Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Case for Braille

"From the mid-'60s to the present, the percentage of school-aged blind children in this country who use braille as their primary reading medium has dropped from 50 percent to 12 percent, and more than a generation of blind children has been largely allowed to grow up illiterate under the damaging notion that tape recordings and talking computers are sufficient for them."

"This decline in the teaching and learning of braille has occurred not because the value of literacy has in any way diminished. On the contrary, in our democratic society for which a literate public is the cornerstone and in an economy which is increasingly complex and information-driven, the ability to read and write is increasingly crucial. This is all the more true as society's vision of the capacity of blind people to achieve despite their handicap grows, as prejudices against them diminish, as the law supports them in equal employment opportunity, and as opportunities for blind people to produce and contribute are expanding." --Full Article

Couldn't have said it better myself.

I follow with the iced coffee and a Braille book...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Comrade Bush etc.

This article is a wonderful discussion on the importance of free trade. With FTA's wasting away in Congress I believe it is more important then ever to both promote free trade and debunk the myths and stereotypes surrounding free trade.

Also Prop 8 looks like it will go down, not because of any rational reason, but because the AG of CA doesn't like it. Man oh man, if the right tried something like this the loud voiced left nutters would be all over it like white on rice. I really hate all this hipocracy on the "tolerent" left's part. Must come from not understanding the use of words or the fact that they have firm definitions.

This article speaks well to the mess we're in currently, and why the Dems will lead us out of economic hardship like Communism led to prosperity. And speaking of here is the article about Comrade Bush. This is why I get annoyed when great conservatives like Hugh Hewitt defend, and defend, and defend the poor anti-conservative choices of guys like Comrade Bush and attempt to call it conservativism. Let's call a spade a spade. The GOP is no longer a conservative party, and if they continue to act like light Dems they will justifyably be dwelling in the wilderness permenantly.

I follow with the iced coffee and a Braille book...

Unlocking the Code

Here is a piece of Louis Braille birthday cake, in early celebration of 1-4. Also an excellent short video talking about the importance of Braille. I follow with the iced coffee and a Braille book...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bailing Out Santa, amongst other things

This past Friday I converted from the Republican Party, which I have been part of for as long as I could vote, to the Libertarian Party. I did this because I am tired of offering my support, time, and money to a party that claims to be conservative socially and financially, but is anything but. At least with the Libertarians I can agree with what they strive for. God knows it's *TONS* better then anything the Dems are offering, though this gives me hope for the USTR at least. Keeping fingers crossed.

Also this interview with Santa on his need for a bail out from the Club for Growth is one of the most amusing things I have ever seen. I laughed for nearly three solid minutes as it went on.

Also this feed to the Cafe Hayek Blog is well worth adding to your rss list. Additionally this post by Russ Roberts points out well the issues of tax policy and the housing issues we are currently facing. Cutlo comments on the pros and cons of the current errors of President Bush.

I follow with the iced coffee and a Braille book...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Braille Book Club


A Braille book club is starting on 1-16-09, from 6:45pm-8:00pm. Our first meeting will focus on determining a book for the group. Future meetings will discuss the previous month's book, chat about Braille and adaptive technology, and decide on a book for the following month. Anyone may partisipate (if a sighted person wishes to use print for example), and we will stick to a solid end time to respect partisipants time.

If you have any questions, please e mail or Skype me at george.mcdermith.

When: Friday 1-16-09 6:45pm-8:00pm (MST)
Where: Books and Beyond Room (http://accessibleworld.org/rooms/booksandbeyond.php)
Why: To encourage the use of Braille and a love of literature.

I follow with the iced coffee and a Braille book...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Economics- the good stuff

Found some great articles on the economy. First if you're not listening to Russ Roberts on Econ Talk then click, click, click, and start listening to great information on the economy.

There is a great entry by Larry Cutlo on the Fed's massive interest rate cut. I myself am looking to refinance my loan on Colorado (a rental property I own), as I believe both the rental market will go up in 2010, and the value of land while high will not drop to zero.

Also an outstanding article on the importance of free trade and the need for Obama to clear up where he stands on this important issue for economic development for the U.S. and the world.

NRO writes about the farse that is the TS's bail out plan. Bad faith is the term I would use for the absurd drive towards nationalization that the TS has taken.

An editorial in the WSJ talks about how progressive economic policies spell death to our standard of living and to our economy. Extremely valid points. Another article talks about how recession becomes depression. Fiscal education has never been a strong point for many Americans, and it is my hope that Americans will take the opportunity of the current issues facing our country to educate themselves on the facts of basic economics, both personal and policy wise.

The Club for Growth states its disgust with pork and the impact Obama's spending plans will have if allowed to continue. I just don't understand why people think the government is smarter then the market. YEARS of history have shown the opposite to be true.

I love this article which points out the rubbish of a non judgmental thought process, particularly when one considers it in regards to economics. The point about the horse industry is well taken.

I follow with the iced coffee and a Braille book...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Serotek Supports Braille Displays that are Accessible Anywhere!

A petition has been started by George McDermith at http://www.petitiononline.com/brldis/petition.html asking Braille display manufacturers to base their drivers on the human interface protocol, found on all Windows computers. Such a design philosophy will ensure that users can be certain of having support for their Braille display on any computer, not just one which has been custom-configured for such access, and will eliminate the need to depend on specific screen reader drivers.

The text of the petition reads as follows:

"To: Braille display manufacturers
We, the undersigned, who are Braille display users, friends and family of Braille display users, and teachers of the blind,
*: Believe that accessibility to information for the blind on a par with their sighted piers is a right. Believe that due to this right, and due to the cost of Braille displays, accessing Braille through the use of Braille displays should not be limited by the type of screen reading solution used by the blind.
*: Strongly request that all manufacturers of Braille displays cease basing the drivers of their Braille displays off of particular screen reader drivers, but rather base all Braille display drivers off of the Human User Interface Protocol, which can be found on all Windows computers.
*: This will allow true portability and equal access to information for the blind, as they will be able to use their display with any computer. This will create greater competition in the market for the best Braille display to stand out, grant greater literacy in Braille through greater access to electronic Braille books and other materials, and support the right of all blind people to have accessibility anywhere."

To add your support to this worthy cause, visit the petition web page at


The Serotek Team

To have the support of such a great company for this cause is extremely uplifting and empowering. I urge everyone to sign this petition.

I follow with the iced coffee and a Braille book...

Braille Display Petition

If you are interested in making Braille displays accessible anywhere then please consider signing the Accessible Anywhere Based Braille Displays petition.

This petition asks Braille display manufacturers to base their drivers off of the Human User Interface found on all Windows computers, as opposed to the proprietory drivers they currently use. This would allow much greater Braille display access to all computers, without having to instal and remove drivers, or mess with configurations. This will truely aid in greater Braille literacy through a greater access to electronic Braille and other information on the computer. Please help us change the norm to a consumer friendly format.

I follow with the iced coffee and a Braille book...

Braille links

Below are some links for various items having to do with Braille. I hope this will aid you in finding the best Braille solution for your needs. If you are looking for a longer list, please see the *real* list.

Low Tech:

Looking for Braille paper or writing supplies?

In addition to the classic Perkins Braille writer there is now the Next Generation Brailler. You can also download a ringtone and send an e card celebrating the PNGB.

High Tech

Braille displays are perhaps one of the best inventions to happen to Braille since the Brailler. Talk about portability and useability. One can have one's entire Braille library on a CF or SD card. There are many to choose from, but below are some of the best.


Humanware's Brailliant and BrailleConnect series are some of the finest displays I have ever worked with. Sleek and lightweight with bluetooth, Humanware has really knocked this one out of the park.

G.W. Micro:

G.W. Micro has started distributing the SyncBraille display. Although not as advanced as Humanware or Freedom Scientific products, this display nevertheless provides quality access to electronic Braille. The simple layout makes grasping the workings of this device very straightforward.

Freedom Scientific:

The Focus and PM series of Braille displays are very nicely done. The hot keys and wizwheels, along with a crisp Braille output, make these displays one of the best. Too bad FS seems so intent on not playing nicely with others.


Maker of the Alva BC640, a truly amazing device- top of its class, with plug and play accessibility. This is really as good as it gets in Braille displays.


The National Federation of the Blind:

The NFB is currently conducting a Braille literacy campaign and is a strong supporter of Braille.

National Braille Press:

In addition to publishing books and selling them at the price the sighted public would pay for its books, NPB is also doing much to celebrate the 200th birthday of Louis Braille. Be sure to check out there monthly free Braille article and portabooks.

American Printing House for the Blind:

Oldest publishing house for the blind in the country. Need I say more?

I follow with the iced coffee and a Braille book...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Ranting About Catholics Acting like Catholics

"The fact that there are people who want to silence the Church is disturbing. If people want to disagree with the Church it's one thing, but when you start this kind of name-calling it is intended to have a chilling effect," said Susan Fani, a spokeswoman for the Catholic League.--Full Article

A hot button issue for me is when people are angry for organizations acting in a manner that is in line with their morals and ethics. This is particularly frustrating to me in regards to gays and the Roman Catholic church. The church, despite the wishes of the Liberals in it, is not a democracy or social club you can change with force of voting numbers. I grow tired of the ranting about victimization on the one hand and demanding repression of disenting opinions on the other the gay rights movement is calling for. Prop 8, the RCC, and "tolerance" that is anything but does nothing but frustrate and devalue the cause of gay rights. I do not view it in this regard. I believe one should hate the sin, love the sinner. Note that love does not mean accept the sinful behavior or call it something other then it is.

Let the Church be the Church, and let it have its say. The joys of free speech.

I follow with the iced coffee and a Braille book...

Some Good Economic Articles

I am a Club for Growth supporter and subscribe to their RSS feed. These articles come from there.

First a great article on the need for Republicans to build the future of the party off of the founding principles of the party. This message cannot be driven into the ground, because so many so-called conservatives are still focused on the big government nonsense that have us where we are today.

Another article talks about the rising importance of Economists' blogs. One of my hopes is that with the issues we are currently going through people will be encouraged to educate themselves about good stewardship. Probably wistling in the dark, but it is a dream.

The ROTTEN choice of Obama's trade rep is written on here. I still say there's hope for free trade, because the numbers and facts involving free trade and extremely difficult to argue with from a rational perspective. I don't wish to say there aren't costs. The market isn't perfect, neither is trade, but both free markets and free trade are *MUCH* better then what the government and protectionism offers.

An article talking about the horrid Corperate tax rate in the U.S. and how this impacts business and the economy. I don't understand how perfectly rational people who I like seem to acquire temperary insanity when it comes to the businesses they claim they hate, but in fact feed, clothe, and otherwise provide quality goods and services to them at excellent prices. *sigh* Where is Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal when we need it? For that matter where is Capitalism and Freedom?

One suggestion I really liked in the article was a consumption-based tax. This would provide a true tax on all manner of things while closing many loop holes. Probably never happen, but as above dreaming is nice.

Finally an excellent article on the fact that what we are going through is a government failure, not a market failure. If markets are allowed to function then things go well, but when risk is softened by government intervention, and banks are forced to loan to subprime borrowers in the name of everyone deserves a house whether they can afford one or not, then we have the mess we are currently in.

I follow with the iced coffee and a Braille book...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Some Thoughts on Politics

"Rohm & Haas made a fortune off of a small investment in politicians. That’s the power of pork. It allows Congress to put our troops at risk for 30 pieces of silver.

A article pointing out the forcing of the DOD to buy an inferior product for protecting our troops against chemical attack, all in the name of earmarks. This is a cross party issue, and one that the G.O.P. really needs to address to help regain its mantel of fiscal conservatism.

Also a great article on how Sadr is fading into irrelivance. With all the issues Iraq is facing, and particularly with the persacution of Christians in Iraq, I pray national unity and true tolerance are near in Iraq's future.

Finally an article showing Huckabee and Palin are close in a race for 2012. Although I don't appreciate Huckabee's sniping others, I also don't appreciate others sniping Christians and the social conservative cause. We've had years of a lack of true focus on the social conservative branch of the party. Would it be SO problematic to allow us to have a voice without being mocked for daring to believe that *gasp* our religious and Christian beliefs should have an impact on our politics?

I follow with the iced coffee and a Braille book...

Friday, December 5, 2008

Alva BC640

The Alva BC640 is hopefully doing as it claims and is setting the standard for all braille displays, as its plug and play ability makes it very worthy indeed of laud.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Necessary Part of Your Accessible Digital Lifestyle

This article talks about the usefulness and importance of USB Thumb (or Flash) Drives.

Also the ESV lets you embed a link to hear the audio of Bible verses. For example if you insert http://www.esvapi.org/v2/rest/passageQuery?key=IP&output-format=mp3&passage=John+20:20-30 into your embed it looks like this: John 20:20-30

This will be a wonderful and outstanding tool for spreading the Word of the Lord throughout the web and beyond. My thanks to the folks at ESV for their great work for the kingdom.

I follow with the iced coffee...

Plug and Play Braille Displays Group Started on Facebook

In order to assist with increasing braille literacy through access to electronic braille I have started the group Consumers for Windows Driver Based Braille Displays on Facebook. If you wish to join please go to Facebook and find us through the search box.

The name may change, as the end goal of the group is to lobby for plug and play accessibility in all braille displays. The means to this end are irrelivent. With plug and play displays freedom will be gained for all display users regardless of which screen reader they use, and subsequent access to electronic braille (particularly books ) will be increased.

You can also go here to support the braille literacy campaign through self education about braille and methods to help educate others. Also the National Braille Press is commited to selling Braille books to customers at the same price their sighted counterparts would pay. They do so through donations, so please feel free to support their great work. They also have a focus on electronic Braille, as many of their titles can be obtained in a portabook format. Very worthy of support!

I follow with the iced coffee…