Good News

After my previous post on the lack of disabled funding I sent an email complain to my local college.

I received a repsonse instantly, “Could you please come into the college so we could discuss this?” So on monday I had a meeting with Mary from the disability department. We discussed what had happened on my previous visit, turns out the finance department were mistaken.

There was indeed funding for accessibility, we discussed my needs and I highlighted I simply needed an iPad. The college had their own idea of some custom Dolphin devices, 2 devices one of which cost £1600. I explained this solution was incredibly expensive and the iPad would achieve everything I needed, at a smaller price point.

After around 30 minutes of negotiation I was left with the answer, “I will speak to my manager”. This morning I received an email giving the OK for an iPad. YAY!!!

The cherry on top? I bought an OpticBook 3600 on eBay for £38! The scanner arrived today, a quick test and it works like a charm.

So the previous cost has been reduced to a acceptable £38. This is far lower than even my dream scenario.

Now time to get back to compiling these post process tools.

college bound?

After my interview last week for college I was told to nip in to talk with Learner Services to discuss financial support for disabled students.

Arriving at college I headed to Learner Services, unsurprisingly they were unable to help and send me over to finance. This did not go as planned….

After a 5 minute conversation which included going round in numerous circles the verdict was simply.

“We do not guarantee any financial support to disabled students.”

But I need access to the books to complete my course, surely you will help fund that?

“We cannot guarantee that.”

The cherry on the cake? the course will have been running for over a month before they even make a decision. So I would have to start the course sans books and I MAY get them at some point.

A little angry and disappointed I headed home. I quickly got on task and began looking for a book scanning service. I shot off a few emails and waited for a response. After 20 minutes I got bored of that and decided to start ringing around.

First port of call Action For Blind/RNIB. They were incredibly helpful and gave me the contact information for Leeds University Transcriptions services. After explaining my needs we got down to the nitty gritty of cost, £7.42 pp. Which for the roughly thousand pages I need require comes in at a whopping £7420.

More than a little out of my price range, shocked at the price I returned to online research. After a few calls I managed to find a private sector service that would do it for 30p a page +VAT.

A little math shows it would cost:

Books: £70
Scanning: £352.50
iPad: £429
Total: £851.50

This is before any other supplementary scanning costs for other documentation. I simply cannot afford to pay that much for 2 books.

The solution? Well thanks to my previous role I am reasonably tech savvy. So onto the shopping list goes a book scanner and a whole host of post processing tools. The money saved will be negligible but will allow me to run a service at cost for other users that need books scanning at a reasonable price.

Pancake Power

In preparation for todays personal best I began the day with the usual eggs, bacon and pancake stack. The challenge today was 5.5 miles.

Scott arrived and we set off for a new drop off point. We decided on a new route which would place us on the usual stretch home with around 4.5 miles to go.

Now whenever we choose a new route I have to try and memorise the terrain and curbs. There was a slight hair raising moment where I believed the path went straight on, this however placed me into oncoming traffic.

I quick shout of “wrong way!” and I was back on course. The first mile melted away as we joined the home 4.5 mile stretch. This long slog allows your mind to wander.

Today I began noticing how aggressive my foot strike can become. This is due to the undulating sidewalks, whenever we pass a drive way the sidewalk will dip then raise. So the dip generally results in a longer than anticipated stride so I heel strike heavily.

I doubt this problem can be solved by increased communication from my guide runner as the flow of information would be way to high. I do memorise a number of the dips and raises and have amended my running position, but I feel it will simply be a bug to bear.

The run was far easier than either of us anticipated, next weeks challenge a 10k!

College Bound

Yesterday was my scheduled interview for college entrance. I had already passed the entrance assessments and this was the final stage.

My wife works at the college in the Learning Resource Centre so I headed into work with her to be prompt for the interview.

To burn a little time I listened to an audiobook, SuperFreakonomics. Despite criticism I do enjoy the series. I gleaned some wonderful insights about India. A little tap on my shoulder from my wife, interview time!

On arriving at reception I was informed it would be conducted in groups. Now I don’t get nervous about the group dynamic in fact I usely perform highly in competitive group tasks. But I realised receiving assistance in this scenario for things such as mobility would be difficult.

A quick chat and one of the staff agreed to assist me upstairs to part 1 of 3. Moving around the college was far more difficult than I had anticipated. I certainly need to learn the routes and memorise layouts.

Part 1 of the interview lasted all of 60 seconds, as soon as they confirmed I was educated and knew basic maths I was rushed to part 2.

Now this is where it became a little more interesting. I was handed a sheet of paper by the next assesor and told to choose a timetable. I informed him I was blind and would be unable to read the timetable.

“Well I don’t have the time to read it to you”

“How about you run me through the main points and we can go from there.”

Then the penny dropped, he had just refused to read the timetable for a potential disabled student. We worked together on the timetable and quickly came up with a lesson plan that was a good fit.

We began to talk about my vision loss and what I was able to see. In another misguided moment of his he questioned how a blind person would be able to complete this course.

I pointed out a few of the adaptations myself and the college could make and this quenched his negativity. As we continued to talk he asked about my past education and career.

This is the point where people generally stand to attention. People are shocked when informed I am well educated [in my previous field] and held down a managerial role.

Part 3 went without a hitch, so timetable complete I am officially starting in September. With one little caveat of finance, I will be speaking to Learner Services next week about this.

After the interview I met with my guide runner Scott and we headed into town to play with an iPad. Quickly turning on the accessibility features I gave iBook a twirl. Testing VoiceOver, Zoom and White on Black, made reading books a dream.

In an effort to make me jealous Scott ordered one. I will have mine soon!

The iPad is Nearly Within Reach

With the recent sale of all my old unwanted goods I am nearing the goal of being able to afford an iPad.

My wife and I sold all our old books to FatBrain. Its an excellent service that allowed us to sell a large number of books simply. Understandably the sale price is lower than selling on eBay or amazon. But the ease of use is unbeatable.

The money from our book sales and random eBay sales has brought me very close to being able to afford the iPad.

My wife is already planning the books she will read to our unborn child. My vision issues don’t allow me to read standard books and reading to my child is not something I want to miss out on. The accessibility features on the iPad allow the high contrast and brightness I require.

Access to books again for my own personal use is something I look forward too. Instead of looking at our bookshelf and being tortured by memories of my reading ability, once again I can read.

The accessibility features of the iPad are fantastic. With a triple click of the home screen you have access to a screen reader, zoom features and white on black. I am thankful that Apple builds these features into their devices at no extra cost.

The screen reader will be me goto tool for college and university as my eyes tire. Assuming of course I manage to get all those textbooks in digital format.

For now I eagerly await access to the iBooks store and continue to trawl the internet for fun apps to play with my nephews and own child.