Just super

A couple thoughts for this week.

I’m stuck

I’m not exactly endorsing any democratic presidential candidates for one reason: TOO MANY CANDIDATES with things I like and dislike about each of them! I think I’ll be deciding when I get to the voting booth on Super Tuesday. No matter who you support, show up and vote.

And if your candidate doesn’t win – support whoever does and show up and vote in November. Don’t forget about elections for US Representatives and Senators, state and local races – all of these matter.  I know that I said those words before… as a disability rights advocate – these races all have very real impacts on my future!

 

Coronavirus

Stuff like this always makes my mom nervous. I can have a hard time when I get sick – takes me longer to fight off sickness. So, for me, I need to make sure that my caregivers are healthy, and I stay healthy. One thing to think about is that caregivers don’t make a lot of money and may not have a lot of sick leave. It’s easy to say, just stay home if you’re sick – but that’s not reality for a lot of people who don’t get paid much and may have no or little paid sick leave. Just something to think about… because that describes a lot of personal care attendants and support staff for people who may be whacked the hardest by this virus.

By the way, the picture below is from our family vacation to D.C. in 2009. The day before I got sick with what was probably H1N1, I was touring the White House when I started getting sick. I still need a do-over trip to  D.C. someday.

11-year old Justin with younger brother and dad, White House in background

Let the editing begin

Starting to edit my book this week. I’m super excited because I care about the characters. I’ve missed them this past month!

That’s it for my super thoughts this week. Vote on Super Tuesday if you live in a Super Tuesday state. And wash your hands!

Justin at computer

Done!

Did it! 1st draft of my 2nd novel is done!

When I started my second book, I wanted to do this narrative as a twenty-one-year-old who is looking back on the time when she was sixteen. For the narrator, I draw upon my own experiences of having cerebral palsy, using a communication device, power wheelchair, uncontrolled movement and jerky muscles, etc.  All this wrapped in a story of mystery and comedy and light.

“Until the lights die, let the story about yourself be your own personal story and no one else’s.

Until the lights die, we don’t know when we will shine. Until then, live.”

– Justin Smith

Read my earlier post about The novel

Justin smiling,Word document on computer screen says "The End"

Justins for Justin

Another exciting moment this week was introducing my friend Justin Stofferahn at his State Senate District 38 Kickoff. In all the drama around the presidential caucuses and primaries, don’t forget how important your local and state races are! I’m doing what I can to help Justin get elected as our new State Senator and flip our district blue. This race matters. This election matters. It’s important for all of us to get involved – because, you guessed it – it matters!

Find out more about Justin’s campaign at JustinStofferahn.com

 

2020 Goals

I don’t do resolutions for the New Year, but I do have a ritual where I write the goals of what I know that I can accomplish.

Politics

I am extremely excited for this election season because we get to choose who our elected officials are – from my local representatives to state and US representatives and senators and President. I’m also nervous for that same reason and lots of other reasons. Participating in the political process matters because the people we elect make decisions on laws and policies that impact people with disabilities. Elections matter! I will be doing a lot more posting about this leading up to November which brings me to the next goal which is…

Blogging & Writing

It brings me great joy to get the word out about living with a disability and I want this to be a community-building effort. So, please like, retweet, share on Facebook, and comment on my posts. This is what helps us all connect. It also helps me know that my voice matters.

So, I see my blog and writing as my vocation. Yet, it’s an unpaid vocation. I would like to explore how I might earn a little income from what I love to do. Something I’m going to do in the next year is look into how I might monetize my blog. There are pros and cons to this and I am going to look at all sides before I make my decision.

This has been my joy of my life to write. Without writing, I don’t know what I would do. So expect lots of blogging from me this year. I also have a goal to finish the novel I’m writing by Valentine’s Day. Then will start editing in the spring.

Living life

Finally, and this is an ongoing thing, continuing to explore and figure out along with my parents, how I will live independently.

Check out one of Chris Serres and Glenn Howatt’s recent article for why this is so difficult to figure out: Disabled Minnesota residents often live in costly isolation. You can check out my blogposts from last year about what I would like to see in my future:

In the next several months, you can find me at my computer, a concert, a rally, primary, or caucus! Happy New Year everyone!

 

Another Justin

I am extremely excited that my friend, Justin Stofferahn, is running to be my State Senator (SD 38). I met Justin at a Walz event in 2017 and got to know him through the caucus, district convention, State DFL Convention, and in volunteering for Governor Walz and my State Representative Ami Wazlawik.

I know Justin will be a great Senator. He listens – truly listens. He made sure that I was at the table and that I was able to share the issues that mattered to me. He reaches out to make sure that people with disabilities and others are included in the process. I am confident that when he becomes my Senator, that I’ll be able to connect with him on legislation that impacts me and others with disabilities. And that he’ll not only listen, but will act.

‘Tis the season for writing more about political issues impacting people with disabilities as we near next year’s election. Start finding out now who is running for local offices – don’t just follow presidential politics. State and local politics is incredibly important and has very real impacts on people like me who need services and support to thrive in my community. Pay attention, show up and be informed!

Looking forward to adding Justin’s sign in our yard and his pin the back of my chair! #OneMinnesota

Find out more about why I think getting involved in the political process is important. Check out this blogpost with link to the Rochester ABC Channel 6 news report from the DFL State Convention: Adjournment

Pride, Prejudice & Accessibility

It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that this blog must be in want of a classic accessibility check and a Mr. Darcy and Miss Elizabeth Bennett.

Jane Austen’s books are great, but Pride and Prejudice is one of the perfect examples of what is it that constitutes 19th century love. Take Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy. They don’t even like each other and it takes several months and an insulting first proposal before they know enough about each other to overcome the pride of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth’s prejudices. I loved this book!

I also love Bookshare and wouldn’t be the reader I am without it, but the web reader’s pronunciations of abbreviations can be irritating. For example, instead of saying Mister Darcy, the web reader says M –  R and pauses like at the end of a sentence then says Darcy. There are 61 chapters in Pride and Prejudice and each has at least 10-30 Mr.’s and Mrs.’s in them. The mispronunciation of abbreviations kind of ruins the flow of the story. This doesn’t happen in every book I read, so I don’t know why sometimes it reads properly and other times the web reader doesn’t.

I sent a note to Bookshare asking if there was a way to have the web reader for Bookshare pronounce abbreviations like Mr. and Mrs. as Mister or Missus. But, there isn’t. So, if you’re looking for a good accessibility project, figure out how web readers can better read abbreviations. It’s 2019, time to figure this out. By the way, I read my draft of this post using Read Aloud in Microsoft Word before copying it to WordPress. Read Aloud reads the abbreviations correctly. Bookshare doesn’t work in Microsoft Edge although it’s supposed to be coming soon. Maybe that will work better?

Hang on a second, weren’t you at an outdoor concert?

Yes at Surly Festival Field. Accessibility was great and I thought that the music was ok. More of my parents’ nostalgia bands than the types of music I like best.

Accessibility report for Surly – get there early to get accessible parking. We got there by 5:30 and gates opened at 5:00 and did get a parking spot. We had to walk about a block and a half from ADA parking to where they were taking tickets. Not sure if they would have let us in at the exit gate which was closer to where we parked. We did exit from there and that was convenient. They had a ramp to a raised platform by the sound booth so were able to see over the crowd of people and didn’t have to drive on uneven ground. Pretty good seats although the platform also filled up pretty quickly with several of us using wheelchairs, a couple knee scooters and others who needed accessible seating. I would definitely go to concerts there again.

Busy week coming up

Can’t wait to see John and Hank Green on Sunday! Anyone who reads my blog knows just how big of a fan I am! I have tickets in the 7th row at the Pantages Theatre. I’m excited that they have wheelchair seating so close. Usually in theaters like this, I end up paying the same as everyone else but the only choice is to sit in the back row. That’s annoying! Especially, if you also have hearing loss like I do!

We’re also going to try to go see Elizabeth Warren at Macalester on Monday. I want to hear from as many presidential candidates as possible to see who I like best.

My brother leaves for college on Thursday… more on this later.

For my web accessibility friends out there, I was trying to find if using the WordPress Tiled Mosaic is accessible. I used the Tiled Mosaic for the grouped images like I have for the concert pictures and pictures above from John and Hank Green events. I just can’t tell if people using screen readers can hear the alt text for the individual images or if I should just add them as individual images. Let me know what you think works best. Thanks!