Stranded between empathy and penalty

The idea of penalty doesn’t belong to the law exclusively. It’s a penalty when a person can’t use technology they need.

A little background concerning me and the reason I’m at this conference today speaking to you. In the summer of nineteen ninety-six, when I was all of twenty-one years old, I was involved in a very serious motor vehicle accident, which left me in a coma for two months. Please forgive me, I’m glossing over a fair amount of what might be useful detail dealing with my condition following the accident. But the reason I bring this up is because it is relevant to my personal motivation for practicing inclusive design.

See, when I emerged from my coma, I was diagnosed with what is known as Locked-in syndrome, from Wikipedia:

“Locked-in syndrome (LIS) is a condition in which a patient is aware but cannot move or communicate verbally due to complete paralysis of nearly all voluntary muscles in the body except for the eyes…”

The fact that I recovered at all calls into question the original diagnosis, or that is what my doctors have since told me in subsequent years. The fact that my brain stem bore the brunt of the impact, effectively “crushing” (my word) it and inhibiting communication between my brain and limbs, definitely presented me as having the symptoms of being Locked-in at the time. That’s what is important here.

Continue reading “Stranded between empathy and penalty”…

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.

Continue reading “Communication is often a challenge”…

The use of technology will always require 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.

Continue reading “The use of technology will always require adaptation”…

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.

Continue reading “Automatic audio text transcriptions”…

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.

Continue reading “Language is a curious beast, ain’t it?”…

Date and Category Archives Sidebar