Do I look like Alexander Hamilton?

September 27, 2016 • Posted in blindness, technology for people who are blind, Uncategorized by

Mike downloaded a “camera for the blind” on my iPhone. It’s called “Tap Tap See.” Users take a photo of what’s in front of them, wait a few seconds, and, abracadabra! The app announces out loud what’s in the photograph.

That can't look like a woman with brown hair.

That can’t look like a woman with brown hair.

Grateful? Not me. I was petulant. “I’m not ready to learn how to use apps yet,” I snapped. “I don’t even know how to retrieve my voice mail with that thing.”

Mike not-so-calmly pointed out that I’d already been using apps. “The clock, you know. That’s an app. So is weather.”

I thought apps were things you added to your phone. “Well,” I said. “I’m just not ready to learn how to use a new one, then.”

Mike was away on a business trip weeks later when I felt through my wallet to make sure I had cab fare for the next morning. I keep track of money by folding each denomination differently, but I’d been in such a rush at the store that day that I’d shoved bills in there without folding them first.

How would I know what to give the cab driver?

I hadn’t tried my “Tap Tap See” app yet, but the same promotion that called it a camera for the blind claimed it can identify paper currency, too.

I straightened a bill on the kitchen counter, launched the app and twisted my finger around the iPhone screen. VoiceOver said, “Take picture.”

Somehow I managed to hold steady, hover the iPhone over the bill, and double-tap. “Picture taken.”

Seconds later, abracadabra! “Woman with long hair.”

George Washington looks like a woman, I guess. Must be a single.

I pulled out another bill, took a photo, waited a few seconds. “Woman with brown hair.” Lincoln doesn’t look like a woman. Washington’s hair is white. Who else’s face is on American currency?

Off to my talking computer to Google. Alexander Hamilton is on the ten. Did Hamilton have brown hair?

Back to the kitchen counter. Tap Tap See identified all my bills as women, some with short hair, some with brown hair, some with long hair. Not the clear-cut answer I was hoping for, but the app was fun to play with.

I was 26 when I lost my sight. I’m in my 50s now. Would Tap Tap See identify me as “Middle-aged woman”? “Woman with wrinkles?” Did I really want to know?

I couldn’t resist.

Off to the bathroom mirror. I held the phone up to my reflection, smiled pretty, tapped “Take picture” and felt my heart race as I waited for Tap Tap See’s judgment. Finally it came. “Woman with brown hair.”

Woman with brown hair? Do I look like Alexander Hamilton? I snapped another picture. “Woman with short hair.” And that’s when it dawned on me. I’d been using my iPhone backward. The round hole on the back of the iPhone is not what people look through to snap a photo.

Those photos I’d taken? They all were selfies.

And now, just to confirm I am not an Alexander Hamilton look-alike, I’ll be sauntering down to Private Bank Theatre tomorrow night, because, of course, I have a ticket to the musical HAMILTON! You heard that right. Me. Beth Finke. Going to Hamilton tomorrow night. Back story? Earlier this year when my friend Colleen learned that a block of tickets to tomorrow’s show were set aside to benefit the Foundation Fighting Blindness, she surprised me by buying two of them. “One’s for you,” she told me. “My treat.”

I’ve read the biography the musical is based on twice now. No easy feat. The audio version is 38 hours long! I’ve been listening to the CD non-stop whenever Mike is out of the house, too. I’m ready. I probably shouldn’t brag, but dag. Tomorrow night, Colleen and I are going to be in the room Where it happens.

Amanda On September 28, 2016 at 3:14 am

The free version of the app called “i note” works great for identifying money you just hold the phone over the bill and it will announce denomination.

Another great app that is free and really is in need of more blind people using is called “be my eyes” you fill out the registration and then if you ever have anything you need someone to identify the app connects you to live people from around the world who volunteer to help you free of charge for quick visual assistance. You select your language and then when you activate the app someone will use the camera on the back of the phone to either identify an item or give directions. The app says that they have so many sighted people and few blind people so there is rarely a wait and they want more people to use the assistance so that the volunteers do not leave because they never get called.

bethfinke On September 28, 2016 at 9:11 am

Good to know. I’ve mastered “Tap, Tap, See” now so am making good use of it. If TTS ever fails me, though, I’lll try one of these other apps. Thanks for the suggestions, Amanda.

Cindy Hesselbein On September 28, 2016 at 7:26 am

Love your selfie errors! My first graders are doing the same thing, and they can see!!! Have fun at the play, I’m jealous.

bethfinke On September 28, 2016 at 9:16 am

Oddly refreshing to hear that at my age, i canstill think like a first grader. Thanks for the good wishes, Cindy. Colleen and I are going to have a ball.

twocee2 On September 28, 2016 at 7:30 am

This gave me a much needed laugh this morning. And enjoy Hamilton!

bethfinke On September 28, 2016 at 9:18 am

With so much else going on in the news, I am very pleased to have given you something to smile about. Extremely pleased to have tomorrow to look forward to as well.

Darlene On September 28, 2016 at 8:01 am

I love this story and your willingness to learn about the apps technology on your iPhone! I can picture you doing these things which make me smile. So cute!

Have a blast at Hamilton!! I can’t wait to read your blog on the show! Enjoy! You lucky lady!! ?

bethfinke On September 28, 2016 at 9:17 am

I am indeed a lucky woman.

monna ray On September 28, 2016 at 8:27 am

Beth, It was a great story. I’m reading it at Holy Wisdom Monastery where its so quiet You can’t believe it. It’s a great place to get away from the noise of the city, the news, and just be. My friend Marj come on Tuesday and stay through Thursday each Spring and Fall. It’s wonderful.

See you soon. Monna Sent from my iPad


bethfinke On September 28, 2016 at 9:20 am

Sounds wonderful. Okay if I call it a Monna-sterry?

Dave Hyde On September 28, 2016 at 9:10 am

Try ibill for bill identification. Hadley has podcasts on the iPhone. Jonathon Nosen has good books as well.

Sent from my iPhone


bethfinke On September 28, 2016 at 9:21 am

Ooooo, I’m going to try those podcasts from Hadley. I am a huge fan of that school, and just recently have taken to listening to podcasts. Thanks for the great suggestion, Dave.

Hava Hegenbarth On September 28, 2016 at 12:39 pm

rolling on the floor laughing! – Better to look like Hamilton than Ben Franklin!

bethfinke On September 28, 2016 at 12:47 pm

Guess I was fairly certain I didn’t have a $100 in my wallet, sigh.

Hank On September 28, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Good laugh about the selfies. I know others using Tap Tap See. It’s an interesting app. Some things are identified automatically but some are done by crowdsourcing, which means your picture is sent to an available human “worker” who identifies and reports on the content of the picture. I think it’s pretty impressive stuff.
Enjoy Hamilton. Can’t wait to see it, if it ever makes it to DC.

bethfinke On September 28, 2016 at 4:28 pm

I agree. It’s very impressive. And it’s especially fun when the crowdsourcing thing thing kicks in –you can tell by how detailed the description is.

Benita Black On September 29, 2016 at 9:07 am

Very funny. I love your selfie fiasco. Personally, I’ve always though you bore a much stronger resemblance to Andrew Jackson.
You’ll love the show; it’s a real game-changer in the musical theater world.

bethfinke On September 29, 2016 at 9:25 am

Andrew Jackson. Hmmm.

Sheila A. Donovan On September 29, 2016 at 9:34 am

Oh Beth, that is hysterical. I laughed and laughed!

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