Tag Archives: blindness

Launch of audio versions of “Toby’s Tales” by Victoria (Tori) Zigler

I’ve had poor eyesight all my life, and eventually – in my early 20s – lost the last of my sight to the Glaucoma I was born with. So I’m no stranger to those times when people without vision problems were doing things I couldn’t be a part of. Not to mention, those times when tasks people with sight take for granted were difficult – or even impossible – for me to do with my poor, and later lack of, sight.

Sometimes there really is no way for a blind person to do something a sighted person can do easily. But often there is. All it takes is a bit of creative thinking, a willingness to adapt the method used to do it, and maybe some special equipment or tools to make it possible.

Take the screen reader Kevin and I use for our computers, for example. Without JAWS (Job Access With Speech) I couldn’t have written this post, and sent it to Kevin, and he couldn’t have put it on his blog for you to read. In fact, without JAWS – and the fact it makes it possible for us to use our computers in the way we do – there wouldn’t even be a blog for you to read, let alone a post from me to go up on it. Sure, there are still things we need help from a sighted friend or family member to do. But it opens up a world of possibilities for us that would never otherwise have existed. Without JAWS, the day I lost my sight would have been the day I lost my ability to access the internet.

There are similar situations in other aspects of the life of a blind person. From simple things like pairing socks, to more complicated things like the above example using JAWS. It’s something that’s just a fact; it’s just the way things are.

But there are – as I mentioned – often ways to make it possible for a blind person to do things for themselves, or to be included when they otherwise might not be able to be. I explore some of these situations, as well as some possible solutions for them, in my “Toby’s Tales” series.

The Toby’s Tales series is a five book series that follows a little boy named Toby’s efforts to adjust after sight loss. I published the first book as an eBook in 2012, with the other four following quickly on its heals, and later made a paperback version of each book available. Now – with the help of the talented Joseph A. Batzel – I’ve also made them available as audiobooks.

Joseph has done an excellent job of bringing Toby’s stories to life. At least, I think so. If you buy the audiobooks, I hope you’ll agree.

Regardless of the format you’d prefer, if you’d like to grab copies so you can learn about the fears and frustrations Toby struggles with, here are the main places where you can buy the books:

Book 1 – Toby’s New World
Audible: http://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-New-World-Audiobook/B074P7FV1M/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/229561
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5519989
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-new-world-victoria-zigler/1113041202
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-new-world
Chapters-Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-new-world/9781476234342-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-new-world/id562790799
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-new-world-tobys-tales-volume-1-unabridged/id1270858515
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-New-World-Tales/dp/1512358908/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tobys-New-World-Tales/dp/1512358908/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Tobys-New-World-Tales/dp/1512358908/
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-New-World-Victoria-Zigler/9781512358902

Book 2 – Toby’s Monsters
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Monsters-Audiobook/B074SZ9BJX/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/247103
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5519996
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-monsters-victoria-zigler/1113744687
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-monsters
Chapters-Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-monsters/9781301157921-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-monsters/id574780594
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-monsters-tobys-tales-volume-2-unabridged/id1272267691
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/cka/Tobys-Monsters-2-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512358975
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/d/cka/Tobys-Monsters-2-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512358975
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/d/cka/Tobys-Monsters-2-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512358975
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Monsters-Victoria-Zigler/9781512358971

Book 3 – Toby’s Outing
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Outing-Audiobook/B074W95DRX/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/251587
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5520007
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-outing-victoria-zigler/1113846045
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-outing
Chapters-Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-outing/9781301643264-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-outing/id577001695
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-outing-tobys-tales-volume-3-unabridged/id1273856055
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tobys-Outing-3-Tales/dp/1512359041/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tobys-Outing-3-Tales/dp/1512359041/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Tobys-Outing-3-Tales/dp/1512359041/
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Outing-Victoria-Zigler/9781512359046

Book 4 – Toby’s Games
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Games-Audiobook/B074WCT1W4/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/271594
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5520032
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-games-victoria-zigler/1114302957
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-games
Chapters-Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-games/9781301441082-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-games/id595641562
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-games-tobys-tales-volume-4-unabridged/id1274236264
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Tobys-Games-4-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359262/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/d/Books/Tobys-Games-4-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359262/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/d/Books/Tobys-Games-4-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359262/
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Games-Victoria-Zigler/9781512359268

Book 5 – Toby’s Special School
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Children/Tobys-Special-School-Tobys-Tales-Volume-5-Audiobook/B0756Q5KB1/
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/281507
CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/5520068
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tobys-special-school-victoria-zigler/1114473423
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toby-s-special-school
Chapters-Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/tobys-special-school/9781301489220-item.html
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/tobys-special-school/id600171798
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/tobys-special-school-tobys-tales-volume-5-unabridged/id1277169221
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Tobys-Special-School-5-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359335/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/d/Books/Tobys-Special-School-5-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359335/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/d/Books/Tobys-Special-School-5-Tales-Victoria-Zigler/1512359335/
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Tobys-Special-School-Victoria-Zigler/9781512359336

You can also find the books on Goodreads.

Book 1: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15992610-toby-s-new-world
Book 2: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16098832-toby-s-monsters
Book 3: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16127032-toby-s-outing
Book 4: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17209761-toby-s-games
Book 5: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17314257-toby-s-special-school

***~~~***

About the author:
Victoria Zigler is a blind poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK. Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, has a very vivid imagination, and spends a lot of time in fictional worlds; some created by her, others created by other authors. When she remembers to spend some time in the real world, it’s mostly to spend time with her hubby and pets, though sometimes to indulge in other interests that capture her attention from time to time. To date she has published 8 poetry books and more than 40 children’s books, with more planned for the near future. She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II.

Author links:
Website: http://www.zigler.co.uk
Blog: http://ziglernews.blogspot.co.uk
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/toriz
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Zigler/424999294215717
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/victoriazigler
Google+: https://plus.google.com/106139346484856942827

About the narrator:
Joseph Batzel has a BA and an MA from Brigham Young University in Film and Theater. He is also a professional actor for stage and film for over thirty years. Joseph has over 150 voice- over credits including radio, TV, audiobooks, and animation. He has traveled extensively throughout the US teaching voice over workshops. Joseph is a dialectician and can perform most American regional dialects and most foreign accents.

Mr. Batzel has just joined Deyan audio one of the world’s largest Independent producer of Audiobooks as one of their narrators. He is married to his wife Alice of forty-four years, she is a published playwright and working on her first novel. They have two sons and five grandchildren. He presently lives in Brigham City, Utah where he currently works as an adjunct instructor at Utah State University teaching courses in Creative Arts and Public Speaking.

Reading for All

Being blind and unable to read print, I find the Amazon Kindle’s text to speech facility a huge boon. For anyone who is unaware of the text to speech facility, when activated, it reads aloud books where the author/publisher has enabled speech. While the reading voice is robotic, it has improved over the years and (in my experience) once the reader becomes lost in a good book, it is easy to forget that a dalek is doing the reading!

The majority of books in the Amazon Kindle store have text to speech enabled. Of those which do not, most (perhaps all) are available as audible downloads from audible.co.uk/audible.com. However, Audible titles are, on the whole more expensive than their Kindle counterparts, which means that someone who is unable to read print must (if the text to speech facility is not enabled on the Kindle version) spend more to obtain the book in audio form. Personally I believe that all titles should have text to speech enabled irrespective of whether they are available from Audible or other suppliers of audio titles, as it is wrong that a blind individual has to pay more for an accessible version of a book.

All of my books have text to speech enabled meaning that they are accessible to all. In addition my collection of poetry, “Lost in the Labyrinth of My Mind” can be purchased, in braille from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), while my latest poetry book, “My Old Clock I Wind” is in the process of being added to RNIB’s library.

To purchase “Lost in the Labyrinth of My Mind” in braille please go to, http://www.rniblibrary.com/iguana/www.main.cls?surl=search#savelist=General_*_LOSTLABYRINTH, and to buy it in print or ebook formats please visit, http://moyhill.com/lost/. To obtain “My Old Clock I Wind in ebook or paperback please visit, http://moyhill.com/clock/.

You can find links to all of my titles on my website, https://newauthoronline.com/about/.

Kevin

The Dangers Posed by Electric Cars to Blind People

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The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (the UK charity which trains assistance dogs for visually impaired people) is campaigning to raise the issue of the danger posed by electric cars to those with sight loss.

Electric vehicles make little noise which make them particularly dangerous to people who are visually impaired and rely on their hearing to get around safely.

To watch the video please follow this link:

http://www.guidedogs.org.uk/supportus/campaigns/#.V7AUojVMTIU

“Mobility Matters: Stepping Out In Faith” – Book Review

A review of “Mobility Matters: Stepping Out In Faith ” (http://doublevisionblog.com/2016/02/24/book-review-mobility-matters-stepping-out-in-faith/).
As a visually impaired guide dog owner, I was interested to read this review of a book regarding one lady’s experience of mobility training, using a long white cane. Prior to getting my first guide dog, Drew I used a long white cane and have happy memories of it getting stuck in cracks between the pavement or bent into the shape of a banana following a close encounter with a lamp post or tree (oh happy days)!
Yesterday I fell into conversation with a colleague who asked how visually impaired people, who are not guide dog users cope as regards mobility. I was surprised by the question as the majority of those who are partially sighted or blind do not, in fact use guide dogs but utilise (as in the case of the above) a long white cane. In my view its vital that guide dog owners should possess the capacity to use a cane as the dog may become ill or, on rare occasions it may not be possible (or advisable) to use their four legged friend. For example several months ago my present guide dog, Trigger had several benign lumps removed which meant he was not able to work for 10 days. During this period I worked from home and utilised my white cane when out and about.

Kevin

Can I touch Your Face?

Being blind

I sometimes find

myself wondering what women look like.

With little sight

it is impossible to tell

so why do I on this subject dwell?

I do perceive

that a voice may deceive.

Girlish tones

Can belong to old crones.

A scent draws me in

thoughts of skin

and sin.

“Would you like to touch my face?”

“This is not the place

my dear.

People are near.

Besides we have only just met.

I don’t even know your name yet”!

She lingers.

Thinking of sensitive fingers

Loss of sight

does not equal no delight …

 

 

A Review Of “More Than Best Friends”, An Anthology To Raise Money For Guide Dogs

Early this year a group of authors, including myself, came together to produce “More Than Best Friends”, an anthology in aid of the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (GDBA). All funds go directly to GDBA with no monies being received by the authors.

I was delighted when Olivia Emily of Bibliomad kindly agreed to write an honest review of “More Than Best Friends” in exchange for a free copy of the book. For Olivia’s review please visit the following link, https://bibliomad.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/more-than-best-friends-book-review/#more-428.

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association are a registered charity who receive no government funding. If you would like to support the work of the Association in providing guide dogs, thereby enhancing the independence of visually impaired guide dog owners, please do consider downloading the anthology and making a donation to GDBA. I would like to thank my fellow authors for their generosity in donating their work and time free.

 

(Please note. I have been visually impaired since approximately 18-months old as a consequence of a blood clot on the brain which caused me to lose the majority of my vision. I am now working with my fourth guide dog, a brindle lab/retriever called Trigger, of whom I am very fond despite his habit of helping himself to other people’s lunches, particularly my work colleagues)!

 

Sunset

I don’t often regret being blind. However sitting in a pub garden yesterday evening, as my friend Brian described the sun setting I felt a twinge of regret at my inability to watch the sun’s firey ball sink below the horizon.

 

Would that I could touch a sunset

Be wrapped in it’s fiery glow.

Would that I could see the sun set,

A sight I will never know.

Writing Tools – A Guest Post By Victoria (Tori) Zigler

Thank you to Victoria (Tori) Zigler for the below guest post. For Tori’s previous (related) article please visit (http://newauthoronline.com/2015/05/13/from-idea-to-ebook-a-guest-post-by-victoria-tori-zigler/). For Tori’s blog please see, (http://ziglernews.blogspot.co.uk/).

 

I’ve always loved writing, and it wasn’t unusual to see me as a little girl; pencil in hand, as I scribbled something on a piece of paper. I even held “lessons” for my dolls, where I would show them how to write poems and stories, with the occasional break to do some sums, since I also enjoyed mathematics.

 

As I grew, my sight decreased, so that I could no longer see pencil markings clearly without pressing so hard the pencil would all but go through the page, while the pleasure writing gave me increased, so that I formed the habit of carrying a notebook and pen with me everywhere; along with a book to read, of course, since I’ve always been a voracious reader.

 

I was ten years old when I was given a laptop for use for my schoolwork, since the teachers were starting to struggle to read my writing. Officially the laptop was only for schoolwork and homework, but I used to write stories on it too, though I still carried my trusty notebook and pen around with me everywhere I went; ready to take quick notes of any ideas that popped in to my head, which I would later type up.

 

I carried a notebook and pen around with me right up until the point where I could no longer see to use one. Then I destroyed every notebook I still had in my possession; a move which cost me a few story and poem ideas I no longer remember, and could have had someone read for me to make note of, butt which I felt – and still feel – was right, since my notebooks were journals as well as writer’s notebooks, so they contained some things I’d prefer not to allow others to read.

 

I can read and write Braille, and even have a shiny red brailler that I’ve had since just after I learned Braille while I was still at school, which I was given when my sight decreased enough that it was decided I should use Braille at school; the brailler was given to me to do my homework on. But I rarely use my brailler for writing. At home I use a computer, and the brailler is much too bulky and heavy to carry around for writing. So, now that it has no homework to help with, my brailler is used more to produce something in Braille that I need access to while I’m out, but will write at home; like a shopping list, or an address, or something like that.

 

There are some Braille frames that are a lot more portable, but they’re not very easy to use when you’re trying to focus on a thought that’s popped in to your head. I also find that voice recording devices aren’t very practical, since background noise makes it difficult for you to get a decent recording; unless you want to speak so loudly everyone will likely stop what they’re doing to look at you, which I don’t. As for using my Kindle’s notes function… Well, that may be an option later on, but right now using the touchscreen keyboard is proving to be a challenge I have yet to overcome. So, I have yet to find a suitable substitute for my trusty notebook and pen.

 

On the bright side, I have a computer at home, so can use that for writing. And, hey, if the electric goes out, I still have my brailler, which requires no electricity at all.

 

Guide Foxes For The Blind

I was interested to read about a new organisation, Foxes for the Blind which has recently launched. As those of you who have knowledge of the world of canines will be aware, foxes fall under that classification. They are, in effect a dog albeit of the wild variety.

My first instinct on reading of this new charitable venture was a certain amount of scepticism. How could what is, essentially a wild beast be trained so as to furnish much needed assistance to visually impaired persons. However, as pointed out above, foxes are classified as canines and, if socialised from very young cubs behave rather like our four-legged friends.

The inspiration for this venture came from a group of farmers in Cornwall who (as with most farmers) became fed up with foxes attacking their livestock so, rather than culling Mr fox they determined to take fox cubs and train this most wiley of creatures to provide assistance to those with a visual impairment.

Farmer Michael Giles comments as follows,

“One day I came into my farmyard to find a fox attempting to gain entrance into my hen coop. My instinct was to reach for my trusty shot gun. However I hesitated. It was a young fox and had, potentially many years before it. It struck me how there exist a potentially huge source of cheap animals to provide guides for those with little sight. I know that breeding guide dogs can be expensive so, I thought why not start training this plentiful source of fox recruits.

Things are going well, however some blind fox owners complain of a highly pungent scent eminating from their fox. I recommend they spray the animal with aftershave or some other variety of perfume. However, for some unaccountable reason the foxes object to such treatment and have been known to escape back into the wild.

There is also an issue with dogs setting off in hot pursuit of the guide foxes but, in general everything is progressing well. In fact I am talking to a farmer in Africa with plans to train guide lions. The plan is at an early stage. There is, however no reason in principle why guide lions for the blind should not prove to be equally viable. Tomorrow guide lions, next week, who knows, wolves for the blind? Well dogs are descended from wolves which are, as with foxes part of the canine family”.

I will dig out a link for the story later today when I have more time to devote to researching this fascinating topic.

May I close by wishing you all a very happy All Fools or April Fools day.

 

Anthology to raise money for Guide Dogs goes live at last!

Dear all,

The moment you have all been waiting for. No, I haven’t won millions on the National Lottery, although that would be nice! I am, however, delighted to announce that the anthology to raise money for the Guide Dogs for the Blind association is now live! I have created a dedicated page for the book which can be found here: http://newauthoronline.com/anthology-to-raise-money-for-guide-dogs/

I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed to the anthology, whether that be through stories, poems or other writings. I would like to thank Chris Graham for his generosity in producing the book cover at no charge. Without the tireless efforts of the editor, Dave Higgins, this anthology would not have come into being. Finally, a big thank you to everyone who has promoted and continues to promote the anthology.

Kind regards,

Kevin and Trigger