I am in Anaheim for the week which is pretty cool. I’m attending a conference here which I want to tell you a few stories from. I will start with the negative and end positive. First though I honestly thought Anaheim was spelled Anahine by the way I heard it pronounced. This is why braille is so important, so you can know things instead of guess and be way wrong. Literacy is so important especially to folks who are blind. Anyway off my box.
This is my first conference that I’ve been to that isn’t disability conference of some sort. Maybe I am so used to folks just getting my blindness, but this has been frustrating a bit. Today at lunch other than someone saying hi it was if I wasn’t there. I could hear them and I even tried to engage but no one responded to me. Maybe it’s people don’t know how to respond or the lack of nonverbal communication is of course hard for me, but it was sad. I’m not saying this to bring shame on you I just am trying to understand. I’ve observed complete strangers sit down by each other and become friends that doesn’t really happen for me usually. I all most have to do something or say the right thing to invoke that curiosity. I felt so awkward. They served chicken breast the server was a nice guy and I am just observing. He offered to cut it for me I declined. He then without prompting me picked up my fork put it in my hand and in my other hand he handed me the knife. I knew where these were why do that? I felt like I was in a twilight zone episode.
One other time I was coming off an escalator and this woman approached me and said I just want to tell you something. What you did was so inspiring. I honestly didn’t know what she was referring to so I asked her what was? She said you getting on that escalator and getting off on your own. I didn’t exactly know what to say so I said thank you or something to that affect. She would be really amazed seeing what I do at home crossing streets and such. It’s no wonder though why employment and blind folks face hard things in life. Were still seen as taking an escalator as doing something amazing. More than likely though I am the first blind person she’s met so I don’t hate that she did that or even told me. It just makes me feel confused.
Now some good. I sat next to a lady from Australia who tests software and hardware for a cable company. We got to talking and I told her my biggest annoyance with talking set boxes in America is. That is they have no shut up button. Once you get it talking it reads you everything it’s programmed to and I have no way to stop it as a user. I also usually have no way to speed up the speech which is annoying. SO blind folks in Australia if you get these features please mail me beef jerky it’s my fav!! She seemed really happy and wanted to take that feedback back to her company. American companies for the love of god please fix this also. We have what we have because it meets the law I feel like they’ve all abandoned the idea of actually making it better. It’s fine though Abby and I have YoutubeTV it’s better anyway.
I also met a lady from IBM we talked a lot. I also met a guy who tests products for Bose professional. That was neat and I made several connections. The irony is I met most of these folks in the one session where they had disability testing as a highlight. One of my most disliked conversations happened Monday when I asked a guy if they do any accessibility testing on there apps? He said we used to, but the blind person we had quit and moved on. He said we have probably taken a few steps back. This really upset me and I told him so. I said you know sighted folks can test with a screen reader or mobile phone also. If you turn it on and can tab or use the keyboard to access the info on the computer then it going to be accessible. On a mobile phone if you touch the screen and can navigate to the content it will more than likely be accessible. He just didn’t get it. My faith was restored though when I met a lady who worked for a health insurance company out of Ohio who said she uses a screen reader to test her apps and has the speed set at 45%. I wanted to give her a hug lol it cheered me up.
Anyway Mickey Mouse gets pretty upset if I am up late so I am off to the magical kingdom for now. Hopefully one day we will just all be people and we can admire each other for being kind and wonderful humans until then you get my blog.