Thursday, July 28, 2016

Ballot appreciation and continuing NON-endorsements

Fast Election commentary and a couple RantWoman emphatic NON-endorsements

GOOD LORD there are a LOT of people running for some offices.

Governor: RantWoman finds perennial candidate GoodSpaceyguy highly entertaining. No, this does NOT mean RantWoman wants him to become governor any more than RantWoman has wanted him elected to any of the other positions he has run for. RantWoman does appreciate again seeing his name on the ballot.

US Senate: RantWoman emphatically does NOT endorse well-known Seattle gadfly Alex Tsimmerman for US Senate. RantWoman congratulates Mr. Tsimmerman for making it through an ENTIRE 5-minute statement without a single profanity. Now, RantWoman really wants to encourage Mr. Tsimmerman to find a native English speaker to edit and then to use a teleprompter. RantWoman herself appreciates SOME evidences of diverse background but RantWoman thinks people inclined to agree with Mr. Tsimmerman's views would find the views easier to understand if there were a little less word salad. No, RantWoman does not mean these suggestions as any support forDonald Trump; however, RantWoman would give the same advice to a candidate whose views she agrees with if the person had the same issues.

Now, back to ....

VOTE in the primary August 2! Tips about logistics

RantWoman is busy doing her own homework about the upcoming August 2 primary election.

RantWoman is also glad to foment the doing of informed voter homework by others eligible to vote in the upcoming primary.

Some resources and as usual unvarnished RantWoman opinions.

The video voters' guide for all statewide and federal races; phooey on candidates who do not submit statements.

Summary WA State Voter's guide

RantWoman has received excited news that at least one person has used the print a ballot and mail it in option. RantWoman is not finding an easy link to this. RantWoman thinks this option might be lurking under a MyVote link but RantWoman does nto feel like stepping all the way through to see right now; for one thing, RantWoman and  RantMom will be holding our usual riotous ballot marking party during our next Sunday Supper at RantMom's.

For another thing, RantWoman wants to comment about availability of Accessible Voting Units and free dropoff locations in King County:

Here are the locations and schedule for Accessible Voting Units:
This also mentions the options for the online ballot marking at least in King County!

RantWoman encourages readers to use their search engines for information about other counties.

RantWoman does not mind using a stamp in lieu of travel to a drop box. However RantWoman is sympathetic to the view that even having to use a stamp rather than deliver the ballot for free amounts to a poll tax. RantWoman is also glad that this election the number of locations for drop boxes has increased substantially. With that in mind, ballot drop box locations in King County

Readers in other counties can put
ballot drop boxes and the name of their county into the search engine of their choice.

For still another thing: RantWoman has been interested to learn that in one county Accessible  Voting units have been used to take voting out to senior or community centers. RantWoman would be interested in knowing more about this for a number of reasons:
1. It takes a technology of vital interest for blind people and asks how else can it be used to benefit other citizens?

2. RantWoman wonders whether in counties where the Voting Rights Act requires translation into specific languages, could the content in those specific languages be provided on existing AVU's to meet the VRA requirements while possibly reducing printing costs?

Further Commentary about the summary voters' guid: RantWoman deeply appreciates that this page is very easy to navigate and includes equally easy to navigate links in English, Chinese, Spanish, Vietnamese, and links on each page for Federal, Statewide, legislative, and Judicial offices. That is RantWoman reads English and Spanish and sees translations she assumes are reasonable for the other languages.

--Each language page includes summary descriptions of position, candidates' names, and party preference.

--RantWoman is puzzled by a couple points. All of the non-English pages have the names of some legislative districts translated and others not. RantWoman is wondering about the logic of this even though the structure information the next level down is translated.

--It is easy to navigate up and down the information tree with a browser back button, but RantWoman wonders whether it would also make sense to put some navigation buttons on each page for novice users who might not know how to use the back button.

--RantWoman would be very interested in knowing whether and how these translated pages get used.

--RantWoman is also interested in knowing about barriers to internet access, whetehr people know resources such as libraries or community centers that can help people use this information.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Duck Creek Fire, Gawking thanks to Facebook

Laurel MT, west of Billings on I 90 is not exactly a giant metropolis. RantWoman also has plenty else to fill her mind. Still, a wildfire with billowing smoke visible from Main St. is not something one has to contemplate every day.

The Duck Creek Fire on Tuesday

Main St, Laurel MT
The Duck Creek Fire, Friday

There and Back again, Twice, with summer weather, time warps, braille refreshible and otherwise

RantWoman is still trying to get both brain and body reliably home from recent travels. RantWoman is trying to get reliably home without falling into too many time warps. RantWoman is not succeeding. Welcome to more tourist voyages to RantWoman's childhood and general blindness tourism.

First RantWoman jetted off to Minneapolis to the American Council of the Blind National convention #acb16, theme Land of #10000dreams.  Lest RantWoman get homesick for all the construction in Seattle, the convention hotel came with a very large and noisy blocks-long construction project adjacent to the hotel. Weather was warm and Midwestern steamy. Between the construction and the low melting point people who have lived in Seattle a long time acquire, RantWoman did not work as hard as she might have to wander far from the hotel air conditioning. Oh well.

Next came a road trip to Spokane for an annual gathering of RantWoman's faith community, #NPYM2016, theme Moving from despair to Hope or some darned thing. RantWoman is talking freight generally travelling with a couple specific friends. The car ride was riotous. The weather in Spokane is hot and dry. This reminded RantWoman, time warp, that she used to live in hot dry climates and lately her nostrils are quite spoiled by the moistness in the Puget Sound. RantWoman's nostrils are STILL recovering despite having been back almost a week already.

As one speaker at #ACB16 put it quoting Van Jones, "Martin Luther King never said I have a complaint. He said I have a dream."  Both of RantWoman's conference experiences  have Adobe attached to them in some way or another. Both alsoput her in mind of dreaming about better, friendlier, more accessible and easily digestible information packaging and distribution and numerous event planning points. Stay tuned.

Then there is #braille, braille devices, education in braille, testing for whether children would benefit from learning braille.

First an item from a grandmother RantWoman knows.

RantWoman has had conversations with this grandmother about her grandson's education but until now Braille has never come up. RantWoman may now have to bring up braille. It sounds like actually the boy would be a good candidate to learn braille because of his interest in writing! RantWoman herself remembers giving speeches in school and having to hold either paper or notecards close to her face to read them. RantWoman thinks that it would have been so much nicer just to read braille.

RantWoman has learned braille imperfectly as an adult well enough to read slowly and take notes idiosyncratically though nowhere near well enough to want to rely on braille to give a speech. Still, discussions  at #ACB16 business sessions about Braille are plenty important for families RantWoman meets today. After the convention, a sighted friend asked RantWoman what is the most surprising thing she learned at #ACB16.

One thing that leaps to mind from a discussion in one of the ACB business sessions of  testing protocols to determine whether students need to learn braille. For most of RantWoman's educational career, RantWoman could read regular print out of one eye, sometimes with eyestrain. RantWoman knows this history comes with HUGE advantages though RantWoman suspects she compensated for that just by storing information more efficiently. In any case, RantWoman realized that, had she been tested with the protocol discussed about distance from the material and some other elements, RantWoman would probably have qualified to learn #braille. RantWoman has NO IDEA how RantMom or the school districts where RantWoman attended school would have reacted though.

As an aside, RantWoman is also interested in the exercise of asking speakers to make eye contact with the audience. Look, just because RantWoman is looking at you does not mean she is seeing you. In fact, one of RantWoman's visual issues, slow or poor fixation mixed with think glasses made the first grade lunchroom a continual zone of demands to "stop staring." On balance, RantWoman thinks mainstream classes were just fine but the "stop staring" time warp burbled to mind when RantWoman listened to some blind people she knows who have known each other since riding the same bus in Seattle as elementary schoolers.

Finally, back to this century. More very cool news: the impending arrival on the market of the Orbit Braille display, a Bluetooth-enabled refreshable braille display due to hit the market in fall 2016.

The Orbit promises to make it easy to deliver content in braille. RantWoman wishes this new device had its own option for internet connectivity though RantWoman  quite likes the dramatically lower price than other Braille display options. RantWoman really likes the direction things are headed; RantWoman just wishes arrival would happen sooner!  

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Convention Site Comparison Shopping: ADA? AD-what?

RantWoman for no obvious reason except perhaps distracting herself from actual events at the Repullikan Nashenal Convention, has decided to do some comparison shopping about accessibility  and ADA as presented by the two major party websites.

As usual when search engines are involved there are ways to go astray.

RNC accessibility


Options for several font sizes AND options for multiple color / contrast presentations.


Oh Wait! Oh wait, It's the Royal National College for the blind. O those wacky Brits. But that does explain the accessibility measures since MANY British official sites have accessibility features built in. If the Brits can do it...?

The search string also yielded items about business accessibility during convention and some other items RantWoman has no interest in.

Back to this side of the pond. RantWoman tried

Can you find the actual RNC ada info in this FAQ page?

RantWoman can only bear so much of the live broadcast but so far has heard NO evidence that anyone is speaking through a sign language interpreter, or through any other kind of interpreter either for that matter.

Ahhhh, but the democrats:


Monday, July 18, 2016

Wheelchair excursions, Light Rail, Bicycle Freeway

Probably RantWoman should not quit her day job and offer to become tour guide for her buddy in transportation agitation, Transportation Nag. Here's a sample reason why:

Here is the latest missive from TN's adventures temporarily relying on a wheelchair for outdoor transportation.

Actually you cannot get there in a wheelchair

Transportation Nag has a lot of energy to burn off. She is used to biking almost everywhere and she has been getting about in her wheelchair and on the bus for all kinds of things. RantWoman is awed by TN's energy level.

RantWoman has also been rather insistently lecturing TN about one intersection near her house that scares RantWoman. RantWoman has been nagging insistently, but none of that adjusts either the sudden reality of Transportation Nag's need to interact with the intersection or the physical realities of her neighborhood.

RantWoman has also been suggesting excursions, not always entirely seriously. One not entirely serious suggestion:

--TN can roll to the bus stop at 25th and Madison nearest to her house and a level ride to and from.

--TN can ride the 8 UP THE HILL a stop or two, cross a level street and board the 8 going the other direction. (Or TN can ignore RantWoman's advice, try to cross Madison at 25th and just start out going the desired direction. RantWoman does NOT recommend this street crossing because of high traffic speeds and bad lines of sight for eastbound drivers coming over the hill but TN has survived it a couple times already in her wheelchair.)

--TN can ride the 8 over to the stop near the I90 pedestrian tunnel, roll through the tunnel, grab a  scenic overlook of Lake Washington and I 90 for awhile and wheel back either to catch the 8 home OR wheel through the other park to look at the site of the Rainier Avenue Light Rail station now nearing final design stages and THEN go back and catch the 8 home.

---Yes, RantWoman would be sending Transportation Nag right into streams of bicycle commuters who use the Mountains to Sound Greenway to get between downtown and the eastside. Yes, RantWoman and TN agree this trail segment can reasonably be called the bicycle freeway, and NO, neither of us would try it in a wheelchair at rush hour

--Speaking of rush hour and people in wheelchairs, or with canes or other mobility limitations, RantWoman and TN are both wondering just how the bicycle traffic is going to interact with all the other pedestrian traffic expected also to come and go from the 23rd Avenue side of the new Rainier Avenue Light Rail station.

--RantWoman does not necessarily want to second guess what the designers and engineers have proposed so far, but RantWoman DOES think it would be good to think in more detail about pedestrian and bicycle flows in a time frame where it is possible to make design changes if that seems appropriate.

Stay tuned!
And take note: this website is also on RantWoman's mean to read more of list.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Design tirade of the day

Please bear with RantWoman.

RantWoman's head is full of all sorts of trenchant commentary and inspiration after her recent trip to the 55th national convention of the American Council of the Blind, #acb16. RantWoman really wants to herd such commentary out into email and the blogosphere.

But FIRST, RantWoman gets to deal with a headache,  a knot on her head and a deep sense that the world is entitled to a tirade of the clash of blind people titans form about design, mobility, diversity of training and lived experience and things that help or hinder mobility. #canetravel #mobility #visionzero

The knot on the forehead was acquired while tripping over one of those clever concrete edges used at the Husky Light Rail station to help channel pedestrians and bicycles. RantWoman had just joyously walked from  a picnic in Ravenna Park to the Light Rail, on the way to Sunday supper at RantMom's. This meant negotiating various things in the neighborhood and about the UW campus, but RantWoman was glad for the sunshine and enough visual capacity plus or minus the fog and blur to make the walk.

At the moment of tripping, RantWoman's Smartphone was in the last static whimpers of its battery cycle and charging was not going to be an option until RantWoman got to RantMom's so  no RantWoman did not whip out her phone to snap a pic of the offending design element. Stay tuned?

RantWoman is aware that cues of this type are very important landmarks for helping totally blind people navigate.  RantWoman is not sure whether Ambassador Thwack the ill-behaved cane failed to connect with the raised edge or RantWoman was just lazy and taking a shortcut around a corner. either way, RantWoman tripped.

RantWoman has been slacking off about some physical therapy balance exercises intended to help RantWoman remain vertical when such tripping occurs. Memo to self: those exercises really help. Pick up the practice! In this case, RantWoman fell gradually enough that nothing got broken but still managed to conk her head on the concrete. RantWoman conkerd her head enough to get a good goose egg above one eye. RantWoman has been debating about whether the additional increment of fog in one eye needs medical attention or is just swelling that will pass. So far RantWoman is betting on not enough to require more medical attention than ise and patience. RantWoman gets to be grateful only to need to work this tirade into her day.

Pole by yellow dome strip
At Mount Baker
Transit Center
While RantWoman does not have a photo of the offending element near Husky stadium, RantWoman does have a photo of another place with the same problems, the photo here of a bus stop at the Mount Baker Transit Center.

See the little concrete lip to the left of the white pole?


Neither did RantWoman. RantWoman tripped once around some holiday. Now RantWoman knows the little lip is there and works hard to avoid it. RantWoman is not a mobility trainer, but it sort of makes sense to  RantWoman that the lip is there: the point would be to channel people to the yellow dome strip and align them with the yellow domes across the bus lane on the sidewalk.

What about other people, people who think they see more or less normally--Or do not realize how badly they see until they trip over a few things like this? What about people who think they are taking a shortcut?

The white pole in the picture was installed some months after RantWoman tripped.

Now there is a crumbly spot next to the white pole. This leads RantWoman to wonder whether still more people might have tripped also.

Totally blind and deaf-blind people need the landmark that is intended. The question on RantWoman's mind: how many other people trip? Would fewer people trip if the landmark were bigger and harder to miss?

RantWoman could of course do some kind of data request to see whether there is any data available. RantWoman suspects as a first pass, though, that simply posting a picture and seeing whether anyone else has had a hostile encounter with the same transit center element just MIGHT flush out data not otherwise collected.

In the meantime, RantWoman needs to go out and interact with MORE infrastructure....