“inattention and failure to yield”

And yet again I read another reminder of that frightful day almost four years ago. Tears, fear, shame, blame, anger, danger, pain, and all so impossible to
explain. Thankfully the result for my being hit by a car as the result of a driver’s inattention and failure to yield” was much
less serious than death–the outcome for 103 pedestrians during the period this article describes.
“Inattention and failure to yield is what you are pleading guilty to,” said the judge to the person who hit me. And the ultimate
in irony, due to Washington traffic laws, promise to be good for a few years–seven I think– and you get no fine and a clean
record.
It was two years ago that I sat in a King County court room listening to a judge speak those words–the same words I’m guessing
are spoken dozens of times a year here in King County alone? I really wonder if the drivers realize the pain, damage and lifelong consequences they cause in the people they so “inattentively happen to hit with their cars? I know the driver in my case didn’t since a witness told me that the person was more interested in borrowing a cell phone to tell another that they’d be late for dinner, repeatedly interrupting medical personnel who were attending to me.
Inattention and failure to yield” We couch such wanton disregard for the safety of another in such mild terms that it sounds
almost like the person did little more than spill a glass of milk. Make no mistake, it is the blood of another human being
spilled and trust me there’s more than enough crying to go around afterward.
Where’s the inattention and failure to yield” of the pain I feel after doing nothing more than walking for a few miles? I guess
I’m the lucky one who gets the gift that keeps on giving because the docs say “that’s just the way it is.”
Oh rest assured I’m more than thankful to have the pain. After flying 12 feet in the air, doing a flip I’m told would do a
gymnast proud and banging my head on the pavement, I’ll gladly take the pain. The alternative, given to 26 folks a year here in
King County for the period covered by this article, is something that I’m all to aware of could have happened to me.
I’m also all to aware that pedestrian safety is not taken seriously nearly as often as it should be. Ironic that my own home town newspaper publishes an article on the topic of pedestrian safety where the police chief of a neighboring city says cars don’t stop for folks in crosswalks often enough.

An Accessible Harry Potter?

Bob Regan of Macromedia has a great post talking about Flash accessibility and a newly relaunched J.K. Rowlin site that is a model for Flash accessibility. How nice to see accessibility of such a high profile web site being taken seriously.
Harry Potter books are not on the top of my reading list but having played with the site a bit I’m really impressed to see how well the Flash works with several screen readers. How cool!

Getting Ripped to Read

SF Gate has an excellent article on, well I’m not exactly sure what you’d call it. The functional name is Bookshare. I could call it a web site, a volunteer service, a non-profit or something else and none of those would do it justice. Bookshare is in short to me a revolutionary way for people who are blind to read. Short of publishers making electronic versions of all books not only available but also accessible, Bookshare is to me the greatest way for people who are blind to access books today.
The article goes into greater detail but the basic concept behind Bookshare is that if one person who’s blind scans a book then that book can be shared with others who are blind so they don’t have to go to the trouble of scanning the same book. Optical character recognition technology has come a long way in the more than 20 years I’ve been using it. Today I can read pretty much any book I want with about four hours of work to scan the book. Still there’s no reason that effort needs to be duplicated and I’m thrilled that Bookshare was created.
I read probably three books a week on average and lately the power of a community working to make books accessible is really showing itself in Bookshare. Roughly 50% of what I want to read has already been scanned and it is nice to be able to just grab a book for reading without having to turn the pages on a scanner. It is equally nice to know that the time I still do spend scanning printed books, which is a rather tedious experience, will benefit others.

A Summer Storm

We are back in the midwest for the holiday weekend. This time it is Minneapolis to visit a long time friend.
Even though it has been 11 years since I’ve called the midwest home, a summer thunderstorm reminds me just how much a part of me this weather and climate are.
In 11 years of living in California, Oregon and Washington, I don’t think I’ve experienced a true thunderstorm once. My definition isn’t the few claps of thunder that seems to qualify in Seattle. It is the hour-plus sort of storm where the thunder rattles the windows and rolls from one side of the sky to the other. It is the sort of storm where a clap of thunder can set off a car alarm. It is the sort of storm where the rain falls at a rate to justify the expression “raining buckets” and where you sense the awesome power of nature with every gust of the wind.
As a very small child I remember how much these sorts of storms used to frighten me. The “beep beep beep” of the television weather alert to be followed by the forecaster of the day reading a national weather service alert used to send me to the center of the house Mickey Mouse radio in hand to listen for every detail, just hoping the storm would go away.
Today a summer trip back to the midwest is a disappointment for me if I don’t get at least one good thunderstorm. This morning’s was at least two hours long. Windows rattled, rain pounded the windows and the wind was a constant. Strange how much all that just feels like home to me.