Ask Missy Mouse

If you have questions for Missy Mouse or for author Lois Strachan let us know and we will tell you how they do things.

Q: How does Missy Mouse use a computer?

A: I, and my creator Lois, use a regular laptop computer that has a programme, (called a screenreader), that can talk to us, so we hear everything that appears on the screen of the computer. The only times the voice does not work is when there is a picture, or when the computer has crashed. Other than that, text, the menus and other computer functionality can be heard. We use the computer to write documents, e-mails, and spreadsheets. We also use the Internet, although some websites are easier to navigate with a screenreader than others.

Q: How does Missy Mouse bake?

A: I prefer to follow recipes as closely as possible when I bake, to make sure I get the recipes right. I knows how to feel which measuring cup or spoon I am using, usually by comparing the size of each and selecting the one I want, and organise my ingredients carefully in the kitchen cupboards so I know where to find each ingredient. I use my sense of smell a lot when baking, both to tell one ingredient from another, and to smell when the food is ready, and I am always very careful when working with a hot stove or oven.

Q: How does Missy Mouse select what she’s going to wear?

A: It can sometimes be difficult for me … and Lois… to know what clothing we are wearing as we cannot see the colour of the clothing. We use the sense of touch to tell one material from another, and look at the shape of the clothing to differentiate one item from another. Sometimes we mistake one item for another, but thankfully it has never really mattered too much… except for the time Lois went out wearing one brown boot and one black boot. (Lois says: in my defence, they were both the same style of boot so felt the same – but I should never have bought two pairs of boots that looked the same but were different colours.)

Q: How does Missy Mouse cross a road?

A: When I’m crossing a road, I am not able to “look right, look left and look right again”, as you have probably been told since you were very young. Instead, I have to rely on all my other senses to help me when I cross a road. First, using my sense of touch, I feel with the tip of my white stick to find where the pavement ends. Then I listen to the traffic to make sure I am facing straight across the road, as I do not want to walk sideways and lose myself in the roadway. When I am sure I am facing straight across the street, I listen very hard to make sure there are no cars coming and, when the road is clear, I walk quickly from one pavement to the other, swinging my white stick to make sure there is nothing in front of me. When I get to the other side of the road I feel with the tip of the white stick to find the top of the pavement and quickly step up off the road.
It is easier for Lois as Lois has a guidedog – the guidedog takes Lois to the side of the road and they wait until the road is clear and then they cross.

Q: How does Missy Mouse shop for food?

A: Any kind of shopping is quite a challenge for me – I can walk to the shops with no difficulty, but it is hard for me to know one item from another on the shelves. Usually, I relies on my friends, or the helpful shop assistants, to help me pick out what I need when I go shopping. It is easy for me To work out what some items are, especially fresh fruit and vegetables, because they all have different shapes, textures and smells that I can use to distinguish one from another, but tinned food, and food that is packaged in boxes, is very difficult for me to know what I am holding, unless someone is there to tell me.

Q: How does Missy Mouse find her way around her house? Doe she always use her white stick to help her?

A: When I am at home I usually do not use my white stick at all. Instead, because I know the layout of the house and furniture, I can walk around quite easily on my own, without bumping into anything and hurting myself. I often run my fingertips lightly along the walls when walking down the corridor, so that I can feel where the doorways are. I also use my sense of touch if I’m trying to walk across a bigger room that has furniture in it, so that I don’t walk into the furniture.

Q: How does Missy Mouse know where she is when she is away from her house?

A: I use all my senses to work out where I am – sometimes I can reach out and touch something that I know should be in a specific place so, when I find it, I know where I am. I also use my hearing to give me clues to whereI am, just like when I listen for traffic when I cross a road. I always know when I am walking past the park because I can hear people talking and laughing, and children playing. Finally, I use my sense of smell to see if that can help me figure out whereI am– some shops, like a bakery, always have a distinctive smell so I know that’s where I am. The better I know my surroundings, the easier it is to pick up on the sounds, smells and to find familiar objects to touch to help me work out where I am.

Q: How does Missy Mouse read books?

A: I prefer reading books on the computer, using the computer voice to read the book to me. I also sometimes listen to audio books – books that have been read onto a CD or audio file for the computer. I also know how to read braille – a special language designed so that blind people can read books using their sense of touch. Braille is made up of raised dots that are arranged in different ways to represent the different letters of the alphabet. Words are spelled out by putting these groups of dots together, like we do with letters and words.