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Blogging Against Disablism Day 2016

I want to talk about disabled-gain.

Over the last 8 years I have had the privilege of working closely with two different colleagues who access computers in a slightly different way from the majority of people. They are screenreader users which means the computer tells them in voiced words what is going on. Instead of pointing and clicking at visual things with a mouse, screenreader users usually use the keyboard, by learning and utilising many shortcuts.

In 2009 I experienced difficulties with my main mouse-hand which means I have to be careful about how much mousing I do. I had always been a fan of keyboard shortcuts and used them as much as possible when I could find them out from getting my first graphical computer in 1993 (Mac OS System 7.1.1 for the nerds out there). I knew that once my mousing became limited I had the option of copying one of my colleagues to increase my use of keyboard shortcuts.

I learned a few new shortcuts each day and would ask my colleague what the shortcuts were for tasks I did regularly. My favourite trick is to build complex tables in word documents entirely by keyboard - that always gets a wow out of anyone watching me do it. I am now doing about 80-90% of my navigation of Windows by keyboard and continually working to get it to 100%.

I am not just mitigating the impact of a functional impairment, but have become empowered to work more efficiently and speedily as a result. Disability gain!

Many big tech companies are catching on and building accessibility into their core product realising that disability is not rare or special, but is common, normal and accessibility features can empower users.

  • Google:

  • Facebook:

  • Twitter and Facebook: Press ? and keyboard shortcuts will be displayed

  • Microsoft Windows:

  • Apple's MacOS:

  • Dreamwidth:

  • We still have a long way to go, many products and cloud-based applications are not keyboard navigable which means that they disable me and I am unable to use them. I have learned I am not the problem, they are.


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