For the importance of this Progress Post, you must first read Progress Post 4. It explains the main struggles of being a visually impaired student in University. For today’s post I want to further explain accessibility issues, but specifically the struggles with this class, Pub 101. Let me begin by clearly stating that I actually really like this class! I love the challenge of individual creativity, as well as the challenge to design and maintain our own blog website. I feel like I have become stuck in the formal, uninventive, dry essay/assignment writing and organizing we have to do in University, that I perhaps lost my creativity and imagination. I prided myself growing up that I had a great imagination, but being in University for four years now I haven’t really gotten many chances to show that side of myself, until now! However, the creativity that comes with this course also brings on some struggles.
As is clear to anyone who has read any of my blog posts, progress posts included, I am blind; and as I mentioned in the previous post that because I’m visually impaired I have to do assignments in a bit of a different way. For this class like I said above we have to design and maintain our own blog website and create weekly content. Creating the overall content for my blog is the easy part. I am doing a book review blog, so I simply read a book, then give my personal opinion on it. However, the struggle comes out with the actual design of the website. I have a wonderful access aide who takes my vision (no pun intended), and helps me make it an online reality. I am very lucky I have her, due to the fact that designing a website takes decent computer skills, something I don’t really have, but it also relies on visually seeing and designing the layout of the site. So since I am blind, the visual aspects are things I am completely unable to do on my own. Another issue with this semester long blog project is the navigational problems while using the screen reader. When I go to post anything it takes some trial and error to find where to write the title, to paste the content and even just to find the publish button. Navigating most websites is a huge struggle, so surprisingly WordPress has been on the easier side of things. I am also having a little bit of an issue keeping up with the weekly assignments, some weeks we have multiple things due, but I have also had a pretty rough start to the semester, so after reading break things should settle down and go back to normal, where I can focus on this course more.
Overall there are only a few struggles with this course – the website design, visual aspects and navigational issues – but all that aside it is definitely one of the more fun and inventive classes I have taken in university. I would also like to give a shout out to Suzanne and Ellen. Believe me when I say I am not mentioning them to be a suck up, I am not that kind of person. I am acknowledging them because I know its not always easy having a blind/disabled person in a class. It brings along adaptations and accessibility concerns that might not have presented themselves before. I might need longer to get things done, which is probably frustrating for marking, and can even seem more of a burden then anything else, but I just want to say that I try to do my best and make it as easy as I can for everyone involved. Ellen and Suzanne have been incredibly helpful and understanding about both my disability, and the rough start I had. It means a lot to me, and makes the course easier on me when I am treated like any other student, but at the same time my accessibility struggles are understood and we work together to find solutions. So yes, this course has proven to be rather problematic in some ways, but the creative aspect, and the help and understanding I am shown, trumps any struggles that appear.