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

Logan Anderson logan4447 at gmail.com
Sun Jul 29 00:33:15 UTC 2018

Hi all,
I have a couple practical questions about the service. I have decided to try it, because I think my situation it would be useful. I have all the practical skills to get by without it, but it would make many aspects of my college life easier. I’ve heard great things about the service and excited to try it out. However, I’m kind of confused. I signed up for it, but I have never received anything back from the service about when my glasses will actually be shipping. I’m not sure if this is normal, but it does concern me. I live in an area where unfortunately package theft does happen regularly, and I worry that if I don’t know when it comes it may disappear. I guess my question is, has this happened to anyone else, is it normal? 
 Also, how does one find out about scholarship programs to pay for the glasses and service? I have googled many times, but for whatever reason there seems to be little to no information about it on the website.
Thank you,
Logan Patterson

 Sent from my iPhone

> On Jul 28, 2018, at 8:11 PM, Roanna Bacchus via NABS-L <nabs-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> Hi Cricket thanks for your message. I agree that Aira is a useful tool for the blind. I have not personally used Aira, but I have heard lots of great things about it.
>> On Jul 28, 2018 6:56 PM, "Cricket X. Bidleman via NABS-L" <nabs-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:
>> Hi Connor,
>> First of all, I welcome your perspective. I would, however, encourage
>> you to not make assumptions as to what I am and am not willing to do.
>> I mainly said what I did to illustrate the point that this technology
>> is helpful in many different areas of life. I never said that I am not
>> willing to self-advocate and I am, very much so, and I do. I would
>> also encourage others to self-advocate, but in situations where
>> self-advocacy didn't happen AIRA can be very helpful. That situation
>> had aspects to it that I did not feel the need to detail on email. No
>> one should feel the need to give every detail of everything on a
>> public listserv. The point is that it's useful during travel, and I
>> think that point is muddled a bit by this discussion. I would
>> appreciate if we could drop this discussion here, in order to preserve
>> the integrity of what I was trying to say. Thanks.
>> I also want to point out that there's an amazing amount of
>> misinformation you can get by asking random people for directions.
>> Many people don’t know their left from their right, including RA's.
>> Some people will tell you that something is “that way” or “over
>> there”, and you can end up more confused than when you started.
>> As blind people, our time is just as valuable as anyone else’s, and if
>> someone trained in the information blind people need so they can
>> navigate efficiently is available any time it’s required, why not use
>> a service that will improve our efficiency. Also, if on the first day
>> of campus there are a lot of confused people around asking questions,
>> being blind and having access to trained assistance actually gives us
>> a competitive advantage. Keep that in mind.
>> Again, I appreciate the meat of what you're trying to say and I think
>> that's important to consider as we continue into higher education. I
>> don't think, however, that what you're trying to say applies to my
>> situation and since I was the one in my situation, so I do have the
>> right to say that. Also, please be aware that the way you presented
>> your point was one that I could take very personally and though I'm
>> choosing not to, I would also encourage you to be cognizant f that so
>> as to offend as few people as possible. Thanks.
>> Best,
>> Cricket X. Bidleman (she/her/hers)
>> Stanford University | Class of 2021
>>> On 7/28/18, Roger Newell via NABS-L <nabs-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:
>>> I don't see the distinction between asking an RA for assistance or
>>> using Aira. Visual assistance was required, so why not use a perfectly
>>> good service?
>>>> On 7/29/18, Connor Mullin via NABS-L <nabs-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:
>>>> Hi Cricket,
>>>> Thank you for sharing your thoughts on AIRA. As a recipient of a NFB
>>>> scholarship, I will also enjoy nine months of minutes. However, I would
>>>> like
>>>> to reflect on your story at Stanford.
>>>> I am anticipating using AIRA for tasks that are best solved by
>>>> self-directing visual aids, such as reading mail, reading library books
>>>> for
>>>> research projects, and identifying the colors of clothing to then label
>>>> them
>>>> tactilely. Yet, while I don't think relying on AIRA for travel assistance
>>>> is
>>>> some kind of unforgivable sin, I would caution people from generally
>>>> recommending using AIRA in the way that you did at your first day at
>>>> Stanford. That is, you were hesitant to approach an RA for directions,
>>>> even
>>>> though you knew they would be the most oriented, because you felt guilty
>>>> about bothering them. And I think that is an important hurdle for
>>>> everyone
>>>> to reflect on, recognizing that fears of approaching people for
>>>> directions
>>>> and highlighting your blindness is something that should not be passed
>>>> over
>>>> when talking about being an independent blind person.
>>>> Now, I'm not saying you never have, before or after that day, overcome
>>>> such
>>>> hesitations, nor am I saying that I have never psyched myself out of
>>>> asking
>>>> authority figures for directions. Rather, I'm simply saying that we
>>>> should
>>>> be careful not to inadvertently sell the benefits of AIRA as an
>>>> alternative
>>>> to building peoples' advocacy and nonvisual skills.
>>>> Thank you once again for your thoughts.
>>>> Connor
>>>> -----Original Message-----
>>>> From: NABS-L <nabs-l-bounces at nfbnet.org> On Behalf Of Gary Wunder via
>>>> NABS-L
>>>> Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2018 10:28 AM
>>>> To: 'National Association of Blind Students mailing list'
>>>> <nabs-l at nfbnet.org>
>>>> Cc: Gary Wunder <garywunder at me.com>
>>>> Subject: Re: [NABS-L] A technology recommendation for all of you
>>>> 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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