Malaysia making their vending machines accessible

Malaysia is launching a program to tackle one of the most difficult things to navigate as a visually impaired person: the vending machine. According to Mashable:

The Southeast Asian nation’s biggest F&B vending operator, ATLAS Vending, recently collaborated with the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) to roll out a pilot program that sees 11 machines rolled out in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s capital.

The new machines have braille plates to help buyers navigate the system, and motion sensor triggered audio instructions. For so many of us who are visually impaired, vending machines are a mystery. The prices are located below the items for sale and are usually poorly lit. Even if you can figure out the price and number-letter combination usually required to purchase the item, users still have to figure out how to use a series of buttons which are not labeled in braille and often not in large print or high contract lettering either. Often, the entire process of buying something in a vending machine is a frustrating one where the visually impaired are required to rely on the sighted for assistance. 

I’m always an advocate for making daily life more accessible, but vending machines are especially troublesome. If they had any consistency in stock or functionality, then at least one could remember the combination of buttons required to purchase an item. As it stands stock rotates and often when you have it all figured out and you know the button combination for the item you want, the stock will change and you end up with something unexpected. I hope the changes Malaysia are attempting inspire vending machine companies in other countries (like the US) to make the next generation of vending machines at least somewhat accessible. 

For more information, you can read the Mashable article here: 

https://sea.mashable.com/social-good/18405/malaysia-gets-its-first-braille-enabled-vending-machine

Before you go…

I love to hear from my readers, feel free to drop me a note on my social media links below or right here on blind travels. follow me and I will happily follow you back. 

My Photography: www.tahquechi.com

Twitter: @nedskee

Instagram: @nedskee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blindtravels/


This week in accessibility and technology

This week in accessibility and technology is an ongoing series of articles focused on news about accessibility and technology for the blind and visually impaired. This week’s offerings include accessibility for visually impaired Virginia voters and more complaints registered about the “devil’s bumps” on curb corners. 

Accessible voting

First up this week, West Virginia voters who are blind or visually impaired will now be able to use a complete Voter’s Guide in Braille reports AP News. The Secretary of State Mac Warner released the guides earlier this week, and the guides were created in conjunction with the Virginia State Elections Commission. The nonprofit organization Disability Rights of West Virginia will provide the guides. The first question that should come to mind is: why is equal accessibility to voting for all citizens not defined? Did you know the right to vote is not in the constitution? There are provisions for not limiting voting based on sex and race, here is a great article which outlines the current state of the right to vote based on the current constitutional amendments. 

https://theconversation.com/the-right-to-vote-is-not-in-the-constitution-144531

Should voting rights be defined for all? yes. however, deciding on the wording for that definition is going to be a long difficult  process. To have proper accessibility, all voting materials should be available in both large print and braille, just like they are available in different languages. Likewise, the process of voting should provide nationwide provisions for the visually impaired. Depending on the state you live in, you can have totally a accessible experience or one where someone reads the options to you and votes for you. There should be clear unifications in the way the process is handled and it should be accessible to all. It never hurts to contact your local representative to help the ball get rolling for this important process. 

Bumpy road ahead

The Mercury News weighs in on the bumps present at curb cuts, the article below contains different people’s opinions on the usefulness and necessity of the bumps. Many weigh in on the dangerous nature and difficulty they introduce in navigation for those in wheelchairs. Even those who are not disabled comment on the dangerous nature of the bumps – they are slippery when wet and can cause fall hazards. 

More complaints (and the official response) about the ‘devil’s bumps’: Roadshow

I’m happy to weigh in on these bumps, they are an important unified landmark for the visually impaired. Unless you are visually impaired or know someone who is, the importance of permanent landmarks may well be lost on you. When a blind or visually impaired person navigates their route – say to Starbucks, they are walking and using a process called time-distance estimation to get from one landmark to another. Sometimes landmarks move – this recently happened to me. I was on my normal route on Monday morning, sometime between Friday afternoon and Monday morning, the city works crew decided to remove a planter that has been in the same spot for as long as I have been walking that route. My guide dog Fauna had no issue because she side-stepped the debris and I didn’t realize the landmark was gone until we reached the corner cut with the bumps. I doubled back and investigated and found that the planter which I usually ran my  foot along was gone. I wasn’t in an danger – I knew I was at a corner because my guide stopped me and I felt the bumps, but it was a bit confusing. If I had been using my cane I would have also detected the bumps, they may be an inconvenience to you, but they are great for the blind and visually impaired. 

Very often when changes roll out for the visually impaired, like talking or beeping signs for crossing streets, they are a benefit for the fully sighted as well. Having a unified landmark infrastructure which allows me to confidently travel my route from point A to B makes a big difference in my daily life. You can see them and avoid them, I’m sorry they are an inconvenience, but they keep me on track and keep me and many others like me oriented in our travels. 

Before you go…

I love to hear from my readers, feel free to drop me a note on my social media links below or right here on blind travels. follow me and I will happily follow you back. 

My Photography: www.tahquechi.com

Twitter: @nedskee

Instagram: @nedskee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blindtravels/


Shooting Lake Marie Wyoming, at sunrise

The most difficult aspect of shooting Lake Marie Wyoming, at sunrise was the frigid cold temperatures. Just like everything else when you are visually impaired, taking the time to research, plan and orient yourself before attempting something pays it forward when the day arrives. How did I get this fun shot? Read on for the story and an in-depth image description. . 

Image description

Lake Marie is a small mountain lake that sits at approximately 10,505 feet (3,202 meters) above sea level. It is not uncommon to get snow at tis altitude even during the summer months. This image was taken at sunrise, and you can see the lake, some majestic peaks above it and a few puffy clouds scattered around the sky. The sunrise light has turned the normally grey rocks into a blazing orange and that light is not only reflecting off of the water, but also the bottom of the clouds. A light snow shower the day before left a light layer of snow all around the shore of the lake and a bit up the peaks behind the lake. A small evergreen tree can be seen at the left side of the frame, which is almost completely devoid of branches and foliage.  

The location

Lake Marie is located in Wyoming’s Snowy Range and as mentioned above sits at a bit over 10,000 feet. Temperatures can be chilly even in the summer months. Due to the large volume of snow, the road that gets you from Centennial to Saratoga (the way to get to Lake Marie) is closed in late fall and winter. The lake is located right off the road and the path to get to the edge of the lake is well paved and accessible. I had no issues walking with my guide dog, but a cane would also not be an issue and there are no large obstructions. Travelers using mobility aids, such as wheelchairs or walkers should have no issue getting to the lake to take a photo, assuming there is no snow – which can happen at any time. 

Planning ahead

This shot was taken in the fall, and we visited the location a couple of months before to take some test shots and plan our sunrise shoot. I always find sunrise and sunset shoots tough because of the lack of light. I like to visit a location and determine where the sun will be and of course find my composition so on the day of the shoot I can head to the spot, get my shot then take time to explore other compositions and angles. When shooting at altitude, always wear or bring warm clothes because you never know what kind of weather you will encounter – even during the summer. 

The gear

For my landscape photography, I shoot with a Canon 5D mark IV camera and heavy Manfrotto tripod. I tend to veer toward heavier tripods because there is always a chance I am going to bump into my gear, and the heavier tripod has saved my camera on more than one occasion. This shot was taken with a 24-105 L lens. I find this lens gets wide enough for landscape work and close enough for portrait work if I am in a situation where I don’t want to drag my 70-200 portrait lens with me. I will often bring a 17-40mm wide lens with me as well. All of my lenses are equipped with a B+W circular polarizer to bring out the skies. I also carry B+W UV filters for times when I’m not using the circular polarizer.  I’ve had a lot of requests to detail the gear I use, hopefully that covers it. If you have any questions about gear feel free to drop me a message here on Blind Travels or on my social media link at the bottom of this post. 

 

What do you think?

I always love to hear from my readers, and I would like to hear what you thought about this presentation.  My goal with this series is to tell a bit about the story behind the images I take, as well as provide a better description of the image. The blog forum lets me explore a bit more detail than would be available on twitter or Instagram. Feel free to drop me a message here on the contact page or on my social media links below. Follow me and I will happily follow you back.

My Photography: www.tahquechi.com

Twitter: @nedskee

Instagram: @nedskee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blindtravels/


What the blind community wishes you knew.

Anyone who is a regular reader of this blog or website knows that I love to write articles centered around education, for the visually impaired and the fully sighted. Recently USA Today published an article focused on things the blind community would like to pass on to those who are fully sighted. The biggest takeaway from the article is that just closing your eyes does not mean you know what it is like to be blind. There is a lot more to it than that. The other misnomer is that blind people always need help. If I am trying to cross the street, I am paying attention to the direction of the traffic and when someone comes up and grabs me and plops me on the other side of the road knot knowing which way I’m facing, it makes them feel better and me feel disoriented. Lastly, it is perfectly ok to be curious about being blind. Engage with a blind person and ask them questions. 

I offer a series of articles here on blind travels that off an opportunity for those who are fully sighted to ask questions about being blind (Yes, I have questions ready to be answered things have been bonkers lately.). If you have questions feel free to ask away on social media or send me a direct message here. My education section has articles on everything from what it is like to be blind, to tips and tricks to interact with visually impaired people and even what it was like to get my first guide dog. You can read more at the education link above or click here

If you would like to read the USA Today Article follow the link below. 

https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/health-wellness/2021/11/17/what-blind-visually-impaired-people-wish-you-knew/8637271002/

I love to hear from my readers, feel free to drop me a note on my social media links below or right here on blind travels. follow me and I will happily follow you back. 

My Photography: www.tahquechi.com

Twitter: @nedskee

Instagram: @nedskee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blindtravels/


Abandoned lakeside resort in Wyoming

While wandering the unpaved backroads of Wyoming, we came across this really cool sprawling lakeside resort which had been abandoned in the 1970’s. The cabins are all in various states of decay. Most of the cabins are being held up by boards and look unstable to venture into. 

Location

Located fifteen miles off the road between the cities of Centennial and Saratoga in Wyoming is a great site with lots of abandoned buildings to explore. Visitors can go right up to the buildings and even go inside if you are brave enough. Unlike most abandoned sites, the presence of debris to navigate was not bad, but I would still either go with a sighted guide or a guide dog. It should be noted that this road closes after the first snow and is closed until spring, making this location inaccessible except by snowmobile during the late fall and winter months. 

The photo

This image is a sepia toned black and white image of two cabins surrounded by trees. On the closest cabin the roof is sagging in the middle and the whole structure is being held up by long boards. There is no glass left in the two small windows, but otherwise that cabin looks to be in decent shape. The far cabin is in much worse shape, The back appears to be all but completely broken and you can’t see the roof. The front of the cabin sits at a forty-five degree angle away from the viewer as it is almost completely fallen down.  

 

The experience

There is so much to experience tactilely here at this site. The size of many things is unexpectedly small like the aforementioned windows. There is a lot to feel and it should be noted that some of the cabins are not smooth and there is a risk of splinters or cuts as is the case with all abandoned places such as this. I would not recommend going into the cabins are they are largely unstable. The surroundings are generally flat but the ground does undulate a bit between the cabins. There were tripping hazards, but my guide deftly avoided them as we explored this deserted lakeside resort. I would plan a couple to a few hours to explore this site, there is a lot to see and feel. The lake is not far away from the buildings and my understanding from speaking to a couple of the locals is that fishing there is quite good. 

What do you think?

I always love to hear from my readers, and I would like to hear what you thought about this presentation.  My goal with this series is to tell a bit about the story behind the images I take, as well as provide a better description of the image. The blog forum lets me explore a bit more detail than would be available on twitter or Instagram. Feel free to drop me a message here on the contact page or on my social media links below. Follow me and I will happily follow you back.

My Photography: www.tahquechi.com

Twitter: @nedskee

Instagram: @nedskee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blindtravels/


Visually Impaired Texas children given the tools they need

Sight Savers America recently partnered with West Texas school districts and optometrists specializing in low vision to identify and help school children with low vision. SAN ANGELO, Texas has no low vision specialists in their area, so Sight Saves America stepped in giving children an hour-long low vision assessment and visual aids. This is such a great cause.

Low Vision goes unidentified and untreated so many times in children. I’m glad to see organizations like Sight Saves America partnering with school districts to provide children the visual aids they need. If the teachers don’t identify the needs of the child, it often goes unnoticed and those children can fall behind in their school work. We all know that things move very fast in schools these days, and not being able to see the information being presented in class can make an already accelerated course curriculum very difficult for students with low vision. 

We here at Blind Travels love to work with non-profit organizations just for this sort of thing. We have reached out to Sight Savers America  to see how we can help, and will update this story when we learn more. If you would like more information about Sight Savers America or the original story follow the links below.  

Sight Savers America is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that works to identify and secure the eye care needs of children, from their first pair of eyeglasses to extensive sight-saving treatment and high-tech vision aids for those with severe visual impairment.

Home

Original Story from FOX news

https://www.myfoxzone.com/article/news/visually-impaired-children-from-san-angelo-receive-life-changing-gift/504-9c05f307-1424-472a-9eab-23b6f9e852d4

I love to hear from my readers, feel free to drop me a message here on my contact page or via social media at the links below. Follow me and I will happily follow you back. 

My Photographywww.tahquechi.com

Twitter: @nedskee

Instagram: @nedskee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blindtravels/


Abandoned Mine in Wyoming

Bouncing around the 4X4 accessible trails near Centennial Wyoming, we came across this awesome abandoned mine. The view from the mine is pretty spectacular and I bet during its operational days it was beautiful to work at. Unlike a lot of other abandoned place I have been to, this one was not picked clean of the cool stuff – which is good and bad. From a visually accessible standpoint this place, like many abandoned locations was a nightmare to traverse with the sheer amount of debris on the ground and in surrounding areas. 

Getting there

The location for this photo was only accessible by 4X4 vehicle, I went there so you don’t have to. Since COVID, I have done more 4X4 trips with friends than I ever have. Maybe it it the social distancing, but I really am enjoying it. The toughest part about riding on a 4X4 trail when blind or visually impaired is that you don’t really get a clear understanding of what is coming. Riding in a car on the freeway is no big deal, you get the occasional bump and the natural action of the car accelerating and slowing, but with 4X4 travel, that is all thrown out the window. We roe in a lifted Jeep, and it had recently rained. Jeeps are inherently bouncy as it is, but driving through the ruts, and splashing through the mid puddles can be exhausting. You can’t expect to have the fully sighted riders tell you every bump coming up, so it is best to just brace yourself and be ready for the constant bouncing. I also find that branches are commonly very close to the side of the vehicle as your drive the paths, so keep those hands and arms in the vehicle at all time. 

The image

The photo I took is of the abandoned mine is a black and white image of an a small building used for mining. The large structure for hauling material up and down the mine juts out of the top of the small building. There are lumber pieces and debris scattered around the area in front of the small building. The trees around the building have lost their leaves already and the sky is dark and moody. A door is visible on the left side of the building, but there is no back wall and you can see straight through to the opposite side. 

I don’t know the history of this site, but I appreciate that there is so much of it remaining after the years standing on this ridge.  While not visible in this image, I am told that the view from the ridge is spectacular giving clear views of Centennial Wyoming as well as Laramie Wyoming in the far distance. 

What do you think?

I always love to hear from my readers, and I would like to hear what you thought about this presentation.  My goal with this series is to tell a bit about the story behind the images I take, as well as provide a better description of the image. The blog forum lets me explore a bit more detail than would be available on twitter or Instagram. Feel free to drop me a message here on the contact page or on my social media links below. Follow me and I will happily follow you back.

My Photography: www.tahquechi.com

Twitter: @nedskee

Instagram: @nedskee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blindtravels/


Wandering in Wyoming

I live in northern Colorado, and it is only a couple hour drive to Wyoming. With all the COVID restrictions starting to ease a bit, traveling has become a bit safer and more fun. Throughout 2020, I stayed pretty close to home like we all did, but ever after things started to relax a bit I still opted to play it save and only take a few trips here and there.  A result of all the “non-people” time created an real interest in wandering the less traveled path for me. Rather than flying off to who knows where, I was forced to find places here in Colorado and Wyoming that I had great intentions of visiting, but never took the time. I spent a lot of time in Rocky Mountain National Park, and up in the Rockies in general. Early 2021 prompted me to expand my circle of travel into Wyoming. A good friend of mine is originally from Wyoming, and is still very passionate about showing off the abundant natural beauty of that state. The biggest hurdle to overcome is the weather. Its colder on average than Colorado, and they see more snow than we do. As a result, the really cool higher elevation areas of the state close during the snowy season. We took a few trips during the spring and summer, but it wasn’t until this fall that we really took the time to delve into the backroads and explore some amazing abandoned sites. 

Throughout the time we spent wandering around Wyoming, my constant companion was my guide dog Fauna. She is always willing to lead me along a new path, no matter how challenging or strenuous. We drove the backwoods trails on gravel roads, bounced along trails only accessible to 4X4 vehicles, and Fauna took it all in stride spending her time sleeping in the back seat waiting until it was time to lead me somewhere. Whether it was 4 in the morning to catch a sunrise or 9 at night, returning home late after sunset she did it all, without complaint, even when it was 18 degrees and freezing cold (she has booties and coats for cold weather and was toasty warm the whole time.). In the coming weeks I will be posting images from our journeys.

I love to hear from my readers! feel free to drop me a message here on my contact form, and follow me on social media, I will happily follow you back. 

My Photography: www.tahquechi.com

Twitter: @nedskee

Instagram: @nedskee

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/blindtravels/


Things have been a bit bonkers for me.

Sorry for the absence, and thank you for all the message and well wishes while I was away. I needed some time over the last few months to resolve some family issues. Thigs are finally back on track and I’m back and refreshed. I’ll be posting some new travel tips soon as well as starting a new section here on Blind Travels about something I am really passionate about: photography. Stay tuned!


Thank you Pup Talk!

A big shout out and thank you to Pup Talk for the great article on BlindTravels! You guys are awesome. 

https://pup-talk.com/article32.html


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