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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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Digital Magazine Accessibility Experiment IRL

Digital Magazine Accessibility Experiment IRL Featured image description is in the body of the post.

Digital Magazine Accessibility Experiment IRL

“Diversity Is Being Invited to the Party; Inclusion Is Being Asked to Dance”

~Vernã Myers

I published a quick blog post earlier today about a new project. The original idea involved creating a fully accessible digital magazine for blind and visually impaired people. As my partner, Chelsea Nguyen of CN Vision Image Consulting and I continued hashing out our plan it evolved. Since we agreed our publication should be wholly inclusive then so should our readers and contributors. So we expanded our idea to include people across the disability spectrum.

Chelsea, a talented image consultant, agreed to give our featured guests and cover models, an online consultation. We divvied up our tasks then got down to the serious business of pulling together a team of contributors. Within a couple of weeks, we had a name, domain, logo, social media platforms and more. The only thing missing? I’m glad you asked. Allow me to elaborate.

We found a cool magazine creation platform that was relatively easy to use if you don’t have a disability. I noticed missing alt text fields which are used to describe images to people who use screen readers. Not to be deterred, we asked a Techno Wizard if he knew of a company who would work with us.

During our initial email exchanges with the company, we thought they might work out. Sadly during our live demo, while the platform was WCAG 2.1 AA compliant it was a bust. WCAG 2.1 or Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is just fancy talk for sites that meet accessibility standards. Our problem was the service didn’t include the ability to create the magazine on the back end.

Where Do We Go From Here?

CAPTIVATING! is the name of our publication. Why? Because we believe people with disabilities are valuable, capable, and tenacious. The problem is society isn’t set up to accommodate many of us. Case in point, CAPTIVATING! Oh, and word on the street is a new content editor isn’t accessible (but you didn’t hear it from me). Thank heavens we developed a tagline that’s fundamental to our belief system: “The power and possibilities of inclusion are limitless!”

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

Currently, there doesn’t seem to be a wholly accessible platform for people with disabilities to collaborate and design a digital publication. In view of this Chelsea and our team had to get a little creative to pull this off. Our end product isn’t perfect and as we keep going we will get better. But imagine how much we could do if we had the proper tools? This is what it’s like living with a disability day in day out.

The world wasn’t designed for us and so many times we have to create workarounds just to do basic tasks that many take for granted. Is it fair? No it isn’t which is why we advocate for change, for inclusion. Disability rights are human rights.

We couldn’t create a fancy online magazine with audio, video, alt-text and yet pretty. It just doesn’t exist yet so we had to improvise. Here is a link to the first issue of CAPTIVATING! An accessible copy of the magazine will be distributed by our friends at the NFB (National Federation of the Blind).

Digital Magazine Accessibility Experiment IRL Featured Image Description:

CAPTIVATING! Front cover: on the top Quarter of the cover page Is the logo and name of the magazine, captivating, 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 CAPTIVATING! is the tagline “The power and possibilities of inclusion are limitless.”

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Coming Soon…CAPTIVATING!

Coming Soon Featured image description is in the body of the post.

“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.”

~Christopher Reeve

Coming Soon…CAPTIVATING!

#1 Tri-Collage image description is in the body of the post.
#1 Tri-Collage

Have you ever met someone and within the first few minutes you clicked? That’s what I experienced a few months ago when I noticed a
Facebook post of one of my friends who received a makeover. The before and after was extraordinary and I immediately reached out to my friend to find out who was responsible for his revamped image.

Chelsea Nguyen was her name and I wasted no time getting her contact information. After an exchange of introductory emails, we set up a date to speak by phone. Typically I set aside 30 minutes to an hour for these types of calls―ours went beyond three hours! We share so much in common we both were thinking we must be related.

My friend Chelsea is a phenomenal image consultant and Owner of CN Vision Image Consulting. A fellow ‘Type A Personality’, Chelsea also has a heart for people with disabilities. And get this, not only is she actively involved in the disability community but her business places a special focus on blind and visually impaired people. Was this meant to be or what?

Two Heads Are Better Than One

At this point you’re probably wondering what in the heck am I babbling about, am I right? Eh, maybe, maybe not, but I’m gonna tell ya anyway. Well, not tell all because that would defeat the purpose of the upcoming surprise. It’s just that I’m so not good at keeping the cat in the bag but I’m gonna work really hard at this.

Chelsea and I may be going out on a limb but we got this idea that if we combined forces we could do something BIG. Bringing other people on board to share the love is only a small piece of it. I’m so excited I can’t stand it and am going to have to sign off for now before I spill the beans.

Oh, and one more thing… I will be formally introducing Chelsea to you eventually, just been a bit tied up.

Stay tuned!

Coming Soon…CAPTIVATING! Featured Image Description:

A big, bold, red check mark on a black background.

Additional Image:

Tri-panel collage with images from the magazine. The CAPTIVATING! logo is layered and centered horizontally over the collage. It’s a black rectangular shape and the text is written in white bold All capital letters except for the V which is drawn with an artistic style font in bold, red and looks like a big check mark. And at the end of the word captivating is also a red bold exclamation mark.

Be In The Know & Follow Us:

  • Instagram: @captivatingmagazine
  • Facebook: @captivatingmagazine
  • Twitter: 😱 Oh no!! Our Twitter account locked us out but not to worry we’re on the case.