Sometimes it serves “us” to be selfish

It’s been a somewhat surreal year! Both for me and the planet, more broadly. Whether it was my getting involved with the IDRC or the global reawakening concerning exclusion/ inequality and the subsequent Occupation Movements. 2011 was a rager! Exciting, indeed. But for the sake of this post and it’s home on this blog I’ll concentrate on the former.

I was recently involved in a conversation with a colleague about my computer accessibility. The conversation didn’t start that way, focused on me I mean, but it ended on me. I don’t recall exactly how the conversation started, or more specifically how I was able to shift the focus on to me, but immediately following said discussion I found myself writing that colleague an email clarifying what I’d said. That email serves as the basis for this post.

In our conversation I classified my interest in accessibility, and my approach toward efforts to help with it, stem from “selfishness.” Those who have interacted with me or have seen me use a computer, I assume, would understand that statement. And who it was coming  from.

When using the term “selfish” — I typically tend not to dilly-dally with the words I choose to speak with, as my voice can be difficult to understand, especially if you’re unfamiliar with my “vernacular”/ vocal style, and I do better getting right at the point — I was simply referring to the way I’ve come to approach learning about the accessibility field. Meaning I’ve started to look for better ways to access my computer. Being more “selfish” about matters, relating to this anyway, and not relying on my ability to “finesse” the technology I use, has given me quite the opportunity to learn about myself, obviously, but about what is possible. And more importantly that which isn’t. I’ve realized just how much more work and learning we and I need to do on computers to let keyboard users specifically, but people off all sorts, do what they need to get done on and offline.

Or in other words in searching for alternative methods of access — which essentially means ways I input my intentions into a computer, and I’ve also begun to experiment with a trackpad, too — I discovered the keyboard is my ideal method of access. I had to change a few OS specific key commands, for usability’s sake, but using the keyboard to control a computer cut way down on the time I used to fumble  with the mouse.

So with said modifications from Apple’s implementation (speaking entirely as a one handed typer, shhhhhh don’t tell my Physiotherapist) of “hot keys” I’ve managed to nail down a pretty consistent and ridiculously usable keyboard regiment for myself. (And there’s still quite a bit more experimentation to do yet. I’ll be sure to share when I’m more “comfortable” with what I’ve learned.) But in doing what now seems to me to be such an obvious progression I finally took the time to find the “sweet spot” where my sloppy keyboard ability — which oddly enough resembles the manner in which I used to play the guitar, what may seem painfully sloppy to other people was ridiculously efficient for me — has, for years, led to my typing lots of inadvertent double characters. Now I don’t. And the only reason I went to the effort of finding that “sweet spot” was my newfound accessibility through the keyboard! I’ve come to realize how frustrating and counter productive my mouse actually is for me to use.

Point being it wasn’t until I went looking for a solution to accommodate myself, and not relying on my ability to adapt, when I really started to grasp this accessibility thing. Strange I found an answer to inclusivity by being more selfish in my approach. Huh.

Here’s to stranger things in 2012!

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