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Adapting | The Key To Conquering Challenges | A Case For Accessibility

Adapting The Key To Conquering Challenges Featured image description is in the body of the post.

“I have plans for my life and I will adapt until I achieve my goals, even when things get tough. I know I have challenges just like everyone else, but I will conquer those challenges in a different way.”

~Rachel Carver

Today’s Woman On The Move, Rachel Carver shares real life examples of workarounds when accessibility is lacking. As people with disabilities, creative thinking is required to accomplish many nominal tasks. We are so used to figuring out ways to do what we have to achieve, we do it without thinking. This is our real life.

Adapting | The Key To Conquering Challenges | A Case For Accessibility

Blind since birth, I learned early that the sighted world is not going to adapt to you, so you better figure out how to adapt to it – whether you want to or not.

Like most 17-year-olds, I was stubborn. But being the only blind student in my small town high school made me different, and I wanted to blend in.

I used Braille for everything until my senior year of high school. My teachers told me to start listening to my books. Blind college students did not use Braille. I resisted. I was angry. Normal students carried books, not a weird tape player from the 1990s. I was in government class with the tape player. We had our homework, and this was my first time listening to the text. I hated every minute of it. My classmates flipped pages and chatted while I attempted to operate a clunky machine.

Just as my anger was subsiding, I dropped my tape player. It was dead. My sociology book report needed citations from the text. I was furious. A Braille book would not do this to me. In tears, I asked my teacher for an extension. I did not have time to order a Braille book, but I received the extension while the tape player was fixed. Then I grimly set about reading the book with the machine I came to despise and taking notes for my book report.

Out of all my college prep work, learning to do my school work by listening instead of reading was the hardest part. But without this ability, the first semester of college would have been a nightmare.

Creating a Way Out of No Way

My teachers were right; Braille college textbooks did not exist. I developed multiple tools for accessing my books. Sometimes, I bought the print book and scanned the chapters I needed to my computer. I used electronic books. Other students did not care about me using my laptop for tests and studying. It was normal to be different.

College further taught me to adapt to succeed. During my first semester, I signed up for a trip to Mexico. When asked if I needed a companion, I responded with a firm no. Then a special meeting called by my Spanish professor ruined my excitement.

I learned the university ignored my answer and hired a trip companion for me – without my knowledge and against my wishes. My jaw dropped. I could not speak.

In tears, I told my friends I was not going. This trip companion probably thought I was a clueless girl that needed help in the shower. My friends sympathized but pointed out the trip was paid for. My parents agreed with them and told me to make the best of my situation.

When we arrived in Mexico, we spent two weeks at a school studying Spanish, and the trip companion served as my reader. In her hometown, we rode in her boyfriend’s jeep and went to a restaurant off the beaten path. My hired companion became a friend. She learned about the capabilities of a blind person. I took my negative situation and made it a great experience for both of us. I have great memories of Mexico.

The Most Difficult Challenge

My most recent adaptation has been the hardest. I sat in the hospital waiting room, focusing on work to stop my brain from thinking about the surgery results. The doctor confirmed my fears; my husband’s left retina had detached. I cried because diabetes had started taking his eyesight and the life we knew was gone. I wiped my eyes and put on a brave face to tell my husband. We remained optimistic about the right eye, hoping the laser treatments would keep it stable. Three months later, I was back in that same waiting room, praying the retina in this eye was still in place.

I will never forget the last time my husband drove. It was snowing, and we took our son to the park. After arriving home, we put a pizza in the oven. Before the pizza was done, his right eye was a blurry fog. I was nervous but optimistic. Maybe he would drive again.

My heart ached watching him struggle to read our son printed stories he could barely see. I stood strong through four surgeries, trying my best to take care of a house and adjust to not having a driver. I could not step into our van because I would feel sadness. And I did not have time for sadness. I had to keep going.

Surgery improved my husband’s eye sight in one eye but did not give him back his keys. He is employed after deteriorating sight and four surgeries resulted in three months without work. We found other transportation methods. We grew closer as a family. I processed my emotions. I adapted to another change.

Continuing To Conquer

I have plans for my life and I will adapt until I achieve my goals, even when things get tough. I know I have challenges just like everyone else, but I will conquer those challenges in a different way.

Adapting | The Key To Conquering Challenges | A Case For Accessibility Featured Image Description:

Photo of Woman On The Move Rachel Carver is in boldblindbeauty.com’s WOTM template. The entire template contains the photo and a transparent gray overlay with the opening quote in white text is near the bottom. Rachel is positively beaming in the photo as she smiles broadly for the camera. Her cropped hair is pulled back from her face revealing a dewy fresh face with minimal makeup. She’s wearing a royal blue jacket over a black and white print top.

Connecting With Rachel Carver:

LinkedIn: @Rachel-Carver-APR

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Broken Glass From Pushing Boundaries | A Dedication

Broken Glass From Pushing Boundaries Featured image description is in the body of the post.

Broken Glass From Pushing Boundaries | A Dedication

If you happened to come across my ramblings over the weekend I excitedly announced my latest project. CAPTIVATING! a new and soon to be fully accessible digital lifestyle magazine.

In case you missed it, in my attempt to be clever I did a little Coming Soon teaser post. Then later in the day, Digital Magazine Accessibility Experiment IRL went into a little more detail. I was so proud of my accomplishment of being a “cool kid” by using the IRL acronym I didn’t realize until after publication I didn’t define the acronym. You’ve probably already known IRL is “In Real Life.” The first time I saw it I Googled it.

I’m not afraid to admit that I’m seldom in the know when it comes to pop culture, never have been. Case in point, as I was streaming some music while working on the follow-up post, one song caught my ear. It sounded so good I had to play it again and again and then looked up the lyrics. Here I’m thinking “wow, I found a new song”―wrong! I shouldn’t have been surprised that the song now at over 9 million hits came out last year such is the story of my life.

Dancing On Broken Glass

Okay to the point of this post. The song “Broken Glass” by Rachel Platten really spoke to my heart in light of what our team at CAPTIVATING! accomplished. One person in particular, Victoria Claire, made us all look good by creating our sharp logo. I had no idea she was a graphic designer in another life and when she offered to create the CAPTIVATING! logo, I accepted her offer.

#1 CAPTIVATING! Logo description is in the body of the post.
#1 CAPTIVATING! Logo

Vicky has appeared on Bold Blind Beauty several times as we’ve become great friends. The thing that gets me about this lady is her talent. I mean I don’t there’s anything she can’t do. She’s a sculptress, composer, singer, speaker, and if that weren’t enough she surfs, skateboards, and boxes. And, while I don’t like doing this, in this case, I think it bears mentioning, she does all of this partially sighted. Yes, Vicky is losing her eyesight to Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). Like many of us who experience sight loss, she had to go through some stuff before reaching the point of acceptance. To be clear Vicky isn’t phenomenal because she does these things without seeing, she’s phenomenal because of who she is.

Generally speaking, society has a hard time understanding the capabilities of people with disabilities let alone those who are blind. Like anything else in life when the desire to learn is in place there’s almost nothing we can’t accomplish. I dedicate this song to Vicky and all of my persistent, strong-willed, resolute friends who constantly push boundaries―we are survivors!! Thank you!! Enjoy!

Broken Glass From Pushing Boundaries | A Dedication Featured Image Description:

In this photo, Vicky is sitting, leaning forward, and looking directly at the camera. Her straight blond hair parted in the middle frames her face.  Wearing minimal makeup she is stunning with pink frosted lip color and intense green eyes. She is wearing a sleeveless black dress with a keyhole neckline.

Additional Image:

  1. CAPTIVATING! logo: captivating, is written in white bold All capital letters except for the ‘V’ in the magazine name is drawn with an artistic style font in bold red and looks like a big check mark. At the end of the word, ‘captivating’ is a red bold exclamation mark. Under the text is the tagline “The power and possibilities of inclusion are limitless.”

Victoria’s Social Media Platforms:

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Real Beauty Transcends Barriers

Real Beauty Transcends Barriers Featured image description is in the body of the post.

Real Beauty Transcends Barriers

“Helping, fixing and serving represent three different ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak. When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. Fixing and helping may be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul.”

~ Rachel Naomi Remen

social entrepreneur is a person who pursues novel applications that have the potential to solve community-based problems. These individuals are willing to take on the risk and effort to create positive changes in society through their initiatives.

I took the path to social entrepreneurship when I was a youngster. As a self-professed misfit, I developed a heart for fellow misfits early on. Looking back, I’m sure being bullied because I was so shy, socially awkward, and extremely sensitive led me in this direction. The desire to fit in with my classmates was so strong yet so unattainable. I’d eventually retreat into a solitary world filled with books and creativity.

Finding My Voice

Being voiceless is such an awful feeling. You feel helpless, hopeless, and invisible. While I had a strong sense of fair play, believed in truth, and doing the right thing, for some reason, I felt vulnerable and small. Yet, I found my voice the day my younger brother was picked on by one of my tormentors. Something in me just snapped and I chased down the creep. To this day I still have the scar on my knee from when we hit the ground as I whaled on him. 

Sticking up for my brother made me feel so good. Protecting him not only empowered me it felt like it was the right thing to do. Is it any wonder that I would become an advocate turned social entrepreneur? 

Contemplative, systematic, intentional along with the need to right wrongs drives me; it’s who I am. Advocating on behalf of other people is my purpose and my gift. It’s one of the reasons I created Bold Blind Beauty

Accepting the fact that I could no longer see was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. What made it far more difficult were the societal reactions to blindness, blind people, and the wild misconceptions. My blindness helped me to ‘see’ that changing perceptions was needed to improve inequity and inequality for people with disabilities. 

There’s Power In The Message

We are living in a time where anyone can exercise their right to say anything about another for the whole world to see. It matters little whether what is being said is true or not, we can’t seem to use restraint in speaking our minds. For someone who has found their voice in serving others, the world of social media can be extremely overwhelming. 

Social media is so noisy and people like me don’t and won’t yell–it’s not our way. So when someone gets our message it’s so much more meaningful than fame or notoriety.  

Recently on Bold Blind Beauty, I featured Dr. Amy Kavanagh and I was so touched over a post she wrote. In Bold, Blind & Beautiful, Amy talks about beauty and disability as it relates to her on a personal level. She also talks about how she reflected on this site’s central message: “Real Beauty Transcends Barriers.” 

Identifying The Problem

I’m not interested in becoming rich or partnering with a fabulous company to take me to the next level. What I am interested in is changing perceptions not just for blind people but for anyone who has a disability. I believe beauty, real beauty is far more than aesthetics. Real beauty is deep, it’s who we are at our core.   

When I was young, I wanted nothing more than to fit in. Fast forward several decades, my strength and real beauty were found in being a misfit me. Today, I choose not to follow the crowd and while I may be a misfit me, I’m a misfit who I won’t compromise my principles. 

Blindness is not the problem. Disabilities are not the problem. The problem is how we as a society view people with disabilities. Not unlike a caste system, people with disabilities are widely looked down upon and seen as inferior. What’s so ironic is we are the only minority group where anyone can become a member at any time.

As a social entrepreneur, I take my role here at Bold Blind Beauty very seriously. I’m protective of the people I feature here and the site’s messaging. Abby, the fashion icon, articles, and merchandise are all interconnected and designed to change people’s attitudes towards blindness. 

Appearance is only one small way to be beautiful. When the beauty of your youth fades will you like who you’ve become?

Real Beauty Transcends Barriers Featured Image:

A photo of me sitting on a barstool at my counter. My chin is lightly resting on my propped upright hand. I’m wearing winter white pants with a creamy gold long sleeve v-neck sweater and matching fringed vest. I’m holding my white cane in my left hand.

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Fashion & Blindness?

I was blessed to be the recipient of an unexpected surprise from Australia in the form of the following post located At the Gateway to Blindness. The author of the post, Maribel Steel, is one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. Her positivity resonates so clearly you can hear it in the manner in which she strings words together in her exquisite writing.

Maribel has graciously given me permission to re-post the article on one of my favorite topics. Remember how I mentioned the vast range of vision loss? To give you an example, if 1 is perfect vision and 10 is total blindness, (Maribel please correct me if I’m wrong) I would guess Maribel’s would be about a 9.5. In today’s post Maribel invites us to experience the world of fashion through the eyes of one who is almost totally blind.

Why be Fashionable if You Can’t See

Picture of buttons stored in cylinders - Photo Courtesy of Harry Williamson
Photo Courtesy of
Harry Williamson

When I give presentations to interested groups on what it is like to be visually-impaired, I can guarantee one question will ALWAYS be asked at the end of my talk – “How do you know what you are wearing?” Women especially, are surprised that I can be colour-coordinated from top to toe. There is no great mystery involved, there is no other person dressing me in the morning. The simple answer is – choosing one’s clothing is a matter of FEELING first, then seeing how it all fits together. When you feel good in what you wear, you will look great!

The other reason why I love clothes shopping is because browsing with my hands is an exquisite experience. Feeling textures of clothing or gliding my hands over jewellery is not always because I want to buy it but is a curious desire on my part to see the choices at my fingertips.

Here are some fashion questions I was asked recently, so let’s take a closer look why being fashionable is not just about seeing, but about feeling. Oh, and a little warning too, the photos, well, yes, they were taken a few years ago, funny how one can think one is being fashionable at the time!

How important is fashion and style to you?

Picture of Maribel wearing a rich colored top and accessorized with a scarf.
Photo Courtesy of
Harry Williamson

Fashion is fun and I enjoy feeling garments which allows me to visualise the world of ever-changing trends. I think it’s a ‘girlie’ thing – taking delight in touching clothes, lingerie, shoes, dabbing on perfumes or smelling leather hand bags because it is highly enjoyable to ‘see’ what’s in fashion.

The other reason for my ever-readiness to touch the world around me is because it is not normally permitted in galleries or museums so when I am in a store or market place, it allows me to touch all sorts of objects I can’t see and by doing so, I feel less excluded from the visual world.

What sort of fabrics do you enjoy the most?

Soft fabrics, satin trims, things with buttons and bows. I also enjoy knitting and making luxurious scarves for friends as winter gifts. In summer, I look for soft undergarments and layer my outfits with flowing chiffon tops. Lingerie is another one of my touchy-feely delights – as it is worn close to the skin, I won’t compromise the feel of luxury by purchasing cheap underwear – it has to be soft and silky (including hosery).

I believe that when you begin the first layer of clothing feeling feminine, you will wear the dress with an upright back and carry an air of chic – like a proud Spanish Lipizzaner!

What are your considerations when choosing garments?

Picture of Maribel wearing a pleated skirt, blouse that ties at the neck, patterned sweater vest and a tam. Colored coordinated in shades of tan, oranges & browns
Photo Courtesy of
Harry Williamson

Apart from seeking comfort and prettiness of garment, even in casual wear, I am fussy about colour and design. When on my own, I take quite a while to scout out an item as I examine the texture carefully and the cut by feeling the collar, shape etc. I know what styles suit me by past experience and many times, a garment falls off the hanger as if to grab my attention and often, it is a good choice – could this be intuition helping? Then I quiz the shop assistant for the colour and price and if it passes these two questions, I will buy it.

Colours seem to have a certain ‘vibe’ for instance, as soon as I put grey near my face, my skin begins to feel drained. My favourite colours are strong and bold as in red, orange, colbalt blue, sunshine yellow and hot pink as these tones not only feel ‘right’ for me, I can see them in natural daylight.

At home, I hang clothing in groups so that matching items are placed together to be colour co-ordinated.

What shops do you frequent the most and why?

I enjoy being independent and setting my own pace as well as going out with friends to meander into the odd gift or fashion store. I often end up buying things because my girlfriends or partner point out items on special I wouldn’t have seen.

Picture of handbags
Photo Courtesy of
Harry Williamson

I go to the same clothing stores because it is easier to get around the shop without feeling overwhelmed. I visit the local stores where the shop keepers know me and are quick to offer help – even though it might be more expensive, the price of being looked after is well worth it.

But I do have to be in the right mood as it takes a lot of concentration to keep track of my movement around the store, to avoid prams and other obstacles. Sometimes the bumping from one object off another can feel like being inside a live pinball machine and if I can’t cope I will leave the store.

I particularly love feeling shoes! As I have no idea what people wear on their feet, a shoe shop is a lovely place to wander. I get to understand the different types of heels, shape of shoes and just adore this sort of shopping.

My partner, Harry, takes a particular delight in bringing objects closer into my reach and we often take time to enjoy the experience together (unless it is a cactus plant, which he has accidentally done on one occasion, misunderstanding my fondness for feeling flowers!

What challenges do you face when shopping?

On the whole, people are pretty helpful and understanding if I ask for assistance. A few pointers however, when a person is training to work in a department store or fashion counter, it would be extremely beneficial to know not to do the following –  as the store assistant, don’t ask my friend, “Would she like this?” It is kinder to ask me personally.

Some of the main challenges are:

  • first is to locate the right shop and entrance, sometimes blaring music indicates a clothing store plus sense of smell helps me to sniff out the correct place
  • manoeuvring around a shop I have not been in before and avoiding the racks while keeping the cane tight in one hand, the other loose to stray over fabrics to give me some sort of clue as to what I am ‘looking’ for
  • main disadvantage is in not being able to see the size and price on tags, colour of garment
  • must be very careful that the clothing I am feeling is on a mannequin and not the clothing of another shopper!
  • have no idea where the ‘specials’ rack is unless I ask for assistance
  • indoor shopping centres are a nightmare to navigate through especially as there is a bombardment of clashing sound coming from all quarters that hinders my hearing and can be very stressful (so I tend to shop in places that I know or are on a street front)
  • a fashion item that is hard to choose on my own are sunglasses. Often whoever is with me will pick the style they like and then when I wear them, my family will comment “who helped you to buy those sunglasses?” which means – they wouldn’t have chosen them for me so needless to say, I have a few dead pairs in my drawer.

How important to you are the perceptions of others of you fashion wise?

Picture of Maribel posing with her cane, dressed in a black skirt, black lacy sleeved top, black flats and multi-colored handbag.
Photo Courtesy of
Harry Williamson

I like to demonstrate that blind or vision-impaired women can enjoy being colour co-ordinated, wear smart and trendy gear with high heels and enjoy fashion just as much as our sighted friends do. People are often surprised to see me turn up at a function with matching jewellery, fashionable dress with lovely bag and jacket and I am surprised by their reaction – why wouldn’t a vision-impaired woman be dressed well?

I also have a passion for smelling fragrances at perfume counters and put my nose to the test to pinpoint individual scent molecules from cleverly concocted blends. The art of wearing fragrance – mmm, that’s another story…

If you want to be bold and beautiful, you can – let Stephanae (Steph) McCoy, the Blind Style Blogger show you how to strut your stuff at:

Bold Blind Beauty: Style Concepts for the Visually Impaired

AND, in the UK, Emily Davison speaks the language of fashion That Comes From the Heart and Soul at

Fashioneyesta: Bridging the Gap between Fashion and Sight
fashioneyesta.com/

Copyright © Maribel Steel 2014

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.” ~Rachel Zoe