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Why We Need AIR: Accessibility Inclusion Representation

AIR is vital to sustaining all life. For people with disabilities, AIR is equally important to our survival. AIR, in this case, symbolizes Accessibility, Inclusion, and Representation 3 key elements required to break down barriers.

Why We Need AIR: Accessibility Inclusion Representation

Capitol Crawl

July is Disability Pride Month and today is National Disability Independence Day. On July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law.

Accessibility, Inclusion, and Representation matters. As a person of color, over 50, female, and living with an acquired disability, I know how exclusion feels. Exclusion is one of the reasons social justice has always been important to me.

When you’re born into several marginalized groups there’s a certain amount of uncomfortable familiarity where discrimination and exclusion is concerned. There is a whole other level of discrimination when becoming a member of the disability community that makes day-to-day living a bit more uncertain. Well-meaning friends and family try their best to understand our experience and we try to help them by inviting them into our world. Living with a disability is a uniquely personalized experience for every. single. person. None of us, even those who share the exact same disability will live with it in the exact same way.

Many people aren’t aware that the disability community is the largest minority group in the United States. What makes our minority group different from others is anyone, at any time can become a member. Our community doesn’t care about your social status, education, sexual orientation, age, etc. ANYONE can acquire a disability during their lifespan. As we get older the likelihood of acquiring a disability increases significantly.

While we’ve made strides towards increasing accessibility, inclusion, and representation we still have a long way to go. The fight for equal rights in housing, education, employment, transportation, and more continues as we still face many barriers.

The Fight For Disability Rights

“The “Capitol Crawl” protest for disability rights on March 12, 1990, might have been the single most important catalyst for the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 25 29 years ago. The law aimed to end segregation of physically and mentally disabled persons and promised them equal opportunity to participate in society, live independently and achieve economic self-sufficiency.

See Capitol Crawl Image Description

PBS did a moving documentary in 2011 on the Disability Rights Movement called “Lives Worth Living.” The first time I saw it I felt sadness, anger, and the need to act. People with disabilities share many of the characteristics of our non-disabled counterparts, we simply do things a little differently.

In “Observing 25 Years of the ADA” I found this bit which I’ve edited: Our lack of understanding, fear, and inhumanity towards people with disabilities I believe, promotes continuing injustices. It’s no wonder when a life-altering event occurs and we acquire a disability, we have a difficult time adjusting. Coming face to face with our prejudices, then navigating a still-flawed system to protect our new status, can be a difficult transition.  

Sadly, some of us take the stance that disability rights are ‘not our problem,’ that is until we are disabled. However, being ‘temporarily abled’ as the majority of us are, makes it our problem.

Air is free yet there are some who believe not everyone is deserving of AIR. Disabled lives are human lives and all human lives matter.

We’ve come a long way since the ADA became law however the fight for Accessibility, Inclusion, and Representation continues.

Why We Need Air: Accessibility Inclusion Representation Featured Image Description:

A bright blue sky with puffy white clouds is in the background. In the foreground is a big red sign with white capital letters that says “No Problem.”

Capitol Crawl Image:

A group of handicapped people led by 8-year-old Jennifer Keelan, left, crawl up the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, March 12, 1990, to draw support for a key bill now pending in the House that would extend civil rights to disabled persons. The group of about 1,000 people or rode in wheelchairs down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the Capitol. (AP Photo/Jeff Markowitz)

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Finding Fashion With Bumps & Bars

Finding Fashion With Bumps & Bars Featured Image description is in the body of the post.

Finding Fashion With Bumps & Bars

Hello everyone – Abby here!

Have you ever heard of Seiichi Miyake? No, this isn’t a new fashion trend or makeup line, it’s the name of the Japanese inventor of truncated domes. Also called braille blocks, tactile paving, or detectable warning surfaces these unique patterns are identifiable with our canes.

Located on the ground at intersections or on the edges of train platforms they let us know where we are. I love these bumps because it’s another way for me to get to where I want to go. Which of course, is usually to find a cute new outfit, maybe matching shoes, or possibly a whole new makeover!

So I was thrilled to find that today’s Google Doodle—the daily animation of Google’s logo— is honoring cane accessibility. As a long time cane user, accessibility and inclusion are always near and dear to my heart.

Celebrating Accessibility

Google is celebrating the introduction of truncated domes by honoring its inventor Seiichi Miyake. 52 years ago
Seiichi wanted to help a blind friend navigate better in big cities, railways, and parks.

The animation shows a white cane and sneaker-clad feet walking on the yellow raised bars towards the bumps. ‘Google’ is spelled out in upper case letters with different colors in the bumps on the ground. An animation of this type on a global search engine is another way to showcase our independence. We walk boldly in confidence with our white canes eradicating misconceptions about blindness and sight loss.

To learn more about how the truncated domes were developed, and how we use them to navigate click the Google logo. And of course, while you’re online you might as well take advantage of some retail therapy. Find some fun fashion or bling to add to your collections!

Finding Fashion With Bumps & Bars Featured Image Description:

Image of Google’s looped 20-second animation. The image shows a person with a white cane wearing black and white sneakers. The cane detects the word ‘Google’ spelled out in different colors on the truncated domes on the ground.

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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.

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