Archive | January, 2015

Is it Accessibility or Usability?

30 Jan

by David Flament

I ran into something recently on our technology email list, Techexchaange, which made me think hmmm.  It was a forwarded article about Peapod settling a lawsuit about their website not being accessible.  I found this funny as I had just received my order from Peapod a couple of days earlier and had just taught shopping with Peapod as part of our Online Shopping class the day before.  It gave me a couple of things to think about.  The first thing I wondered was if people know the difference between accessibility and usability?

Which is it?

If something can be accessed by a person with a disability, then it is accessible.  If that thing is difficult to do and is not user friendly, then that is a usability problem, not an accessibility problem.  The Peapod web site is a perfect example.  I have had clients tell me how inaccessible the Peapod web site is, but after taking our online shopping class, they are able to shop independently on that same web site.

Even from a usability standpoint, I have seen much worse than the Peapod web site.  I have shopped using the Peapod web site for over 13 years with a screen magnifier at first, then later with a screen reader, and only had minor difficulties.  I have even shopped using the Peapod iPhone app with VoiceOver and found it very user friendly.

The Right Fight

Another thought I had was whether we as a blind community are picking the right fights.    Are Peapod and Apple posing a bigger problem to our community than Google or NetFlix?  Take the recent NFB resolution about Apple for example.  While I understand what NFB is trying to do, is that one of the biggest problems faced by our community?  I did applaud the NFB when they went after schools choosing the mostly inaccessible Kindle as the way to distribute books to their students.  I felt that was a major accessibility barrier for those in our community who wanted an education.

A company like NetFlix who knows their service is inaccessible and just does not care, seems to be much more egregious than Apple who has made accessibility a top priority throughout their company.  Perhaps we should concentrate our efforts on solving our biggest problems first, then going after the minor inconveniences and usability issues later.  What do you think?

David Flament is the technology instructor and resident tech instructor at Second Sense blind services in Chicago.  Click here to learn more about him.

The Struggle Continues

16 Jan

by Charlene Lloyd

Frustrated, I swear a few curse words. Where are my keys? I can’t find my keys. I am frantic. Just five more minutes before my car service arrives. The service is scheduled to pick me up at 8:00 am. Oh my God! I scream out loud. Panic begins to set in. I can feel my body temperature rising. I can’t find my keys…Quickly I turn and run from my living room towards my kitchen I don’t clear the doorway. BANG, BOOM, BAM, THUD. I trip and my knee smashes into the doorail sending a acute pain vibrating throughout my knee. OUCH! I yell as I grab for my knee. I swear, son of a b***h! I griped. I continue to hobble quickly into the kitchen. I think perhaps, could I have left my keys on the kitchen table?

My kitchen table is covered in last month’s and this month’s mail. There are letters of all shapes and sizes. The letters are large, small, long and fat and various colors. There are books, magazines, cards, bills, bills and bills. Everyday I tell myself I am going to read, organize and shred this mail. somehow time escapes me and I never quite get around to doing it. Now, I have amassed a mountain of junk mail. Are the keys under this cluster of mail? Wildly, I grab a handful of the mail and begin tossing some to the right, some to the left, some up in the air and some over my shoulders. All the mail that was on the table is now on the floor. still, there are no keys.

I have almost forgotten what my kitchen table looks like. The natural wood could not be seen. I rarely if ever eat at the table. I purchased the table nearly ten years ago. Yet, it looks brand new. It is a beautiful natural oak wood rectangular table that seats 8 comfortably. It is topped with a beautiful smoked glass. At each of the 4 corners there is a beautiful gold leafing embellishment throughout the table. It has a very high gloss finish and there is not a scratch on it. When i was at Macy’s 10 years ago, I just had to have it. There it was fully adorned with a beautiful floral place setting, matching plates, and crystal champagne glasses and sterling silver wear. In the center of the table was a beautiful bouquet sitting in a pedestal vase made of crystal. On each side of the vase were beautiful crystal candle holders and in each candle holder were two of the most wonderfully scented French vanilla candles one could ever inhale. I could not wait to get the table home, so I could entertain family and friends. It has been 10 years and I have yet to properly entertain 1 guest. Unfortunately the table has become one gigantic mail and stuff holder. From the moment I walk through the front door, I put whatever i have in my hands on top of the table. Mail, grocery’s, keys? Suddenly, I remember what I came in the kitchen for. My keys! Oh my God! where are my keys? Ring, Ring, Ring.

“Hello?” I answered. It was the car service alerting me that my transportation would be arriving soon. Quickly I glanced up at the large oval clock on the wall over the table. Tick Tock, Tick Tock, Tick, Tick, Tick. With a lightening force I slammed the phone down. I run towards the stove. There are no keys. I run towards the kitchen sink, there are no keys on the counter top. I desperately searched on top of the refrigerator and still there are no keys. Where are my keys? Again I shouted. As if by shouting they would magically appear. Tick Tock, Tick Tock. It is now . . .  The car service will no-show if I am not downstairs by 8:05 am. I swear a few curse words and run to my bedroom, and desperately search for my keys. There are no keys on the dresser. There are no keys on the night table beside the bed. There are on the chest-of-drawers. I turn towards my bed and shake it hoping to hear the familiar jingle of my keys. Nothing. Could they be hidden in the covers? Off goes the comforter, off goes the blanket, off goes the sheets and off goes the 6 pillows. still there are no keys. I am now exhausted and frustrated and feel the tears streaming down my face. I wish that I could see. I know the keys are right in my face if only I could see better. I cry to myself. I drop to my knees and search desperately under the bed and still there are no keys. The tears began to flow more frequently now. I am defeated. Once again I cannot find something that I so desperately need because of my poor vision. Ding Dong, Ding Dong, Ring, Ring, Ring.  Suddenly I stopped strip searching the bed and answered the doorbell. Hello? Its CDT, your ride is downstairs. I will have to leave my apartment without my keys. It will cost 30$ for my management company to unlock the door when I return. I grab my coat, cane, and purse off the kitchen chair and walk to the door. I reach for the doorknob and here a familiar a jingle…My keys!!!!!! – hanging on the doorknob just chilling. “Praise the Lord, Thank you Jesus, Hallelujah i shout out loud. Quickly, i rushed to elevator and pushed the down button, and the elevator comes immediately. I am going to make it after all!!! I’m happy and excited now. The elevator door opens and there are 3 people on the elevator. Happily, I say “Good morning!!!” Only one person replies. He was and elderly gentlemen standing in the far right corner of the elevator. His hair was as white as snow and thick as wool. His eyes were blood red. “And a good morning to you cutie” he slurred and then belched. He smelled of alcohol and it was clear that he got an early start on the spirits. He had on a green striped shirt that was buttoned incorrectly which caused one side of his shirt to hang lower then the other. He had orange plaid pants and flip flops on the wrong feet. When the elevator door opened I made a mad dash to the car waiting for me. “I was just about to leave you” the driver said, “Oh shut up” I thought to myself. I got in the car, shut the door, buckled my seat belt and paid the driver. As the driver was pulling off he said to me, “Do you know that you have on one blue shoe and one black shoe?” I did not reply to the driver I calmly said to myself you can a nervous breakdown later the struggle is real!

Charlene Lloyd took writing classes in the past and would like to give it another try.  She enjoyed coming to the Second Sense creative writing workshop in Chicago.

On My Patio

8 Jan

by Aaron Carroll

Since losing my vision the simplest things bring me satisfaction. I can enjoy the fruits of my labor by being able to listen to the squirrels run and play by jumping on wires or climbing nearby trees. I can smell the different scents from the pleasant scent of laundry drying, releasing the fresh smell of different fabric softeners. I look forward to feeling the different weather conditions, whether it is sunny, rainy, or windy. I look forward to hearing the street cleaners because this brings back memories when I could see.

These things I do from sitting on my patio.

Aaron Carroll is coming to terms with his vision loss and finds some solace in his writing.  He also helps other blind people discover self-confidence and independence as a technology volunteer at Second Sense blind service organization.