I know that everyone — blind or sighted — depends on the Internet. But I don’t think it’s unfair to say that blind people use it to do things which make us more independent of the help of family and friends. Phil and I regularly order groceries and dog food on the Net. Phil does a lot of shopping on the Net, and it’s not just buying the stuff. He really digs into the reviews and makes sure he finds the best he can for what he is willing to spend. We know sighted people shop this way too, but printed sources aren’t as available to us as the Net.
We download our library books from the Internet and use it to find other information which we would have had to call on another human to find before it’s existence. I’ll admit that I’d rather pick up the phone than do an Internet search or try something on my own. There’s a reason I panic if I don’t have a phone near me. but whether it’s looking up a word, a synonym, an album, or a period of history
, the Internet gives us options. It’s even more effective if you are like Phil and can envision dimensions and picture something without putting one’s hands on it.
Even almost twenty years later, I’m still overjoyed that I can read the words of sighted family and friends in an E-mail. Very few sighted people knew Braille when I grew up, and if I received a letter, someone always had to read it to me. I know the stories about the loss of privacy in the general sense as E-mails travel through various computers to get to our in-boxes. But not to have to use a human being to read things still is a thrill for me. Being able to express myself to many people at a time in this blog without having to find someone to make sure the correction tape worked, , make sure the typewriter or printer is producing visible, legible print, spell-check the work, and make copies is wonderful. Of course there’s one of my favorite activities which is acquiring music. I don’t miss the days of going into the store, finding a customer service person, asking for them to find the CD, read track listings, and help me learn how to hear the scans on the CD’s in later days.
I was engaged in this activity and had just purchased a few albums when — horror of horrors! I was somehow disconnected. In the past, I always had a backup plan. I have the number of the Amazon MP3 center, and they’ve helped me acquire music when it wasn’t downloading for me. Our speech software depends on the Net to run, so when I was disconnected, it started throwing a fit. I tried the unplugging of the modem and plugging it back in to no avail, so that meant rebooting the whole system. That in turn meant shutting down the program downloading my music,which caused me to internally curse a blue streak and rail about how much I hated the Internet. I was discouraged when the Internet didn’t seem to be coming up with the reboot. I unplugged the modem for longer, and — when plugged in — I heard the glorious noise of tweets coming in from Twitter. I remembered that music downloads were good for three hours, so after looking at the albums on Amazon’s site, I figured out where the download program was and how to open it, and — miracle of miracles — it started and completed my downloads!
Some of you are far better computer users than I am, and this wouldn’t probably be a big deal to you. But Phil and I were just having a conversation tonight about talking to others to figure it out or at least trying to do it ourselves. I tend to do more of the former — living with a technically/ mechanically gifted person and having technically gifted friends — until all sane people are asleep and Amazon is closed for the night. I knew if I didn’t get it done, it would happen tomorrow. I also knew I wouldn’t sleep well knowing I didn’t at least try to get it done.
there are some things Phil highly recommends I don’t try. One such thing is untangling two chords or chains from each other. I inevitably make it far worse than it was to start and the biggest, hardest knots known to humanity. It’s also easier to try something when I have a model to examine. If there are two latches, and one of them comes undone (assuming that it’s not broken), I can examine the other one to get some idea about how it’s supposed to fit together. I am not exactly known as the logical one in this family, so figuring out what to do tonight was truly momentous.
Rebecca Kragnes and Zane (Black Labrador and Seeing Eye Dog)