Wendy Chisholm

Stairs make the building inaccessible, not the wheelchair. Co-author of Universal Design for Web Applications. Strategist for Microsoft. @wendyabc at twitter.

Archive for March, 2014

Divine Discontent

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For the last week, I’ve been assimilating the ideas that I gleaned from the mind melds at CSUN. I asked as many people as I could, “How do you do your work?”

I am often in a state of panic with my work, that I’m not working fast enough. Intellectually, I know that to move from point A to point B, I need to walk all of the steps in between. Yet, emotionally, I keep trying to figure out how to fly or jump or transport myself to point B. As someone said last week, this is an “all or nothing” approach that more often than not results in “nothing.”

Many people echoed the same idea in different ways: “small ball,” “baby steps,” “take the long view.” Yet having this patience, walking the steps–not running–feels like giving in to the forces preventing change. However, it is a brilliant strategy that has captioned Hollywood movies, installed captioning systems in movie theaters, and deployed accessible ATMs.

There are many Point Bs ahead and one–employment for people with disabilities–feels dauntingly far off: 79% of people with disabilities in the United States who were older that 16 in 2009 were “not in the labor force.”  (AFB, January 2014)

I’m going to keep reminding myself that the only way to get there is to keep walking and rolling, one brick at a time, until we get to Oz.

Thank you Larry, Lainey, Gail, Dylan, Shawn, Glenda, Elle, Denis, Todd, Billy, Sina, Sarah, Katie, Jim, Karl, Doug and others.

Written by wendy

March 30th, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Posted in musings,reflections

I am

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I’ve been attending CSUN this week, the International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference. It’s the 17th or so time that I’ve attended the conference. It’s Friday and I’ve been here since Tuesday.  I may finally understand how to do a conference in a way that works for me–as an introvert and as a woman with PTSD.

I have routines and I have mastered the art of recharging in my hotel room (almost) guilt-free. People have asked if I’m hiding. I say, “yes.” I am “hiding” not because I am afraid of anything or anyone, I am recharging. I have worked hard–through meditation–to listen to the signals my body gives me that I’m tired or triggered or anxious. I now realize how quickly my reserves are drained. This conference is particularly draining because every 50 feet there is someone else I can’t wait to hug and catch up with. This is my family. I am home.

Previous years, I would have pushed myself to go to sessions, I would have berated myself for not having the stamina of my colleagues, I would imagine people being angry with me for missing their sessions. I would spend the following week in bed, completely spent. As a busy professional and a single mom, I can’t afford to do that anymore. I need to pace myself this week so that when I return home, I will be present for my son, for my job, for myself.

So, this year I’m doing things differently. If I am feeling tired, I return to my hotel room and lie down. I do feel sad that I am missing some of the great sessions and discussions, yet twitter helps me have a sense of what is happening and who I can check in with later. I have learned the art of one-on-one discussions. If I were a Vulcan, a conference would be a series of mind melds.

This conference has been a smorgasbord of possibilities for conversations and breaks–like I’m running my own unconference in the midst of this larger conference. Lots of breaks…to recharge, to integrate new knowledge, to think, to write, to meditate…and then it’s back to mind melds and hugs.

This week I’m meditating on the phrase, “I am.” Each time I feel a tinge of insecurity or guilt, “I am” with a big breath.

I am, Wendy. I have PTSD. I am enjoying myself at my pace in an ocean of amazing people. I am here, being myself, healthy, lucky.

Please forgive me if I’ve missed your session or a great discussion. Find some time with me in a quiet corner so we can mind meld. I’m here. I’m listening. I’m participating. I’m just going at a slower, less crowded, quieter pace.

Written by wendy

March 21st, 2014 at 7:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized