[OSList] Supporting the blind at an open space event

Michael Herman michael at michaelherman.com
Sat Jan 19 10:09:21 PST 2013

like you say, harold, this is a pretty rare topic for us.  i've never
considered this before, but here are a few different takes that come to

1. sounds a bit like what john engle did in haiti with non-readers and
non-writers.  as i recall, the basic model ran as one-day events, with
three breakouts, and the topics for each round announced between the
rounds.  so many one-round openings.

2. another view, the blind folks are just speaking another language.  no
need to do anything, just like we have often said no need for translators.
 the group can take care of special needs as they arise.  and in this case,
there's the benefit of having it not be "the one" person who doesn't speak
the same language as everyone else.

3. next thought is that anyone getting around as a blind person these days
might already have some gizmos to help.  if there are apps that let them
browse the web, then it might be as simple as creating a webpage and
somebody recording the list of topics offered in each session.  if you
wanted to be really quick about it, you could have one marketplace wall
narrator per session, they could record them as soon as the dust of the
opening settles, and then post them to the page as round one, round two...
so the blind folks could navigate to the page and hear the list for the
session they want.  that, of course, does nothing to help them enter the
horsetrading that goes on between opening and first session, combining and
moving times, etc., which brings me to some simpler things...

4. on the simpler side, there is the suggestion that everyone take the time
to LISTEN when the topics are announced and pass the microphone slower than
usual.  maybe even everyone write topics, take post-it notes, and then
bring their issue back to their seats.  THEN go around the circle and read
them out.  THEN conveners go post them on the wall.  might be interesting
to INVITE everyone to listen with their eyes closed, as topics are read,
NOT because it will give them any sense of being blind, but only because it
will help them slow down their reading and side conversations in a simple,
practical way and to an appropriate pace.

5. and for a simpler wall, there could already be vertical tape lines to
divide each section of the wall, maybe even tape or braille cards to number
the wall sections, so sighted people post the topics into a section of the
wall dedicated and marked for a particular round of the program.

my guess is that if you were able to do #4 and #5, it would make individual
solutions to more specific challenges easier for everyone to come up with
in the moment.  (back to #2, and also to the old question of table in the
middle of the circle, what about the folks who can't get down on the floor.)

as for proceedings, they can be posted as individual pdf files in a place
online where they could be read mechanically with the apps i'm guessing the
blind folks will already have.  the question is what about blind folks
taking notes for others... well, i guess there are apps for turning their
speech into pdf text.

this last thought also means that if there were simply a short break
between the end of the horse-trading and the start of the sessions, the
blind folks could each pair up with a friend and each pair could take
responsibility for narrating and posting the topics for one breakout round.

seems like the gist of all of this is that you might not have to do much of
anything -- except open some extra space(s) for people to take care of



Michael Herman
Michael Herman Associates
312-280-7838 (mobile)


On Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 11:12 PM, Harold Shinsato <harold at shinsato.com>wrote:

>  Some friends in Missoula Montana are holding an open space event about
> digital accessibility March 9 this year.
> http://accessibilitycampmissoula.org/
> Looking over the records I found fewer posts about this than I expected. I
> saw posts about supporting 1 blind person, but they will have at least
> seven and I don't think they'll have enough volunteers to support one
> helper each. So they are thinking about some kind of ipad readers around
> the session postings.
> How has the community here provided accessibility to the blind, especially
> for the schedule wall?
>     Thanks in Advance!
>     Harold
> --
> Harold Shinsato
> harold at shinsato.com
> http://shinsato.com
> twitter: @hajush <http://twitter.com/hajush>
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