Writing Blind

claudette young

By Claudette Young

Writers come in all shapes and sizes. Each one’s background is different, experiences unique, and needs individualized. 

But the challenges each writer faces aren’t always obvious. For me, the challenge is doing what I do from behind eyes that are virtually blind to the outside world.  One eye contributes little and the other battles to remain a viable organ.

So, how do I produce anything in this sight and tech-driven world? I have lots of help, in several forms.

I use Dragon Naturally Speaking for dictation and command software. Coupled with MS Office, I can write, revise and edit. My dragon, Usul, allows me to take command of my computer. Usul can transcribe my spoken notes from a voice recorder into a Word document as easily as hearing it through my headset mike.

MS Word also has speech/reading capacity and a voice command capability available. Any good geek—on the Squad or not—can set up that function. A bit of practice gains mastery.

For screenwriting, I use Final Draft, which is easy to learn, reads back text for revision and editing, and has everything needed for the job.

If I’m forced to read actual text, I can set up my computer document for huge font sizes. My fallback setting is 22 pt font—Times New Roman, to be exact. And a good headset with microphone helps keep things under control most of the time. 

Good software helps. As with any disability/handicap/challenge, accepting the need to adapt is the most critical aspect of working with a vision impairment. Understanding what you need, verses what you want, is also key.

For those who are facing a similar challenge or who know someone who faces it, I give these pointers.

  • In order to get the resources–whether visual aids, training, or support—tackle the situation head-on.
  • Diagnosis from a qualified specialist gives you more pertinent information than you might think. You can’t adjust or adapt without that knowledge and support. Once the problem is defined, you can search for necessary resources.
  • Begin with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. The gal to connect in Kalispell is Melissa Leggett: 406-751-5940. She’s in charge of the Division for the Blind for the Kalispell area. She has more resources at her fingertips than you’d ever find on your own.
  • If you need specialized equipment, there are avenues to pursue. Melissa can steer you toward what you need and when/where to lean harder in that direction. Within a year or so, I’ll probably need a large auto reader for print materials. Such readers come in many forms and sizes from desktop to hand-held. I already use a camera reader to enlarge print, for instance. Oh, and plenty of strong handheld magnifiers or lighted headgear.
  • Books, magazines and periodicals are available in audio form through the public library (provided by Library of Congress), Amazon Prime and Audible, and individual publishers.
  • For those online magazines and other reading material, Dragon Naturally speaking can read them for you, if necessary. 
  • The trick is to know when your eyes are being strained too much and when to let go of the physical reading experience. 
  • Organizations, such as Lion’s Club International, are also great resources for exploration. Lions Club chapters dedicate themselves to assisting those in need of dog guides—Leader Dogs for the Blind, specialized equipment too costly for the average person to afford, and other necessities like eyeglasses.
  • Yet, the most helpful and necessary resource is an adequate support structure to help buoy up a person’s spirits or help for navigating the unfamiliar territory of adaptation and growth.

I hope I’ve given those who need it the information to help make informed decisions about dealing with dimming vision. Not all are writers, but everyone is touched by this malady. Globally, blindness is one of the fastest growing challenges today, both economically and medically. Few are left untouched by it.

If anyone needs or wants additional information or questions answered, please feel free to contact me at: ettedualc48@yahoo.com. I’ll be happy to answer what I can or send you to someone who can get the information to you.

Remember, no one is alone. As writers, we care about each other and are here to help whenever possible.

Claudette

http://www.claudettejyoung.com

Resources:

  • Dragon Naturally Speaking can be found on Amazon.com or Nuance.com—Nuance is the software provider of this product
  • Final Draft for screenwriters/playwrights can be had at both Amazon.com and FinalDraft.com
  • Tutorials for Word Speech are available in video form on YouTube or on Lynda.com tutorials
  • Office of Vocational Rehabilitation Kalispell–   

          121 Financial Drive Suite B,  Kalispell, MT 59901, (406) 751-5940                   http://dphhs.mt.gov/detd/vocrehab/mvrservices.aspx

  • Library of Congress Low Vision Reading Program—Imagine If Library – downtown Kalispell or any legitimate library in the county.

Pick a Holiday

By Claudette Young

Everyday is a holiday. Pick one. Now, write about it.Simple task, right? Well, maybe not. Here’s a fun way, though, to pull out of a writing slump and perhaps earn some greenbacks in the process.

Many magazines need and want short pieces written about holidays. Those celebratory days don’t have to match major/national ones. Find something unique, perhaps even about your own town or state, and march words across your page.

Hop over to the Holiday Insights website. Scroll down to whatever month seems promising to you and click on it. How much easier can it get?

Find something fun. For example: Feast of Fabulous Wild Men Day—January 12.

Know any wild men? Now’s your chance to go out and interview a few. Think about it. Get their take on such a holiday (one they probably didn’t know existed).

Invite a few of these men to a pizza joint and watch them celebrate. Ask about why they might think of themselves as wild men. Hey, it’s just a suggestion.

What about April? This month has special month status, honored weekly status, and daily holidays. You could keep writing for a year on this collection if you wanted to spend the time.

Here are a few selected possibilities for April.

  • National Humor Month
  • International Guitar Month
  • National Kite Month
  • National Poetry Month
  • National Pecan Month
  • National Welding Month
  • Stress Awareness Month
  • Sexual Assault Awareness Month

These give a writer both fun and serious possible subjects.

For weekly honors, we have:

  • Week 1 Read a Road Map Week.
  • Week 2 Garden Week
  • Week 3 Organize Your Files Week
  • Week 4 National Karaoke Week

There are a few others, but not nearly as fun.

Daily celebrations run a gamut of subjects and attitudes. But, you get the drift. Every month has a plethora of options fully blossomed and ready for plucking.

So, when you find yourself feeling especially stagnant as a writer or just out of sorts and stuck, pull up this holiday calendar and start arranging a bouquet of short pieces for publication. Heck, you could base an entire blog on this fanciful possibility.

And remember, new holidays are created all the time by someone and that someone could be you.