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While I was teaching...

From: Wayne Dick <wayneedick@gmail.com>
Date: Fri, 3 Jun 2011 14:45:16 -0700
Message-ID: <BANLkTik+cGz6a72TrtNmFHwze1a-HoZBig@mail.gmail.com>
To: "EOWG (E-mail)" <w3c-wai-eo@w3.org>
Hi Everyone,

I recently had a remarkable experience. I was teaching a session on
typographic accommodations that support visual readers with low
vision. I had explained how there are about 20 different common ways
to get low vision and these can attack about 15 systems in the eye and
brain. This means that low vision does not manifest in a uniform way.
That is why individual choice of typographic setting is so important.

I had gotten to the point where I showed style sheets that had worked
for real people in my experience. I told the anecdote about my friend
who looked at my favorite style and said, "If I had to look at that
all day, I'd puke".  When I put up a style a woman in the middle row
got very uncomfortable. She said, "Could you turn that off? It makes
me ill to look at it, or I'll have to leave the room". I quickly
changed the style sheet, and she went on to say that she finally
understood what was wrong in her life. People kept shoving solutions
to her visual problem at her, and they told her she was crazy for
claiming that they didn't work. She said, "When people call you crazy
long enough, you begin to believe it".

I spent the rest of the day building a custom solution for her. She
felt like a big burden had been lifted off her shoulders. She had
started to doubt her own sanity because all of the experts around her
had told her what should work for her, and wouldn't listen to what she
needed.  She made my point so passionately, that other people in the
class teased me about hiring her to attend.

One cookie cutter solution for people with low vision will not work
across the entire population. There just too many ways individuals in
this group see things, adapt to their disability and learn in general.
 Individuals must be able to choose their typographic style right down
to the letter, if they are to succeed.  I know this applies for many
visual readers with low vision, and I suspect it applies to most.

Without this level of accessibility support most people in this group
will spend their lives wondering why nothing really works for them.
They will rarely finish books, and always feel less than, because they
failed to assimilate correctly.

Every teacher loves to see the light go on in a student's eyes. This
time I got to see all the lights in Dodger Stadium go on.

Received on Friday, 3 June 2011 21:45:43 UTC

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