Tag Archives: story

There’s Always Something to be Done: Liz Henry on Being Disabled in Tech

Liz Henry, with plastic framed glasses, purple blue hair, and a hoody, sits in the Longmore Institute. Her motorized wheelchair is to her left.

Liz is currently the release manager for Mozilla, and has worked in two eras of tech: the 1990s and the mid-2000s to the present. She learned her computer skills from tinkering with computers from a young age, and having the freedom to experiment. In addition to her work in open source software, Liz is a blogger, writer and translator, and is involved in hackerspace projects. Liz deals with mobility impairments, and chronic pain from those impairments, that have a significant effect on how she can work.

The structure of Liz’s work at Mozilla has many benefits for her because of her mobility impairments. Instead of working on a traditional hourly schedule, she has longer timeframes, like six weeks to work on a project. This means that even if she is not productive over a specific hour or even a day, she is very productive over the course of those six weeks. In addition to this, Liz often works remotely with a distributed team who are in many different time zones around the world. It is not important that everyone be working at the same time. It’s more important that communication is strong, persistent, and frequent.  If she has a flare-up and is unable to leave the house she still has the possibility of getting work done. She often thinks, as she is working from bed, that this job is perfect for people with mobility issues.

In addition, the fact that her physical condition can change at a moment’s notice means that she is very good at contingency planning. And since software release, as she describes it, can be  “a constant disaster,” this skill is very helpful in her workplace. In her opinion, anyone with a disability who has managed their own healthcare competently, with all the medical, insurance, and government bureaucracies, has many skills needed in software project management – tracking a complex process and coordinating work across several teams.

Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: There’s Always Something to be Done: Liz Henry on Being Disabled in Tech – Disability Remix Blog

Accessibility according to actual people with disabilities

“If you have a disability, what’s the hardest thing about browsing the web?” The answers to Safia Abdalla’s tweet are truly eye-opening and shows us what web accessibility should really be about.

 In this article I’ll summarize and group the main topics that people bring up in the thread.But do click on the tweet and read through all the answers. It’s an awesome read for anyone interested in making the web a better place for all. And, in my opinion, a far better place to learn about accessibility than reading any checklist or standard.

Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: Accessibility according to actual people with disabilities – Axess Lab

Accessibility advocates tweet their barriers | Toronto Star

Disability advocates are hoping social-media campaigns will publicly shame organizations into taking action on accessibility.

Tim Rose made headlines this month when he posted on Facebook about his harrowing back-and-forth with Air Canada, who refused to let him take a direct flight from Toronto to Cleveland because they said his wheelchair was too big to fit in the plane.

Rose started tweeting with the hashtag #wheelchairsarentluggage, in response to an Air Canada employee comparing his wheelchair to an oversized bag.

The hashtag has racked up hundreds of tags, including some by David Lepofsky, the chair of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Alliance.

Lepofsky started his own campaign a few months ago called #AODAfail. It asks Ontarians to point out narrow wheelchair ramps (or non-existent ones), uneven sidewalks and signs low in colour contrast — anything that creates obstacles for people with disabilities.

Lepofsky, who is blind, said he relies on traffic sounds to navigate the city as a pedestrian. He’s comfortable walking with a cane on the street, but wayfinding in some newer buildings is another story.

Navigating the wide, curved atrium at the Women’s College Hospital is like wading through the Atlantic Ocean, he said.

Before entering the atrium, there’s the matter of getting through the front doors. The hospital’s front entrance has poles on either side of the doors with sensors, so that when a guest waves a hand in front of the sensor, the door opens — dissimilar to most hospital doors, which open automatically.

The washrooms nearest the front entrance of the hospital have signs written in Braille, but Lepofsky points out the Braille only indicates room numbers — not whether the washrooms are meant for men, women or families.

“It’s hard to be that bad. It’s one thing not getting better, but it’s another thing making (accessibility) substantially worse,” Lepofsky said.

Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: Accessibility advocates tweet their barriers | Toronto Star

Accessibility and me: Marian Foley | Accessibility

This blog [post] by Marian Foley is the first in a series of blog posts about people with access needs. The aim of the series is to raise awareness of the different ways people access websites, common issues faced and what designers and developers can do to remove the issues.

Marian Foley, content designer and particular needs IT user spoke to us about the problems she faces, and her solutions. Most importantly, she answers the question – how can we make the web more accessible?

What should content designers and developers be doing?

The most obvious thing for me is to use Responsive Web Design (RWD). This solves the problem of websites not fitting on my screen and I can access the same options as everyone else. Since RWD became mainstream around 2012/13 I’ve been able to use the mobile versions of most websites (including GOV.UK and the backend of GOV.UK). I’m a big fan!

Design accessible websites by:

1 making your layout clear and simple
2 having menus at the top of the page, on the left if possible, so that people using a low resolution find them quickly
3 using .png files for diagrams because they’re transparent; someone using their own colour scheme will see their colour preference as the background colour
4 providing text alongside icons and images to explain what’s going on
5 publishing HTML pages, not .pdf files, because they’re accessible to more users
6 taking alternative text attributes off diagrams and putting them on the page; people who don’t use screen readers but can’t read the text in your image won’t miss out (use “” in the alt text field because you’ll no longer need any)

Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: Accessibility and me: Marian Foley | Accessibility

Why accessibility is good for business (according to my mechanic) » Simply Accessible

I was lucky to find my mechanic, Pete. There was only one problem. A single, 6” step that stood between my wheelchair and his garage.

There was only one problem.

A single, 6” step that stood between my wheelchair and Pete’s office. Most people wouldn’t even notice, but it was enough of a hindrance that I couldn’t get into the garage.

Each time I needed to have work done on my car, I’d have to call ahead and make sure Pete or one of his employees could meet me in the yard to discuss the issues with my car, get the keys, or arrange payment.

Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: Why accessibility is good for business (according to my mechanic) » Simply Accessible

Being a deaf developer

… Some deaf people successfully become programmers. It’s mostly thought-based, often solitary work, where all your output is written down. Specifications and bugs come to you (in an ideal world, at least) on paper and in ticketing systems instead of through other people’s noiseholes. Some areas aren’t quite so fabulous (I’m looking at you, interminable conference call meetings involving 15 people sitting in a circle around a gigantic table), but adjustments are always possible.

The stereotype of a programmer as a solitary eccentric who’s allergic to human company is unfair and inaccurate. As a group, we’re a very social bunch. We write blogs, we speak at conferences, we produce tutorials, we mentor. This isn’t new, either – it’s an atmosphere that dates from before the earliest days of the internet at Bell Labs, or MIT, and scores of other R&D orgs. I love this social world of code, as being able to surround yourself with competent, enthusiastic individuals is a big part of becoming a better developer yourself. But one thing that I’ve always felt shut out of is pair programming.

Pair programming, in principle, is great – it’s like Rubber Duck debugging on steroids.

So it was great to get the opportunity to pair with Rowan Manning on the Pa11y project, the automated accessibility testing tool built for Nature. Using Screenhero to set up a remote pairing session meant that we could both look at the screen and use text to communicate, losing no information and generating no confusion.

This was the first time I’ve done a pairing session that worked as it should. It’s difficult to express what a difference this makes as I think most hearing people find it hard to appreciate how much information loss occurs in general conversation with a deaf person. Imagine that in your city that all the books you’ve ever read have had ~60% of the words in them randomly blanked out with a Sharpie. Then imagine going on holiday to a neighbouring city where (mercifully) nobody does that and you can suddenly read an entire book without needing to guess at anything. It’s a bit like that.

Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: Being a deaf developer

Talk to the hand!

“However, all that may change. If you believe the doctors, I will lose my speech at some point, although they have been saying that for 20 years, and there will be other jobs that push and challenge me. My commitment is to face those brick wall moments head on and climb the bloody wall rather than trying to resign.

”Even in her difficult moment, Furness saw in his young employee many of the qualities that Lay-Flurrie’s managers and colleagues at Microsoft would later recognize – a “dynamic leader, a natural storyteller, an advocate for customers” and someone who is “competitive, courageous, grounded by purpose, and able to put people at ease and enlist hearts and minds.

”Lay-Flurrie is now senior director for accessibility, online safety and privacy at Microsoft.

With her Union Jack wristwatch and her “Keep Calm and Carry On” office decorations, she’s also a bit of a one-woman British embassy at the company’s Redmond, Wash., headquarters. Lay-Flurrie regularly incorporates phrases like “that’s pants” (British for “no good”) into conversation, which flows like the afternoon tea at The Ritz London because she’s also a gold-medal lip reader with perfect speech.

“The bee’s knees, taking the mickey out of people – my colleagues call them Jenny-isms, but I told them ‘That’s just boggins! They’re British-isms!’

“It took me a long time to figure out my disability is a strength. We are born problem solvers, loyal, and driven. I wouldn’t change my journey for the world – it’s made me who I am – but there is a smarter way to do this,” Lay-Flurrie says.

“There is so much that I can do to help others personally and in my role at Microsoft. There are a billion people with disabilities in the world. We’ve got to get it right for them.”

Curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: Talk to the hand!

How a Running App Helps a Blind Runner Train Solo

Before Simon Wheatcroft starts running near his home in Doncaster, Great Britain, he finds where the grass begins on his left and takes one step to his right, positioning himself in the center of a ribbon of sidewalk. Like any run, light poles and street signs jut slightly onto the path on occasion.

curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: How a Running App Helps a Blind Runner Train Solo

EdTech and the accessibility paradox | Christensen Institute

Summer Cox is an exceptional student education coordinator at Henry County Public Schools in Georgia. For a number of years, her district has pursued personalized learning. That’s given Cox a front seat to a new movement in education, which calls for recreating classrooms in a manner that supports learning for each child.

Cox has a unique outlook on where personalized learning is headed: she helps oversee the district’s special education programs and strives to ensure that students with disabilities are included in the overall vision for structural and instructional reform. In some ways, personalized learning is catching up to what special education advocates have long believed. As Cox explained:

It’s my opinion as a special educator that not all students are the same. Therefore, we should not present them with the same learning experiences. … Different students need the ability to access their learning differently, and we should help facilitate that as teachers.But in her role, Cox has also seen where school districts like hers struggle to ensure that software programs actually align to student and teacher needs, especially when it comes to providing content appropriate for different learners.

“Our teachers need the ability to modify the content if needed to fit individual learning needs or the needs of small groups of students, if they don’t fit into the ‘packaged’ curriculum that is provided with the software,” Cox said.

curated by (Lifekludger)
Read full article at Source: EdTech and the accessibility paradox | Christensen Institute