Category Archives: letters

Dear Evan Longoria,

Last night I lay in bed contemplating a writing prompt I recently read inviting me to picture the one person I wished was reading my blog and write him or her a letter. You immediately popped into my mind and last night as I thought about writing such a letter, I found myself in tears.

On April 24, 2008, I went blind very quickly and unexpectedly. I wish I knew the exact date I heard your name for the first time but it must have been nearing the end of the 2008 season. I heard Down and Out, a song I loved, and asked my boyfriend why it was playing. He explained all about you and your amazing rookie season and the Rays and how Joe Maddon had taken you guys out of the cellar and it looked like you might just make the playoffs.

I was not a baseball fan. I wasn’t a sports fan period, unless the Arizona Wildcats were playing. I thought baseball was the most boring game in the world but as I listened to the game on TV, unable to see it, relying on the broadcasters and my boyfriend, I was riveted by you and your team’s story. At the beginning of the season, before I went blind, my boyfriend got the MLB Extra Innings package and I rolled my eyes at the cost. He had said he would pay it don’t worry, unless he caught me in the bedroom with baseball on. Little did we know that would be exactly what he would discover several months later.

When I found out how much better baseball was on the radio and that the playoff games were broadcast locally, that cinched it. My little radio went with me as I listened to you and the Rays make it all the way to the World Series. I cried and cried when it was over.

I wasn’t just sad the baseball season was done. I was saddened to lose this newfound passion I had had so briefly. Evan you gave me something incredible that year and I’ve wanted you to know it ever since. You gave me something to look forward to! You opened up an interest in me that I was able to feed and dive into when I had nothing else to hold on to. I had no access to technology in those first dark months. I had nothing but books on CD that friends brought me. Until I heard Down and Out that day and found out about you.

It wasn’t long before I had a full blown crush, especially after my girl friend described you. I fantasized about meeting you, most of those fantasies not for public consumption. These days when I think about meeting you the scene always ends up with me in tears trying to tell you what you mean to me. You saved my life!

Not only am I now a rabid Rays fan who looks forward to the season every year but I have so many friends in the Twitterverse because of you and the Rays. You were the second person I followed when I joined and now I have a host of friends, fellow Rays fans, who have become family to me. I am never alone, even on my darkest days they are there. You started this Evan, you did. You were just doing your thing, playing your game, being you and you had no idea you were doing this for me, saving some woman’s life clear across the country! Thank you so much. A thank you is nowhere near enough.

You’ll probably never read this but hey, stranger things have happened right? You tweeted me once, after you were bribed, I wonder if you remember that.

I think that’s all I have. I know the chances of you reading this are rare but the thought that maybe someday you’ll know what you mean to me makes me smile. You also have no idea how much sometimes I wish I was Jaime! You know, because she can see. Right sure uh huh that’s it.

Love,

Ro

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Filed under Adjustment to blindness, baseball, evan longoria, gratitude, letters, misty eyes, My story, NaBloPoMo 2012, twitter me this

A Letter to Fifty-Three Year-Old Me

Writing the letter to my fourteen year-old self was fun. The writing prompt I took the idea from said to follow it up the next day with a letter to myself in twenty years. I didn’t give it much thought until it was the next day and the thought of the future was too scary. I think today I am ready to do this since two fictional worlds I’ve dived into recently are more scary (hopefully) than twenty years from now will be.

So, fifty-three year old Ro, I hope you are alive to read this. If you are not fifty- three year-old Ro, meaning you are Ro and not fifty-three yet, don’t read this. You can’t read this until November 11, 1032. Oh wow.

Oh and readers, you should leave a comment. If this blog is still here in twenty years, hopefully it is, your comments will be in a time capsule of sorts haha!

Dear fifty-three year-old Ro,

Wow, so did I make it this long? Mom didn’t make it to fifty-three so if I’m reading this in twenty years I better be grateful. Remember how you thought you’d never see thirty because of how crazy your life was and then you literally didn’t see thirty because you went blind at twenty-nine? Yeah, I still think that’s funny today. Do you still find it funny in twenty years? I hope so, because without humor there’s just no point.

Do you need a refresher of what life was like for you at thirty-three? Well, I’ve been with B for just over five and a half years now. Are we still together in twenty years? If we are, what is he like? Did he ever start eating vegetables? I know, that’s probably a really stupid question. My three best friends are Carol, Chupa and Georgie. How are they? Ok I’m misting up thinking about these people in twenty years. Do you remember being convinced that everyone would die before you and you would be left alone in this scary world? That was only like two months ago, before I started Lexapro. Thinking about the people I love the most and how it will be in twenty years is starting to freak me out. It’s a good thing I’m medicated.

What about Erik? He’s my only friend who’s younger than I am. Only by a few months but still. How is he? I hope you are still in touch with him. We’ve been friends so long and there has always been gaps where we lose touch. Although ever since I went blind and started using my Macbook, we haven’t lost touch, so I hope in twenty years we’re still close.

Ok, so speaking of my Mac, what is technology like? Do people have stuff implanted in them yet? I always imagine little nano chips for phones and stuff. I mean seriously, the technology has to be amazing in twenty years! Or is it scary? Has it gotten out of control? It could go that route too. Right now you have an iPhone 4 running iOS 6.0.1. The latest iPhone is the 5. What is the iPhone in twenty years? Do you have an iPhone? Has any other phone ever rivaled the accessibility of the iPhone? I have a Macbook they don’t even make anymore. I was almost completely out of space on it so I started converting videos to mp3. What do you have in twenty years? Do they even make laptops anymore? Do they use wires at all? I can’t imagine there would be wires anymore. Am I right?

What animals do you have? Right now I have Jayden and Timmy and Spinelli and Fi. I can’t think about the future without them.

Are you still blind? Did they figure out how to give you new optic nerves? If so, did you get them? As of right now, I can’t imagine seeing again. I’m so used to things the way they are, so I don’t know if I would try anything to see again. I remember when I first went blind I wanted more than anything to see again, even just a little bit. I was ready to get on a plane and go to the UK where they were experimenting with a cancer drug that helped MS patients regain lost functions. Now though? I couldn’t imagine testing a drug. It’s a scary thought. So what have you done in twenty years?

I’m afraid to think about what the MS has done to me in twenty years. It’s impossible to think about my future self though without wondering about that. I won’t think about that now. Maybe you’re reading this in twenty years and smiling because nothing horrible has happened. Is that too much to ask for?

There really isn’t much more to write. There isn’t much to say to a future self beyond asking questions. I can say I hope you are as happy as I am today. Though I hope you are happier. I’m happy, but I could be happier. I just hope you aren’t less happy. I hope you’re still sober, though obviously when it comes to that I can’t really think beyond today. If you’re sober and still smoke free and at least as happy as I am now, then you’ve got it good.

Oh hey wait, I have to ask, is there equality? Have people finally quit being so damned uptight about gay marriage? Has racism and bigotry finally really gone away? Do women still have freedom over their own bodies? Has the insanity over birth control gone away? Did people start finally focusing on the real problems? God I hope so. If there isn’t more love an acceptance in twenty years, how are you managing?

I’m reading “The Handmaid’s Tale”, do you remember reading that book? It’s incredibly depressing. It’s what could happen if the crusty old white guys don’t stop wanting to control the female body. It’s terrifying. I hope it’s nothing like this in twenty years because if it’s going to go down that path, I hope the Mayans were right. If they were right, you won’t be reading this in twenty years, no one will.

Ok wow, this turned very doom and gloom. I was afraid this would happen when I thought about writing this letter. Writing to fourteen year-old me was fun because I don’t fear the past and because I knew what happened. This letter is nothing but fear of the unknown and my dwindling hope for a happy future.

I guess my only hope is that there’s just more love in the future. There has to be, or the future is grim grim grim.

I should end this on a happy note. Hmmm, happy. So have the Rays won a World Series or five? Ten? How long did Evan Longoria stay? Please tell me he didn’t end up with Boston or New York. What about David Price? Did I ever meet any of them? How are all my online friends? I don’t want to start naming them all because that’s a lot and I’m sure I’d end up leaving someone out.

One last question, what kind of voice are you listening to on your Mac? I can only assume you still use a screen reader and a Mac. Is it still Alex or have they made new voices that are just as good? Knowing Apple, they probably use human speech in twenty years haha. Ok, I just heard my DM ping. I think that’s my cue to wrap this up.

I hope this letter finds you well , my fifty-three year-old self! Oh, happy early birthday!

Love,

Thirty-three year-old Ro

PS – Do they have replicators and/or transporters yet? Did you ever publish anything?

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Filed under accessibility, Adjustment to blindness, Alex, apple Inc, assistive technologies, baseball, cool product, evan longoria, fellowship, Fi, humor as coping skill, I might be a writer, in the news, iPhone, Jayden, letters, mental health, misty eyes, mom, My story, NaBloPoMo 2012, on this date, politics, proud geek, screen reader, silly girl, sobriety, Spinelli, spoons, Timmy, twitter me this

A Letter to Fourteen Year-Old Me

I follow a Twitter account that is posting daily writing prompts to assist people with NaBloPoMo ideas. Part of me really wants to come up with my own ideas but I think that’s the stubborn part. I found one of the ideas really intriguing so I saved the tweet. For today’s post, I’ll write a letter to my fourteen year-old self. Whoa. I’m imagining it being November 4, 1993. Tomorrow I’ll write a letter to myself in twenty years. I’ve been trying to recall who I was when I was fourteen. This should be interesting!

Dear fourteen year-old Ro,

Did your eyes light up when I referred to you as Ro? I bet they did. I know how much you always wished you could have a cool nickname and how you fantasized that you could be like Ro Laren from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Well guess what? You don’t turn out like Ro, but you’ll be known as Ro in your thirties. How cool is that?

It’s funny that I’m writing this letter to you because just yesterday I played four X-Files episodes so I could convert them to mp3. You have no idea what that means I realize. Oh, the technology that is coming, I won’t even begin to try and explain because I think it might freak you out a little bit. Just…pay attention to a lot of what they use in Star Trek, ok? Because I can tell you from first hand knowledge of the future that some of that is real in my time. Don’t get too excited; they haven’t figured out how to transport things yet. You and your friend Carol will wish for that a lot when you grow up. Transporters and replicators would make life so easy but I guess maybe we won’t see that in our lifetime. Sorry to disappoint, but I don’t want you getting your hopes up. Technology is going to be a huge part of your life in the future. I know right now you’re resistant to it but just trust me, ok? Oh, and try to remember what that little Mac is called when Mom gives it to you.

Congratulations on making it through middle school. I know that was awful and I know you’re still recovering from it and wishing it had never happened. Try and believe me when I say it made you incredibly strong and you have no idea what that hardship prepared you for as you grow up. I won’t go into details but I will tell you that everything you’re going through now is all going to be invaluable as you face challenges in life. There will be challenges. But you overcome them because of your experience. Just keep doing everything you’re doing because I have no regrets. You’re doing it all the right way.

Except, quit being so hard on yourself about Mom and Dad’s marriage, ok? It’s not your fault. No really. It’s not your fault.

On a happier note, you know how much you love cats? Well that doesn’t stop and Combat and Little Kitty are with you for a really long time. You know how you think you’ll never have a dog? Well you’re gonna have the coolest dog ever, take my word for it on that. I’m sitting with him on the couch as I write this and he is the light of my life. You’re probably rolling your eyes at that but it’s the truth!

I want to say I’m very proud of you for waiting with G. Your future self is grateful you didn’t give in to your hormones with him. You really are too young for that and that is totally ok, so just keep waiting. You know that boy C who sits with you in Biology? Can you try to keep closer tabs on him? You’re probably laughing at me right now. I know you don’t think much of him now but you just wait. I lost touch with him and only just recently found him on Facebook but neither of us uses it much so I still don’t know what’s up with him. I’m sure the word Facebook is confusing you. There is so much in the realm of technology you’ll experience! I wish I could watch. Oh and Wesley Crusher? Yeah, I follow him on Twitter. Wil Wheaton that is. Don’t ask what Twitter is, it’s too hard to explain. I’ve talked to him though. Well not really I mean he hasn’t replied to me but his wife has! Oh sorry, yeah he has a wife and it’s not you. Oh that was harsh? Just helping to toughen that skin!

Oh, I know I said I had no regrets from this time in our life but I do want to make one suggestion. Stay in the girls chorus one year longer ok? If you graduate when I did you’ll be really upset the next year when you find out where the tour is. I know you left chorus to focus on getting ready for college but trust me on this and stay in an extra year. The experience of the trip will be so much better than the time wasted preparing for college. Wait, I’m not saying that college isn’t important, but please, for the love of everything Nirvana, stay in an extra year. I wish I had gotten to go on that trip…

Speaking of trips, wasn’t New York amazing? You’ll be telling stories from that trip for the rest of your life. That was such an incredible experience. Please add to it and stay in choir another year. Ok ok, I’ll drop it.

You’re probably getting bored of this letter and I bet there’s an episode of The X-Files getting ready to start or something. Oh hey thanks for recording all those episodes on the VCR. Those tapes really came in handy when I was about twenty-one or so. Just wait until you see how people record TV shows and movies today!

Keep on being the cool kid you are right now. Yes I said cool. You don’t think you’re cool but you are and you helped me be who I am today. Remember about choir and keep hanging on to those morals of yours; they get you through a lot. Mom is going to talk to you about drinking. Pay attention ok? Don’t change what you do with that information, but it becomes very valuable when you’re twenty-six. Thanks. I think that’s about all I have. I wish I could go back in time and give you a hug. Get ready for the crazy ride the next twenty years will take you on. You’ll be amazed when you sit here and write this letter to yourself, amazed at what you’ve been through and survived. Enjoy it, none of your books could have written it any better!

Love,

Thirty-three year-old Ro

PS – I still refuse to step foot inside The Gap. Oh, and I love baseball. No seriously. Ok, you’ll believe it in about seventeen years or so.

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Filed under apple Inc, baseball, cats, Combat, family, gratitude, Jayden, letters, mom, My story, NaBloPoMo 2012, on this date, proud geek, sobriety, twitter me this

#NaBloPoMo – A plea to the future me

Dear Ro of the future,

This is a plea to you, yep a plea. Take a sip of coffee. Ready? Ok.

Now, I’ve forgiven the past me for the stupid way I packed the last two times I moved. I was so anxious to get into my new places that I thought I’d save time by just shoving everything I owned into boxes and big plastic Rubbermaid containers. Or coffee cans. Or plastic cat litter containers. Sure, I got rid of a lot of stuff but why did I keep all the pens?

Future self, I can tell you with the utmost certainty that slacking at the time does not save time. Sure, you might think it saves time in the moment, but you know that law of conservation of energy? Well, that applies to packing and storing and cleaning. Whatever time you push forward remains and collects dust. Yes, time collects dust. Just remember your sinuses and itchy eyes and all the sneezing.

In case you don’t believe this post, which knowing me, you will but just in case, and because you’ll probably do some slacking between now and whatever chunk of time might collect dust if you’re not on top of things, here are a couple reminders. Here is how it all started. Don’t let all of Carol’s hard work go to waste. Just don’t. Here’s a post about the cats’ room. That room has been the hardest of all. today’s work on that room is why I’m writing this letter to you, future self. It’s awesome in there. It really is. Everything is dusted and now covered with old sheets. The window is actually open. You emptied a bottle of Febreeze and a bottle of Lysol in there today. You vacuumed the heck out of that room, moving everything in there. It’s amazing. Do not, I repeat, do not, let that room go. Seriously.

It hasn’t happened yet, but it most likely will have by the time you read this post in the future. Carol will be coming over to help me go through the stuff that didn’t get tossed. She’s going to be putting more hard work into this house. Don’t let that be in vain. I’m not sure what to threaten you with. Just remember this sense of accomplishment. Remember forgiving your past past self for the stupid packing because how were you to know that you’d go blind and leave all that stuff for way too long? Will you be in that forgiving of a mood six months from now? A year? I don’t think so.

You haven’t always been the best at keeping clean and organized, but you’re damn good at it now. Don’t forget that. It’s ok if you have some bad spoon weeks when you can’t do it, but pick it up as soon as you’re able. Remember, you live with four animals and a boy. Remember that. Keeping this kind of house hold clean is a full time job.

Ok, finish your coffee and go clean something.

Love,

The November 2011 Ro

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Filed under accomplishment, Adjustment to blindness, cats, coffeeholic, fellowship, gratitude, letters, NaBloPoMo 2011, spoons

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.

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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!

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

Amazon Accessibility

So if you’re a regular reader, you’ll know about my fairly recent addiction haha! I think I first ordered from Amazon months ago, just to give it a try. But it wasn’t until recently that I really started using it. Back when I first started using it, I could review items. It was tricky, and not clear, but I was able to select stars. Well, they’ve done something and now I can no longer select stars, and therefore, can’t review. I rely heavily on customer reviews. Product descriptions usually suck, so I read the reviews to get a better description of the product. I won’t buy anything with less than 4 stars.

Recently I wrote to Amazon and I cannot for the life of me remember why. I must have been in that winter fog or something, and I didn’t keep what I wrote. But I did keep the reply, which mentioned their “accessible site” which I looked at for a minute and laughed. It’s the mobile site, and it sucks. Now, I use the mobile Facebook, and I like it. I don’t get all that fluff. The here is a pretty sparkly star to decorate your wall because you are a shining star, stuff. But with Amazon, I want the fluff. I want to review items.

So yesterday I got an email asking me to rate the seller of a recent purchase. I didn’t think it would work, but I followed the link, and low and behold, the stars option worked like a charm. It had clearly labeled links. I was able to rate all my sellers, including the dreaded ring seller. They all got glowing reviews, except the ring siller who got a 2. But I digress. I thought, maybe if that worked, I can review products now. Nope. Still the same. I even tried group mode with Alex to no avail.

So I dug out that email they had sent in reply to the email I can’t remember writing, and I wrote their accessibility department. Below is the email they sent me weeks ago, followed by the email I sent last night. They actually did make a great change to their “my orders” page, which I pointed out. I’ve got a few more suggestions for them if they write back. I’ll update here as this goes. Blinks, if you have any issues with Amazon you’d like to address, the following email from them has their accessibility email address, or you can tell me and I’ll include it in any future correspondence. You know I live for this stuff 😉

Oh, I had copied and pasted the email address because for some reason clicking it didn’t work. There is a period right after .com so make sure you delete that.

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Hello from Amazon.com.

Thank you very much for your feedback. While the Amazon.com website is generally usable for people with screen readers, we’re always looking for ways to improve usability of the site for all customers, including those with disabilities. To that end, we have formed an alliance with the National Federation of the Blind to work together to improve the accessibility of our website platform in the coming months and years.

In case you weren’t aware, Amazon.com has for many years offered a different version of our site optimized for screen readers and mobile devices at: www.amazon.com/access

We’ve also gathered together products for the visually impaired (such as large print and Braille books, and voice-recognition software). I hope you find this store helpful: www.amazon.com/visuallyimpaired

We always appreciate suggestions on how we can improve the shopping experience at Amazon.com, and I’m forwarding your feedback to the team responsible for website accessibility. If you have additional feedback for our website accessibility team, you may contact them directly at accessibility-feedback@amazon.com.

Please Note: We cannot respond personally to messages sent to the feedback e-mail address. If you have a question or need help with your account or an open order, please contact Customer Service by visiting our Help pages at www.amazon.com/help and clicking the Contact Us button in the left-hand column.

Thank you for shopping at Amazon.com.

***

Hi there, 

I am blind and use a screen reader. I recently became very active on Amazon as it is so convenient for me to shop independently. However, I’m having some issues. I used to be able to leave reviews for products, but I can no longer select the number of stars. There is nothing to select. I just heard “please select stars” or something. Today, I was asked to leave seller feedback, and there I could select stars. They appeared as links I could click, with a clear description. I was hoping this would work for products now, but it did not. 

I use an Apple computer with Voiceover and Leopard with Safari. 

I find the mobile site an insult as a solution for screen reader users. It leaves out options, such as writing reviews at all. This might be fine for mobile devices, but as a screen reader user, I want the same options as sighted users. Please do not suggest I use that site. 

I do have a compliment though. I really like the new “my orders” page. This set up is lovely! First, I can navigate my orders by heading, which is great. Additionally, I love the “track your package” link. It is wonderful to have the latest tracking information so readily available. I would love to see the heading option on the main search pages, as scrolling to different products is quite tedious. I’ve heard this complaint among other blind people as well. 

I will never stop using Amazon. I wish to tell you though, that I’ve had countless screen reader users tell me they won’t even touch Amazon, which is a shame. If I can help in any way, I would love the opportunity. I would also like to leave reviews because I rely on reviews to buy things. Product descriptions are usually pretty weak, so I rely on what others say, and would like to do the same for the wonderful products I have found. 

Thank you very much for your time and consideration of my suggestions. 

***

Well I just listened to their email again, and it sounds like they won’t respond directly from the accessibility email. Hmmm. But, the same thing was true with Facebook, and I had a human write me, so here’s hoping.

Also, I had forgotten that the NFB was involved. I wonder if the NFB thought the mobile site was good enough. Ick. I’m all ACB all the time hahaha!

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Filed under ACB, accessibility, advocacy, Alex, Amazon, assistive technologies, letters, proud geek, screen reader, Voiceover

More Facebook – A human

I am breaking through my brain fog to paste some more. I got another reply from Facebook. I’m posting his reply and what I wrote back in response to his question, because I think it’s important that we advocate for ourselves and others, and I am very happy so far with what I’ve heard. I got a response back from an actual person, which is why I’m posting the whole email, because even though this is a public blog, hopefully he won’t mind rhe recognition, as I think he deserves it. So I had just replied with a snarky “guess I’m out of luck since I can’t use the main site” and here is how he responded, followed by my reply:

***

Thanks for your reply. If possible, could you provide more information on the problems you’re encountering with the main site? The more feedback you provide on your experience, the better equipped we will be to improve the site for you. We appreciate your help and apologize for the inconvenience you’ve incurred so far.

Thanks,

Kristjan
User Operations
Facebook
***
Hi Chris,

Thank you for wanting to know more; that is a rarity. I can’t say exactly what it is about the main site other than it’s just too complicated. I use a screen reader, so trying to figure out where I am on the main site is a pain. It jumps all over the place, to adds and what not. And for some reason it always takes me to one friend’s profile. There are too many options, too much clutter.

The mobile site is perfect. Simple. All I have to scroll through are status updates and the news feed. There is just a comment and like link. It’s super simple.

going to the main site is too much of a headache. I’ve spoken to other screen reader users about the sudden captcha and almost all of them use the mobile site as well. One mentioned the lite site, but that one was too complicated too.

It just really bothers me that when I signed up and did the text message, it told me I would never have a captcha again, and now I’m getting them. It only seems to happen with some links on my status.

Also, suddenly there are several friends who’s updates do not appear on my page, and I never did a hide thing, since those links aren’t on the mobile site. I’ve also got a group invitation that sounded hackish so I’ve tried to reject it, and it won’t go away. That has happened since the captcha deal.

The audio captcha really isn’t a solution, as a lot of times, they aren’t clear, and my cursor doesn’t end up in the box, so my reader talks on top of the audio. I’ve also got a friend who’s blind and deaf. She’s disturbed about the captchas as well, but can tolerate the main site.

So sorry for the book, but you asked 😉 Again, thank you very very much for responding.
***

I will keep updating on this.

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Filed under accessibility, advocacy, CAPTCHA, letters, proud geek, screen reader, spoons

Heard from Facebook

Well, this is the last of the 30 in 30 posts thank goodness haha. I’m totally brain fogged and spooned out today, so I’m just gonna paste the email from FB. I had nother really cute post in mind today but just don’t have the energy.

Now I won’t have to post if I’m brain foggy and out of spoons 😉 Was fun writing a post a day, and probably will write close to that anyway, but not having to anymore will bea relief.

FB reply:

We appreciate your email. We provide an audio captcha alternative on the main site for any instance of a text captcha. This should allow you to post the link. Posting some links may require that you complete a captcha. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. Please let us know if you need any further assistance.

Thanks,

Kristjan
User Operations
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He’s lucky I have no spoons. I just wrote back that I guess I’m out of luck then since I can’t use the mains ite. I can, but hate it. This fight is not over. I will keep on this when I have energy again.

6 Comments

Filed under accessibility, advocacy, CAPTCHA, letters, NaBloPoMo 2009, proud geek, spoons

Attack of the CAPTCHA

This is an email I actually sent to accessibility+nnscjnr@facebook.com

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Dear Facebook,

When I signed up for my account, I needed sighted assistance, as I am blind and use a screen reader. During sign up, I was told that if I replied to a text message and proved I was human, I would never ever get a CAPTCHA again. My friend helped me reply to the text message and I never received another CAPTCHA.

Until now.

I tried to update my status, and it is telling me to do a security check and solve the CAPTCHA. I tried logging off and back on. Same problem. I use m.facebook.com, because your full site is not accessible to me, or I should say, incredibly difficult.

I promptly sent an email to my email list of other blind folks who Facebook, and they are experiencing the same problem. One of the members has some vision, but after 7 attempts, could not solve the CAPTCHA. She was however able to update her status on the main site. She is luckier than I.

This is not acceptable. Many blind and visually impaired folks use your mobile site to connect with friends and family. This problem needs to be resolved. An audio CAPTCHA isn’t even available, but still would not be a solution, as many of us can’t solve them anyway, and some of us are deaf as well as blind.

I hope I did not come across too rude. I made myself calm down before emailing you.

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I am so angry right now.

12 Comments

Filed under accessibility, advocacy, CAPTCHA, letters, NaBloPoMo 2009, rant, screen reader

Random correspondence (I am a copycat)

I saw this way of blowing off steam on another blog, and I loved it, so I’m copying it. Hope she doesn’t mind 😉

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Dear Blogger,

For the most part I am able to use your blog, and I am very grateful for that. However, there are simple things you could do to make life a little easier for screen reader users. You see, I start at the top of a page and scroll down, encountering every ltitle link I have to run across. I can navigate by headers, and when reading a blog, this works really well. I only wish it worked in the Dashboard a little better. Also, when I want to get to my dashboard either from viewing my blog or anothers, I have to interact with your table at the top of the screen to find the link back to the dashboard, which doesn’t even say Dashboard, it says Blogger Home. This is fine now, but it was confusing when I first started using Blogger. Just these little changes would make such a big difference, and I am sure there are more suggestions I am spacing on right now. Why can’t Google employ a few testers, or talk to the folks at webaim.org? I also would like to address your stupid CAPTCHA’s, but I will include my letter to the CAPTCHA people for your reference. Oh, except to say, that since I had a google account, I started this blog just fine. Now that I want to add another, you throw in a word verification. Whats the deal? Why do you want that with a second blog, when I am already logged in, you know who I am, and you know I am human? Not fair.

A somewhat happy screen reader user,

R

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Dear CAPTCHA designers,

Seriously. Have YOU tried using your stupid word verifications? I used to hate these things when I could see, but holy cow, have YOU tried listening to your supposed accessible ones? I’m sorry, I shouldn’t lump you all together, because some CAPTCHA’s are accessible. I should have sent this specifically to Blogger developers and Twitter to name a few with crazy ones. Actually I think I heard that Twitter did something about it, but I haven’t checked.

Anyway, why must it sound like a record being played backwards with a really angry man shouting out unintelligable numbers? Oh, you should check out the one that mlb.com uses on their Allstar voting page. Its awesome. You click the link and a clear female voice reads the numbers, AND my cursor ends up in the right place to type the numbers. Part of the problem with the horrible ones is that you click the listen link, and the cursor doesn’t end up in the text edit box, so your screen reader talks over the garbling whie you’re trying to find the box.

And don’t tell me “well there are services you can use to interpret CAPTCHAs”. That is not a fix. So I want to leave a comment on a blog, and before I type the comment, I have to take a screenshot of the CAPTCHA and send it to a sighted person for interpretation. By the time I’ve done this, I’ve lost what I want to say, and its not so easy to do anyway. So no, I am sorry, that is not a fix. I just won’t leave comments or use a service with a CAPTCHA I can’t solve for myself. The whole point of everything I am doing is to be as independent as possible. I rely on the sighted to drive. And thats really all I’m willing to rely on them for, thanks.

Sincerely,

i.hate.capthcas

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Dear Apple Inc.,

This is the only nice letter I can think of right now. I love you. You include your screen reader, magnification and braille output software free in all your operating systems. You made it possible for me to save my screen reader settings to a flashdrive, so that if I encounter another Apple, I can upload my settings. When you upgrade your OS, I do not have to upgrade my screen reader, because it is included. I wonder how much money that will save me for the rest of my life? Oh, and I don’t know about Jaws, but Voiceover was pretty simple to teach myself, and your website is outstanding. And don’t even get me started on iTunes and talking iPods and even an accessible touch screen phone. Wow!..

I just love you, Apple. You really take assistive technology to a whole new level, and you don’t charge us extra for it.

And the voice of Alex! He doesn’t even compare to Windows voices. Alex sounds as close to human as I have ever heard a synthesized voice sound.

I just had to say thank you and I love you and I have no complaints!

A very happy customer.

5 Comments

Filed under accessibility, assistive technologies, CAPTCHA, letters, plugs, rant, screen reader, Voiceover