[bct] Re: Making things cross disability accessible

  • From: "Nadia Mattiazzo" <cathouse@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 25 Feb 2006 20:59:01 +1100

Hi Tim

In Australia the Disability Discrimination Act allows for a defendant (in this case the university) to plead unjustifiable hardship.

The other comment I think needs to be made is that whilst this individual has quite high and possibly unrealistic expectations, the next person with a disability who enrols at the same university is going to be judged in the same light as this student and, in my experience dealing with advocacy, that really happens.

I really do believe there has to be a little give and take in these situations.

Nadia
----- Original Message ----- From: "Tim Cross" <tcross@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Saturday, February 25, 2006 7:15 PM
Subject: [bct] Making things cross disability accessible




This is a very very difficult area. Just this week, I've had to deal with someone who has extremely complex requirements and its proving very difficult to satisfy her needs. She also has a rather unfortunate attitude and personality which has not helped.

This woman has multiple disabilities, including low vision and hearing
loss. She wants to enrol in a degree, but all the texts have to be
provided in electronic form. Thats OK. However, she needs a specific
font and the most difficult part, a very complex colour scheme in
which specific colours are used for various parts of the text and each
alternating paragraph has to have a different colour.

All of this is possible from a technology perspective. However the
cost of creating the texts start at $30,000 per text. This cost has to
be paid by the institution. The degree will take a minimum of 18
course units and some units have multiple texts. The institution will
therefore have to spend a minimum of $540000. This is a lot of money
for a small University to spend on just one student.

Part of the issue here is that it appears the demands this woman is
setting out for the text format is a bit excessive - she is able to
communicate and read electronic communications without the colour
scheme fine. there is no argument the colours do make things easier
for her, but at what point does this level of ease become
unreasonable?

My view has always been that we are entitled to reasonable access and
that some of the responsibility to deal with things has to fall on the
person with the disability. Of course, you have the problem of
agreement on what is to be considered reasonable. In this case, I
beleive this woman is being unreasonable because she can access the
text and read it without the complex colour scheme. There are even
software solutions such a zoom text which will allow you to set the
colours interactively, but apparently, this is not sufficient.

the general feeling I get from trying to find a solution for this
woman is that she is not prepared to compromise or work with the
system to find a resonable solution and I suspect this will all end up
in court. The basic problem I think is attitude. This woman believes
the world owes her and everything has to be changed to accomodate her
needs and she should not be required to accomodate the world. I think
she is a rather angry and upset person who is constantly frustrated
because so much of the world is not structured to meet her fairly
unique requirements.

My personal beleif is there is no point in having some sort of
underlying expectation the world is supposed to be fair. Its actually
quite a harsh unfair world and each individual is only a very small
and rather insignificant part of it. We do have the right to expect
reasonable accomodation to our needs, but to a large extent, its down
to each individual to find solutions.

Normally, I don't have to deal with this sort of problem - its not
actually my area of work or expertise. To some extent, I think I've
been brought in simply because I have a background in technology and
programming and unfortunately, because I'm the only blind person
employed by the institution and therefore must have some sort of
secret knowledge or understanding. I find this sort of thing quite
unfortunate and feel it probably does more damange to people with
disabilities than anything else. If this University had encountered
this woman before I applied for a job there, I suspect I would never
have gotten my job as the University would have been concerned
employing me would cost too much. As it was, there was some concern
when they did employ me and since there has been a number of times
that its been mentioned how surprised they have been regarding how
little it has cost to employ me and that the cost has been proven to
have been well worth it. In fact, now they keep trying to push things
at me.

some of you are probably thinking that because of anti-discrimination
laws, they wouldn't have been able to not employ me due to the costs
of having to provide adaptive technology or workplace modifications -
but I find that a totally naive opinion. All that anti-discrimination
laws can really do is reduce the amount of obvious discrimination. If
an employer knows the law says you cannot refuse to employ someone due
to their disability, they will just say they are not employing you for
some other reason. So, to some extent, it hides the discrimination.
this doesn't mean the laws don't do some good, they do, but they only
really help in very obvious discrimination cases. A lot of the time,
the more incidious discrimination is not obvious and the law does not
help. In these cases, education, positive role models and first-hand
experience is very important and thats why I think its important as
someone with a disability that I do whatever I can to find solutions
and work within this complex and difficult world.

Tim

Neal Ewers writes:
> Vince, You said, "People with visual stress, dyslexics, those with
> limited movement and deaf
> people all present different needs too, so it's no wonder things aren't
> quite perfect yet!"
>
> What can sometimes be troubling is the hard work that goes in to making
> something cross disability accessible. There seem to be people in each
> disability community who will work their heads off to get something they
> need even if it means that the product is not accessible to people who
> have other disabilities. And there are some disability groups that seem
> to have more clout than others. Why, for example, does the Randolph
> Shepard act say that people who are blind have first rights to vending
> stands. In years past, those stands were quite small and often sold
> candy, smokes, etc. Now, some of them are large food service
> establishments. So, why is someone who is blind more qualified to run
> such an establishment than someone who is in a wheel chair, or deaf, or
> has no arms? But you can be assured, that if congress decided to give
> other disability groups equal rights to this perk, a lot of people who
> are blind would be ready to fight that change with all their might. So,
> now you see how hard it is to work with groups of people with varying
> disabilities. I did this at Trace all the time, and it could be some of
> the most divisive posturing I have ever seen.
>
>
> Neal
>
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: blindcooltech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> [mailto:blindcooltech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Vince Thacker
> Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 12:41 PM
> To: blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> Subject: [bct] Re: FW: Introducing DbDialog: a free, accessible database
> manager
>
>
> Neal,
>
> I have to admit accessibility is a darned complicated theing, as I know
> from
> trying to create accessible web pages and failing miserably sometimes.
> People with visual stress, dyslexics, those with limited movement and
> deaf
> people all present different needs too, so it's no wonder things aren't
> quite perfect yet!
>
> Vnice.
> ----- Original Message ----- > From: "Neal Ewers" <neal.ewers@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 4:32 PM
> Subject: [bct] Re: FW: Introducing DbDialog: a free, accessible database
>
> manager
>
>
> > Vince, you say, "When I run it I don't see any scaleable fonts, any
> > color contrasts."
> >
> > Thank you for pointing out that many people who may be on this list
> > may have some limited vision. We often get so rapped up in speech and
>
> > braille that we forget about those who need color contrast, large
> > text, etc. Thanks for keeping us on our toes.
> >
> > Neal
> >
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: blindcooltech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> > [mailto:blindcooltech-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Vince Thacker
> > Sent: Friday, February 24, 2006 9:52 AM
> > To: blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> > Subject: [bct] Re: FW: Introducing DbDialog: a free, accessible
> > database manager
> >
> >
> > I've had a quick look at this and have to ask my usual question, "What
>
> > do you mean by accessible?"
> >
> > When I run it I don't see any scaleable fonts, any colour contrasts or
>
> > even a single Tooltip. Every time I press anything I get an error
> > message that
> > is basically a line of code with ifs and thens.
> >
> > Very ppor job in my opinion.
> > Vince.
> > ----- Original Message -----
> > From: "Jamie Pauls" <jamiepauls@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> > To: <accesscomp@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>; <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> > Sent: Thursday, February 23, 2006 11:35 PM
> > Subject: [bct] FW: Introducing DbDialog: a free, accessible database
> > manager
> >
> >
> >>
> >>
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From: blindtech@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:blindtech@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On
>
> >> Behalf Of Jamal Mazrui
> >> Sent: Thursday, February 23, 2006 2:40 PM
> >> To: blindtech@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> >> Subject: Introducing DbDialog: a free, accessible database manager
> >>
> >> Now available at
> >> http://www.empowermentzone.com/dbdsetup.exe
> >>
> >> Since developing database applications under DOS in the early 1990s,
> >> I have had a goal of developing them under Windows. Thus, I am
> >> pleased to announce
> >> DbDialog: a free database manager. It achieves a high level of both
> >> functionality and accessibility by exploiting capabilities of
> standard
> >> Windows controls.
> >>
> >> The program supports tables of records in Microsoft Access format.
> >> Once a table is defined, records may be created, modified, browsed,
> >> searched, and output in an efficient manner. Initially, sample
> >> tables
> >
> >> are defined for tracking contacts, events, and albums. Complete
> >> documentation is available in an HTML file with structured headings.
> >>
> >> I welcome feedback and contributions toward the improvement of
> >> DbDialog.
> >>
> >> Regards,
> >> Jamal
> >>
> >>
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> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >> --
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> > 2/20/2006
> >>
> >>
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > --
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