Facebook Photo Highlights a Basic Problem

Special pavements have been designed in order to help blind people move around the streets easily using their canes. According to the law, the pavements have to be free from obstacles and very carefully designed, as one can see in the following picture.

Unfortunately, the reality for blind people in Greece is described by the following pictures.

Yiannis Karalis, music composer, decided to take photos of some special pavements – death traps in his neighborhood and upload them on Facebook to highlight the problem. The response of the online community was more than expected as the photo has been shared 3.854 times until now while the comments underneath it are more than 30.

Yiannis Karalis says to BD that

These passages can cause blind people to break a leg or even get hit by a car.

One can find many special pavements, like these, in all over the country which make the life of blind people difficult and discourage them to leave their homes challenging their sociability.  The photo has  also motivated other people to take photos and share them to the web trying to raise awareness and attract the attention of mainstream media and State.

The Brand New “Blind Dates” Page

Blind Dates has been renewed! In specific, web page, logo and name have been changed. The name has changed from Blind Dates Radio to     radio  in order to be shorter and easier for listeners to remember it. And form now on you can listen to our radio at the new webpage. (www.bdradio.gr)

The design of the new page is quite minimalistic and plays with black, white and yellow. Of course the sense of humor is obvious in details, like the image of a fishbone, or the “I like this song” button, which moves up and down when you touch it. If you deal with any problem with listening, there are 4 alternative ways (Winamp, Windows Media Player, Real Player, QuickTime) to be connected and listen to radio programs and music

In the main page there is a chat box where listeners can communicate with producers, comment and ask for their favorite song. In the page, one can find information about the project, the participants and there is also a direct link to the blog. The radio plays music 24h/7, and most time plays foreign songs in order to approach audience from all the GV and RV community. The technician of the team has undertaken the jingles which are heard every half an hour.

The renewal of the whole project has brought very positive results as the number of listeners has been increased and the the Facebook page has reached 155 likes so far.

The    radio team has bought the domain page and radio server too. The money for the server will be paid from Panhellenic Association for Blind People, Union of Central Macedonia.

How to Video

If you are wondering the way visually impaired people use New Media tools and do an e-radio program, watch the new Blind Dates Radio!

The video has been created with the valuable help of youth NGO United Societies of Balkans and the cinematographer, Llogari Antunez, (http://www.facebook.com/llogariot). Radio program we use is SAM Broadcaster. SAM is quite accessible for blind users as it has keyboard shortcuts for almost every operation. For more, please watch the video!

 

 

 

If You Do It, Do it Right!

As time goes by, Blind Dates Radio keeps on progressing and adding new features in its program. Although the station is not professional, we try to turn in it to a very descent amateurish station.

First of all, we have upgrated our blog on order to be more easily accessible by internet users. Now we can find us in www.theblinddates.org. Attention: do not forget the “the” and enter blinddates.org… totally irrelevant content!

Furthermore, last week, two participants recorded two new jingles using the moto of the station: It is not about visibility, it is about vision. You will be able to listen to them soon:) We have also renewed our playlist and added many new and old songs. Just tune in … theblinddates.org/radio and leave a comment.

 

Press Release about Blind Dates Radio

This is the press release that we are gonna to distribute to Press, Media and other Associations for people with disabilities.

Press Release

Tune in to Blind Dates Radio

Blind Dates Radio is a new web radio station, the only one in Greece, which has been created and operated by visually impaired people. (s9.myradiostream.com/8022.htm)

The radio schedule consists of not only music but also informative programs, enriched with news and social messages about and from the blind community. Behind the microphone is a group of 10 young radio producers, aged between 16 to 30 years old, who work or study  in Thessaloniki.

The web radio has been created as a part of Blind Dates project, which is an initiative to support the creation of a blog and a web radio station by visually impaired people in Thessaloniki. The goal of the project is to bring together the dynamic potential of the blind community in order to create socially cohesive content.. The project is financed by Rising Voices and supported by the Panhellenic Association of the Blind, Regional Union of Central Macedonia.

In the project’s blog, theblinddates.wordpress.com, one can read announcements regarding the blind community, opinion articles, but also posts which describe the way blind people handle activities of everyday life. All of the content is written by members of Thessaloniki’s blind community using software providing greater accessibility to those with visually impairments. The link to the web radio, the radio schedule, bios of radio producers and also information about the progress of the project can all be found on the blog.

Contact Person: Alexia Kalaitzi

e-mail: alexia.kalaitzi@gmail.com

Phone Number: (+30) 6973615656

Web Radio Works!

Feel very proud to announce that Blind Dates Radio, thanks to Rising Voices Microgrant, is the only web radio in Greece which is made and functions by visually impaired people.

It is not the first one as before it, one attempt has been made by another group of blind people, who have created a similar radio station, named NeedRadio, which doesn’t work anymore.

Why Web Radio?

  1. Visually impaired people are very sensitive to sound. Especially for some, it is the way they understand the world. Thus, it is not strange that music is very important to them and it is one of the most common ways to express themselves and have fun.
  2. Doing radio programs and being capable of handling a complex radio software make them feel confident. Being a radio producer is very in fashion among youth and now all the students of Thessaloniki School for the Blind know and discuss about the new web radio station and … them of course.
  3. It is the best way to communicate with local community, young people and family as they can be heard from  every corner of the world through internet. Moreover, Radio Server gives users the ability to communicate with listeners with a chat box.
  4. People in Greece are quite familiar with listening to radio and web radio stations. Even from the first week of live streaming, number of listeners reached 18 and our facebook page has 81 likes.
  5. They are very motivated about promoting the Radio Station and as a result they use more the social media, like Facebook, and suggest fresh ideas, developing their imagination and creativity.

Blind Dates On Air

After two seminars, many many technical problems and me being absent for a month due to job responsibilities, we finally did it! Blind Dates Radio is on air and we officially broadcast on s9.myradiostream.com/8022.htm . Seminar about Blind Dates Radio

Radio schedule and short CVs of radio producers are available online on the blog theblinddates.wordpress.com.

 

Mixalis Mouratidis wrote something very important which represents one of the main goals of  Blind Dates Project [gr]:

Ο βασικός όμως λόγος είναι ότι θεωρώ πως είναι το καλύτερο μέσο για να προβάλουμε την κοινότητα τυφλών και να δείξουμε σε άτομα της κοινότητας πως δεν είναι μόνοι και πως μπορούμε να βοηθήσουμε ο ένας τον άλλον και μαζί να καταφέρουμε πολλά.

I think that the basic reason (I participated in the project) is because I strongly believe that radio is the best mean to promote blind community and show to its members that they are not alone, that we can help each other and if we are united, we can succeed lots of things.

Due to limited budjet, we decided to upload the radio station to a free web server. My first suggestion was listen2myradio, which unfortunately proved to be inconvenient for participants to use it. Second and final choice was freestreamghosting. In the beginning we have created an account to the 6th server but we noticed that server was often down. So, we have changed server and moved to server 9. Our lucky number from now on…

How a visually impaired person can do a radio program

Each participant uses computers and internet in a different way. Some of them use screen readers and keyboard shortcuts and some others digital magnifying glass. After the solution of technical problems, two seminars have taken place. The first one was about solving technicalities and teach participants how to use the radio program, SAM Broadcaster depending on the tools they use,

The second seminar was held in order to discuss about some basic radio rules, the radio schedule, and to test the sound in each participant’s laptop. We structured 9+1 Gold Rules about radio, which have been sent through emails but also printed in Braille language and distributed to participants.Participants were asked to write a short CV about his life, hobbies, the reason why they participate in the radio and the name of their radio program. Truth is that almost all of them are quite excited with doing radio programs, more than writing for the blog. Sound and music are very important to visually impaired people and through radio they approach more the local community and local youth.

With the help of Panhellenic Association, sound messages about blindness will be included in the schedule. One participant, who is musician and lives in Mutilini, has composed a special audiotrack to use it as jingle for the radio.

You can listen to it here:  Blind Dates Radio Jingle.

Hit me, Ms Minister, one more time!

I have learn the news today as two participants have bombed me with emails and phone calls. And news are not very good.

Minister of Education, Ms Anna Diamantopoulou, decided to close the Thessaloniki Technical School for Blind Telephone Operators, with the pretext of lack of money.

Being Telephone Operator is the basic profession visually impaired people who live in Northern Greece exercise. By abolishing this choice is like condemning all these people to unemployment.

Panhellenic Association for the Blind and other Associations for blind people accused this action as “illegal”.

Blind Dates has posted to its blog the open letter Panhellenic Association has written to protest about the decision of Ministry of Education.

As a Regional Union of the Panhellenic Federation of the Blind and a member of the National Federation of the Blind, we express our strong protest of the Blind of Northern Greece for the sudden decision made by Institute of Adult Continuing Education to close IEK Tiresias for visually impaired specialist operator call center and customer service in Thessaloniki.

[...] We are determined to fight in any democratically acceptable way to restore this social aberration, which unfortunately made the official state through authorized institutions. [...]

We urge Government, ministers and officials involved, even at the last moment, to ponder the size of the shock this decision will cause for unemployed blind people and instead of removing the unique specialty that gives them a decent living, to ensure the expansion of the professions of the visually impaired people.

V.S, participant of Blind Dates and graduate of the Thessaloniki Technical School for Blind Telephone Operators says:

“By closing this School is like ignoring blind people and accepting that they are useless and they should stay at home doing nothing”

Unfortunately, Greek mainstream media haven’t shown any interest in the recent decision of the Ministry. So, it is time for social media again to act!

Blind Dates will try to spread the word about this crucial matter and collaborate with Panhellenic Association to fight for the reopening of the Tecnhical School. We will try to post interviews and articles to show how vital it is for blind community this School to remain open.

Wish us Good Luck!

Promoting Blind Dates

One of my great concerns, while starting the project of Blind Dates, was that participants will be easily discouraged and disappointed if the blog has not many readers and comments.

And the truth is that among thousands of blogs and websites, it is not easy for a new blog to be distinguished.

For that reason we have structured a basic line of promoting the blog and later the web-radio. Our latest actions were: 

1. Partner NGO: As we cooperate with a local NGO, United Societies of Balkans, we are trying to promote the blog and the whole project through the Facebook Page and Group of the NGO and its monthly newsletters, that receive about 700 people.

2. Social Media Power: We have created a Facebook Page, “The Blind Dates” and a Twitter account, @TheBlindDates.

Facebook is not very popular among the participants, as its environment is not very friendly to visually impaired people. We make efforts to introduce Facebook to our working team, by explaining  how important tool is it for promoting blogs and sites. To intrigue them more, we have posted some articles in the blog under the topic, Visually Impaired People and Social Media.

3. Questions: Questions is a Facebook application that helps you keep your Facebook page alive and interactive.

It is easy and effective. The user posts a question and selects the way respondents can answer. The easiest way is to suggest multiple choices. By answering the question, the respondent can link to the Fb page and also see the results.

Our first question was “Is Thessaloniki a friendly city for visually impaired people?”. The answers vary from Very Much to Not at All. The results will be used to write an article and post it in the blog. The aim is to involve more people in the project and spread awareness about the mobility problems visually impaired people face in their everyday life.

4. Link Building: First Step was to search and find other websites and blogs with relevant content to our blog. Next step was to send a letter to the owners of blogs and sites where we kindly ask them if they want to exchange links in order to promote one the other.

5. Logo: A volunteer is eager to create a logo for Blind Dates.

Next Goals

Our next target is to approach media, by sending press releases and by coming in contact with journalists we already know in order to write about the Project. In the end of October, is also scheduled to organize a Press Conference in Thessaloniki.

Giorgos Proestos, one of the core participants, has already given an interview in the Thessaloniki Radio Program, local branch of the National Radio Station, about Blind Dates and the relation between blind people and technology. We will post it soon. Unfortunately the interview is in Greek, but we will present an excerpt in English.

We will also print some flyers about the existence of the Project and the blog which will also be translated in Braille language. The flyers will be available online and will be distributed in the Thessaloniki School for the Blind, Panhellenic Association for the Blind and in bars, schools and cultural organizations.

For any suggestions you may have about promoting our work, feel free to contact us anytime to blinddates.rv@gmail.com.

Thank you very much!

Alexia Kalaitzi