Questions from a writer to a listener

My dad loses more and more of his hearing as the years go by, so he wears hearing aids most of the time, but if you walk up behind him while he’s engrossed in the computer and say something within a foot or two you get to feel guilty while you watch the force of gravity momentarily unexist itself as he rockets into midair looking for the source of the massively amplified voice piercing a quiet room due to the adaptive volume settings cranking way up while things were silent for a while. That got me wondering about spending more time reading than listening because it’s easier for some people.

My buddy recently translated a poem into Spanish for me that we want to have published side-by-side in a newspaper. That got me wondering about the vast majority of the world who might prefer to read blogs in another language aside from English, because he has an entirely full life outside of providing me with free translation services.

I’ve read several books (several times) by a rather severely dyslexic author, Lorna Byrne, who actually writes almost entirely by dictating them into a microphone, later having one of her children edit the drafts before the publisher sees them. Other blog visitors with different types of visual impairment have written on their own sites and places about the difficulties using certain parts of the the internet that aren’t well adapted for them like ‘prove you’re a human’, two-step verifications and what to do when your accounts get compromised and there is ironically no customer service to be found (prove to me YOU are a human, soulless corporation). That got me wondering about the people in the world who might be listening instead of reading (as I sat there one night demonically making the ocean appear slightly more turquoise because ‘you have to have a lot visuals’).

a man sitting on a bed, reading in a dimly lit room with a stream of light pouring in from a single high window.
I added alt text that reads: “a man sitting on a bed, reading in a dimly lit room with a stream of light pouring in from a single high window.” Is this dumb, or does it help convey a milieu?

I’m curious how you experience WordPress or other blog platforms in a different way…

  1. If English is not your first language, do you use a translate plugin to read in a more comfortable language? Which one, and how well does it work for complex or sarcastic thoughts, or poetry?
  2. If you have a visual impairment, or reading difficulties such as dyslexia, etc. what technology/browser/plugin/software do you use to read text aloud?
  3. How good is the reader voice these days? Is it free or do you have to pay? Is it tiresome to hear it stumble across uncommon phrases or sentences with a lot of weird lists with slashes in it like the one above in question 2?
  4. Do you get fatigued listening to your text reader on longer posts? Would you prefer to listen to an audio recording of the blogger or his Spanish translator reading posts aloud (maybe I should start recording them anyway!) or would you still prefer to use the screen reader software to bounce around or skip through the page?
  5. Do you use a program with AI capabilities that can describe basic properties of an image that doesn’t have alt text? Does it work well? Does it do bad artwork?
  6. If a humorous or sarcastic blog post depends heavily on an image to make a joke or put the text in context, can the alt text be funny or should it just be succinct? Do you encounter effective alt text that you feel allowed you to fully enjoy the image contributions to a post?

Sometimes in life, I feel like this little dog- or pig-shaped grizzly bear from 4th grade , and I wonder if there is anything I can do to change my situation except wait and growl, even though I didn’t do anything wrong to earn this cagey time, just that human fear, or unjust encroachment on my natural territory by families camping brought us into conflict.

A below average child's drawing of a caged grizzly bear growling. A sign on the cage says Danger! Keep away!
alt text reads: A below average child’s drawing of a caged grizzly bear growling. A sign on the cage says Danger! Keep away!

Thanks for your accessibility stories. As usual there will be no drawing for a gift card if you do comment or send me a message privately in the contact form at the bottom of my homepage here.

2 responses to “Questions from a writer to a listener”

  1. Ashley Marilynne Wong Avatar
    Ashley Marilynne Wong

    Confession: If you have not suspected, I’m one of them screen reader users, so I feel obliged to say hello here 👋 To be more precise, I’m what I’d call fully visually impaired and I love how rapid technology has progressed. Some of my friends do not appreciate human-sounding screen readers but gosh – as an auditory rather than tactile person – I. Adore. Them! Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and IPhone cameras all have fairly decent image descriptions now, which has definitely made it possible for me to read restaurant menus. As for my favourite screen reader, it is definitely Daniel from Apple’s VoiceOver ❣️ On my laptop I use NVDA, though I’ve just had to instal Daniel’s voice to prevent myself from dozing off, which would undoubtedly happen if I use any of the NVDA voices 😜 Well done mate! This is such a thoughtful post and the conversation you’ve started is absolutely important indeed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much! In the last ten minutes I sure learned a lot about what my iPhone can do! Hopefully you will put that menu reader to good use by giving us more entertaining restaurant reviews. I’m doubly in awe now. “…she pretentiously pretended to stall for time, for dramatic effect, as was her wont…”


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