ADA week question: Does this disability survey result reflect your reality?


The headline of this article caught my attention: "Twenty years of the ADA and discrimination still a major problem."

Curious, I took a look at the article, and disagreed with much of it. Then, even more curious about the source of the information, I read the actual survey from which the article was derived. While I always find social surveys interesting in the same way that I may find the blurb on the back of a book jacket interesting, like the book jacket, these surveys seldom tell the whole story.


My main complaint about this sort of information dissemination is that one can manipulate numbers to look like just about anything. I once saw a t-shirt that read: "Only lawyers and painters can change black to white." Well, it seems to me that special interest groups and statisticians can do the same.


I do not disagree with the premise upon which the article or the survey finding is based, namely, after twenty years; we’ve still got a long way to go before we catch up to our non-disabled counterparts. No argument there. A few of the findings, though, made me wonder if the results reflected my own reality, or that of my readers.


One generalization with which I took particular umbrage was the notion that a significant percentage of people with disabilities do not participate in family or social activities. The survey states that this "once again suggests there are significant barriers to access to leisure activities." Really? That seemed odd to me. Would that lack of involvement really be due to a disability? Lack of access to movie theaters or restaurants? Or, could it have something more to do with a person’s own sense of self-esteem, lack of open communication or social isolating due to depression, grief or feelings of unworthiness? If that is the case, is it fair to say, "I don’t participate in family activities because I’m disabled"? Or, "I’m not very social because of my disability and the lack of access to restaurants"? It seems to me that this would be related to one’s level of optimism, attitude or outlook on life, and I know plenty of people who are not disabled who are socially inept or who have a nonexistent family life.


There were other factors which were used to measure quality of life and overall satisfaction, such as poverty, education, access to technology and employment. A cross section of individuals was surveyed, numbering approximately one thousand respondents with disabilities, and a similar number who were non-disabled. Where it was not possible to survey a person with a disability directly, an appropriate proxy was surveyed.


Employment still seems to be the weakest area of progress. The survey revealed that only 21 percent of people of working age who are disabled are employed. In fact, that number seems to have slipped a tad, although I wonder if it might have a little something to do with the fact that our economy is languishing like a trout on a boat deck right now. Might that number be just a little misleading? Could the number also be lower because more people with disabilities actually may have started their own businesses? I’m just asking here.  None of my friends or  acquaintances who are disabled are unemployed. At least, none who want to work.


As for technology, the survey suggested that 85 percent of non-disabled persons accessed the Internet, while only 54 percent of those with disabilities do. One might conclude that this is due to lack of access, increased poverty, or lack of education. I don’t buy it. I just don’t. First of all, poverty should have nothing to do with Internet access, you can connect for free at any library. Lack of education should have little to do with it, there are about 300 million Twitter users alone who can tell you everything you need to know. I didn’t go to school to learn how to use the computer. Most of my contemporaries didn’t, either. There was no computer education when I was in school, because there was no Internet, and not many desktops, either. At least, not one in every home in the 1980’s, when I was in school.


Surveys like this do absolutely nothing to further the interests of the disability community, in my opinion. They draw a very dark picture of life, implying that things are so much more terrible for us because we are disabled. This dim view can only add to the groundless paranoia, irrational fears, superstitions and negative stereotypes held by the non-disabled. Considering that ten percent of the survey respondents were either unwilling or unable to participate in the survey, and that a "qualified, appropriate family member living in the household" took the survey on their behalf, how can even the hope of accuracy be more than a distant dream? Ten percent is well within the margin of error on most polls, and when an individual is being surveyed about such subjective issues as quality of life, isn’t that a question only one person can really answer? How is someone who is not me supposed to judge the quality of my life?


What do you think? Does this survey finding reflect your own reality? Please comment and share your thoughts.


Here is the link to the article:


Here is the link to the survey: 2010 Disability Gap Survey


Maybe I’ll have to ponder this some more…as soon as I get back from lunch with my girlfriends and post this to my blog and then charge up my laptop so I can tweet about it while I’m working.


ADA week article on the language of awareness

In honor of this week’s 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I am running articles and commentary pertaining to workplace issues and hiring practices, accessibility, advocacy and awareness.  I invite you to submit your own. 


Speaking in the Language of Awareness

When I interact with the public in either my professional or personal life, I seldom consider my blindness to be a barrier to an effective conversation, but those with whom I am speaking quickly remind me it can be. Their discomfort is palpable, their curiosity obvious. The specific nature of our conversation becomes secondary to what is really on their minds: How do I address a person who is blind? Can I ask about it? What should I say? Most people seem to be asking me to put them at ease before we can proceed with a discussion.


My experience has been that most people want to do the right thing, but they simply do not know what the "right thing" is. This has also proved true with other speaking professionals. I am frequently consulted on the appropriate language that should be used when presenting to diverse audiences. For speakers who give presentations in either the corporate or community setting, below is a short tip list on the language of awareness that you can use to make your talks more sensitive, accurate and inclusive.


Put the individual before the disability. For example, replace language such as, "handicapped” or “mentally slow”, with, “a person who is disabled”, “people who are blind”, or “children who have developmental disabilities”. This is respectful and empowering, as it places the emphasis on the individual as opposed to defining that person by their disability. This practice is usually referred to as ‘People First” language. People first language is the use of respectful and accurate terminology that is preferred by people with disabilities.


Avoid euphemisms. It is not necessary to use phrases, such as “differently abled”, “handy-capable”, or “challenged.” This implies that disability is not a topic that can be discussed in a straightforward manner, and it only emphasizes the differences between us.


Avoid dramatic language or language that sensationalizes disability.

Using phrases, such as “afflicted with” or “suffers from”, reinforces the idea that the individual is a victim.


Here are other examples of positive and affirming language versus insensitive or negative language. Instead of “psycho” or “mentally defective”, say “a person with a mental illness” or “a person with an intellectual disability."

If you know of someone who has a sensory disability, they can be referred to as “a person with low vision”, or “a person who is deaf”, as opposed to "the blind guy," "sight challenged,” or someone who “suffers from hearing loss”.

If you know of someone who is paralyzed or is unable to ambulate, that person is said to be mobility impaired, not “crippled” or “wheelchair bound.” That individual is simply a person who uses a wheelchair.


You personally may not know many people with disabilities or any at all. Therefore, you may not have considered why it might be important to alter your vocabulary in this way. It’s true that the person standing before you may not appear to have a disability, but they may be married to, related to, or care about someone who does. If you are speaking in front of a group, there is no way to know which members of your audience fall into which category. Using the language of awareness is an act of courtesy and respect that can set a powerful example for others to follow in their everyday communication.

Copyright 2010 by Laura Legendary.

I’m no superhero

Nearly every day, when we leave the safety and comfort of our personal sanctuary, we face the possibility of a potentially upsetting interaction with someone we may encounter. If we spent any time at all pondering this, none of us would ever leave our homes. However, our natural optimism, along with the demands of an impatient world, can make venturing out feel like an act of daring. When I go out, I never know what sort of interpersonal pratfalls await me. In a world best suited for the sighted, my goal is to arrive home unscathed, both physically and emotionally. This is achieved more easily some days than others.


Of the things most sought-after in  life, monetary and material, I believe that what most of us really want is to be acknowledged and valued. Choose any pursuit that comes to mind, and it boils down to “look at me, listen to me, value me”. We want for our achievement to be recognized as a reflection of who we are: Committed, motivated, creative, and compassionate. Who we are, not just what we do.


People who have disabilities are no different. We are, after all, people first. With all the same foibles, frailties and failings as any other. Yet that fortress of falseness often isolates us, where it is possible to be well meaning, yet demeaning.

Many people regard those with disabilities as the less fortunate, and there but for the grace of God go they. Others regard people with disabilities as a false idol. They use words like “amazing” or “inspiring” to describe me. They shake their heads in bewilderment as they wonder what divine attribute I must possess in order to live with this particular set of circumstances. I am placed on a pedestal so high as to be out of reach, and therefore isolated.


Despite all this admiration, if one were being honest, no one would want to be me. They would never say, “I wish I could be like that. I wish I could be blind. Then I’d be special, too”. The truth is, no one would want to trade places with me, right?


Well, certainly no one would aspire to be blind, but there is nothing wrong with being me. Whether one perceives people with disabilities as pathetic or divine, neither view represents reality.

Yet, I am often bestowed superhero status as if solely by virtue of being blind, I am somehow more worthy of admiration than I otherwise would be, if I were sighted. I’m no superhero. Calling me “amazing” only puts me up on a pedestal, and drives a wedge between us. It singles me out. Using words such as “brave” or courageous” are inappropriate. I did not choose to go blind. I am not an inspiration because I am blind. I’m not amazing because I am blind; I am amazing because I am accomplished, resourceful, and skilled. Perhaps I’m amazingly resilient, amazingly articulate, and amazingly strong. Not because of my disability, but in spite of it.


As American citizens with disabilities celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it is important to realize that the underlying purpose of the landmark legislation is to enable equal access to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Put another way, it has only been twenty years since I have had the legal right to have a job. My own ADA mantra is to remind our non-disabled society that accommodating the needs of people with disabilities is as much about attitude as it is about architecture. Long ago, I stumbled upon a quote that moved me so much; I wrote to the source and asked permission to reprint his words. Neil Marcus, a poet and playwright said, in part: “Disability is not a brave struggle or ‘courage in the face of adversity’. Disability is an art…it’s an ingenious way to live.” I loved the quote so much that I asked Mr. Marcus for permission to use it in my speaker bio. To me, the quote expresses what is most important to all of us: Look at me, listen to me, value me. I’m no superhero.



It’s ADA week at Accessible Insights. Share your story!

Monday, July 26 is the twentieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  How do you plan to celebrate this landmark legislation?  How has the ADA changed your life for the better?  Tell us your story!  Have an article, web site, or special event or activity you want people to know about?  Share it here!  You can either click “contact” on the Accessible Insights home page to send me an email, or you can simply comment below. 


Have an article or story of attitude over adversity?  Favorite quotes?  I’ll be posting some of my own articles on ways you can improve workplace accessibility, accommodate the needs of a person with a disability, and enhance communication with friends or family who do not have disabilities. 


Raise your voice, or lend your voice to those who have no voice of their own! 



Augment your e-reading with

Why Sign Up for an Audible Account?

If you are a voracious reader, and love nothing more than to curl up on your favorite chair with a cup of hot cocoa and your newest literary masterpiece, then perhaps you’ve not hitched yourself to the audio book bandwagon. Yet, audio books are a fast-growing business, and the variety of digital reading and audio devices, which are now omnipresent in our lives, make listening to books more appealing. For people who are blind or who have low vision, the world of reading for pleasure has opened up, thanks to the proliferation of reading devices specifically designed to meet the needs of a growing population.


There are now several places on the web from which to download digital audio books. Years ago, I used to scour brick and mortar bookstores in the vain hope of finding a decent selection of books on cassette tape. There were some real drawbacks to books on tape back then, not the least of which was the price. An unabridged version of a book of any length was prohibitive. Some came in large boxes and consisted of dozens of cassettes. I purchased a tape of Stephen King’s ‘The Stand," and as I recall, the price was over fifty dollars. For me, that was a lot of money to pay for a book, when my sighted counterparts could pick up the same book at a garage sale for fifty cents.


Of course, the book was read by the author, and he is worth every penny.


Due to the expense of recording and packaging all those tapes, a great many books were only available in abridgements. I found this to be endlessly frustrating. To me, it was flat out censorship, I did not want someone else to choose for me which were the "bad parts," and which were suitable for including in the taped version.


Problem solved. Digitally recorded books are usually compressed to a tight file format that takes up very little room on your reading device, and is fast downloading. The sound quality is great, and the narrators are skilled professionals who can bring a book to life as expertly as any great actor. Some books are read "straight," with no particular emphasis on acting out the character parts, while others are full dramatizations. Whichever suits your taste, you’ll find just about everything on


Audible is also right on top of best sellers, book club selections and periodicals. You can even subscribe to podcasts offered by names you know. Audible has an easy, straightforward search engine that allows you to nose around in all of your favorite genres. Best of all, once you buy a book, it’s yours, period. You are not required to maintain a subscription so that you can keep the books. Your downloads are not ‘shut off" if you cancel your subscription. Or, if you prefer, you can purchase "a la carte" and not subscribe at all. Members do get discount prices as well as some "freebies" that you may enjoy, such as a subscription to the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. Yes, even the newspapers are read to you out loud. It’s a beautiful thing. Even if you are not visually impaired, think of the time you’ll save catching up on the morning headlines while you shower and dress for work.


Finally, you’ll have no difficulty in using your favorite device. Audible supports many different manufacturers, including accessible devices, MP3 players and even phones. Check out what’s on Audible’s bookshelves.


Happy listening.


Get into Fred’s Head at American Printing House for the Blind

One of my favorite sites for info on everything from adjusting to vision loss to tech tips to cane travel is the  site  Not only do they offer some great products and services, they also have a great blog, called Fred’s Head.  Here’s the blurb right off the home page:

The Fred’s Head blog contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Fred’s Head is offered by the American Printing House for the Blind.  Fred’s Head is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni of APH’s Customer Relations Department.


The Fred’s Head blog is superbly   managed by Michael McCarty,  who is social media coordinator for APH.  He is also President of the Kentucky Council of the Blind, and has provided ADA training to TARC, MV Transportation, Yellow Cab and a host of other local businesses. He is a dog guide user and co-host of a weekly radio program that focuses on issues faced by the blind and visually impaired from local, state and national levels.  Michael has also written many of the articles you’ll find on the site.


Here’s the link to the APH home page:

You can follow on Twitter:   (@fredshead)

Read the blog:


You’ll find a treasure trove of articles and tips written for people who are blind, by people who are blind or visually impaired.  You’ll even find some of my own articles there.  Here’s the link to the latest, on what to consider when buying a video magnifier: 


Laura’s article on APH


There are literally hundreds of articles to browse through, so enjoy.  If you or someone you love is coping with vision loss, American Printing House for the Blind and the Fred’s Head blog are great resources from which to learn and grow.



Roll a mile in another’s shoes

Regardless of your personal state of ability, infirmity, race, religion or socio-economic position, there is probably an issue or group in your universe for which you advocate. You may feel that you are an authority on your own cause, but somewhat less so on other, similar causes. Perhaps you are passionate in your support of lung cancer research, because a family member lost his or her own battle. Yet, you may know little about the needs of the children’s cancer charities.


In the field of disability awareness, I tend to focus my efforts on the particular needs of the visually impaired or blind community, simply because I have personal experience with the issues relevant to those groups. While I advocate for all disability groups, I am aware that each has it’s own specific needs, pet peeves, barriers to overcome, stereotypes to battle and goals to attain. I admit that I am not intimately acquainted with the needs of every disability group. However, I had a very interesting experience recently that has opened my eyes to some of the feelings at least, which may be at the core of a group other than my own.


A while ago I did some traveling that required I use multiple forms of transport, which is typical for someone who does not drive. I traveled through several states, and it was quite the combination of planes, trains and ground transport to get it done. At one point, I found myself in the Las Vegas airport, confronted by an airport employee who was to assist me through security to my flight gate.


For those of you who do not travel, or who have never thought about how a person with a disability might accomplish this, let me take a moment here to provide a bit of explanation. As a seasoned traveler, I have seen many changes in the policies and procedures of public transportation agencies. None so many, however, as those which took place after September 11th, 2001. Air travel was especially chaotic in the "old days" given that anyone was free to move about the airport, and now no one who is not holding a ticket or a boarding pass is allowed past security. Airports used to be terrifying places for me, since airport crime was rampant back then. .


It is nothing like that now. Today, The TSA and airline employees operate with precision. As a result, when I make my flight reservation, I make what is referred to as a "special services request." This sets into motion a series of hand-offs that gets me from the passenger unloading zone to my seat in the aircraft. Usually, it works like a well-oiled machine. Once I hit the ticket counter and check my bag, I am handed off to a "PSA" or personal services associate. These are airline employees who roam about the premises and assist passengers who need help. It was my experience with one of these PSA’s that I write about here.


My fierce independence was challenged when the PSA who was to guide me through security insisted that I sit in the wheelchair he offered. I did not want to use the wheelchair, resorting instead to my standard line: “My eyeballs are broken, but my legs work fine. I can walk.”


The PSA would not take no for an answer. He continued to insist that I use the chair. Someone standing nearby said, "I sure wouldn’t turn down a ride. Why not take it? The terminal is like a MILE from here." Well, for one thing, I didn’t need it. I’m perfectly capable of walking to the gate. It seemed like such a waste to me, and I felt a little threatened by this situation. Despite my vociferous objections, I was pressured into using the wheelchair, and I finally relented. I cringed as I sat down in the chair. The predominant emotion I experienced right then was one of anxiety. The PSA began to roll me to the security checkpoint.


It took me about two seconds to recover from the novelty of moving while sitting down, after which I immediately began to feel very uncomfortable. I felt like I was being deceptive somehow, keeping a secret that I was passing myself off as paraplegic or something when in fact I could leap out of the chair in a split second and walk away.

The anxiety I was feeling grew to embarrassment, then humiliation. On the one hand, I felt like a liar, on the other, I felt as though I was somehow less, or would be perceived as something less than whole. My discomfort likely stemmed from the knowledge that I had already traveled thousands of miles, mostly unassisted, and that the notion that I could be perceived as incapable of walking unnerved me.


When the employee at the airport security gate informed me that I would be lifted from the chair and examined, I immediately flew out of the chair. "Like hell," I said, and held out my hands. "You can just guide me through the metal detector."

After reassembling my belongings and myself, I sank back into the wheelchair. Now, I really felt awkward. It was clear to anyone watching that I didn’t need to be in the wheelchair, and I wondered what others were thinking as I was rolled away.


As a person who has a visual disability, who is also a long-time professional speaker and educator, one of the ways I “sell” my message of independence and self-sufficiency is to set the example. I am living the experiences about which I speak, and I would be neither believable nor authoritative if I did not live the full life I teach others it is possible to live. Whenever possible, I use mainstream situations as a platform from which to raise awareness. While I concede that you wouldn’t want me as your surgeon, I’ll probably never pilot a jetliner and the military won’t have me, generally speaking I can do just about everything a non-disabled person can do, I just do it differently.


When I teach my awareness classes, I utilize a teaching technique sometimes referred to as a "simulation exercise." There is a great deal of controversy over using disability simulations as a teaching tool. Students are placed in a blindfold to simulate blindness, required to sit in wheelchairs and navigate around everyday objects, or use earplugs or other means by which to simulate various impairments. The controversy lies in the thinking that these exercises create a "circus atmosphere" and can make a mockery out of disability. In general, I agree with this sentiment, although in my classes, the exercise is proceeded by six hours of instruction, followed by a dialogue about the students’ experiences, and concluded by the following admonishment: There is no way that a thirty minute simulation exercise can truly begin to open your eyes as to life with a disability. I tell the students that they could wear the blindfold all day and still have no idea what it’s like to be blind. The purpose of the exercise is to start the discussion, not arrive at a conclusion, and to explore some of the emotions involved, as well as to experience ways in which everyday activities can be made harder when living with a disability. If the students express discomfort with the simulation, I tell them that their discomfort is part of the exercise. I inform them that "I seldom have the luxury of picking and choosing whom I solicit for help, and in this case, neither did you."


In the case of my brief stint in a wheelchair, I can say the same thing. While I have understood the physical barriers presented by the use of a wheelchair, I’ve not personally experienced the emotions, which may be involved — especially early on. I found my chaotic emotions to be worthy of further exploration, and I was gratified by the opportunity to roll a mile in another’s shoes.


Have you ever experienced something similar? If so, comment below and share your own thoughts.



When is the last time you actually read our Declaration of Independence? Read it here.

It had been awhile for me. 


IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.



Read that last sentence again.  Would you? 



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Get in touch with Mobile Speak 4.5, now available

Here’s an update from Code Factory, for all of my readers who use Mobile Speak.  Comment here and tell us what you think of your Mobile Speak experience.

Update from:  Caroline Ragot – Marketing Director

Mobile Speak 4.5 for Windows Mobile is now available
It has never been so easy to dial a number with a touch screen!
Terrassa (Barcelona), Spain, July, 1st, 2010
Mobile Speak 4.5, a free update for all users of Mobile Speak 4.0, is now available! Since the release of Mobile Speak 4.0, Code Factory’s Windows Mobile development team has focused its efforts on improving Mobile Speak’s touch interface, and make the touch experience more intuitive and accessible than ever.

Using a Touch Screen Becomes as Easy as Using a Phone with Physical Keys
Mobile Speak 4.5 includes two new touch screen interaction modes, based on the concept of a standard joystick and a standard numeric keypad. All of the physical keys used to control the screen reader and phone in non touch screen devices have now been converted by Mobile Speak into very intuitive virtual touch keys. It is therefore easier and faster dial a number, enter text, or navigate through the menus of your touch screen device.

The two new touch screen input methods are named Keypad mode and Joystick mode. You can switch to the Keypad and Joystick modes from the default Quadrant mode with command + volume up/down key.

In Keypad mode, the touch screen is divided into 12 virtual keys, arranged just like a phone keypad (1, 2, and 3 at the top; 4, 5, and 6 in the second row; 7, 8, and 9 in the third; and the star, 0, and hash keys in the bottom row). By accessing the Keypad mode, you can type numbers just as with a physical keypad.

In addition, you can combine these virtual numeric keys with the command key to perform command shortcuts, just as in previous (non-touch) versions of Mobile Speak. For example, to mute Mobile Speak, press the command key followed by the virtual 0 key at the bottom center of the screen. Long-time users of Mobile Speak will find this method of accessing commands familiar, and new users will also find it a convenient alternative to the standard touch gestures.

To access the left and right softkeys, delete characters, or press enter, you can use a gesture called a "slide back" in one of four directions. For example, to access the left softkey, you can perform a "slide left and back" by sliding your finger right-to-left and then left-to-right without releasing your finger or pausing between the two motions. This gesture may take a few tries to be able to perform it smoothly, but once you familiarize yourself with it, it provides a quick and easy gesture to access common functions.

Tip: To quickly become familiar with the virtual touch keys, gestures and commands in Keypad mode, use the Keyboard Help mode. This is activated and deactivated by pressing the Command key (Home key) + long press on the virtual key 5.

Besides this Keypad mode, Mobile Speak 4.5 also features a Joystick mode in which the touch screen is divided into 9 virtual keys, arranged in a 3 x 3 grid. This touch input mode is intended for users who prefer to interact with the phone using taps rather than by slide gestures. The central key is joystick Enter, while the 4 keys directly above, below, left and right of the joystick correspond to the joystick up, down, left and right keys. The bottom left key is the left softkey, and the bottom right key is the right softkey, and the upper right key is the delete key (upper left is unassigned). Therefore if you are scrolling a list, you only have to make taps on the top center or bottom center of your touch screen to scroll up and down the list.

More commands are available with the Joystick mode: long tap on the top left key (virtual key 1) to start menu, long tap on the top right key (virtual key 3) to close an application, long tap on bottom left (virtual key 7) to lock/unlock screen and device, and long tap on bottom right to toggle the privacy mode.

Improved Typing Experience
If you wish to type text messages using your touch screen, you can activate the virtual touch QWERTY keyboard. To do so, press Command + long press on virtual key 4 if you are in Keypad Mode, or Tap 1 (Go to) and double tap 4 if you are in Quadrant Mode.

Based on Mobile Speak users’ feedback, some touch gestures have been reassigned to use the virtual touch keyboard in a more effective way:

Triple tap: exit Touch Keyboard.
Slide up/down/left/right: arrow keys, navigate the text.
Double tap 1: simulate space key.
Double tap 2: simulate back key.
Double tap 3: simulate enter key.
Double tap 4: Activate the “Keyboard layouts” mode which allows to switch the keyboard layout (slide left/right) and the keyboard language (slide up/down).
You still can set the Dynamic Mode on/off from MS4 Control Panel > Main Settings > Touch.

New Braille Functionality
There are two new features for Braille users!

Support for the Focus 40 Blue Braille portable device from Freedom Scientific . Listen to a Jonathan Mosen’s demo at

Mobile Speak 4.5 also features a new Braille touch input mode. This mode divides the screen in 2 columns and 4 rows which emulate a Braille keyboard with 8 keys. Keys are mapped as Braille dots using this layout:

Left column (from up to bottom): Dot 7, Dot 3, Dot 2, Dot 1.
Right column (from up to bottom): Dot 8, Dot 6, Dot 5, Dot 4.
You can type text using this mode by following these steps: Dots can be switched on/off by pressing their virtual key. Note that there’s no multitouch support in Windows Mobile so you need to configure your Braille character dot by dot. Each time you press a dot Mobile Speak will announce "Dot X on/off". Once you have activated all the desired dots, perform a slide down to type the character.

Apart from activating and deactivating Braille dots you can also use slides:

Slide up: Reset Braille dots.
Slide down: Type current character. If all the Braille dots are deactivated this gesture will simulate the Space key.
Slide left: Backspace key.
Slide right: Enter key.
Don’t forget that Mobile Speak 4.5 is Cross Platform, visit to read the Mobile Speak 4.5 for Symbian press release.

If you are a new user, download now Mobile Speak 4.5 at and try it for 30 days for free.

If you are using a version prior to Mobile Speak 4.0 and wish to upgrade to Mobile Speak 4.5, contact your distributor to purchase an upgrade license. To consult the complete list of Code Factory’s official distributors, visit

To learn how to install Mobile Speak 4.5 for Windows Mobile for the first time, follow the instructions at

To learn how to upgrade to Mobile Speak 4.5, follow the instructions at

To read more about Mobile Speak 4.0 visit

Important: If you are a user of Mobile Geo 2.5, we have also released a minor update v2.6 to insure the compatibility between the latest version of Mobile Speak and Mobile Geo. Therefore if you wish to use Mobile Speak 4.5 with Mobile Geo, you also need to upgrade to Mobile Geo 2.6.

That’s the latest from Code Factory.  How has your experience with their touch technology been?  Comment below and share your thoughts. 


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