Designing For The Future: Accessibility

First, a disclaimer: this post was written as an entry for CGTrader’s Design Blogger contest which I was invited to enter (but it’s a cool topic that I’d probably be writing about anyway). If you’re a blogger with an interest in design, you can enter too!

I’ve never really known anyone who has a physical disability. I’ve never had to think about wheelchair ramps or automatic doors or anything of the sort. And I’ve never broken a bone and needed even temporary accessibility help. But this summer I’m working at a place that is really accessibility friendly and I’ve been immersed in a whole new environment as I see and interact with people of many abilities. I’ve learned so much about accessibility and how much of a difference even the littlest things can make to someone who has to rearrange their life to get around.

a whole new world from aladdin gif

Wheelchair parking is very common now. Parking lots are designed with those in mind nowadays, which is great. Similarly, having a larger bathroom stall to accommodate a wheelchair or other assistive tech is also common in a lot of public bathrooms. They too were designed this way. Designing for the future means designing with accessibility in mind, and I believe it’s only a matter of time before we live in a world where accessibility is commonplace. But there’s a lot that needs work.

Take websites for example. Think about how many websites there are and how many are accessed on a daily basis. There are a lot of aspects to a website that are not accessibility friendly. Of course there are simple things, like font size or clashing colours background, but there is also so much more. I’ve seen websites where site visitors can manually increase font size, change the sites colours to black/white or black/yellow (fun fact: yellow is not only one of the most eye catching colours, but it’s also the most easily seen colour by people with vision loss), or get text read out to them. I wish I could add some of these features to my blog, especially the colour changer, but that’s not an option for me with the free WordPress plan. Maybe one day that’ll be a free widget offered. But for those of you who self-host, look into widgets and plugins to make your site more accessible. Another website fix that even I need to work on (and I swear, from here-on out, I will make more of an attempt) is alt-tags in images so people with text reading technology can find out what your images are of no matter what.

And that’s just online. Think about how much work needs to be done to the outside world to ensure accessibility for all. Door frames need to be wider, the Open Door buttons need to be larger, signs need to be clearer, brail needs to be more common, and so much more. It’s a lot, but slowly, as more awareness is being raised, our future will entail this.

And progress is already being made. In December, Google Maps released a feature where users can make note of wheelchair accessible places. And there’s an app that will, via the camera, describe to a blind user exactly what’s in front of them. I know there are so many more examples of our wonderful technology making a real difference in people’s lives, and I can’t wait to learn about more. There’s some tech that’s been around for ages but people like me, who apparently has lived in a bubble, aren’t in the know.

screenshots of phone app describing images to user

I don’t blame you for not being aware, as I wasn’t either. Unfortunately, as I’ve come to learn, society has pushed issues like these to the back (literally – a lot of wheelchair entrances are at the back of buildings). So it’s great that there are so many advocates and places and organizations that are trying to educate and help and design. I could honestly write so much more about the technology, movements, issues, and campaigns I’ve learned about, all to do with accessibility.

In short, no matter what you’re designing or doing, think about how you can make it more accessible. Be a part of the future by designing for everyone.

E for Everyone rating logo
The future should be rated E for Everyone

That’s all for now!

 

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Be Yourself…Unless You’re Outside Of Your House

Be yourself. Everyone always preaches that. Be unique! Don’t be like others! Embrace your weirdness! We’re told that from a young age but I’m kind of realizing lately that no one means it.

Let me explain to you my clothing style: it’s casual. Skate shoes, jeans, a shirt or sweater, occasionally some simple jewelry. No layers, no frills. I’m always put together but not fancy.

Related image
*claps furiously* Thanks, Niall!

Fancyness doesn’t suit me at this point in my life. I don’t need to be dressed up to go to class or to sit at home and watch TV. Even when I do hang out with friends or go to a club or something, what I own and like is perfectly acceptable. And while I don’t hate skirts and dresses, I rarely choose to wear them because I find them constricting and really don’t like worrying about how I’m sitting/standing or wind.

Unlike where I worked for the past two summers, there is a bit of a dress code at my current summer job, as there is at most workplaces. I understand that dress codes are in place so people don’t go around wearing anything inappropriate. There is an image to maintain. I can handle this and I respect this. I know to not wear my paint-splattered shorts and my flip-flops, but who decided that jeans were innapropriate? And I don’t mean ripped, bedazzled, lowrise jeans. I mean normal, fitted jeans. But I digress.

My mom hates my style. She hates that I prefer rubber dollar-store flip-flops to fancy, flowered sandals, or that I prefer a plain tank top to some frilly crop top. For years she’s begged me to expand my wardrobe, but here I sit, wearing the same shorts she wanted me to throw out three years ago and a STAR Labs t-shirt that is a size too big. And while my mom just wants me to look cuter, my father is the one more worried about my reputation. That’s even worse because now I feel guilty, like I’m purposely sabotaging my own career by not wearing flats to work like most of the other ladies I work with. I know my parents want the best for me, but it’s kind of hard to be my best self while wearing something I’m not comfortable in.

But it goes beyond clothes. Do you know how many times I’ve said something like “I think blue garage doors are nice,” and have my parents roll their eyes and say something along the lines of “No, they’re ugly. Wait until you have a place of your own.” I can’t wait to have a place of my own. So then I can decorate it with dragons and fun colours and funky lamps. My parents don’t want me to be myself even in my house.

So okay, my parents are weirdly formal and my brother straight up said he doesn’t want to be seen in public with me. Whatever. This issue expands farther than my family. High schools, workplaces, church…one’s ability to perform well is not dependant on if they’re wearing heels or running shoes or flats or flip flops or crocs. I went to a high school with a uniform and if you think that having that allowed us to all appear appropriate, you are very mistaken. Some girls had those kilts rolled up far too high, and some boys had no shame showing everyone their boxers as they were low-riding.

This issue also expands past gender and social norms. Being yourself means boys wearing skirts if they want. It’s girls cutting their hair short if they want. It’s teenagers getting tattoos if they want. It’s people wearing as much or as little makeup as they want. And guess what?!?! None of these things makes you an unproductive member of society. Being yourself means being able to do these things, or whatever else you want and knowing that some people won’t like it, but who cares? Personally, I think a lot of tattoos are unattractive. But do I have friends with tattoos? Yep. I also don’t like the style of wearing leggings as pants. But do I have a mom who does that? Sure do. People have different opinions, and really, I hate that so much of our society is based around only one conservative opinion. If people want to wear dumb things or do dumb things, they can, as it’s a reflection of themselves.

I’m going to continue fighting for myself. I’m going to continue doing everything I can do be presentable and comfortable. I’m going to continue being myself, even if that does mean more screaming matches with my parents. And if later on in life something negative happens because of this, then I’ll deal with it, because it’s my life and my choices.

Image result for deal with it gifs

And I’m not anti-dress code or anti-rules. I’m just against the fact that ‘being yourself’ seems to wear off once you turn 16 and enter The Real World. I don’t care if every actor ever in their award acceptance speeches have said to ‘stay true to yourself’ because they’re not the ones hiring me or influencing my daily life. I want parents and teachers and bosses and everyone telling someone else to ‘be themselves’ to really consider if they mean it. Because I do.

Be yourself, kids.

P.S. Shoutout to that one red-headed lawyer on The Good Wife (which my mom was watching) who wears fun, colourful suits and carries funky bags and is very smiley and is always 100% herself on top of being a great lawyer. I thought about her a lot when writing this post.

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#BehindThisDoor And How Non-Bloggers See Bloggers

So maybe you saw the hashtag #BehindThisDoor on Twitter this week. I follow a lot of geeky bloggers and they were all up in arms about it. Here’s the deal with it:

A blogger recently got to see an early screening of Spider-Man Homecoming and reviewed it on her blog saying that she liked the movie and all, but was really bothered by one line from Tony Stark. That line was, “Behind this door is a bunch of reporters. Real ones, not bloggers.” The implication of this, of course, being that bloggers are not real reporters and are not worth anyone’s time.

So, in the blogger’s article on the movie, she used the hashtag #BehindThisDoor to explain what a blogger really is, and people followed suit.

I’m torn about this, and here’s why: I’m not a real reporter. I am just a blogger. I know this. That’s not to say ALL bloggers are not real reporters, but the fact is, most aren’t. And I’d think that if you are a real reporter, you’d identify as one before you would a blogger, but that’s none of my business. But basically, any news or info I ‘report’ is second hand. The same goes for any article I write on Popwrapped. The only way it could be spun is if you consider me a reporter of my own opinions, but in that sense, anyone with a Twitter account is also a reporter, which is baloney. But I do understand why so many people are upset about this line. Blogging is a lot of work, most of it just for fun, but bloggers aren’t some group of lowly, awkward people making a mockery of writing.

Behind this door is a bunch of photographers. Real ones, not paparazzi. You see how in this comparison one is good and one is bad? Tony’s line should not be like that.

Anyway, I still love Tony Stark (after all, I am #TeamIronMan) and honestly, it’s completely in character for him to say something like that. After all, hypothetically, how many ‘tech bloggers’ have approached him wanting to know more about Stark Industries or his Iron Man suit? He’s just being cocky and hyping up young Peter and it’s not that big a deal to me.

But this all does speak to a large issue, and that’s how non-bloggers see bloggers. Blogging is stigmatized a little, and that’s a fact. Blogging is, for most people, a bit of a dorky hobby for those who love to write but don’t necessarily have a more professional platform. There are so many bloggers out there and the blogosphere is wonderful, but like in many communities, it’s not understood by outsiders very well. I’m fairly comfortable talking about my blog, but I won’t shove it down people’s throats, so often prompting from my parents is what leads to other people in my life finding out. Last year (after prompting) I told my uncle about it and he was very impressed to know that this blog has survived for a few years and has over five hundred followers (I may have neglected to tell him that only about fifty of them actually read my posts). People are also so surprised when I tell them that I blog and have been doing so for years (especially when I then proceed to struggle to explain what I blog about) because they just don’t know what it’s about. As much as there are many bloggers out there, they’re not always so public with this information.

In the last five years, blogging has gotten a lot more popular. Bloggers of all ages are popping up, and while that’s great, it kind of has saturated the industry. No longer are bloggers just those brilliant freelance people who share their deep opinions on the side as well as write powerful exposés for bigger platforms, they’re regular people like me who just like to write and like having readers. And I think that’s great. It is something that anyone can do, as long as one has the drive, and it’s wonderful that there are kids discovering their passions. But until you’re a blogger, you won’t understand. You won’t understand that I spend hours writing posts and hours networking only to get a handful of views. You won’t understand that I share my posts on Facebook all the time but only my mom ever really Likes them. You won’t understand that we struggle every day to make our posts the best and stand out, and most don’t.Image result for you dont understand gif

Non-bloggers don’t understand blogs, or they only think of them as fun little free side projects. Some people blog for a living. But it’s the lack of understanding that allows for lines like Tony Stark’s to make it into a movie. So we bloggers have to raise awareness. The #BehindThisDoor tag is a solid start.

And as for me, #BehindThisDoor is a 21 year old girl who loves to write and understands that thought it is a hobby for some, others blog for a career and it’s nothing to knock until you’ve tried it.

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Monthly Look Ahead: July 2017

Well, it’s summer now! Can you believe it? I can’t. June flew by, and I don’t say that about months often. But I’m not upset about July’s arrival. I love the sunshine, and I have some fun things coming up. As always, you are more than welcomed to use the below graphic and write your own MLA post.

monthly look ahead

  • July 1st is Canada Day. I wrote a whole post about this special year for Canada (which you should check out), but I do have plans for the day. For the past five or six years, I’ve been accompanying my best friend and her family to a little party. There’s food, live music at a local park, fireworks, and fun. It’s always a great day.
  • Spider-Man Homecoming is out on July 7th. While I liked this new Spider-Man’s presence in Civil War, I was a little hesitant about a new solo movie. But the trailers look good, and there are apparently some cool surprises in it, so I will definitely be hitting up a theater to see it at some point.

Image result for spider man homecoming

  • For my birthday last month, my parents got me tickets to see a local production of Mamma Mia and I am so excited. Mamma Mia is my number one favourite musical. I saw it live ages ago when I was really young so I don’t really remember that, but I’ve seen and worshiped the movie so many times.
  • My mom’s cousin is getting married so we’re going to the wedding. I just hope the music is good.
  • Since getting a summer job, I’ve taken a (much needed) break from applying to things, but this month I have to start applying for internships because in September I am taking an internship course. There’s a couple places I already know of that would be a dream to intern at, so cross your fingers for me.

It rained basically every other day in June, so here’s hoping my July is sunny and bright. Here’s hoping yours is too. Here’s hoping July is the ideal, satisfying, relaxing month I think we all need.

 

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150 Reasons Why I Love Canada

Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday on July 1st and the country is alive with festivities. We may still be a baby but we’re proud!

If you know me, you know that I have a love/hate relationship with Canada. I complain a lot about what we don’t have compared to America, but I know that when all is said and done, Canada is a really neat place to live, and I do love it. For a few months, I’ve had a bit of a rant about Canada in my drafts and was going to post is closer to July 1st, but then I realized that I should be celebrating this nation on its birthday. So over the past month and a half (I’m so glad I started so early), I’ve been completing this list of 150 reasons why I love Canada. So whether you’re Canadian or not, read on and learn a little bit more about Canada and why it’s a great place!

  1. Maple syrup
  2. Our Prime Minister (equivalent to President) isn’t crazy
    Image result for canada trudeau kindness tweet
  3. “Eh,” which I seriously say very often
  4. People want to move here
  5. Hot summers
  6. Cold winters
  7. Winter happens when it should: from November-March, meaning snow at Christmas
  8. Gay marriage is legalized and has been for over a decade
  9. We have two official languages (though my French is very limited)
  10. Tim Hortons!
  11. And Roll-Up The Rim, aka the month when my Tim Hortons consumption skyrockets because I love to win
  12. And Timbits. They sound so much more appetizing than “Donut Holes”
  13. We usually get TV shows at the same time as America does (and for that, I’m thankful)
  14. We get movies mostly at the same time too
  15. And music. We get that at the same time too
  16. Mountains? Got ’em. Plains? Got ’em. Forests? Got ’em. We’ve got such a diverse landscape.
  17. We have our own currency
  18. We call our single dollar coin a Loonie.
  19. And our two dollar coin a Toonie. I kid you not.
  20. Our $100 paper bills literally smell like maple syrup if you scratch at a certain spot
  21. Mr. D is a dope TV show
  22. CBC and TVO and other Canadian original content networks are pretty cool. Respect for the Canadian programming, even if it isn’t always amazing quality
  23. But there were some amazing kiddie TV shows, a lot of which I was reminded of by this hilarious Twitter thread.
  24. Our curling teams rock! (Pun intended)
  25. We’re decent at all the Olympic sports, actually
  26. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are adorable and if they do compete in 2018, I hope they do another reality TV show thing again
  27. Shania Twain (see below)
    Image result for shania twain michael buble
  28. Also Michael Buble (see above)
  29. This whole list could really just be a bunch of singers and actors, so here’s some more: Celine Dion, Ryan Gosling, William Shatner, Matthew Perry, The Weeknd and also Dwayne The Rock Johnson
  30. We’ve got such pleasant stereotypes. Nice people? Heck yes. Igloos? Not true but I’m not offended either. Polar bears? They’re up there.
  31. The nice people stereotype is real. We are nice!
  32. Mounties always looking fine.
  33. No guns.
  34. Harry Potter definitely wants to take Cho Chang up to Winnipeg and THAT’S IN CANADA
  35. We invented insulin. You’re welcome, diabetics everywhere.
  36. When singers and bands go on tour, they usually come here
  37. Provinces AND territories
  38. Learning said provinces and territories as well as their capital cities as a kid is easy because we only have 10 provinces and 3 territories.
  39. The CN Tower is iconic and was, for a while, the tallest building in the world
  40. Our flag is symmetrical
  41. Our flag is also unique and recognizable. That maple leaf is iconic.
  42. A lot of TV shows and movies film here
  43. my favoUrite coloUr is grEy
  44. That being said, since we consume so much American writing, I do prefer some spellings, like theatER rather than theatre, and use them as I see fit.
  45. Speaking of theater, there’s a nice theater scene in Toronto
  46. Saskatchewan is just a really neat shape. So rectangular.
    Image result for saskatchewan
  47. FanExpo, Canada’s biggest and coolest convention. I’ve been twice and plan to go again!
  48. We have Thanksgiving in October so our Christmas season starts November 1st
  49. Free healthcare. For everyone.
  50. The drinking age is 19
  51. And it’s 18 in Quebec so I got to hear a bunch of wild stories from the kids who went there for a high school grad trip
  52. No government censorship
  53. TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival). Never attended but I think it’s cool.
  54. Anne Of Green Gables. (Side note: did you know that in Japan there was an Anne Of Green Gables themed amusement park?)
  55. Canadian music is good
  56. And Canadian Christmas music is amazing
  57. We’ve got bands like Hedley, Marianas Trench, Bare Naked Ladies, and The Tragically Hip
  58. And Canada has a law saying that a certain percent of music played on our radio stations must be Canadian, which is a great rule.
  59. Bagged milk
  60. Northwest Territories’ license plate is shaped like a polar bear
  61. We have the better side of Niagara Falls
  62. Pizza Pizza pizza is the best pizza
  63. Drake. I already listed some famous people but he gets his own spot on the list because he’s so smiley and nice and though I don’t like all his music, I want to be friends with him. He also is always repping Canada and the 6ix.
  64. Canada’s Wonderland
  65. Roots clothes
  66. How I Met Your Mother‘s Robin Sherbatsky is a proud Canadian and not many characters are. Plus, because of her, we have this iconic gif:
    Image result for himym canada gif
  67. Basically every sport ever is played here. Even Quidditch.
  68. Margaret Atwood, probably our most famous author
  69. Captain Canuck…I don’t know anything about him, but just the fact that he exists is cool.
  70. Also Deadpool and Wolverine are Canadian
  71. We’re very diverse
  72. We have some hilarious comedians
  73. Just For Laughs is also held in Montreal, which is a big event that I think would be cool to attend one day (as an audience member, not a comedian)
  74. Our fast food is healthier and are served with realistic proportions
  75. Our government is pretty chill
  76. Don Cherry’s suits
  77. Some Europeans came to Canada a long time ago and found some new land so they called it…Newfoundland
  78. We didn’t ban Kinder Eggs
  79. Terry Fox, a Canadian hero
  80. Poutine
  81. Canada Dry Ginger Ale
  82. Our national anthem is nice
  83. We invented the telephone and the first smart phone (suck on that, Apple)
  84. We’re patriotic within reason
  85. Sometimes we make Canadian versions of American TV shows
  86. Canadians are so nice and welcoming, there’s a musical about it (Come From Away)
  87. Though we only have one team (the Jays), Canada is part of MLB
  88. We welcome refugees
  89. As proven by Border Security, we take safety seriously
  90. #BellLetsTalk every year
  91. Dragon’s Den came long before Shark Tank. We’re not always the copiers.
  92. The Marineland theme song
  93. American slaves came here for freedom
  94. The Junos are alright
  95. Cash Cab
  96. They’re not as popular as America’s network upfronts, but CTV does hold upfronts in June every year
  97. Our Smarties are candy coated chocolate. They’re SO GOOD.
    Related image
  98. But we have Rockets (the powder candy things Americans call Smarties) too
  99. Beaver Tails
  100. And actual beavers. They’re dope. And our national animal.
  101. We export so many things to the whole world
  102. And we have a lot of farmers, which I think is neat
  103. We’ve had a female Prime Minister (though she was only in office for a few months)
  104. We don’t have crazy large spiders or insects
  105. We don’t have many hurricanes or tornados
  106. Our National Parks are really nice
  107. We have that train that goes cross-country
  108. A lot of companies are celebrating Canada 150, which is so fun and positive
  109. And a lot of packages of food and whatnot have a funky new red/white design
  110. We hosted the winter Olympics in 2010 and there were no major issues
  111. Olympic quarters were also released and collecting them was fun
  112. Air Canada is by no means a perfect airline but they have not physically removed innocent passengers
  113. Netflix Canada isn’t as bad as it could be (but it’s still pretty bad)
  114. The Calgary Stampede, aka every cowboy’s dream event
  115. .ca is a nice looking top-level domain
  116. A lot of websites have options for Canadian users
  117. No countries have beef with us
  118. We’re the second largest country
  119. But we have the largest coastline (so colouring in maps in school is a PAIN…all those northern islands…)
    Image result for kid coloured map of canada
  120. I have a birthmark shaped like British Colombia
  121. Winterlude, a celebration of cold Canadian culture
  122. Nunavut was formed in 1999 which is fascinating to me because I’m older than a territory!
  123. The West Edmonton Mall is the largest indoor theme park. I’ve never been but I totally want to.
  124. We use Celsius
  125. Canada is one of the top educated countries
  126. We have some important but little known laws for people with disabilities
  127. The whole country got famous when Toronto’s old mayor had a drug scandal
  128. I really like how every second letter in Canada is an A
  129. The government has programs where they give companies money to hire summer students
  130. McDonalds has blessed us with all day breakfast
  131. Canada has the same time zones as America which makes TV watching pretty easy.
  132. Except for Newfoundland, which has it’s own timezone
  133. We take part in space exploration and development. Case in point: Canadarm
  134. Bigfoot is rumored to be spotted sometimes here
  135. Also Ogopogo in British Columbia. Ogopogo could and would take Nessie in a fight.
  136. Santa Claus is Canadian because in Canada, if you write a letter addressed to the North Pole with the postal code H0H 0H0 you get a letter back.
  137. Also, calling them postal codes rather than zip codes makes a lot more sense
  138. We invented basketball
  139. Beer. We make and drink a lot of it. And ours is stronger than America’s.
  140. Americans have to fight for a female on their currency but we literally have the Queen of England on all our coins and on the $20 bill
  141. That ‘Canadian accent’ that most of us do NOT have (it’s mostly found on the east coast and in some smaller, rural cities) is a nice sounding one.
  142. The Canadian Mint is making special Canada 150 glow-in-the-dark coins
    Image result for glow in the dark coins
  143. There’s a town in Saskatchewan called Eyebrow. Can you imagine telling someone in all seriousness “I live in Eyebrow.”
  144. We banned the Westboro Baptist Church
  145. Canadians can order a picture of Queen Elizabeth II and it’ll be sent for free. My brother and his roommates ordered one and it apparently resided in their kitchen.
  146. A lot of Aboriginal names, places, art
  147. We actually differentiate between University and College
  148. And our school system makes sense unlike that of the UK or France
  149. Canada is young enough that a list of 150 reasons to love it is doable
  150. It’s my home

This list took me forever and a day to compile and complete but it’s my contribution to this wonderful country, and if I managed to teach even one person about how cool Canada is, then it’s been a success. There are so many more reasons to love Canada, but these 150 matter to me. With that said, I’d love to know other reasons why you love Canada, whether you live here or not.

Here’s to you, Canada. Happy 150th Birthday, and I can’t wait to celebrate on July 1st.

Image result for canada 150

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