us in our choice of terms. That’s fine.

I mean, we’ve heard some people say visually impaired. I’ve called myself that my whole life. That’s not a problem.

But if you look into that word and you realize that your identity is impaired, as if normal was full vision, and impairment, going through life as an impaired person, you’ve got to really think about how that makes one feel. Does that help you feel full, complete, beautiful, desirable? [laughs] I don’t think so. I think this is the language of the 20th century and beyond.

The language of equality and inclusion doesn’t start with impairment, and defects, and challenges, and all that other sentimental stuff.

Jonathan: Lovely segue, because I do want to get into some of the specifics that are mentioned in this guide now. So this is going to be great fun.

In New Zealand, we subscribe to what we call the social model of disability. And I know it has some traction in the United States, but it doesn’t seem to have quite as much traction.

In New Zealand, for example, even the government has embraced that.

So when we describe the medical condition that someone has, that is called an impairment in this country. So my impairment is blindness. When I become disabled, it’s because my impairment is not being accommodated.

That sounds like it’s not a concept that’s universally accepted at this point in the US.

Bryan: Well, you’re talking about something we call the social model of disability. Yes, that so many of the barriers are socially constructed, and not inherent in the disability itself. And your language and terminology here, disability, is perfectly acceptable. A person with a disability, no problem. This is not a word that I need to euphemize into something medical, certainly.

Yes, oftentimes, when somebody acquires a disability, there’s a period of time when medicine’s involved.

But then, I haven’t seen an ophthalmologist for years. This is not part of my existence here. It’s not medical.

The problems that I face are usually human-constructed, because nobody’s thought of us in the context of the built environment, or a website, or a new bit of technology.

Jonathan: We went through this guide before you came on the show. And one thing I noticed was that there’s a little bit of inconsistency in it, with respect to its attitude towards person-first language.

So in your response then, you just talked about a person with a disability. I think on one or two occasions in the guide at the moment, it talks about people who are blind, even though in another section, it decries that person-first language.

What is your view on that? Because to me, any person-first language like that seems linguistically cumbersome, and it seems to be a standard that is not applied to any other group. I mean, you don’t talk about a woman exhibiting beauty, you talk about a beautiful woman, and on and on it goes. And so it’s kind of othering disabled people and blind people, isn’t it, by using that person-first stuff?

Bryan: A hundred percent. We don’t like to torture the English language and have people stumble over their tongue, trying to create special cases for us to avoid saying the blind word first. It’s respectful. For us, it’s not a negative term. So you don’t need to put it down at the end of a long phrase, in order that it might go away. Blind person. It’s fine. Absolutely.

There are a few times, when just in the cadence of a normal sentence, you might be talking about people this, and people that, and people this, and people who are blind. That’s fine, but not in a sort of straitjacket way. Thou must remind oneself, oh, it’s a person who is blind. Yeah, we know that. It’s a person who’s a hundred other things in the English language, too. but we use the adjective first. And I think this frees people to just speak normally about disability, which is our goal anyway.

Jonathan: What about the right of people to self-identify? I mean, you’ve talked in the guide about the term visually impaired person. I hear that quite a lot. And this seems to vary from country to country. So in the UK, for example, visually impaired person is something I come across quite a lot when I read literature from there, or listen to podcasts. How do you compromise over someone’s right to self-identify?

Bryan: Well, a person has an absolute right to think of the name for themselves that they’re more comfortable with. Absolutely.

But in a corporate setting, in a collective setting – government, education, you have to have some term.

And the terms are changing. Just as, for instance, terms for African-Americans, Blacks, you know, you can go back and find a dozen different terms that at one time in the last hundred years was the acceptable term. And they’re now way out of date.

So if I’m comfortable calling myself a certain thing, use that term in an individual case.

But here in business, or in education, or, say, government, let’s find the terms that are respectful, and progressive, and positive, as we can.

Jonathan: But doesn’t this come back to the point that we were discussing earlier, where somebody who’s a Be My Eyes, … What do you call your people? Be My Eyes what? Users, someone who’s a Be My Eyes user, may say look, I’m a visually impaired person. I choose to identify that way, and I object to the service that I use telling the world-at-large that this is a bad term?

Bryan: Well, people are asking us for our opinion, and our best lights. The opinion is, instead of visually impaired, someone who has low vision, for instance. Low vision is a neutral term. It’s not ableist. It’s descriptive. It’s like okay, you have vision. It’s low vision. That’s enough. That phrase shows up in many languages besides English right now. It’s not a brand new term. It’s just a neutral term unfrated with the ableist baggage of impairment.

If you go to the San Francisco State University, you can find, for instance, that Braille is taught in the Department of Communication Disorders.

Jonathan: [laughs]

Bryan: I mean, yeah. That’s the language of the past where all these things were considered substitute, inferior, less than, and not fully actualized as somebody without a disability would be. That’s the context we’re trying to erase.

Jonathan: Just while Braille has come up, it’s not in the public guide that you published, but what’s your view on the capitalization of Braille when referring to the code?

Bryan: I’ve seen both ways. But I take it this way. If Morse code, Samuel Morse, the M is capitalized to honor the inventor, I see no reason why Braille with a capital B should honor Louis Braille.

Jonathan: Let’s talk about sight loss. The first time I came across this would have been through RNIB material. And if I’m not giving credit where it’s due or blame where it’s due, I apologize.

But what happens is that you have a lot of sighted people (and they’re all sighted people in these Commonwealth blindness agencies in chief executive positions, and largely all sighted people around their executive leadership teams). They get together, and they compare notes, marketing material, and literature. And all of a sudden, these horrible phrases spread like a cancer across the world.

And now, we’ve got this horrible contagion of the term sight loss, and it does not describe me. I’ve been blind since birth. I never had sight to lose. And when they choose to stop using the term blind because suddenly, it’s become a, Maybe they consider it a 4-letter word. There is actually an extra letter in it. They alienate me. I do not have sight loss. This is a horrible one, isn’t it?

Bryan: Jonathan, I couldn’t agree with you more. This is seeing the world literally through the lens of a 20-20 eye.

I was a fully sighted child. I became blind in my 20s.

Every person who becomes blind will have a period where, yes, they absolutely will perseverate, and think, and some grieve, and some have experiences about their changing vision and they will see it as a sight loss for a time. And whether that’s a period of months or a few years, no contestation about that.

But then, what about the rest of a human life? When I wake up in the morning, I don’t slap my head on my forehead and say, I’m blind. I slap my head on the forehead and say, oh my God! I’m late. [laughs]

I am not focused on loss for the last 40 years. I’m thinking about the richness of a blind experience, the full way we enjoy the world, the complicated, joyous, and whole lives that we have.

And to distill this into an individual with loss, yeah, maybe that helps for a big philanthropy that’s trying to raise money and pull at people’s heartstrings in their communications. But it injures the people they purport to serve because it sets up this thing, which is underscoring, I think RNIB said, you know, “help people avoid the tragedy of vision loss” in their fundraising materials. Saw that a couple of years ago.

So yeah. Vision loss, sight loss, I really cringe about that one. And you’ll see it in the so-called professional literature, and language, and teaching programs and all of that. It really is dehumanizing to refer to blind people that way.

Jonathan: And the trouble with this also is that it makes it a toxic environment for blind people with a rights-based focus to work. They either have to swallow a whole bunch of dead rats to try and be in the system to make good change, or they do something else with their lives.

And I don’t know whether you have any data on this. But I think in the last 20 to 30 years, the number of blind people participating at senior levels of these agencies has declined dramatically.

Bryan: Yes. Well, we do have data in the several hundred blind agencies, or agencies for the blind, just the United States, something like 90% of them are led with CEOs who have no background in blindness and are not blind themselves. Same thing for their boards of directors, their board chairs, and their C-suites.

It’s a situation where 100 years from now, we’ll shake our heads and say, how is it that women’s organizations and every other ethnic organization is led by people right at the forefront of those identities? But in blindness, somehow, we’re back 100 years from where the rest of society is.

Jonathan: How do we take back control of the agencies that exist in our name?

Bryan: This has been a struggle for a long time. First is to understand what the situation is. And maybe, the transient nature of where we are now.

I don’t wish to live in a segregated or separatist world. I don’t want to be in a place where everybody is blind who’s in an organization, or leading it, or whatever.

At Lighthouse, I think the sweet spots about 50 50 on the C suite and the board of directors. That’s about right. That gives a full voice. But it’s not exclusive and all of that. Everything we can do to help blind people take that next step in leadership, in responsibility, in personal growth, we’re down to people stepping up into mid-management, upper management, and on and on.

But one small part of that is the language we use. And if people are using othering language, or modeling language, inspiration porn, all those kinds of things, it’s not going to help. So this is one way to chip at that problem.

Jonathan: That said, the vast majority of people who use these services are over the age of 65. They come to these organizations after something like macular degeneration, or glaucoma, or diabetic retinopathy. They need to be respected and not alienated, too. So it’s a balance. It’s a struggle.

Bryan: It sure is. You know in my experience, seniors over 65 (yes, you’re correct about the demographics) are some of the best learners, are some of the people who just want the tools. They just want to know how to do it. They know how to learn better or more focused than maybe younger people in this way. It’s a joy to build senior programs like that.

Jonathan: Now, we have an increasing number of blindness agencies who are dropping blind from their name altogether. They are using sight and vision instead, which seems to be really no different from calling, say, a funeral director a life preserver. I mean, it makes no sense to me.

Bryan: [laughs]

Jonathan: What on earth are they doing? This is nonsensical.

We have Vision Australia. In Ireland, they recently changed their name of their blindness organisation to Vision Ireland. I see various US organizations having Foresight or similar things in their name when they’re providing blindness services, and it’s ghastly.

But I have to ask. The name Lighthouse isn’t particularly good either, is it? [laughs]

Bryan: One of my regrets is that I hadn’t changed, hadn’t had the opportunity to change our name. But Lighthouse, you know, has a pedigree from 1902. It was literally a house started in New York. That first lighthouse had a room with very bright lights. So people with low vision could actually have a prayer of reading some periodicals where electric light wasn’t so common in New York City at the time. And so it was actually a room with a lot of light in it.

But then, it fell into an extension in the several dozen lighthouses around the world. There’s all the symbolism about a beacon of light in darkness, which of course, blindness isn’t darkness and all of that. Old tropes from centuries past about the state of blindness, of incompletion, and darkness. Yeah, it is time to move that along.

Jonathan: Lighthouses imply remediation against the world of darkness, don’t they?

Bryan: Yeah. They are the center of light, and the rest of the world is dark.

Jonathan: Right.

Bryan: And so, you come to them. And this is kind of a self-serving semiotics about the organization and all of that.

It may have worked as people thought about things 120 years ago, but man, is it out of date today.

Jonathan: Now, when we get to part 3 of the guide, I found it really challenging because you raised some issues there that I hadn’t thought of before. And obviously, with my worldview and way of thinking, I’m quite happy to be challenged. But I wanted to go through some of those things.

I never thought of the term assistive technology being in any way negative, or ableist, or having bad connotations. Can you talk me through some of the concerns about the term assistive technology?

Bryan: Sure. People’s mileage will vary here, and reasonable people can have different opinions.

But in the disability community now, what we’re trying to do in life is provide access and remove barriers. That’s, again, a neutral term. It does focus on the fact that these barriers may not be inherent to the disability, but actually the socially created barriers.

So if you have words used before – adaptive technology or assistive technology, it presupposes that the person is not adapted, needs assistance, and it’s just not a linguistic equivalence of equality.

Access technology is an active thing. Oh, I see. Things just provide access. It’s not about helping, that whole hierarchy of who’s doing the helping and who’s doing the receiving. believing, it’s just about a way to provide access. So it’s a more neutral term.

Jonathan: Let me just push back on that a little bit and explore this. So if I walk up to a computer, and it’s pretty rare to do it now because you’ve got narrator and voiceover built into everything, and TalkBack. But in days of yore, if I walked up to a computer and I couldn’t use it at all because there was no screen reader on that computer, and yet it is perfectly available to everybody else who can see, do I not need specific technology to assist me to use that computer?

Bryan: Absolutely. The technology assists you, 100%.

Jonathan: Right.

Bryan: But I’m trying to reason by analogy here. If you are a wheelchair rider and you want to get into a building and your path is blocked, yes, you may need assistance. But do you want to live in a world where every time that you have a barrier, it’s assistance here, assistance here? What you really want is access. What you really want is a design that includes a ramp, or a door that’s wide enough, or a turn radius that’s respectful of your architectural needs.

These slow Drip, drip, drip on a person with a disability about you need this, and assistance here, and help here and all of these things takes its toll. It gradually makes you a receiver and not an equal participant.

So insofar as we can think of language that is language of equality, the problem here is access. It’s not about assistance. That’s the high level on why that term is preferred.

Jonathan: Okay, I get that. I see what you’re saying. So essentially, access technology is a lot more about universal design, about the fact that access to anything that we want to use is a human right?

Bryan: Absolutely.

Jonathan: Alright. That’s interesting.

Now, you also talk in part 3 about avoiding terms like help and support. And I’m thinking, you know, one of my favorite Beatles songs is a little help from my friends. [laughs] Don’t we all need a little help from our friends from time to time? We’re all interdependent in some way, disabled or not, aren’t we?

Bryan: Yeah, and it’s beautiful to be interdependent, and it is help that we need.

The question is, how are we labeling and calling these terms beyond that? For instance, at Be My Eyes, maybe you remember that from our earlier app, call a helper was the term.

Jonathan: Yes.

Bryan: And I never really liked that term. What I wanted was Well, it’s a volunteer. That’s actually what it is. And thank you for that. [laughs] I want to volunteer. I don’t want aid, help, all of these other things that add another level of sort of obligation and this feeling of kind of an ableist, noblesse oblige. I just want a partnership, that beautiful intimacy of interdependence which we all love and benefit from.

Jonathan: But drill down a bit, Bryan. When you call that volunteer, you’re calling because you need help, aren’t you?

Bryan: Yes. But what do we call these things? There’s a button on the app currently – get support. Yeah. It is, technically. Yeah, you’re getting support when you’re getting a scene described by a volunteer or by AI. It is support. But is it another one of those, I need this, I need that, I need help, I need support, I need all these things sort of underscoring the neediness of the person instead of an engagement of the person, an engagement in terms of equality? I’d love this image described. That’s a wonderful thing. Is it support? Yes, it is technically support, as you say. But the cumulative effect, as I’ve said before, of all of these otherings, custodialisms, noblesse oblige, ableisms, all of that in the language, ultimately will help make people with disabilities believe less in themselves.

Jonathan: This is one of the interesting challenges of the paradigm that Be My Eyes has, when it comes to working with sighted volunteers, isn’t it? If I use a service like Aira, for example, which I guess to some extent competes with Be My Eyes, I’m paying for it, and I feel like I have a contract with a trained agent, and that gives me a sense of command over the situation because I’m paying for their wages ultimately, and there’s a contractual relationship of some kind there.

When I call a Be My Eyes volunteer, I do wonder what’s going through their head. What’s motivating them to give up their time? You, I presume, have a lot of data on this. What’s driving people to sign up in such incredibly large numbers? I mean, Be My Eyes has been a very successful project.

Bryan: 7 and a half million individuals are volunteering.

Jonathan: Yeah. Amazing.

Bryan: It might be the world’s largest volunteer network, single largest network.

Jonathan: It’s just amazing.

Bryan: We like this term random acts of kindness. You know, it’s the kind of thing. We can provide acts of kindness and do for people, and other people provide for us. That has a kind of equality and beauty. It’s the world we want to live in.

Jonathan: What impression do you think a sighted volunteer has when they have provided that support, or assistance, or whatever you want to call it to a blind person? Do you think with such a very large volunteer base, is it positively impacting the public perceptions of blindness, or is it reinforcing a stereotype that blind people need lots of help?

Bryan: You know, that’s a really interesting thing. I guess I’ll start by saying what we hear from our volunteers mostly is that we wish we got more calls.

Jonathan: Yeah.

Bryan: Because there are so many volunteers. You know, people would like far more calls from blind people.

Luckily, I think we’re working in an era now when we’ll get more things for a volunteer to do – AI verification, and maybe some more specialized volunteering is on the horizon. That will be a great thing.

But what do you think is the perception of blind people? I mean, it’s the same, in some ways, as when we meet a random person on the street and ask for a street address, or a direction to this or that. Some blind people create a lifelong impression that’s amazing. Some are completely forgettable. We are every person, right? And every part of the spectrum. And we don’t need to straightjacket ourselves into one kind of behavior that makes for a good blind person and a bad blind person. We’re just people.

I have heard, however, from volunteers about the diversity of the requests. And so, oh, I met a blind person who was working with an electronic test bit of equipment and needed to get a voltage reading, a blind electrician who needed to verify colors of wires, somebody who’s cooking a roux that needed to be exactly the right color. This idea of blind people doing a million unexpected tasks itself has an educational value for our 7 and a half million volunteers.

Jonathan: Right. And the reason why I ask this question is because some of those volunteers will be employers. And we know that one of the biggest barriers to the employment of blind people is the perception gap. I mean, we’ve had all this amazing technological advancement, particularly in the last 30, 40 years or so. And yet, based on all the data that we can gather, the unemployment numbers haven’t substantially budged. And I would say that the reason for that is that the attitudinal problems persist. So it’s possible that Be My Eyes could help to swing those attitudes a bit.

Bryan: It works both ways. The attitude of the non-disabled or non-blind society towards the blind folks. But also, about our attitudes for ourselves, you know.

The barriers are not, oh my God! I wish I had that job, but I couldn’t remember the right JAWS keystroke. It’s not about that. It’s about your self-confidence and self-respect.

That often comes from knowing people like you, Jonathan, and a thousand other people who have figured out a way to get on with it and earn a living, take care of a family, be a great student, be a wonderful retiree, whatever your goals are. Are people cannot advance in who they are without knowing other blind people who are having the world on their terms.

And so, part of our communications at Be My Eyes is to share what people are using these tools for. Because once you’ve seen somebody use it to do something advanced in a shop, or with clothing, or whatever it is, or on the job, you can’t unthink that. Once you’ve seen a capable blind person doing almost anything, your world has changed really profoundly, and you can’t unscramble that egg.

Jonathan: You say something very interesting there. Because I think, one of the barriers that we face that is absolutely removable and needs to be removed is that we do have blind people out there who don’t consider that they are worthy of full accessibility and full participation in society. And what’s worse, when you get people who advocate for those things, you get blind people who tell those other blind people to shut up, and that they’re being unreasonable, and they shouldn’t insist on all these things because we’re such a tiny minority, and people will get upset with us.

Bryan: Yes, I’m familiar with those things.

And yet, we can still build even in that environment, and people can be attracted to the success and the opportunities we provide.

I mean, in one of my other jobs, I’m a commissioner in the US Ability One Commission that oversees 450 nonprofit agencies concerned with employment across the United States. I’ve had meetings with rank-and-file employees there about the possibility of going outside an agency in a blind-specific employment and into the general integrated competitive workplace. And I’ve heard from people saying, “Your idea of working outside of this building is a fairy tale for me.” That this idea of working not at this blind production facility, but in a federal contractor across the street, that’s an impossible dream.

So what are the barriers? They’re external, but they’re also internal as well.

Jonathan: Absolutely.

The only other one I had to go through with you was totally blind bad, fully blind good. This is interesting for me, and it might be that I’m just too old to dig this one. Because ever since I was a kid, we’ve been talking about the totals and the partials. [laughs] What’s wrong with totally blind?

Bryan: Well, it certainly describes. But it has a kind of catastrophic, or a sort of almost emotional ring to totally blind, as if blind is not just flat and descriptive enough, it’s totally blind.

That’s why fully blind is just, you know, it’s not 20 80, it’s not 20 200, no light perception. Fully blind. You know, it’s just, it almost feels in that phrase fully blind like you’ve achieved something. You’ve gotten to the highest level, the black belt of blindness, to coin a horrible color, versus the totally blind just has a catastrophic ring to it.

Jonathan: There’s also legally blind. We hear that a lot.

Bryan: Yeah. That’s a neutral term, and many companies have certain rights and social benefits that are triggered when you are legally blind. That’s still a lot of vision. It’s 10% vision. Many people who are at 20 200 function entirely visually. They just use clever techniques to use that vision. So in some sense, our terminology has to catch up with our thinking.

Jonathan: We’re having this conversation because a listener contacted me who was a bit disgruntled about this. I wonder what feedback you have received on this, now that it’s been out a while.

Bryan: I’ve been astonished. I mean, this thing has been shared tens of thousands of times on LinkedIn and elsewhere. We didn’t have a big campaign about it, but I have been gratified by how many people in the teacher training programs and in the K-12 education programs, and in many of the social services and blindness organizations have just shared this back and forth.

I think what people are looking for is just a simple practical guide, you know. Every day, people have to make word choices, and this gives them a set of safe word choices that will work and won’t require an excursion into a dictionary of philosophy. And that’s what we wanted, just simple terms. If this gets you 80% of the way there and you can feel like yeah, you can say the B word, and yes, you can use the same construction for blind people as anybody else, you don’t have to torture the English language in order to feel like you’re sensitive, this is what this is for. And so, we’ve gotten a lot of usage for it, and we’ve gotten it, at least in Be My Eyes, have gotten absolutely 0 complaints about it.

Jonathan: Well, long live the revolution. That’s what I say. [laughs]

I’ve enjoyed this discussion very much because it’s pushing a lot of my buttons, a lot of the things that I’ve been saying on this podcast for quite some time. So I’ve enjoyed it very much, and I wish you all the best. I hope we’ll keep in touch as more things develop at Be My Eyes.

Bryan: It would be my pleasure. We’ve got a great team working on all kinds of things. You’ll be hearing about in the upcoming weeks and months. And always would be your partner and take a philosophical dive down one avenue or the other. It’s a pleasure, and look forward to the next time, Jonathan.


Voiceover: Has something on the show got you thinking?

Share those thoughts with the rest of the Living Blindfully community. Send us an email. You can include an audio attachment recorded on your computer or smartphone so we can hear your voice, or you can write it down.

The address is That’s

Or phone our listener line in the USA – 864-60-Mosen. That’s 864-606-6736.

Let your voice be heard.


Let’s talk about the Sonos app once again.

Jesper Holten is in touch from sunny Denmark. He says:

“Hello, Jonathan,

I have updated the app earlier this week, and find it now quite accessible.

It would be great to be able to speed up efficiency a step further so it would be easier to find the start and stop button, and to have an even faster way of changing one Sonos unit/room/group to another in your system screen.

But it is not worse in that regard as before. They have mostly fixed things in the Sonos iOS app, and I am thus keeping my Sonos gear and will even invest in more if ever they upgrade the Sonos amp to full surround sound support.”

Thanks, Jesper! They’ve definitely made improvements.

I wouldn’t let them off the hook yet myself because there are still quite a few buttons, particularly when you drill down to the settings screen where it is saying things like chevron button, and then you find that one item in your system actually takes 3 swipes or so. There could be really good use of headings deployed. There could also be rotor actions deployed to make it more efficient.

But there’s no doubt that it’s better than it was, by some margin.

Ian Harrison says:

“I think you and your listeners are making a great job of pushing Sonos to see the light, but I thought there was one more stick to beat them with while they are on the ropes.”

Oh boy! That sounds a bit aggressive.

He says:

“I am still a fan of the quality of sound that Sonos produce, and have had several of their speakers for many years.

However, over this time, I became increasingly frustrated with how they handle voice assistants. I use Google as my assistant of choice throughout the rest of my house, and have an Apple Music subscription. At some point in the past, I think Sonos and Google spat their dummies out. And since then, I could not use Google Assistant to call up my Apple playlists. I know this was another complaint that was made continuously in the customer forum without a decent response from the company.

I made the same decision to sell some of my system and replace them with Google players, losing quality in exchange for functionality. I got 2 speakers from Google for the price of one Sonos speaker, but can now play my music when I want.

I think there are other high-quality speakers out there that can cope with multiple assistants and music streamers, so perhaps a review of Sonos replacement options could add to our leverage. It may teach them that arrogance is no way to grow a loyal customer base.”

That’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth because Ian Harrison is writing in from Hull in the UK.

Okay. Thank you very much, Ian!

I do find it a bit hard to get worked up about this particular one because you can still use the Amazon thing, the A-L-E-X-A, and command your Apple Music that way. And I think I’d rather do that than get a more inferior speaker, just to use Google Assistant. I’m not so sure that Google Assistant is that much more superior for voice control of your Apple Music and similar playlists.

But there’s no doubt Sonos and Google have had a falling out. Sonos sued Google over patent infringement relating to speaker grouping, and they won. And as is the way with these things, Google appealed, and they won on appeal. So now, Google is putting back some of the speaker grouping stuff that the Sonos case caused them to take out. So relationships aren’t great between Sonos and Google, and I’ve no doubt that is a significant factor.

Caller: Hi, Jonathan! This is Kenneth.

I had a Bluetooth speaker, and I enjoyed it a lot. And after hearing your presentation about Sonos and so on, I got rid of it, and I went and I bought 2 Sonos Roams based on your advice, and I was really really enjoying Sonos Roams.

Now that their new app is no longer accessible, well, I still took your advice and running the Sonos speakers still on the old system. I’m hoping that it remains so for a while, or until Sonos could solve their problem based on accessibility.

But I wonder if we should be very careful moving forward how we promote products as personal blind, knowing that it could be broken. Or should it be a clear disclaimer that, while we may promote a certain product, we also run the risk that these products or software could be made inaccessible?

Jonathan: Well certainly, Kenneth. It’s useful to remind people about this from time to time. It’s the reality of the world we live in, right? If we’ve been using technology for any length of time, we have all seen situations where there’s an app that you use a lot, and a new version of that app is released. With great fanfare, usually. We’ve rewritten this app from the ground up, and it’s absolutely epic, only to find that it’s not accessible.

And that’s why constant vigilance and an assertion of our worth, that our money is as good as everyone else’s, and we have paid for this technology, is important.

Should it have happened in the first place? Absolutely not. Sonos is well aware of its considerable number of blind users, and it’s deeply disappointing that it took the path that it did. And it’s going to take a long time to rebuild trust in the blind community as a result, I suspect. But they are now responding.

If you need to upgrade to the new Sonos app, it’s definitely usable now. I believe it’s unnecessarily clunky and that there are many more efficiencies that should be gained, but you’re not locked out if you have to upgrade.

So that is a good outcome. We should give credit where it’s due. But we also, in my view, need to keep just gently hammering away on this because it is not as good an experience yet as the old app was.

But you make a good point. It is really important for people like me to remind everyone from time to time. If you use a device that is dependent on an app, there is always the possibility that that app might break, and it does leave us vulnerable.

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It’s good to see Aira now being offered as an accommodation in an increasing number of workplaces. There are so many ways that this can be useful from getting past an inaccessible website, to navigating an unfamiliar building, to have someone read you a piece of paper and even take notes on that document, sending it to you later. When your workplace funds Aira as an accommodation, you can say goodbye to relying on sighted co-workers or apps that may not provide the accuracy or speed that you need on the job.

Aira can improve your productivity, efficiency and independence in your workplace. And when you advocate for Aira to be available in your workplace, you’re not only improving your own productivity. You could be helping to make a dent in our high unemployment statistics.

We’re already seeing that workplaces that embrace the need for visual interpretation tend to hire more blind people. Win-win!

Aira will work with you to advocate for your workplace to offer sight on demand. You can email them to make an appointment so an expert at Aira can help make it happen. The address to contact is That’s access@A-I-R-A.IO.

Serious Facebook Messenger Issue on iOS

This email says:

“Hello, Jonathan and Living Blindfully listeners,

This is Ben from sunny Florida. I wanted to write this email to alert everyone to a bug in the Facebook Messenger application.

When you are in a conversation and someone else sends a message, or you send a message, VoiceOver Focus will jump around, and it will take sometimes up to a minute for it to stop reading previous messages and allow you to explore the screen and continue typing or reading the conversation.

There have been, I believe, 3 updates so far that have not addressed this very serious bug. It makes using the Facebook Messenger app downright unusable for a blind person using VoiceOver.

I hope that you, or one of your listeners, could ask Facebook to look into this to see what is going on. Thank you for your assistance with this issue.”

I’m sorry to hear that, Ben. That is an app I don’t use that much. I’m really not a big Facebook fan, full stop, so I don’t use Facebook Messenger much. So I haven’t seen this.

But has anybody else? This does sound like a big issue. And hopefully, we can get it escalated.

Chapters in Apple Podcasts

This email comes from Henrich, who says:


First, thank you for an excellent show with many good tips on how to live blindfully. I am totally blind myself.

I have a comment on what was said about navigating between chapters in Apple Podcasts in episode 284. It is actually possible to use chapter navigation without screen recognition, even if it is not perfectly implemented. And here are the steps:

  1. Open the now playing screen. Double tap at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Just below the right corner of the screen, a more button is shown.
  3. Under that button, or by swiping with 1 finger to the right, next item, a button with the current chapter is shown such as 1. Welcome to 266, 5 minutes.
  4. Press that button.
  5. You have now expanded the chapter list, and you can easily navigate between chapters.
  6. To collapse the list, press Chapters at the top of the screen.

Of course, the button should have been labeled Chapters, instead of the current Chapter Only.”

Thank you, Henrich!

It may be that the intel I got on this was wrong because I don’t use Apple Podcasts, or it may be that they fixed it a little bit.

But that’s really great information, and I appreciate you taking the time to give us such clear steps.

Caller: Hi! My name is Greg from Minnesota in the United States.

There was a questioner on a recent podcast asking about how to skip chapters in Apple Podcasts.

While the button may be a problem, you can tell Siri to skip chapters, and it will.

Jonathan: Genius! Thank you very much, Greg! That is a handy tip indeed.

I wish I could get on a bit better with the Apple Podcasts app. Perhaps the problem I have is how many podcasts I listen to. And I just find it quite cumbersome to get through a large number of episodes at once when you’re scanning and deleting things you don’t want to hear, and all that kind of stuff.

But there’s no doubt it’s got some nice features these days, particularly the transcripts. The job that it is doing with the machine-readable transcripts is really quite extraordinary.

So thank you for that tip. I hope it helps people.


A subject that many of us think about a lot, and that is sleep. And it’s not just blind people, but there are some unique things relating to sleep when you’re blind, particularly if you don’t have light perception and you’ve got the whole non-24 sleep-wake disorder going on.

Michael Bullis says:

“Like many blind folks and sighted ones too, as I have aged, I have found difficulties sleeping regularly.

I wanted to try Melatonin, but wasn’t sure of the right amount.

So several years ago, I spoke with Dr. Al Lewy” (that’s L-E-W-Y) “of the Oregon Health Sciences University, and he confirmed my initial sense that Melatonin being sold over the counter is usually recommending far higher doses than our bodies need.

I began taking 1 /6th of the liquid dose recommended on the bottle, and it continues to work to this day.

I asked my friend, ChatGPT about Melatonin dosage, and he says that most people need about 0.2 milligrams of Melatonin per day, and that 80% of the Melatonin that goes into our stomach is never passed through your bloodstream, so about 1 milligram should work. Melatonin does absorb sublingually, so take a liquid product to enhance that process by swishing it around in your mouth before swallowing.

My friend ChatGPT is not a doctor, but he does express some concern about taking too high a dose because it can cause dizziness, nightmares, and other problems.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love ChatGPT? It has turned my research into virtually any subject into a real joy, instead of what had become a horrible process with Google and other search engines. Getting to a page and wading through the ads became so frustrating, that I would simply not do it. I named him Alex after Alex Trebek, the Jeopardy game host, because he had all the answers. I’m sure he’s plotting to take over humanity, and I am seriously concerned about that. But for now, what a wonderful research tool. And yes, he will give you the citations for where his information comes from so you can check things out on your own.”

Thank you, Mike, and thank you for your thoughts on Melatonin.

I have a sublingual tablet that I take. You put it under your tongue, and it dissolves, and that works well for me too. So there are various ways to get melatonin into your system, but it can really help an enormous amount.

Apple Watch and Talking Obsolescence

There’s a great song by the group Chicago called Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is. And if you’ve got this watch that David Baker has got, you might not. He says:


Less than 2 years ago, I purchased a talking watch.

In January this year, the day and date function ceased to work correctly. After taking it to the supplier, I was advised that the calendar function expired at the end of 2023, and could not be rectified.

I am now wanting to replace the watch which has a similar function, but am concerned that I will have the same problem again sometime in future if the calendar function is only good for a limited number of years. Local retailers I have spoken to cannot guarantee me the calendar expiry function on their watches.”

That is quite bizarre. I wonder what it is about 2024 that has triggered this. David, can you give us any more info on the watch in question – what its make and model is?

Does anyone else have anything to share on talking watches that suddenly stop speaking the time and date at the beginning of a new year?

I always used to use Braille watches. And then, I had a Bradley timepiece for a while, which was really nice. Then, the Apple Watch came out, and I’ve worn Apple Watches ever since, so I’m a bit out of the loop on this one.

Do be in touch if you have any thoughts to share., or 864-60-Mosen is the phone number. 864-606-6736.

ListenLater, Braille, Experiences With Lawyers, Independent Voting

Fanny is writing in again, and she says:

“Dear Jonathan,

I’d like to comment on some topics from episodes 282 and 284.

After the introduction of ListenLater, I wanted to try it out. I used your address to the 2024 General Assembly of the International Council on English Braille for it, which I found on your blog. I sent it to them. And in a short time, I got it back as a podcast episode in German. That was amazing.”, she says.

“This gives a great opportunity to also consume articles in other languages which I actually would be anxious to read, for I may not understand everything, or even articles in languages I simply never learned. And it gives me the possibility to improve language skills in languages I know a bit, as I do with English.

Therefore, I was very thankful to hear the original of your last episode. It’s a very interesting experience to listen to both versions in comparison now. Besides, of course, the content was very informative for me. I’d never heard of those different codes and the War of the Dots before.

When I’ve tried to support blind people in North Korea, I found out that the 2 Koreas also have some differences in their Braille codes, but I never managed to learn one of them.

In Germany, we’re lucky to be supplied with Braille displays by several state institutions. But even here, some voices predict that Braille’s going to die due to hearing instead of reading. As a born blind Braille reader, I’m very happy that all over the world, people fight for our right to read and write.”

Gee, that’s a great slogan right there. [laughs]

“Now, about your experience with the lawyer, I had some similar situations some weeks ago. Our organization elected new board members, so another blind board member and I had to visit a notary for their registration in our register of associations. The notary sent the document as a PDF, but he insisted on reading it for us again. He insisted that the reading had to be done before his eyes, directly from on the document. Reading the PDF before, he didn’t take as an option.

But not only that. The two of us are not the most opinionated kind of blind people, so we had booked a sighted guide for getting to the notary. As if it was self-evident, the notary asked our assistant for his passport, and wanted to make him either read the document to us or at least to use him as a witness. We had to fight really hard to prevent this.

‘What’s your problem?’, the notary asked. He just didn’t understand that, and why we wanted to go through this process without extra sighted help. He even had to look into his law book to confirm for himself that we’re allowed to sign without having an extra witness. At the end, he found out that the law definitely allowed us to sign without an extra witness.

So he read the document for us, and we signed. But I really can tell you that didn’t feel good at all.

Independent voting is another topic that concerns me a lot. Just today, the 9th of June, is a voting day in Germany.”

Yes, indeed. I’ve been following the EU elections with considerable interest and some concern, I have to say.

“We vote for the EU Parliament. And besides, we vote for our city council.

In Germany, you have to vote on paper. In any case, there is no way for voting digitally or via phone.

For the European election, we get voting templates from the Association of the Blind. You can put the ballot paper into it. On the template, there are numbers beside each holes. You get an additional audio disc that tells you which number stands for which party. The paper is marked with a hole on its right upper corner, so you know how to put it into the template the right way.

But we never know if the bit was really okay because the paper is very long. And we also don’t know if the pen worked.

When it comes to city councils, it is even worse. We have definitely no chance to vote independently. We do need sighted assistance in that case.

We have to cast 3 votes that we can give all to the same candidate, or distribute them among the candidates. For example, in our city, we have 8 constituencies. In each of these constituencies, different people are running.

So for this voting system, the templates are no practical solution. But no other solution besides assistance of a trustworthy sighted person is offered in our highly developed country.

I live in a region of Germany where right-leaning extremist parties are on the rise very strongly. In former times, I never doubted that the election workers would fulfill my will. But nowadays, I don’t feel very sure of that. That’s why it really bothers me that in my country, there’s no safe, independent voting possibility for me. That’s really more than frustrating.

I somehow understand the concerns about digital voting and the dangers of manipulating them. But I think with passion and enough funding, clear, safe systems could be developed and used. It’s really a shame that this does not exist in Germany yet in 2024.

At least I voted anyway, and all my blind friends too. Especially nowadays, there’s a lot of danger for our democracy, and it’s so very important that we raise our voices against those powers reminding me of very bad times around 80 years ago.”

Yes, indeed. Thank you very much, Fanny! I really appreciate the email.

It is so important, no matter what it takes, to cast your vote. Let your voice be heard. And I’m glad that you did that. It’s also just so useful to hear your example of what it’s like for you as a blind person to vote.

And if others would like to share their own voting experiences from around the world, that would be most educational., or 864-60-Mosen is the number. 864-606-6736.


Advertisement: Transcripts of Living Blindfully are brought to you by Pneuma Solutions, a global leader in accessible cloud technologies. On the web at That’s P-N-E-U-M-A

Zoom Recorders and Beatles

Let’s hear from John Dowling now. He says:

“Hi, Jonathan and listeners,

As I plan for my big Europe trip, I decided to finally grab the all new Zoom H1 Essential from my local guitar center about 2 weeks ago.

I’ve got to say. After getting to spend these 2 weeks with it, I honestly can’t ever see myself without it. I especially love the overdub feature, and I can see so many possibilities for musicians who want to get ideas down quickly.

I do need to get a windscreen and bigger micro SD card, because this 32 gigabyte card I have in it now is quickly filling up.

I do wish the voice guide could be sped up, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Happy recording!”

Well, happy recording and travelling to you, John.

I don’t believe at time of recording that the Zoom H1 Essential Official windscreen is out from Zoom yet.

But over on The Blind Podmaker list, Robert Carter, the tech doctor himself, recommended a windscreen from The Sound Professionals for the Zoom H1 Essential. I got that, and I’m really happy with it. And as we head off to the NFB Convention, that’s going to be super handy having that windscreen on the device.

So you can check out The Sound Professionals, and get that H1 Essential windscreen. Does a nice job.

Now, here’s Rick James while we’re talking about Zoom recorders, and he says:

“Hi, Jonathan,

I sure do enjoy each and every episode of Blindfully Living. I know, I know. I said it backwards. But remember, I am from Montana.”

[laughs] Right, then.

“Area code 406.”, he says. Mate, that’s going to be a while until we get to that episode, but we’re getting closer.

“Don’t worry, you will get there.”, he says. I am quite sure.

Rick continues.

“I’m a midnight listener to your Explosion.”

And for those not familiar with that, the Mosen Explosion is the music show I do on Mushroom FM. You can hear it at 2 AM Eastern Time in the US during the week, and repeated at 2 PM Eastern Time. If you go to the Mushroom FM website, it will display in your local time zone if you check the schedule.

Rick says:

“Such a fun guy DJ you are, too.

I have a question which I hope you may address. It’s to do with the Zoom Essential recorders.

I was delighted to have the benefit of your Zoom Essential recorder tutorials. But I worry that perhaps, I was not a careful enough listener.

I decided to purchase the H6 Essential Zoom recorder. I have been longing to have a unit with that 32-bit float, but I failed to notice from your excellent hands-on review of the unit that it does not have a 3.5 line-in.

Later, like after I received the H6 and put my hands on it, and struggled to read that bugger of a PDF manual, …”

[laughs] Can you say that on Living Blindfully? I’m not sure.

“I found no mention of it. And on the website description, both H6 and H4 list the line-in as a feature. So I’m sort of confused.

When I went back and listened again to your review of the H4 Essential, in it, you did point out that it does indeed have a 3.5 millimeter line-in jack. And on your review of the H6, I did not hear you mention a line-in jack. So my bad, an oversight on my part in shopping, I guess.

I can’t figure out quite how to use the H6 for a stereo line-in. I’m considering exchanging it for that model, but I wonder if I am missing something here. Maybe, there is a way to do it.”

I think there is, Rick. I think you could just get a standard cable that has two of the TRS plugs at one end. And you plug those into the combo jacks, and then terminating in whatever you want to plug into, like a 3.5 headphone jack, or RCAs, or something like that. And that should do the job okay, I would have thought. I don’t see why not.

Rick continues:

“I resubscribed to Disney Plus for the newly revised Let It Be movie. Have you watched it yet? Your thoughts?”

I haven’t watched it yet, Rick, because I’ve seen Let It Be several times over the years. And as far as I’m aware, it’s just kind of remastered, you know. So I don’t know if I want to sit through them squabbling again. But maybe I will.

He says:

“I then just had to, yet again, listen to the Get Back documentary. After all this time since it was released, I am finding that I get even more insight from the experience, those January 1969 sessions.

I feel maybe many of us fans have, over the years, placed so much emphasis on every little aspect of the group. Now, I can just hear these young men growing out of the Beatles, not routinely writing or performing live.

And all of a sudden, to beat a deadline before Ringo goes to do the Magic Christian movie, they need some new songs and a plan for a live show. Pressures, life changes, financial troubles with the Apple Dream, and who wouldn’t have some tensions?

Yet, the magic is sure there, and I get emotional once a song comes together and they let that moment steal them right back into the cavern, or the top 10 club. Fans like us, we want to just whisper to the lads, “Hey, Paul. That new song George was playing there, that is pretty good. Yeah, yeah.”

And when billy shows up, they straighten up, they lighten up. And a few notes on the fender roads, and off we go.

Don’t let me down, brother. Go, Johnny, go.”

Very well said, Rick. Very well said indeed.

That Get Back documentary was just so amazing. And watching songs come together, particularly the way Get Back came to be, … They were so talented. And as you say, once they get playing and the musical chemistry starts all over again, it’s like nothing else matters. Such an incredible thing. So yeah, I love the Get Back documentary.

You’ve encouraged me. I will watch the new Let It Be.

Blind People and the Legal Profession

Voice message: Hi, Jonathan! This is Brenda Bush from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Just wanted to say what a great keynote speech that was that you delivered to the ICEB recently in Auckland, New Zealand. You sure brought back a lot of memories, and taught me a lot about Braille. I had no idea that it had such a florid history.

Anyways, what I really wanted to talk about was your next article about lawyers who don’t think blind people can read. Well, darned if I didn’t have the exact same experience just in November.

My father passed away in October, and my brother-in-law and I were the executors.

So we were trying to get everything done, and move things along. We went to the lawyer to talk to them and whatnot.

And then, we had to sign a certificate of appointment for the Ontario Superior Court, in order to give us the authority to sign for legal documents, and money and such. This basically replaces the legal team or a bank. So we felt we had the skills, and we did. We had the skills to process and distribute the will ourselves, or the estate.

Anyways, when I showed up to sign with my brother-in-law, darned if the lawyers didn’t bring out an affidavit. They wanted me to sign, saying that I understood and I read everything , and I was legally blind, but that somebody had read it to me, and that I had a chance to ask questions, and so on and so on.

I was so offended, I can’t even tell you.

I pushed back. And my brother-in-law, who has obviously known me for many years, he understood.

And the legal team kind of understood, but their response was well, this is from the Ontario government, which it was. It was a form from the Ontario government. And this is to protect you, as well as everybody else.

So I didn’t want to fight that battle at that time because it was important to get things moving along for, you know, probating the estate, and distributing the money and such. And as you know, it’s a difficult time in life when you lose a parent. So you don’t want to, you know, waste time on something that maybe can be taken care of later.

Anyways, thanks for reminding me about this. I had meant to send it off to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, just to let them know how disappointed I was, and how I’m not sure how they can check that all people who look non-disabled are actually non-disabled. So if someone’s dyslexic, if they don’t self-identify, are they allowed to sign it? I don’t know. That’s a question. Anyways, I’ve attached the document for your information.

And again, thanks for the show. I love it. I listen to it all the time.

Jonathan: Well, thank you. It’s good to hear from you, Brenda.

And first and foremost, I’m really sorry about your dad.

It’s a tough time, isn’t it? I’ve lost both parents now, and it really is a very difficult time.

And that’s one of the factors that, as you say, makes this thing so upsetting – that you’re dealing with a lot of grief. You may not be at your best. You’re just struggling to execute the wishes of one of your parents.

And maybe without warning, when you’re in this vulnerable state, somebody suggests that you can’t even read the documents that you most certainly will have read.

Now, as I record this, … Actually, on the day that I’m recording it, I’ve just done the final documentation because we’ve sold mum’s house, and we’ve done a few things.

I went to a lawyer, and I was ready this time. So this was my lawyer. So my lawyer knows me. And if he were to try and do that, I’d put a flea in his ear anyway. [laughs]

But in my case, what I did this time, just in case, just to be prepared, is I took the legal documents along on my Mantis. So if they wanted any demonstration that I had read the documents, I would have been happy to open them up and just start to read.

But when I explained how it worked and everything he was totally cool with that. He said yeah, okay, it’s no problem.

When you’re dealing with someone who doesn’t know you, and maybe you’re trying to do things online as well, there are some additional complications with following that strategy.

But I’m glad that you are taking it up with the Ontario Human Rights Commission. If you would, I’d love to be kept informed about how you get on with this. And let’s try and make some good change here. No problem at all with somebody saying have you got some means of reading these documents? Do you understand them? Can you just describe to me what these documents say to give me some confidence? And I actually think that every person should be asked those questions.

But when there’s a blanket assumption, “You’re blind, so you can’t read this.”, “You can’t possibly have read it.”, that really is not acceptable.

Closing and Contact Info

Well, Uber Eats are in my future, and we’re just about at the 2-hour mark. So we’ll stop for this week.

But thank you very much for all your really interesting contributions. I appreciate it so much. Keep them coming in. We’ll see you next week.

And remember that when you’re out there with your guide dog, you’ve harnessed success. And with your cane, you’re able.


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