Photo shows a laptop computer. On the screen is the Google Search page, except it says Dr. Google. A stethescope is wrapped around the laptop.

When I was a sophomore in high school, I joined the debate team to get close to a guy. I didn’t get the guy and was only a mediocre debater at best, but 3 years in debate did teach me valuable early lessons that I use almost daily. …


Bar graph showing most common web accessibility barriers. See complete description and source at end of article.

Talking to Congressional representatives always makes me feel bad. Today, after I talked to my Congresswoman, Susan Bonamici (D-OR), I was trying to pinpoint what, if anything, could be done about it.

Rep. Bonamici was very polite, interested and showed appreciation for what I and my 3 colleagues had to say. We were promoting four bills that mostly had to do with digital accessibility for blind people in voting, the digital environment, and medical devices. She politely listened and promised to follow up on our fact sheets and give us consideration. I have no reason to believe she won’t. …


Lisa Shulman, circa 1988. A dark haired teenage girl in a homecoming dress. (I am unsure what credit to give this photo where it came from, or how I came to have it.)

“So, you are losing your vision, AND your hearing, AND your kidneys are failing????” My TTY telephone relay operator typed this and then typed (SHOCKED INDIGNATION). Its always interesting what little tidbits TTY relay operators like to share about what they are hearing on the other line.

“Yes,” I typed, “But let’s just put vision and hearing aside for the moment, Let’s just take one matter at a time and deal with my kidneys today.” I almost told her to take a deep breath, in through her nose, out through her mouth…

She was an intake receptionistat a transplant center…


The Aira logo: a light blue, lower case sanserif letter a surrounded by a white circle.

Aira, the new high tech visual interpreter service for the blind, has taken the blind community by storm this past year. Everyone is talking about it. Everyone wants to try it. Everyone has LOTS of opinions about it.

As a blind person who helps run an adaptive tech company, I do, too. The concept of a visual interpreter that is there whenever you need it, a set of eyes on demand, is pretty attractive. I appreciate the concept of Aira. Blind people have always had to do a lot of social engineering, or in other words, beg, borrow and steal…


This post is shared from my professional business site blindmast.com. My husband and partner, Nik, and I teach blindness skills to blind clients. He is blind and I am Deafblind.

Nik has a saying that I think gets misunderstood a lot. Its something along the lines of “We are working towards average” in our work with our clients who have vision impairments.

This has more to do with overall expectations of what blind people can do. It is not a judgement on any individual blind person. People are unique and have individual needs and strengths, preferences, likes and dislikes, goals…


Five tweenage children with long white canes are shown walking together side by side, some with arms around each other. PC: The National Organization of Parents of Blind Children

Attending college courses in my special education major as a Deafblind person was a bit of a trip. I was always the only one who was disabled in my classes. I would sit there and listen to third-person descriptions of people like me, Deafblind or otherwise disabled people, as my face turned flush and the hairs on my neck stood on end. I could feel people averting their gaze away from me. The class grew silent and uncomfortable if I disagreed too vocally. At the same time, I had to fight for a semblance of professional belonging. …


Family: D and one of my sons are shown walking down a country road hand-in-hand. They are viewed from behind, D is traveling with his power chair and my three-year-old son is walking beside him while pointing something out. The road is flanked by a forested area.

I watched with pride as my brothers and sisters with disabilities from ADAPT put their lives, health and legal status on the line to save all Americans from the destruction of health care. Some were friends or friends of friends. I listened for reports that they had come out of jail ok, that their basic needs were being met out there in the thick of things. I had to stop reading the hateful and ablist comments posted on news stories about them. These are my friends they are talking about; good, talented, creative, selfless determined people. Real people, not hypotheticals…


On the left, my husband, Nik (who is really, legit, totally blind) and his golden retriever guide dog. On the right, I (the fake blind one!) stand next to him with my yellow labrador guide dog at a cocktail party.

I’m sure I could have handled it better, but then again, she could have cut me some slack.

Twelve hours previous to being scolded by this woman as I was rolled into the OR for emergency gall bladder surgery, I had been writhing in pain on an ambulance. Then I had been in the ER for another ten hours, and only just recently had gotten a dose of fentanyl which finally gave me some relief from ongoing gall bladder attacks, but also made me a little out of it.

So when the OR intake nurse asked me whether I was…

Lisa Ferris

Lisa Ferris lives with her husband, 3 boys, 2 guide dogs and 3 guinea pigs in Portland, Oregon. She is co-owner of an adaptive technology company.

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