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First Annual Canine Christmas!

Who doesn’t love to play dress up with their pet? Here’s your opportunity to show off your dog (s) in their finest holiday duds! Oh, and of course, you should come in costume, too, if you want to win big!


The Center for Independence is hosting their 1st Annual Canine Christmas on Saturday December 8th from10am -1pm in the Center’s Gymnasium, located at 740 Gunnison Avenue, Grand Junction.


To enter your pet in the costume contest, arrive by 9:30 a.m. for registration. The costume contest will begin at 10:30 a.m. sharp. A panel of judges selected from members of the community will select winners. Contest categories include Best Costume, Largest Dog, Smallest Dog, Most Creative, and Best Pairing.


Entry fee is $20 which includes 1 Photo with Santa (additional photos $4), 1 Doggy (Goodie) Bag and 2 Tickets for a chance to win a Door Prize. Would you like to enter more than one canine? Each additional canine is $10 (this includes an additional photo with Santa, doggie bag and door prize tickets).


The contest is open to any dog that is well-behaved and up-to-date on vaccinations. Participants must provide proof of current vaccinations at registration.  ALL Canines must be on a leash and kept under control at all times.


Other activities offered for participants and visitors will include lunch at our Chilly Dog Bar ($5 includes lunch combo), face painting for the kids ($1 donation), and shopping for dog beds, leashes and dog treats handmade by members of CFI’s Vocational Program.


To sign up, print and fill out the following forms.

Registration form

Waiver of Liability

We look forward to seeing you and your four-legged friends! See you there with bells on!

CFI is Awarded a Competitive Deaf Services Grant

The Center for Independence is proud to announce that we have been awarded a competitive grant from the Colorado Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCDHH) for $10,000 to expand services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals on the Western Slope.

The CCDHH released a bulletin in November of 2012 (To view the Bulletin click here) stating that in concurrence with the Colorado Department of Human Services vision, they seek to become the nation’s leader in empowering Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals, families and communities to become safe and independent. In keeping with this vision, the CCDHH approved a total funding of $47,847.50 for 6 out of a pool of 20 Colorado applicants competing for grant support.


The Center for Independence will use these funds to expand assistive technology (demonstration equipment) where individuals, especially the hard of hearing, have access to communication at the Center; we will add an AmeriCorps Intern who is American Sign Language (ASL) proficient; we will increase outreach to other counties in our service area with internet-based video relay interpreting; we will offer community and in-house ASL training; and the Center will remain focused on increasing the quality of services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.


We are committed to serving the Grand Valley and the 11 additional counties in our service area. We wish to share out gratitude to the CCDHH for their generosity and willingness to invest in our mission to promote community solutions and to empower individuals with disabilities to live independently.

Center for Independence Bowling League

Bowling is a favorite activity offered through the Center for Independence Recreation Program. Every other Friday, between 15 and 25 people with varying bowling abilities meet at Orchard Mesa Bowling Alley. This group proves that limited strength, mobility, or vision won’t stop a person from enjoying the sport of bowling. In fact, bowling is the perfect opportunity to compete with friends in a fun way.

Center for Independence Bowling League

Friday Afternoon Bowling with the Center for Independence

Bowling is a favorite activity offered through the Center for Independence Recreation Program. Every other Friday, between 15 and 25 people with varying bowling abilities meet at Orchard Mesa Bowling Alley. This group proves that limited strength, mobility, or vision won’t stop a person from enjoying the sport of bowling. In fact, bowling is the perfect opportunity to compete with friends in a fun way.


To start the day off, a few of our bowlers arrive early to help set up any adaptive equipment. This includes putting floor ramps in place so that people in wheel chairs can access the bowling platform and adaptive ball ramps. CFI is blessed with many reliable, caring people who are always willing to help participants pick just the right ball and find the best fitting shoes.  Bowling is also a great way to get exercise, and you can burn up to 115 calories per hour to boot!


Bowling 10-2012


It’s important to remember that Friday’s activity isn’t just about bowling; it’s about the camaraderie we share at the bowling alley. This is a time for friends to get together and to be there to support one another.  Friends call each other when they need a ride to activities; they are willing to meet someone visually impaired as participants get off the bus; they help each other navigate through the busy parking lot to get into the building safely; everyone cheers for each other as the ball finally hits the difficult split resulting in a spare; and as friends, we remind each other that “it’s just a game and you’ll do better next time” when the ball mysteriously rolls into the gutter. Friday bowling = A time for building each other up through shared experiences.

Looking ahead - November 30th is the annual Center for Independence Bowling League Tournament.  The event promises to be an afternoon of competitive fun, prizes and food. Tournament Information will be available in the November calendar. Contact Info for Readers: Pat Garland, Recreation Health and Wellness Program Manager. (970) 241 0315 ext 22.


Get your dog comfortable for the Fall

Dog beds and leashes for sale

New Horizon Vocational Center manufactures dog beds out of fleece blanket scraps and batting that’s also used in sleeping bags.  We have a unique mixture that makes the beds warm and cozy as well as being attractive to the dog’s owners.  They’re available for $10 (small dog) to $40 (Mastiff/Great Dane size). We even have one that’s in Denver Bronco décor (3X size - $50).

Also available are hand-made leashes, 6 – 10 ft. in length.  Or we can make those to order if you want a particular color or length.  Cost:  $5

If you’re interested in purchasing one of our comfy creations or lovely leashes, call the Center at (970)-241-0315, and ask for the Vocational Director. Or you may email us at

We will also have a table at the Art Center’s annual Arts & Crafts Fair, November 16 – 18 at the Art Center, 7th and Orchard.

The Low Vision Program is Growing!

The Low Vision Program continues to grow! The Western Slope Visionaries' group is expanding with nearly 20 members. An offsite group at Mesa View is meeting every two weeks. The LV lab continues to take appointments and home visits continue, as well. For more information regarding this program or to join, please contact Cathy Johnston at 241 0315.

Sculpturing with Michael McCullough

Michael McCullough of Firehouse Sculpture located in Ridgeway will be holding a one-day clay sculpture workshop. This is a great event for people with all types of disabilities to come and try clay sculpturing. This includes but is not limited to physical, visual, hearing and cognitive disabilities, ages 14yrs and older

Michael McCullough of Firehouse Sculpture located in Ridgeway will be holding a one-day clay sculpture workshop.  This is a great event for people with all types of disabilities to come and try clay sculpturing.  This includes but is not limited to physical, visual, hearing and cognitive disabilities, ages 14yrs and older.


This is a two hour workshop, cost is $5.00 per piece and each participant will get 5 pounds of clay (Jolly King plastiline) a 16”X16” piece of plywood to work on.  Participants are encouraged to bring up to three images of what they want to sculpt for reference purposes.  Each artist will receive a certificate of completion and have their picture taken with Michael.


We are also asking for people that would be interested in volunteering as peer support for participants the day of the event.


Michael is offering this workshop as a practice event to promote “Ridgeway Sculpture Contest” June 23 at the Firehouse Gallery in Ridgeway Colorado.  Participants of the CFI practice event are encouraged to attend the contest in Ridgeway where they will be compete in cash prizes up to $1000.00


This practice event made possible by a grant from the City of Grand Junction Commission on Arts and Culture.


Location:        Center for Independence

740 Gunnison Ave

Grand Junction CO

Date:               Saturday May 12, 2012

Time:              1:00 pm – 4:00 pm


For register for the event or for more information contact Pat Garland, Recreation, Health, and Wellness Program Manager @ (970) 241 0315 or

There is a limit of 20 participants so get your RSVP in by Monday May 7th.

Local woman keeps moving, volunteers to help others

As you're getting up and ready for work this morning, it might seem hard to imagine doing things outside of your normal routine. But for some, that routine is done a bit differently, as many really have to push themselves to get around. Reporter: Therese O’Shea Email Address:

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - As you're getting up and ready for work this morning, it might seem hard to imagine doing things outside of your normal routine. But for some, that routine is done a bit differently, as many really have to push themselves to get around.

KKCO 11 News sat down with Jane Newton, a Grand Junction woman who gets around mostly by wheelchair. You might be surprised to find that's not her only means of transportation. She hops from her chair, to her minivan, even to a bike.

“My friends tell me that I’m watched a lot and I don't think about it but because I just go out and do stuff,” says Newton, 56.

To Newton, her chair is definitely not something that holds her back. In fact, her whole life, she's needed that extra support.

"When I was born, I crawled and I stood up and I held on to the furniture and walked I just didn't take steps and I never took steps,” she says.

Originally diagnosed with cerebral palsy, Newton found out at age 45 that she was misdiagnosed at birth.

"And they came up with a spinal cord industry, at least as far as we know. It's a very unique situation; we really don't know why I never walked,” she says.

Nonetheless, she's done more on crutches and in a wheelchair than many can do on their own two legs.

"I learned to ski, I worked at a ski area, and I lived in the mountain,” says Newton.

The single mother just stopped working a year ago.

"I was a recreation coordinator at the Center for Independence. I planned activities, recreational activities for all individuals with disabilities,” she says.

Today, she takes time to slow down, give her body a rest, and continue to make her children proud.

"I guess I’m an example to other people with disabilities that you can do stuff, you just have to be strong and have determination and a positive attitude,” she says.

Newton is currently competing in a nationwide competition to win a fully accessible van that would make getting around that much easier. The contest is run by the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. Newton is competing against about 1100 nationally. She's one of two here on the western slope.

To vote, click here:


This article is from KKCO 11NEWS, All rights reserved

Benefits of Book Club

Members stepping out of their comfort zone through a book club.

After Christmas this year I decided to start a Book Club activity in the Center for Independence Recreation Program. The point of this activity was to get out into the community and have a relaxing afternoon socializing with the amazing people that participate in CFI activities. We have enjoyed connecting at Traders Coffee Shop every other Friday afternoon and discussing our books. Even though the books are a great topic and conversation starter, the real point is to just see each other and visit about life in a calm setting.

One of our members is a young lady whose goal in getting involved was to create connections with others and branch out of her comfort zone in order to make new friendships. This intelligent young lady is an avid reader and was able to connect with another member discussing e-books at our Book Club meetings. Since then the two women have formed an inspiring friendship meeting up outside of CFI activities. They recently spent an independent afternoon together painting pottery at Angelo’s.

As an AmeriCorps intern I am so grateful for having been employed at CFI. The atmosphere is full of supportive, caring, and inspiring people. I am encouraged to use my imagination and come up with as many fun activity ideas as possible. It is a wonderful feeling to see ones ideas flourish into action that can help others to grow.


Shonda L. Sides

Pictures are Priceless

Cost of an afternoon of bowling, $4.50. Doing art at the Art Center, $3.00. Sharing photos and reminiscing about the good times had, priceless. They say a photo is worth a thousand words. We take pictures at almost all of our recreation activities and after just a few months we end up with a lot of photos to sort through. Recently we decided to put these photos to good use and we created photo boards at one of our craft days. The group had a great time cutting and pasting together their favorite memories and friends and reminiscing the whole time. It was a great way for everyone to share with one another the fun times they have had here at the Center for Independence. Please visit our website for all of our upcoming memory making activities, For information about joining the Center for Independence Recreation Program, please call us at 970-241-0315.

It’s working, community jobs can be found!

Last month we described the changes being made to CFI's Vocational program. Well the new hours have proven to be beneficial for all of us. In January we made three placements and we have several more just on the horizon. Some of them are volunteer positions, at least for now. You never know when a volunteer job can turn into a paid position. But the important thing is that people are moving out into the community and making a place for themselves as they become increasingly independent. And in the long run, that’s what we’re all about, isn’t it?

Changes to Social Security

Here is a Fact Sheet put out by the Social Security Administration for the changes to Social Security in 2012. If you have questions about these changes and how they will affect you, please contact Mary Moore at 970-241-0315 x 15.

Fact Sheet

SSA Press Office
440 Altmeyer Building 6401 Security Blvd.
Baltimore, MD 21235 410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973


2012 Social Security Changes Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA): Based on the increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI-W) from the third quarter of 2008 through the third quarter of 2011, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries will receive a 3.6 percent COLA for 2012. Other important 2012 Social Security information is as follows: 2011 2012 Tax Rate: Employee 7.65% * 7.65%* Self-Employed 15.30% * 15.30%* NOTE: The 7.65% tax rate is the combined rate for Social Security and Medicare. The Social Security portion (OASDI) is 6.20% on earnings up to the applicable taxable maximum amount (see below). The Medicare portion (HI) is 1.45% on all earnings. * Section 601 of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 reduced, for wages and salaries paid in calendar year 2011 and self-employment income in calendar year 2011, the OASDI payroll tax by 2 percentage points, applied to the portion of the tax paid by the worker and the self-employed individual. Section 101 of the Temporary Payroll Tax Cut Continuation Act of 2011 extends this reduction of the tax rate through the end of February 2012. (The reduced tax rate for earnings in 2012 applies only to the first $18,350 of a worker’s total wages and self-employment income. The limit of $18,350 is two-twelfths of the $110,100 taxable earnings limit for 2012.) Unless additional legislation is approved, the tax rate will then revert to the unreduced rate. Maximum Taxable Earnings: Social Security (OASDI only) $106,800 $110,100 Medicare (HI only) N o L i m i t Quarter of Coverage:

Earnings needed to earn one $1,120 $1,130 Social Security Credit Retirement Earnings Test Exempt Amounts: Under full retirement age $14,160/yr. $14,640/yr. ($1,180/mo.) ($1,220/mo.)

NOTE: One dollar in benefits will be withheld for every $2 in earnings above the limit.

The year an individual reaches full $37,680/yr. $38,880/yr.

retirement age ($3,140/mo.) ($3,240/mo.)

NOTE: Applies only to earnings for months prior to attaining full retirement age. One dollar in benefits will be withheld for every $3 in earnings above the limit.

There is no limit on earnings beginning the month an individual attains full retirement age.

Social Security Disability Thresholds:

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)

Non-Blind $1,000/mo. $1,010/mo.

Blind $1,640/mo. $1,690/mo.

Trial Work Period (TWP) $ 720/mo. $ 720/mo.

Maximum Social Security Benefit: Worker Retiring at Full Retirement Age:

$2,366/mo. $2,513/mo.

SSI Federal Payment Standard:

Individual $674/mo. $698/mo.

Couple $1,011/mo. $1,048/mo.

SSI Resources Limits:

Individual $2,000 $2,000

Couple $3,000 $3,000

SSI Student Exclusion:

Monthly limit $1,640 $1,700

Annual limit $6,600 $6,840

Estimated Average Monthly Social Security Benefits Payable in January 2012:

Before After

3.6% COLA 3.6% COLA

All Retired Workers $1,186 $1,229

Aged Couple, Both Receiving Benefits $1,925 $1,994

Widowed Mother and Two Children $2,455 $2,543

Aged Widow(er) Alone $1,143 $1,184

Disabled Worker, Spouse and $1,826 $1,892

One or More Children

All Disabled Workers $1,072 $1,111

Housing Authority Wait List Closure

The Grand Junction Housing Authority announces that the Waiting List for the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) Housing Assistance Program will be closed effective March 1, 2012. Applications for the Section 8 program will not be accepted after the close of business (4:00 PM) on February 29, 2012. The Section 8 waiting list will remain closed until the Authority provides a public notice that the list will reopen, approximately October 1, 2012. For more information please call, (970) 245-0388 x0.

New Activities and Classes for February

Check out our new class and activity line up for February, including: exercise classes, shuffleboard, book club, game night, craft and baking activities, swimming, kickball, and more. Click here for our complete schedule of events.

Maintaining Your Independence with Low Vision

Please join us on February 8th from 9am - 2pm for this free seminar. The Center for Independence and the American Council for the Blind of Colorado will have a full day of expert speakers on low vision conditions Dr Diana Reeves of Denver is the keynote speaker along with other speakers and guest. Lunch will be provided but space is limited. Please reserve your spot by calling 1-800-613-2271 or 970-241-0315 or email us at
Maintaining Your Independence with Low Vision

Dr. Diana Reeves

Diana Reeves MD is a diplomat of the American Board of Ophthalmology, highly trained in diagnosing and treating the full spectrum of retinal diseases. She holds an MD degree and a Master in Medical Sciences from Boston University School of Medicine from where she graduated Cum Laude. After years of experience in general surgery, neurosurgery and comprehensive hospital care she completed an ophthalmology residency followed by two consecutive fellowships in medical and surgical retina at Vanderbilt University with the world renowned professor J. Donald M. Gass MD and at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Dr. Reeves has been a clinical instructor and teaching assistant at many academic institutions including : University of Colorado Denver. She is the recipient of many awards and honors including; the best Resident Research Paper (2002), national winner of the Rabb-Venable Ophthalmology Award for Outstanding Research (2001) and the Memorial Achievement Citation from the American Medical Women’s Association (1995).

Screen Readers

Screen readers are software programs that allow blind or visually impaired users to read the text that is displayed on the computer screen with a speech synthesizer.

Screen readers are software programs that allow blind or visually impaired users to read the text that is displayed on the computer screen with a speech synthesizer. A screen reader is the interface between the computer’s operating system, its applications, and the user. The user sends commands by pressing different combinations of keys on the computer keyboard to instruct the speech synthesizer what to say and to speak automatically when changes occur on the computer screen. A command can instruct the synthesizer to read or spell a word, read a line or full screen of text, find a string of text on the screen, announce the location of the computer’s cursor or focused item, and so on. In addition, it allows users to perform more advanced functions, such as locating text displayed in a certain color, reading pre-designated parts of the screen on demand, reading highlighted text, and identifying the active choice in a menu. Users may also use the spell checker in a word processor or read the cells of a spreadsheet with a screen reader.
Screen readers are currently available for use with personal computers running Linux, Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows XP operating systems. Each screen reader incorporates a different command structure, and most support a variety of speech synthesizers. Prices range from $250 to $1,500.
Screen readers are used mainly by people who do not have useful vision to read text on the screen. A screen reader can also be the product of choice for someone with vision that is useful for travel, but not for reading. In the long run, learning to listen to speech output will prove more productive for such individuals than struggling to read text while leaning close to the computer screen.
Here are some questions to ask when purchasing screen readers:
• Is the screen reader compatible with your computer’s operating system?
• Does it work with your braille display?
• Can it read a word, line, and paragraph of text?
• Do its commands conflict with Windows keyboard commands?
• What keystrokes are used for the program’s basic and advanced functions? Are the keystrokes easy to remember? Is it possible to change the key combinations if they conflict with those used by application programs?
• Do you need high-quality speech, which is more expensive, or can you function comfortably and efficiently with lower quality speech?
• Does the synthesizer mispronounce many words? Can you listen to it comfortably for more than 15 minutes without getting a headache?
• Is the synthesizer to be used on one desktop machine or in more than one location? If the synthesizer is to be used in one location, an internal card may be preferable because it does not occupy a computer port.

16 Products in Category

Dolphin Pen
Hal (Professional)
Hal (Standard)
JAWS (Job Access with Speech) for Windows (Professional)
JAWS (Job Access with Speech) for Windows (Standard)
NVDA (Nonvisual Desktop Access)
System Access
System Access Stand-alone Mobile
System Access Surfboard
Window-Eyes Professional

New Year Resolutions

New years bring new changes everywhere you look. Here in the NHVC program we’ve made some changes – New Year Resolutions, if you will. One big change is that the culinary program is being reduced to two days a week. We will now only be serving lunch on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There are a variety of reasons for this change, but one of the main reasons is that we are changing how our program functions. We will be implementing what we’re calling SMARTER goals for each member in vocational training. Each member will have a vocational related goal that will be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, outline the people Responsible for each piece, be Time-framed, explain Expected results, and have a Reward for achievement. We hope that this will enable people to see their progress and move on to greater independence in a shorter period of time. We plan to use the extra, non-lunch, day to work more specifically on these goals. Anyone interested in becoming part of the Vocational group can contact Jana or Tracy at 241-0315 for further information. Anyone interested in eating lunch, you are welcome on Tuesdays or Wednesdays at noon (suggested $2 donation).

Low vision or blindness affects 1 in 28 Americans

Low vision or blindness affects 1 in 28 Americans over the age of 40, and increases significantly with age – especially for people over the age of 65. Today, 6.5 million Americans over the age of 65 have a severe visual impairment, and experts predict that by 2030 the rate of severe vision loss will double along with the country’s aging population…

What is low vision?

Low vision is a term used to describe a level of vision that is 20/70 or worse and cannot be corrected with conventional glasses.  Unlike a person who is blind, a person with low vision has some useful sight. However, low vision usually interferes with the performance of daily activities. A person with low vision may not be able to recognize images from a distance or differentiate colors.

Low vision can occur at any stage of life, although it primarily affects the elderly. Low vision is not a natural part of aging. Most people experience some physiological changes with age (presbyopia) where the need for glasses occurs. These changes usually do not lead to low vision.  People develop low vision because of eye diseases. Common causes particularly in older adults are age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and diabetic retinopathy.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD):   a chronic condition that causes central vision loss.

Symptoms: Straight lines or faces appearing wavy.

Doorways seeming crooked.

Objects appearing smaller or farther away.

Glaucoma: a disease of the eye caused by a gradual degeneration of the cells in the optic nerve. It increases the pressure inside the eye that causes damage.

Symptoms: Narrowing field of vision starting at the periphery.

Intraocular pressure.

Optic disk cupping.

Diabetic Retinopathy: a visual disorder associated with diabetes that causes retinal blood vessels to leak into the retina causing macular edema.

Symptoms: Blurring of vision.

Cloudy vision.

Blind spots.


Some risk factors are but aren’t limited to; high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and smoking, just to name a few. Location is also a factor in risk. Higher altitude with less atmospheric cover causes eye problems. Sunglasses are always recommended.

The information is endless and knowledge is power. To learn more, attend a free seminar “ Maintaining Your Independence with Low Vision” on Wednesday, February 8th, 2012, from 9 – 2 at the Center for Independence 740 Gunnison Avenue, Grand Junction. Experts in the field of eye care and treatment will be presenting on several topics. Please call 241-0315 to reserve your seat at the seminar. For more information, call 241-0315, 1-800-613-2271, or

Low Vision Gearing Up

Hope your Holidays were the best ever! The Low Vision group (Western Slope Visionaries) continues to grow and prosper. This past Holiday was very busy for the group...

Hope your Holidays were the best ever! The Low Vision group (Western Slope Visionaries) continues to grow and prosper. This past Holiday was very busy for the group. We had Steve Davis, one of own members teach the group how to fold paper money to allow us to differentiate between the denominations, very helpful! Our annual Christmas Party was once again hosted by Carl and Sandy Hyde at their home. Thanks so much Sandy and Carl, great fun was had by all!! John, CFI's Tech Specialist gave interesting and useful Tech Tips to the group. We took a break between Christmas and New Years but are gearing up for more fun and education upcoming in the New Year! Please contact Cathy at 214-3015 for information about this support group and to find out how to join.

Hello lovely: A blind geek's first impressions of Siri

New amazing tech from Apple, helps those who have visual imparements use the phone in a diferent way.

Posted in Sandi's blog on 20 October 2011 | 5 Comments

Today's blog is sponsored by Siri. Well, not really, but im using Siri to write it.

For those of you who are not total geeks like me, Siri is the new voice recognition software that comes pre-installed on the new iPhone 4S. For those of you who use Dragon or Dictate, you will be pretty familiar with how Siri works, as it would appear that Siri is using the same system.

Although I have the Dictate App on both my iPhone and iPad, and the DragonDictate software on my Mac, I have not really started using it for writing. I don't really know why, because the software is excellent and I am always amazed at how well it renders my waffle. Conversely with Siri, I am finding that I want to use it quite a lot, not only because it listens to me and obeys me, but because it is just so darn convenient. It is so well integrated into the iPhone 4S that it's almost impossible not to use it, as it is readily available within the keyboard as an alternative to typing.

In addition, and probably more importantly, Siri is the first mainstream implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) I have seen that is anywhere close to what I would hope it to be. I know that it's early days, but I wanted to write whilst Siri and I are still in our honeymoon period.

I clapped hands on my new phone last Friday and I have been exploring and enjoying all of the new features, but I keep on coming back to playing with Siri. It is a vast improvement on the voice recognition that was on my old iPhone 3GS. I remember trying to call my friend David and having it ask me if I wanted to listen to Miles Davis. Siri is light years ahead, and although it is far from perfect, I am hoping that this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

A bit of a disclaimer for fanboys and pedants - this is not a full scale review or a critique of the software, as this blog post is also serving as a little experiment: I want to find out if I can write a full blog using Siri without having to edit it by hand, apart from the occasional mistake. Even artificially intelligent beings make mistakes! So, what is it that is making me love this little being so much?

Well, in no particular order these are the things that Siri has been able to do for me completely hands-free, i.e. using voice activation only;

  • Told me what time it was in various locations around the world.
  • Let me know what the weather was at my current location.
  • Allowed me to identify members of my family and associate these relationships with my existing contacts.
  • Sent quite a few text messages to unsuspecting recipients.
  • Sent emails to several other people.
  • Searched for some pretty random things on the web.
  • Told me whether I was busy or free on different dates, and,
  • Set up several meetings and appointments in my calendar.

I was pretty excited when I saw a demo of Siri a little while ago, where folk were booking restaurants and hair appointments willy nilly. Unfortunately Siri does not have a database of businesses in the UK, so this highly publicised and anticipated feature is only available in the US right now. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

I have heard various different reports about whether or not Siri is accurate enough to be a substitute for typing, and I expect that for visual users this first iteration may not necessarily be up to scratch, but for this visually impaired girl it is an absolute godsend. I expect that for some blind folk and other people in general, there will definitely be a learning curve in terms of how to use voice activation, but as I'm already a DragonDictate user there is no learning curve for me. I know that Apple has not stated publicly that Siri is using the DragonDictate software, but what was a mere suspicion at the beginning of writing this blog has turned into a fairly confirmed opinion.

So to summarise - as an initial view I would say that I'm pretty happy with Siri, but it's a new toy and I'm having fun using it. However, what I have also found in writing this blog is that the same things that irk me about using DragonDictate are starting to irk me when using Siri, so only time will tell.


Dress for Success

The Center for Independence Vocation Program has been the recipient of donations from the Men’s Wearhouse Suit Drives for the last couple of years. They not only donate their gently used suits to us, they have also given us new dress shirts and ties to go with the suits. These donations are going to our clients who are job-seeking and want to look their best for interviews, or who need them for employment. We want to thank Men’s Wearhouse for their generosity and their support of individuals looking for work in this difficult economy. If you are looking for employment and need a suit, shirt, or tie for an interview or new job, please contact Jana Hill at 241-0315- x 19.
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