Accessibility

alt=Adult female speaks to another person with a speech bubble that is in the shape of an eye. Explaining medical conditions.

Confronting Change: Advocating and Adapting

That awkward moment when you are used to doing something a certain way and then someone throws a monkey wrench into the mix. That happened to me recently.

A growing organization

I am the founder of Purple House Project PA Inc., a Delaware County-based non-profit with a mission to strengthen, empower, and transition women impacted by intimate partner violence via connection to essential resources that aid in the healing process. Purple House Project PA Inc. has been in existence since October 2016. Over the last five years, our organization has grown exponentially.

Changing our group correspondence

When we first started, there were only three board members and each of them was either a close friend or family member. Five years later, there are five board members, four interns, two volunteers, and some paid consultants. At the most recent Board meeting, one of my Board members recommended we consider changing our group correspondence to a different platform instead of the usual text messages. Their thought process was to accommodate our growing number of people.

Discomfort around switching platforms

I recently heard a saying along the lines of: more hands equal less work and also more opinions. This is the perfect example. Internally, I was thinking if it’s not broke don’t fix it. To be honest, as a leader with a visual impairment, this phrase is the essence of my leadership style - specifically when it comes to technology. After the meeting, I processed with my friend my feelings surrounding the discomfort around switching platforms. As we dialogued, I realized that it is because I pride myself on being able to acclimate to situations given proper accommodations and resources.

I decided to give it a try

In this case, it is comfortable for me to use SMS as a form of group correspondence because I am able to zoom in; I have mastered the settings I need in order to see and it is now familiar. However, I also believe being a leader requires you to go outside of your comfort zone. With that in mind, I decided to download the app suggested and give it a try.

Explaining the accommodations I needed

I quickly remembered why I was hesitant about the app. I had previously tried to use this platform and quickly realized that it did not have a zoom feature, making it difficult, if not impossible, for me to see. I circled back to my board member who offered the suggestion, and I informed her that this app would not work for me because of my visual impairment.

After explaining the accommodations I needed, I encouraged her to look for a different app that I could use. I initially felt bad that I was not able to use this new platform which several of my members wanted to try out. However, I remembered that I do not need to feel bad because I see differently.

The Way "Eye" See It

Instead, this was an opportunity to inform and educate people on my needs and share the way eye see it. Another board member and I spoke privately about the situation and I explained to her my concerns about the app. She said, “Honestly Christine, people often forget about your visual impairment because of how you go through life; it seems effortless”.

Raising awareness and supporting others

We moved on to find another app, but she also recommended that I reach out to the company. She encouraged me to use my voice to educate the company on the ways they could update their app to make it more user-friendly for people with visual impairments. I think that is a great idea.

After all, raising awareness and supporting others has happened organically since I started sharing my experiences. I might as well be intentional when using my voice too… at least that’s the way eye see it.

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