Category Archives: accessibility

My New Home

Less than twenty-four hours ago I made the decision to pack up the Blogger blog and move it over here. Just about everyone else I know has done just that but I had been holding out hope that things would be ok and I could just stay put. That did not happen. At first, I thought the new interface was going to work, since I discovered the switch when I went to publish the post before this one. I always compose in Text Edit and paste, so you can imagine my surprise when I had the new interface.

At first I thought they really had kept accessibility in mind because posting was not a problem. I didn’t look at settings or anything though since a game was on. Last night I decided to check and make sure that CAPTCHA was not enabled on comments. I couldn’t access any settings and that was it, I was done.

So centerroof.com was born! I’m excited and I’ve had a lot of fun doing what I’ve done so far. I’m sure more changes will be made in the near future. Do you have any suggestions?

I would appreciate if you would leave a comment here since I’m not sure how those settings are just yet. I added a subscribe widget and I want to know if it makes you confirm your subscription by email. I also don’t know if it will be set to include part of the post in the emails you get. If so, I will be changing that since I can’t stand that when I subscribe to WordPress blogs. Comment moderation is enabled and there should not be a CAPTCHA but if there is, please let me know. You can also shoot me an email.

I thought I’d feel all sentimental leaving the old place but just like anything else in life, when it’s the right time, it just feels great! Please update your bookmarks and/or blog rolls and such and come with me in this new adventure in blogging!

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Filed under accessibility, accomplishment, CAPTCHA

Blogger’s next “improvement”

Better get my last few books up here in the next few days since Blogger is changing things yet again. I’ve been able to hold on to the old interface for awhile but not for much longer.

This page discusses Blogger’s coming “improvements”. If I sound less than thrilled it’s only because after the last “improvement”, just about every other blogger I still keep in touch with moved to WordPress. I didn’t, but if this next change is horrible, I will.

After the last failure I held out hope that Blogger simply could not just ignore all the complaints, that they had to improve things. Hopefully my hope was warranted though lately when it comes to hope, I’m afraid. Seems when you stop hoping, you don’t get disappointed.

The above link mentions Google’s free screen reader (huh?) working with Blogger. I’m afraid of that implication. Is Google saying we’ll have to use that to use Blogger? If that turns out to the be the case, WordPress here I come.

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Filed under accessibility, screen reader

Trying the new @Blogger interface using Chrome

Is this wear the post goes?

Oh maybe it is, since enter gave me line breaks like I told it to in some options I found. I’m trying the new Blogger interface using Chrome since they have forced the switch on me again. Did this work? If so, it seems like it’s the text edit field under the toolbar full of unlabeled buttons, if any VO users stumble upon this post.

The lables button works, but my link chooser doesn’t see the lables. Looks like I can label.

So did this make a post? Let me preview. If so I’ll post.

If this posts, it works with Voiceover using Google Chrome. It’s just a major pa

Ok wow, can’t edit typos at all. I usually compose in a text document and paste anyway so that’s not a huge issue, but typos will just have to stay in this if it posts.

Oh geez, can’t hide labels now so now I’ve gotta hunt for the post button. Bugger that I’ll just use my rotor.

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Filed under accessibility

Whoa, Blogger put the old look back, but for how long?

I’m really grateful I can post this. Last week, I got an email with a comment in it but the links to approve weren’t in the email message. It was then that I discovered Blogger had made the forced switch on me, and I could not write a post.

I freaked out on Twitter about it, complaining to the Blogger account and I somehow managed to send feedback about the new look, about how it was blatantly ignoring accessibility.

I tried to post here by email but it didn’t work, even though I have email posting set up.

A couple days ago, I got another comment, and this time the approve link was there in the email. So this morning I took a chance and checked, and the old look is back. However, it is still telling me at the top of the page that Blogger will be getting a new look in April, so I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to post anymore on this blog. My hope, and it’s probably just positive thinking that will disappoint me, is that Blogger got so many complaints that they’re working on it some more and that’s why I have the old look.

I guess time will tell. I have an update to my book list I’ll post today too.

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Filed under accessibility, twitter me this

Blogger might be kicking me off my own blog, so just in case…

…here’s a post explaining things in case I never post here again. I’m hopeful this won’t happen, but it is highly possible unfortunately.

For months now, Blogger has been telling us our dashboard is changing. Several screen reader users gave the new set up a test drive only to come back and report that we will not be able to use it. Apparently sighted people don’t even like it. I never tried to check it, hoping that Blogger would listen to complaints and suggestions and tweak it before they force it on us, which they are doing at some point this month.

I firmly believe that if the new interface is inaccessible, Blogger will fix it eventually. Several Blogger users have imported their blogs to WordPress, a move I’m not going to make unless it becomes absolutely necessary. I just don’t like those blogs as much.

So…if there’s no post here for months, this is why. I should still be able to post via email if it gets to the point where I’ll be getting a new blog elsewhere, to let you know.

I won’t be importing this blog if I have to move. I am a very sentimental person and I want to leave this blog as is. If I have to move, I’ll be starting fresh, but I’ll be sure to somehow add the new address here if it happens.

My fingers are crossed I get to stay! This blog has been such a huge part of my blind life. I hope I don’t have to leave it just because Blogger wants to go and be fancy.

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Filed under accessibility, screen reader

The Fragile State of Blogger

Day two of writing every day haha!

I wish I wasn’t going to write a downer post about the state of blogger. I’m scared. I don’t want to have to move my blog to WordPress. You have no customization with them and apparently you can’t even add a stat counter like I have. I have so much fun with that, I don’t want to lose it. I’m used to Blogger and it’s simple.

I don’t know if any of you have tried the new editor. I haven’t and from what I see on Twitter, there’s no point. It’s completely inaccessible and even the sighted folk don’t like it. Will it be like the Twitter website though, where you could use old Twitter for months and now are forced to use new Twitter? Luckily with Twitter, I use a client that’s accessible and easy. If Blogger makes us use the new editor eventually though, all of us blind bloggers will have to move.

I don’t have the first clue how to even contact blogger and frankly, I don’t think they much care anyway. Maybe I’m just bitter.

So, blind bloggers, will you move to WordPress soon, rather then suddenly not be able to write on your Blogger blogs? Do you know what we can do to stay here? Is there a group starting an uprising or anything?

Oh yeah, with Voiceover, I now have to use form controls to access the title field. I know it’s not so with Jaws. Have any of you noticed any other strange issues?

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Filed under accessibility, Jaws, twitter me this, Voiceover

How to make your iPhone stop talking *Edited

I had a search query on August 25 that read:

my iphone 4 is talking “slide or double tap”

I’m thinking someone might have accidentally turned on Voiceover for the iPhone. If anyone else has that problem and stumbles upon this post, just do a three finger double tap to make the voice stop talking.

A friend of mine had this happen with his iMac. He was messing around with keys and it started talking. That might be rather frightening if you don’t know that all Apple products come with a screen reader for the blind haha!

If your iMac starts talking, just press command + F5. If it happens on a Macbook, press command + function + F5.

Hope this helps future searchers. 🙂

*Looks like I was a bit mistaken. Please check out the comment from Amanda for more. I guess you don’t turn the screen reader off and on so easily, so maybe this query had nothing to do with what I thought it did.

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Filed under accessibility, apple Inc, iPhone, Voiceover

Credit makes the world go round, if you have it

I don’t regret the past. That’s a lie. I don’t regret most of my past, but I do regret the part where I didn’t understand money and credit.

I remember my parents telling me not to fall for the credit card companies that would line the mall of the college campus, stalking their prey in the naive college freshman. I listened and ignored the calls of “fast money! Sign up now! pre-approved!”.

I was taught not to get a credit card until I had money to pay the bill every month. When I was twenty, I had said money in the form of insurance money after my mom’s death. I wish my previous ability to ignore credit cards had stuck with me, but it didn’t.

I didn’t work while I had that money. It wasn’t a ton of money, but more than I had ever seen. I joined a gym and hung out at the coffee shop. I took my friends shopping and out to dinner. I finally opened up a credit account at a department store when I was stalling for time with a friend who’s surprise bachelorette party was being prepared.

I injured myself at the gym but couldn’t prove the injury happened there. Turns out the only way to get out of that membership had been to either sell the contract or die. First strike on the credit. Soon enough the insurance money ran out and I couldn’t pay the credit card. Strike two.

Enter the start of my drinking and working low end jobs and what little money I did make went for rent and bills and alcohol. When I was in my early twenties, I wasn’t thinking about my future.

I take total ownership of those mistakes. I’m lucky I didn’t do more damage by taking out a loan for a car or opening up more than the gym membership and the credit card. Unfortunately, let’s start adding in medical bills since my jobs didn’t carry medical insurance and suddenly a couple strikes on my credit turned into thousands of dollars.

After I got sober I began working on making those financial amends. I was cleaning up the wreckage of my past, still feeling lucky after hearing stories of others who had hundreds of thousands in debt. My situation wasn’t that bad.

Unfortunately I got sick when the MS struck in 2006. I had just changed jobs, having left a good company for a better one. Health benefits had not kicked in yet. More medical bills.

I was denied disability twice and Gamma was supporting me. I went back to work, figuring my disability must not be bad enough if the government and family were urging me to work. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake before of not having health insurance so I pushed through forty hour work weeks to carry insurance. The MS was angry and struck again four months later and I was blind.

At that point I had payments set up again, once again working on clearing up old debts. I got a low limit credit card to start building credit. I bought eyeglasses with it and was blind the next day. I had good insurance but not good enough. Soon the medical bills started pouring in from the two and a half day hospital stay I underwent while they tried to restore my vision and figure out why MS had taken both my eyes.

No matter how hard I kept trying, more just kept adding up. I no longer work and no longer bring in a good amount of money. They want thousands of dollars I will just simply never have.

I’m not trying to say woe is me or this isn’t my fault. I still take ownership of the mistakes I made in my youth but I can’t understand why I am penalized so much for this. It’s still not hundreds of thousands of debt. In fact it’s so little debt I was advised not to file for bankruptcy because my debt isn’t big enough.

So why then, does Verizon require a $400 deposit from me to start an account? Maybe that doesn’t seem like a lot to some people, but it’s huge for me. I was told their lowest deposit is $125 and then jumps to $400. I can’t help but think that if it hadn’t been for all the medical bills, my deposit would only be $125 because of the mistakes I made when I was younger. I could live with that.

The thing is, my current phone is dying. A year after I went blind, I got a good tax return. I’ll never get one again since I can’t work. I was able to purchase the only phone T-Mobile had that was compatible with Mobile Speak, a screen reader for cell phones. Since I was at the end of my contract, I got a good deal on the phone. I spent $295 on Mobile Speak and my sighted friend had to install it on the phone for me.

It worked well enough. I was able to scroll through my phone book and do text messaging. I didn’t carry a data plan because it was too expensive.

That was two years ago and now my contract is up. Right on cue, the phone is dying. If it’s not on the charger, it turns itself off. Not exactly a reliable phone to take out with me and for safety purposes, I need a working phone.

If I stay with T-Mobile, I’ll need to find another phone compatible with Mobile Speak. Since Mobile Speak has been upgraded, I’ll have to pay additional money for the upgraded license. I’ll have a phone that will fulfill my basic needs but constantly crash since the program just doesn’t seem very stable. I could go that route but it just doesn’t make sense.

The only phone accessible to the blind out of the box is the iPhone, just like all other Apple products. Verizon has it now. In order for me to sign up with Verizon I have to pay that $400 deposit up front. I’ll get it back after twelve months of on time payments, which I’ll make because I am a responsible adult. I’ll have a phone that is reliable and completely accessible to me as a blind person as well as all kinds of apps that can assist me as a blind person. The iPhone just makes sense.

I don’t have all that money up front. I’ve been saving since I heard Verizon got the iPhone. I was expecting maybe a $200 deposit. But $400? Wow. This whole thing has really got me feeling down. I feel like I’m being lumped in with irresponsible people and I’m not one of those. I budget and am good with money. I pay my bills. I don’t live outside my means.

Hopefully I’ll be able to swing things and get a phone that works for me, maybe by mid month next month. We’ll see. I’m cutting everything out aside from the absolute necessities like food and things for Jayden. I get a massage every three weeks but it’s not just a fluff and buff make you relaxed massage. I get it to ease my pain and make it bearable. I’m canceling that until I can pull the money together for this phone. It’s frustrating, but it’s what you gotta do, right?

I’m not blogging this to make anyone feel bad for me. I’m not blogging this to share my woe is me tale. I’m blogging this because I’m angry. I’m angry that only those with money get to keep it and get more. I’m angry that being sick is not differentiated between irresponsible and criminal. I feel like I’m on probation for a crime I didn’t commit. That might sound dramatic, but what are you supposed to do when things happen that are out of your control?

I’m just really down about all this because this phone is not a luxury. I’ve drooled after the iPhone since it came out in my sighted days but it was more than I needed so I wasn’t willing to spend the money on it. Now I lust after it because of how amazingly accessible it is. I look at it now as a blind person and think wow, that phone will work for me without additional software. It can do a lot for me from the accessibility side of things. For me, the iPhone isn’t just cool, it fits what I need perfectly. It will even talk to my computer, something any other phone wouldn’t do.

I’m just angry at this whole situation. I’m angry for the people who decide not to even try with credit cards, going only by cash so they don’t get sucked into the credit hole and even they are penalized because they have no credit. They’ve never defaulted on a thing in their life but they are still penalized. I’m angry because the mistakes I made were minimal in comparison to the holes a lot of people are in and couple with my stupid health problems, I’m screwed for life. I’m just angry. I’m not trying to by some thousand dollar computer that I’ll have before I ever pay a cent. Seriously, who doesn’t pay their cell phone bill? Don’t we all need a stupid phone? If I can’t pay for something, I cancel it. I’m not gonna cancel my phone. I’m not gonna default on that. But because of what I look like on paper, it’s assumed that I will.

Fine, assume that. But then just make me pay for my service before I use it. Have a pre-pay option. Let me buy the phone and pay for a month up front. Then make me pay before I use it the next month. They have an unlimited plan anyway. I plan to use it. Why can’t I just pay for it up front? Then you’re losing nothing.

I could go on about this forever. I’m just feeling really depressed about it all. “The system”, “the man”, whatever you want to call it, screws good people in my opinion. I’ll get the phone at some point. I’ll just have to do without some things for awhile. I’ve accepted it in a way but it still makes me feel like a useless dirder.

Oh yeah, someone on Twitter suggested contacting Verizon’s disability department. They only help you with home phone service. What, they assume that disabled people never leave the house? Hmmm, those people don’t need a mobile phone; they never leave the house. That’s probably not what they think, but that’s how it feels. I am afraid to leave the house right now, thanks to a non working cell phone. Arrrrrrg.

I’ve gone on long enough. I just had to get this out there. Maybe someone else is feeling the same way and they’ll find this and know someone else out there feels it too.

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Filed under accessibility, apple Inc, assistive technologies, cool product, Gamma, gratitude, rant, screen reader, sobriety, spoons, twitter me this

A book about the Rays and I’m locked out of it

The Extra 2% is a baseball book all about how the Rays went from worst to first in 2008. The Rays are my team. The Rays made me love baseball in 2008 when I went blind. I love the Rays. And I can’t read the book. Because there’s no audio version. I am locked out. I think for the first time since I’ve gone blind I really feel left out. Ignored. No one cares. The author feels bad but there’s nothing he can do I guess. ESPN published the book. They aren’t a regular publisher. I was hoping to just contact the publisher and then beg people to join me in requesting an audio version. I tweet about it but no one cares. I’m the only one I guess. I am so upset right now I feel like crying. This team is one of the few things these days that gives me genuine joy and I can’t even read the book. Arrrrrrrg. I hate being blind right now. Hate it. Damn book is the #1 baseball book on Amazon. It’s about my team and I can’t read it. I’ve been upset about this for weeks but it just really hit me tonight since every other tweet is about the book.

Ok rant over.

Does anyone have any ideas??? Any??? Should I drop this??? No one else seems to care.

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Filed under accessibility, Amazon, baseball, rant, twitter me this

For me, today was all about @TheGarfoose

Today was the first Spring Training game for my Rays and while of course I was excited to have my team back on the radio, it was all about Dirk Hayhurst in my book.

I anxiously counted down the hours until game time. Ok, that’s dramatic. After all, it started at 11:05 my time and I didn’t rise until 8:30. I nearly forgot about the time difference, my head telling me it wasn’t starting until 1:05. Thank goodness I remembered in time!

Yesterday I had difficulty loading a game on my media player at mlb.com but luckily did not have to panic since I tested it in plenty of time. I called customer service straight away and they had it fixed within ten minutes of my hanging up. They are by far the best non blind site I know of with regards to accessibility. Thank you, mlb.com!

I promptly opened the feed for WDAE at 10:30 and there was a sports talk show rather than the usual Rich Herrera pre-game. Towards the end of the show, Andy and Dave talked to the host and oh how happy I was to hear their voices!!! It was especially cool to hear Dave Wills since I have a voicemail from him saved on my phone.

Of course it was exciting to hear the beginning of the broadcast and know a game was about to get underway and it was awesome when David Price threw the first pitch but I was anticipating something else. Not Evan Longoria’s first at bat or a spectacular double play, but Dirk Hayhurst’s first appearance on the mount.

This off season, I was introduced to the likes of Dirk Hayhurst, explained in this post about an email from him. I also discuss how he helped me through a really hard time without even knowing it, by tweeting me a trick I could play on friends. That post also has a link to a story that explains what the Garfoose is. Check it out.

Dirk Hayhurst has quickly become a role model for me, not as a baseball player, but as a writer and an all around good person. Sometimes I fear I tweet him too much and I have to think that’s gotta be as annoying as all the fans saying, “can I have a ball? Hey, can I have a ball? Hey you, can I have a ball?”

So I couldn’t wait to catch him pitching today. It was going to be my first time and the pitchers slated for today would be throwing one inning. I had no idea when he’d come in and wile I was enjoying the game tremendously, I had butterflies in my stomach when it was announced he had come into the game.

Excitement and terror for my guy flowed through my muscles and I dropped the granny square I had been crocheting while listening. I suppose I could have been taking notes or tweeting, but it’s hard to focus on the game when my screen reader is rambling in my ear.

I can’t tell you who he faced or how many pitches he threw. I know it was the fourth inning, and we were either down by two or tied at two. I don’t have a head for remembering. With every pitch my heart jumped and he was doing fabulous and before I knew it the inning was over and no one had walked, no one had hit. Flawless! I clapped my hands and squealed, tears in my eyes, so happy for him. I sent him a tweet even though he said yesterday he doesn’t really want to talk about the games. I couldn’t help it.

I can’t tell you when Evan hit a home run, or when Rodriguez hit another to tie it. I don’t remember. I know when it was time for the bottom of the fifth, Dirk Hayhurst was pitching again. Again! I thought I’d only get him for one inning! Flawless again! He pitched two perfect innings and got two strike outs. I was so happy!

Andy and Dave were impressed and I’m sure Joe and the brass were as well, but it’s still early, very early. This is audition time for everyone and we have only three, I think, bullpen spots to fill. The other guys did great as well and the bullpen threw like four or five perfect innings. There is definitely a lot of competition.

Whether he makes the team or has to spend some more time in the minors, Dirk Hayhurst is my ace. It’s simply amazing how you can be so in love with a team, a team in a sport you never even liked, have your favorites, think you know what you love and then one person comes along, one pitcher with a story, a story he has told, and suddenly life takes on a slightly different meaning. It’s not the stars that have affected me like this. It’s a man who was a veteran in the minor leagues, with dreams of the majors who decided to write a book.

I’m just so happy he did well today and I hope he’s happy too. I had B look at the pic of Captain Kirk on today’s Shatnometer reading and Kirk was holding a phaser. I’ll keep my thoughts on the possible meaning of that to myself.

Oh, are you wondering how the game turned out? 9-5 Rays over the Pirates. Everyone looked great and I have high hopes for this team. It’s not even phasing me, all the guys we lost, because it looks like the ones we’ve gained are great. I know I know, it’s early. But you know me, positive till the end.

Go Rays!

Ah! Almost forgot, here’s a story posted about Dirk today and here’s some brief footage of one of Dirk’s strikeouts today.

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Filed under accessibility, baseball, evan longoria, gratitude, misty eyes, screen reader, silly girl, twitter me this, wow