In the past two weeks, it’s been a whirlwind of lectures, paperwork, moving boxes and laptop glitches. But hopefully the routine will become a little quieter, with more free time to go over a skyscraper of emails and start blogging again.
The first thing I did when I found a computer: go to http://www.deafread.com. That’s the numero uno website to which I pledge my loyalty; my knowledge is enriched and amused by the various mindsets and emotions of vloggers/bloggers nationwide and internationally…. who call themselves members of the Deaf community. I learn so much about the trials and tribulations of cochlear implanted people, of people who turned to Deafhood later in their adulthood, animated stories by vloggers, sensitive issues put out there by Deaf or Hearing people that mostly other people dare not ask or talk about, and learning from a growing base of resources of Deafhood. Deafread, by far, is the most intelligent idea that has occured in the Deaf community in this cyberage. I’m forever grateful for that and as I become completely blind, I still aim to read Deafread first thing in the morning.I have, and I am sure other DeafBlind folks have too, emailed the DeafRead team occassionally on how to improve readability and we’ve often seen wonderful strides of changes. I had my black background/yellow font on by default, and it was such a delight to be able to read at least ONE accessible website out of billions. Now that DeafRead has turned over a new leaf, I found myself becoming frustrated with lack of accessibility, and the word has resonated across the DeafBlind pond, also. What happened to the hard work that the DeafRead team did to ensure accessibility for the blind “sector” of the Deaf community?
Our ability to choose colored backgrounds is gone. Bring that back immediately! I cannot bear to read DeafRead because it isn’t “easy on the eyes” anymore. I even wonder if anyone else with a refreshable Braille display on their computers can read the new Deafread?
We are also pondering whether DeafRead should be more vigilant with their role as administrators for that site, encouraging vloggers to transcribe AND subtitle their sites? They could seek out a list of volunteers who enjoy doing one or both of these. Offer programs for subtitling for people who use PCs instead of Macs. Someone could think of a new business strategy, charging each vlogger for transcribing and/or subtitling services and profit from it? I would most gladly pay a sensible sum to have my vlogs captioned or transcribed.
But it’s up to the Deafread team to allow that to happen. They have to continuously keep Deaf Blind readers in mind, constantly reminding themselves that accessibility through large print, contrast backgrounds, braille displays and transcribing is not only necessary but it’s required.
Many of the Deaf Blind people nationwide were Deaf growing up in Deaf insititutions. Some of us even continued on to post secondary Deaf colleges. Most of us still associate ourselves with Deaf people despite our blindness. Having the Deafhood experience be a constant companion on our journey through Deafblindhood, we still want to exist in the Deaf world. After all, we’re Deaf 1st, blind 2nd.
Technology and society nowadays is becoming so fast paced, it’s become difficult for us DB folks to keep up, but it’s a much worse feeling being intentionally or unintentionally oppressed or excluded by our Deaf peers. The very Deaf peers that went to school with us, grew up on the same street, or circle of friends, and/or worked with us alongside our journey into Deafhood are the very ones who aren’t educating themselves, fighting enough or being sensitive about the impending needs of the DeafBlind to be on par with everything else tech and socially.
I and a lot of other DeafBlind folks would still like to remain on the same page as our Deaf fellows, and we hope that someday it will “pierce their minds” that everything they do (fighting for accessibility, improving services, modifying websites, adding new pager features) that they will remember that they have a friend, family, confidante, colleague, classmate, coworker, parent, child, community leader that is DeafBlind and ask/recommend/implement for changes that will affect us too.