Ageing and disability: Independence, dignity and freedom of choice
As I have been working with Government on eAccessibility, which focuses primarily on considering the needs of older and disabled people, maintaining as much independence as possible is the principal goal and this goal is a constant, irrespective of the underlying cause of the loss of independence. It is something that I understand all too well and think about more than I care to admit.
Ever since I purchased my iPhone 4S a few weeks ago, I have been evaluating my use of Siri: in doing so I have come to a few realisations about how I use technology in general. The one theme that prevails is that nothing is infallible. No technology is perfect and, as an end user, I find that I am forever making adjustments and adaptations, and that isn't such a bad thing.
As I wander through the world trying to make it that little bit better, I am forever perplexed by how awkward so many people are around us disabled types. Sure, I don't expect people to have a detailed understanding of the machinations of living with the wide range and complexity of impairments that fall under the rather big banner of disability, but I would hope that there would be a little more compassion, tolerance and sensitivity when it comes to interacting with us.
When I registered blind, my world fell apart, but I didn't allow myself to be consumed by my grief. Instead, I surrendered to it. I came to terms with my loss - the loss of my eyesight, my independence and the life that I knew.
Last night I attended a private dinner hosted by Rob Sinclair, Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer, As Rob was in London, he wanted to bring together some of the UK’s thought leaders around ICT Accessibility for a “conversation”.
Ironic as it may be now, I went to art school. I was taught to appreciate beauty in everything and particularly in every art form; for art is the expression of self. It tells the story of humanity, of our culture and our lives. But I was also taught that design was not so noble and I snobbishly believed this until I met Mark, who introduced me to the world of design and importantly good design.
I gave the keynote presentation at the recent A11yLDN event, where I laid out the stall for what I believe is the future of web accessibility. I called my talk, "Does anyone know the way to Web Accessibility utopia?". I worried about being contentious, well, not really, when I asserted that accessibility utopia does not exist, that the WCAG is out of date and that accessibility is a subset of usability. I pontificated about inclusive design, about being reasonable and that no one creating a website has limitless resources.
Why am I so nauseatingly upbeat, positive and optimistic?
My life is never short of drama; whether I subconsciously seek it out or it is my legendary anti-Midas touch that brings it to me, life is quite a spectacular struggle. I am pretty certain that I could reduce my oversized share of tussles if I played by the rules, but that is not going to happen anytime soon.