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Daily life

A new day, a new week, a new job

This post is actually a few weeks in coming, but I can finally announce that I have accepted a new job, a position with HealthPartners, as their Digital Accessibility Lead. I’m really excited to have this opportunity because I feel that I can continue making a real difference in the accessibility of healthcare and based on my own past experiences, I know how incredibly important that is. I actually held this same position once before as a contractor, and so for the first time ever, I’m also a bit of a boomerang. 🙂

What I really wanted to write about today though is *why* I decided to change jobs. Indeed my former employer offered excellent pay, fantastic benefits, and being able to work remotely — from just about anywhere in the US — was a definite plus. The thing is, I just wasn’t happy and wasn’t feeling very fulfilled on a personal level. This came to a head for me when I looked at my calendar for an up-coming two-eek period and realized that it contained nothing that would bring me any kind of joy. At first, I felt guilty about feeling this way. After all, I was very fortunate to have had such a great job, was working with great colleagues, and I certainly had nothing to complain about where pay and benefits were concerned. Not being happy though is a very powerful thing and I started to realize that it was impacting my non-work life in addition to my work one. This made sense to me when I considered that I spend more time working than doing anything else in life, arguably including sleeping. I realize that work can’t always be fun and games, but upon realizing that the thing that consumes the most time in my life was no longer making me happy, I realized that it was time to make a change, even if that change could be a difficult one.

I held off publishing this post for a while because I wanted to give myself some time to evaluate whether this job change would really solve the problem of how I was feeling and I can honestly say that it has. Sure this new role will have its challenges and there will be aspects that will cause their own struggles, but isn’t that the case with every job? Ultimately though, I am happier and being happier at work means I’m happier in life. I’m finding that I’m calmer, I’m more optimistic, I feel able to more easily face challenges both professionally and personally, and I actually look forward to going to work after the weekend.

If I could say one thing to my readers based on this experience it would be to never feel guilty about how you feel. I realize that changing jobs isn’t an easy thing, and it may not even be a practical thing, but none of that invalidates whatever you may be feeling. The logistics of finding a job, interviewing, being turned down for positions, interviewing again, debating whether or not to take a pay cut — and ultimately taking one, were certainly challenges, but for me, the biggest and hardest challenge was taking that very first step and admitting to myself that I needed to make a change. The way I figure it, I can’t be authentic with the world until I’m OK being authentic with myself, and that realization alone is proof enough that I made the right decision for me.

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Daily life

I had a really good day and I thought you all should know

As I think about going to bed, I just wanted to let you all know I had a really good day today. I got most of my project work done by 9 AM, I got to attend meetings that were productive, got to help others smile and laugh, got to eat some really good food, got to experience some pretty good weather, and now I get to sleep knowing that I accomplished everything today I had hoped to accomplish and more. So, why am I posting this? It seems that almost everywhere I look on social media these days, all I see are negaTive posts, or posts in which people are just complaining about something and so I figured that while I can’t change all of social media, I can change a small part of it, my part of it, and fill at least my small corner with some positive. Maybe I won’t be able to fill my corner with positivity tomorrow, but right now I am able to and so why not take the opportunity? And who knows, maybe someone reading this will have a similar opportunity and maybe that someone will post something positive and then there will be yet another corner of positivity on social media, can you imagine? Thank you for reading, be well, be safe, and good night.

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Daily life

The surprising accessibility possibilities of mobile check deposits

Recently, I had a conversation with a blind friend of mine who finds herself in an interesting situation.  She has received paper checks, however because everything is locked down, depositing them has become a real issue.  That got me to wondering how accessible mobile check deposits might be; it seems that just about every bank offers this option, but is it an accessible one?  Thinking it over, a few possible challenges immediately came to mind:

  1. Knowing exactly where to endorse the back of the check and writing “for mobile deposit” or similar which many banks now require.
  2. Aligning the camera so that the front and back images of the check are properly captured.
  3. Knowing one way or the other that the deposit has been accepted.

While I certainly can’t test every banking app out there, I did try a test with Wells Fargo’s app and was extremely impressed.  Wells Fargo has somehow implemented camera guidance, so that VoiceOver helps the user position the camera correctly for the check image to be captured.  Even better, when everything is aligned, the photo is automatically taken and, before final submission, the user gets notified if the photos need to be re-taken because of quality or other factors.  

So, how does it work?  First, the app asked me to capture the front of the check.  I discovered that I needed to hold my phone in portrait mode (left to right) which is something I hadn’t expected.  Since a check is small, I assumed — wrongly it would seem — that the phone could be held in portrait orientation.  As I lifted my camera away from the front of the check, VoiceOver started providing me with guidance information, “move closer” “move right” “move down” and finally, the picture was taken.  The process then repeated itself to capture the image of the back of the check.  Unfortunately, the part that remained inaccessible for me was properly endorsing the back of the check and writing “For mobile deposit only” which the bank requires.  Maybe this could have been accomplished with the help of a service like Be My Eyes or Aira?  

 

I was surprised that the process of mobile check deposits, at least with Wells Fargo, was not as inaccessible as I feared.  Unfortunately, I tried with a few other banking apps and met with very different results.  I also did not test with Android.  In summary though, the process of mobile check deposits can be made mostly accessible as demonstrated by Wells Fargo’s app.  If you try this with your bank and meet with different results, it might be worth sending them a support message and encouraging them to further investigate the possibilities of making their process more accessible.  While the technical details surpass my development abilities, my understanding is that Apple makes various APIs available to developers who want to incorporate camera guidance in their applications.  

Has anyone else tried mobile check deposit recently?  If so, what have your experiences been?

 

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Daily life

A blind person renting a car? Apparently, that idea isn’t as shocking as I once thought 

Recently, I traveled to New York where the plan was for me to connect with one of my colleagues and then travel to visit a client. Since we were arriving from different airports and since we would be needing a car, it made the most sense for us to meet up at the car rental counter. I was amused thinking of the reactions I would likely get from people as I, a blind guy, asked for directions to car rental. The reaction I got from one guy though really made me stop and think, he said, “oh, you must be going to rent one of those new autonomous cars, that’s got to be so neat.”. To him, the idea that a blind person might be renting a vehicle wasn’t very far fetched at all. I casually mentioned my destination to a few other people just to see what kind of reaction I might get. Strangely enough, the only somewhat negative reaction came from a woman who was all concerned that I could get hurt crossing the street which needed to be crossed in order to get to car rental. My take-away from the day? There remain people skeptical that blind people can independently cross streets, but the idea that blind people could possibly be renting cars is no longer the unbelievable concept it might once have been.