I’m writing this for those of you who are curious about how blind people live—what’s the same and what’s different in life when you’re blind. No perfect person with an Instagram-worthy life; just the facts!

Morning:

  • Flick through 100 Facebook posts and repost a few. I post funny, animal and bird posts that have plenty of description, positive quotes, poetry and disability-related news.  Memes for blind folks is a favorite source of funnies. If you’re my Facebook friend, remember to describe your pics so I can enjoy them too, please!
  • Listen to national and state news on public radio—ten minutes well spent.
  • First of about six trips to backyard for Calvin to take care of business. In case your eight-year-old wants to know how I pick up poop, I feel Calvin’s back which is curved when he’s pooping and when he moves away, I feel around in the grass with a bag covering my hand and invert the bag and tie it up and toss it in the trash. 
  • Feed and water Calvin, breakfast and play a couple games of chase before settling down to work on the computer. Calvin wears a bell so I can locate him in the chase game. 
  • In a typical day I go through several hundred emails.  Outlook on my desktop computer works well with my screen reader JAWS. Some PDFs have to be rescanned using the Kurzweil program. The initial outlay for my computer set up was about $1500 more than for a sighted person’s set up. I take notes in Braille on a Brailler I’ve had for 65 years. It cost $200 then and now would cost at least $600, I think. 
  • Check front page of local paper and the program schedule for the day on public radio station’s website. Local paper’s website is not particularly accessible. Since I can’t use the mouse to point and click, I have to tab through 120 links on the front page to find what I’m interested in. Public radio’s website uses heading markings well, so I can quickly tab to the daily schedule.  The local paper says they’re too poor to even consider improving their accessibility.
  • Call a friend with a disability who wants to brainstorm with me about better accommodations for her disability at her workplace.  I try to share strength hope and experience, particularly the necessity of asking repeatedly and specifically for even small changes and saying “thank you” a lot.
  • My reader arrives for two hours of reading. We go through about twenty pieces of mail, including a letter from a friend who doesn’t use computers. The reader writes checks, addresses mail and orders groceries online. The website to order groceries is somewhat accessible, but pictures of items are not described and it’s ten times quicker for her to do it than me. Then she tidies up the spacing on a blog I’ll post. I pay her $12.50 per hour but will raise it to $15 soon. As she exits, she picks the red tomatoes on my plants for me–one thing I can’t do myself.
  • Lunch of a burrito, chips and fruit, eaten at the kitchen counter is followed by a power nap. Often getting a nap is one of the wonderful parts of being retired.
  • Refreshed, I rise up to read materials for a county board committee (received electronically) and attend the meeting by WebEx on the phone. The pandemic has made attending meetings easier for me; I don’t have to hunt around for transportation.
  • After the meeting, Calvin and I take a walk around the neighborhood to enjoy the crisp almost fall weather and I listen for the fledgling eagles that are in a big old tree only a block away from where we live.
  • I cook asparagus in the microwave and sauté Chinese eggplants with onions, garlic and soy sauce on the stove for dinner with a friend who brings a pasta dish.  I’ve put bump dots on both the microwave and stove at strategic spots to mark start and stop on the flat inaccessible displays.  I have a beloved knife to chop with that is sharp enough to cut things but not sharp enough to do me harm as long as I’m careful. For timing I use Alexa or my Braille watch.
  • In the evening I continue reading Louise Penny’s latest The Madness of Crowds which talks about a post-pandemic world where disabled and elderly would be euthanized because “we don’t want them to suffer in the next pandemic.” I worry this could happen as depleted people just want to get back to normal and are not prioritizing equity and inclusion.
  • I check headlines in seven newspapers on the computer through the NFB Newsline service provided by the National Library Service and play five word and trivia games on Alexa to keep the old brain cells working.
  • I power down by listening to hymns and praying. I’m grateful today for information access using screen readers on computer and iPhone, books and magazines from the National Library Service and Bookshare, friends who fill in the gaps like telling me that a neighbor’s tree has dead limbs hanging over my roof, and Calvin who keeps me traveling safely and amused.