Continued Community Integration: I’m in a @GoTriangle Video

If we, people with disabilities, wish to have our voices heard, then we must first make an effort to be part of the conversation. I have often done this with GoTriangle, our local transit system. I fairly regularly leave feedback, good and sometimes less happy, to their Twitter feed, and I usually receive a prompt response when one is called for.

Last month, I asked their social media person Samantha Allen to participate in an interview for the podcast I posted from the prior class. (I got a 97 on that by the way, which makes me very happy). I was pleased with all of the assistance I got in putting that together, and so I jumped at an opportunity to do my part by adding comments regarding GoTriangle’s push to create a light rail line that runs through Durham and Orange counties. I was indeed featured in the video which you can see buy clicking that link. My clip is about 30 seconds in, and lasts for approximately ten seconds.

I am impressed that they managed to distill something useful from that hour-long conversation, because it was difficult to think straight after a long workday that had left my brain in a fog. Beyond what was played, I discussed how blind people make use of automated announcements (which seem to have been modified slightly already,) the need to ensure that any such system would be accessible to all, including persons in wheelchairs, and the potential viability it could add to the community. I do think my thoughts were heard and considered, which I appreciate.

I saw on the video that a commenter already made the point that “disruptive technology” (think, Uber) is changing the equation when it comes to public transit. Well I don’t entirely agree with that. I think these two systems can work in concert with each other, especially as ride-hailing costs considerably more. It is good to have in a pinch and can grant me access to other areas that are not as easily reached by public transit, but for an affordable way to and from work as well as better crowd-moving during sporting events and the like large-scale mass transit still can’t be beat. Not to mention that it actually does contribute to the life of the community, resulting in real connections that change things.

So I am looking forward to the creation of this system, assuming I will remain in the area long enough to see it come to fruition. Frequent, widely available transit will increase my choices for where to live and work, and I believe that we all deserve as broad a level of access to those dimensions as we can get.

Thanks again to the folks at GoTriangle, who in my op[inion are in fact making an effort to get input from every aspect of their communities before going forward with this project. I will continue to generate comments as they come up during my commute.

I’m The Mac Daddy!

Pressing and stressin’, thinking and screaming, all of these have been the music of my household this past week. Why, you ask? Because I have chosen, I think I’ve about settled on it anyway, to leave the Windows computer environment and venture fully into the world of Apple. I have acquired a Mac.

As the dust settles, I can admit that if I’d known what I was getting into, I may have made a different choice. I got this thing last Sunday, and it is fair to say that I really didn’t get all the kinks worked out till this morning. I guess I hadn’t conceived that a system could be so fundamentally different, but why not?

Back in 1997, when I gained my first exposure to Windows so that I could complete a test in the university’s disability Services office, I remember being frustrated multiple times because I would press a button and my previous results would disappear. Definitely a harrowing way to learn a machine as one is also worried about surviving a difficult exam.

It took till 99 for the state’s Vocational Rehabilitation services to realize that the current blind and low vision college students could benefit from at least a crash course in Windows and the Internet, and so they shipped us off to Governor Moorehead in Raleigh where we stayed for a week to learn from their technology people. By the time I returned in the fall, and spent many an hour in the university’s lab ostensibly doing work but mostly firing off e-mail messages to women, I was becoming an expert.

Anyway, it is easy to forget the accompanying angst that initial computer exposure caused, until one’s basic structures are rattled again. So it has been with the Mac. First, there seem to be so many keystrokes to remember. But yes, I know I will become ever more fluent in them as I use in real time. Second, and the bigger problem, is the devil of security. Of course I’m not naive about that, I know it is very much needed. But two-factor authentication in particular is a bear to me. It usually requires me to quickly enter a code sent to my phone into the computer, and I just kept failing at that. Then attempting to turn it off proved difficult, because I was unable to verify the email address, answer three security questions, and sacrifice a lamb in time before the security timed out. (that last is an exaggeration, but only slightly). I give credit first to our local Apple tech support guy, a blind man who actually works at the store, for suggesting that I call the Apple Accessibility hotline to try and work it out, and then to Bonnie, the rep who spent nearly an hour trying this and that problem until we got it to work at least provisionally. Whew!

So now with that madness out of the way, I can get onto the fun part of really learning the ins and outs of this beast. I have already sent my first tweets, done a discussion board assignment for class, and completed an email message for someone from this surprisingly small console with keys that look like they should be hard to type with, but that I can actually bang with relatively little thought. Autocorrect is on, which helps of course, but also there just seems to be something more natural about the finger response. It’s kind of fun! And without doubt, the more I learn with this tech stuff, the deeper are my career and other such possibilities. So we’ll see how I feel as next Sunday, the last on which I can return this thing if I want a refund, approaches. Until then, VoiceOver On!