If you've listened to the 5/16/19 podcast, you already know what happened. (If not, what are you waiting for, the real Flash Fiction Day?)
I don't remember where I got the idea that May 16th was National Flash Fiction Day. Maybe I dreamt it. However it entered my brain, I definitely consciously entered it into my calendar, and dutifully reminded myself a few days ago, "I'd better get a very short story ready to post!"
May 16th is not National Flash Fiction Day. That'll be in June 15th in the U.K. and the 22nd in New Zealand. I don't know if we even have one in the U.S.
But May 16th is International Global Accessibility Awareness Day. For a compelling and vital look at this issue, have a look around www.globalaccessibilityawarenessday.org. This is from their website:
Whether you participate in a public or private event to mark Global Accessibility Awareness Day, on May 16, we encourage designers, developers, usability professionals, and everyone else to take an hour to experience first-hand the impact of digital accessibility (or lack there of).
On May 16, unplug your mouse (blind users do not use the mouse), launch your screen reader, and spend an hour using some of your favorite sites strictly using the keyboard alone (tab/shift tab, arrow keys, enter and spacebar) and not the mouse/trackpad. Why not turn off your screen and depend strictly on the information conveyed by the screen reader.
Whether or not you are a web developer, or a public building owner or manager, or a person who might inadvertently leave a scooter in the middle of a sidewalk, you are a person connected to all the other people.
Awareness is very good thing. It builds strong empathy bones!
Oh, yeah. And the flash fiction! It's 368 words. It was written before I realized our official Life Lab calendar was inaccurate, so it has nothing to do with accessibility. (I think.)
She took her time, and showed the pictures with care.
“Tomato. You - you want a tomato? The tomatoes are in produce. Right over there.” Pale blue eyes followed the young woman’s point, flickered a second, then fixed on the produce sign. Then back to the phone held carefully in her thin hand.
“Okay. I have to get back to -- okay. Bread. Two aisles down. That way. THAT WAY.” A shopper at the nearby specialty cheeses case darted a curious glance from over a chunk of emmentaler. Another walked briskly around them. The lady with the pale blue eyes moved her bent finger across the screen again, then raised the phone up to the young woman’s face. Another image. Another interruption.
“Ma’am. That’s toilet paper. It’s over by pharmacy.”
The older lady looked off toward the far end of the store, past ten or twelve aisles, each with a sentinel tower of sale items, and various scattered stands of candy, greeting cards, small toys, and off-brand ear buds and phone chargers. She looked back at the young woman with a sheepish smile.
“Okay, ma’am? Just walk that way and you’ll see it. Okay? Do you need a cart? Let’s get you a cart!” She swept past her, and returned pushing a cart with a stubborn wheel and a dangling child safety harness strap. “Here you go!”
The pale, blue eyes looked down at her phone. The screen was dark. She pushed and pressed with a quavering finger, swiped and pressed, and pressed again. She turned the screen toward the young woman’s face.
“Shampoo. Yup. Also right by the pharmacy. You can’t miss it.”
With a nod, the silver-haired lady turned measured steps toward the nearest aisle.
“Your cart. Lady! You need your cart! I have to stock the shelves. I can’t -- ugh!”
And so they went through the entire store, gathering a tomato, bread, toilet paper, shampoo, and, on impulse, an off-brand phone charger.
The young woman could not explain why she let herself be drawn into this task, which took just shy of 45 minutes and extended through her break. But at the end, she did not, in the least, mind having her picture taken.