I’m nearsighted; and my depth perception gets a bit imaginative when I’m not wearing glasses or contact lenses. These facts should have been noticeable when I was very young. Seriously, I was the only kid in our family who couldn’t get a bat to touch a ball. While living in the Dominican Republic, we played baseball nearly every afternoon.
I felt left out.
In third grade a friend let me borrow his glasses. I hesitated because the glasses were big, brown and a great picture of ugly. I wanted to be nice to him, so I put the spectacles on. For the very first time in my life, I saw beautiful sharp letters on the green chalkboard of our classroom. I asked the boy if I could take the glasses home for a day, and he said yes. (Now I hope he had another pair at home, for his vision was as terrible as mine.)
I got home and showed my mother. I told her that I was able to read the chalkboard, and that I wasn’t stupid or shy. I just needed glasses to see far. My mother decided that I “just wanted glasses to show off.” The chalkboard at school and anything that existed, more than a couple of feet away from me, remained blurry until I was sixteen-years-old and my father took me to the ophthalmologist.
Sixteen years not experiencing the world like everyone else, and feeling like an outsider, is a long time. I will always wonder if my life would have been different, or maybe better, had I had glasses when I was a child. What did I miss doing? What didn’t I share with others? What didn’t I see?
These blurry thoughts come to mind when I think about Tori’s blogging experience. Tori is one of my sweetest witchy darling friends. She loves to write, to read, and to share life experiences through blogging.
Tori is blind.
Her loss of sight didn’t quite register with me. Tori is so active, and sees so much in everything that her blindness rarely shows. Then I installed Disqus on my blog. My friend got a hold of me and said JAWS, her screen reader, didn’t work with my new comment system. She could no longer be part of the conversation. That bothered me a lot.
I noticed others stopped commenting, too—more than fifteen Wicked Darlings. I worried a bit and contacted them. They were also blind, but I didn’t know. Most of these darlings have been interacting via email. Yep, they send me their comments and I load them, so that they can be part of the entire conversation. I will continue to do this for as long as it is possible, but I would prefer for Disqus to start working for the blind.
Someone out there is probably saying, “Well, if you dislike Disqus so much, why don’t you just go back to the Blogger comment system, Magaly dearest?”
Valid question, my luvs; but the thing is that I LOVE Disqus. I enjoy having threaded comments, and Blogger doesn’t offer that. Also, there are many Wicked Darlings who don’t have—or want—Google accounts. I don’t want to lose their input.
I have sent messages to Disqus, and one of their representatives has promptly replied through Twitter. I’ll continue to gather information, and publish it in posts like “Disqus and JAWS,” to give the problem some visibility. I’m asking for your help, too, especially if you are a blind blogger who can explain this better than I can. Would you post about any issues you’ve encountered, and then contact Disqus? Here is their information:
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tweet – @Disqus
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/disqus
If you use Blogger or any other comment system, there are other ways you can help a blind blogger friend. Remove Word Verification, if you have it. This post explains how. Most screen readers have problems translating these types of visual messages. Read “Blind Ignorance” for other ways to make your blog more accessible to the blind community.
Thanks in advance, my Luvs, for any changes you make keeping the blind blogging community in mind. This means the world to me, to Tori, and to many others.