John Slatin AccessU 2009

Building on the incredible experience of John Slatin AccessU 2008, the 2009 conference keeps on giving. I ran across a comment by a colleague from the UK who was a little puzzled about accessibility in the US. This gave me the opportunity to synthesize the phenomenal amount of information from the conference.

Hmmm. Little Conscious Awareness Seeds planted in JSAU 08 focused my complete attention on how we live in the world. I found myself evaluating everything in my path for that year on the basis of "will this meet my needs as I age?" By the time JSAU 09 rolled around, I was in full-blown, cataclysmic paradigm shift. We have to meet the communication needs of every human being to preserve freedom and quality of life for as long as possible. I want that. I need that, and so you. We all need that. And "that" is a basic human right.

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1973 addressed accessibility in the analog age. When the Internet came into being, the act was amended to include equal access to electronic communications (Section 508).

The really cool thing about equal electronic access is that it benefits persons with learning disabilities, ADHD, traumatic brain injury, the elderly, et al, AS WELL AS people with physical disabilities. That extends the benefits to a much broader population.

Here's the kicker: if you design for accessibility--alt txt, good headers, skip to nav--it also boosts your SEO. Not only is output from assistive devices such as screen readers infinitely more listenable, Google, for example, crawls sites just like a screen reader does. Two birds with one stone.

Think "curb cuts for computers" as well as "curb cuts for sidewalks," and you get a better idea of how useful accessibility is for everyone. You can design for both beauty and accessibility.

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 came out last December--incredibly useful, encyclopedic tool.

Not to mention Plain Language. Say it clearly, concisely, and you just hit a third bird with that stone.

Note to self: ditch "incredible" or find a more interesting word.

Off to visit Mr. Meno.


Mama is not happy

For three reasons: my dear Kay from Kay's Thinking Cap still could not comment. That's a knot to unravel. I also would like to have had the $ and time to road trip to Dallas to see my old friend Richie Gardzina, jazz sax/flute extraordinaire, and other long-time pals this weekend, but I have my austerity armor on to get finances in shape so I won't be a bag lady.

Most of all, I'm unhappy about the lack of authenticity in part of my life--a big part. I'm not known for being a smut mouth. Circumstances have burst a dam of frustration, anger, disappointment, and cussedness that I don't need at this juncture of my life.

I've been in the work force for 43 years. I have a lot of experience with good and bad supervisors, good and bad employees. It burns my freaking ass that in all that time, not a lot has changed in how people treat each other. Business is business, but business is not the be-all and end-all. What counts at the end of the day is what kind of a human being you are.

I've fought all kinds of injustice in my life--gender, race, age, physical looks, intelligence, bullies, pure cussedness. I had hoped that things were getting better. Unfortunately, just as I'm trying to see my way clear to providing for what lies ahead, with no inheritance, no retirement to speak of, and no significant other, I'm facing the same freaking issues I faced 43 years ago. We have NOT come a long way, baby. We've only managed to slap a veneer of compliance just so the offenders can stay below the radar.

I'm drowning in a sea of patronization, elitism, indifference, control freakism, yuck, I wish I could just come right out and say what I mean without being dooced. I love the new social media, but when you're working for the man, it's a beeyotch. I hate that I can't say right up front what I want to without endangering the quality of what's left of my life. To think that one can't be honest and authentic without fear of getting slapped down at work is mortifying and humiliating as a supposedly "liberated" woman.

"Transparency" is a travesty when higher management throws a hissy fit when people tell the truth. I'm working in the wrong place. It feels like sandpaper that I can't say up front what's happening, but there's a legitimate chance that I'd face truly dire consequences if I spoke the truth.

I've worked hard all my life, tried to do the best I could, swallowed bitterniess, ignored outright insults, clawed my way up out of victimhood to be a high-functioning, intelligent, caring human being. At a huge price. Worked my way out of a dysfunctional personal relationship only to become embroiled in a stupid, sick work situation.

Yeah, I hear you--why don't you do this, or that, or the other? When you're up to your ass in alligators, it's easy to get sidetracked from figuring out how to drain the swamp.

What ticked me off: Besides annual performance evaluations, a thread on WOW about abused women and what they should/should not do in the opinion of other women who have no f**cking idea what they're talking about. Take a look at this post and the comments thread: no wonder things are so bad. It's not just men--some women have no earthly idea what they're talking about. They blame the woman and perpetuate the abuse. Our society is so backwards in so many ways--we eat our own. Walk a mile in any abused woman's shoes and you'll be at least humbled, if not annihilated.

It's not just domestic abuse, it's human abuse. Getting the totally skewed idea that it's OK to torture, maim, devalue, patronize, de-humanize, judge, on and on in an attempt to subjugate, control, abuse another human, just because they are slightly and superficially different than we are. And we call ourselves a "Christian" nation. There is no doubt in my mind that Jesus would be totally appalled at how we treat each other. The Pharisees in the Temple come to mind.

For example: H1N1 (erroneously labeled "swine flu") came about because of disgusting, filthy agrobusiness. Get yourself informed.

The Iraq War: lies and greed, hubris and insanity.

Hate, race, and sexual identity crimes: pure f**cking meanness.

Domestic abuse: misogyny and bullying.

Racial discrimination: fear and bigotry.

Sexual, verbal, and psychological abuse: sociopathy and toxicity of power.

Every once in a while I am compelled to rage against the inhumanity, even in the face of peril to life and limb. One can only take so much for so long.

It's time to apply force of will--or relinquishing of will through meditation--to turn these black Sunday nights around to gird myself for the daily grind...

Maybe it's just America. Maybe it's just me. Maybe it's just life. Maybe it's the truth.