[NABS-L] A technology recommendation for all of you

Harry Staley hstaley at nfbtx.org
Thu Jul 26 16:42:42 UTC 2018

It is the Braille monitor.

Harry Staley
(330) 718-1876
hstaley at nfbtx.org

> On Jul 26, 2018, at 11:04, Jessica Dail via NABS-L <nabs-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> Hi Gary,
> My name is Jessica.
> Can you pease write me off list?
> I'd like to do an article for the publiction you write for, but can't think of its name off of top of my head.
> Thanks,
> Jessica
>> On Jul 26, 2018 11:27 AM, Gary Wunder via NABS-L <nabs-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:
>> What an interesting story. Thanks. 
>> -----Original Message----- 
>> From: NABS-L [mailto:nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Cricket X. 
>> Bidleman via NABS-L 
>> Sent: Monday, July 23, 2018 12:07 AM 
>> To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list 
>> Cc: Cricket X. Bidleman 
>> Subject: [NABS-L] A technology recommendation for all of you 
>> Hi all, 
>> This is long. Please read it anyway. As of last July, I received the 
>> AIRA Back-to-School award. Basically, this gave me free minutes on 
>> AIRA for nine months, the last of which recently ended. (Endless 
>> thanks to Kathryn Webster for being instrumental in that process.) 
>> I'll admit I was a little skeptical because first of all, I didn't 
>> think I'd use it. I also knew they had basically repurposed Google 
>> Glass, and Google Glass in its original form was kind of a floppy 
>> failure... And then some. 
>> So Cricket, where's that "recommendation" you promised us? Well, here 
>> it is. I can say, through my own abundant use of the software in my 
>> first year of college, that I sincerely feel that AIRA is 
>> revolutionizing instant access to all areas of life. Accessibility is 
>> a huge issue for us as blind students and though it's slowly being 
>> worked on in general, sometimes it's necessary to have instant access 
>> to things. I'd call it "accessibility on demand" or something like 
>> that. One particular instance comes to mind. 
>> I was incredibly overwhelmed. It was my first day at Stanford, 
>> September 19 of last year. My parents had just left me in a dorm full 
>> of people I didn't know, in a place I'd never been to. I was walking 
>> around, trying not to bump into things, when I mentally slapped myself 
>> for forgetting that I had an a capella audition, and then another one, 
>> and then a choir audition, and then a meeting with my pre-major 
>> advisor. I really didn't want to be the problem child constantly 
>> asking for help from the RA's who, quite frankly, had more than enough 
>> disoriented freshmen to deal with. So, because I'm so brilliant, I 
>> walked out of my dorm with my cane, wearing a black dress and high 
>> heels, into 90 degree weather. I made it all the way down the hill by 
>> my dorm and then I had to mentally slap myself again because I 
>> realized something... I didn't know the campus at all. I walked around 
>> a bit, and then got turned around, and then got lost, and then got 
>> even more lost. There were freshmen everywhere, but they were all lost 
>> too, and a bunch of them gave me atrociously  wrong directions. I 
>> called AIRA and in five minutes, they had me straightened out and 
>> going in the right direction. Turned out I was on the opposite side of 
>> campus from where I was supposed to be. Thanks, all you disoriented 
>> freshmen... 
>> Let me tell you something about Stanford campus. you know how like 
>> every sane person designing a college campus makes them arranged like 
>> city blocks? There are clear streets, buildings are arranged in grid 
>> patterns, they're in numerical order... Stanford's designer must have 
>> been crazy, because this campus is not like that at all. There are 
>> twists and turns everywhere and though there are a couple of main 
>> streets here and there, most of the campus isn't even nearly 
>> accessible by car, much less by some lost blind student. Google Maps 
>> doesn't really help, so my AIRA agent (Emma) was cross-referencing 
>> three different maps while trying to keep an eye on me so I wouldn't 
>> step in a fountain. Yes, that is a possibility here. People actually 
>> jump in fountains for fun. Emma is phenomenal, and managed to get me 
>> to my audition on time. Part of that was because, by some happy 
>> coincidence, I'd left three hours early, but even so I was rushing at 
>> the end. At least I made it, sore feet and all. 
>> Anyway since then, I've had many experiences with AIRA, and all of 
>> them have ended up positive. One time I was chasing down a Uber 
>> because it wanted to ditch me... One time I was cramming for a test 
>> with a textbook that I hadn't gotten in Braille on time since it was 
>> my first quarter here. One time an agent was reading Plato's Republic 
>> to me when I may or may not have taken a nap, and they may or may not 
>> have had to wake me up. They were really nice about it though. You 
>> know these people are awesome when they can even pronounce pars 
>> opercularis properly. I can't even do that. (That's an essential part 
>> of the brain involved in language processing by the way.) And once 
>> they were able to describe, in extreme detail, a brain diagram I was 
>> studying for psychology. I later got the Braille diagram, and it was 
>> nowhere near as detailed as the AIRA agent's description. 
>> So my point is, please do yourself a huge favor and get AIRA. You can 
>> get funding for it from the Department of Rehab. Or scholarship money 
>> can go toward it, or you can apply for their scholarships. I promise 
>> you it will be integral as you go through education and life in 
>> general. If my word isn't enough, and even if it is, I fully encourage 
>> you to check out this blog post by Jonathan Mosen. He's a technology 
>> consultant who has way more experience than me. He's worked with 
>> Humanware and Freedom Scientific, and for many years has run his own 
>> consulting company. He designs websites, travels a lot, runs several 
>> podcasts and a radio station, writes books, and is pretty much the 
>> kind of person many of us aspire to emulate in terms of success. He 
>> uses AIRA and in this post, talks about how powerfully this innovative 
>> solution has impacted his life. Please give it a read--I promise it 
>> will change your outlook. https://mosen.org/aira/ 
>> Best, 
>> Cricket X. Bidleman (she/her/hers) 
>> Stanford University | Class of 2021 
>> P.S. If you have Emma as your AIRA agent, tell her I said hello. :) 
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