A few of my favorite quotes on disability and adversity

As an avid reader, a struggling writer and a lover of language, like many people I collect quotes.  I’ve seen so many floating around on the social networking sites that are motivational and often shared in a business context.  Less often do I read quotes pertaining to disability and adversity, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorites of these here.  Please comment and share your own.


On disability:


Disability is a matter of perception.  If you can do just one thing well,
you are needed by someone. -Martina Navratilova

Disability is physical and ability lies in the mind.  William Maphoto

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.-Mark

We are each so much more than what some reduce to measuring.
— Karen Kaiser Clark

If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must
recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less
arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a
fitting place.
— Margaret Mead

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, & I learn, whatever
state I may be in, therein to be content. Helen Keller

On adversity:

What we actually learn, from any given set of circumstances, determines whether we become increasingly powerless or more powerful.
Blaine Lee
The Power Principle: Influence with Honor by Blaine Lee

The good things of prosperity are to be wished; but the good things that belong to adversity are to be admired.
The Forbes Book of Business Quotations

Adversity reveals genius, prosperity conceals it.
The Book of Positive Quotations

A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner.
English proverb
The Forbes Book of Business Quotations
The pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; the optimist, the                                 opportunity in every difficulty.
L.I. Jacks
Words for All Occasions by Glenn van Ekeren

One of my all-time favorites:

"Disability is not a ‘brave struggle’ or ‘courage in the face of adversity.’  Disability is an art…It’s an ingenious way to live."  Neil Marcus, playwright



A growing link garden for you to harvest on the Accessible Insights blog

For my regular readers, I wanted to take the time to point out a feature of my blog you may not have noticed.  I point this out so that you can save a little  time if you ever need to find a link to which I refer. 


I have a plug-in that I use here called Link Harvest.  What it does is gather up all of the links that I mention in a post and plant them all on one page.  You’ll see a rather nondescript link simply called “links,” at the top of the page, and if you click on that, you will find the links gathered by Link Harvest.  If I ever write about something that has a link associated with it, you might recall the post but not recall the name of the site, product or service to which I refer. Sometimes I shorten the link, and other times I might bury the link behind other text, especially if the link is long and ugly.  If you are trying to remember a site you wanted to investigate, instead of having to slog through all of my past entries (don’t get me wrong, I love it that you read my posts), you can simply refer to the links list and find what you are looking for more quickly.


Just a quick tip for you that I hope proves to be a bit of a timesaver.  As my blog grows, so goes my link garden. 


Want your own link garden?  Click here. 


Thanks for reading. 



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On writing through writer’s block

With the proliferation of blogs, newsletters, social media sites and the need for content with which to populate endless data fields, writing has become a pastime for the non-professional.  With so many pages to update, it seems that in order to keep your name, product or service in front of as many eyeballs as possible, one must continuously find something new about which to write.  Personally, I’m finding this problematic. 


It isn’t as though I have absolutely nothing to say, rather, I have almost too much to say.  What I’m having trouble with is finding something original to say. 


Recently, I had a flash of inspiration about a topic for my readers, but it took only seconds on Google to discover that it had already been covered, and rather extensively, by others who had the same idea.  My thinking was that I could certainly do no better, so why bother?


Just drafting this post is an exercise in overcoming writer’s block.  There are so many great quotes on writing, one might conclude there is inspiration to be found there.  So far, the most meaningful I’ve found reads simply, “Write.”  Author unknown. 


So, for my readers who are also writers, please share some of your sources of inspiration.  Comment below and tell us where you turn when you have trouble navigating the waters of authenticity and originality.  What are your favorite quotes on writing? 


Clearly, I’m stalling.  I’ve had nothing to post all week, although I have interviews to finish writing, articles I could post, news bits to upload.  Seeking advice from others who have powered through a writer’s block seems like a good idea, even if it serves only to remind me that this too shall pass.



Make your planet more inclusive, part 4

This is the fourth and final installment of my interview series with Inclusive Planet’s communications and marketing director, Ujjvala Ballal. I hope you have enjoyed the series. Frankly, I’m exhausted. I’m no professional journalist!


We have covered quite a lot of ground with regard to Inclusive Planet’s plans for growth and expansion, marketing and monetization, impact and policy. In this last part, I want to explore some questions about copyright protections, intellectual property and file sharing.


The sum total of everything I know about copyright can be summed up by my mother’s admonition, “don’t take things that don’t belong to you.” I’ve always lived by that, and I realize that the finer points of copyright law just might be a bit more complex. However, not being a legal eagle specializing in intellectual property rights, my further understanding of these complexities might be obscured by my rather unsophisticated knee-jerk reaction, "hey, take your hands off that, it’s mine.”


I always find other’s attitudes about copyright and intellectual property protections really very interesting. I notice that people who produce intellectual property tend to have a healthy respect for, nearly a reverence of, copyright laws. On the other hand, I know of those who produce nothing, have created nothing, have never agonized over every detail of their handiwork a day in their lives, and freely rip off whomever and whatever they can, sharing in copious quantities with no reservation or consideration of the source whatsoever.


One of the first things I noticed when I logged into Inclusive Planet for the first time was the liberal use of file sharing. Everything imaginable is being shared on the site, from music to texts, audio to video. Some of the files were being uploaded by entities I recognized as publishing companies of print material in alternative file formats, such as Libre Vox, Matilda Ziegler and Washington Association for the Blind. However, I found a number of other file types, which caused me a bit of eyebrow raising.


My understanding of current copyright laws is that to some degree, they are fluid and there are efforts underway to make changes. How U. S. copyright law differs from international copyright laws, I do not know. My only exposure to specifics comes from my own published work and information shared by a relative who works for a book publishing company. I know that in the US, the Writer’s Guild, for example, has fought against making some books available in audio formats for the blind, as this renders their work vulnerable to copyright infringement. Well, if you saw what goes on in some of these file-sharing sites, you’d understand their concerns.


I also understand that ever since the Internet was born, there is strong opinion on both sides of the issue. Some people believe that because it’s out there for the taking, it should be taken. Others believe a vice-like grip is necessary to fight the tidal wave of piracy from compromising quality. Then, there are those who haven’t stopped downloading long enough to think about it.


I’m really very curious about this now, and I’d love it if some experts in copyright law would weigh in. I’ve had my own experiences where I was forced to either gently remind someone that permission must be granted in order to reprint another’s work, to outright demanding something be pulled down. Without the teeth of legal jurisprudence, however, kindly requests seem to go utterly ignored.


LL:  Some might refer to this type of web site as a "file sharing" operation, and this raises some questions about copyright and intellectual property.  What rules govern Inclusive Planet, and how is it monitored?  Is there some sort of legal oversight?

IP: IP allows its members to use the site for various purposes, such as social interaction and sharing of content in accessible formats. Inclusiveplanet.com is an intermediary in accordance with Indian law, similar to say, youtube.com. Inclusive Planet respects third party intellectual property and we have a take down policy pursuant to which we will take down infringing material if we are informed about it in accordance with our take down policy. For more information on the take down policy please see http://www.inclusiveplanet.com/en/take-down-policy_en


The users of Inclusive Planet, the “Planeteers,” are the best advocates of the site. While they would likely agree with me that use of the site is by no means limited to individuals who have print disabilities, there is a definite camaraderie among the members, a bond forged by understanding and shared experiences.



MOTIVATION TO MOVE AHEAD IN LIFE and inspiration to enhance myself socially. I love Inclusive Planet!



Make your planet more inclusive, part 3

If you are a regular reader of the Accessible Insights blog, then you may have already read parts one and two of this interview series about a relatively new social networking platform called Inclusive Planet. This rapidly growing web destination aims to connect people who have print disabilities with accessible content, and build a community that is truly global. As a “Planeteer” myself for only a few weeks, I was so impressed with what the Inclusive Planet team was doing that I asked for, and was granted an interview with IP’s marketing visionary, Ujjvala Ballal.


In parts one and two we discussed Inclusive Planet’s goals, plans for growth and monetization. In this third part, Ujjvala shared IP’s plans to impact policy for the print-impaired community.


LL: How are you getting the word out about Inclusive Planet?

IP: Some things we are doing include working closely with the first few thousand print-impaired members to sharpen our value proposition, for example, the Transformative impact of connecting, sharing and collaborating. We are also connecting and engaging other high-impact organisations around the world that work with the print-impaired and staying open to various models of collaboration.


LL: What about word of mouth?

IP: We recognize the fact that localisation is big. People want the platform in their local language and they want an early lot of content and conversation to attract them to adopting the platform. Thus offering local languages and early seed content, mostly in partnership with the kind of organisations mentioned previously is critical. We’re identifying powerful stakeholders in the accessibility world (Google, IBM etc.) and taking the first steps to demonstrate the calibre of our early work so as to get them to support us strategically (marketing, accessible content) and so on. Our biggest focus area is listening hard to the early community and responding accordingly. That’s the mantra of community formation and we want to validate our value propositions carefully.


LL: Care to share some specifics about your marketing plan?

IP: In the short term, we are exploring the idea of 2 campaigns at the moment. In the Breaking Stereotypes Campaign, we are looking at partnering with a few organizations across the world to create stories, and content from the existing community to help break common stereotypes that most sighted people have about visual impairment.

We are also exploring the idea of creating inspiring and powerful content (in the form of audio and video) of print impaired people who have achieved success in their own fields, and overcome the unique challenges that they have been faced with. Each of these stories will be a powerful tool for the print impaired community as role models are always a strong source of inspiration! Our objective would be to create a storehouse of knowledge and inspiration for the global print impaired community.


LL: Sounds ambitious. Anything else you want to add?

IP: There is another facet to our work. Direct policy work that Inclusive Planet is doing and the impact that inclusiveplanet.com will have on policy.

Inclusive Planet’s policy advocacy arm helped with the drafting of the WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons and are helping the World Blind Union in advocating for the treaty at WIPO. We were part of the WBU delegation at the Stakeholders Platform and the open consultations at Geneva. In India, we conceptualized and executed the Right to Read campaign to bring about copyright changes to enable the conversion and distribution of reading material in accessible formats. Leading political parties have come forward to support the initiative and a copyright amendment is currently pending before Parliament.

As for the policy impact of inclusiveplanet.com, policy advocacy amongst the print-impaired is poor because there is no print-impaired community. Naturally community formation as a result of inclusiveplanet.com would have a transformational impact on this because it would allow problems to be discussed and strategies to be evolved at a community level, and not just draw national inputs but international inputs. A small example of an already successful public initiative on inclusiveplanet.com is that of the South African National Commission for the Blind to solicit views on its Braille voting template.


Whew. Admirable goals indeed. In the final part of this interview series, we’ll talk about alternatives to print formats, copyright and file sharing. Strap in, we’re coming in for a landing on Inclusive Planet!


Make your planet more inclusive, part 2

Today’s post is a continuation of my interview with one of the core group members of Inclusive Planet, Director of Marketing Ujjvala Ballal. I asked Ujjvala about IP’s plans for future expansion and monetization.


First, here are some quick facts about Inclusive Planet:

Beta platform Launched: End of October 2009.

Number of members: About 3,700

Representing: 81 countries

Accessible files shared: Over 20,000

Conversations between members: Over 4,000

Turkish version launched: April 2010

Turkish members: 300

Latin American version: Ready to launch


The founders of InclusivePlanet have charted a three-year course for growth and value that includes global outreach and advocacy.

The interview continues:

LL: Tell me about IP’s plans for growth.

IP: Our three-year plan

Year 1 – till March 31 2011:

We want to connect around 15000 members worldwide with strong English, Spanish and Turkish bases. We want to tie up with at least 4-5 strong international partners, and reach a critical mass in at least one region – in order to pilot at least one of our monetisation plans.

Year 2 – till March 31 2012:

We want to connect 600,000+ members worldwide with a strong presence in 5-6 languages, have at least 6-8 strong international partners and break even in at least one region. We want to move up a value chain in at least one area – relationships, learning, employment, travel, etc.

Year 3 – till March 31 2013:

We want to have 2 million + members worldwide with a strong presence in 8-10 languages and have at least 10-12 strong international partners. By this time, we want to distribute 10% of our stock amongst the member community, and we hope to break even as an organisation. Inclusive Planet aims to have a strong mobile presence in countries that have poor computer Internet penetration.


LL: So, how do you plan to monetize Inclusive Planet?

IP: We seek to monetise two aspects. The expertise we have as a result of creating and managing inclusiveplanet.com and inclusiveplanet.com itself.

Firstly, the expertise:

We are helping IT firms; site designers and end users themselves create more accessible platforms. Our expertise in designing systems for the print-impaired is being conveyed through consulting services that we are already delivering to national institutes and to private IT /ITES players. In addition we offer the product creators the world’s most sophisticated testing area – inclusiveplanet.com’s community!


Secondly, inclusiveplanet.com:

As the member base increases Inclusive Planet will be in a position to offer organisations across the world unprecedented access to the print-impaired community along with tremendous intelligence about the needs and wants of the community. We will offer advertising and Retail of third-party products and services catering to the print-impaired. We will enable content publishers to sell their content (e-books etc.) to a large content- consuming community with expressed interests.

We are also interested in facilitating e-bay type user-commerce – for example, print-impaired persons with products, expertise and knowledge acquired for themselves could sell this to other print-impaired people. Additionally, we will climb the value chain by providing services linked to popular content, for example learning services with educational content, dating and matrimonial services with relationship content.


Finally, Ballal points out that “In order for the business model to succeed we need to achieve scale. Without scale our access route would not be attractive enough for companies wishing to market to the print-impaired. Also, without scale the numbers of potential consumers of paid services would be insufficient.”


Watch for part 3 of my interview with Inclusive Planet’s marketing and community relations guru, Ujjvala Ballal. We’ll talk about advocacy and accessibility policy, and how Inclusive Planet plans to make an impact.

More soon!


Make your planet more inclusive with this interview series

This week, I’ll be posting a series of articles on a relatively new social networking site called Inclusive Planet. I discovered them only because I had spotted one of their tweets (follow @inclusiveplanet), and while I was curious, I did not investigate until I was approached and invited to join. After spending only a few days on the site, I became fascinated with the concept and intrigued by the platform’s potential. So much so, in fact, that I requested an interview with some of the site’s principals, and was granted access to some great information I’ll share here.


Inclusive Planet is a web site devoted to connecting people who have print disabilities. The term “print disability” can include a learning or cognitive impairment, dyslexia, blindness or low vision, or anyone who just needs greater accessibility in a social network environment. The site is fully accessible for anyone who uses a screen reader, and it is simple and easy to navigate. I had no trouble quickly familiarizing myself with the site features, and there were no complicated settings or customizations. The straightforward prompts and intuitive, flexible format made the site usable and fun.


Inclusive Planet is relatively new. Therefore, it has a rather small membership, at least compared to Twitter or Facebook. However, it is growing rapidly, and just since I joined two weeks ago, I would guess over one hundred new members, or "Planeteers" as they are called, have created their own profiles.

One of the unique aspects of Inclusive Planet is the ability to create a “channel,” a sort of personalized information conduit that allows channel owners to import a blog, upload files, books, class notes, syllabi, audio files, and any other content that might otherwise be inaccessible for people with print disabilities. All content on the web site that is shared by it’s members is usable by anyone who requires the use of a screen reader such as Jaws or ZoomText.


It’s a cliché these days to marvel at how small our world has become, thanks to the ability to connect with anyone on the globe from our desktop. Inclusive Planet truly brings that notion home when you realize that, at least for right now, the majority of the members are not North Americans, which is the usual result of a silicon Valley-born enterprise.


In part one of this series, the Director of Marketing for Inclusive Planet, Ujjvala Ballal, shares some background information as to Inclusive Planet’s own “big bang.”


LL:  Who came up with the original concept of Inclusive Planet?

IP: One of our co-founders – Rahul Cherian, a copyright lawyer, was invited to help draft the WIPO Treaty for Improved Access for Blind, Visually Impaired and other Reading Disabled Persons in 2008. It was there that it struck Rahul that there was a massive resource problem that technology could fix. Subsequently upon his return Rahul, Sachin and Reuben worked with organizations working with persons with print impairment to understand what the best solutions would be. The more we were exposed to the nature of the problems faced by the community the more apparent it became what the solutions needed to look like.

There is no one person behind the idea. It is an evolving iterative effort that has been changing shape to meet the problem intelligently. The core group of six people behind the project is an interesting mix of technologists, lawyers, business graduates, disability policy activists and designers.

Here is a link to the profiles of the core group:


LL: When did Inclusive Planet first go online, and how many members have you now?

IP: We launched our beta platform end of October 2009 and currently Inclusive Planet connects around 3700 print-impaired persons from 81 countries. These 3700 persons have shared 20,000+ files of accessible content and over 4000+ conversations. We hope to connect over 10,000 people by December 31, 2010 and over half a million by December 31, 2011.

We launched the Turkish version in April 2010 and already have 300 members. The site was driven completely because of the efforts of a member from Turkey.

We also have the Spanish version of the site ready but we are looking at partnering with a few organizations in Latin America to help us.

LL: How was the project funded, or by whom?

IP: So far we have raised money from angel investors who have invested in their individual capacities. These individuals are people from the Indian venture capital, social business and technology business community. We’ve raised 120,000 USD so far from these. Currently we’re looking to enlist a few more of these angels, but we are also looking for a larger round of support to give us the resources we need for 2-3 years.


According to Ballal, the specific impact of the project is intended to encompass a “greater pool of educational, leisure and work related content (books, articles, magazines, journals, blogs and conversations) for the print-impaired worldwide, positively impacting education and employment amongst the print-impaired, as well as increased reading amongst the print-impaired.”


Another goal of the Inclusive Planet platform is to “Increase social interaction between people with print impairment leading to relationships, community building and more complete individual development.” As a result of these efforts in community building, the Inclusive Planet group hopes it will lead to “fuller citizenship and lobbying and, equally importantly, the discovery of the print-impaired as a market for products and services.”

Ballal also suggests that the large pool of lifestyle content, such as tips for greater independent living, city guides, menu cards, travel information and tips on Assistive technologies will lead to a  “higher lifestyle standard amongst the print-impaired.”


In  part two of this series Ujjvala Ballal will share more info about the Inclusive Planet goals and plans for expansion.


Thanks for reading, and more soon!


Want more customers? Then make your web site accessible. Learn how June 24

I have many friends in the disability and accessibility field, and one of them is Tom Babinszki of Even Grounds.  Tom is offering a class on Section 508 web site compliance on June 24, 2010, and here are the details


Where:  Alexandria, Virginia, near the Metro.

When:  June 24, 2010 from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm

Register: (703) 822-5186 or info@evengrounds.com

Price: $295.00


Class overview:  Learn how to meet the Section 508 requirements when designing web sites or web applications.

The class will cover the following material:

•Understanding Section 508 standards
•How people with disabilities use the internet
•Creating a Voluntary Product Accessibility Template
•Testing for Section 508 compliance
•Using testing tools
•The use of JAWS when testing for Section 508 compliance
•Creating Section 508 compliant web sites
•Making forms, tables, frames and images Section 508 compliant
•Working with images, videos and image maps
•Using stylesheets effectively
•Methods to skip navigation
•Preventing seizure
•Using colors on a web site
•The use of text onli sites
•Handling time responses
•Posting documents and third party applications
•Using JavaScript
•Section 508 and web 2.0
It is recommended that you have some web development experience. 


You can also sign up for the Even Grounds Newsletter to get tips and advice dropped into your inbox.  For more info, go here:


Even Grounds home


Tell Tom I said hello!



Text messaging solution for visually impaired texters?

Do you feel left out because all of your friends keep in touch by texting, and you cannot?  Do you have problems seeing the small screen, pressing those impossibly tiny buttons, or just keeping pace?  Now there is a solution in the UK based Text Magic.  Read more here:




I’m interested to know what my readers are using now.  Please comment and share  your texting tool of choice.  Is text messaging your preferred method of communication?  Are you one of those people who can text a mile a minute, or is your phone too awkward to use for texting?  I know my readers who are blind aren’t driving while texting, so I need not be concerned there.  Can you tap and text?


I use a Moto Q with Mobile Speak.  I like my phone because it has a spectacular tactile qwerty keyboard, and Mobile Speak is sufficient for my pitiful texting purposes.  What are you using?


Assistive tech conference schedule for remainder of 2010

If you regularly attend conferences and tradeshows as a vendor, you likely have your schedule filled for the next two years.  However, if you are like me and just love to wander through the exhibit halls and test drive all the new products and gadgets, then you will want to know what’s coming up near you this year.  here is a short list of just a few of the larger events scheduled for the remainder of 2010: 


Texas Assistive Technology Network (TATN) Statewide Conference
June 15th – June 18th, 2010
San Antonio, TX

National Federation of the Blind (NFB) National Convention
July 3rd – July 8th, 2010
Dallas, TX

American Council of the Blind (ACB) Conference & Convention
July 9th – July 17th, 2010
Phoenix, AZ

Association on Higher Education And Disability (AHEAD) Conference
July 12th – July 17th, 2010
Denver, CO

Queen Alexandra College (QAC) Sight Village Birmingham Conference
July 13th – July 15th, 2010
Birmingham, UK

Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (AER) International

July 21st – July 25th, 2010
Little Rock, AR

New England Library Association (NELA) Conference
October 17th – October 19th, 2010
Boxborough, MA

Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) Chicago Conference
October 27th – October 30th, 2010
Schaumburg, IL

National Ergonomics Conference & Exposition (NECE)
December 1st – December 3rd, 2010  Las Vegas, NV


Which of these will you be attending?  If you are a vendor, please leave a comment and tell us your booth number.  If you are an individual who plans to attend, plan a tweetup and share the details!



See you somewhere…