Hey, guys! I know that it’s been a while, but I felt very guilty about my blog and decided to do something about it. I’m always saying how people and governments need to make more effort to make things more accessible for people with disabilities – but then I realised that my own blog wasn’t as accessible as it could be. As a disability blogger myself, I made it my priority to change it so that it would be. So, I took an extra month’s break after the holiday was over to make some major changes to my blog. But before I get to the new accessibility changes to The Wheelchair Teen, let me first give you some follow-up updates.
My new electric wheelchair finally arrived! I wrote in my post Wheelchair Blues and Getting Turned Away about how the government had accidentally taken away my old one. Well, it’s finally been replaced by an electric wheelchair with new features such as headlights and longer mileage. The person who delivered the wheelchair was ashamed about how many months it had taken to arrive. With an electric wheelchair, I now have the freedom to be able to visit the library to work or to go out for a long ride without getting tired. I’ve already joined a social club since receiving it and it feels amazing to finally be able to speak to and meet new people in person because I rarely leave the house. All of these freedoms had been taken away from me when the old one was.
It wasn’t a good experience riding around in it at first though. I’d only used my old electric wheelchair to ride around school – so being on the streets with one is a new experience. I burst out crying after taking my new electric wheelchair for its first spin around the block; when you’re in an electric wheelchair, people treat you very differently than when you’re in a manual one. Their prejudices seem to shift drastically and in a negative way. I’m still the same person – but it fascinates me how vastly different people view me depending on which type of wheelchair I leave the house in. I’ll write more about that in a later blog post though. Basically, accepting the new electric wheelchair is a difficult journey – just like accepting my stairlift was last year.
I also mentioned in my post Wheelchair Blues and Getting Turned Away that I had been turned away from three different psychologists because they felt uncomfortable treating a disabled person – even though my mental struggles had nothing to do with my disability. A further disappointing update about that is: I was rejected by yet another psychologist during the holiday. It was a tough moment because I really needed it. This is my fourth rejection and I’m starting to lose hope. Psychological support shouldn’t just be a privilege for the non-disabled.
For those who were wondering, my second educational talk to children about disabilities went really well! I mentioned that I was travelling to a school to give talks again and some people have been asking about how it went. The school was happy to have me back sharing my story with their students once more. I presented to six different classes teaching them about disabilities and how to treat disabled people.
I felt as if there was a good connection between me and the students and that I was able to teach them a lot. Even some of the teachers were shocked by the facts that I shared and were moved by my story. Afterwards, the children wrote thank you notes to me about what they liked the most about my talk, and almost all of them tried to sign them by writing with a pen in their mouth like me. It was mostly just scribbles, but I felt really touched that they had all tried. Public speaking is definitely one of my passions. There’s something about a stage and a spotlight that makes me feel very comfortable. You can read about my first educational talk here: My First Educational Talk to Children About Disabilities! – The Wheelchair Teen
I’ve also decided to practise what I preach when it comes to my future career. One of the main things that I advocate for on my blog is more disabled representation in media because I believe that it’ll help how society views us by normalizing us more. Therefore, I’ve decided to start searching for future courses which will help me to be that representation that I’m always talking about: acting courses! “Be the change you want to see” is a wise quote that a friend of mine recently said to me.
Changes to My Blog
Having ALT text or descriptive captions under pictures is important for blind users who use screen-readers. Even though they aren’t able to see the picture – the screen-reader reads the ALT text or caption out loud for them so that they can have some kind of idea of what it is trying to show. This was pointed out to me by a very helpful fellow disability blogger. Most of my recent posts already had them, but none of my old ones did. So, I’ve gone back and added descriptive captions to every picture on all of my old posts to make them more accessible to blind readers.
As a digital artist myself, I felt guilty about the fact that I used to use cartoon pictures on my posts without getting permission first and without sourcing them correctly. I spent most of my month’s break replacing almost every single picture from all of my old posts with either my own images, or images from sites with pictures that are free for commercial use such as Pexels.com, Unsplash.com, and Pixabay.com.
Unfortunately, those sites don’t have a lot of variety when it comes to images about disabilities, so I had to use my graphic design skills to digitally sketch a lot of the replacement pictures. It was difficult to find pictures of things like manual hoist lifts and wheelchairs with umbrellas attached to them – I therefore had to spend hours sketching and re-creating them on my own for the blog posts that needed them.
Additionally, I felt led to re-write two of my posts from when I was younger because I no longer agree with them. One of them was my post: ‘Disabled’ vs. ‘Physically-Challenged’ and Other Such Terms. I thought it was important to use the post to properly explain why I use the term ‘disabled’ and not ‘differently-abled’ – instead of the confusing story that was shared there before. A lot of people ask me why I use the term ‘disabled’ even though it sounds so negative. It’s probably the question that I get asked the most on my blog, so I thought it would be handy to have a post that I can easily point them in the direction of which contains all of my opinions on the matter. The other was my Introductions page which I updated to be more user-friendly and to contain a handy navigation menu.
I also split my old posts into proper paragraphs (because I used to write in huge writing blocks) and turned them all black like my recent posts are. Lastly, I did other general things to clean my blog up like correcting the logo which I had hastily created when I was only sixteen:
I know that people rarely go back and read my old posts – but I still thought that it was important to make these accessibility and image changes. It just didn’t sit right with me that I was continuing to share posts about accessibility when most of my own blog wasn’t in a way that most blogs are. Anyway, it feels good to finally be done with all of the changes and ready to share new posts with you all. Thank you so much for sticking with me during this tricky time. 🥰