Jetzt aber Hurtig! Oder: #Blind und #barrierefrei durch den #Straßenverkehr

Was einmal erwähnt werden sollte…

Wir Blinden bemängeln ab und an Barrieren in unserem Alltag – und wenn, dann oft berechtigt. Ich möchte von einer positiven Begebenheit berichten, die sich heute zugetragen hat und sehr schön deutlich macht, dass es auch anders geht.

Auf dem Weg zum Freibad sah ich mich mit einem LKW, einem Bagger und einigen dicken Schläuchen auf einem einigermaßen schmalen Gehweg konfrontiert und dachte gleich, was ich in solchen Momenten oft denke: “Huch!?”

Auf dem Heimweg wechselte ich gleich die Straßenseite und lief an dem Ort vorbei, der sich nun als Baustelle entpuppte. Kurz darauf kam ein junger Mann auf mich zu und sagte: “Hallo! Entschuldigen Sie bitte, haben Sie einen Augenblick Zeit? Mein Name ist (Name leider vergessen), ich komme von der Firma Hurtig Leitungsbau. Wir verlegen Breitband-Internet-Leitungen.”. Er erklärte mir wirklich hilfreich und total freundlich, an welchem Tag sie wo genau welche Seite des Gehwegs aufbuddeln werden, um Kabel zu verlegen, sowie wo und wann sie die Straße anstatt des Gehwegs bearbeiten werden, nur für den Fall, dass ich auf meiner route genau an der Stelle die Straße überqueren muss, und wie lange die ganze Aktion insgesamt noch dauern wird.

Wow! Ich bedankte mich sehr herzlich dafür, dass er sich die Zeit genommen hatte, um mich derart präzise und hilfreich in den Bauplan einzuweihen. Kurz darauf half mir einer seiner Kollegen, indem er mich auf zwei Transporter aufmerksam machte, die auf meiner Route auf dem Gehweg standen. Ich bedankte mich auch bei ihm und ließ seinem Kollegen nochmals schöne Grüße und vielen Dank ausrichten.

Oft muss man ja schon dankbar sein, wenn auf einer Baustelle im Anblick des nahenden Blinden einmal kurz der Presslufthammer abgeschaltet wird, damit man sich auf seine Umgebungsgeräusche konzentrieren kann. Dass sich aber ein Arbeiter mit Namen und Firma bei mir vorstellt und sich Zeit für eine solch gute Erklärung nimmt, war für mich eine neue und wirklich nette Erfahrung.

Und weil man immer sehr leichtfertig Namen und Firmen nennt, von denen man sich ungerecht oder einfach dämlich behandelt fühlt, halte ich es für angebracht, dass die Firma Hurtig Leitungsbau GmbH aus Dresden hier positiv hervorgehoben wird. Man ist im Zeitplan, in der Kernstadt noch im August mit der Bereitstellung schneller Internet-Infrastruktur fertig zu sein. Der Name Hurtig scheint hier also in jeglicher Hinsicht Programm zu sein.

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Petition: Apple, Improve the Accessibility in Garage Band for MacOS

Apple’s striving to include accessibility in mainstream products and make them usable by all customers regardless of talents, sensory or physical restrictions is unparalleled in the industry. This is why Garage Band on the Mac is a very popular tool among blind musicians to create and publish their work.

However, myself and other blind users of Apple’s screenreader ‘VoiceOver’ face one big issue in Garage Band; and this issue has been reported by numerous people on numerous occasions: Automations are not accessible.

What does this mean? I, as a blind musician, am unable to fade-in / fade-out individual tracks, regions or define the fade-duration of the entire project. By implication, as these curves cannot be defined by VoiceOver users, other rising EQ effects and the likes are also inaccessible to us.

Garage Band has these basic features which one can expect from an audio workstation, and they are available to sighted users.
This is solely an issue with Garage Band & VoiceOver.
Thanks for sharing and for your support! If we wake up Apple’s accessibility engineers, you may hear more great music by great blind musicians in the near future! 🙂

You can follow this link to sign and share this petition.

I have also put together a short video clip on my Youtube channel to go with the petition.

Ireland, Ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

I would like to encourage all readers to sign this petition to motivate the Irish government to finally step up their game and ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities (CRPD).

The matter is personally relevant to me and my wife. I am blind, and my wife is in full-time employment. My blindness support is fully means-tested on my wife’s income. In a nutshell:

The more my wife works to support us, the less support funding I get; and
the more my wife works, the more often I cannot avail of her as a driver or assistant, and, as a result, the higher my costs of living are.

This is MY blindness, not hers.

This degrading, demotivating and unfair system is hardly suitable in a 21st-century social state. There are other EU countries which, unlike the Republic of Ireland, have already ratified the UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities, countries where the “blind pension” is not a pension but rather a non-means-tested and non-taxable support payment to compensate higher living costs which blind people evidently have.

The present legislation does not merely deny the existence of blindness-related costs of living but also interferes with the spouses’ fundamental rights under the constitution of the Republic of Ireland.

The right to earn a livelihood

“As a citizen, you have a right to work and to earn a living, whether you are male or female.
The State is under a duty to protect your right to work and earn a livelihood from unjust attack.”

The means test of the spouse’s income is a prime example for an unjust attack on the spouse’s fundamental right to earn a livelihood. The working spouse should be allowed to spend their hard-earned salary whichever way they wish. They should not be held responsible to shoulder costs which are the responsibility of the social state which they already support as tax payers. It has been highlighted that there are other payments, for example, from the Health Service – also means-tested – and tax reliefs.

    I can claim a VAT refund on assistive technology such as screenreader software or my laptop with built-in accessibility features, to which I say: Well, yes! Whilst funding is being made available to make houses wheelchair-accessible, and recurring blindness-related costs are ignored, a one-off VAT refund is the least we can expect.
    My wife enjoys an income tax relief of €600 per year. This might sound decadent, but it amounts to less than €12 per week, which does not even pay for one return taxi ride per week when my wife is at work and unable to give me a lift.

Update:

I furnished ministers Leo Varadkar (Department for Social Protection) and Finian McGrath (Minister of State for Disability Issues) with my thoughts on the present legislation. Here is my follow-up post with some very telling statements.

#WorkAround to move apps from HomeScreen bottom row in #iOS8 with #VoiceOver

With iOS8 came a VoiceOver bug which prevents users to move apps from the bottom row of the HomeScreen. I have all my apps on one HomeScreen on my iPhone 5s: four apps which I use very frequently are in the top row, all the others are in folders beneath; the bottom row is empty. Whenever I download a new app, this ends up on page 2 of the HomeScreen. Apps moved from there to page 1 used to end up in the empty bottom row from where I was not able to move them. Until I stumbled upon a WorkAround.

MacOSX Safari: Play/Pause, Rewind & Fast Forward in Youtube Videos also works with VoiceOver

Nearly everybody has been in this situation: We’re watching or listening to a Youtube video and then…the telephone rings, our cup of coffee is empty, the cat is attacking the Jehova’s Witnesses at the door who want to talk to us about God…
anyways, we wish we could pause this Youtube video…
Read on how to do this via keyboard.