It has been a long time. Much has happened (good things!). I have grown. My writing has changed. My location has too. But I am sure my 16-year-old-self would easily recognize and relate to my 19-year-old self; that is because at the heart of it, I have still remained me.
“They say that in the Army the coffee’s mighty fine
It looks like muddy water and tastes like turpentine
Oh Lord, I wanna go
But they won’t let me go
Oh Lord, I wanna go hoo-hoo-hoooome EH!”
These were the lyrics echoing in the bus carrying the 16 of us in Team Isidis to the activity area. Following the lead of a Space Camp instructor, we all sang in unison words that made little sense yet were comically captivating. But the bus was not adrift; it was taking us someplace where we would test ourselves and overcome our fears. At Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students, as much as we worked on mission stimulations, learnt about space history, and underwent astronaut training, a huge part of the week in space was to create an environment where everyone was encouraged to dare to exceeed their own expectations. One way in which that manifested were the high rope elements: to zipline, we had to climb walls, and to glide in the skies, we had to ascend a pamper pole.
Continue reading “At Space Camp – Seeking Out Sightless Astronomy in Alabama Pt. 3”
Well-rested and bubbling with excitement, we freshened up, descended the stairs, hunted for and joint our respective teams, and got ready for Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students 2018. At this point, I find it essential to give you a rundown of the structure of the teams, programs and activities at SCIVIS. 179 blind and visually impaired kids from 12 countries, most of whom had been accompanied by a chaperon (not me though, I go solo), were enrolled in programs such as Space Academy, Robotics, Aviation Challenge, and Advanced Space Academy and were sorted into teams of 15 students at an average. Teams at SCIVIS 2018 included Aries, Andromeda, Deimos, Elysium and many more and each team was led by one day trainer and another night trainer. As for me, I was part of Team Isidis in the Advanced Space Academy with my two trainers being… Live-In-The-Moment and Larry Page, shall we call them? (Coming up with veiling yet meaningful aliases is harder than I originally thought.) Just to be clear, Isidis is not a word in some alien language, but an actual name of a plain on Mars.
Continue reading “At Space Camp – Seeking Out Sightless Astronomy in Alabama Pt. 2”
On September 27, I embarked on my second voyage to the United States (happy belated Columbus Day, American mates!); to the Southern city of Huntsville, Alabama to participate in a weeklong event known as Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students (hereinafter referred to simply as SCIVIS or Space Camp). In my “week in space”, I transformed from my geeky quiet self to a jokey extrovert, went from 179 strangers as fellow participants to 15 close teammates and several other great acquaintances, travelled without a chaperon but returned with a bunch of kind, caring and gifted teachers of the visually impaired who viewed me as their own student, and lived some days of my life so fun-filled, informative, and cherishable that the nostalgia of the experience will forever remain.
Continue reading “At Space Camp – Seeking Out Sightless Astronomy in Alabama Pt. 1”
From July 28 to August 10, I was in the United States of America – spent a week attending the Cornell International Summer Debate Camp and another in Cambridge, Massachusetts. During this trip, I reconnoitred three world-renowned universities (Cornell, MIT and Harvard), stayed in three American cities (Ithaca, Syracuse and Cambridge), and developed my argumentation, daily living and social skills. There were too many noteworthy experiences that I had in the USA to recount, but I hope to sketch some of them in subsequent blog posts if time and circumstance permit. Having said that, the biggest highlights of my travels were not so much the experiences but more so the diversity of people I met and the stimulating conversations I had with a number of them. These are the individuals whose stories fascinated me, intrigued me, inspired me. These are the folks whom I would like to (anonymously) introduce to you.
Continue reading “In The USA – The People I Met”
Months have gone by without a post from me. The single source for me to flaunt my affinity for and amity with big words (or bombastic vocabulary as some call them), i.e. this blog, has remained relatively soundless in recent times. The sole platform for me to overthink about otherworldly hypotheses, ramble incoherently on topics that catch my attention momentarily, and sometimes educate about assistive technologies, has remained unusually inactive lately. My go-to place for composing a post or even a poem if only to practise my language has seen me treat it rather negligently this year.
Continue reading “What I’ve Been Up To Of Late – Halfway Through 2018”
I was born the ordinary baby,
Always the centre of attention,
Adoring, endearing and bubbly,
Always enveloped in affection.
An active and perky 3-year-old,
As buzzing as a bee,
The fireman in the play, the overenthusiastic toddler,
Is who I came to be.
But time is erratic and volatile,
You never know what life has in store,
The future is inherently uncertain,
But how would this 6-year-old know?
Continue reading “Poem – How Would This Blind Child Know?”
An enormously significant yet lesser known part of my life is public speaking. Even when I was sighted (which I was till my fifth grade), I was always the narrator in the play. I steadily progressed from intra-school elocution to that at the inter-school level – I vividly remember reciting the humourous Hindi poem “Kya Hamare Purvaj Bandar The?” (Were Our Ancestors Monkeys? To the encouraging but authentic laughter of the audience. After this short-lived fourth grade thrill of obtaining new poise and tasting the sweetness of speech-making success for the very first time, The speaker inside me was compelled to remain dormant for three long years.
Continue reading “Inclusion, Public Speaking & Alan Turing”
Everyone knows Santa – the iconic figure that is pervasive in Christmas culture, the jovial fellow who animates the imagination of young children around the world, and the portly chap who, with the help of his Missis, elves and reindeers, never fails to distribute delightful gifts to all the nice and well-behaved kids on the planet. Since I enjoy overthinking and cerebrating everything, I reckoned it might be amusing to make an outlandish hypothesis and analyse all its objective implications. What if Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas, whatever you prefer to call him, suddenly went blind? Would he be able to continue fulfilling his annual promised of delivering presents to the nearly billion children (U-10) keenly awaiting him? Let us take a look.
Continue reading “What If Santa Claus Suddenly Went Blind?”
Before reading on, please read Part 1 and Part 2 of the Story of My Life series.
The 11-year-old me continued tinkering with the buttons on the keyboard, depressing the keys only to perceive the stubborn thing instantaneously coming back up, ready to input a new character into the text document on the computer. Despite my friskiness as a child, I was always solemn when the 1 minute typing speed tests on the Talking Typing Teacher culminated, earnest to know whether or not I had managed to up my previous typing speed record by at least a few WPM (Words Per Minute). For many happy days, I was allowed to derive pride and pleasure in simply polishing and ameliorating my typing skills.
Continue reading “(3) Relearning The Computer The Sightless Way”
Before reading on, please read Part 0 and Part 1 of The GitHub Games series.
Assuming you have successfully signed up to GitHub as illustratively instructed in the first part of this blog post series, you are now all armed and equipped to venture into the GitHub ground to do whatever your heart desires. Just a few of the actions you can perform on GitHub include forking a repository, submitting your own code to a project via a pull request, and accepting community code contributions if you are a project maintainer yourself.
Continue reading “The GitHub Games Pt. 2 – Filing Your First Ticket”
Before reading on, please read Part 0 of The GitHub Games series.
By convention, to attain full access to any service, organization or other group, an individual or body needs to get officially registered. This norm is no different for an Internet-based community like GitHub. Therefore, as the title implies, this post shall be dealing with the process of account creation on GitHub.
Continue reading “The GitHub Games Pt. 1 – Creating A New Account”
Longg long ago (nine and a half years ago, to be precise), three lads by the name of Tom, Chris and PJ launched a web-based source code hosting and management service called GitHub. But three years before they did this, Linus Torvalds, the same guy who created the open source Linux operating system, developed a version control system called Git. What is GitHub, what is Git, how are they interconnected, what is a version control system, what does source code hosting and management mean, etc. – these are probably the questions nagging you as you read this bombastic beginning to a blog post. While the intent of this series of posts is not to individually take up all of these terms and extensively explicate them, I do believe that answering some of them to some extent from the get-go will be of use in bettering our basic understanding of everything else that will be going on shortly.
Continue reading “The GitHub Games Pt. 0 – Background, Introduction and Series Overview”
Frequent visitors of Hiking Across Horizons will tell you that I am a passionate proponent of the free, open source and community-driven NVDA screen reader. My ardour towards this software can be perceived via my past writings on the subject – The Non Visual Desktop Access Movement and Will VFO Acquire NV Access?. Both these have been lengthy discourses and intellectual theories with reference to NVDA’s present and future, but I have never done a user-oriented post sharing some essential but seldom discussed tips and tricks with regards to NVDA. That, my friends, is what this post shall be devoted to.
Continue reading “Top 5 NVDA Tips and Tricks You Need To Know”
Before reading on, please read Part 1 of the How I Access Android series.
In a century where the Smartphone is taking every aspect of our lives by storm, where Android, a mobile OS, has overtaken Windows, a Desktop OS, in terms of Internet usage, where mobile apps amount to a $50 billion market worldwide, it is inevitable that everyone must eventually catch on to this rapid digital transition. Android has the lion’s share when it comes to the Smartphone user base, and the statistical facts that there exist more than 2 billion devices powered by Android and close to 3 million apps for the platform testifies that. But are visually impaired people just able to make basic phone calls, send and receive SMS, and probably use Whatsapp as well on a rudimentary Smartphone, or can they truly partake in this global shift? More specifically, can Google Talkback users utilize the various kinds of smart devices Android fuels, the millions of diverse apps on the Play Store, and the essentials to the cutting-edge of the mobile world?
Continue reading “How I Access Android – The Apps & Accessories Pt. 2”
If you fail to recognize the gravity of the presented question, or do not know what VFO or NV Access is in the very first place, worry not, as an elucidated background, plus a comprehensive answer to the presented question, along with an illustrative situational example – all are in order.
Continue reading “Will VFO Acquire NV Access?”
‘Do blind people have a sixth sense’ is the million dollar question which is to serve as the central subject for this post. The problem however here is not the original enigma, but the far-fetched speculations and self-proclaimed assumptions that the sighted community tends to declare so confidently with reference to the sixth sense.
Continue reading “Do I have A Sixth Sense?”
Being in the tenth grade at present, a crucial year in Indian schooling, I had self-pledged to minimize all co-scholastic, extra-curricular and non-academic activities. Unfortunately however, I have alternatively been spending time proliferating my online activity and streaming YouTube videos and what not, resultantly still somewhat evading academics. But chancing upon a few YouTube videos interviewing teenage entrepreneurial millionaires is what has reinvigorated my thought processes by introducing me to the startup ecosystem in India and the world over, entrepreneurship possibilities and success stories as youngsters, and the concept that every big idea sprouts through the execution of a random brainwave.
Continue reading “Today’s Entreprenurial Youth”
It was merely one of those unimportant non-academic subject activities that was assigned to us ninth graders last year. My fellow classmates had to create visually appealing and meaningful posters and banners to celebrate the heroic metal which our Indian soldiers portray in every act of theirs, and my alternative was a textual letter/address pertaining to the same.
Continue reading “My Letter to The Indian Soldier”
Before reading on, please read Part 1 of the Story of My Life series.
That meeting with XRCVC culminated into a merely cheerier me, but more than that, a set of revitalized mother and father. I unmistakably remember the last exchange of that day too. “What shall be the fees for the training?” my father had asked. The candid reply from Mrs. Neha Trivedi, the Project Counsellor of XRCVC, had been that the training fees would be ‘guaranteeing Bhavya’s independence’.
Continue reading “(2) Kickstarting With The Keyboard”
People find it immensely startling and utterly groundbreaking to learn that blind people use computers – ‘normal’ mainstream Desktops or laptops with a standard physical keyboard with no Braille on the screen or on any keys whatsoever and apparently pretty similar to what the average non-disabled individual is seen using. However, what they refuse to comprehend is the fact that I do not rely on a Nokia 3350 Symbian device, but a ‘normal’ modern Touch Screen Smartphone –Motorola M in my case.
Continue reading “How I Access Android – The Fundamentals Pt. 1”
By definition, MUN (short for Model United Nations) is an educationally riveting stimulation of the United Nations – its Security Council and General Assembly committees, affiliated specialized agencies such as the World Health Organisation and the International Atomic Energy Agency, and often like-minded diplomatic forums such as the Indian Parliament, International Criminal Police Organisation and others being featured. Umm, okay, you can’t really call Lok Sabha (the House of People in the Indian Parliament) too diplomatic with its infamous chair-throwing records, but no matter, no matter…
Continue reading “What Model United Nations Actually Is”
Close to four years ago, as a result of periodic retinal detachments in both eyes, my remaining vision was at a critical stage, whose usefulness was next to negligible. Although in a matter of a few more months, when my camera lens diffused with thoroughness, even at that time, I was compelled to abandon all pointless efforts to continue writing on a hard-copy notebook in almost illegible handwriting, and dismiss attempts of persisting with mainstream ways of note-taking. For the majority of the second term of my fifth grade, my education took place very precariously and unsystematically, using oral means to access notes and textbooks, relying on friends and family to Xerox or copy classwork, and taking examinations with particularly experimental scribes.
Continue reading “(1) Getting Back On Track”
Technology can create a ripple effect of a phenomenal magnitude, often rendering man with access to realms unexplored. An assistive technology called NVDA, which makes on-screen content accessible for vision-impaired computer users by providing speech or Braille feedback for the same, has significantly improved tens of thousands of lives over the world. To shed light upon the extensive chain of audiences that take part in furthering this non visual access movement, the following would be the most befitting piece:
My name is Bhavya, and I am an ordinary but overambitious, commonplace but convoluted, regular but rebellious kid from India. I started rambling on the Internet when I was 11, created this blog when I was 14, shared it with the world when I was 15, and am presently a couple months away from turning 17. Since you have serendipitously chanced upon this minute corner of the World Wide Web, you might as well learn a little bit about the being behind the babbles on this blog, about me.
Continue reading “It’s Me – An Introduction”