This is my story of the world wide web and disability. For nearly two years time learning to live with disability, technology was beyond my abilities. My iphone went untouched and dead most of the time and my laptop was too heavy to hold with the password left in the abyss. The blue screen hurt my eyes and everything moved too fast or was too loud. I closed my Facebook account for nearly 3 years and left Instagram for a period too. Technology was a stress to my body and brain. Simply put I left the world of technology not sure if I would ever come back. Here I am so we all know the answer, however you don’t know my story behind the curtains.
Those of us who become disabled certainly understand living a normal life and the challenges disability brings to our lives. For those of us living with disability using the web requires strategy, time and modifications. The days of picking up a device and typing into a social media platform are behind me. For those of you who read my writing and follow my social media this is what it takes from me to get my writing to you.
I came back to technology to challenge the wiring in my brain and and fire it up. My first step was to buy a small ipad that I could hold and read as the type on my phone was too small. Some days the energy to run my eyes is low and thus my eyesight poor. I am also 2 or 3 years past due on new eye glasses and I am pretty certain its time for full time glasses. Yippee for me, I love funky eye glasses. Now back to the tech tragedy of relearning passwords, following steps and navigation. This was a long drawn out and trying process. It took some time to be able to hold the ipad for any period of time with poor fine and gross motor skills or to focus on the screen without becoming over stimulated. With tiny increments of time I built my endurance and abilities.
In truth, my brain fog was so thick and my M.E highly intoxicating that it could take my whole allocated time period of ability just remembering how to navigate a platform or trying failed attempts at a password to get into a website. It was a very scary time. Sometimes I would read something on screen only to zone out and not have any recall. Or get pulled off what I was doing with no memory of why I was on my device in the first place. I learned that I only can read by printing documents off to paper and making notes in the margins for easier recall. I still do this today although more often in an editing format.
Part of my reasoning for coming back was because we live in a technological world and living my lifestyle is already isolating. It became clear that technology would be my social lifeline. Within a couple of years I was slowly building my tech time up incrementally with success. I was still off social media as frankly I had no content to share and the thought of remembering another password was daunting. I still didn’t know if I would get back on social media with my lack of abilities.
I decided to create a blog in order to relearn navigation skills and build endurance using technology. Now, I should disclose that I had a couple of blogs in the past and was not completely new to process. I knew that if I could master the navigation of this type of platform I would put myself back in the tech game. The process was slow but rewarding and the blog building tools have come a long way since my last blog a decade ago. With much repetition of navigating skills I began having success. Then the challenge of using the platform on different technology came in, nothing is easy in the world of technology. However I prevailed, the fireworks in my brain were beginning. Although, I would identify them more like a hand sparkler at this time.
With sparklers alight, I eventually reopened my social media platforms as well. I decided to put my time and energy into Instagram as it was much better suited for my lifestyle. The greatest challenge was the hashtag dilemma. I began to figure this alien concept out rather quickly but in the early days I left it to Brandon to put in the hashtags for me. The reason the platform is disability friendly for me is that it is image based and very little type. Perfect for any creative person with visual aptitude’s.
Earlier I dropped that I never just type into a platform, this is my rule. I always use a document program to write all material whether for my website, emails or social media. This allows me time and editing capabilities to check and recheck all my writing. Mostly everything is edited by Brandon prior to publishing or posting. I can then save everything for future use. In time I challenged myself to having a few social media platforms simply for my brain to learn the different navigation strategies. I maintain them happily today with success.
Here are my best practices for successfully participating on the web:
1. Choose a program to write in. I write everything using my notebook and ipad in Pages. Everything I write is housed in this program. I can copy, paste and edit until my heart is content. Also you can share the documents between devices with ease. However, my favourite reason is that I can choose my fav typeface for eye candy and write in a large font to aid my eyes. I can also choose to write with speaker should I need to.
2. Next set up a super organized system. This means every time you are going to write something specific you can locate a template with ease. Headings are important so as to find written pieces as quickly as possible. Subheadings also are needed for more specific documents. Finally, I recommend saving all documents in a folder titled under the year for easy transportation back in time should you need it. For an example of subheadings I have a folder for Instagram posts, it house subheadings for a week of posts. I can easily located Monday and Mindful Moments. It is easy to work on a post for any day and then save it until it is time to post it. Sometimes I write a post the week before I post it. Rarely do I write and post something on the same day unless it is simple fun.
3. Each topic is saved including all the hashtags for posting to Instagram. I make sure the hashtags are appropriate for the type of post. Then I can then copy and edit my piece with hashtags ready, days or even a week ahead of time prior to posting to social media or my website.
4. Try not to spend time changing your ways because the Social Media platform changes. It is a waste of time and energy. I have tried Reels as it was deemed the new thing. However it pulls me from my strategy with little to no results. When you find what works, stick to it.
5. Enjoy your process. One must find satisfaction and purpose in life. Make sure your system works for you, period.
There, now you know my tech secrets. I enjoy technology once again and it has given me much social interaction in an isolated lifestyle. Humans are social creatures and technology gives me just the right social interaction in my life. My road back to technology was bumpy and rough and sometimes it took me off road. I persevered and here I am. My writing gives me purpose. We all need purpose in life as I have written before, purpose is key.