From Behind the Blur

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.

I couldn’t read the chalkboard in school either. At first, my teachers thought I had some kind of learning disability. But I had really good grades and read fine when the medium was right in front of my eyes. My educators opted for thinking that I was a shy reader. Me shy? They had to be joking, right? I have been the same smartass who must-dip-her-Aries-spoon-in-everything ever since I can remember. Shyness and Magaly don’t look right in the same sentence.

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:

Emailhelp@disqus.com
Tweet@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.   

33 comments:

  1. How silly of me to never have thought blind people would use Blogland...shame on me!! I wouldn't know if any of my followers are blind, it's not the sort of thing you ask is it? Fortunately I don't use verification anyway( I prefer to live dangerously haha!)
    As for your question(I know it was to yourself) about how much better might your life have been if you hadn't been held back by your poor vision....
    Is your life not wonderful?  Do you not feel all the love you can not see? What do you feel is lacking in your life that better vision as a child would have supplied?
    Just maybe, the universe gave you dulled vision to slow your fiery nature, so that you wouldn't miss all the wonderful gifts it had waiting for you!
    Your wonderful smile was not born from saddness :D XXX

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  2. The world is better through glasses indeed.

    I thought about the forum. I also thought about answering to comments from the blind through my Blog Circle, then I remembered what that meant; I would be alienating people. Not in a terrible way, but still pushing them into a corner that marked them as different. I don't want that; I wouldn't like it for me, and I'm assuming no one else, would like for themselves either.
    And about the comments, I always check them out and respond. I think my Wicked Darlings (you included) have answered questions I didn't know I had. It is a good feeling, so I'm always paying attention.

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  3. Don't feel too bad, if you do, I'll have to be there with you lol. I think it's a bit more difficult to see the things that don't affect us directly; at least it is for me.

    I love what you said about why the universe dulled my vision. It makes perfect sense. It reminds me of my reasons for never doing any drugs stronger than coffee. I always tell people "If I'm like this sober  can you imagine what I would do after doing something that alters my judgment? I would probably burst into flames and take a few people with me lol

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  4. I do hope you're able to work this out so everyone can be involved equally!  Your story of nearsightedness reminded me of my own (though I only went 5 years before it got noticed, not 16! Yikes!)  A teacher figured it out in 4th grade because she had a disciplinary tactic of pushing a student'st desk up to the blackboard if they were guilty of 'goofing off'.  Since I couldn't see the board unless I was right up at it, I spent a good bit of time goofing off, and then magically being quite attentive when I was close enough to see that it said something.

    She noticed me one day trying to make a telescope out of my hand in order to see what was written - I still have no idea why it is that it worked a little bit to look through the board through my fist, but it did.

    Getting glasses was amaaaazing - I still remember the fascination of realizing that the leaves that were on the ground in the fall actually came from the trees, which I'd always thought were big cotton candy puffs, like in children's pictures.  I'd never put the two together before.

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  5. I know I've said this before, but I'm going to say it again.  Thank you Mags for making such a huge effort to make things accessable to me, and to others like me.  As well as for your attempts at making the rest of the blogging community aware of the issues faced by blind bloggers.  I can sympathize with your frustration at not being able to see clearly past a certain distance.  For almost 23 of my 27 years on this Earth I was in that situation; I only became fully blind when the Glaucoma I was born with won the battle that had been going on inside me since I was still in the womb and claimed my remaining sight.  All my life I've felt the sting of knowing I was missing out on some of what the rest of the world was experiencing, and it means so much to me that someone is trying so hard to make sure I'm included.  You're a wonderful person, and I'm glad I stumbled across your blog.  Thank you for being the magnificent person you are!

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  6. lilacwolf11/17/2011

    You poor thing, I can't even wrap my head around that.  You weren't being unreasonable at all, all those teachers and your mother ignoring your obvious need for glasses.  Crazy!  I like the forum style of disqus, you can't reply back on the blogger comments.  I hope Disqus gets it figured out.

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  7. 16 years old?? I can't even imagine what you went through! Again, I have to say, great post! It's wonderful you are telling everyone about this, so people are aware!

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  8. Magaly "Darling" Only you would be so considerate, maybe it is because I don't have too many people reading me, but I really do appreciate that your doing this for your blind *ha ha* followers. You truly are quite lovely in case I haven't told you enough. I'll be re-posting this through twitter :)

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  9. I can't even imagine what it would be like to go 16 years (typo, I first spelled that as "tears"!) without glasses when you need them. I think I got my glasses in first grade...second grade at the latest.

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  10. I do not think that you would be pushing people into a corner - in fact quite the opposite. One of the things I hate about not having a blogger account is that I feel left out *go figure* and on my own, a forum would be a place people from all over could connect to - while also having the connections to your comment system. Just a thought. 

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  11. Tori, My mom lives in a wheelchair, every now and then I slip into it and go for a jaunt when she is in bed or not using it, just to remind me of how lucky I am to have my legs. And insane as it may sound sometimes when I walk my dog down the path, I close my eyes for as long as i can, *which can sometimes end up with me in an amusing puddle* just to remind myself how lucky I am to have my eyes. Thank YOU for making all of us all aware, even if it is Via Mags. this is really something I have never even considered, and I do appriciate you both :)

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  12. Linda Wildenstein11/18/2011

    Do you rock or what. Thanks for educating me about the commenting. I appreciate it very much.
    And I too had to fight tooth and nail with my mother about my eyesight. It was a 6th grade teacher that finally got my mother to believe I in fact needed, not just wanted glasses. Sheesh.
    Thanks again my dear, Oma Linda

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  13. Thank you; yes, it's nice to remind ourselves how lucky we really are.

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  14. Thank you; yes, it's nice to remind ourselves how lucky we really are.

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  15. If I had began with a forum-like blog, then it would be okay. But if I change back to Blogger, everybody who now comment because they don't need to do it through Google, would have leave or get a Google account. I don't want to make them feel like they have to get a Google account just to participate. It would just put them on the situation the blind bloggers are in at the moment. 

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  16. It wasn't fun (I got headaches and stuff) but like you see if you read the comment by Linda Wildenstein , some parents are just difficult. I have glasses now, and I can see everything ;-)

    I like Disqus too. I'm hopeful that they will come up with something.

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  17. The first thing I saw through my glasses was a bookshelf. Books were lovely before, but by the Gods they were stunning when I wasn't half blind!

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  18. I bet you looked super cute with your little girl frames ;-)

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  19. Parents are weird, aren't they? And I admire teachers who pay attention to their kids. My life would have been very different if it wasn't for the intervention of a very intelligent librarian. She wasn't a teacher or a biological mother, but she would have been the best at both.

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  20. I did not know that Disqus wasn't accessible to the blind. I hope that they change that. When you blog you want to reach people, so any impediment to having a conversation with someone is a big problem. Another blogger I know was debating what commenting system to use and I think this may be information she'd want to know. 

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  21. Overall, I think Disqus is one of the best external commenting systems. The best I've tried up to now. I also hope they can figure things out. 

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  22. Bless your heart. I hate that you had to go through your first 16 years not being able to see properly. That had to be so hard on you, Magaly.

    Thank you for this post. I have never given any thought to blogging and the blind, which shows my narrow viewpoint. I am so happy to have my mind expanded, particularly from one as intelligent and lovely as you are.

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  23. I feel your pain with the no glasses when you obviously can't see. Thankfully I didn't have to wait quite as long. I just had a stupid eye doctor for years who, get this, told me to SQUINT! That he didn't want me to become dependent on glasses. Let to point out, that I CANNOT see without glasses or contacts, I can make out blurry shapes and colors but that's it. My mom, bless her heart, felt like a horrible mom when I went to a new eye doctor and got glasses and walked around shouting things like "do you SEE that SIGN?" "hey there's a CRACK IN THE GROUND" "WOW I can actually READ THAT SIGN" but I mean the doctor told her I was fine.

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  24. It was different and limiting, but I managed. I always sat in the front row and I had good friends who didn't mind reading what was on the board for me. And don't feel too bad about the not realizing the issues blind bloggers have to face. I mean, if you do, I will have to as well because it never occurred to me. As a matter of fact, the other day Tori said something about how she can't really read sites that play music, and my first thought was "Why not?" It never occurred to me that her screen reader couldn't speak over the loud melodies. We are all learning a lot from Tori.

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  25. What an idiot! "Squint"? Really? Oh my Gods! I feel bad for your mom, I bet she apologized over and over. Also, I can relate with the "Oh my goodness, that's what things are supposed to look like!"

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  26. OMG. Your mother and my mother sound like they just might be soul twins. My mother told me that I only wanted glasses so I could look cool. This was in the early 80's........when glasses were.......not a fashion statement.
    http://i41.tinypic.com/346olco.jpg
    Yes, mother. I definitely want to walk around looking like some sort of bug eyed mutant.
    It sucks that the problems with Disqus are still not worked out.

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  27. Still to this day if the topic of my eyesight comes up she feels so bad about not getting me to the doctor sooner. But I keep telling her, you took me in, it was the idiot doctor's fault not yours. Yours is not letting me get contacts sooner lol.

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  28. Mothers can be strange beings sometimes... and yes, they sound very alike. Ha! on the pic. Disqus seems to be working on the issue. According to other blind bloggers they have updated certain things, but not enough to give them access. I'll wait and see, and then continue trying. 

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  29. Good on your mom to recognized there was a mistake made. My mother, on the other hand, pretends  it never happened, and if it did it had nothing to do with her. 

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  30. Glasses are awesome. This reminds me that I must get my eyes checked again as my sight is getting increasingly worse. :-/ Keep up the good work!

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