nanowrimo 2010

Louderblog

Diary of a Blind Madman

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nanowrimo 2010
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"Differently Abled"

I read an article in the "no pity" community. I want to avoid a whining tone... so here goes my best effort at some non-whiny rumination.

I've been faced with defining "disabled" to myself in recent weeks. My vision has gone from correctable to virtually non-existent in a period of eight weeks or so. OK. Those are the breaks.

I've been a high speed reader all my life. I've been doing a paperback a week for thirty years. It's been two months and I'm going crazy for input. Last Friday I acquired access to the world of talking books on tape and today I listened to the first 45 pages of a Stuart Wood mystery, "Imperfect Stranger".

I should be grateful that I now have access to books. Easy access. Lots of variety. No cost to me.

It sucks. It took me four hours to get 45 pages into a book I'd have finished in just about that time. I read about a page a minute. I can't remember the names of all the characters and all the important bits (it's a mystery) that will turn out to be foreshadowing and clues of sorts by the end of the book. I'm not used to this method of accepting data. I don't like this method, never did. I am grateful that I've got something, but how am I to come to terms with this reduction in my capabilities? Is it "disabling" certainly not. Is it worse than no books at all... well, until I come to terms with it, yes. It is worse than no books at all. It just makes me unhappy about what I can't have.

My typing is similar. I'm a 95 word a minute typist. I do 60 words a minute composing. My screen reader can't keep up with me at more than about 20 words a minute. I have to type at what seems a snail's pace to me or I have to turn off the screen reader, take a shot at typing my information with no feedback, and try to figure out if I've misspelled or mistyped anything through the spelling checker and a re-reading of what I just typed. To my great frustration this usually means typing the text in Word or another editor and pasting it to where I want it.

Am I disabled in that I can't type as well as I used to? No. Certainly not. I still must somehow come to terms with this reduction in my ability to type.

My job consists of reading COBOL programs and following their logic then answering questions about how data processes through those programs. My screen reader doesn't do well with COBOL and it is a futile process for me to read ten-thousand lines of COBOL code (in days -- it used to be hours) and try to discern the logic in my memory. Can I do my job? No. Not really. I can. Slowly, maybe so slowly that it is not really useful to the people waiting for me to answer their questions, but I can do it usefully?

Once again I'm coming to terms with the situation.

My point is that there is "disabled" and "disabled". There isn't anything I can't do, but there isn't much that I can do the way I used to. That PC phrase "differently abled" stings these days.

I think the lady in the article is disabled. She has lost a skill vital to her defining profession. Sure she can change professions, sure she can re-learn different skills, sure she can modify her life in it's entirety, mold a new self-image for herself, and get on with life in a manner different than she currently lives. What's not disabled about that?


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