When I first conceptualized this experiment, the one thing I didn’t expect was life grinding to a screeching hault! I received word over the weekend that I had come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. And, what do you know! I had symptoms! So… I got to go approximately nowhere, and see approximately no one.
But after a week of fatigue and brain mud… I still had a few hiccups along the way.
A Quick Adjustment to Calculations
In my initial post, I provided a monetary value for certain inaccessible systems/experiences of ableism/etc. The one thing I failed to consider was: What would I do in a situation where I had no choice but to ask someone to do something for me that I cannot do for myself… at all? Especially if it’s a thing I should – in any other instance – be able to do for myself. So, I have implemented a flat rate for those instances of $50. This is because I not only have a history of trying to work through something I should be able to do, but I need to take someone else away from their life because of it. $50 – no matter the complexity or duration of an activity – could “compensate” for my loss of dignity, as well as taking into account someone else’s time.
Seriously, what social life? I’ve been stuck at home for nearly a week! I did attend a restaurant last Friday to celebrate my partner’s and my third anniversary. The menus were accessible online, and the staff was great (read: not patronizing or weird). No unpaid emotional stuff here!
Around the House
For someone who has lived for two years during a global pandemic, I’m surprised I haven’t had to take a COVID test before now. A friend dropped off two tests for me on Sunday. I found the instructions for the test confusing and clunky, though I could read the information online or on my phone. However, I was not able to read the test results myself.
Over the past six days, I have taken six COVID tests. For the record, they have all come back negative. Over the past six days, I have spent 80 minutes using a service called Aira (an online service that connects blind people with employees whose eyes work better than ours and who provide visual information that we cannot see). The fact that Aira has a free promotion for COVID-related tasks and information is hardly the point. I can’t access my test results independently and privately (the same is true for pregnancy tests, for the record).
80 minutes at $15/hour: $20
I love being able to work from home, especially feeling like this! This makes me blessed and privileged, and I don’t take that lightly.
Did you know that PDF documents – particularly ones that are scanned – are often not accessible to screen reader users like myself? This is because they are usually scanned as images by default. In order to read any PDF that gets sent to me, that involves a – paid – upgraded license of Adobe. Wait… Someone needs to pay so that I can read standard document formats? Yup! If I wanted that same functionality at home, I would have to pay $20 per month. I’m adding this to my ledger because it’s absurd.
I regularly use government web sites (GWS) in order to do my job. GWS #1 is mostly accessible, except when certain criteria are met. I ran into such a situation with GWS #1, where I could not physically click a link myself and had to get someone else to do it for me ($50). Once that was done, I was ready to run, but still I couldn’t do this thing myself and had to “subcontract” someone else.
GWS #2 presented a whole other problem. A few months ago I had an extremely long conversation (a total of 2 hours – $30) with the developers of GWS #2. It came to light that because I use a screen reader, GWS #2 doesn’t play nice (with any screen reader); the presence alone of a screen reader means that I have no ability to use GWS #2 at all. Even after a minimum of two new releases, GWS #2 is still inaccessible. I was placed in a position this week where someone else had to use GWS #2 for me ($50). I am blessed to work with understanding people… but what if I didn’t? Thankfully, most of the rest of my work-based activities are intuitive and accesible.
2 outsourced tasks from GWS ($100) + 2 hours of troubleshooting with no results ($23) = $130
The Bottom Line
I made it through this week, and I am none the worse for wear. On the (in)accessibility/emotional labour front, I respectfully submit an invoice in the amount of $150.
Annie Chiappetta said:
I hear you about the access issues. Clever thinking with the $50 charges for examples of how much time and effort is wasted just to do what others take for granted.
Ann M. Chiappetta, M.S.
Making Meaningful ConnectionsThrough Media
All things Annie: http://www.annchiappetta.com
Steve Sawczyn said:
You make a very interesting point here about loss of dignity. The only comment I would make is that I think that loss of dignity should be worth more than the $50 price tag you’ve placed on it. Dignity is worth a heck of a lot more, I think you’re missing at least an extra 0. 🙂