Thought Wheel

From the mind of Ann Chiappetta

The Print Barrier

| Filed under blindness Relationships

💻  ⌨

The day-in-day-out goings on of electronic correspondence has become part of our lives. It’s a given and expected piece of the daily routine like brewing the morning coffee and checking out the news. We read and reply to email, text messages, manage tasks in calendars, and so on. Some of us still like to immerse themselves in the printed pages. I can still recall the guilty pleasure of pouring over a tabloid while waiting at the grocery store check-out line or writing a letter adding the stamp and dropping it in the mailbox.

 

But this is 2022 not 1982. In the twenty first century we depend on electronic exchanges, it keeps us connected like the newspaper and print magazines used to do.

 

Years ago, when I first begin losing my vision from retinal disease, I learned how to acquire the ability to hear text with artificial speech with a program called JAWS using a computer. I’ve since lost all my vision and have been using devices like a smart phone with voice over and can choose from a dozen accents from US English to South African.  My family tells me I listen to the rapid speech at such a level that it’s hard to understand it. I laugh and think, oh, I take pity on you light-dependent people. I speed-listen like the old   Evelyn Wood speed-reading advertisements on TV.

 

One day last week was an exception. A lapse of reliability, what I think of as “cyber gremlins”, struck and a week later, it still remains a problem. The origin of the barrier isn’t clear but the end result is the same: I cannot access a document Germain to my work. This means I either have to spend up to an hour of troubleshooting or give up and print it so I can scan and read it with another device.  This isn’t the frustrating thing, either – I am fortunate to have a back-up plan. The frustration appeared at the beginning; I could not click on the PDF attachment and read and reply like my peers. Because I am blind, the process of proficiency and fluidity in a task that should only take five minutes, for me, hasn’t even been accomplished.  I experienced this fairly often when I was employed, and it effected my overall productivity.

 

The overheard conversation would go like this: “Well why can’t she read it?”

“something about the document not being sent the way she needs it,”

“Send it again,”

“We did that yesterday, it didn’t help,”

“Maybe she needs more training with her software?”

“She says that’s not the problem, the problem is how the document was formatted,”

“What does she mean by that?”

“I don’t know, something about text and no pictures or something like that,”

“Go back and ask her if we can print it out instead,”

“Okay but you do know she won’t be able to read it,”

“Have someone read it to her, then,”

And so on …

 

Going back to the PDF, I’d like to be the first person to respond and not the last one because I had to undergo assistive technology calisthenics in order to attempt reading it. At times like this, I think I’ve traveled to an alternate reality; having to ask for help and educate the sender of the document is my burden and there isn’t even one glimmer of hope in the vacuum of space.

 

It is a bit unsettling to know the world is set upon a highly visually-driven stage and if you can’t see, it is inevitable one will miss out on what drives the masses.   Sure we have increased the intelligence and proficiency of assistive technology and tools like improvements of computer software and hardware, audio description in the movie theater, streaming services and on major television networks; people with print disabilities have even made a significant contribution in the audio book industry, which is experiencing exponential growth.

, but the reality is it will take many more years, sweat equity and advocacy dollars to mind the accessibility gap for people who are blind and continue closing it. Changing attitudes is slow. People who can see don’t think about people who cannot. It may be, to some, a gross generalization but to someone like me, it’s a reality.

I state all this to sum up the personal experience: I was the only one in a committee who could not respond to a document sent to the group because I could not read it visually. This is why I ranted and now it’s over and I just feel sad, let down and a little guilty I even had to ask for an accommodation in the first place.

I wonder if these folks assume someone like me either couldn’t or worse, wouldn’t be able to manage civic responsibilities and therefore the documents didn’t need to be formatted responsibly?

 

Five years ago I stepped down from a local board of directors because despite asking for accessible documents, I received excuses instead. When I mentioned the ADA and that I felt discriminated against, I was suddenly treated differently and I left because of feeling like the accommodations were somehow a burden to those who had to make them.

I know life isn’t fair, I know we all struggle with issues based upon our lives, health, relationships, and finances or employment status, racial or gender biases, and so on. I would like the accommodation process to be better, to be more fluid, part   of the norm. If you are reding this and would like to build upon your knowledge of accessibility for people with print disabilities, drop a question like, “how do I make a blind-friendly adobe document?” in the search engine of your choice and you will be rewarded with a plethora of resources.  Your efforts won’t cure the world of the ongoing accessibility gaps but it could help someone else be able to access a document and be the first person to respond to a group email and not be left behind.

 

Annie sitting at desk showing laptop and other equipment.

Annie and her office and equipment.

 

 

From Across the Pond

| Filed under Fiction Relationships

A new book Hope For the Tarnished promotion.

It’s great when  internationally-known  and respected friends help out independent authors like me. Sally is one of the best.

Check out Sally’s Smorgasbord Blog Magazine,  it’s fun, informational and full of inspiration.

 

This image requires alt text, but the alt text is currently blank. Either add alt text or mark the image as decorative. Book cover photo of a couple in sihouetted looking out upon a beutiful beach sunset over the water. The book title is printed across the top and author’s name is printed across the bottom.

 

Reactions like this are Real

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Relationships

We walked into the holiday party. I was already anticipating a good time with friends after the imposed bouts of social isolation as a result of Covid.

 

We were greeted and directed to our table by a pleasant staff person. Bailey, my guide dog, was excited to see our good friends and greeted one of them. I pulled out my chair, settled my coat and bag and asked Bailey to lay down under the table when the two women to my right became hysterical upon noticing him.

“I can’t stay here, the dog will eat all my food,” and “That dog is going to bite me,” and “I can’t relax with that dog so close,”.

My heart sunk and I put on the blank face.  The face that tries to hide the disappointment and frustration brought on by ignorance and fear of my guide dog by others.

 

My friend tells them the dog won’t do that, it’s trained. Still they go on and I feel the anxiety build. Will I have to leave? I do my best to ignore them, but one person continued to go on about “that dog, will bite me,” “I can’t stay here with that dog,”, etc.

I grope for my water glass and wait it out.

I don’t want to be here, don’t want to eat, I feel like these people just stole it all from me.  I almost got up to leave, was close to tears but I refused to let them see me cry. I had a right to be there, too, and because I am blind, my guide dog did, too.

 

a person sitting on the other side of our table spoke to the person who was now almost yelling about “that dog,” — and quieted them.   It took me some time to refocus on my meal and my friends. My guide dog curled up for a nap under the table.

The rest of the afternoon was fun thanks to a stranger who knew how to handle another stranger’s fear of dogs.

 

The thing is even though I stayed quiet, I was angry. Being subjected to reactions like this, while infrequent, still happen and still affect me in a powerful way. I felt confused and hurt by their reactions.    I hope they will remember how “that woman with the dog,” kept her cool and shared a meal. I hope they will one day understand how much it cost me personally to shelf the feelings and get past their outburst.

Annie with pink mask and Bailey close up

Ann and Bailey on bench: Both looking straight on

 

 

New Fiction Book Released

| Filed under blindness Fiction Relationships

Hope for the Tarnished is here!

📖   🌻   📕

About the book

 

Young Abbie struggles to cope with the traumatic experiences in her life. Ripped from everything familiar after her parents’ divorce, she is dropped into an unknown neighborhood and is emotionally abandoned by her mentally unstable mother. Abbie is caught up in the cruel nature   of one sister’s addictions and often rescued by her other sister’s sense of familial responsibility and love.

The story takes place in the 1970s, revealing family secrets   and the shift of cultural norms as Abbie leaves her doubts in the past, embracing a bright future.

 

“Well-known in disabled writers’ circles, Chiappetta is that rare novelist who is able to incorporate a character’s disability into her story without making it the focus of her narrative.  She lets her audience realize that a disability, like hair color or a personality quirk, is merely one aspect of a human being, not the person’s defining feature.”

  • Sally Rosenthal, author of Peonies in Winter

 

 

Purchase it now in your choice of hard or soft cover and Kindle eBook

© 2022 Ann Chiappetta

Description of book cover: silhouette of two people standing on a beach watching a brilliant and colorful sunset over the water. Title of book is printed at the top.

This image requires alt text, but the alt text is currently blank. Either add alt text or mark the image as decorative.

Tulips and Breath and Shadow

| Filed under nonfiction Relationships writing

Thanks to editor-in-Chief, Chris Kuell, I am honored to be featured, with other talented writers in the Winter 2022 issue of Breath and Shadow. Check out the prize-winning essays, fiction and poetry in this issue.

 

https://www.abilitymaine.org/bs2022winter-1/%22the-tulips-come-back%22

The New Year, and Pandemic Stress

| Filed under nonfiction Relationships writing

Annie Shares News Issue 1 January 2022

Join the list: anniesharesnews+subscribe@groups.io

🍾 Happy New Year! 🎇

 

Well now, friends and followers, 2021 has been complicated, hasn’t it? I don’t know about you but I feel wrung-out and all kinds of weird – hm, could it be the wacky weather or maybe the long-term effects of a two-year long pandemic. One blogger I know stated the continual loss and grieving   may contribute to   feeling wrung-out and disheartened.  – whatever is contributing to   it, it’s sure been a rollercoaster ride of strained emotions. If you think you’ve been alone in feeling this way, rest assured you are one of many and you are not alone.

As written by Plato: “Strange times are these in which we live when old and young are taught falsehoods in school. And the person that dares to tell the truth is called at once a lunatic and fool”

He might have been talking about himself yet his words are prophetic and powerful. I never thought we would be living through a pandemic and yet here we are.

 

I will move onto less troubling topics,.  Most of the early part of 2021 was recording my two most recently published books as audio books. It’s a goal to strive for my material to be offered in alternative formats for the blind and people with print disabilities like dyslexia.   All my books are available from audible.com and as digital books from the National Library of Congress talking book catalog.  The specific links and everything Annie is on my website, www.annchiappetta.com .

I would not have been able to do it myself, and huge thanks goes out to voice actor and the best narrator, Lillian Yves for being there to help.

 

Taking part in interviews and podcasts is fun and exciting, especially when being an international guest. Check out this one with Princess Diva: https://anchor.fm/diva-williams/episodes/Inspirational-moments-with-Ann-Chiappetta–Author-e19j36i

and this one with Karina KKantas: https://www.artistfirst.com/kantas.htm

 

Here’s a haiku for you to ponder:

Hands cup grains of sand

Delicate and Rough to touch

Stars pulsing through time

Dreya the book dragon sends wing beats of creativity and kindness your way, 🐲

photo description of Ann's personal logo of green dragon floating amid books and musical notes.

A whimsical red and green dragon floats among flying musical notes and books. Text to the right reads Ann Chiappetta making meaningful connections with others through writing.Ann’s personal logo

 

We Remember Them

| Filed under Relationships

The past two weeks have been  difficult beyond the ongoing vicissitude’s of life for Jerry and me. He watched his sister pass from cancer. She was fifty. I got an email from my former director telling of a veteran’s passing. I counseled his wife for five years and  though our therapeutic relationship ended, I often thought of her and her family. We were able to attend the veteran’s services.

 

Today I received the sorrowful news  a friend and Westchester  Council of the Blind member succumbed and died of a heart-related illness.

 

This poem is for them.

We Remember Them…

In the rising of the sun and in its going down,
We remember them;

In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
We remember them;

In the opening of buds and in the warmth of summer,
We remember them;


In the rustling of leaves and the beauty of autumn,
We remember them;

In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
We remember them;

When we are weary and in need of strength,
We remember them;

When we are lost and sick at heart,
We remember them;

When we have joys we yearn to share,
We remember them;

So long as we live, they too shall live
For they are now a part of us as
We remember them.

from Gates of Prayer,
Judaism Prayerbook

 

The numbers Are In

| Filed under blindness nonfiction Relationships

The numbers Are In

As it happened, this year my first article for Outlook Enrichment posted:

https://www.outlooken.org/news/article/the-way-i-see-it-ann-chiappetta

 

What does the article have to do with numbers? Mom was born on November 17. She’s been gone six years and I miss her even though the harsh pang of grief has softened. I am grateful for my sisters and our extended family, who help keep Mom’s spirit going.

The universe supports keeping Mom’s spirit upfront and in a cherished place for us.  Special things keep falling on the date of her birth and every time it happens, I get the feeling she’s    delighted. We love you and miss you, Mom; keep sending reminders that you’re out there and the universe is caring for you.

 

As for my new gig, I think it’s the best omen it was scheduled on this special date.

 

 

 

by Ann Chiappetta | tags : | 0

What’s Annie Been Up To?

| Filed under Relationships

From  the Annie Shares News Issue 11 November 2021 email newsletter

www.annchiappetta.com

Subscribe: anniesharesnews+subscribe@groups.io

 

🦃 🏔 ❄

 

Hello readers, welcome to the November newsletter. Here in New York the lower Hudson is cooling off and we will once again experience      winter’s cold breaths. I find winter to be a time of renewal and creatively rewarding.

🌴 🥥

Even though it’s getting colder, why not warm yourselves by listening to a guest podcast with host Princess Diva   from Trinidad and Tobago. I read two of my newest poems and one from my first collection, Upwelling.  Thanks goes out to author, Amy Bovaird for the connection. Inspirational moments with Ann Chiappetta author:

https://tinyurl.com/5ec8a5vc

👩‍💼  🙌

On behalf of disability awareness month, I also want to share two business and social related blog resources with articles posted by my talented colleagues:

Outlook Business Solutions and Outlook Enrichment

And to bring it home to how we celebrated White Cane Safety/Blind Americans Equality Day, recognized on October 15, check out this video:

https://westchester.news12.com/visually-impaired-people-celebrate-white-cane-day-in-white-plains-today

 

 

Until next month, Dreya the book dragon and I send you and your loved ones thoughts of kindness and creativity.

Annie and April standing in our lobby prior to  mother daughter date night. We are both smiling into the camera.

Annie andApril standing for selfi before mother and daughter date night.