Audiobooks for Developers 01: The Country of the Blind by Andrew Lealand
Nov 20, 2023
This is the first time I'm writing a recommendation and my thoughts on an audiobook for developers to enjoy. It's part of my Monday series on LinkedIn, and an extension of the article "Fifteen Podcasts for Developers to Enjoy" I wrote earlier in 2023.
The Country of the Blind by Andrew Leland is both the story of the author gradually becoming blind, and the history and current developments of blind culture and technological innovation. For the latter, Silicon Valley, tech in general, and artificial intelligence would be very different and not as advanced if it were not for innovation by blind tech savvy hackers and the disability community that rose in the 1970s around Berkley University.
This article also a longer personal reflection, that's grown into "my story". One on growing up with my mom having multiple retinal detachments, and having accessibility be my default. We never switched where the cinnamon and cayenne pepper was in the kitchen, or "interesting" baking would be served!
It's also a story of growing up with family, retinal specialists, and family doctors telling me there was a good chance that I'd have retinal holes or detachments and be blind or low vision. But this also led to my developing strong tech skills, a first career in assistive technology, finally solving multiple family medical puzzles, and now my new career as a software developer and web accessibility specialist. It's also led me to go from loving and working with Microsoft, to Apple, and back again to Microsoft because of accessibility. Plus there's a wee bit of irony.
Here's my usual short recommendation list:
- About this book or podcast: See the first paragraph above!
- . Why I'm recommending it
- It's read by the author and read well. There's always something a bit more special and real when it's the author reading their non-fiction book.
- It combines three of my favourite topics: history of technology, blindness and disability, and assistive tech, all while telling a story.
- There's little realization in the general public of how much the blind community has innovated, how far back that innovation goes, and how much those innovations affect our everyday lives - especially as developers and tech professionals.
- Who the author is.
- Andrew Leland is a fantastic professional writer who comes from a family of writers and creatives - and it shows.
- He's also a podcaster, editor, and non-fiction writing teacher.
- A couple of links to the book and author
A tip for busy devs: If you don't have a lot of time to listen, start with "Chapter 7: The Makers"
TL;DR: Why I've Really Connected With This Book
I've always been drawn to books and stories about blindness, and becoming blind. I grew up with my mom's blindness and low vision, and thus accessibility being the default. Accessibility wasn't and especially now isn't the exception that I had to consciously think about. Since I was four I "knew" I'd likely become blind, or have low vision because of retinal holes or detachments, much like Andrew Leland knew he'd eventually become blind because he has a genetic eye disease.
Leland talks about how blindness has led to innovation by blind makers. That being blind, and even dealing with the fact that one will eventually become blind creates situations for out of the box thinking. Often, when it's socio-economically accessible, blindness leads to being very tech savvy. Hmmm I'm a former assistive technology specialist and a software developer.
The difference with The Country of the Blind's author and my and my mom's case is there wasn't a diagnosis. We were medical puzzles. Like many developers, I love solving puzzles, especially when doing so helps someone. This article is three stories in one.
- Why I've really connected with The Country of the Blind.
- How growing up "knowing" I'd become blind or have low vision influenced my past and current education and career.
- And how all of that has come together to solve a really complex, multi-decade, and multi-generational puzzle.
The Start of The Puzzle: My Mom's Retinas Tearing
During a doctor’s appointment when I was four years old, my mom asked my paediatrician to take a quick look at her eyes because she thought she might need new glasses. After taking a quick look at her eyes with a retinnoscope (that handheld instrument with a light that doctors look through to see the inside of your eye) he said:
“Don’t move. Don’t sneeze. I’m calling your husband and we’re taking you to Toronto General Hospital.”
My mom’s retinas were partially detached. Her left eye only had a few attached nerve fibres left. If she’d sneezed, picked up anything, or moved suddenly she would have definitely gone blind in her left eye, and made her right eye way worse.
After a week in Toronto General she became one of the first people in Canada to have retinal surgery on both eyes at once. She also didn't have any of the usual causes of retinal tears like advanced diabetes, cataracts, or a sudden physical trauma. That combination of being a medical first and being a medical mystery led to her being a case study in a medical journal, though my family has never read a copy. We didn't know about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) at the time. (More on EDS later.)
We Moved to New Zealand
After her long recovery, my mom kept her day vision enough with glasses to drive and read, though she preferred large print. But she had become night blind, and was sensitive to bright sunlight. Her vision was partly the reason we moved to Wellington, New Zealand when I was five. It didn't snow there so she wouldn't have to shovel heavy snow - heavy lifting isn't recommended for people with retinal detachments. No snow also meant no days of becoming blinded by sun reflecting off of endless expanses of white snow many months of the year.
Our home was filed with large print books. In the living room there were thick hardcover English murder mysteries. Most memorably, in the bathroom there were scores of large print Reader's Digests with their vocabulary quizzes. I devoured those and it's likely one reason I had such a wide vocabulary for a primary school kid, and was able to read adult chapter books like Farley Mowat's "Never Cry Wolf" before middle school.
My mom was an excellent and careful driver. She drove for 25 years and had not even a single 5km over the speed limit ticket. But no matter how careful and well planned someone is, sometimes situations sneak up on us. I became really good at handing mom her prescription sunglasses while she was driving when the sun suddenly came out from behind the clouds. If dusk came on suddenly, or the sky suddenly became cloudy at dusk, I also became really good at directing her staying inside the lines of the road by saying "my side" or "your side".
Later, when I was in high school her retinas tore again. She was now blind in her left eye and low vision in her right, so she couldn't drive. When she turned in her licence the staff woman at the service Ontario counter looked at my mom with her white cane, looked back at the computer screen showing her driving record, looked back at my mom and said "Are you sure you need to do this?". My mom got the feeling that the driving licence staff would rather have a blind woman with a perfect record driving, than the other people with suspended or revoked licences who came in to turn in their physical copy.
"Knowing" I Was Going to Have Vision Loss
I was taught the warning signs of retinal detachment, including auras, flashes of light, suddenly seeing “floaters” — little specs like small bugs or dust over top of everything, vision getting foggy or having a “curtain” of grey or black close in. They warned me to be careful avoiding getting hit in the head with balls when playing with friends, and that if I ever got hit in the head, or fell down hard. Even if I didn’t bump my head I had to get a doctor to check my retinas.
Another Puzzle Piece: But No One Noticed It
I also played at "being like mom". I walked around the house with my eyes closed and using my memory, sense of touch, and hearing to navigate. While it didn't seem weird to me at the time, I also would open doors with my feet. I was really flexible. It was really easy to lift a foot up my ear, so and it just made sense to do open doors with a foot if I had something in my hands. I'd also navigate outside with my eyes closed, again using memory, the feel of the ground, and usually a random stick I'd picked up.
Disabled Representation in Books and Media is Important
In my middle school library in Calgary, I found an old paperback book published in the 1970s about a teenaged girl, Cathy Wheeler becoming blind. Light a Single Candle is based on the author's own experience of becoming blind. It resonated with me because I felt the tick tock in her head of when she would become blind, when would her sight be gone. It helped me picture how I could manage if I was a teenager or in university when it happened.
We moved back to Mississauga for the remainder of middle school. I found the sequel to Light a Single Candle, Gift of Gold, in my second middle school's library. But the librarian wouldn't let me check it out. She said it was too mature and difficult a read for me. I later was able to get a copy from the public library.
That focus on orientation and navigation, plus my being in the outdoors on day and overnight trips had a lasting impact. Later, I'd go on to take all the geography courses in my high school. In university I studied geography and geomatics (the study of the measurement of the earth and space).
I thought my ability to picture maps vividly in my head, to rotate them, zoom in and out, and see the changes though time were just typical for everyone in geography and geomatics. That is, until I had an eye opening conversation with other geography students while walking between two classes. As I shared that the professor in political geography was awesome because his descriptions of historical events about shifting political boundaries made the maps become like 3D video games in my head, everyone went silent and stared.
"You can do that!?" two other students asked at the same time. "Um, yes. You can't?" I replied "No. Not even when I'm looking at a map." said another
Many of them also had a lot of experience in the outdoors, and navigating in the backcountry. So, there was only one significant difference between their life experiences and mine. That difference was that I'd spent my childhood practicing navigating with my mind, and not using my sight as the primary sense.
Note: Disability is Not a Superpower
Note: This is not a "superpower", it's a learned skill. Disabled, neurodivergent, and Deaf/deaf people don't have superpowers. To say so is feeding into ableist false narratives and trope. See the YouTube video in the references section.
Retinal Change, A Retinal Hole, Then Eye Surgery
While I was at the University of Calgary, my retinal specialist found a thinning of my right retina he called a "retinal change". The next year there was more retinal change. The following year a retinal hole was added to my chart. Then I developed migraines, some with auras that mimicked retinal detachment.
So retinal surgery was scheduled in January of my graduating year. It was day surgery and I had to be awake for it. While the surgeon put an instrument that looked like a dentist's suction tube on my eye with minus 70 degrees Celsius gas in it I was told "Don't blink, don't pass out or you'll lose your sight.".
For six weeks following my surgery, I couldn't work out, swim, carry more than five pounds, or do laundry. Even though I lived in the townhouses on campus with my boyfriend at the time, I had to drive to my classes. Slipping and falling on the ice could jar the scar tissue loose and I might become blind. He was relegated to the futon couch for a month and a half, because I also couldn't risk being jolted in the middle of the night.
Doing research while not being able to carry books and papers was challenging. I didn't have a laptop at the time. So I sat with a guidance counsellor and dropped all the courses I could while still getting both of my degrees in my double degree program. Unfortunately we got the calculation wrong, I didn't graduate with a two degrees BA Social Anthropology and a B.Sc. Geography.
But I only found out after I'd moved to Thunder Bay to do a B.Sc. in Sciences, and Education courses. The upper year anthropology course I'd dropped, was one rarely offered at Lakehead. That anthropology course was supposed to be offered in spring/summer session. So I took Digital Art I (graphic design and photoshop) and a drawing course to be full time. Then the anthology course was cancelled, so I added Digital Art II.
The end result, after lots of bungled and delayed paperwork, and Lakehead finally offering an upper year anthropology course that U Calgary would accept was a B.A. in Social Anthropology with a minor in Geography from Calgary, and a B.Sc. Sciences from Lakehead. But, I've been using those graphic design and computer graphics skills ever since, so it's turned out for the better.
First Career: Assistive Technology Specialist
While I could have gone into geographical information systems (GIS) or another tech field working with other adults, I ended up in education. While taking education courses at Lakehead, I got a job with the Lakehead District School Board (LDSB) as a tutor in the classroom. Each school ran the program differently. Mine was though the special education department. I worked individually and in small groups with students in grades 9 and 10 maths and science courses.
Then one day, the head of special education and guidance asked me if I'd be willing to be the private tutor of one of my students. The tutor his parents paid directly to tutor him at home had moved out of town, and they were looking for someone to continue to support him at home. They'd asked his high school for a recommendation. Because I already had a working relationship with him, and understood his needs, my name was top of the list.
Though word of mouth I soon had many more students, and was running a small group class for grade nine math. All the students had learning disabilities, giftedness, and/or ADHD. Most had test anxiety. Having grown up with my mom having a disability that affected her reading, and thinking that I would likely be blind or low vision, was very helpful in understanding my tutoring students' frustrations and figuring out strategies that would work for them. I continued on tutoring students with disabilities after I graduated.
Microsoft Windows and Office Instructor, and Assistive Technologist
While at Lakehead I'd been an education computer lab tech, residence internet manager, a Microsoft Access database admin, and a B2B sales rep for Microsoft Office courseware books. I'd also been doing some freelance, small business WordPress web development and graphic design. So, when I moved down to Southern Ontario, I found a contract job as a computer and academic upgrading instructor at a career college.
My students were adults with physical disabilities from workplace injuries. Each one had a individualized learning plan. I had to juggle four students' curriculums at the same time. Working with one for a set period of time while the other three worked (mostly) independently. So I often got computer questions while working with another student on their computer skills or their math course. I got really good at giving instructions for Microsoft Windows and MS Office while not seeing a student's screen. Having been a lab technician at Lakehead was really helpful.
One of my students had no functional use of her dominant hand and limited of her non-dominant. She needed to navigate the Windows operating system with her voice. The government Workplace Safety and Injuries Board (WSIB) covered the cost of Dragon Naturally Speaking (Dragon NS), a one handed keyboard, a trackball, and a headset. So I taught myself, and then her Dragon NS.
Assistive Technology Specialist and Switching to Apple
When I moved to Toronto in 2012, my first student had an iPad. She was in grade 10 and was an award winning "triple threat" dancer singer and actor. Her parents contacted me for two reasons. Due to a death in the family she had missed a lot of school. Secondly, she had an Independent Education Plan (IEP) for giftedness, ADHD, and mild dyslexia. Because of her disabilities she could either take notes, or pay attention in class, not both. Scribing and listening are two separate tasks. If she took notes, she missed what the teacher was saying. If she paid attention to the teacher she wouldn't have notes and would be accused of not paying attention. She'd started taking pictures of the board with her iPad.
Since she had a device I took a look at if there was text-to-speech and/or recording capabilities. I'd been in the Microsoft ecosystem for ages, but saw the difference in the text to speech voices on her iPad from my Windows machines. OneNote at the time also was really annoying to use. I got curious, did some research, and taught myself how to use the iOS accessibility features. Notability for iOS and MacOS was so much easier to use and had better functionality than OneNote. We could do math notes on dark digital graph paper and use neon colours to colour code variables - so cool! Working together she aced her grade 10 maths and sciences. Her notes were far better than her classmates. They often asked her to borrow them.
For the next seven years I worked full-time with students with ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, other learning disabilities, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and giftedness all over Mid-Town and North Toronto. I also switched completely over to the Apple Ecosystem. It was amazing what such a connected, integrated accessibility set of hardware and software could do for students.
Over time, the age range of students got broader, and their needs got more complex. More and more postsecondary, then graduate students were having complex support needs. The mental health crisis is real. In 2015, I was stalked by a parent (mental illness can run in families). I was working longer hours, and stopped doing WordPress development in 2017. Following that I was assaulted three times by elementary student. I found myself enjoying the graphic design and web development for my private practice more than working with some students.
Then there was working mostly Sunday all day and Monday to Thursday afternoons and evenings. It was hard to keep up with adults friends. By 2019, I was burnt out and choose to leave my education career. I wanted to work with a team of adults, doing something I enjoyed, and not having to send invoices to get paid.
Turns out quitting education in 2019 was some of the best timing ever. The pandemic started in 2020. By then I was back in university, this time online at Massey University, New Zealand. I'd started in Urban and Environmental Planning postgrad program, then added computer science and information studies courses.
Solving My Family's Medical Mystery Puzzles
Even though this is long, I'm actually skipping over a lot of details. They're not 100% necessary for this story.
After Getting Covid in April 2020
I got covid in April 2020. Soon after I developed chronic migraines and all three types of chronic insomnia. My hair was also falling out in chunks. I started following some YouTubers with chronic illnesses, including Jen from Momming with Migraine. She is a former biochemist, and had good information on chronic migraines. She also filmed some of her syncope (specific type of fainting) episodes, that looked very familiar.
By January, 2021 I was frustrated and used my science background to do some research. Experimenting with some sleep aids and sleep hygiene techniques improved my insomnia. My migraines decreased to about 4-5 days per month, more than the 1-2 days before getting covid, but manageable.
However, also in January, 2021 my occasional Achilles tendonitis became chronic. The physio and ballet exercises I'd always done for it weren't helping. I couldn't walk without Nordic walking poles, a cane or crutches. The former I'd had because I'm active. The cane and the crutches I had because I've always been accident prone. My sports medicine doctor said I'd been carrying too much in my backpack with all the 8-14km per day of walking I'd been doing to stay active during covid times. I tried limiting the weight in my backpack, and a few of his other suggestions, but the only thing that helped was always using Nordic walking poles. They did some of the work of my Achilles tendons.
The first clues: the edge puzzle pieces
Note: There's some very technical medical terminology coming up. Because my science degree included human anatomy with cadaver lab and human physiology, I geek out on it. But I know it's not everyone's thing, and that explaining medical terminology to some other devs might be like when we try to explain code to our non-technical friends and family. So I've put the really technical definitions in easy to skim over quote blocks, and added a quick more everyday language explanation in the body paragraphs.
Again, I put my science degree to use and did more research. I used my teacher and science skills to write my own case notes. Then I convinced my sports med doctor to submit them to a long covid clinic. And I finally got some medical support. At the same time I found the Body Politic long covid Slack group. It was there that I got the terminology for more research, and started to solve a whole host of family medical mysteries. Many of the female side of my mom's family, and myself have frequently had doctors say "Well I've never seen that before.", which was commonly followed by "Do you mind if I bring in the medical students" and/or "Would you be ok with my colleagues coming in?".
The First Corner Piece: Dizzy Lizzy and Dysautonomia
I'd been misdiagnosed with Epilepsy when I was two years old because I lost consciousness after a minor medical procedure. Because I was put on epilepsy medication that required regular blood tests, I kept having "seizures". After an in depth test when I was 14 my doctors finally said I didn't have epilepsy. It was vasovagal syncope. Anything that broke the skin like needles, blood draws, or deep cuts could trigger it. Personally, I prefer to say it's the "Don't stab this redhead syndrome", or to those that get my sense of humour, "I'm not into vampires" (blood tests).
Sometime after I got chicken pox when I was at the University of Calgary my friends gave me the nickname "Dizzy Lizzy". I also had had a few dizzy, almost passing out episodes if I got up quickly late at night. That had been happening more often since I got covid. In the Body Politic Slack group, the broader word "dysautonomia" came up, instead of just "vasovagal syncope".
The gist of dysautonomia: Dysautonomia is when the part of your brain that controls all the functions your body does without you thinking about them doesn't work well. These functions include: controlling your blood pressure, digestion, heart rate, body temperature.
"Dysautonomia is a nervous system disorder that disrupts autonomic body processes. These are automatic functions like your blood pressure and heart rate. Having dysautonomia means these functions don’t work properly, causing disruptive symptoms. These symptoms are often manageable, but diagnosing and treating dysautonomia is sometimes difficult."
Researching dysautonomia, I kept seeing two terms "Mast Cell Activation Syndrome" (MCAS), and "Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome" (EDS) in the same journal articles and YouTube videos. There also was the strikingly familiar gastrointestinal symptoms that my mom and three of her four sisters have.
The Second Corner Piece: Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)
The female members of my mom's family have had weird allergies, digestive issues, and were sensitive to some medications. My mom's list of medications she can't have is so long that in a recent hospital stay the resident pharmacist and his assistant had an in room appointment with her and custom compounded medication.
MCAS is the body's immune system kicking into overdrive. It's having severe allergic reactions to things that don't show up on an allergy test. Mast Cell Activation Syndrome is common with EDS because mast cells are in connective tissues.
Mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS) causes a person to have repeated severe allergy symptoms affecting several body systems. In MCAS, mast cells mistakenly release too many chemical agents, resulting in symptoms in the skin, gastrointestinal tract, heart, respiratory, and neurologic systems. Mast cells are present throughout most of our bodies and secrete different chemicals during allergic reactions. Symptoms include episodes of abdominal pain, cramping, diarrhea, flushing, itching, wheezing, coughing, lightheadedness and rapid pulse and low blood pressure. Symptoms can start at any age, but usually begin in adulthood. The cause of MCAS is unknown.
Mast cell activation syndrome - About the Disease - Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (nih.gov)
The Key Corner Puzzle Piece: Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS)
EDS is a set of 13 genetic connective tissue disorders where the body doesn't make enough and/or makes the wrong type of collagen. It explains why I've always been so flexible - remember my sharing that I used to open doors in my house with my feet? It also explains why I've been spraining my ankles since I was seven, a host of other injuries, and how my friends often say "How on earth did you do that?".
The Ehlers-Danlos syndromes (EDS) are a group of 13 heritable connective tissue disorders. The conditions are caused by genetic changes that affect connective tissue. Each type of EDS has its own set of features with distinct diagnostic criteria. Some features are seen across all types of EDS, including joint hypermobility, skin hyperextensibility, and tissue fragility.
What is EDS?- The Ehlers Danlos Society (ehlers-danlos.com)
Putting the Pieces Together
Dysautonomia matched my life-long "dizzy Lizzy" issues. MCAS explained the random severe allergies and hives I'd been having for over a decade - allergies that never showed up on allergy tests. EDS seemed to match my accident proneness, extreme flexibility. The two together explained my mom and her sisters, and some of my female cousins gastro issues. There were also a lot of people with EDS in dance, gymnastics, figure skating, and cheer leading. I'm a dancer. Migraines kept popping up with EDS. Covid plus EDS explains why my body went haywire after getting covid. EDS and it's partners in crime, dysautonomia and MCAS often worsen when those with EDS genes get a virus, have a major physical trauma, become pregnant, or give birth.
And... with EDS there is also an increased chance of blindness from retinal detachment.
Covid again - but the puzzle is solved
In December 2021, I got covid for a second time. I woke up almost unable to walk. Yet again my hair started falling out in chunks. But this time I had a second cane, as well as an Apple HomeKit smart home. So I could manage my life better.
The specialist referrals the long covid clinic had booked for me came though. In January my neurologist diagnosed me with a type of dysautonomia called "Orthostatic Intolerance" (OI). My autonomic nervous system doesn't work well when I'm standing or walking. The longer I'm standing the more I get dizzy, my blood pressure drops, I overheat, and a host of other things. It varies day to day. Kind of like having a senior developer running my body. If I'm wondering "What's going to happen today if I'm standing up too long?" The answer is always the classic senior developer answer: "It depends..."
My neurologist also diagnosed me with "Persistent Postural Perceptual Dizziness" (PPPD). Doesn't that sounds like a typo, or that a cat has stepped on a keyboard? It means that I'm always at least a bit dizzy. PPPD explains why since getting covid, I need to sit at the front of busses, and bad things like three day long migraines happen when I travel in small cars.
Basically the best thing I can do for my health is to sit on my couch and code. And I happen to have chosen software development as my second career. That makes my cats really happy.
The next specialist referral after my neurologist was audiology. It's ironic that with all those years of practicing to be blind and low vision, that covid + Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) resulted in my having mild upper range hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in my ears).
I'm fine in an office or other quieter environment with little background noise, especially with other adults. But if there's a lot of background noise, or I'm listening to someone with a higher pitched voice, especially children, I'll miss hearing words. Standing for long periods of time, too often, or too many minutes in a day makes my hearing worse. Having a wheelchair will actually help me hear better.
So the ultimate ironic and humorous thing is all those times I was practicing "being like mom", might have better been spent working on my wheelchair skills.
January 2022: A11yTO Camp at Microsoft Toronto
I started volunteering for A11yTO at Microsoft here in Toronto, Canada in January 2023. (A11y is short for accessibility because accessibility has 11 letters.). It was fabulous to meet so many others in tech with an accessible first mindset. I was also blown away with how much Microsoft has improved their accessibility.
On a break between talks, I was standing and having a great conversation with Damian Milczarski Microsoft Accessibility Program Manager, and two other developers, I realized that I had to sit down. There were no chairs nearby so I left the conversation. That was my "ah-ha moment". I couldn't function at a digital accessibility event because I didn't have a wheelchair.
The next day I started researching "how to get a wheelchair". In March I setup my first "seating and mobility" occupational therapy appointment. So started the very long, bureaucratic process of getting my first custom wheelchair. It's looking like it's going to take over a year.
I rented one for RefactorDx Conference here in Toronto in July. It was so awesome. I could go fast again. It let me fully participate. Shopping was also easy and not risking an awful evening being super dizzy Lizzy. There was no sitting on the floor in stores. It was a wheelie wheelie fun week. (Yes, feel free to groan.)
Note: A wheelchair is a mobility aid - something that aids a person to be mobile - just like glasses help people see. Those in wheelchairs are wheelchair users, not wheelchair bound.
Switching Back to Microsoft Because Their Accessibility and Their People Rocks
Since January 2023, I've learned a lot more about how much work Microsoft has put into improving their accessibility. Damian introduced me to Gaelan Love during A11yTO week in October. Gaelan is the Microsoft in Education Go-to-Market Manager for North America. At the conference after party I met Ben Meyers, a developer for Microsoft Learn. We had a blast chatting for hours and we've stayed in touch.
Then, last week Gaelan had me visit him at the Toronto office and gave me a Q and A and demo of the latest accessibility features, most are powered by Copilot. In the elevator afterwards, he introduced me to two developers. We're meeting on MS Teams next week to chat about how GitHub Copilot is empowering developers.
I'm working on switching from Google Workspace to Microsoft. Instead of researching which software companies give their employees MacBooks, I'm now hoping to get a job where I'll have a Microsoft Surface. There's so many built-in awesome productivity and accessibility features Windows 11 and Microsoft software. I'm working towards my Certified Professional in Web Accessibility (CPWA) certification the two major screen readers JAWS and NVDA only run on Windows.
Look for more articles on Microsoft Accessibility features in both the "Tips and Tools for Devs" series and the "A11y Tips for Devs" series.
Tomorrow: First EDS Clinic
In May of 2022 I won the family doctor lottery, and found an amazing family doctor who actually listens. She's given me a provisional clinical diagnosis of hypermobile EDS (hEDS). It's the most common type of EDS. Unlike the other 12 types, there's no genetic test for hEDS. She's also done a ton of referrals.
Tomorrow I finally have my intake appointment at the GoodHope Ehlers-Danlos Symptom Clinic here in Toronto. It's the only one in Canada. Then it's back to finishing my new, more accessible blog using Astro, Typescript, Next.js, Drizzle ORM, and Better SQLite.
The Country of The Blind: Definitely Motivating.
Give Andrew Leland's "The Country of the Blind" a listen. It definitely fits the brief of being a Motivational Monday audiobook - this article is 6,000 words!
- As this will one of the first articles moved over to my new full stack site, I've left out some images I'd like to included, and left many of the in text links out of the "References and Recommended Readings" section below.
- Parts of this reflection, especially the first few paragraphs are a rewrite of my earlier article "How Having Surgery for a Hole in My Retina Led to Teaching Myself Adobe Xd Yesterday" from April, 2021.