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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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Industry Leader Creates Tactile Packaging

Industry Leader Creates Tactile Packaging featured image description is in the body of the post.

Industry Leader Creates Tactile Packaging

“Inviting people with disabilities to the table at the concept stage increases the likelihood of creating inclusive products and services. When we design from an inclusive mindset, everyone wins.”

~Bold Blind Beauty

Inclusion is the word on the street

The buzz on the inclusion front comes in the form of tactile markings on hair care products. The markings will allow people who are blind or visually impaired to identify the product.

Procter & Gamble’s Herbal Essences is leading the way to inclusivity with their new accessible bottles. My friend Holly over at Blind Motherhood did a review. Check it out here: Herbal Essences Hair Care Creates Inclusive Bottle Design for Visually Impaired.

Industry Leader Featured Image Description:

The photo is of a chrome shower head that can be used as a handheld. 

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Jade Ramos | Blind Beauty Issue 35

Blind Beauty Issue 35 featured image description is in the body of the post.

Jade Ramos | Blind Beauty Issue 35

“Having a great self-confidence day so here’s my new profile pic” ~Jade Ramos

Image #1 Disability related motifs
Image #1 Disability related motifs

The above caption along with her powerful artwork is what captivated me about Jade Ramos. The beauty of her words spoke to the authenticity of her selfie, no air-brushing just a confident young woman.

Jade, who refers to herself as ‘a legally blind one-eyed artist,’ is also an extraordinary activist. I was so moved by several of Jade’s pieces I requested permission to share them here with you today.  Descriptions on each of these pieces are below.

When I asked Jade for a quote to go with this post she chose a favorite from Christopher Reeve. After becoming disabled later in life Christopher had this to say:

“I refuse to allow a disability to determine how I live my life. There is only one way to go in life and that is forward.” ~Christopher Reeve

Jade frequently thinks of this quote when things get tough or she gets bad news related to her eyesight. As a matter of fact, if you look closely at image #2 you’ll see this quote.

“Your words, attitudes, and actions impacts my life more than my disability does.

Image #2 Wheelchair icon description is in the body of the post.
Image #2

“Disability is just another way for a mind and/or body to be.”

Image #3 description is in the body of the post.
Image #3

“Make The American Dream Accessible”

Image #4 description is in the body of the post.
Image #4 Tactile Art

“The Disability Is Not The Problem The Lack of Accessibility Is”

Blind Beauty Issue 35 Featured Image Description:

Featured image is a mock magazine cover titled Blind Beauty. Jade’s cover photo is a black and white selfie of her proudly showing off her clear prosthetic right eye. She is wearing a black jacket over a black v-neck top with several stacked necklaces and has a thin lip ring in the center of her bottom lip.

Jade’s Art Image Descriptions:

  • Image #1 Disability related motifs – Assorted black disability icons on a white background. Explained by Jade: “People with disabilities are rarely seen in a positive light when it comes to representation in the media & in everyday life. So I made them have smiles. The original symbol only shows one type of white cane & one type of wheelchair user so I made new images depicting the actual reality.” While these particular images represent visual impairments, Jade will be including other disabilities as she expands.
  • Image #2 A big wheelchair icon is front and center along with quoted text including the Christopher Reeve quote. The text and several smaller icons are interspersed throughout the piece, some are black and some gray. The quotes are included in this post.
  • Image #3 This is a photo of several pieces including the disability icons and abstract art. What caught my attention are the number of statements (some quoted throughout this post).
  • Image #4 This tactile piece is the first time Jade has incorporated braille into her work. It reads “Disability! The one minority group everyone can join. Accessibility matters!”

You can connect with Jade on the following:

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Accessibility At Its Finest Begins At Planning

Can A Blind Person Enjoy A Movie?

Description is provided in the body of the post.
#1 Outside front of The Tull Family Theater, lobby and screening room.

I hope everyone had a nice weekend. Can you believe how quickly this summer is progressing? It seems like yesterday we were in May and now, well we’re more than half way through the year.

Even though the days are moving rather swiftly I for one am having a blast. Last week I met with a good friend of mine at the new theater in my childhood hometown, Sewickley, and what a great experience I had.

The Tull Family Theater is such a well-designed facility whose organizers went above and beyond ADA requirements where accessibility is concerned. The management team knew I was coming ahead of time and was anxious for my feedback on their audio descriptive equipment which I use to watch movies.

Description is in the body of the post.
#2 Concession stand (front), concession stand (side), screening room

On entering the building, I was immediately struck by the wide open airy feeling of the space. The facility was bright, very clean, and uncluttered which is an important detail when you can’t see very well.

A tour of the building allowed me to experience firsthand the welcoming environment of the wheelchair accessible hallways, ramps, grab-bars, and general area to navigate. The front of the building which contains the roomy lobby area and a concession stand is brightened up by the glass entryway, high ceiling, and soothing gray with purple accent walls.

Description is in the body of the post
#3 Collage of me posing with my white cane.

The two film screening rooms are very comfortable and share the same gray/purple color scheme throughout the rest of the building. There is also the large Esmark and Bouchard Family Community Room which is available for rental for various events.

At my son’s recommendation, I chose to watch Despicable Me 3. While the audio description was alright the fact that I didn’t see the other two movies first made it difficult for me to fully enjoy the film. Not to be deterred, me and one of my friends will be going to the theater this weekend to take in a different film.

Overall I had a very good day and what made it even more special, aside from meeting with my friend, was the interest and care provided by the management team. Every person I met wanted to know what they could do to improve their service and offerings from an accessibility standpoint.

What I wore: white jeans, white cami, opened white shirt, nude lace-up block heeled sandals, silver statement necklace, bracelet, earrings and my white cane.

Descriptions: Three tri-panel collages

  1. Outside front of the theater with 3 banners (Film, The Tull Family Theater, and Art), inside lobby and screening room featuring seats, speakers on the wall and other equipment.
  2. Concession stand (front) with hanging light fixtures, popcorn & soda machines and candy; concession stand (side); screening room featuring the screen.
  3. I am standing in all three photos, posing with my white cane in front of my counter.

Have a great Monday!