Saturday, April 30, 2016

May we send a car? Times 2

This week  RantWoman had TWO opportunities to have someone dispatch a ride-share for transportation to and fro. RantWoman actually finds the whole phrase "may we send a car?" somewhat culturally unfamiliar and definitely is experimenting with the concept.

In the first case, RantWoman graciously accepted. Travel to less than familiar environs across Lake Washington would be faster than on a bus. Travel would start and end midday, after morning peak and before afternoon peak traffic. RantWoman did not have to feel awkward about adding another vehicle to already clogged roadways. RantWoman had charming conversations with both drivers about matters of mutual interest. The first driver got out of the car and asked for RantWoman. On the return trip, RantWoman's chaperone helped connect with the vehicle. At this rate one of these days RantWoman MIGHT even consider downloading some rideshare apps and consider booking on her own.

In the second case, for a trip into downtown at rush hour things did not go so well.

First RantWoman declined the offer of a ride on the grounds that it is silly to bring another vehicle into downtown Seattle at rush hour on a Friday, even if there is not a home Mariners game, even if traffic is not already extra constipated for the first let's try to get some kinks out day of two weeks of #99closure.

It IS silly to add a car downtown under all those circumstances. RantWoman figured a bus already headed to downtown on a route that enjoys 6 or 10-minute headway at that time of day would be fabulous.

RantWoman was dazzled by the sunshine and did not reckon with the option of a fast ride from her inaccessible to manual wheelchair users bus stop to the Mount Baker Light rail station and then a zippy ride on the train downtown. Nooooo. RantWoman wanted sunlight and wind in her hair, and Bus Community. RantWoman does not regret any of that, especially the Bus Community.

RantWoman opted for the two-block walk to another bus stop. To the extent that RantWoman has an exercise regimen, walking to and from bus stops is a big part of it.

RantWoman did not reckon with her own ability to leave later than she intends.

RantWoman did not reckon with traffic.

RantWoman did not reckon with the large number of people waiting to get on the bus. The waiting masses included several other blind people. RantWoman could tell the bus was already close to SRO. RantWoman figured another bus would be along soon and opted to waid. SILLY RantWoman.

RantWoman waited.

and waited

and waited...

as more people collected at the bus stop

and waited...

FINALLY the bus came.

RantWoman got on with thanks to someone who offered RantWoman a seat. Getting on the bus, RantWoman tends to be in fog mode: focus what pathetic visual attention she has on getting to a seat not on who might be sitting nearby. RantWoman sat and listened and realized she knew other passengers, other blind people!

Hah!

Time came for RantWoman to "deboard," currently fashionable transit speak for "get off the bus."

Here's where the bus community comes in: the bus was stopped and rantWoman was already standing in a way that the other blind people whose voices she recognized could hear her. Greetings all around and inquiries about RantWoman's errand, to talk about Rideshare with a rideshare company.

Don't forget to talk to them about seeing eye dogs!

Absolutely!

Dear RideShare Drivers,

No, you do NOT get to drive right past passengers just because they have seeing eye dogs. No you do NOT!

But sigh, RantWoman was so late for this invitation to opine that the person running the panel suggested we just reschedule. Agreed! And yes, RantWoman WILL still talk  seeing eye dogs. Stay tuned.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Change it up!

(This item lingered a good while in Drafts; RantWoman is posting it  now in order to help tell a different story in another part of her life.)

The good news:

--Staff at the Friendly Neighborhood Center for Extreme Computing have been able to rearrange our reception area to open up both more space so customers can access the headphones and more importantly so that people always have two ways out from behind the desk.

--It took a bit of talking through to work out all the details: strong suggestions from police officers,  needed traffic flow, different people's sense of physical safety, visual lines of sight, some other points.  Once we took the time, though,  having the environment be the same but not the same has been REALLY helpful for several people affected by one customer's severe mental health moment.



Reception area rearranged
to create two ways out
from behind the desk
 
The Bad News:
It has NOT been a quiet week at the Friendly Neighborhood Center for Extreme Computing and RantWoman has been mainly a bystander.

By not a quiet week RantWoman means:
--a knock on RantWoman's door one morning from one of the people affected who wanted to tell RantWoman about events the night before.

--events the night before as in a customer having a mental health moment, one staff getting cornered briefly in the reception area,  two staffers getting assaulted, the scissors the assailant was carrying getting thrown across the room and then NOT returned to him, and some more similar details before the computer lab got cleared, the assailant left, the police arrived, took statements and arrested the assailant  a little while later at a bus stop not far from the Friendly Neighborhood Center. The assailant did not stay in custody very long but he did getg arrested.

(The slightly worse news: this assailant was one of three different people arrested this week for assaults involving sharp objects. The other two assaults showed up in RantWoman's Twitter feed, one of those details RangWoman has mixed feelings about allowing into her life. RantWoman appreciates being able to avoid problems near her; RantWoman is less charmed about even having to think of some of the info that comes in.)

But back to the friendly Neighborhood Center.

Everyone present at the event did the best they could in the moment.

RantWoman is very glad injuries from the assaults were not any more serious than bruising and soreness.

RantWoman is very glad that everyone present that night is back at work and the computer lab routine seems to be settling down again.

Several people's nerves remain rattled.

The story still needs to be retold for meetings and conversations. It is clear that several people have life experience already that informs what they know of different parts of the process.

There is no info yet on the municipal court page
http://web1.seattle.gov/courts/cpi/

There is a new sign barring the assailant from the property.

Chatter is that the assailant is still staying at a nearby freeway ramp tent encampment. Multiple people ardently wish he would intersect with the kind of assistance that COULD get his housing stabilized and MAYBE even connect him with a computer and cheap internet so that he would not have to try to mix porn with the Friend Neighborhood Center....

Change it up folks!


Sunday, April 24, 2016

To Ellensburg, via Light Rail.

It was time this past weekend for one of RantWoman's biannual trips basically out of cellphone range.

This time RantWoman went to over near Ellensburg via the Light Rail.

Well sort of.

RantWoman almost forgot the dates of the trip and forgot to connect with a ride until the last minute. It turned out the best option as far as schedule, need to have a conversation anyway, and compatible conversationalist was flying into SeaTac and headed east from there in a car.

No the possible ride option had NO interest in driving into Seattle on a Friday afternoon.

Yes, RantWoman lives an easy bus hop to the Light Rail. That is, it's an easy bus hop since RantWoman can walk up a hill to the nearest bus stop. This hill is NOT an easy hop for many of RantWoman's wheelchair-using neighbors. Luckily this time it was only RantWoman traveling.

Driver's plane arrived early and off went RantWoman. Then driver called: could we meet at Tukwila station?

Sure.

Here though RantWoman wants to suggest an enhancement to the next iteration of Google Maps / phone software:  Ok Google plot the best transit, car or pedestrian routs from the location of Cellphone a to the location of Cellphone B.


Ride east basically uneventful. Nice still to see snow on Snoqualmie Pass. Sunny with a bit of snow still on the ground AND a creek running gloriously high and fast!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hackathon: the SEQUEL, Vote For....

Remember the Hackathon RantWoman went to a few weeks ago?
SeeAddledParks #AttHack Honorable Mention

Okay the first thing on RantWoman's agenda: VOTE.
Vote for Community Favorite from the Seattle Parks Hackathon


Warning 1: you have to sign in in order to vote. There is a CAPTCHA, a visual, non-adudio captcha. #a11y #fail. If you need to rant about this, for example because you cannot find a way to cope with the CAPTCHA please consider this an invitation to leave a comment. RantWoman sees lots of CAPTCHA's with both visual and audio modes of access. Just sayin'

Warning 2: RantWoman is very gratified that talking about #accessibility in the hackathon opener made several groups mention the topic when they pitched their weekends' work. RantWoman would be MORE gratified if the people who mentioned accessibility had links for their project so people could actually look at, even "wireframing,"

Sure, okay, RantWoman would certainly like people to vote for the SeaAddled Parks project. However RantWoman has not tracked down information as above about the project. How on earth does RantWoman expect anyone to vote if she and team are not a little further along with something for people to find?

PLUS:
--Look RantWoman realizes this event was sponsored by a telecomm company and RantWoman's pitch included options for PRINTING on PAPER so that one would not have to tote one's device on a walk. Yep.

--Then there is the group name. The curmudgeons on the team like it fine, but RantWwoman suspects a branding consultant might suggest..

--RantWoman also has had conversations about matching the trail map with proprietary LIDAR elevation information or using some other possible public source of topographical info.

--RantWoman does not necessarily care about building this exact app by herself. Scratch this: maybe it would make a good app. Maybe it would be a good addition to one of the more comprehensive apps.

--ON THE OTHER HAND, RantWoman could also envision a path to some actual get out and walk around testing of the app, maybe done by school kids  as baby data science or wayfinding projects. RantWoman does not have in mind any particular connections to move this idea along, but


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Foundation Fighting Blindness Retinal Disease Event April 30.

Yes, RantWoman is EXACTLY the sort of fun bubbly personality who classifies educational social events like this as "entertainment." Definitely worth putting on the calendar.

PSVP Button
 
Please join us for our
Speaker Series Launch/Washington VisionWalk Kick-Off
Saturday, April 30th from 9:00 AM to 12:15 PM
Registration begins at 8:30am
Program runs from 9 am – 12:15 pm
UW Medicine Research
South Lake Union
Orin Smith Auditorium , Cbuilding
850 Republican Street
Seattle WA 98195

This is a great opportunity to:
  • Ask questions
  • Learn about retinal disease
  • Connect with others
  • Join us in our Washington VisionWalk Kick-Off
Speaker Details:
Henry Klassen, M.D., Ph.D.,
Co-founder of J-Cyte
Associate Professor and Director, Stem Cell & Retinal Regeneration Program, Ophthalmology School of Medicine University of California, Irvine

 
Timothy J. Schoen, B.S., M.S., Ph.D.
Director, Constituent Communications
Foundation Fighting Blindness
Learn about the latest cutting-edge research involving clinical trials and inherited retinal diseases and ask questions of two leading doctors in the field of degenerative eye diseases! We will also be Launching our VisionWalk over coffee! 
 
RSVP Today and don't forget to Register for the VisionWalk! The website is up and we are looking forward to a fantastic year! Register your team and spread the word today!


Call 310-450-2910 or email KGonzalez@FightBlindness.org
 
We encourage you to invite your affected and non-affected colleagues, friends, and family. We look forward to celebrating together when we reach our ultimate goal and blindness is a thing of the past.
 
Please call or e-mail us with any questions you have, and RSVP as soon as possible, we are here to help!
 
Sincerely,
Kathy Gonzalez, Event Manager Western Region
KGonzalez@FightBlindness.org

310-450-2910
 
register for this walk 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

SHARE, the Bus, WHAT NEXT?

RantWoman's faith community is replacing the carpet in our worship room. RantWoman's faith community hosts a SHARE group, a group of homeless people who stay together in our worship space at night. RantWoman considers it an interesting accident that carpet replacement is occurring the same time as SHARE is hosting what seems to be annual "we will sleep out until more money arrives" protests.

RantWoman frequently needs to start her day by getting her feet on the ground about something or other and today the something or other is the SHARE protests. Please hold on for the ride and consider options for further action and discussion.

Key elements in RantWoman's head:

--SHARE is an organization of self-managed homeless shelters that has done fantastic work for over two decades and now seems to have repeated internal struggles getting in the way of its mission and of ways to address stresses due to outside factors. Historically SHARE has developed groups of homeless people housed by different faith communities. In recent years SHARE has also been involved in the operation of tent cities. One point that sticks out from rantWoman's info streams: SHARE cites an incredibly low cost / bed night. The costs mostly include modest administrative costs and whatever different faith communities ask for as reimbursement for utility costs, paper products, or other needs.
    RantWoman actually thinks sometimes costs can be too low and if SHARE for example needs to ask for reimbursement for say bookkeeping services, that is part of the cost of doing business. Further comments out of scope of this blog.

--RantWoman's faith community includes a number of people who for various reasons are closer to homelessness realities than we might prefer. This includes a few current or former SHARE participants, people with long work connections to human services, and a couple people (urk, including RantWomana actually) for whom the faith community has been an important part of a picture about connections to badly-needed help.

--RantWoman's faith community has hosted a SHARE group for something like 10 years. The group sleeps in our worship space. Among SHARE participants, the space is highly prized for quiet and ways for people to feel privacy even though everyone is sleeping in one large room.
    Having the SHARE group sleep in our worship space is not really some effort to be holy or to subject SHARE participants to a particular spiritual regimen. It just works out that having the SHARE group sleep in our worship space works best for all the other things that happen in our building.
   RantWoman's faith community came to welcome the SHARE group after a long spell of various highly unsatisfactory issues with people sleeping outside under our eaves. The SHARE group offers much better control of our space, regular eyes on the area and predictability. Some in our congregation get to know individuals better than others. Many of us notice people who are working and cannot afford housing or who are experiencing various kinds of disability and medical issues. Some people only have jobs if they can show up and not seem homeless; they only accomplish this through challenging bus planning. In a few cases, there is nothing to be done except grieve alongside the group when someone cannot be helped.


--RantWoman often sits in meetings with representative of employers who want to ask various things of transportation systems. Some employers want low-wage workers to be available to clean offices outside the times when the offices are occupied by all the people who travel during usual commuting hours. Some employers ask for tax break that, to RantWoman's ear do not reflect their impact on the region's infrastructure. RantWoman notes recent news stories about Amazon. In one case, Amazon was trying to establish a distribution center on a much shorter timeline than transit planners can respond. In another case, Amazon cynically wanted to hire homeless people for graveyard shift work even though the ONLY time people sleeping in sheltersa hve to sleep is overnight. If the SHARE sleep outs do nothing else, it is important to keep provoking conversations about things like this.

--One aspect of the self-managed model is that groups housed at individual faith communities or  "everyone" will sometimes sleep outside as part of work on conflicts or violations of commitments to host congregations. RantWoman has gathered that SHARE participants are not united about the current sleepout strategy and is looking for more opportunities to listen to concerns.
   RantWoman also notes that the group her faith community hosts has slept out a couple times over the honoring commitment issues. One time the issue was an individual in the group and people from the faith community had no idea what the issue was until after the group returned. In the other case, both the faith community and the SHARE group identified a problem at about the same time and the group slept out until enough information emerged to identify one individual and address the problem.
   RantWoman mentions all this up front because RantWoman appreciates SHARE participants' efforts to honor their commitments even though RantWoman's faith community would not necessarily ask the same measures when conflicts arise. On the other hand, for some in RantWoman's faith community, theatrical protests are practically a sacrament and the only question is picking through details and figuring out who might feel called to do what. RantWoman is not in close contact with other faith communities but assumes there are some similar dynamics about addressing homelessness and other crises, figuring out what to do next.

--Over the two plus decades SHARE has existed, the housing crisis in the Seattle area has gotten a lot worse. Rents are skyrocketing. Both the state and county safety nets have basically been shredded through tax cuts and the effects of recession on revenue streams. At the very least theatrical protests should be prompting other people to look at realities and keep working at our regional housing crisis.

--SHARE articulates specific urgent needs related to bus tickets and to sharing resources with a growing number of organized tent cities. RantWoman would like to understand the tent city dynamic better but has plenty to say about bus tickets.

Frankly, the bus ticket issue annoys RantWoman and rantWoman is going to have to see if someone else from her faith community can help track down information.

RantWoman knows that Metro staff and service planners are very aware of many transportation issues affecting homeless people. VERY senior Metro staff participate in the Annual one-night count of homeless people with particular focus on people who sleep on buses or ride as much of the night as they can.

RantWoman knows that discount bus tickets are distributed to various nonprofits to help people in extreme circumstances get to necessary daily life and medical events.

RantWoman has written elsewhere of her own preference to have a pass rather than keep track of transfer windows or paper transfers from 1-time fares or bus tickets.

RantWoman gets panhandled fairly often, and frequently at bus stops. RantWoman often carries little cash and prefers at least modest entertainment, music or a good joke, as well as practical focus. If someone at a bus stop really needs to get on a bus, RantWoman wants to help; if they are just panhandling at a bus stop and not trying to go anywhere, RantWoman is generally less forthcoming. One of RantWoman's responses to panhandlers is to keep some money on  her ORCA wallet and occasionally to put bus drivers through the exercise of letting RantWoman pay someone's fare even though RantWoman really likes having a pass for herself.

RantWoman knows that the number of bus tickets available is probably pitiful relative to the need. RantWoman appreciates the value of having numbers to better specify the "pitiful"

RantWoman also thinks, but is going to ask someone else to verify,  that people who renew their car tabs still have the option of requesting 8 bus tickets so they can try the public transit their car tabs are helping fund. As an aside: RantWoman has NO problem asking car drivers to support congestion relief for cars by asking car drivers to help fund public transit. RantWoman would be happy to go on about how many more people can get around in limited road and street space on transit than if everyone drives. For the SHARE conversation though, RantWoman would simply like to tell people about the option of requesting the bus tickets and then donating them to the nonprofit of their choice to help ease the bus ticket crisis.

Here we come to another stopping point: the new ORCA Lift fare aimed at low-income people. RantWoman has so much more flexibility and opportunities to interact with life because of having a pass! RantWoman thinks anyone with even modest income might feel the same way. RantWoman wonders how many SHARE participants are signed up for ORCA lift? RantWoman wonders what barriers they encounter. Yes of COURSE the number of discount bus tickets available should be greater, but RantWoman also wants to encourage people trying to manage their own lives to connect with and use resources that are available.

There. Now RantWoman will get about actually talking to people, seeing what to do next with her concerns.

Monday, April 11, 2016

The pharmaceutical equivalent of curb cuts

The pharmaceutical equivalent of curb cuts: audible prescription labels.

Remember years ago when street codes started requiring curb cuts for accessibility by wheelchairs? Remember how all the curb cuts also now get used for strollers, shopping carts, wheeled briefcases, and all kinds of conveyances besides wheelchairs. RantWoman thinks that audible prescription labels are going to wind up being similarly popular.

RantWoman offers the following testimonial edited from an item in her morning email stream:

New audible prescription service offered by Rite Aid. After many phone calls and a discussion as to whether or not the audible prescriptions are free to those who are Blind, I now have my first three audible prescription bottle caps...free of charge.

Here are a few details. The speaker is in what looks like a thick, over sized lid. The device comes with but takes a watch type battery. The device can be used as both a timer for medication reminders depending on how the dial is set...for how often you need to take it. It can also be programmed with the prescription information; the information is not a computer type voice done by down loading the information onto the chop from the computer. It is recorded into it by the pharmacist or person needing the prescription. There is a dot on the top of the cap that is simply pressed once and the audible instructions will be said. ...The cap is pretty chunky and I'm sure intended to be attached to the lid of the bottle; however because of its weight, the bottle could be a little less sturdy.
Once prescription I have is only obtained by a paper script and doesn't really have a refill number or expiration date on it, so I decided to place the device on the bottom of the bottle. This would not work however if you need to change the prescription monthly as you would need the refill number and definitely the expiration date to be available to each at all times. The intention is for it to be attached to the lid so that as you change bottles or prescriptions, you can simply change the lid from bottle to bottle; whether a completely new medication and programming in new instructions or to the same medication but with a different refill/expiration date. The audible device is attached to the lid with an extremely sticky adhesive strip.

I was initially told it was not available to me, something I knew wasn't true. Then I was told they had it, but it wasn't ready yet. Well there really wasn't anything to be ready. it was not a program they needed to get onto their system, just a separate recordable cap. Next I was told they had it but it was going to cost me $9.95 per cap and I knew that couldn't be true. It took me contacting a few people and calling back to my pharmacy on a regular basis to get it sorted. I now have them and am told I can go and get more whenever needed.

RantWoman understands that pharmacies may need a couple tries to recognize that there are various options for audible labels and different pharmacies use different brands. Drug mistakes cost the healthcare system billions of dollars / year. Plent y of people besides blind people cannot read their medication labels and would benefit from audible labels. As far as RantWoman is concerned,  NO ONE should have to pay for audible labels because if everyone who needed them used them, they would probably pay for themselves many times over in other reduced costs to the health care system.

Word!