Category Archives: Jaws

I’m Home

It wasn’t a geographical in the AA sense of things, since I wasn’t running away from something, I was running to something. And I think I’ve found way more than I bargained for.

That was the thought running through my head this morning that made me run to my computer after refilling my coffee, knowing I needed to write a blog post. I got out of bed early today since I lay awake thinking of how close I was to finishing the first draft of the memoir – finally. I used NaNoWriMo this year to fully commit to the memoir. I studied memoir in October, reading “The Memoir Project” by Marion Roach. The book was recommended on Twitter by Josh Hanagarne @JoshHanagarne), author of “The World’s Strongest Librarian”, and I will be forever grateful to him for that recommendation. The book showed me how to structure the memoir and how to plan to write it. It showed me to find the message I wanted to convey, and that helped me narrow down which parts of my life were relevant.

What I have is a 50,550 (cool number, eh?) word sketch draft of this memoir, with the ending I imagined while doing my prep work.

I have a finished, first terrible draft of a book!

I’m pretty sure it’ll be longer than what I have now, because as I wrote, I would remember things that will need to go in, but I just jotted those down as notes to be added during rewrites. I’ll be learning Windows and Jaws *gulp* for the editing process, because the Mac and Voiceover is sorely lacking in the word processing department. Luckily, I’m in the right place with a Windows geek who can help me with that. Pray for him. *wink wink*

When last I posted, I listed all the challenges I’d been through with my benefits. I had planned to post again with fun stories about moving here, and I’ll still do that, but not in this post. Today I just wanted to post about finishing my first draft, because the feeling is incredible. I’ve finished multiple drafts of two short stories now, and those felt great, but finishing the first draft of this memoir, a book that’s been fighting to get out since way back when I had a Blogger blog, feels absolutely incredible.

I think it’s this move to Washington. It felt like home before I ever got here, and I’m so grateful it has felt more and more like home the longer I’ve been here. My creativity has grown in leaps and bounds here. I can stand outside in the front yard and just be, just listen and feel and smell. It’s so alive here! Everything is alive. Grass, trees, the nearby ocean that I smell when I step outside, everything is living, including me.

Without a doubt, I know this is home now. though I suppose we’ll see what I say in February, eh?

I’ve had to put some money down on warm stuff, but not much. I got thermal underwear on Amazon that I wear every day under my sweats and three tops, ha! David’s, and now my, friend took me to Value Village for a member’s only sale. This woman knows how to bargain hunt! I got two winter coats and a bunch of warm stuff to wear around the house. I’m currently wearing wool socks, thermal pants, sweats, a tight tank top, thermal shirt, fleece shirt, hoodie, NaNoWriMo beanie, and fingerless gloves. I’m pretty much warm, ha! I freaking love it!

It’s not so fun when it’s wet, but I’m getting used to it. The raincoat I bought for guide dog school hangs in the mud room, ready to grab to keep dry, and I’m waiting on a rain coat I ordered from GDB for Jayden. I certainly never expected to be buying a doggy raincoat. I never expected to move to Washington, either, so it just goes to show how unreliable expectations are. Tip: don’t have expectations, and prepare yourself for the unexpected.

Near the end of October, while I was preparing for NaNoWriMo and taking a fiction writing class, we met up with some of David’s family and went to the Hobuck beach at Neah Bay. David, his son, and cousins, all surfed. In the cold. I’ll be trying it in the summer if all goes as planned. Hey now, watch those expectations.

For Thanksgiving, we went to David’s parents’s house for salmon dinner. A lot of Salmon is eaten here, which is excellent, because salmon is a good anti-inflammatory food. Antiinflammation food? Hmmm. Anyway, we eat a lot of salmon and I love it.

There have been challenges. I’m still ironing out all the benefits stuff. It turns out that Medicare does follow you from state to state, but if you have a Medicare advantage plan like I had in Arizona, tying Medicaid and Medicare together with an insurance company like United Healthcare, you have to do more than just cancel your state’s Medicaid. Unbeknownst to me, my Medicare stuck to Arizona even after I cancelled Medicaid, and the only reason I found out was because when my new doctor tried to write a neurology referral, my new health group didn’t take my Arizona insurance, which I thought I had cancelled. Long story short, I had to call Medicare and get on a basic plan, and get on a prescription drug plan. As far as I understand it, everything should be straightened out on December 1, and I’ll officially be a Washingtonian, *knock on wood*.

I wasn’t planning on going into all that, but the fingers write what the fingers write. I have another call to make about my Medicaid, because I have a navigator woman with my medical group, who said I should not be on that ridiculous spend down thing. So fingers crossed she’s right.

So there’s another update for you, my one dear reader *cough* Torie *cough*. I’m thinking as I revise the memoir, maybe I’ll post things that end up on the cutting room floor. Though perhaps not until I know for sure. Better safe than sorry.

***Tip*** When taking your dog to the beach, no matter how short a leash you have him on, he’s still at risk for beach gut. Did you know that’s a thing? Yup, that’s a thing. My did Jayden get sick. Silver lining: I took him to the neighbor’s vet, which I really liked.

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Filed under accomplishment, coffeeholic, family, GDB, gratitude, holiday, Jaws, Jayden, Microsoft, num num food, twitter me this, vet visit, Voiceover, weather, writing

My First Submitted Fiction – What A Ride

I need to just free write a post while my body calms down. I just submitted my final draft of ‘That Meddling Dog’ for the YA anthology. Now I wait. Will it be chosen? Will I get my first real rejection? What happens next?

I began work on the story on May 30 and received the final draft from my volunteer copy editor yesterday. the writing and revising was awesome, ending up five hundred words over the limit and getting it down to the six thousand, sending new revisions off to my friends and getting their feedback and talking about things that happened and how the story affected each reader differently and change this word for that and get rid of that story line all together because there’s no room for it and I wasn’t ready to introduce that character anyway but oh I still need to reference him ok let me just change his name.

All the creative stuff was awesome, naturally, then it was coming down to the wire, the story pretty much done, the surface so shiny from all the polishing that I could see my reflection and all that was left was formatting. the visual part.

I’ve known I have a trigger happy thumb. I’m sure it’s evident in this post since I’m not being careful at all, just getting thoughts down. I enter way too many spaces. There’s no way with Voiceover and my word processing program, Pages, to easily tighten up spacing issues. So I went character by character of a six thousand word document, deleting spaces.

Wanna hear a sample of that process?

After I got done deleting extra spaces, I went through and added all my paragraph indents. I do all my first drafts in a basic app called Text Edit, kinda like Notepad for Windows, since it’s the easiest for me to use with voiceover. When I’m writing my first drafts of a fiction story, I never remember to tab for paragraphs and dialogue and I’m not sure that would copy over to Pages anyway.

So I went through and added my tabs and then I counted the new lines of a blank document. fifty lines. I wanted to do that thing with new chapters so the chapter would begin halfway down the page, right? So I’d find the new chapter and press enter twenty-five times. In my head, there’s the white space for the chapters.

I exported the Pages document, was it twenty-seven pages or seventeen I can’t remember. Anyway, converted it to Word for my volunteer copy editor and sent it off Wednesday. Deadline Sunday. today is Saturday. Are you with me?

I’m feeling so good about it. Really good. I feel like the story is solid, the protagonist being a secondary character in the main novel I’ve had in my heart and have worked on for years, and the protag from that novel in the story too. I feel great about it. I’ve had fun hanging out with my kids and creating new ones.

Then Thursday morning, before I’ve had coffee, before I’ve played Trivia Crack, I check email on my phone.

Don’t check email on your phone when you haven’t had coffee or played Trivia Crack and you’re already a bundle of nerves from this whole process oh and when Brian is in Sedona for a conference and your sleep is all messed up from staying up all night on Tuesday in a Google hangout with your besties.

email from copy editor lets me know he found extra spaces and other formatting stuff. Extra spaces. After I spent two days going character by character to get rid of them. Words that aren’t capitalized, crazy stuff. Stuff I know I fixed right?

turns out, when you export from Pages to Word and vice versa, formatting errors occur. So I can’t just go through, read his comments, fix what I agree with, stet the rest. this isn’t going to work. I can’t fix those visual errors. I can’t figure out how to make his comments correspond to the area of the manuscript which they refer. I start to panic. I’ve worked so hard. I love this story.

I’m reminded that I’m blind.

later I talk to Ricardo on the phone. He looks at the document with voiceover on his Mac. We try and figure out the comments thing. It’s all so overwhelming. It’s Thursday and the deadline is Sunday. Should I send the manuscript to Amanda who is also blind but uses Jaws with Word? She can fix the formatting issues, keep it in the blind family. but then I still can’t convert back to Pages.

Oh crap I totally left out the cathartic screaming crying fit from earlier in the day. I threw myself on the bed and screamed into my pillow so hard it hurt. I sobbed and sobbed. the cats piled on the bed with me. All I want to be is a writer and there’s all these barriers.

When I’m talking to Ricardo I’m trying so hard not to let the tears come but they do because I can’t do this. I can’t be a writer. There are too many challenges. I need Jaws and Word. All those things I’ve heard for years about Mac and voiceover not working well for professionals, all those things are true. Who am I kidding? I’m a blind disabled nobody and that’s who I’ll stay.

No.

Fuck that.

Deep breath.

Talking to Ricardo. He’s saying all the things I know in my heart, all the things my doubts want to kill. Sure it’s hard. Sure there are barriers. But there are also resources. Amanda told me to use my tools. What are my tools.

Email from the Professor. He can fix the visual stuff. He can just do it, we can talk in the morning, Friday, then he sends me the Word file, I don’t touch it, I submit that.

I tell Ricardo. Should I do that?

Hell yeah!

Weight lifts from my shoulders. People. People are my tools. People are more than happy to help a person who’s doing as much of the hard work as she can on her own.

I think back to the meetings. God will do for me what I can’t do for myself. For me right now, god is those people.

I’m going to be a published writer. I know this. This experience has been so valuable. Even if TMD doesn’t get picked for the anthology, the things I’ve learned from making it the best story it could be are invaluable.

And if it does get published? It could be a launching point.

I struggled with whether to include in my bio that I’m blind. I don’t want to be picked because I’m blind I want to be picked based on the merit of the work. But then I thought back to my last job, the one voc rehab helped me get and they told me not to disclose my MS. Look where that got me? I didn’t get any of the help I needed to be successful while working with a debilitating disability and I went blind.

so I chose to disclose. If I’m going to use the resources available as a blind writer, I can’t pretend I’m not. Hey look at that, tense change. I’m really bad at staying in tense. Hehe! Wait, in tense. Hahaha. Oh but I am so intense at times. In tense. intense. I love freaking words.

I thought back to an essay I read years ago that pissed me off so bad I almost wrote about it here but chose not to. the essay was written by a visually impaired woman who had kept her impairment secret for the same reasons I almost did. She had to admit it though, because she was loosing more and more of her vision.

I was so angry at her at the time but now I get it. It sucks to have to look your weakness full in the face. it sucks to admit oh crap, I can’t do this all on my own. It sucks. It’s painful. I understand now why she wanted to hide it and how much pain she must have been in the day she decided to post that essay.

I have put myself out there now. Until today, five people read TMD. Two blind friends, a young adult friend, and two sighted friends. Friends. All people who care about me. Now the story is in the hands of strangers.

It’s like bearing your soul, which Strunk prepared me for when I read his book.

I slept and slept and slept last night. I woke up at eleven this morning, an hour into the Rays game. So not like me! I was, and still am, exhausted.

After the Rays won (yay!) I opened the submission manager. Deep breath. Heart began racing.

“My heart is racing,” I say.

“Why, because you guys won?” Brian asks.

“No, I’m about to submit the story.”

“Oh!”

He knows what a journey this has been. He’s heard me mumbling during revisions, that doesn’t sound right, how can I reword that, he knows how important this is to me.

Of course I ran into a quick technical issue while looking for the file, the only one on my desktop, to submit. Silly mac.

I clicked submit. There goes the bio I wrote, there goes my baby, bye!

“Your submission has been sent.”

Oy vey, right? Holy crap. I mean holy crap! I tweeted, then grabbed Timmy and went to cuddle him in bed. His purring soothes me. I lay in bed, collecting my thoughts, the feeling slowly returning to my feet.

Now we wait. I posted on Facebook that I’m equal parts sure it will be accepted and that I’ll get my first real rejection.

Whatever happens, I’ll keep writing. Ren and georgie insist on it and their story isn’t done. They’ve got at least an entire novel to appear in, if not two or three. And my friend Dulce made her appearance in TMD when I had to work in a flashback to explain something. We find out she had her first kiss. And Dulce the character needs to meet Jedi the dog, who will love her as much as Jayden loves the real Dulce.

This story isn’t over. It’s just beginning!

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Filed under accessibility, accomplishment, Adjustment to blindness, apple Inc, assistive technologies, baseball, cats, coffeeholic, faith, fellowship, gratitude, Jaws, Jayden, Microsoft, misty eyes, screen reader, silly girl, spoons, Timmy, twitter me this, Voiceover, writing

#NaBloPoMo – Audio: Hanging with Ro Episode Two

I decided to do another silly recording for today’s post. The recording explains why haha! Forewarning, there is major computer swearage in this one haha! I explain why I never swear on the blog, but this was spur of the moment. So if you don’t want to hear it, just turn the volume down for a few minutes when I tell you in the audio haha!

Topics include:

*The aforementioned computer swearing

*How I got my Macbook

*Apple vs. Windows accessibility

*Holiday rant

*TRX training at the gym

*I always mention Evan Longoria and probably always will

There’s more than that but that’s a gist. Remember, there’s computer swearing! You’ve been warned!

Direct youtube link

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Filed under Adjustment to blindness, Alex, apple Inc, evan longoria, funnies, hanging with ro, holiday, iPhone, Jaws, NaBloPoMo 2011, screen reader, silly girl, twitter me this, Voiceover, workouts, youtube

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

WebAIM talks Voiceover!

The folks at WebAIM have put up an article, ‘Using VoiceOver to Evaluate Web Accessibility’, which I learned a few things from even though I’ve been using Voiceover now for nearly two years. The article assumes the most current OS, so if you don’t have Snow, like I don’t and need to get, you’ll notice The article mentions the awesome rotor, which is only in snow Leopard, so if you’re reading that and trying to find the rotor in Leopard, it doesn’t exist.

I’ve posted some quick tutorials for Voiceover, but this one by webAIM is by far more comprehensive and cohesive than anything I’ve written. It’s written for developers to be able to use Voiceover to test their web sites.

If you’re just a computer geek like me, you might find the article fun and if you’re a Jaws user, you might enjoy comparing the two even if you don’t own a Mac.

Enjoy, and thanks WebAIM for your sheer awesomeness!

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Filed under apple Inc, Jaws, plugs, proud geek, screen reader, Voiceover

Headings now on youtube

I was looking something up on youtube last night and arrowed down to the search results like normal and discovered the first one was in a heading. So I did another search, and sure enough, you can navigate search results by heading now! I checked with a Jaws user and it wasn’t always like that for her either. This is very exciting. Now to get Amazon to do the same.

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Filed under accessibility, Amazon, Jaws, proud geek, youtube

Blog Accessibility

A few weeks ago, Sadia asked if I would like to collaborate for a post on accessibility for today. Today is an awareness day for people with disabilities. Sadia’s completed post has the official title of the day along with an image. Her post really came out great. She is really dedicated to making her blog accessible to the visually impaired. Below is a snippet of what she wrote, followed by what I wrote for her blog. Enjoy!

***

Most of us think of blogs as a visual medium. They’re made up of text, photos and videos. Rarely have I seen sound clips incorporated into blog posts without an accompanying image, usually a movie of some sort. However, for people with limited vision, blogs can be an auditory experience. Many folks with vision impairments use screen readers rather than monitors to interact with their computers, including their access to the internet. Screen readers are a type of software that turn the electronic data that our monitor interprets as pixels into synthesized speech. The most commonly used one is JAWS, although Window Eyes is also popular.

A couple of the regular readers of Double the Fun are blind. I have made a few simple modifications to this blog to make it more accessible to screen reader users. Before I get into the specific accessibility choices I’ve made, allow me to talk about accessibility in general, and get a little geeky on the subjects of HTML and CSS.
Web Accessibility
Accessibility is a huge topic. It includes a variety of things we do as a society to make services available to everyone, from translating government forms into multiple languages to constructing buildings with elevators and wheelchair ramps. When it comes to web accessibility, I tend to focus on accessibility for the visually impaired, although cognitive and learning disabilities also deserve attention.

Web Accessibility in Mind has a website that is a fantastic resource if you’re interested in learning more about web accessibility. They also produce a nifty web accessibility evaluation tool called WAVE. You can enter your blog’s URL in the box, click “WAVE this page!”, a receive feedback on common accessibility shortcomings.

One of the keys to creating an accessible website, in my opinion, is to know a little about HTML and CSS. Basically – very basically – HTML is the format used to write the content of web pages, while CSS is used to determine how that content will be presented. In an ideal words, your text should be in HTML, while things like font-size and italics are in the realm of CSS. A fantastic tutorial is available at HTML Dog, which is where I learned the basic web concepts I use in my day job. If you can leave presentation matters to CSS, then screen readers can stick to the HTML content and don’t have to muck with the stuff we put into our web pages to make them look pretty. Blogger templates generally do a pretty good job with this.
Modifications on this Blog
I’m pretty comfortable with tweaking the CSS and HTML in my Blogger template, but you don’t have to be able to do that to increase the accessibility of your blog.
Photo descriptions
I provide descriptions for the photos and images I include in my blog posts and in the sidebars. The way I do this is to go into the HTML for the image, and add a description as an alt tag for the image, like so:

If this were a real photo, I'd put the description here!

When I add a button, whether to a post or a sidebar, I make sure to add in a description of what it is, because screen readers can’t read it otherwise, no matter how pretty it is. Here’s what my Multiples and More button code looks like:

I Heart Multiples: Multiples and More Blog Network button

The original button had no alt text. I added “I Heart Multiples: Multiples and More Blog Network button”.
Headings
To give my posts structure, I often use headings. Instead of using italics and bold to identify headings, I use HTML headings, and make sure that the heading level reflects how concepts are embedded in other concepts. In this post “Web Accessibility” and “Modifications on this Blog” are Level 4 headings (

), while “Photo descriptions” is a Level 5 heading (

).

Back when I had the daily tantrum report, I visually represented its secondary nature by putting it in an embedded text box off to the right of the post. To signal to my screen reader audience that this was not the main post, I used a Level 4 heading for the words “Daily Tantrum Report.” Furthermore, I added another Level 4 heading with the content “Main Post Content” at the beginning of the main post, styled in such a way as to make it invisible to my visual readers. If you care to try this yourself, put this code in your header tag:

style=”height: 1px; left: -10000px; overflow: hidden; position: absolute; top: auto; width: 1px;”

Skip to content
Web pages very rarely dive right into the content. Instead, we have headers, navigation links and all sorts of helpful fluff. A nice thing to do is to add page-internal links towards the top of your page that allow screen reader users to skip down to the meat of what you have to say. Blogger templates very kindly include skip links to both the blog content and the sidebar.

For the same reason, I have chosen to put my sidebars to the right (logically after my post content).
Video links
Whenever I embedded videos in my posts, I am sure to provide a link to them somewhere in the surrounding text, so that screen reader users don’t have to figure out how to get them to play; both Youtube and Dropshots automatically start playing videos if you go directly to the video page.
A First-Hand Account of a Screen Reader User

*This post is part of the Bloggers Unite People First: Empowering People With Disabilities event. Please visit some of the other posts on this important subject.

***

Here is my contribution:

***

First of all, let me thank Sadia for asking me to collaborate with her on this post. I’d also like to say that I am by no means a screen reader expert. After going blind in April of 2008, I taught myself the Apple computer because their screen reader is included. I am sure I have not yet discovered all the tools I have in my arsenal, so if something I write about how I do things makes your head spin as a well learned screen reader user, by all means, share it with me. 😉

To get an idea of what it is like to navigate the web using a screen reader, take a look at this page. Look at the very top of the page and focus on every detail from left to right, inching down slowly as you go. Every single item you just looked at is spoken, item by item, link by link, image by image, frame by frame. Tedious, right?

Luckily, there are ways to make things faster. I have been using my screen reader, Apple’s Voiceover, for a year and a half. I have not mastered every aspect of it, and constantly learn something new. I don’t use a mouse, like you do. My computer is controlled with key board commands. No point and click. I have to find the item I want by scrolling through everything on the page until I locate what I need, and then execute the Voiceover commands to “click. From here on out, let’s refer to Voiceover as VO, to make this easier on me.

My best friends on any website are headings. I can navigate by headings and skip past all the clutter before finding my content. On Blogger blogs, this function is invaluable, and Sadia’s blog has clearly marked headings, as do most Blogger blogs. I have run across a few where the blog author has given their heading text a stylized look, so my screen reader won’t read them. That’s rather difficult if looking for a specific post.

I also use a link chooser menu on sites I know well. I bring up a list of all the links on the page, type in a few letters of the link I want, and click once to be brought to where that link is on the page. If I click twice, I activate the link. Clicking once is useful for quick orientation on a page, like my Dashboard. To get to the current list of new blog posts, I use the link chooser menu to find the last blog on my reading list, which begins with “Words”. If I click once on that link and arrow over, my reading list is right there.

Blogs like Sadia’s are great, because I load the post and navigate by headings to the subject of the blog, then arrow down and read it. If I want to view a list of posts and maybe skip past a few to get to a specific one, I can navigate by headings to get there. I can also navigate by headings to find the comments, and then skip to the next heading to leave a comment. This also works if I’m viewing a list of blog posts and want to get to the comments. The headings take me right to the comments link.

This leads me to a very important topic among blind bloggers, the dreaded CAPTCHA. The word verification. The little tool Blogger offers where commenters must solve the word picture in order to post their comment.

If you’d like blind bloggers to comment, please don’t use this. If you’re worried about spam, switch to comment moderation. You have total control over what comments see the light of day on your blog. It’s also a nice way for bloggers to leave personal information because you can just reject the comment after you take down an address or phone number.

Google has an audio CAPTCHA, where we can click a link to listen to the numbers and/or letters. If you run across a CAPTCHA, just click the ‘listen’ link. It sounds like a heavy metal record being played backwards to look for hidden messages. A creepy guy speaks leters and numbers you have to type. I’ve gotten fairly good at these, but if there’s any outside noise, I need to plug in my headphones. I often listen to baseball games on my computer and check out blogs during commercials. If you have a CAPTCHA, I’m not going to comment if it means turning off my game. So, to keep your blog not only accessible to the blind, but also to the deaf/blind (CAPTCHAs are totally inaccessible to the deaf/blind), and to keep your sighted readers a little more happy, don’t have a CAPTCHA.

Now I’d like to talk about image descriptions. If you have a bunch of images in your blog post, all I’m going to hear is “image, image image”. VO cannot describe pictures. If there’s no text, VO has no information. This is another reason I love Sadia’s blog. She includes image descriptions on all her photos. Take a look at this post as an example. Back when she posted it, I got mistye eyes imagining her husband greeting their daughters at the airport.

It is also important on websites that use images to make their links and titles more eye catching, that there be text descriptions. If you have a cool graphic that says “home”, but you don’t add a text description, my computer will just say “image” and I’ll never get “home”.

Thanks again Sadia for all your hard work! Be sure to check out Sadia’s completed post. It’s a wonderfully detailed post and I am so glad she took the time to write it!

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Filed under accessibility, Adjustment to blindness, apple Inc, gratitude, Jaws, plugs, screen reader, Voiceover

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.

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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

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

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

Experimenting with more Alex

I’m trying an experiment. I just recorded Alex reading the silly little passage I wrote below. I want to actually record the crazy way I figured out how to upload the videos, but I don’t think I can record while I’m trying to upload it. I’ll try it though. If not, I guess I’ll either do another post about all that. I don’t know. I’m really tired and need to stop this. Haha! Ok here is the link followed by what is in the recording. Yeah, can’t record while I’m getting videos off the iPod. Spinelli had tried to get my attention before I started trying all this, so she got a video lol. I don’t know how good it is as I don’t think there was much light. I’m only gonna do the youtube links, as the blogger thing was just too slow.

***Hi! I’m Alex. I’m the newest voice for Voiceover, Apple’s built in screen reader. I come standard on all Apple computers. I think I’m only available on OS 10 and up, but don’t quote me on that. I’m just a computer, after all.

I was designed to sound as human as possible, and I even breathe. I’m not sure if this video is going to capture that or not. So listen closely at natural pauses.

The person who is videoing this went blind a little under two years ago. She was an avid computer user before this and she used ahem, Windows. Psst. I’ll let you in on a secret. She tought herself her Apple computer and Voiceover with no help from the sighted folk. She had heard about Windows screen readers, like Jaws. Shhh…don’t let the Apple peeps here me mention Jaws.

But, when she found out that all Apple computers have Voiceover built in, she luckily had just enough money left from her sightie days to buy one. And the rest is history. I’m even on her new iPod, which lets her take videos. The iPod Nanos all have Voiceover too and the latest one has the video recorder. So now I can finally let my voice be heard.

I say things like meow. And croissant. Pretty perfect, don’t you think? What about shhh, hmmm, psst, mmm. Yeah. How about wassup?

I also say some things weird. Like, whaaat? That’s what spelled with three letter a’s. And if you type yay a bunch of times, I sound like this, yayayayayay!

Or laughing. Hahahaha! Hehehehehehe! Hahahehehahaha! Ha ha ha ha he he he ha ha ha. The humans like to make me say this stuff, so I might as well show off.

Of course I swear. But we’re making this video G rated.

So the blog friends know that this computer’s welcome message says, Meow meow meow, kitty wants a croissant. It just kind of ended up that way because meow and croissant were the first words the human really found funny.

Ah, wanna hear how JayNoi sounds? That came from a typo. And that person got stuck with that name.

One thing I can’t say right is brrr. Or grrr. The Apple folks haven’t corrected those like they did wassup. I used to say that wah sup.

What else do I say funny? I don’t know. I’ll leave you with some silliness.

Meow meow shhh, meow meow shhh, psst would you like a croissant? Hmmm, why yes I would, mmm. Yeah yeah yeah it’s fun to hear me say wassup and meow, wassup wassup, meow. Because my human is a silly, silly girl.

Did you hear me breathe?

17 Comments

Filed under Alex, apple Inc, Jaws, proud geek, quirky words, screen reader, Spinelli, spoons, video, Voiceover, youtube