Braille Institute empowers people who are blind to use latest cellphone and media technology

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- About a year ago Dee Dee Mann did not believe she would ever ditch her flip phone.

"I said, 'Mm-hmmm, yeah right,'" Mann joked.

But after some persuasion, and attending technology classes at the Braille Institute in Los Angeles, she's all in-- iPhone and MacBook!

Mann is blind, independent, and courageous; in part thanks to the support of instructors like Nutsiri "Earth" Kidkul. "I teach iPhone, iPad smartphone Android. Also I do computer Windows, Mac, and I do Braille display," Kidkul said.

For Mann, it's all about staying connected to loved ones using social media. "I did it because my step sons were in the military, one is still in. So that's my way to be in contact with him when he's overseas and things," said Mann.

The range of technology courses opens up new opportunities for many. "Make sure we can teach people the technologies that are specifically for the blind visually impaired but also technology that we all use, and how they can use it as well. So, assistive technology is something like an Echo Dot or Siri," said Program Marketing Specialist at the Braille Institute, Jack Follman.

"It's enlightening. I just recently got an Instant Pot and we downloaded the book to Instant Pot," Mann said. "If we didn't have this type of media, it might not ever happen for all of us."

And all of us can help by using "alternative text" features on social media. It allows you to add a detailed description of a photo for those who cannot see it.

"Even though the Facebook gives you description, but if you have a picture of plant or a picture that's more specific, it doesn't tell," explained Kidkul. She's been teaching courses for five years and has helped many transition to a touch screen cell phone.

"Your finger become your eyes," she said. The free classes are available at Braille Institute locations across Southern California.

"I hold their hand and guide them slowly until they have no question," Kidul said.
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