Accessibility Friendly Website And Hero Of The Week!

I stumbled upon an accessibility hero this week, and his name is Eddie Yu.

Allow me to set the scene…

It’s midnight, and I couldn’t sleep. I began filtering through saved bookmarks trolling websites looking for career direction.

One of the bookmarks led me to Eddie’s website.

Before we get ANY DEEPER into the story, it makes sense to provide you with context.

For those that don’t know I suffer from a vestibular (balance) dysfunction which has left me with 24 hour disequilibrium and moments of vertigo.

These symptoms are NOT FRIENDLY for working in a standard 8-5 office environment. I realize I am going to have to find an EXTREMELY FLEXIBLE CAREER working from home, hence the reason for trolling work-from -home websites and blogs.

With those small details out of the way, let’s press on.

Landing on Eddie’s website IMMEDIATELY reminded me of my limitations.

I couldn’t  absorb ANY of the content! WHY? The background was moving. Remember that vestibular dysfunction I talked about earlier? The site was so visually oriented that it was provoking symptoms such as nausea, disorientation and mental confusion.

Eddie’s site before the adjustment (Motion Alert: heads up vestibular folks!)

NORMALLY when I’m greeted with heavy visual movement on websites I move on. Maybe because it was approaching 1:00am and I was tired and annoyed by the movement that I took direct action.

I jumped on twitter and began typing away…

Twitter messages to Eddie altering his that his content was not accessible to me because of my vestibular  disability

 

After I realized what I set into motion I became nervous. I started thinking…

“Who am I to ask someone to change their website?”

“Majority of people can view his site with no problem, Marissa, let it be!”

I even vented my frustrations to my vestibular support group and via direct message to a true accessibility expert.

But as fate would have it Eddie was prompt and kind in his response.

Eddie's twitter response to looking into the issue.

Eddie’s positive response made me feel guilty. INTERESTING, because if he dismissed or ignored me, I would have chalked it up as him being a jerk and moved on.

I was sound asleep when Eddie sent the following tweet…

Eddie's twiiter response stating the problem was addressed with a pause/play button

Rough night sleeping, woke up late, feeling yucky, BUT ALL THAT CHANGED when I saw the tweet that Eddie and his team had come up with a solution!

I didn’t even check out the solution! I yelled out to Babe telling him how great I thought Eddie was!

“BABE… he didn’t even have to respond!”

I EAGERLY headed to the site and the solution didn’t work.

“Babe… should I just drop it? It’s enough that he even responded.”

Babe encouraged me to respond.

I created a quick video for Eddie and team to show that I was not seeing the fix.

Eddie’s twitter response….

Eddie's twitter response alerting me of  his user-friendly changes.

If you NOW check out Eddie’s site you will see that he was ELIMINATED THE MOVEMENT  A-N-D created different background patterns for the user to choose from.

WHOOP! Victory. I can now choose the pattern that is the least visually bothersome to me, and NOW I can read the content.

SO… if you are interested in learning form a man with strong business and entrepreneurial acumen with a  great heart, please check out Eddie Yu’s website.

Connect with Eddie via Twitter. Don’t hesitate to shoot him a tweet and tell him how AWESOME he is! :)

Much love,
Marissa

P.S. Please note I am not an accessibility expert.  I am just a gal with a disability trying to make sure the web is accessible to those with vestibular disorders!

Accessibility In Practice

How far would you be willing to go to make your content or service available to as many people as possible?

Would you be willing to record a video blog of yourself reading out-loud over 175 of your blog posts making sure you don’t leave out individuals with impairments who want access to your content?

Let me introduce you to Sarah Levis. Sarah is actively making her message available to ANYONE  that desires access.

I will be interviewing Sarah Levis AKA GirlWithTheCane at the end of this month.

Sarah has had not one but TWO STROKES before the age of 35. She developed what is called a Brain Arteriovenous Malformation(AVM).

When you move form, “pretty healthy” to dealing with a rare medical condition your perspective changes. You identify with and often take on the role of “disability advocate.” A light switch turns on, and you start envisioning a world that embraces ACCESSIBILITY FOR ALL.

How can I convince you that your service, device, website, SHOULD be accessible?

You don’t have to get sick or become disabled to “see the light.” Have a little faith in those that have gotten sick and or disabled and are making the daily scarifies.

Trust me when I say EVERYONE WANT’S ACCESSIBILITY!

You may think moving from “pretty healthy,” to ” chronic disability” is a far fetched idea and not scheduled into your life plans. I pray that is the case. BUT life happens and when it does you will appreciate those that are putting accessibility into practice.

Repeat after me….

“Completing this project will take a while! But I believe that it’s worth doing.”

Check out Sarah’s first video blog post:

Much love,
Marissa

Building An Inclusive Web For All…WHOOP WHOOP

I believe technology is a tool that can tip the balances in how people produce and participate in society. Especially the internet with its far reach. However, these tools are not often built in a way that allows all users to equally participate.

Can I get an AMEN? Someone that actually speaks my language!

How often do you get a chance to complain (to someone outside your community… who actually cares?) about annoying blinking lights, flashing animations, optical illusions, and all the crazy visual disturbances on the web?

Hmmmm… NEVER!

Maybe you don’t have a vestibular issue (Thank God!), BUT you want to talk about the kick a** web applications that are allowing you to connect and access the web.

Accessibility evangelist Gregory Tarnoff  cares about your experiences on the web…GOOD or  BAD! 

Take him up on his offer and fill out this form

Have further questions? Hit Greg up:

Greg’s Twitter: @tashitachog

Greg’s Blog: http://tarnoff.info

Much love,
Marissa

P.S. When someone hands you the mic… USE IT!

 

Vestibular Perspective On Websites

As you may know I have suffered from a vestibular disorder  (chronic imbalance/vertigo) for 6 years. I am noticing websites are becoming more animated and motion and movement are becoming dominant. I struggle viewing certain websites that are filled with motion/movement because of my vestibular condition.

Derek Featherstone, accessibility expert, is kind enough to look into a  possible solution. I have tried to disable JavaScript and disable images but neither option worked. Most websites became unusable. Derek asked me to provide 10 websites that give me trouble. I wanted to give the vestibular community an opportunity to express what websites are bothersome to them when viewing the web.  However, I started to think there are conditions outside vestibular disorders where movement and motion on a website could be bothersome.  Would motion and movement on websites be an issue for the Dystonia community, Ataxia community, etc? My friend AKA my brother Blake Watson doctored up the code on a beautiful Automattic theme so we could have the following site.

I would hate to see the web continue to move forward and we get to a place where viewing websites is unbearable for a group of users. I am hoping this site will give a voice to the vestibular community and other disorders that deal with issues of movement/motion when using the web. I also hope it will give designers and developers a little insight into how certain communities are experiencing the websites they create.

Much love,
Marissa

Walking With The Aid Of Trekking Poles

I have been encouraged by medical practitioners and family members to get out and walk. I realize the tremendous health and psychological benefits attained from walking. However, what happens when your vestibular (balance) system makes walking a challenge? A compromised balance system leads to imbalance, stumbling, disorientation, muscle weakness, etc.

Taking my first steps:
After the first vertigo spell the ER doctor encouraged me to start walking as soon as possible. My first attempt at walking after the spell was clumsy, weak and unsteady. The walk around the block felt like a mile, I held onto a family member for dear life.

How I felt emotionally:
It was a terrifying experience. Once anxiety and fear set in, it became difficult convincing myself to take a stroll.

Months and years go by:
Over time I found myself resistant to walking long distances and my overall health began to suffer. There had to be a safe way for me to walk around the block! I then set out determined to find the ideal walking apparatus.

Searching the internet:
I looked into canes, crutches, walkers, rolling walkers, rollators, etc. Beside not being ascetically pleasing, they were not practical for walking down the sidewalk in my neighborhood. I needed something sturdy that allowed for equal distribution of my weight, and freedom to move my arms and legs.

My million dollar idea:
I thought I had a million dollar idea on my hands. I could cut the tops off two canes and replace the tops with sturdy handle bars!  With my million dollar idea in mind, I set out for another internet search. With each Google search result return, I quickly realized my millions were slipping away. According to Wikipedia, the idea of a trekking poles (sticks) has been around since the early 1900’s.

“Trekking poles (also known as hiking poles, hiking sticks or walking poles) are a common hiking accessory used to assist walkers with their rhythm and provide stability on rough terrain.”

Trekking poles to the rescue:
My family was open to the idea of trekking poles but no one had never seen or used them. I was blessed at Christmas receiving a pair of trekking poles from my fiance. I have been using the poles for 8 months and they have been a blessing.

 

Different views of trekking polesExcuse the quality of photos ( working with a free cell phone cam:) )

 

Benefits:

* Stability and balance
* Cork handles ( when my hands sweat it is not an issue, the cork handles are slip-resistant)
*Adjustable length ( I am short and having adjustable settings is essential)
* Wrist straps ( I place my hands within the straps and there is additional support around my wrist)
* Rubber pole tip ( The pair I am currently using has rubber walking tips. If you remove the rubber tip a metal tip is exposed.  I have used the metal tip walking on dirt and rough terrain. )

Final Thoughts:
If there is a will there is a way! There are days when the imbalance and dizziness get the best of me. However, with these trekking poles I can participate in a safe walk. For other dizzy suffers I suggest being prepared for interesting comments made from folks when walking with your sticks. We are used to living with a hidden disability and these sticks definitely bring attention. Here are some interesting comments made when I am walking the neighborhood:

” are you training for the Olympics?” ( I am 5′ nothing and 25 lbs overweight)
” are you practicing skiing? ” ( I have never skied in my life)
” what is that?” ( One mom hit her kid after he yelled this out!)

I really need to start thinking of some creative comebacks. I am learning not to take comments to heart. At first I was rather annoyed, but once again, people are curious. As long as I am walking and getting out of the house I am happy! I am looking forward to trying Nordic walking sticks seeing how they compare. Hope this information is helpful! Don’t be afraid to get out there!

Much love,
Marissa