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Jim Gaven Advocate Testimonial

Jim, why is web accessibility important?

For me, there are a few different reasons, and one of them is that it gives people who have disabilities, let's say developmental disabilities, because that's where I spend a lot of my time, maybe even physical disabilities, somebody who is not able to see, so I've spent time with an individual who is blind, and he also has other things going on with special needs, but if he didn't have the internet capability, he lives his life through music and sound, because he doesn't have sight, and he has this little recording device that his mom and dad got for him that he uses records conversations, whether you want him to or not, and not only that, but he's got a super cool braille keyboard, and I've never seen anything like it in my life because I don't have anybody in my immediate family or my close circle that has a disability like that, and he lives his life through music and sound, so if there weren’t anything like that available to him he wouldn't be able to pursue what he loves, which is music.

And he can look stuff up on the internet himself, he uses Google, he does voice to talk, sort of like voice to text recognition stuff sometimes too, he's learned how to type on his braille keyboard. I think it's amazing; something like that is huge. He has autism, among some other things, plus he's blind, and maybe 20 years ago, this wouldn't be a thing where they'd have so much accessibility. I love that because it allows him to be him and pursue the way he pursues the things he cares about, mostly music. 

And another thing is that I've seen in this time, especially this time of the pandemic, that we're all living in now is I wouldn't be able to do what I'm doing. Most of what I've been doing now has been virtual, so I currently spend time with the individuals who didn't have a  smartphone or some electronic device. They didn't know how to maneuver it; then we wouldn't be able to do sessions on facetime or skype or zoom or any other digital platform. So, it's amazing people could still receive services virtually like this.

If we didn't have this capability, people would be kind of SOL, for lack of a better way to say it, and I get to be able to do what I do and help people, and they still get to enjoy what they like to do, and they're doing it themselves. I mean, I have individuals who have down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, and most of them, not all of them. Still, most of them connect with me straight up, just them and me, so they've been able to figure out how to use facetime and skype and zoom and all these other digital platforms, which is cool. 

I like what you said. This was unique for me to hear that it lets them be them; they’re not restricted by anyone else's perception of how they should express themselves. It's letting people be who they want to be. In the end, we all have the obstacles of the internet and how much we can take advantage of it. So, I think that's beautifully said.

I noticed some things that you said about your services as well, that it's about improving the quality of life by letting people express themselves in the way they want to do. So I think we relate there.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your opinions about accessibility and web accessibility? I know that you deal with music, which is interesting; I’d love to hear more.

Web accessibility is great for music. I mean, think you could learn how to play an instrument just by popping onto YouTube. People can learn guitar these days or piano or whatever instrument you want, without having a physical teacher there. That sounds crazy, coming from a business owner who does one-on-one lessons and uses that for their business.

But really, you could learn this stuff on your own, and YouTube is out there; there’s a lot of really cool apps that are on electronic devices that you need to connect to the internet to say using Garageband on an iPad or there are other apps that you can sort of joining other people in real-time almost like you're playing a video game, you've got the headset on you, got your video game. Still, you’re not in the same physical space. Still, you’re in the same digital electronic space, and that's been cool too that I've seen people using that playing video games and seeing their friends that they haven't been able to see, just virtually hear them and maybe see them on the screen in the upper corner. So, I love this because this is now the way the world is. And so we might as well adapt to it and embrace it because otherwise we'll get left behind.

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