Writer: Tiffany Whisner, Coles Marketing

Tommy EdisonIt’s the film award season! It’s the time of the year between November and February when most of the important film award ceremonies take place — everything from the Hollywood Film Awards and Golden Globe Awards to the Screen Actors Guild Awards and culminating with the Academy Awards.

The big movie stars parade up and down the red carpet in couture Dior gowns and tailored Armani suits complete with all the glitz and bling your eyes can take in.

But not everyone cares what the film stars look like. Some don’t even care much for what the films look like.

One of those people is Tommy Edison, known as the Blind Film Critic.


Living in a sighted world

Born blind due to an underdeveloped optic nerve, Edison still said his childhood in Connecticut was pretty normal.

Tommy Edison“My parents wanted it to be a normal childhood … well, as normal as it can be for a boy with three sisters,” he laughed.

Two older and one younger sister are all sighted, and Edison said he grew up totally in a sighted world. He walked to mainstream school with his sisters, where a woman came into his classroom and taught him Braille along with transcribing his work.

“I did have to have a thick skin growing up as a kid,” he said. He has that plus a contagious sense of humor so friendly you have to just laugh along with him — a sense of humor he got from his mom.

While the computer and the iPhone have really opened up the world for him today, Edison said years ago he had to have someone read to him or transcribe written material for him.

Learning to focus on other ways he could experience the world, he fell in love with something he could hear — the radio.


Tuning in to new senses

“I was always fascinated by the radio when I was little,” Edison said. “I loved music, and I fell in love with the radio. I also fell in love with the people presenting the music — the DJs. I thought to myself ‘I want to be a DJ on the radio.’” So he began to pursue that dream.

Tommy EdisonHe graduated from the University of Bridgeport in music, dabbling in piano, bass, guitar, harmonica, percussion — and even a bit of singing. But he got some hands-on education about the life of a DJ by hanging around local radio stations and interning there during and after college.

Edison’s first gig was as an overnight DJ at jazz station WKLV-FM, also known as WJAZ or “Jazz 96.7,” in Stamford, Conn. The format eventually changed to oldies, and Edison changed his scenery — making his way to Star 99.9 in Milford, Conn., where he served 19 years as the traffic reporter.

“It was a hard schedule to deal with,” he said. “I would get up at 3:15 a.m., leave for work at 4:30 and then work from 5-9 a.m.” Then he got the chance to go home and catch up on some rest, just to turn back around and work a later shift from 3-7 p.m. And it wasn’t just the schedule that was hard to deal with.

“The radio stations were completely inaccessible for me,” Edison said. “When I started playing records as a DJ, there was absolutely no Braille. The CDs were all along the back wall on a rack, so I had to learn how to count them in a way that worked for me so I knew where each CD would go and what row it belonged in.”

Commercials weren’t labeled, and he had to memorize weather reports. Edison became what he called a “human GPS,” absorbing all the information he could and keeping it all in his head.

“But it was a lot of fun,” he said. “I worked with incredible people, and the listeners were really what made it work — they were just awesome.” Spending nearly 25 years as a radio professional, Edison’s engaging personality came through the radio waves, with an on-air excellence and entertaining demeanor that appealed to a wide demographic of listeners.

What are his favorite tunes and artists of today? “I really love pop music. Like ‘Uptown Funk’ with Bruno Mars, Ariana Grande and Mr. Probz.”

But as much as Edison loves music, that was part of one of his first complaints about films to his friend Ben Churchill.

“I was complaining about films, how the resolution to the story is done with everything but words,” he said. “How dare they? How can they do this to blind people? The ending is all music and visuals, all cinematography.”

He said to Churchill, “Let’s do a movie review from a blind person’s perspective.” So they did — as the Blind Film Critic.

The Blind Film Critic

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If you’re like me, you love the idea of enjoying a nice, home cooked meal.  But when it comes down to the prep work, you’d prefer to just order in.  Though I do enjoy cooking at home, after I battle with the jars and cans, I barely have the energy to cook.  So for today’s post, I decided to share with you some handy gadgets that may simplify the food prep process for you.

3 Kitchen Gadgets

1. Ring Pull Can Opener

People with and without disabilities have often struggled opening cans for decades.  In more recent years, a heftier version of the convenient ring-pull can design (found on your favorite soda can) has been implemented on several canned goods.  Using the standard can opener for me has become close to impossible, so these ring-pull cans, in theory, are more ideal.ring pull can opener 

However, though they may simplify my life in one way by eliminating the use of a can opener, I still struggle lifting the tab and pulling the lid back.  Oftentimes to open these cans, I find myself juggling between forks, butter knives and even my teeth (I know what you’re thinking… Teeth?! YIKES!  I’m not proud of this, and I strongly advise against you ever trying the “teeth method”.)

While browsing the internet this morning, I came across the Ring Pull Can Opener.  This simple and affordable gadget is exactly what I need handy in my kitchen to open ring-pull cans.  It features a non-slip grip handle for added comfort, and will help individuals with arthritis and those without much strength.

2. Beverage Opener

230206_BeverageOpener_250Another affordable gadget that would help open bottles and cans is this Beverage Opener.  This multi-function opener requires little torque to open twist caps, bottle caps or ring tabs.  Because it requires such little torque, this could help individuals with muscle weakness, arthritis and more.  Here is a list of its features:

  • Comfort soft-grip handle
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Non-slip grip teeth

3.  Automatic Jar Opener

Ahh, the opening of glass food jars…  The struggle behind opening jars is real and one that a majority of individuals can relate to.  There are several products on the market to help you get a better grip and loosen the lid, but many still require a good amount of strength.

One of my most favorite gadgets I have is the Black and Decker Lids Off Jar Opener.  There are jar openerseveral foods that I enjoy, but unfortunately many come in glass jars with vacuum-sealed lids.  I used to deliberately avoid buying any of these foods due to the struggle of opening them, but sometimes I just can’t resist a craving for some spicy salsa or spaghetti.  Yum.  I have tried many ways to loosen the seals on these, but often failed.  When I was in college, I remember knocking on doors in my dorm asking someone to open a jar for me.

With the Black and Decker Lids Off Jar Opener, whenever there’s a jar needing opened, I insist on doing it myself.  This automatic Jar Opener is a simple, quick and convenient way to open the tightest of jars.

To operate:

  1. Lift handle
  2. Place jar on turntable
  3. Lower upper portion of appliance to rest on top of jar
  4. Press and hold the large on/off button until the lid is loosened

I have used this jar opener several times and each time I am just as amazed as I was the first time with how well it works.  It adjusts to fit almost any size or shape jars including jars with plastic lids, thin jars, baby food jars, and large jars.




Tech Tip: Accessible PC Programs

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ATFAQ000 – Test and Promo Episode of Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions- Host: Brian Norton

January 20, 2015 Assistive Technology FAQ (ATFAQ) Podcast

Podcast: Play in new window | Download ATFAQ000 – Test and Promo Episode of Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions- Host: Brian Norton Show Notes: Host: Brian Norton Panelist: Wade Wingler Send us your questions!: Listener Line: 317-721-7124 Twitter: use hashtag #atfaq Email: questions@atfaqshow.com

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Pay-it-forward with ‘Be My Eyes’ app

January 20, 2015 Visual

The App Store offers countless apps to get us through both our personal and professional lives.  The possibilities are virtually limitless with the many productivity, social networking, navigation, reference apps (and more!)–all readily available at our fingertips.  However, the Be My Eyes app goes beyond the daily grind, offering users the ability to help others without leaving the comfort of their couch. Oftentimes, daily […]

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Tech Tip: Paprika Recipe Manager App

January 19, 2015 Tech Tips

Last Thursday, we covered the Paprika Recipe Manager app.  For today’s Tech Tip, Ashlee is going to show us around this multi-platform application that can simplify our lives in a myriad of ways.  Check it out!  

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ATU190 – Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP) with John Halloran, Workflow for iOS, Windoweyes 9, Microsoft Office Online Accessibility, Step by Step App with Bridging Apps

January 16, 2015 Assistive Technology Update

Podcast: Play in new window | Download Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs. Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP) with John Halloran – Aacandautism.com | AACApps.com TidBITS: Workflow Is the Next Step […]

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