Accessibility, diversity, disability

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We have reached a level in the United States, culturally, where we have a certain sense of enlightenment where disability and diversity are concerned, a place where we want to ensure everyone accessibility.

Now, by putting disability and diversity together, I don’t want to insinuate a similarity between them that doesn’t exist. But both have struggled with the issue of accessibility. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) dealt with giving them accessibility. The civil rights movement dealt with the question of accessibility, of equal rights and equal access before the law.

So there are many big areas where we have made progress of understanding, of perspective. And yet there are many ways where we seem to struggle with small things.

(Before I go on, let me say, I am not falling into a sense of micro-aggressions, where the pursuit is for smaller and smaller objects, though it may seem that way at first.)

Let me deal with the issue of computers for an example. I am left handed. Whenever I come up to a computer not my own, the mouse is on the right side. The only exception to this was in my newspaper days, where the layout computers had left-handed mouse arrangements — since all the software and quick keys optimized better that way.

So if anyone comes up to my computer, or if they remote into it to use it remotely, they seem to have issues with it being left handed. I know how to swap buttons, but they don’t seem to be able to. And if you are on a help desk, you should be educated enough to understand the accessibility functions built into Windows to adapt to them and help someone.

The second computer example I have is keyboard configuration. One of the accessibility options is to change you keyboard configuration.  Some people need a different arrangement because they are one-handed. Some people use a different one because it is easier.

I know Betsy discovered the DVORAK keyboard arrangement some year’s ago on a writer’s chat board. Some prolific writers had developed carpel tunnel syndrome because of excessive typing, and learned that a different arrangement caused less stress on their wrists and alleviated their symptoms.

We tried this arrangement ourselves and found it less stressful and faster than the QWERTY keyboard that most of the world knows.

But it doesn’t seem that IT support anywhere gets trained to be aware of this accessibility option. And coworkers that try to use my computer find this concept totally bewildering.

When it comes down to it, on even such a small level, most people are so locked into things as they are, that they cannot visualize something  different. And if we have so much trouble with something so small, is it any wonder we have issues with larger things. Our flexibility of thought is much smaller than most people realize.

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