I’d Probably Be a Gamer If I Were Sighted

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Image: Bowser punches Mario. On Bowser, the text inaccessibility. On Mario, the text disabled gamers.

When I was young, my Dad and I spent hours together on digital journeys, often to save a certain princess of the Mushroom Kingdom. Some of my best memories include a late night, good snacks, and time spent with Dad progressing on one of our quests.

I also remember the first time I was let down by a video game. One Christmas, I received a game I had been excited about for months – Epic Mickey. To my dismay, the game began in a dark setting with poor contrast. Unfortunately, this was the case for most of the game. We tried adjusting the TV itself, looking for settings on the game. There were few options when it came to adjusting the visuals of the game, and the ones that were available weren’t effective in helping me.

So, I ended up giving up the controller to Dad and watching as he played. At the time, I accepted it as being one of those things I just couldn’t do because of my blindness. I didn’t think there was anything that could be done about it.

I would experience similar scenarios as the years went by. The visuals of the game would be dark and lack contrast, there wouldn’t be adjustments adequate enough for me to be able to see, and I’d have to sit on the sidelines. Because of this, I stuck to brighter-themed games, but it was so disheartening not being able to play the games with darker settings that often had more in-depth storylines.

In addition to being unfair, the lack of accessibility of video games means the industry alienates an entire customer base. Digital spaces have become a go-to for people with disabilities because they allow us to interact and participate in communities even when we need to stay home.

My experience as an activist has taught me that I don’t have to simply accept the way things are. So game companies – do better. Try harder. Level up.

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Dear Skeptics: Top 5 Reasons I’m Not Faking My Disability

Ah, the skeptics. They’re all around – on the bus, on the street, they even take the form of Uber drivers. Throwing common courtesy to the window, the skeptics view my cane, and likely other mobility devices, as an invitation. “Ask a question!” it begs them. So, they do. And of course they wouldn’t be skeptics if they didn’t doubt the validity of my disability. 

I’ve dealt with this for years, and I’ve been told by my disabled friends that I’m not alone. So I decided to make this handy list of the top 5 reasons I’m not faking.

5. Questions, Questions, Questions

Reason #5 is something I mentioned above. People often see my mobility device and think it gives them a license to ask questions about just about anything and get my life story. Don’t get me wrong, I love when people are interested in getting to know me and becoming more knowledgeable about disability. But when I’m going about my business and doing my thing, I probably don’t have time to answer a ton of questions. Believe it or not, I have a job! I’m getting an education! I’m a busy woman, and a spoonie. Maybe start with “How are you doing today?”. You wouldn’t ask a random person about their life story if you don’t know them, so don’t do it to someone with a disability. It’s just weird.

Questions NOT to ask when you first meet me:

  • How long have you been disabled?
  • How do you (insert everyday task)?
  • How do you work?
  • Do you live on your own?
  • Do you have a boyfriend?

(I have been asked all of the above)

 

4. Staring and Being Put on Trial

Even if I can’t see people staring at me, I can usually feel it. I don’t like it. It’s not fun. It’s not acceptable. I also experience being put on trial by people who see me using a cane, and notice me looking at my phone. For some reason, people see this as a great injustice and get greatly offended that I ask to be accommodated when I’m “not really blind”Breaking News : Most disabilities run along a spectrum. Most people aren’t just seeing black nothingness. There’s a huge range of levels of vision, from people who experience night blindness to folks who have a small visual field, and a number of combinations of vision characteristics. This is true for a lot of disabilities, I’d venture to say most. Before you accuse someone of being a faker, do some research.

3. My Competence and Capabilities Are Constantly Questioned

Thankfully, I work at a place where disability is valued and respected. But that’s not the case for every encounter in my life. Blind people are often portrayed as bumbling and incompetent in the media, and those depictions have real-life consequences. Well-meaning strangers often invade my personal space or insist on helping me even when I say I’m alright. There’s nothing wrong with helping, everyone needs help sometimes. But when someone says they don’t need it, it’s time to back off.

2. Sexual Harassment

“Hey, blind girl and short girl. Wanna have sex?”

These words were hurled at my friend and I as we were walking down the street to go to lunch. Most women know how this kind of harassment feels. Even though they’re “just words” they still have an impact. You feel assaulted by the knowledge that someone is objectifying and fetishizing you. Disabled women especially experience this kind of fetishizing and harassment. Using my mobility device isn’t the cause of the harassment I face. However, it’s something noticeable that harassers often choose to latch onto.

1. Violence 

“Pity” and “victim” are unfortunate words words that are often associated with disability. These stereotypes aren’t true. We are a community full of incredibly strong warriors. However, it’s also true that people with disabilities can have disadvantages in situations of physical violence and abuse. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, people with disabilities are 2x as likely to face violent crime as their non-disabled peers. Those with neurologically-atypical suffered violent crime at twice the rate of other disabilities. This is a reality we face every day.

 

We would not fake our disability for similar reasons that LGBTQ folx don’t fake their identity – the discrimination and harassment we face is not worth a lie.

 

Sources I used for this post:

National Crime Victimization Survey:

https://seattlecentral.instructure.com/courses/1589443/files/97608271?module_item_id=28508182

Everyone Needs to Stop Dissing Millennials – and Here’s Why

front_b4a2032f-11e7-4cca-b4f2-2693199a2d5f_1024x1024.pngMaybe this has been said before, but I want to say it for myself. We need to stop being so hard on Millennials, also known as Generation Y. I might be a little biased because i am   Millennial, but hear me out.

Let’s start off with what the Millennial generation actually is.  There’s actually quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding the parameters of this group, but it is commonly defined as those born from 1990-1999. That means that currently, it’s folks from ages 19 to 29, so people aren’t even referring to Millennials because they includes those who are currently teens. However, even the true Millennial generation includes quite a large range of people if you think about it, and because of this probably has people with all kinds of behaviors and ideas. Yet, Millennials are often characterized as lazy, self-centered and absorbed in technology. So, there’s the first reason it’s a good idea to stop judging Millennials in these ways so often – the assessment is probably really inaccurate.

For example, there’s evidence to suggest that Millennials are the most educated generation yet. Applications for AmeriCorps tripled during our time, and Teach for America participation rose to an all-time high. In 2009, a survey found that over 25% of young graduates work for non-profits or the federal government, all this to suggest that Millennials actually might be a generation quite dedicated to service. We’ve made strides concerning equality during this generation’s lifetime, like finally grantingLGBTQ individuals their legal right to marry

More importantly than being inaccurate, stereotyping Millennials is incredibly harmful. Our generation is beginning to run this country, and will continue to for years to come. Generation Y will have a great impact on the actions and attitudes of the next generation, too. Our generation and the those upcoming have a lot to fight against – gun violence, racism, ableism, sexism, and so much more. Others, and even members of the generation ourselves, can be guilty of tacking on an unnecessary weight of genralizations and stereotypes, when we need to build the strength and confidence of our generation and the next in order to dismantle corrupt, broken, and inhumane systems that still exist in the land of the free.

 

Sources:

The Millennial Generation is among the best America has ever produced by Christopher A. Brueningsen

http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2011/06/26/The-Millennial-Generation-is-among-the-best-America-has-ever-produced/stories/201106260243

Why do millennials seem lazy, entitled, unmotivated and apathetic?
…at least some of them. by Marcia LaReau

https://www.forwardmotioncareers.com/why-do-millennials-seem-lazy-entitled-unmotivated-and-apathetic-at-least-some-of-them/

 

Four Eyes.

imageWhoa, it’s been a a while since I’ve posted. This is probably for two reasons; one, my training schedule has gotten busier exponentially and secondly, I hate writing just for sake of creating a post. I always want what I write to have meaning. I could blather on into a monologue about the sanctity of the written word, but I’ll spare you. My point is that I am writing because something has caught my interest.
This past week, I started wearing my glasses again. This relatively simple choice is unremarkable except for the fact that I didn’t do it sooner and that I was seeing the world in HD again. The interesting part was how it affected other people.
The behavior of strangers around me has changed completely and this past week since I’ve been wearing my glasses. I still carry my cane and wear the same clothing. I’ve hardly changed anything at all, yet my interactions have been so different. The same strangers that I’ve passed walking back-and-forth to the training center each day now say hello or good morning more often than not. People don’t try to help me by explaining where things are anymore, people don’t scramble out of the way if they notice me and people haven’t opened doors. It’s incredible to me that such a little change can cause such a drastic difference. Nothing about my ability level for my disability had changed; simply the judge,net that others were making.
The “moral to the story” so to speak is this; life does not work in clean lines or straight edges. Disabilities are no exception to this rule. Blindness is not work in absolutes. Just because glasses help an individual does not mean that their disability is not significant. If someone is using a cane, it is safe to assume that there is a good reason. Please remember that blindness is a spectrum disability with thousands of different scenarios. It often blurs the lines of what we know and what we fear; the possibility of being blind.

I See You Looking at Me

I lead a double life. Because I’m visually impaired and not fully blind, I’ve had phases in my life where I’ve carried a cane and times where I have not. Even above all the painful surgeries and physical challenges, becoming okay with using a cane was one of the toughest things I’ve struggled with due to my impairment. Finally, my senior year I moved to a new school for a fresh start. I decided to use my cane and I was asked some pretty interesting questions.

1. How do you have such a good fashion sense?

This was asked of me by my AP Psych teach in front of our ENTIRE class and I honestly didn’t know how to respond. You would think a psychology teacher to be a little more sensitive or at least know not to ask such an ignorant question. As a suggestion, if you’re ever asked this reply by explaining how you taste your clothing in order to decide on outfits.

2. Does your boyfriend drive you everywhere?

Because I have to have a sighted boyfriend/chauffeur? It’s kind of an implication of dependency, like because of my impairment I need a sighted person to take care of me. In fact, I find that relationships with people who also have a visual impairment are incredibly beneficial because you never have to worry that they won’t understand at all what you’re dealing with.

3. Should I have opened the door for her?

This was actually not asked of me but about me within earshot. The answer is yes and no. If you feel like being polite and opening the door for someone carrying a cane, by all means do it. But you shouldn’t do it because you think there is some unwritten social rule that says you need to.

So these are just a few of the questions I’ve been asked. I’d  l o v e to hear if you guys have any personal experience to add. Feel free to put ’em in the comments. ❤

 

 

Han-di-crap

It’s kind of a ritual for me to freak out about college approximately once a week now. It’s not the going to college that stresses me out but the $ involved that sometimes makes me want to curl up in a ball and eat Ben & Jerry’s for the rest of my life. Anyway, the other night I was having one of these weekly stress sessions and my boyfriend, being the wonderful human he is, directed me to this site. It’s a scholarship for students for disabilities which is pretty cool. The first essay was accompanied by this video that I thought was incredibly accurate and relevant. The site is called Incight if you wanna check it out but even if you don’t you should take a minute to watch this accurate-if-a-bit-cheesy video.

XOXO,

Court