[bct] Re: Making things cross disability accessible

  • From: "Darrell Shandrow" <nu7i@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006 12:41:12 -0700

Hi Jake,

In the past, I have found that my persistent self-advocacy has resulted in at least the following positive developments:

* The ability to earn a mainstreamed high school education.
* Significant reduction in problems with paratransit, such as late to work incidents.
* Greater CastBlaster accessibility.
* Google may soon make its visual verification accessible, by the end of April?
* Appointment to a city commission addressing disability concerns.
* My lay off tomorrow has been rescended, at least for the time being.

These good results are just those that are immediately coming to mind right this second. I know there have been many, many others. There is absolutely no excuse or explanation for our unwillingness to employ reasonable strategy and tactics in advocating for ourselves. Nobody else is ultimately responsible to do this.

For example, if I didn't advocate for myself at all, I would most certainly be laid off tomorrow over a piece of inaccessible software with no severence package or other considerations for my situation.

Darrell Shandrow - Shandrow Communications!
Technology consultant/instructor, network/systems administrator!
A+, CSSA, Network+!
Visit http://www.petitiononline.com/captcha and sign the Google Word Verification Accessibility Petition today!
Information should be accessible to us without need of translation by another person.
Blind Access Journal blog and podcast: http://www.blindaccessjournal.com
----- Original Message ----- From: "Jake Joehl" <jajoehl@xxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Monday, February 27, 2006 12:28 PM
Subject: [bct] Re: Making things cross disability accessible

Hi Debee and Neal. As someone who is blind with a learning disability, I'd
like to
offer a few comments. Debee, I think you're right about those of us with
disabilities being somewhat hesitant about advocating for our own needs. At least this is true for some of us. I
didn't have as much of a problem with this throughout elementary and high
school as I do now. I received the support I needed for my learning
disability. My program teacher throughout the four years I was in high school, was very good. She had a sister with a visual impairment who was gainfully employed as a social worker in another state. I think my unwillingness to be a good self advocate is based on some bad experiences I've
had in the not-so-distant past. People keep telling me to just forget about
the past and move on, but I really think that in order to be an effective
listener and problem-solver, one really has to base his or her argument on
past experiences. At least this is true in most situations. For example, I
have encountered numerous difficulties in dealing with my state VR agency,
not the least of which is a very "one-size-fits-all" approach taken by the
VR agency. When I worked as a receptionist at a nonprofit organization
from the summer of 1999 until May of 2001, for example, the VR agency was
very reluctant about giving me any kind of support. They did, but only after
numerous phone calls and letters. As far as I can tell, this had very little
if anything at all to do with my learning disability. But I could be
mistaken about that. The mission of this nonprofit organization was to increase awareness of people with disabilities. This mission was accomplished through one-on-one friendships between someone with a disability and someone without a disability. I was perfectly satisfied with my involvement in this organization, and it was clear that everybody involved with the organization really appreciated the job I did. At a recent meeting with my former VR counselor and a
new VR counselor, I wanted to discuss my plans for the job-search. However,
the former VR counselor, who is now in a supervisory position with the
agency, immediately took it upon herself to run the meeting single-handedly
and did not let either of us have much time at all to voice our opinions.
She had been my counselor for over five years, and I specifically remember
me and my parents discussing my disabilities with her. I have since been
very reluctant to even talk openly with anybody at the VR agency about
employment. I can name friends who are bisually-impaired and living in Illinois like I do, who have been working for years and obtained their jobs through VR. A few of these people have additional disabilities, but most of them are only visually impaired. As I already mentioned, my learning disability has more or less
been conquered by lots of one-on-one tutoring. I would like to give one more
example of this reluctance to be vocal. I used to be a paratransit rider,
and I constantly encountered difficulties. I won't go into those in this
message, but my and my parents' attempts to remedy these problems were
unsuccessful. As a matter of fact, these problems and the VR problems only
got worse. They got to the point of being so bad that I finally gave up using paratransit. After all, there are other ways for a visually impaired person to get around in society. I am at the point now of giving up all faith in the VR agency, but I don't think my parents feel the same way. Yes I am an adult now and I think I'm mature enough to make my own decisions, but it just seems that my parents can't let go. All right, enough of my ranting for now.
----- Original Message ----- From: "Debee Norling" <debee@xxxxxxxx>
To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, 26 February, 2006 10:01 PM
Subject: [bct] Re: Making things cross disability accessible

I work with the learning disabled and our problem is often convincing these
young people to advocate for themselves. We blind people are so vocal
it so I try to be a good role model for my students.

For example, many of them need an instructor to slow down, or they need
extra time on a test, or they need a test read to them. I read a lot of
tests to students because I've been reading Braille since I was six. Many
people think those with learning disabilities are stupid so we teach them
overcome the public's prejudices and still be strong advocates.

For another example, many of my students won't grasp something if they see
it written or hear it spoken, but if they get the information through both
channels, they are fine. So they can take an exam with Kurzweil 3000 and
a perfect score, but if they try to take the same exam without the
technology, they can't comprehend the questions.

One thing we teach them is when advocating they need to know their own
strengths and use that as a confidence base. For example, a student with
good social skills can take the lead in class discussions and help the
students, so she has non-disabled friends to assist her.

A couple of years ago I took a series of courses in UML which is a very
visual language for spelling out algorithms in object oriented
The instructor was all freaked out at first, but I'd planned ahead and had
good collection of alternative techniques to tell him about. I ended up
coordinating a big study group and the instructor said that our group got
the highest scores anyone had ever gotten on his homework. I didn't do any
drawing of course, but I knew the names for the symbols and what had to be
drawn where.

With the instructors permission, I made MP3 recordings of the class which
distributed to our group members to listen to on their commutes to work. I
kept lists of the points he discussed in class so we could talk about them
at our meetings. I procured a huge whiteboard, a comfortable room to meet,
snacks and a computer with lots of graphics software for us to do our UML
exercises on. I maintained a roster with all our phone and email contact
info so we could easily help each other. It turned out to be great fun and
our instructor won't have any hesitation now about hiring people with

So I think people who are "pity pushers" start from a place of low
self-esteme. They don't plan ahead, they don't think out of the box and
don't have a firm belief in or knowledge of their strengths. This is why
their efforts to advocate make enemies instead of friendships.


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