Possible: A day in the life of Wilson

Possible: A day in the life of Wilson

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I have attempted to use one dating app, signed  up a profile, of course with the help of a friend   because it wasn't very accessible, but I  think I hit a snag when it required me to   identify people, like see people's  faces and then swipe them right   if I like them or I think swipe left if I do not  like or maybe I want to pass to the next one.   So my desire to study human rights began  from way back when I was still young,   I had good career anchors at home and a strong  support system and I would watch this programme   which was like a legal show but in Swahili,  which is the national language in Kenya.   It's called 'Vioja Mahakamani' (Swahili for  drama in the Court ) and I always used to   say that I m either going to become  a lawyer or a judge when I grow up,   and I had very strong career anchors because my  parents, my siblings and many people around me   believed that my dream would come true. My name is Wilson Nderitu Macharia and I   am a doctoral candidate at the Centre for  Human Rights, University of Pretoria, where   I also work as a tutor and a project researcher  at the Disability Rights Unit. I come from Kenya   and perhaps I should also mention that I am  visually impaired, in other terms blind.  

There are many varying  degrees of visual impairment:   there are people who are totally blind,  meaning people, who cannot see at all,   and then there are those who are blind,  but they have some perception of light,   which is where I belong. And there are  also people who are partially sighted,   it's like a glass half full, or a glass half  empty, however you choose to see it. I would   be considered in other jurisdictions as somebody  who is legally blind because in as much as I have   some perception of light, that the light that is  around me, to mean that I can tell when it's dark   and when there's light, I am still visually  challenged to the extent that I cannot   do a lot, my abillities that I would do with my  eyes are sort of limited. For instance I cannot  

read small print, standard print on books, I  cannot walk alone especially when it's dark   and even when there is light and then I am in an  unfamiliar location and have to walk with somebody   or with the white cane or with the guide dog.  Trust for the self-saying thing is God who also   has given unto us the earnest of the spirit  therefore we are always confident knowing that   whilst we are at home in the body we are absent  from the Lord but we walk by faith not by sight   but the love of Christ constraineth us because we  thus judge that if one died for all then were all   dead, and that he died for all that  they which lived should not henceforth   themselves Bible verse being played on device. For me technology means the world, first of all i   say that because I am a tech enthusiast  and I also consider myself to be   tech savvy to some extent, based on the things  that I have taught myself using technology.  I often like telling my colleagues and friends  and people I interact with, that for persons   without disabilities, technology makes things  easier but for persons with disabilities,   technology makes things possible. And it has made  a lot of things possible for me. For instance,   there are a number of things,  quite a number, that I do independently   that in another world, without the technologies  that I use, I wouldn't be able to do them, so   that is the difference between having  technology and not having it for me.  

It was meant to be something of a game. I think the way a spelling bee is a game but   you could see a subtle sorting going  on [device audio in the background].   Many people assume that once a person with visual  impairment is involved then it's only braille   that they can use, I do not have anything against  Braille but I also prefer when options are availed,   you know, because as I said there are varying  degrees of visual impairment and some people lose   sight earlier than others, for instance I should  have mentioned that I was born visually impaired   or I acquired my visual impairment when I was  very young to the extent that I could not,   I couldn't remember seeing better, you know  perceiving things better than I do now. 

But there are people who lose sight at adulthood  and it would be difficult to introduce a   reading language, or mode, or format like Braille  to someone who is an adult. So technology for me,   I was, I went, I attended regular schools for the  earlier parts of my life. So between when I was   3 years old and 12 years old, I attended  regular school which means I wasn't taught   Braille or any other alternative format,  mostly because my parents at that point   did not know of the special schools around me and  braille was only introduced to me when I turned 13   and joined a special school for  persons with visual impairment.  So that means that for me Braille has been a  secondary format of reading and mode. Well I,  

I still consider myself proficient in Braille, but  when I got into university I realised that Braille   itself actually caused a communication barrier  between me and my colleagues, or between me and   my lecturers, in that the institution was not  a special institution for persons with visual   impairment, it would be difficult to find such a  university. So I had to identify a way in which   when I do my stuff, or work on my assignments,  or take my notes, I could also share them with   my colleagues and they would be able to see them,  or to give my assignments to my lecturers and   would be able to read them. In fact I remember  once attempting to do an assignment in Braille   and the lecturer at the time phoned me, and  asked me how would I be expected to mark this, so   what would you recommend, do I get somebody to  transcribe this into print so that I mark it,   which then would mean that some information would  be lost because most of the things had written   were legalistic. And that is when I started  exploring the possibilities of using a computer   with screen reader which I will  demonstrate. And basically, my computer   has a screen reader installed that reads  everything that is displayed on the screen. And when I adapted this way, it  means that the lecturer would send me   reading material in soft copy, which I could read  on my computer, I could type my assignments and   send it via email or print it, which means  the lecturers would be able to read that. 

I would use, utilise notes that my colleagues have  taken, that is if they typed them. And I would also   share my notes with my colleagues, which means  that when I started using that technology,   then the communication barrier between me and my  colleagues and my lecturers was eliminated. And   I have used that technology from the time I did my  undergraduate, my LLB, and up to now for my PHD. 

It's the same that I m using now. Of course with  time I have gotten to acquire more technology   that I can use to make my work easier, but that has  been the basic technology that I have been using.   I use my laptop mostly for research, that's what I  use when I am finding material for writing my work,   both for work and school and education, I  use it also to type [2 background 3 - Background   audio playing] information that I  want to reduce into the research.  

Of course I use it also for a bit of major  playing some music or study music, or something   background, but I would consider my laptop to  be my basic device. I have a Braille tablet,   this is a tablet that has a screen a display  that displays things in print format,   but also has a Braille display underneath,  below it, so it is sort of a universal design   tool that displays both in Braille and in print,  I use it mostly for taking down quick notes maybe   when I am researching on something on my computer  and I see a point that is important for my work.   I use it also when I am presenting  classes, or talks, or presentations   for people because it's portable and I can,  you know read with my fingers in Braille.   And I use it also when I am traveling, to read a  book or take some notes when I am on the plane,   or even take notes when I am in a conference. And then there's the Focus 14 Braille Display,   my friends like calling it a 'Man Pass', because  it looks like a pass. It's quite small,  

um, this one is hardly used independently, I  have to pair it with my phone or my computer   and basically what it does is, since there's a  screen reader installed in my phone or a screen   reader installed in my computer. If I do not  want to listen to that information for instance,   I don't want to put on headphones, or I am in  a public place and it's noisy and I can't hear   my phone well, or also just for privacy, if  I don't want people to hear what I m doing,   I use the Braille Focus, the Focus 14 Display  as a Braille display for my phone and computer,   so it has a Braille keyboard that I can  use to input text on my phone or computer   and it also has a display that I can read text  messages or information that is being displayed   on my phone or computer. So while using it, it  most probably means my phone is in my pocket   or my computer, I have the lid turned, you know  the lid is closed so that nobody sees what is   happening, or I have used a function called 'screen  cutting' so that the screen is dark, nobody can   tell what I m doing unless you can read Braille. And there's the Victor Reader, which I hardly   use now, because I mean I, I got it  from one of my mentors when I was   on campus. He bought a more advanced  version, it came in handy to record   my classes back then because I didn't have  the braille displays, and it was difficult   to type, and take down notes in class, and listen  to the lecture at the same time using my computer.   Remember to send an email to the manager  this afternoon [Wilson in the background] so   it was easier to record my classes and then put  bookmarks in those classes so that if there's an   important point I can skip to it and one sometimes  even listen to audio books using them. Of course  

most of these functions have now been replaced by  the current phones that are available. And then   there's a Pearl Camera which is a portable camera  that can be connected to a computer and the   barrier that this one eliminates is when you get  physical books or documents or printed material   that you need to read, for instance in a library,  so what you do is you just open that book,   set it up below the Pearl Camera, which has  a stand, and the stand has a guide to show you   where to place the book, and you manipulate your  computer using the keyboard to make the camera   or the computer start reading the book using the  camera. So this one is very good for libraries and   can be used by many people if it is installed. But  again this has also been replaced by my phone.   Yeah so just by that small information  I know that that's the fish fingers and   that's what I was looking for and so, what  I would have to do is open the air fryer,   it is automated, it's an automatic  one, but I have to press this   button. Then I m going to throw the  fish in there, I have taken some pieces so   they can use my hand to spread them out, of course  I've cleaned my hands, and then what I do after,   is press the Start button, which I know is the  last button on the right, so I just press Start.  

That is to power it on and then un-press  the Cook button or this dial in the middle. It   will just automatically detect what is in there. Persons with disabilities face multiple barriers   when accessing the justice system,  these barriers [Background Audio]   Technology and love, technology and relationship,  that would be quite an interesting subject.  But one that would also be important to discuss. I think one of the things that most people   learnt especially due to COVID-19, is that  the normal ways of meeting people were somewhat   prohibited, for instance, when lockdowns were  imposed and other regulations implemented by   states, people resorted to using technology for  literally everything, you know, work, studies,   shopping and all that. And to some extent, even  meeting people, for instance using dating apps.   I have attempted to use one, one dating app,  signed up a profile of course with the help of   a friend because it wasn't very accessible but  I think I hit a snag when it required me to   identify people, like see people's faces and then  swipe them right if I like them or I think swipe   left if I do not like, or maybe I want to pass to  the next one. So the interesting thing with that  

is that the way screen readers operate is to move  to the next gesture or to just have a gesture on   the phone, on my phone to do something, I usually  swipe on my screen, so I ended up swiping so many   people, sometimes even unintentionally, but that  was a point when I was even having a conversation   with my friends, like okay, how would such an  app be made accessible, but outside of that,   I would say using accessible technology  to access social media, for instance, has   made it even possible for me to meet people.  For me to interact with people, some of them   who know that I am visually impaired, some of  them who do not know until we start having   conversations and I tell them. And at one point,  even you know, had to plan a blind date, you know,   meeting people and the ones we meet online like  anyone else would do. I guess the only difference   between this date and the normal general dates, is  that this was a 'double blind date', a double that   on the one hand, you didn't know each other  before that, and then on the second hand,   one party was actually blind.

So over and above my studies and work, technology plays quite a crucial role  in my life. I mean there are also fun things   that I do using technology, which means that I do  not need assistance from other people.   For instance, I use my phone or computer to  watch movies, or rather listen to movies,   um, on platforms such as Netflix, and just look  for those which have audio description, and the   good thing is with the current movement advocating  for digital inclusion, even content providers like   Netflix, Amazon as well are now providing content which has audio description for those of   us who are not able to perceive what's going on. That's the same case for persons who are deaf,   the captions are used very useful  to help them follow on the movies.   Secondly, I also use my watch quite a  lot, when I go to the gym. In two ways,   the first is it helps me know  how many calories I am burning,   right. Secondly it also helps me know what's what  my heart rate is especially when I am involved in,  

you know, some engaging exercises, physical  exercises. And since I do not personally   have a gym instructor, what I do is, I use the  staff who are in the building and tell them   I will do this machine, the rowing machine  for 10 minutes, please come back after 10   minutes, to help me move to the next machine.  And what happens after that is I use my watch   to you know, check the time and make sure that  I do the 10 minutes that I have intended.   I also use my phone to access social media, I  am quite active on Facebook, for instance,   Instagram and Twitter, I also from time to time  visit my LinkedIn and update my LinkedIn account,   and you see this is professional on the one  hand, but also on the other hand, it helps me   with advocacy and also just you know, see what's  going on out there in society. And see what other   people are saying, and also connect me with my  friends, right. I use the accessible technology to  

listen to music, know what music I am selecting,  search for music, I can use the keyboard to   search for the music, or the content I want to  listen to, or even use just audio description   or narration, to look for the content that I want.   I also use technology, especially that  one with my phone, when I m taking walks,   it happens to everyone. That sometimes you want to  take a walk and you really want to do it alone,   what I use is Google Maps, just set a location  that I want to walk to, of course it has to be   around the environment I stay in, and as perhaps  most viewers of this video might have noticed   this, when you have Google Maps on for instance  in your car or when you're working there's usually   an audio feedback, directing you  when to take a left and when to take a right,   so I use that quite a lot. And when I get to a  point where I m looking say for, a restaurant   or a coffee place like Starbucks, I can easily  just do a video call, a WhatsApp video call to   my girlfriend. Baby, or just my friend, and ask  them do you see this restaurant, can you see a   signboard written this, can you help direct me to  it. [ combo a top-rated restaurant with 4.6 out of   5 stars based on 300 reviews delivery fee is from  that button create group order button definitely   zero dollars delivery with the restaurant info  Debonairs pizza people say adjustable search menu   main menu] [ Background audio] When thinking of technologies,   assistive technologies for persons with  disabilities there are two main categories,   the first is generally accessible devices, and  then the second is specialist devices. Difference,  

as the terms may suggest, is that specialist  devices are made specifically for persons with   disabilities or specific types of disabilities. For  instance, I can use my watch, my watch collection   to illustrate that so this is a Dot Watch, that's the title of the name of the watch,   it is a smart watch that has a display in Braille,  for you know it shows 7:04, I m not sure that that   is right so it connects to the phone and can  display some notifications here that I can use   Braille to read it, I can set a timer for it or  using it and also create some short memos. But   it connects with my phone using an app. So I call  this a specialist device, because it can only be   used by persons who are visually impaired. This, I  would consider to be an accessible watch, because   it's a regular watch, that can be used by everyone  even without a disability, but could also benefit   someone who has a visual disability, because I  only use my finger to read it and then close it.  

That is the same case with the Apple Watch  that I am using, this is a regular Apple Watch   which I m sure you've seen on the wrist of many  people. But the only difference is that this one   comes with a screen reader in-built so I did not  have to add any third party software. All I need   to do is click the crown press, and it starts  speaking to me so it has just said it's 19:09.   From this phone watch, I can be able to read  messages on my phone, I can be able to check   my heart rate, I can be able to create timers,  and I can also be able to talk to Siri. I also   found something very interesting when I was  setting up the watch, it asked me whether I   am a wheelchair user, and I checked that online,  and so that it asked that so that it doesn't count   the steps that you take because you do not  take steps when you are using a wheelchair,   but it also it still measures how many meters  or kilometres you move or roll every day.   It is very important to avail technologies,  specifically inclusive technologies   for persons with and without disabilities.  I often use the illustration of  

a building that has stairs but doesn't have a  ramp. When you construct a ramp on that building,   it would be meant for people who have physical  disabilities, but everyone else ends up using   the ramp, because it is an easier way to access  the building. When you design for persons with   disabilities, then you design for everyone. And  it is for this reason that the #Tech4Rights   campaign is being run by the Centre for Human  Rights, hoping that it will appeal to you,   and other organisations to always have in  mind the need for persons with disabilities   to access technologies like everyone else. I don't  know how much I could achieve without technology   and if I think of my life without technology,  then I think it would be a difficult one.  

Turn volume to 70 percent. [Media volume is 70 percent] It can be quite tricky sometimes [Background audio]   Hey Siri

2021-10-01 21:39

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