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This is Rachael Trinkowsky from the Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches. I oversee the technology and vocational programs for the Lighthouse and we serve Palm Beach, Martin, Okeechobee, Indian River and St. Lucie counties. I would like to thank Eric for starting this Wiki and also for bringing us all together.

While completing my Masters Degree at the University of Florida in Rehabilitation Counseling, I became friends with a fellow student who was blind and assisted him as a reader/tutor. I quickly became fascinated with all of the different technology that he was using. When it came time to apply for my internship, I followed his suggestion to apply for an internship with the Division of Blind Services. Prior to completing my internship, I was hired on at the Bradenton DBS office. I started working as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for DBS in 1999 and fell in love with the level of independence and freedom that assistive technology brings to people with visual impairments. I participated as the representing VR counselor for DBS in an assistive technology focus group, whose purpose it was to recommend statewide standards for the provision of assistive technology training for people with visual impairments in Florida.

In 2003, I started working for the Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches and I have been working in the assistive technology industry since then. During this time period, I completed an Educational Specialist Degree from Nova Southeastern University in Computing Technology in Education and I am currently working on my doctorate degree. My dissertation topic deals with accessibility in online learning environments.

I am looking forward to working with everyone!

Hello Everyone,
My name is Peter Bianchi, a homegrown true Floridian.
My story could be a long one, so I'll keep it short and start after I finished at Florida Community College (Now FSCJ) with my A.A. Graduated from FSU with B.S. in Education and then another B.S. from Jacksonvile University in Computer Science. That took me on a 17 year career tour working for the state in Tallahassee starting with the Supreme Court and ending with FSU.
I returned to Jacksonville to work for Bank of America as a Service Delivery Consultant for nearly 5 years leading to a RIWF. So, I'm full circle back at FSCJ with ILAB as a Assistive Technology Consultant.
(Whew!) Somewhere in there I managed to get my MCSE, CNA and CompTIA A+ certifications.
Being leaglly blind all my life does have its challenges, howeverr, with the technology available its made it possiable to continue to be ative in the profession I started in some 27 years ago.
That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Hello from Jacksonville by Peter BianchiPeter Bianchi, 26 Apr 2012 14:14

It sure is a challenge. Skype is a wonderful thing. Especially for transportation challenged to help them participate in sessions.

Re: Paratransit / STS by elizabeth bowdenelizabeth bowden, 25 Apr 2012 12:42

Hello Everyone!
I would like to introduce myself to those of you I have not met, and for those I have met, perhaps tell you a little more about how I ended up where I am today.

My name is Eric Barrette, I am 30, and have been working for the Lighthouse of Broward for the past 4 years. I have loved computers since my dad brought one home when I was about 5 years old. It was a top of the line Blue Chip running MS-DOS, 512k of memory, and a dual sided 5.25 inch disk drive. Even came with a snazzy dot matrix printer! Back then my vision wasn't terrible at about 20/50 corrected acuity.

Skip ahead a few years and after graduating high school, I attended New England Institute of Technology, where I earned my A.A.S. in Computer Servicing and Networking. Around this time I noticed it more difficult to read highway signs while driving. After some tests I was told I had cone/rod dystrophy and would eventually lose more sight. My vision at that time was 20/400. No more driving, and I moved to Largo, Florida with my parents.

It took some time to wrap my head around the idea of vision loss. I was unaware of serviices to help. But since I'm a techie guy, I turned to Google for information. After about a year I returned to school with a new goal, and help from Pinellas DBS. I got my A.A. in education from St. Pete College, and my B.S. in visual disabilities at Florida State University's Satellite campus in St. Pete. My student teaching took me to Austin, TX at the Texas School for the Blind. What an experience that was! I moved to Fort Lauderdale and took a position with the Lighthouse of Broward in 2008 as an Assistive Technology Specialist and have loved it ever since. Thankfully, my vision has not changed over the past few years. I am now pursuing my master's degree in visual disabilities at Florida State online.

I use screen magnification myself, using whatever is installed on the computer I'm using. I use a desktop CCTV for books, and a handheld CCTV to spot check things like serial numbers on laptops.

On a personal note, I am happily married to my lovely wife, Christine for 3 years.

Well that's my story in a nutshell! It is my hope that you can share your stories as well.

Anyone have any good paratransit stories? I swear sometimes transportation lacks common sense so much we could write a book!

Paratransit / STS by Eric BarretteEric Barrette, 09 Apr 2012 01:18

Google's Self-Driving Car Takes Blind Man for a Ride

While most of us can just dream about it, one lucky California man recently got the chance to sit behind the wheel of Google's revolutionary self-driving car.


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