October 2022 Accessibility Newsletter

Overcomers Counseling

I recall the first time I met someone who was blind; the event occurred following the brain surgery in which I awoke totally blind myself. I became increasingly amazed by this individual. He seemed to have almost superhuman skills that enabled him to navigate independently using a cane and tell time using a talking watch.

I also recall the first time I attempted to use a computer with a speech synthesizer. It was so difficult to understand anything it said. I needed the speed to be slowed down to a snail’s speed in order to recognize the words spoken.

I assume many of my readers are like me. In the early days of blindness, you may have never met anyone without sight. Perhaps, just recently introduced to the terms “accessible web site” or “screen reader.” Thus, I thought it helpful to devote the current newsletter to describing the experience of using a screen reader to my accessibility audience.

Screen Readers

First, screen readers are used by individuals who are totally blind or those without enough vision to read the text on the screen. The 2 main screen readers that are used by the blind in the US are NVDA and JAWS. Another screen reader that won’t be further mentioned is called Window Eyes. I personally use JAWS. This application was first introduced to me back in the days of DOS and floppy disks. It has been used throughout my transition to Windows, Office, and the internet. NVDA is a free program that stands for Non-Visual Desktop Access. It is highly recommended by users but unfamiliar to the author.

So, what happens when the individual with a screen reader visits a webpage?

The screen reader begins to read the page from left to right, line by line. The screen reader user is able to use keyboard commands to explore the site. Moving up and down, word by word depending on the information needed. Keyboard commands can also be used to move by headings, elements, combo boxes, check boxes or to find text fields or buttons. Additionally, the user can use a command to get a list of links on the page. As well as find the desired link and press enter to navigate to the link location. So, I think this explanation illustrates the process adequately without getting into too much detail.

To prevent boring my audience with more details, information on online shopping will be explained further in next month’s newsletter. Yet, I can reassure everyone that this procedure occurs quickly and automatically to the experienced screen reader user.


In conclusion, accessibility consultation is available through Overcomers Counseling, LLC. Current openings for counseling during the holiday season can be booked by filling out the contact form located at https://www.counselingbykimberly.com/contact/.

Do It Afraid! 5 Steps For Chasing Your Dream When The Dream Seems Impossible

In 2010-2011, my husband and I faced a huge decision about the future of our family.     As I turned 35, I became aware that my biological clock was ticking and I had very little time to decide if I was to have children.  Because we were both blind, the decision of having children was something we put off due to the sheer logistics of the endeavor.  The concerns that had to be faced included health concerns, financial, and practical issues.  Yet, despite the many factors that made this undertaking seem impossible, my husband and I could not let go of the yearning for something more and the desire to go for the dream I had dreamed since I was a little girl.  We decided to face our fears and we stepped off the cliff of life and entered this crazy phase of life we call “parenthood.” The rewards of parenting have far outweighed the challenges, and it all began with us deciding to act even though we were afraid.

Sometimes in life you have to be willing to “do it afraid!” Here are some steps to help you take stock, consider your options, and move forward even if you’re scared: Continue reading “Do It Afraid! 5 Steps For Chasing Your Dream When The Dream Seems Impossible”

Fun and Vitality for the Newly Blind and Visually Impaired

In January, 2017, Irish athlete Sinead Kane became the first legally blind woman to run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days.

For persons who are newly blind and visually impaired, there is often an inner struggle and overwhelming sense of boredom as they come to a belief that their active lifestyle has grinded to a halt after the vision loss. With the thoughtful application of some simple principles and activities, however, it is possible for a newly blind person to once again realize the many benefits of an active lifestyle.

In this entry, we examine the role of fun and vitality in the rehabilitation of persons with vision loss including social and psychological benefits of fun and recreation, how to discover what is fun for each individual, and examples of recreation for persons who are blind and visually impaired.  Nancy Parkin Bashizi, director at Vision Rehabilitation Services (VRS) in Smyrna, Georgia, provides useful information about the impact of these types of activities on social and psychological well-being and presents a variety of adaptive activities and a list of resources for the blind and visually impaired. Continue reading “Fun and Vitality for the Newly Blind and Visually Impaired”