Buddy’s Frequently Given Answers

Following is a list of my current most frequently given answers. The questions are left as an exercise for the reader.

1) About 2.5 years.
2) He’ll be five n June.
3) Leno.
4) He’s a lab.
5) About four months, after a family raises him and does house training and socializing and that sort of thing.
6) Only on [current day of the week].
7) No, he’s on a strict diet.
8) No, not right now.
8) [Alternative]: Sure, if he stays put.
9) He failed reading class.
10) Really, he’ll figure it out, hang on a minute.
11) Hard to say, but my last two worked about 6.5 years. Sometimes they retire for health reasons, or because they don’t want to do the job anymore, or whatever.
12) He’s my third.

I think that about covers it…

Thoughts On Technology and Artificial Sight

Today, in reading through one of the far too many Email lists I’m on, I saw this article posted. I read it with some interest. I mean, it’s technology. It’s electronic. The future is now. Right? We’re living science fiction today. OK, you get the idea. Then, I read this one-line response to the article. It said, and this is a direct quote, “No thanks.”

No thanks?

No elaboration?

OK, we’re all entitled to an opinion, and, like myself, I’m sure the poster of this particular opinion is an expert on her opinion. But the inevitable question, in my mind anyway, is “Why not?” To flesh that out a bit more, I’d ask, and in fact, did ask, this way:

Why not? I think it’s possible that such sensory substitution could be useful some day. I also feel fairly confident that such sensory substitution won’t replace sight or turn blind people into sighted people. If such technology could be developed and implemented such that adjustment to it would be fairly straightforward and take relatively little time from our otherwise productive and busy lives, what objection do you have?

Hearing none, apart from “Everything else works fine”, this time paraphrasing, plus another pointing out that such a lot of noise or music for everything we “saw” would be distracting and bothersome, I asked:

By way of playing devil’s advocate, no one says that it has to be sound substitution that’s used in some eventually useful device, as opposed to something that’s merely a proof of concept. For instance, there’s the thing that projects images onto the tongue. This would not be my preferred medium, as I flap my gums too much to want anything to interfere with that. Still, nothing says that the sensory substitution has to be sound, or for that matter, has to be in any way connected to the ears. It could be sound via bone conduction like the Aftershokz headphones, for instance. Maybe someone will do something useful with the Flanagan Neurophone. What do I know? I’m just saying I think it’s a mistake to dismiss any such developments out of hand. Besides, nothing says one would have to use something like this all the time, nor that alternative techniques of blindness will overnight become obsolete or lose their effectiveness. But if at some later date such a technology could be implemented such that it is useful in whatever circumstance, and could be trained with a minimum of interruption to our already busy lives, what’s the objection? Especially f it could be turned off when it is either not useful or distracting in some situation?

People ask me occasionally, as I’m sure someone asks most blind people at least occasionally, if I wouldn’t like to be able to see. When I was a kid, I never gave it much thought, but adults seemed to want this thing for me, so I guess I thought it would be all right, but it was never something I just yearned to have. As I grew up (or grew older, anyway), I had more occasion to think about this and understand what it means. C’mon, let’s face it, when you’re a kid, someone asks you something like that, do you really know what it means? I don’t think I did. The conclusion I came to was, no, I didn’t really have this burning desire or need to be able to see. I now lead a full and productive life. I have a family, a job, fulfilling hobbies, more fulfilling relationships and friendships, in short, all the best things that life has to offer, all the things that really matter. How would sight change these things for me, or make them better? Besides, I’d have all sorts of adjustments to make; no one knows how to see, it’s something you learn as a baby, as a toddler, and as you grow up and integrate this thing into your life. I’d have to learn, not only what things look like, but how to do pretty much everything, from reading to cooking to walking around and not being scared that something is going to hit me. Sure, sometimes being blind is a pain in the ass, but in reality, the only thing that I really wish were different is that it’s a pain not to be able to drive a car. And that’s mostly because driving is so necessary to society. Don’t get me started on what people seem to feel is their God-given right to be out on the road, or on how horribly inadequate public transportation is, or any number of things. But I digress. Anyway, if I were to suddenly get eyesight, this wouldn’t change for me.

When I express such a view to people, I get one of two reactions. Shock that I wouldn’t want such a monumentally wonderful thing as eyesight, or else understanding. Maybe it’s pretend understanding but shock in reality, that might be the third reaction.

So, in a way, I see what the “no thanks” people are saying. But in another way? A couple dozen hours isn’t that much time. So, if some method for some sensory substitution were developed that would minimally impact my life, requiring a minimum of training, and would be actually useful, would I do it? Maybe, I’d have to weigh the benefits versus the cost in time and so on, and also the potential gain in opportunity, knowledge, freedom, and so forth. I certainly wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand, though, because every step leads to other things. Maybe some day we’ll have Geordie’s Star Trek visor, which wouldn’t be a bad thing.

If some such technology became widely available, and useful, and if I could turn it off when it got annoying, I’d probably do it. Heck, I’d probably participate in a research study for such a technology, if only because it would be interesting, and again, if I could turn it off.

Two things that would provide some food for thought if you haven’t read them. One is a factual account, the other is science fiction, and i bring it up only because its portrayal of what adjustment to sight might be like seems unrealistic on several levels. First, the speed at which the adjustment occurs, second, the fixation on Helen Keller and the things the blind character couldn’t do blind but then was expected to pick up sighted. But besides that, they’re really good books.

I’m not going to link to all three books in the trilogy, but if you like the first one, you have to finish the other two also.

Would love your thoughts on this, so keep those cards and letters coming.

Just got this Email, merry Christmas!

Got this the other day and it was too good not to share.

Dear Santa,

How are you? How is Mrs. Claus? I hope everyone, from the reindeer to the elves, is fine. I have been a very good boy this year. I would like an X-Box 360 with Call of Duty IV and an iPhone 4 for Christmas. I hope you remember that come Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas,
Timmy Jones

Dear Timmy,

Thank you for your letter. Mrs. Claus, the reindeer and the elves are all fine and thank you for asking about them. Santa is a little worried all the time you spend playing video games and texting. Santa wouldn’t want you to get fat. Since you have indeed been a good boy, I think I’ll bring you something you can go outside and play with.

Merry Christmas,
Santa Claus


Mr. Claus,

Seeing that I have fulfilled the “naughty vs. nice” contract, set by you I might add, I feel confident that you can see your way clear to granting me what I have asked for. I certainly wouldn’t want to turn this joyous season into one of litigation. Also, don’t you think that a jibe at my weight coming from an overweight man who goes out once a year is a bit trite?

Tim Jones


Mr. Jones,

While I have acknowledged you have met the “nice” criteria, need I remind you that your Christmas list is a request and in no way is it a guarantee of services provided. Should you wish to pursue legal action, well that is your right. Please know, however, that my attorneys have been on retainer ever since the Burgermeister Meisterburger incident and will be more than happy to take you on in open court. Additionally, the exercise I alluded to will not only improve your health, but also improve you social skills and potentially help clear up a complexion that looks like the bottom of the Burger King fry bin most days.

Very Truly Yours,
S Claus


Now look here Fat Man,

I told you what I want and I expect you to bring it. I was attempting to be polite about this but you brought my looks and my friends into this. Now you just be disrespecting me. I’m about to tweet my boys and we’re gonna be waiting for your fat ass and I’m taking my game console, my game, my phone, and whatever else I want. WHAT EVER I WANT, MAN!



Listen Pizza Face,

Seriously??? You think a dude that breaks into every house in the world on
one night and never gets caught sweats a skinny g-banger wannabe? “He sees
you when you’re sleeping; He knows when you’re awake”. Sound familiar, genius? You know what kind of resources I have at my disposal. I got your sh*t wired, Jack. I go all around the world and see ways to hurt people that if I described them right now, you’d throw up your Totino’s pizza roll all over the carpet of your mom’s basement. You’re not getting what you asked for, but I’m still stopping by your crib to stomp a mud hole in you’re a** and then walk it dry. Chew on that, Petunia.

S Clizzy

Dear Santa,

Bring me whatever you see fit. I’ll appreciate anything.




That’s what I thought, you little bastard.

Santa —

For the Victims Of the School Shooting last Friday

I don’t use this space so much to promote my Scent-Sations business, and this isn’t so much doing that either, but I’d appreciate it if you’d give this a read.

Scent-Sations has released a memorial candle in memory of those effected by the tragedy in Connecticut this past Friday. All profits from this candle, meaning everything beyond manufacturing costs, go directly to the families. I and other Scent-Sations reps aren’t making a cent from the sale of these candles. Please visit my Scent-Sations page and choose “Shop now”, then “Specialty Collection”. You’ll see the candle listed as “Memorial”, the last one on the page. $25, plus $5.95 flat rate shipping anywhere in the US, $9.95 anywhere in Canada. Shipping flat rate no matter how much you purchase at one time.

One of the things I think is so fantastic about this company is that they donate generously to lots of worthwhile charities and causes, and I can think of none better than this one. Please enjoy a memorial candle and light it in memory of the 20 kids and 6 teachers whose lives were so brutally cut short. And please tell your friends. Thank you.

In part, here is the Email from the president of the company about this candle:

We have a very special announcement for you today. Please read this entire email!
As you most likely know, Scent-Sations has been donating significant sums of money to various charities over the years. These include Childrens Miracle Network, Make A Wish Foundation, Susan G. Komen For The Cure as well as various military organizations and families.
Our ability to make a difference and donate to various organizations could not happen without all of you.
We are asking for your help once again.
The terrible, senseless tragedy involving the mass murder of both children and adults in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday stunned the nation. Every parent and grandparent, aunt and uncle, brother and sister watched the news in disbelief. The act of a lone, deranged individual turned a tranquil elementary school into a scene out of a horror movie.
This has caused Scent-Sations to once again rise to the occasion and do our best with your help to make a difference.
Over the last few days, we have been working with our suppliers, our printer and several organizations that have been created in Connecticut to make a positive difference through massive action. With your help, we can be a beacon of (candle!) light and hope to those affected.
Starting today we are selling a special “In Memory Of candle to honor the memory of those who had their lives came to an abrupt and tragic end last Friday, December 14, 2012. This 16oz Limited Edition Jar candle shown below features white wax, a spring floral scent and a special label created by Lowell, our printer to honor the victims. The image on the label gives me chills, and I’m sure it will also make an impression on you. The tagline “A brief time in our arms…Forever in our hearts” is a powerful reminder of just how fragile life can be. It chokes me up just thinking about it…but we just don’t have to think about it – we can all DO something about it!
All proceeds will be donated to the families of those affected. Price of the candle is $24.95 and shipping is a flat $5.95 (US) or $9.95 (Canada) regardless of quantity ordered. Note that there is NO commissionable value on this product and NO retail profits since we are donating ALL the profits and just covering our manufacturing costs. Help us get the word out so we can all work to make a difference. This candle is on sale as of today – Wednesday, December 19, 2012. A nationwide press release will be going out tomorrow.
Here it is…
Memorial Candle

Let us never forget the innocence of the children and the bravery of the adults who gave their lives to protect the children as best they could.
Please get the word out to everyone you know, both online and offline and ask them to help us support those affected by this heinous act of random evil.
To all of you in the Scent-Sations family, we wish you peace and comfort during these trying times. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims, their families, relatives and friends.
All the best to you and yours,
The entire staff of Scent-Sations, Inc.
Bobby, Charlie, Carmen & Lynn
Customer Service / Information Technology Shipping / Manufacturing
Robert Scocozzo
Mia Bella Gourmet Products

An Idea For the 2012 FDIM Buildathon

Hi y’all,

I just received the following Email from Wayne, N6KR, at Elecraft. FDIM stands for “Four Days In May”, a sort of convention within the Dayton Hamvention, sponsored by QRP International. The Buildathon is an event where a bunch of people get together and build a kit from a bunch of parts. What Wayne suggests here is very exciting. Speaking as a long-time blind ham, I for one would be very excited to be able to build something and take part in an aspect of the hobby that I have to this point not been able to enjoy.

I can already see some objections by some blind hams to some of the stipulations Wayne has listed. I would be interested, personally, in your thoughts on this. I, for one, am totally in.

Here’s Wayne’s Email, which I was copied on:

Hi Ken,

Hope things are going well for you this year. I’m really busy with the KX3 and other products, as you can imagine.

We have a number of blind customers using K3s, etc. I was discussing with one of them (Buddy, copied on this) the fact that there are no radio or electronic kits (that we know of) that could be constructed entirely by a blind hobbyist. I then mentioned that I’d think about how to do this 🙂

Then I realized this would be a novel theme for the FDIM building contest in 2012, assuming it hasn’t already been tried. It would be a challenge for both the kit designers and target builders. For best results, they’d need to work together.

The most important thing about such a kit is the sense of empowerment it would provide the blind builder. From all my conversations with blind hams, it’s clear they feel left out being unable to participate in some basic hands-on aspect of the hobby. I’m sure that’s true of would-be blind builders in other genres as well. (Buddy may have thoughts on this.)

Even a simple kit would be a challenge. Here are some potential constraints (again, Buddy will know better than I):

– probably no soldering (safety concern)
– suggest twisting component leads, or use spring terminals
– no high voltages
– all components that have the same size/shape must be carefully tagged or bagged
or have a tactile label
– all components with more than two leads (e.g., a transistor) must have
an asymmetrical package so leads can be clearly identified; better yet,
one lead can be extended beyond the others
– no use of color codes (obvious!)
– nothing sharper than a component lead
– hardware should be large (#4 or larger)
– if a PCB or other substrate is provided, it should be asymmetrical or have
tactile guides
– if knobs are used, they should have tactile pointers
– manual either in Braille or in accessible electronic format (use with a PC screen reader)

With care, one could build a simple transceiver that satisfies all of these constraints.

Anyone entering such a kit into the contest should pair up with a blind builder — or try building it blindfolded — to prove that it works.

Any interest in this idea?


Kapten Plus: Preliminary Thoughts

Hi y’all,

I’m sure that some of y’all can probably correct some initial misconceptions if they exist, but here are my preliminary impressions of Kapten Plus.

1) Size: Wow, this thing really is tiny! And, for its size, the speaker really isn’t bad. I want to try it in noisy traffic situations, but I don’t anticipate it being a problem. It clips nicely to the GPS’ lanyard as someone here suggests, lose to your ears, or close enough anyway, to be clearly audible.

2) Wow, yes, that song is…interesting. I did a reset on it to see if I could, but it played for some reason some other times. Right after disconnecting from the computer once. I got the firmware update, but otherwise, the PC software doesn’t seem very accessible, more on software in a minute.

3) I’d really like to see ways to get more of the voice commands from the keypad, say, with a menu button. Sometimes, I would think a noisy environment would make voice recognition difficult. Say, a long press of the play button to bring up a status menu, for instance, or a long press of the FM or MP3 buttons. Maybe those would be a better choice.

4) It seems to me that the power of having points of interest in the device (those not associated with a K-tag, I mean) is under utilized. I’d like to see more verbose free navigation mode that tells you about POI’s as you pass them, or with a long button press, bring up a list of the several nearest POI’s. Even better if a route to one could be set up on the fly. While having upcoming intersections spoken is great, I think more could be done here with POI’s.

5) Satellite acqisition sometimes takes a while. On walking Alena to school, from turning it on in the house, I think it was a good five minutes before i got a signal. Which of course meant I was at Alena’s school. It also had me on the wrong sidewalk (right instead of left), and in one case tole me I was going down the wrong street, but after a couple minutes of that, it got itself straightened out and all was well the rest of the way home.

6) As I said, it’s tiny, and very light. No problem wearing it with the speaker. The voice commands seem to work nicely, but I’ve not been in noisy environs yet. And I can’t always remember the keywords.

7) Documentation: The Leader tutorial says it’s basic, but that they reckon it will take three days to go through the whole audio CD worth of tutorial and get the hang of everything. Three days? Really? A few hours, maybe, but not three days. The documentation, in either form, isn’t *that* exhaustive. Since they made an audio CD, I think read by a human would have been nice, but this version of Samantha isn’t half bad. She doesn’t sound nearly as grumpy as she usually does.

8) Software: the Windows software didn’t seem very accessible, just at first blush, but I didn’t take much time with it. The Mac software is a little weird. It seems very accessible, but some controls aren’t visible unless you tab to them, and in those cases, you can’t use Voiceover keys to read what surrounds them or anything like that. Also, I still only see maps for sale for European countries; I can’t seem to buy Canadian maps. Which reminds me. I’d probably better back up the US maps in case there’s a problem, because they aren’t available for download, far as I can tell, and the box didn’t come with them on any sort of backup media, i.e. DVD or CD.

9) OK, this is a dumb criticism, but… “Rise and shine”, and “I’m so tired”? I guess it’s supposed to be cute, but it just sounds kind of cutesy and, well, dorky to me. What’s the matter with “Ready” and “Shuting down” or something?

It may sound like I have nothing but complaints, but really, for $300, this is quite the buy. I really do like it over all, even though I see room for improvement. I do believe that at this price point, the Kapten Plus can do a lot for a lot of blind people, and I’m all for that.

I plan to take it for a real walk soon, as well as recording a review podcast about it. Watch this space.

For Palm: Please Help



If ever I’ve needed to cash in afavor with you, I’m calling it in today. If I’ve ever had any small influence on you at all, please read and take action.


Over the past couple days, I’ve seen articles about Palm, a guide dog, and her handler Iris, who were involved in a serious, devastating accident. Apparently, Palm was pushed off a commuter train in British Columbia. An automated commuter train that had no emergency stop. The doors closed on her leash, and Palm was dragged along by the train, until she hit a post and her leash snapped. She is now facing recovery and surgery for a broken muzzle, broken ribs, a punctured lung, and no doubt other injuries. The estimate I read puts the vet bill at around $15,000.


You can read more about the accident here:



And you can see the details of some of Palm’s surgery here:



I can only imagine what this must be like for Iris and for Palm, and it brings me nearly to tears.


As a guide dog handler myself, now working my third one, I know firsthand what these dogs bring to our lives. When they hurt, you hurt with them. It’s no exaggeration to say that there are few, if any, relationships between two beings that are any closer than the one shared between a person and his or her service dog. Over time, as my dogs and I have gotten to know each other, we have learned to read each other’s moods, not only to work together seamlessly, but these dogs really do become a part of you. They aren’t just a “mobility aid”, much as they are that. They aren’t our children either, though, and i don’t really want to sensationalize the relationship or make it something it is not. One thing it is, though, is complex. My dogs aren’t “my best friend”, but neither are they “disposable”. They are a part of me, but they are not me. A friend of mine once said, upon the retirement of my first dog Karl, that harnessing my dog and working with him must be as natural to me as putting on my shoes. And so it is, but it isn’t that either exactly. Guide dog handlers know exactly what I mean, and those who are not have an idea perhaps, but it really is hard to explain. For fans of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, (and this probably comes as close to the thing as anything else), working a guide dog is probably about as close as we will ever get to Impression.


But knowing this relationship as I do, I know Iris is just beside herself. Let me be blunt. I’m asking you to give to Palm’s recovery fund. Anything you can. As much or as little as you are able. I know that people are saying, “Well, Translink should pay.” And so they should. In an ideal world, they would have paid already, and Palm’s vet bills would be of no concern. But you know as well as I do how government bureaucracies work. You know that, even if they agree to pay her bills, that won’t come about for ages and ages, and that’s assuming they don’t figure out a way to weasel out of it and deny any culpability. And in the meantime, Iris still has vet bills, and Palm still needs vet care. So, again being very blunt, quit waiting for someone else to do the right thing and take responsibility. Step up to the plate and do somebody a kindness. We can’t take responsibility for the whole world, but we can make a difference in small parts of it. Those small parts add up to making a big difference. It’s like the story of the little boy throwing starfish back in the ocean. When someone told him that there were too many, and he wasn’t going to make a difference, he said, “I made a difference to that one”, and threw another one back in.


Unfortunately, they don’t have an online donation page, so please exercise your dialing finger.

(604) 473-4882


Just tell them when they answer the phone (between 7 AM and 8:30 PM Pacific time) that you want to contribute to Palm’s recovery fund. They will take your credit card information and send you a receipt if you want one. It probably took me three minutes to do this, and I talked about my dogs and my feelings about this. If you don’t feel the need to jabber as I did, it will take you less.


So that’s it, really. I’m asking you to do something for a complete stranger. And, i thank you from the bottom of my heart.

A Call For Accessibility Commitment

I just sent the below as a follow-up to the previous correspondence with Amazon. I’ll be interested in their response.


For background, see correspondence with this address, below.

First, congratulations on your commendation from the National Federation Of the Blind for adding talking menus to the Kindle 3. While this is a great first step, I’d submit commendation was, perhaps, a bit premature.
This is a great first step, and there’s no denying that. However, more needs to be done, and much of it, I believe, should be able to be accomplished by firmware updates to the Kindle 3 hardware. At a minimum, all core functionality should be accessible using spoken feedback. This means the ability to browse and purchase from the Kindle ebook store, the ability to browse and select a book, and to begin reading that book. This all begins, of course, with the ability to turn on the voice guide without assistance. A reasonable stop gap measure (and I emphasize that this should not be a permanent solution) would be the ability to ask that voice guide be turned on before the unit is shipped.
Naturally, I completely understand that experimental functions such as the Web browser are less likely to receive attention, and I’m not as concerned about those. Core reading functionality being accessible is the important thing here. While it’s great to have a book read aloud, the ability to have unfamiliar words or terms spelled is essential, as is the ability to find, select, and review sections using spoken output. A straight read simply won’t be adequate for something like a college textbook.
As you are undoubtedly aware, the ability for publishers to disable text to speech is of great concern to the print disabled community. Ideally,we would like to see all books without the ability to have this important functionality disabled. If this cannot be done per individual unit, and if Amazon will not change its policy, so that all books allow text to speech to work, please at least ensure that all books with TTS disabled are designated on their purchase and information pages. I, for one, would be very upset if I bought a book and was then unable to read it. While “The publisher has asked that text to speech be disabled on this book, we apologize to our print disabled readers for their utter stupidity” would be super, I understand it is probably not practical. Still, a notice that “Text to speech is not available for this title”, noted prominently, would be sufficient, I think.
Let me stress here that I am at this time willing, able, and ready to purchase a Kindle 3, if I have some commitment from Amazon that I will be able to use its core functionality independently at some point, and that accessibility concerns are being addressed for this unit. I will add that I am willing, able, and ready to assist you in testing such accessibility improvements on the Kindle 3, should you need such a thing. As a blind computer user and technical support specialist for an assistive technology company, with over 25 years of computer use under my belt, I am happy to help you make the Kindle 3 even more useful to the print disabled community. If these concerns cannot or will not be addressed on this hardware platform and we must wait for the Kindle 4, sadly, I will not purchase a Kindle 3.
I eagerly await your response. Know that our previous correspondence, along with this letter, have been posted to my personal blog for the print disabled community to see. I’m sure we are all eager to hear that Amazon is committed to future accessibility enhancements as soon as is practical.

Amazon Responds

I just received the below Email. It sounds like Kindle might be slightly usable, but by no means does it appear to be anywhere close to being used for serious reading. It is also unclear whether one can browse the Kindle store, but it sounds like this won’t be possible.



Thanks for writing to us with your comments.

Voice Guide lets you navigate your Kindle with spoken menus, selectable items, and descriptions. For example, when you open a book, Kindle speaks your current location and how far you’ve read.

Presently we don’t have the features like enabling the voice guide and TTS features without sighted assistance, navigate or read by smaller increments in text to speech, voice guide or text to speech work in the Web browser, enabling text to speech for the books which have text to speech option disabled.

I’ve sent your comments to the Kindle team for consideration. We’re regularly working on improvements to your Kindle experience. Customer feedback like yours helps us continue to improve the service we provide. 

I hope this helps. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Did I solve your problem?

If yes, please click here:

If no, please click here:

Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail. 

To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit the Help section of our web site.

Best regards,

Madhu Y
Your feedback is helping us build Earth’s Most Customer-Centric Company.

A Note to Amazon On Kindle 3

I just submitted the below to Amazon. I encourage others to submit their own concerns, especially for accessibility, to them as well. According to the manual, you can Email kindle@feedback@amazon.com so Email them early and often.


I’m very interested in the Kindle 3, but as a blind user, I have a few concerns. Before I outline those concerns, I would like to say that I, for one, am happy to purchase if Amazon can make a commitment to our community to make accessibility improvements where warranted. 

As you might suppose, my concerns directly relate to the text to speech and voice guide features:

1) Will voice guide speak as you type? Will it read options as they are navigated and selected? Can you select books with it? Documentation is definitely lacking in this area. With voice guide enabled, will it be possible to use Kindle as outlined in the rest of the manual, without looking at the screen at all?

2) Do menus wrap? Would it be possible to enable the voice guide and TTS features without sighted assistance? If not, I would recommend that it should be. 

3) With text to speech reading of Kindle ebooks, is it possible to navigate or read by smaller increments? In other words, can I navigate a book by word, or even by character? If I need to have an unfamiliar name or term spelled, is this possible? These features are essential if Kindle is to be used by a student in a classroom environment. 

4) Does voice guide or text to speech work in the Web browser? Can it be used, not only to read Web content but to navigate to that content? Is it possible to browse the Kindle store to purchase books, again, using only text to speech and voice guide? 

5) Will it be possible to enable text to speech for blind users on books where it is by default disabled? If not, is there some way to know whether a book is TTS-enabled before purchasing it? I would hate to buy a book, only to find I am unable to read it. 

In short, I would like some assurance that Amazon is working towrd real accessibility to the Kindle, and not just a token effort that amounts to little more than a toy.