Accessibility events can be a great way to meet new people

I love accessibility field and the people I end up meeting in the related events and circles. Everyone has their own needs and angle to accessibility, and you can always meet cool people and learn new tricks. In some ways the world shrinks, as you get to meet people you already knew, or get to meet people you already knew but didn’t know you did.

In an event I was recently they had live captions (like closed captions or subtitles, on the giant screen behind the speaker) and also an ASL interpret. Great for anyone who can’t hear, whether they can do sign language or prefer to read. I have to admit I don’t know if it was the first event I’ve been to where those were provided, since I don’t usually notice such things (I don’t use either so I try to just focus on listening. Eyes closed, or pointed towards the speaker to confirm with the sighted rules). It was lovely, so I saved a small clip. (video, with audio, and should show the captions and a person doing ASL interpretation)

Other things that can be great at the events: easier to small talk or to ask for help. “What kind of food is that?” “Cream ale? Is that a beer or a soda?” “What languages do you speak?” with the usual “Have we met? My facial memory is a bit blurry…” and so on. The descriptions of people can be creative (I’m probably not so good in guessing how to describe people any more). “John… wears a cowboy hat”. or “So-and-so has a (description of) tattoo on his forearm”. Those will work. I may notice some obvious things about people, such as them using a wheelchair, or being 9 feet tall, or having a guide dog. But don’t count on it. John without the cowboy hat, especially if not in a context I’m used to seeing him? Not a chance. Which brings it back to the mysteries of how long have I had a neighbor with that guide dog? Never seen him with a cane, and can’t exactly tell if a dog is a guide dog if they aren’t in the correct harness.

You can also beef up your introductions with some humor. I love Troy McClure from the Simpsons as he always goes to “you might remember me from such films as…” that is a good one. Especially when you go with oddly specific titles or add some humor somewhere. Better than when you try to desperately figure if you’ve met someone somewhere before and have no clue where. (“Sorry, my facial memory is blurry” “well, I’m a total” – so conclusion after thinking the voice sounds familiar is probably something related to some event or interest, or who knows, maybe a neighbor?)

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