Communication is often a challenge

Last month at Accessibility Camp Toronto I had a number of encounters with people I’ve had conversations with in the past. And for reasons I’ll touch on in a bit, communication between them and I was a challenge. But with the benefit of time, and an email exchange with one of the aforementioned conference participants, finally comes this post today.

I tend to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. Meaning I’m pretty hard on myself when it comes to assigning blame for anything not going as I intend. Or, better still, as imagine it could. This year’s camp is case in point.

Realistically taking all the  blame probably isn’t the most productive of ways to have handled this specific instance – as was put to me by more than one person who had issues understanding me. “Context is everything.” Point taken.

I’m not that loud of a speaker. And being in loud hallways or auditoriums isn’t an ideal place for me to be heard, let alone understood. It’s just I felt at Camp this year, every encounter I had seemed like I was the reason for it feeling a little awkward – whether rightly or wrongly. Thing is, I possess the ability to change. I really should work much harder to take better advantage of it. And I am.

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It will always require an element of adaptation

This past Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) I was fortunate enough to catch part (as in a wee bit) of Inclusive Design 24 (#ID24). The Paciello Group held 24 one-hour webinars concerning various matters dealing with accessibility. It was really quite the productive gesture to, and I’ll quote, “celebrate efforts worldwide to ensure people with disabilities have full and equal access to the web.”

Remember — and not to suggest this was The Paciello Group’s intent when offering their statement about #ID24 — “if what one is unable to do continues to be used as a means of defining disability [...] then every single individual on this planet is disabled.” That statement brilliantly sums up an intent of GAAD quite nicely, so says me. It’s all inclusive.

And one “webinar” in particular got my noodle cooking. The Billy Gregory’s talk, 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started in Digital Accessibility. Not that any talk I was able to tune into wasn’t great. But it was this one, however, that was personally relevant. In the sense I found myself thinking a lot about how I’d answer Billy’s proclamation.

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Automatic audio text transcriptions

In honour of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) today I’m throwing this method out in to the ether that is the web. However, it’s not the quote/ unquote “technique” I’m offering — in the sense I really expect anyone will use it. Rather it’s my aim to try and get people thinking about the content they consume and produce on and for the web, period. And thinking a little differently about said web content.

After all, that’s the point of going through the effort of raising awareness. To think about anything in a manner which you aren’t typically conditioned to think about them. Or in other words, it’s not so much the result I’m most interested in here, it’s the reasons for and process that give us that result. It’s my hope to draw some attention towards automatic text transcriptions of audio only podcasts, specifically.

And I’m aware such a solution is still a ways off from being practical — as in reliably useable. But it’s never too early to entertain prospects. And experiment.

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Language is a curious beast, ain’t it?

I’ve spent some time over the past few months thinking about how I craft the content I publish for the web. Specifically regarding my use of language when writing. In one certain context — not to suggest my writing is free from more problems in others — it’s not as inclusive as it should be.

I’m referring to how a screen reader user experiences the words I write. And with my limited use of the technology, I’ve taken note of something quite specific. If you use a screen reader to speak my words, I’m not sure you, as a listener, will get all of the “subtleties” (case in point) of my intent.

Using the example I cited immediately above, precisely how is a screen reader user supposed to know I’ve put the word “subtleties” in quotation marks? Just typing quotation marks before and after the word isn’t enough to make a screen reader speak them.

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With all due respect

Yesterday I had an interaction I seem to have much too often to pass on not writing about any longer. You know, when a certain brand of folk who are convinced they know what I need and want more than I do. Almost like I cannot possess the capacity to help myself? The notion that I don’t, for whatever reason, have my best interests at heart is completely lost on these types.

But yesterday was a bit different than the many other times this sort of bullshit has happened, and I want to be careful. What happened strays heavily into the territory of faith and God. But I’d rather avoid conflating what happened with my thoughts toward either. Those who know me, know what I think on the matter. Those who don’t, just trust me, it’s not relevant to this conversation.

The interaction started when a curious party started asking a friend who I was talking with rather probing questions about me and my disability. Now said party isn’t a stranger to me, by any means. However, this person has never thought too far past themselves to engage me on matters pertaining to me. Especially considering the fact this person felt the need to go around me to get what they wanted — information. Even if it meant not treating me like a thinking, feeling human being. It’d seem little else mattered.

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