Category Archives: advocacy

Having Warm Fuzzies Until Realizing the Media was just Doing Its Thing

It’s amazing the spin the media can put on everything. At this point, what do you believe? I used to always trust the big news outlets but now the only media I can think of that I trust is Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Rays beat reporter.

So I’m reading Twitter after a busy morning/early afternoon of baking and cleaning and grooming Jayden. I read a tweet and click the link attached:

@CBSNews Blind N.Y. man allegedly kicked off plane over guide dog; passengers exit in solidarity http://t.co/mPCXpE2enU

Safari opens the link and audio begins to play. The story is about a blind man who was taken off the plane because his guide dog wouldn’t stay beneath the seat. The passengers got upset and left with the man and then boarded a bus to reach their destination. A couple passengers were interviewed and the blind man as well. As the clip is wrapping up, the broadcasters begin applauding the passengers. Tears well in my eyes as my faith in humanity is restored and I retweet .

I walk into my kitchen to put my freshly boiled eggs in the fridge, grinning, hearing my tweet getting retweeted and favorited. I come back to my computer and have a mention from a friend saying the story is quite different from what she’s been seeing. Oh no. Don’t tell me the media got something wrong again and got my spirits up only to have them shot down.

I start my own investigating and find this story and this story and this story and then I just stopped looking.

I had already planned on blogging about this story, sharing my good feelings but explaining that Jayden and I sit in bulkhead so that I don’t have to cram him under a seat but after reading the other stories, my good feelings diminished a bit.

Basically the airline is saying the plane was stuck on the runway for a bit and the guide dog got restless and began “walking up and down the aisle”. I find that laughable. I honestly can’t imagine a blind person just letting his dog leave his side. The flight attendants say the man got belligerent when he was told to keep his dog under the seat. Maybe all that did happen, but would the passengers have stood up for the man if he had acted so badly?

The audio I listened to made it sound like all the passengers got off the flight in solidarity, however the other stories say the flight was cancelled because of the upheaval over the man and his dog. So who’s to say the passengers did stand up for him? Perhaps the ones interviewed had been in a far away part of the plane and not seen the man behaving badly.

I don’t know what to believe about this story and that makes me sad, because it had given me such warm feelings. So media, oh never mind. You’ll never change. You all want to be first so fact checking has gone out the window.

I can still write that Jayden and I fly in bulkhead where there’s more room at my feet. I can’t imagine Jayden fitting under the seat. If fore some reason, this had been me and Jayden would not calm down and settle, I would have calmly tried to work with the airline to come up with a solution. When Jay and I were getting ready to fly to Colorado in May, I was nervous that the only direct flight I could get was through United, and I’ve read so many stories about United and service dogs. I was talking with Carol about it and she pointed out that most likely every single airline has had some sort of incident with a service dog and we never get the whole story. I’m sure some of them are true but I also think that a lot of these kinds of situations can be avoided if we are able to be our own advocate and our dog’s advocate. We also need to know our rights and business’ rights. No, our dogs cannot just walk away from us. My flights went off without a hitch but I’m a planner to the nth degree. Also, when I’m out with Jayden whether I’m sitting on paratransit, in a lobby or on an airplane, his leash is always attached to me. I never let it go. I just hope stories like the one above don’t keep disabled people from flying with their service animals. It’s too bad the twenty-four hour news cycle makes these things seem more common than not.

On a happier note:

Random Happy

This morning I opened this link about designing cities with the blind in mind. I was expecting an article but audio began to play so I sat back to listen. Chris Downey is an architect who went blind right around the time I did. He sure got out of denial faster than I did haha! Anyway, his talk was interesting and funny and I knew it would be my random happy for today.

Chris Downey: Design with the Blind in Mind

7 Comments

Filed under advocacy, guide dogs, in the news, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2013, twitter me this

WebAim’s third screen reader survey

Please take a few moments to take the WebAIM screen reader survey.

I’ve taken these surveys since I started using a screen reader. It’s a really invaluable tool for web developers, and it’s also really fun to see the results when they come out. I can’t wait to see the percentage of Voiceover users this year!

The survey only took me about five minutes. No personal information is shared. The survey is all radio buttons, check boxes and drop down menus, with one spot to write comments. It’s simple to do, so please go take it.

Whether you use a screen reader often or not, your opinion matters. If you use screen magnification, your opinion matters. If you have a reader on your phone, your opinion matters.

The WebAIM folks are my heros, so please take a moment and take the survey.

It will be available until January. I’ll post the link to the results when they compile them. I can’t remember how soon the results come out, but it’s really interesting to see how closely your opinions match your peers.

So, go take it and have fun!

2 Comments

Filed under accessibility, advocacy, assistive technologies, gratitude, plugs, proud geek, screen reader, survey says, Voiceover

ACB – Twenty-First century Communications and Video Accessibility Act passes

Woo hoo! Received this in e-mail. I’m a little late in posting. President Obama signed this last week.

***

Good Afternoon All,
 
21st Century Accessibility Act Passed
 
Signed by President Obama:  October 8, 2010 – P.L. 111-260, the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act  
 
Released:  October 8, 2010 –  News Release, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s Statement of the Signing of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act
 
Washington, D.C. — Today, President Obama signed The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (S.3304) into law. The following statement can be attributed to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski:
 
“The 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act is the most significant disability law in two decades.  The law’s provisions were endorsed in the FCC’s National Broadband Plan.  They will bring communication laws into the 21st Century, providing people with disabilities access to new broadband technologies and promoting new opportunities for innovation. 
 
“Most importantly, the new law will ensure that people with disabilities are not left behind and can share fully in the economic and social benefits of broadband.  The law will enable people with disabilities to participate in our 21st century economy. 
 
“It is thanks to the bipartisan efforts of the legislation’s sponsors Representative Markey and Senator Pryor and the bipartisan commitment of Chairmen Representative Waxman and Senator Rockefeller and ranking members Representative Barton and Senator Hutchison that this update to our nation’s disability laws has become a reality.  Subcommittee Chairmen Representative Boucher and Senator Kerry and ranking members Representative Stearns and Senator Ensign are also to be commended for their tireless work. 
 
“The FCC, with the tremendous leadership of longtime advocate Karen Peltz Strauss, looks forward to working with consumer, industry, and government stakeholders as we assume the responsibility of ensuring the effective implementation of this landmark legislation.”
 
— FCC —
 
 

Leave a Comment

Filed under ACB, accessibility, advocacy, in the news

ACB – Thank you, President Obama

A lot of work went in to getting this bill this far. I kept meaning to write about it from all the e-mails I was getting, but just never remembered. Thank you ACB members and whoever else fought tirelessly for this.

From an ACB e-mail:

Excerpt from the Presidential Proclamation on National Disability 
Employment Awareness Month:

”We must improve the accessibility of our workplaces and enable the 
collaboration and contributions of every employee, and that is why I 
look forward to signing into law the Twenty-First Century 
Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. This legislation 
will greatly increase access to technology, with advances in areas 
such as closed captioning, delivery of emergency information, video 
description, and other advanced communications — all essential tools 
for learning and working in today’s technological society.”

Read more at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2010/10/01/presidential-proclamation-national-disability-employment-awareness-month

Leave a Comment

Filed under ACB, accessibility, advocacy

April is Autism Awareness Month

I’ve never known much about Autism. I mean I see it on tv and stuff, but I’ve never known anyone who has it. Until I started following blogs. One of my all time favorite blogs is By My Side. Katrin writes about her love of dogs and how she trains them, and I love reading about her adventures with James, her service dog. It’s so interesting to read about service dogs other than guide dogs, and James is just extraordinary.

I asked for permission to link to her post about Autism Awareness. In this post, Katrin talks about how she was diagnosed after years of certain struggles. Looking at the woman she is today, I’m so grateful she writes a blog so I could come to know her.

It’s people like Katrin who help me understand when people say I’m an inspiration. When you’re just living your life, putting one foot in front of the other, doing the deal, it’s hard to see your own self as an inspiration. By watching people like Katrin though, who is an inspiration to me, it helps me better understand how people see me. I sometimes struggle with the word “inspiration” when it comes to people’s struggles. But I can’t deny that it’s inspiring to read about the good stories, the ones where people stand up against ignorance and criticism and in some cases, the belief that we shouldn’t exist with a disability. Those of us who say yeah, I’ve got a disability, so what? I surround myself with people like that, and Katrin is one of them.

Immediately after I read her post, the next post on my reading list was from another woman who has this attitude. How cool to read two posts back to back, both encompassing the kind of life I have chosen to lead for myself? I’ll be linking to that one too, once I have permission.

I can’t get enough strong people in my life. We all boost each other with our words, and it’s so refreshing to take that breath and inhale their words and strengths.

I plan to spend this month learning more about Autism. Maybe some day, if I educate myself on it, I can help educate someone with an ignorant view, which in the long term, will aide in the education of all disabilities.

I don’t know about you, but I’m grateful for mine, because without it, I wouldn’t have this blog and all the amazing people I’ve met through it.

8 Comments

Filed under advocacy, Autism, awareness month, dogs, family, gratitude, plugs, working dog

Amazon Accessibility Update

I’m slow to follow up on this, but Amazon has been one of the last things on my mind since getting back home haha! Here’s a link to the last post about this, which links to the last post about this and so on in case you need a refresher lol. I hope Blogger let’s me edit if necessary, because I couldn’t edit last night. Strange. Anyway, here is the latest e-mail I received with regards to the fact that I could no longer select the number of stars I wished to award an item, and therefore could not review items.

***

3/04/10

I wanted to follow up and let you know that we have completed this update and you are now able to select the number of stars for your product reviews.

If you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out to me directly.

***

I hadn’t had the chance or rather, hadn’t remembered, to go try and review an item, so when I received my pet placemats, I went and tried it, and sure enough, the star selections are now controlled by radio buttons. Here is my reply.

***

3/31/10

I am sorry it has taken me so long to express my thanks to you and your team. I recently was away getting my guide dog and had not had time to investigate the reviews issue. I am very, very happy to say that I was just able to submit a review!! I am so very pleased about this. I think I expressed to you before how invaluable reviews are as a blind shopper, so I am so happy to start giving back and writing reviews. Hopefully I’ll help another blind/visually impaired person decide on a product. I think I’ll need a day to go review all my purchases. Thank you so much!! 

I do have some other ideas as to making Amazon a little easier for screen reader issues, like more use of headings for navigation. I’m not sure if I mentioned that before. 

Thank you again, so much! It really means a lot to have a company be so willing to be adaptable!!

***

I am definitely not going to let the issue of the lack of navigation by heading drop. It was never so obvious how needed this was until I started doing a lot of shopping on Amazon. When Carin expressed how much she hates all the stuff you have to scroll through just to get to check out, I hadn’t really noticed it because at the time, I was just happy to be shopping. But now it’s so frustrating. I know it’s like having impulse buys at the register, but unlike sighted folks on the website, we can’t just skip past easily. They could still have all that stuff, but if each thing was a header, we could get past them faster. Same with the results when you search for a specific product. If only the search results came up like Google. I will be using Google as an example when I speak to my source again. She hasn’t written back, so I’ll give it until next week and then write to her about my latest ideas.

I have to say, I felt a little bit powerful when the stars problem was fixed haha!! I mean, I probably wasn’t the only one to complain, but what if I was? Or maybe my message just got to the right person? Who knows. I’m happy about it though, and I’ll need to go write reviews on all that stuff I got around Christmas haha!

3 Comments

Filed under accessibility, accomplishment, advocacy, Amazon, cool product, gratitude, letters, proud geek, screen reader

mlb.com Accessibility

Cool accessibility stuff is just pouring in haha! This holds a special place in my heart. Last year, I really wanted to get Gameday audio because then I could listen to radio broadcasts of all the games. I was having major problems on the site and I brought it up on Webaim. someone there forwarded my message to an attorney who is involved with mlb.com accessibility. She started talking with me personally after I had tried to call customer service several times, and they were unable to help. I do have to mention that they actually have Jaws users working right there in the customer service office. Just need a few Voiceover users now. 😉 The attorney ended up pointing me to the accessible player, and I got to listen to radio broadcasts of all my games last season. I remember feeling a warmth in my heart when I went to mlb.com one day and heard a message right at the top of the page, which I assumed was hidden text, written just for screen reader users telling us they were making vast improvements to the site.

I can’t help but feel involved in all of what is discussed in the following e-mail. Not only was I able to use Gameday audio, but I voted for the Allstar Game, and mlb.com was my first ever online purchase with a screen reader.

So I was so excited to get this today, and I received it from that same attorney, who still has my e-mail address, and who must still remember me, which is really cool. About 5 minutes after I got it from her, I also got it on my ACB list. Sweet!

This also means baseball is right around the corner!!! Oh, and Gameday audio is only $14.95, unless they’ve increased the price. I highly recommend it if you’re a baseball fan.

I’m looking forward to checking out the site, which I haven’t done in awhile. Ok, enough outta me, here’s the email:

***

Please distribute as appropriate

Pasted into this email is a press release issued today by Major League Baseball about its initiative to improve the accessibility of mlb.com and all 30 team websites for people who are blind or visually impaired. This release, and additional information about the Structured Negotiations that led to this announcement, is available on line at http://lflegal.com . Direct link at http://lflegal.com/2010/02/mlb-press

For immediate release

FANS WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS GAIN ENHANCED ACCESS TO MLB.COM

NEW YORK, February 11, 2010 – Baseball fans with visual impairments will benefit from the implementation of functional improvements to MLB.com, the official Web site of Major League Baseball, and all 30 individual Club sites as a result of a joint collaboration between MLB Advanced Media, LP (MLBAM), the American Council of the Blind, Bay State Council of the Blind and California Council of the Blind. All three organizations applaud this fan initiative taken by MLBAM.

“MLBAM has undertaken groundbreaking work to make its web sites accessible and has assumed a strong leadership position among sports, media and entertainment properties in doing so,” said Mitch Pomerantz, President of the American Council of the Blind. “We certainly urge similar sites to make this level of commitment in following MLBAM’s lead.”

As part of its initiative, MLB.com launched an accessible media center for its MLB.com Gameday Audio™ subscribers, offering features such as volume control, ability to choose the home or away feed and access to archived games. Additionally, MLB.com has ensured that fans with visual impairments can continue to participate in the annual online voting programs associated with the All-Star Game and will be providing an accessibility page on its site detailing information on accessibility, usability tips and customer service resources. As it continues to deliver technological innovations for following baseball games, MLB.com will make additional accessibility enhancements available to fans with visual impairments.

Brian Charlson, a Boston baseball fan and Director of Computer Training Services at the Carroll Center for the Blind in Newton, Massachusetts, described how MLB.com’s accessibility efforts have improved his enjoyment of the game: “As a member of the blind community, the kind of changes MLB.com was willing to make on its web sites keeps me coming back for more. It shows how much can be done when people with disabilities find willing partners. For example, with the changes in Gameday Audio, I find myself enjoying switching back and forth between the home and away broadcasters the same way my sighted friends do. And knowing my votes were counted in this year’s All-Star balloting made listening to the game much more meaningful. I’m excited about what MLB.com has done and about its commitment to further improvements.”

MLB.com utilized guidelines issued by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The web content accessibility guidelines are of particular benefit to blind baseball fans who use a screen reader, through which information on a page is read aloud, or magnification technology on their computers and who rely on a keyboard instead of a mouse.

About MLBAM
Established in June 2000 following a unanimous vote by the 30 Major League Baseball club owners to centralize all of Baseball’s Internet operations, MLB Advanced Media LP (MLBAM) is the interactive media and internet company of Major League Baseball. MLBAM manages the official league site, www.MLB.com,and each of the 30 individual Club sites to create the most comprehensive Major League Baseball resource on the Internet. MLB.com offers fans the most complete baseball information and interactivity on the web, including up-to-date statistics, game previews and summaries, extensive historical information, online ticket sales, baseball merchandise, authenticated memorabilia and collectibles, fantasy games, live full-game video webcasts and on-demand highlights, live and archived audio broadcasts of every game, Gameday pitch-by-pitch application, around-the-clock hosted and specialty video programming and complete blogging capabilities. MLB.com offers more live events on the Internet than any other website in the world.

About the American Council of the Blind (ACB), Bay State Council of the Blind (BSCB) and the California Council of the Blind (CCB)
The American Council of the Blind is a national consumer-based advocacy organization working on behalf of blind and visually impaired Americans throughout the country, with members organized through seventy state and special interest affiliates. The Bay State and California Councils are the Massachusetts and California affiliates of the ACB. The ACB, BSCB and CCB are dedicated to improving the quality of life, equality of opportunity and independence of all people who have visual impairments. Their members and affiliated organizations have a long history of commitment to the advancement of policies and programs which will enhance independence for people who are blind and visually impaired. Many members of ACB, BSCB and CCB are baseball fans. More information about the organizations can be found by visiting ACB’s website, BSCB’s website, and CCB’s website.

# # #

Media Contacts

For MLBAM
Matthew Gould
matthew.gould@mlb.com
(212) 485-8959

For ACB, BSCB and CCB

Brian Charlson (Bay State Council of the Blind)
brian.charlson@carroll.org
617-501-5752

Mitch Pomerantz (American Council of the Blind)
mitch.pomerantz@earthlink.net
626-372-5150

Jeff Thom (California Council of the Blind)
ccotb@ccbnet.org
916-995-3967

Lainey Feingold
Law Office of Lainey Feingold
http://lflegal.com/
510.548.5062
LF@LFLegal.com

3 Comments

Filed under ACB, accessibility, advocacy, baseball, cool product, gratitude, Jaws, plugs, screen reader, Voiceover

Importing video from iPod Nano 5G

I am posting this just in case any other Voiceover users get the new iPod Nano 5g because of the video capabilities like I did, and find themselves completely lost in how to get the videos off the iPod. Apple decided that we should use iPhoto to manage videos, but Voiceover doesn’t like it. I was on the phone with Apple for a good two hours about this, and they were at a loss. Finally I was transfered to a supervisor using Leopard, who activated Voiceover to confirm my suspician that the problem was iPhoto. He actually checked some things and called me back, still at a loss, and at that point, I had figured out a work around. When I told him how I did it he said, “well that’s a round about way to shoot a horse”. Yes, yes it is. He apologized and was going to put in a ticket to the engineers about how silly it is that we can’t just manage videos from iTunes.

The last time I imported a video, I took notes on how I did it. So here goes. If anyone has an easier solution, please let me know. A Snow Leopard user looked at iPhoto with Voiceover and had the same issue, so the problem is not solved by upgrading.

In the finder window
find iPod. I have mine named “Video Pod”, so look for whatever you named yours.

VO shift M for menu, select Open.
VO shift down arrow to interact with table
Find “DCIM” VO shift M for menu, select open
VO shift down arrow to interact with table
VO shift M on where it says “000APPLE collapsed level zero” to open
VO shift down arrow to interact with table.

Here are all the videos on the iPod. There will be mp4 files and dat files. *Important* Do not delete dat files until later, I will explain. The mp4 files are your videos. They are only labeled in numeric order. If you keep track of the videos and follow the following steps to label them, later you will know what they are.
To find the video you want to re-label,
Find the mp4 file. It’ll have 0000 or 0001 etc. VO shift M for menu. Arrow down to “open with” or “always open with”. The default player is Quicktime, but it did not play the video. After selecting “open with” Select the more option. VO shift down arrow to interact with the “file browser”. Type “iTu” or scroll down to iTunes and hit enter. Your video will play and then you’ll know what it is. I just did this and I have 4 unlabeled videos. Try and remember which one you checked. If you select “always open with” and then iTunes, if you forget which one you’ve tested, when you use the menu to select open with, iTunes will show, and then you’ll know you’ve tested it. I checked the one called 0004 and it was a mistake video. I won’t delete it until I’m sure. Repeat this with all the unlabeled videos until you find the one you want.
I just went back and listened to 0003 and it was still a mistake video. 0002 is the one I want.

So now, to re-name it. Go back to your finder window.
Scroll to the one you want. VO shift M for menu. Select “get info.
VO shift down arrow to interact with scroll area. Scroll down until you hear the file name in an edit text field. Rename. I always leave the “dot mp4” extension.
VO shift up arrow to stop interacting with the scroll area, and your name change takes effect immediately.
I like to test it after I rename.
So I start from the beginning, find my renamed file, open with iTunes, at this point now, I have told it to always open with iTunes.
Now I want the file where I can find it. I usually just stick it in my finder window/desktop.
So I find my renamed mp4 file, hit command C to copy, go back to the finder after closing the window, select my desktop or wherever, hit command V and the video is now there, named the way I want, and easy to find for uploading.

You can use this same technique to delete videos off the iPod once you have moved the ones you want to keep. Do not delete dat files off the ipod if you want to play the videos on the ipod. I did that and I assume that’s why it’s not seeing the two videos I left on the ipod. The dat files are not necessary to keep to watch the videos in iTunes, all you need is the mp4 file.

Unfortunately, the names of the videos will not appear on your iPod. Voiceover on the iPod does not read anything in the list of “camera videos”. You just have to listen to clicks.

Uploading videos to youtube is fairly simple if you have an account. I select “upload” and then scroll to where it says “having problems uploading?” and follow the directions there. For some reason it works better for me then the regular upload form.

This all just took a lot of playing and trial and error to figure out. Again, please let me know if you’ve found an easier way. Maybe soon, the problem will be solved on Apple’s end.

2 Comments

Filed under accessibility, advocacy, apple Inc, cool product, iTunes, proud geek, techie tips, Voiceover, youtube

What do you want to hear/see?

It’s been too much fun sharing Alex with everyone! I know my sighted friends were so amazed when they saw me work this computer fir the first time. I’ve had a lot of friends ask me to show them how on earth I do iTunes or what have you. I know I’m curious about Jaws, like how it sounds to navigate, or maybe how it sounds to start a post, that sort of thing.

So, is there anything you guys are curious about? Have you ever wondered what it sounds like when a blink starts a blog post, or does a google search, using a screen reader? Are there words you want to hear pronounced, or anything I’ve mentioned on the blog that you’re curious about? I’d be happy to share it.

I’ve asked Carin, and tomorrow, hopefully, I’m going to get audio of Alex reading one of her blog posts. Sometimes I really wonder if things are even funnier to me because of how deadpan Alex is. So, do you want to hear how your writing sounds to me?

I know it was fun to hear my post read by Jaws in the comments on this post.

So, let me know! I love educating people on how we do stuff. I think it’s all part of advocacy, and I also think it shows just what all we can do. And I know I’m damn proud of what I can do 😉

Oh PS – On a different note, I know my friends have all wanted to hear Alex swearing and stuff lol. As you know, for the most part this blog is PG. But I might do one a little more risque and just put a disclaimer on it. We shall see.

2 Comments

Filed under accomplishment, advocacy, Alex, cool blinky stuff, Jaws, proud geek, screen reader, silly girl

Doggy Countdown – iPod craziness

I’m not even going to go into details but I wanted to get a countdown post in now before I get sucked back into trying to figure out the iPod videos. It’s a really, really long story that needs it’s own post. Like, really long. So I think I might just have gotten to a point where I might be able to post a video and I have to try a post to try it. If it comes out embedded please don’t hate me blinks. I will make sure I make it accessible at some point. I just need to test it now to see what I’m up against. I know this is cryptic, but I’m mentally spent, yet addicted to mastering this stuff. Technically this video stuff should not be accessible to Voiceover users, something Apple confirmed after our 2 hour conversation, which is something I can’t accept. So as the Apple guy put it, I found a way to do it that is a really backwards way to shoot a horse. His words. But, Apple will be working on this. Ok I wasn’t going to get into this lol! I’m gonna try uploading a video of Timmy. Insert, see how much I love you? I’m about ready to disown Apple just for you 😉 Not really hehe.

18 days!

K, testing.

32 Comments

Filed under accessibility, advocacy, apple Inc, Doggy Countdown, Doggy Diaries, Insert, proud geek, Timmy, video