Welcome to RomBkPod season 2! This week Melinka discusses a topic close to their heart: accessibility.


> MEKA WHITE (she/her) is the voice behind where she writes about her adventures in reading romance and being visually impaired. Meka loves pushing books and can’t wait to share her favorites with you. When she’s not reading, Meka also enjoys singing and exploring the Pacific Northwest with her guide dog, Treble. You can follow her on Twitter @Mektastic

> MELINDA UTENDORF (she/her) was that child reading Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley High books with a flashlight until 2 a.m. and checking out stacks of books from the library every week. After getting sick of ‘important’ books in her English degree classes, she turned to romance and HEAs and hasn’t looked back since. Melinda spends her time doing puzzles, listening to podcasts, and helping as admin for @RomanceSparksJoy. When she’s not busy with all of that, she’s a freelance editor or talking about books as @MelindaEdits



NOTE: This conversation was recorded in mid-August during the 2020 Covid pandemic

CW: This episode contains discussion of ableism, as well as brief mentions of the George Floyd video and Corey Alexander

> Accessibility = Having Access

> Print-disabled can mean many things: for many it’s difficulty seeing, for many it’s difficulty holding a book, for some it’s both


>> Caption your GIFs and videos

>> Write alternative or ALT text for images and memes

>>> This includes, but is not limited to, images of book covers, book bingo, and that meme with the tables in the cafeteria

>>> ALT text can be short and sweet or long and detailed, but something is better than nothing

>>> Ask yourself two questions: 1) what sticks out to you in the picture? And 2) what is the information you would want to know if you could not see it?

>>> Screen readers continue to improve, but better to share redundant information than zero information

>> Keep your handle or screen name in simple text with limited emojis

>> Avoid using GIFS and videos with a strobe effect which can cause headaches

>> When sharing about a book, always include the title and author in the post text, don’t just rely on an image of the book cover

>> Shoutout to OSRBC (Old School Romance Bookclub) FB readers group 


>> Shoutout to The Broken Circle discord started by Bree of Kit Rocha


>> Instagram is not discussed because neither Meka nor Melinda uses it

> AUTHORS: Thank you to all of the authors using ALT text in their email newsletters!


>> Many rely on ebooks because they either have difficulty seeing or because holding a physical book can be painful to their hands

>> Paper arcs are not accessible to the print-disabled

>> Ebook ARCs are preferred

>> PDF ARCs are difficult to read because, 1) you can’t adjust the size of the type, and 2) not all PDFs are formatted properly to be read by screen readers

>> PUBLISHERS: Please enable Kindle Text to Speech!

>> Kindle Text to Speech is not the same as an audio book. After controversy in 2009 when this feature was first introduced, publishers now must enable the Text to Speech function, and many do not, therefore eliminating another option for print-blind readers

>> Audiobooks are great, but not everyone enjoys them, and the print-disabled should not be forced to use them


> Meka recommends FB group Meme Jokes For Blind Folks describes memes for the visually impaired

> Meka recommends Podcast Talk Description to Me was started the summer in the wake of the George Floyd video to help the visually impaired better understand what was happening in the news

> Romance blogger, accessibility advocate, and friend of RomBkPod Corey Alexander sadly passed away after this episode was recorded, but their work is still available on their blog

> Melinda is a contributing reviewer for The Book Queen which is also a great source for ebook deals

> Melinda recommends following disability rights advocate Imani Barbarin of the Crutches & Spice blog 

> Melinda recommends following disability rights advocate Keah Brown, author of the book The Pretty One

> Meka recommends following Natalia and the “Guide This Way” blog, plus Natalia and Meka have their own podcast, “A Teaspoon of Good”

> Meka recommends Tommy Edison on YouTube who answers many common questions about being blind

> Meka also recommends following Dianna on YouTube
Link: tbd 

> We’ll include a link to Meka’s award-winning Red Lobster story here
Link: tbd

> FINALLY: Write great characters who’re disabled! Thank you!

Join @RomBkPod next week as season 2 continues with our friends to lovers romance favorites!

Happy Reading!

Open/Close Music: “Lift Off” by Jahzzar
From the Free Music Archive
CC BY-SA 3.0


MEKA [00:00:00] Hi, everybody, welcome to RomBkPod: Inclusively Yours. And today, it is, I like to call us the dynamic duo. Maybe we’re not feeling as dynamic. 

MEKA [00:00:13] <laughter>. 

MEKA [00:00:13] Um, but I’m Meka with me is Melinda. Hi, Melinda!

MELINDA [00:00:20] Hello, how are you? 

MEKA [00:00:21] I’m good. I’m good. I’ve been so excited about this episode and we are actually we’re not talking about a troop this time around. We are going to talk about accessibility. 

MELINDA [00:00:36] Yes, I am very excited. We’ve been wanting to do this for, you know, ever since we started the podcast. So, I’m really happy that we’re finally going to do it. 

MEKA [00:00:46] And there is so much just surrounding accessibility and I just want to stay like as off the bat, I’m already ready to give a disclaimer. 

[00:01:01] <laughter>. 

MEKA [00:01:01] We you know, we, we can talk about, like, a lot of our lived experiences and also, you know, things that we know about. But god knows, I am not the expert on accessibility. 

MELINDA [00:01:18] And I am 100% not the expert. I mean, I think it’s important that we both talk about, like you said, our experiences. But it’s also important that we get across that there are many different types of disabilities. 

MEKA [00:01:37] Yes. 

MELINDA [00:01:37] Just like any experience, people with disabilities are not a monolith and everyone has different experiences. But I thought that for us, it was really important that we really wanted to have this conversation and just talk about the different experiences that we both have in our disabilities, and how we’ve experience things, and how accessibility is so important to us, and why it should be important to other people. 

MEKA [00:02:09] And we really, you know, when it comes to accessibility, like people ask things like, “what is accessibility?” And “what does accessibility mean?” Because I think that a lot of times people believe that it’s this like, huge thing that like they that A) they can’t seem to get their minds around sometimes or B) there’s so much of it like where do you start? And really, if we were just to distill this down to its basic like, its basic formula. Hey, like this, I’m here, I’m with the math again. 

MELINDA [00:02:54] You do like your math. 

MEKA [00:02:55] I’m horrible at math. So, I think if I make math associations. It really is all accessible, all accessibility is having access: is the ability to access something or some place. Or information. 

MELINDA [00:03:15] [Inaudible] It’s just, it starts with super tiny, small things. And I know accessibility is so important to you at just like the base level, and I think that’s the one thing we can get across, that if you just start small in just tiny little ways, it can just creep in other things, and then make your life and other people’s lives so much better. 

MEKA [00:03:48] And I think that, you know, like you’re saying, there’s so many, there’s so many different types of disabilities and so many ways that people often need access, that sometimes, like I as a blind person, don’t always even think about it until it’s pointed out to me or, um, or unless I see something that someone has mentioned. And then I’m like, “oh, yeah, that makes perfect sense.” 

MELINDA [00:04:14] Well, let’s, let’s stop there because, like, I’m just like jumping ahead of myself here. So, first of all, so obviously, like you just said, you’re blind. So, that is a huge like that’s a disability that you need to access the things that you can’t access. And it’s incredibly frustrating to me when we don’t make those things accessible to you. And there are so many different types of disabilities that are, you know, different scales of disability. I have fibromyalgia, so I have a lot of chronic pain issues. And then there are different things like, you know, mental health and then migraines, deafness, obviously. And then there’s acute illnesses like cancer, things that happen that, you have a disability for a very short time. So, these are all different disabilities that people need, you know, access to different things in varying degrees. So, that’s what I mean when I say there are different types of disabilities and different accessible things that you need or different people need in their lives. And so, when I say that there are different types, I just want to get that across that, you know, your accessibility issues and my disability issues: two completely different things. Still extremely important, you know. 

MEKA [00:05:40] Yeah, and the other thing I really wanted to bring up is that there are people who have more than one disability. 

MELINDA [00:05:47] Oh, absolutely! 

MEKA [00:05:47] And so, what might work for me as a…what’s going to work for me is a blind person is not going to work for someone who is deaf-blind. 

MELINDA [00:06:01] Right, absolutely. And that’s not something that a lot of people think of, and that’s definitely something that I don’t think of, as someone who has chronic pain, and I didn’t really start thinking a lot about people who need Alt text or GIF descriptions until I started having blind friends, which is not a great thing for me to think about in the past. But, you know, obviously working to get better on that every single day. 

MEKA [00:06:32] You know, you’re talking about things like sometimes, you know, you don’t know what you don’t know, right? And we live in a world where, where in most circles, accessibility is not built in from the ground up. 

MELINDA [00:06:51] Right. Which is frustrating, but it is what it is. 

MEKA [00:06:55] And in a lot of advocacy has been about, you know, making people think about it from the ground up because it’s a lot easier to have those discussions than to create a product. And then all of a sudden, people are like, “this isn’t accessible,” and then you’re like, “well, how am I supposed to make this accessible?” And…and so, that’s a challenge. 

MELINDA [00:07:20] Right, and the thing is, is like all, all you can do is do better. And, you know, once you realize it, it’s not even, it’s realizing it and doing better and working on it on a regular basis. And I’m positive that I do not get things right all the time. But when I realized I get them wrong, I, you know, correct it and move on. And I feel like if you can do that, that you’re learning and getting better. And I I hope that if people listen to this, that’s what they get from it as well. 

MEKA [00:07:52] Yes. For, for sure. Because, you know, like this isn’t about beating anyone over the head or saying… 

MELINDA [00:07:58] No, not all. 

MEKA [00:08:00] “You’re wrong!” and, “how could you not have thought about this?” Unless you’re a super famous app developer, in which case, you know these platforms and you know better. 

[00:08:11] <laughter> 

MELINDA [00:08:13] 100%! And if you are, if you could please develop your apps right now,. 

MEKA [00:08:21] That’s right. Get it together. 

MELINDA [00:08:22] That would be amazing. 

MEKA [00:08:24] And also, and also the thing is…so, you know, the other thing is and this is where it comes in, that people with disabilities, we’re not a monolith. So, what I am saying is not. It may not be what some other blind person says, you know. And so, I think, for example, sometimes, sometimes people don’t always agree on how to do things. So, I am a pretty open person, so if you DM or ask me something about blindness, you know, unless it’s, unless it’s like a super dumb question, like, “how do you take a shower?”. 

[00:09:06] <laughter> 

MEKA [00:09:08] I’m going to answer you because I want, ’cause A) you’re probably my friend if you’re DMing me anyway. And so, friends help friends out and B) I want, I want I, I also get something out of this and um… 

MELINDA [00:09:23] I can guarantee you I will never DM you and ask you that question. Just FYI. 

[00:09:26] <laughter> 

MEKA [00:09:29] Oh, you would be surprised what people, what people ask. From everything from “how do you take a shower?” to “how do you have sex?” 

MELINDA [00:09:37] Oh my god. People are wild.

MEKA [00:09:43] Go ahead, Melinda. 

MELINDA [00:09:43] I was just going to say, you know, disability’s impact everyone differently. You know, I know, like you said, people are not a monolith. I know that everyone, like I have, like I said, chronic pain issues, and I know that everyone deals with that differently. And, you know, people with chronic pain definitely get recommended yoga all the time. 

MEKA [00:10:05] Oh, yes. There you go. 

MELINDA [00:10:07] Yoga does not work for me, but… 

MEKA [00:10:10] “How about some lavender? Have you tried lavender?”. 

MELINDA [00:10:11] You know, I really like the smell of lavender, but it doesn’t do for me. I do enjoy the smell, though. 

MEKA [00:10:20] “How about meditation? Have you ever tried meditation?”

MELINDA [00:10:21] Oh my god, I hate it. 

[00:10:21] <laughter>. 

MELINDA [00:10:25] But so I will, you know, never ask for recommendations of thing ever on Twitter because you will always get those same things over and over again because, you know, people think that you haven’t ever bothered those things. So, but I’m not saying that another person with fibro, they may very well get great relief from yoga because admittedly, yoga is good; It can help with things. It just doesn’t personally help me. 

MEKA [00:10:54] Yeah, I understand. 

MELINDA [00:10:55] Oh, believe me, I know you do. 

MEKA [00:10:58] I do. 

MELINDA [00:11:01] So, we just want to talk a little bit about, you know, how we talked about, you know, that our disabilities definitely impact us in different ways. We wanted to talk a little bit about, you know, accessibility in our online spaces. Because obviously, you know, online spaces, that’s how we met. That’s our wonderful communities. But they’re not always the friendliest places for extensibility. I mean… 

MEKA [00:11:33] Yeah. 

MELINDA [00:11:33] I mean, Meka how many times have we talked about the fact that it’s incredibly difficult for you to just jump into conversations? People don’t describe things. 

MEKA [00:11:48] Yeah, it is definitely a challenge. So, you know, the big thing is that, is that I just want to be included. Like, I don’t want to be out here being like, “put alt text in your images,” or, you know, I want, I want to be in this conversation…I want to be in this conversation as well. And but often I would just kind of scroll by, and scroll past, and when GIFs, and that’s right hard G; fight me. 

[00:12:21] <laughter>. 

MELINDA [00:12:21] Same, same. We can, can agree on that at least. 

[00:12:26] <laughter> 

MEKA [00:12:27] When GIFS were out, you know, somebody would be like, you know, I’d see a tweet for someone, they would be like, “oh, yeah and then this a HTP://blah blah, blah, blah, blah,” and I’m like, “well, what the hell is that?” I have no idea. And I really in like in a lot of people were like me and would just skip over, just scroll past. Because the idea of A) I just want to talk about books, you know, whatever it is they’re talking about, I just want to be included and feeling. And so, having to ask for that inclusion, it was like, now I have to be…I have to take out, you know, I’m blind and now I have to bring that back into the forefront again and talk blindness. 

MELINDA [00:13:18] Right. 

MEKA [00:13:18] And I have to ask this thing that I really don’t want to ask, because now I feel like I feel like I’m being a past or, you know, and or I’m bothering or I’m bothering people. 

MELINDA [00:13:31] You, you, me. One time you put it to me. Like, you know, you wanted to have the same option that I had. I can scroll by these conversations and I get to choose whether or not that’s the conversation that I want to involve myself on. You did not have that same option because you have no idea what the context of a conversation is, because you have no idea what that GIF is. 

MEKA [00:13:58] Yep. Exactly. And I remember I wrote a thread on, I wrote the thread on Twitter about it that received way more traction then I even, then I realized because I knew, I knew that I you know, I ask people to describe images. And back then, a lot of times, you know, I knew, I knew the people who were already doing it. But I also knew, like, who wasn’t doing it. And it wasn’t about making anybody feel bad. But it was about just saying, I’m not, I’m not being included in this. And I remember just being like, if it’s not too much trouble, if you could just describe your GIFs, just so I know, like what’s, what’s being said. I was getting like replies, sometimes I would write something and I would get a reply and it would just be a GIF and I’d be like, “I don’t even know what this is. I can’t even write back to you.” 

MELINDA [00:14:53] Yeah. I specifically would remember seeing people reply to you with no, like, text and just a GIF. And I would be like, okay. And I would start finally replying that and describing those GIFs specifically to you in the butt reply I person to because I would be like, I would never say anything rude. I would just be like, OK, but in my head thinking, OK, Meka has no freaking clue what that means. But I, I just don’t know that people like I said before, like you don’t know what you said. You don’t know, you don’t know. And it has to be frustrating to constantly, like you said, you know, reinsert the fact that you’re, you’re blind. Over and over again, like, OK, again, you’re blind, hello, you’re blind. But that’s so frustrating and tiring. 

MEKA [00:15:43] I just about books and banging in books, like you know. 

[00:15:45] <laughter> 

MEKA [00:15:48] That’s what I’m here for. 

MELINDA [00:15:48] And you’re, “okay…is that a GIF that I should be offended by? Is that a GIF that I should laugh at?” Like that’s all you want to know so you can, you know, keep moving on and having that conversation. 

MEKA [00:15:59] And let me just tell you the really great thing about the people that I follow, about Romancelandia, is that people just started doing it like I remember, you know, people started doing it. And I would see people kind of reminding people. And every time, it would just make me smile and I would go past and I would see and I would see a GIF that was describe an image that was described. And I was just like only guys. And, you know, and especially Twitter wasn’t really making it especially easy to find like how to describe an image. And at that time, they didn’t even have a place where you could describe a GIF. And, you know, you were awesome because I know a lot of people ask for that; both blind and sighted. 

MELINDA [00:16:43] I was very happy when they finally got it. Very, I was very excited when they finally got the GIF description. 

MEKA [00:16:50] Oh, my gosh. Yes. 

MELINDA [00:16:51] Because I would forget it just because you would reply to someone and you reply in the moment and you don’t remember that. And then afterwards, I would go, crap! And I would try to go back to that reply and then readd it, because like I said before, you, you, you can only keep learning and keep trying to do better by every once in a while, you forget. And then I’d be like, crap, I need to do better the next day. But yeah, I was very excited about that. And so, online spaces just don’t always make it easy for us. But as you know, people on Twitter, we can make those online spaces as accessible for our blind friends. Anything is not even for just our blind friends. Like, you don’t know who’s on Twitter. You don’t know somebody who’s on Twitter. In the book community who’s blind, you have no idea. 

MEKA [00:17:44] And most likely, we’re not really going to tell you this. You know that unless there’s an issue or something. 

MELINDA [00:17:51] So, if that person is scrolling Twitter and they, like you said before, like you don’t you don’t know who’s scrolling and you don’t know if they just want to be included in that conversation, maybe they want to jump in on that conversation, but they don’t know if they can or should want to because you haven’t described that GIF. 

MEKA [00:18:11] And there is a question, because we did, we did pitch some questions out to people and there was one that I kind of wanted to answer now, if you don’t mind. 

MELINDA [00:18:20] Okay, awesome! 

MEKA [00:18:21] So, someone asked: How much does how much text should we, should we put it in a description? 

MELINDA [00:18:30] I was really excited about that question because that is a question I’ve wondered to. 

MEKA [00:18:35] So, it is I just feel like, I feel like it’s I mean, if you ask three blind people that question, you get different answers. Right, so, you know, I don’t think that you. I, OK, so here’s what my answer is going to be. My answer is going to be, because I’ve been thinking about this a lot, It’s twofold: What sticks out to you in the picture? So what is it that sticks out to you? And what is the information that you would want to know if you could not see it? 

MELINDA [00:19:08] OK. So, for like example, I do a lot of puzzles, I post puzzle pictures and I’m done. And usually my alt text for that would be like completed 1000 piece puzzle of a cottage. 

MEKA [00:19:20] Right. And so, you know. And again, you know, I…that is enough for me. Like, I, I, I know that you have mad puzzle skills, that you are a complete badass and can could do something I could never do, not because of blindness, but because I, I am just not made that way to complete puzzles; I just know it. But you know, I sometimes am curious about like, you know, what color is the cottage. Does it have any like windows or is it more. Is there is it like a cottage on the line or are there trees surrounding it or, you know, just things like that? No, it doesn’t need to be like a long tokenistic, you know, and the grass was green for 18 pages. But, you know, these are things that like I would want I would definitely want to know because then I. I already know that you’re a bad ass and have to complete a one thousand piece puzzle. But I, I can admit that I have been really curious about, you know, like, what is it what, what exactly is it showing. 

MELINDA [00:20:26] Good to know. When I do the alt text, I’ve always been like, should I put more description on less description or, you know. Okay, excellent. That was a great question and I’m glad that we got that one. 

MEKA [00:20:38] And I want to also just mention that there are there are several levels of blindness. Right? You know, so you have people who are totally blind. You’ve got people who are the only acceptable use of the word colorblind, I will take. Um, you know, how people are like, oh… 

MELINDA [00:20:59] That literally, that went right over my head. 

[00:21:00] <Laughter> 

MELINDA [00:21:01] And I’m like, “what kind of blind are there?” Oh, my god. 

[00:21:07] <laughter>. 

MELINDA [00:21:07] I’m very focused on accessibility right now. 

MEKA [00:21:12] It’s all good. 

MELINDA [00:21:12] Wow, OK. 

MEKA [00:21:15] That is the only color blindness I will accept. And, you know, people have different fields and depth of perception and, you know, different field division. And so, I’m sorry, you just you don’t know, you don’t know who you’re speaking to and you write those descriptions out. You know what I mean? Like. And how much that it’s going to mean to someone. And obviously, you know, I don’t feel like it’s something that people should like, you know, stress over. So, if you’re a one liner, you know, if there’s a book, it’s more, it’s more helpful if you do put the title of the book instead of just be like a red book. You know? 

[00:21:56] <laughter>. 

MEKA [00:21:56] I mean, you know, four book covers, I, I don’t I, until someone started describing them to me, I didn’t really know what they looked like. And so it is nice to know, you know, maybe like the ethnicity of someone on the cover or who is on the cover, and maybe like a little bit about what they’re wearing and or, or how they’re like posed or that kind of, you know, that kind of thing. So, of if you feel like you can add that, you know, you should…if you can. 

MELINDA [00:22:29] If like, like let’s say Ms. Bev did a cover reveal and like we added, like, alt text to it. And instead of just like putting, you know, like her name and the title of it, is it helpful to like put, you know, “gorgeous black man” and like, and like a description of what he’s wearing and like… 

MEKA [00:22:50] Yeah, you know if you wanted to, yeah. 

MELINDA [00:22:50] OK. 

MEKA [00:22:52] Yeah, I would find that, I would find that to be, I would find that to be helpful. 

MELINDA [00:22:56] OK. Good to know. 

MEKA [00:22:58] Because we don’t know what we like until we realize what we’re missing. 

MELINDA [00:23:01] Right, understandable. I would have no idea. 

MEKA [00:23:05] And then I also just wanted to can I also just talk about a little bit about screen readers. 

MELINDA [00:23:11] Oh, for sure. 

MEKA [00:23:12] Because I know we have that question, too, and I feel like there’s a lot of misconceptions about, about screen readers. 

MELINDA [00:23:17] Do you mean screen readers, like what you use to like, read Twitter? 

MEKA [00:23:23] Yeah. 

MELINDA [00:23:24] OK, yep. Go for it. 

MEKA [00:23:25] And like how they work because people don’t always like know how they work. So, some people have thought this screen readers will just describe the texture for you and that’s not that’s not the case. 

MELINDA [00:23:39] OK. 

MEKA [00:23:40] So, there are, there are a lot of different screen readers. The Mac has one…there can only be one. 

[00:23:46] <laughter>. 

MEKA [00:23:46] So, the Mac and iPhone have one. Windows has like, you know, like Jaws, and NVDA, and I think system access, and one called dolphin. And apparently, apparently, software developers love their water concepts or just like Jaws. 

MELINDA [00:24:05] Apparently. 

MEKA [00:24:06] And then there’s one for Android. And, and which is also on your like Kindle device, your Kindle device that you buy from Amazon called TalkBack. And all of them work in different ways. But but. overall, they are going to read whatever it is that you are writing on the screen. Like, you know, whatever, whatever print text there is, I will read it. Some of them have optical, optical character recognition on them where you can, like, do a screenshot of a meme and then get it to tell you what it is, um, or at the very least, what text is on it. It doesn’t, I have never really gotten it to work really well for book covers, um, because of all the fancy writing that people insist on putting on that cover. 

[00:25:03] <laughter>. 

MEKA [00:25:03] Fancy font, but it will you know, it basically just reads what you are, what you are writing. And so, even where accessibility is concerned is that, is that like, you know, you just want to make sure that the documents that you write are in an accessible format. And I’m going to put some put some probably some links together just to give people some ideas. But it’s basically just going to read what you write. Well, with that said. There are things that I, I find like annoying, but I don’t know that I would necessarily tell people not to do because I don’t want to be like that person. Like, “don’t do this. I don’t like it. It’s bad for my screen reader.”. 

[00:25:47] <laughter> 

MEKA [00:25:52] But, you know, like, if I only read the emojis, which is awesome. But it does not read it doesn’t read like those, um, different characters… 

MELINDA [00:26:03] The weird font, is that what you mean? 

MEKA [00:26:05] Yeah. Mm-hm. 

MELINDA [00:26:06] OK. I had done like a like a brief post on Twitter about that, saying, hey, you should not use those weird fonts and a crack ton of emojis in your screen name because, you know, screen readers will read those and be super annoying. And I had this person on Twitter like, basically yell at me and tell me that that was not correct. And I Googled it and I was like,” no, this is what I’m talking about.” And I sent them a video and they were like, “well, there are bigger things to be mad about in 2020.” 

MEKA [00:26:49] Oh. 

MELINDA [00:26:50] And I was like, OK, well this is what I’m choosing to be mad about. So, you can have fun with that. I’m going to be mad about this over here. But regardless of that. Um, I mean in that, when it’s in like their username, don’t you have to like, doesn’t read it to you every single time? 

MEKA [00:27:11] Every time. 

MELINDA [00:27:13] OK, that’s what I thought. 

MEKA [00:27:14] And I, and sometimes it will be like, you know, “character 226817 blah blah blah” or “character this” and then, you know, “face with  squinting eyes, grinning faces, squinting eyes, grinning faces, squinting eyes, grinning faces, squinting eyes, blue art, blue heart, yellow eyes”  like, and I’m just like, I’m not going to read it and I’m not, there’s nothing that you could possibly say that is that important to me. 

MELINDA [00:27:40] Right. I know when they use a weird font that isn’t technically a font, it’s  like some weird code or something. 

MEKA [00:27:46] Yeah, it’s just weird. I just, ugh. 

MELINDA [00:27:49] I don’t like when I feel it, so I can’t imagine that it works very well of your screen reader. 

MEKA [00:27:54] And so, then and so at that point, like, they could be giving me great information but I don’t care. 

MELINDA [00:28:02] Right, that makes sense. 

MEKA [00:28:04] So, you know, there’s a lot like I said, there’s so much about screen readers in and kind of how they work. But at its purest essence, whatever text is on the screen is what it will read. What I will say is that, um, is that AI had gotten, is getting more sophisticated. And so, like a lot of memes that people put on Facebook where it’ll just say it used to say like, “picture may contain text.” Now, it might say like,” butterfly border contains text that says…” And then it’ll say what it says. But there’s no rhyme or reason for when it will work and when it does it. But it seems to work more now than not. So… 

[00:28:49] <laughter> 

MELINDA [00:28:50] That was one thing that I did want to bring up, because I know that it can be super frustrating when there’s like one of those random memes that will start going around, you know, Romancelandia, that will be super fun to do and you’re like, “hi, I want to do this,”  but you have no idea what it says. Like, one of those like cafeteria table ones, “like where would I sit?” 

MEKA [00:29:12] Yes, yes, yes. 

MELINDA [00:29:14] And then you can’t do it because no one has bothered to like done the alt text for you or anything. So, just those kind of things, those are kind of frustrating. 

MEKA [00:29:25] Yeah. And at that point, I was like, oh, no, I’m not missing out on sitting at the cafeteria with somebody. So, let me ask. 

MELINDA [00:29:32] Right! 

MEKA [00:29:34] Let me ask what this is. 

MELINDA [00:29:34] I think it was Lillie that wrote that one all out for you. 

MEKA [00:29:40] She did! 

MELINDA [00:29:40] I remember that one because it was a lot to write out. I was like, because I came on afterwards, I was like, thank god someone was here that would actually do that. 

[00:29:49] <laughter>. 

MEKA [00:29:49] And I was sitting at the surprise, surprise, the paranormal table. 

MELINDA [00:29:52] Shocking. 

[00:29:52] <laughter> 

MELINDA [00:29:54] I’m shocked. 

MEKA [00:29:54] I’m pretty sure I was sitting with Nalini, with Nalini Singh. 

MELINDA [00:29:57] Shocking. I would be right next to you. And then, online spaces. One of things, so, I get migraines. So, one of the things that can randomly chip, trip me up on online spaces is when videos or GIFs are shared that are like strobe lights. 

MEKA [00:30:20] Oh, lord. Mm-hm. 

MELINDA [00:30:22] Which are not. Not even strobe lights that have that effect without people thinking about it. And I have like my auto player turned off. But GIFs will randomly play, unfortunately. And like when I’m in like a chat with somebody like even DMs or like I used to be on Facebook and do Facebook Messenger and or even like in Discord. When people post GIFs, I’ll have to, like, move things up really quickly because it’s like a strobe effect. 

MEKA [00:30:56] Yes. 

MELINDA [00:30:57] That will like, massively, I’ll be like, “oh, my god. Oh, my god. Move, move, move, move.” Because it will be really dangerous for my migraines. It will massively trigger that. So… 

MEKA [00:31:07] Oh, man. 

MELINDA [00:31:07] It’s, which, I mean, obviously people wouldn’t think of something like that, but there are random ones like that that can be super annoying. And I am definitely not the only person on my timeline migraines. If I post about migraines, I’ll have like, I probably have at least 20 people alone on my timeline that will post within like five minutes of that thing: “Oh, me too. Me too. Me too.”. 

MEKA [00:31:30] Yeah. Oh, gosh, for sure. 

MELINDA [00:31:33] So is there anything else with online spaces like specifically like Twitter or anything like that that you can think of? 

MEKA [00:31:41] Are we going to talk about readers spaces? 

MELINDA [00:31:43] Sure! Like, what kind of… 

MEKA [00:31:46] Like book groups, kind of. 

MELINDA [00:31:48] Oh, yeah, yeah. For sure. 

MEKA [00:31:49] OK. So, I love, I love a good book group. But they have been harder to find sometimes because like, you know, I might join and someone’s like, “what book? Oh my God. This book is the best book is so good. There was so much banging on page 74,” and then everyone in the comments is like, “yeah, yeah, yeah!” and I’m like, “oh, what the hell book was this?”. 

MELINDA [00:32:16] And they just post like the picture of the book? 

MEKA [00:32:18] They just post the picture of the book. 

MELINDA [00:32:20] Yeah. 

MEKA [00:32:21] And so, for me to figure out what it is, I take a screen, I would have to take a screenshot of it, load it into Seeing AI, which is an amazing app which will reprint. Wait for it to figure it out. So, you know, we’re already at about a minute for, for a book that now I don’t know that I even want to read at this point. And, um, only and maybe it will read what it is, but maybe it won’t recognize the font. And that was before I just ask in the comments what it is. And sometimes, sometimes in the comments. So, for the most part, people have been really good. But sometimes in the comments, people are like, “it’s in the cover. I posted it in the picture.”. 

MELINDA [00:33:06] Oh, my god. 

MEKA [00:33:07] Which makes me want to just burn down the world. And I, you know, putting, putting the title of the post in those Facebook groups. It doesn’t just help me. It helps anybody who’s trying to search in the bar of the group. 

MELINDA [00:33:25] I was gonna say. Yes, 100&, because I’ve been in those kind of groups. And if you’re OK, if you’re scrolling through a group like that, those comments are so tiny. And if there not in the, the actual like title of the post, like, no, no, I 100% agree with you. 

MEKA [00:33:46] And it could be it just it can be really just exhausting. I’m like, OK, I don’t even…and a lot of it…I was in a book challenge one year and, or, this past year for a really famous book group. And they posted all the time and they would ask, you’d ask people, and then send out like a reminder and I asked people to please consider it and, oh, and more often than not, people wouldn’t. And so, eventually I just left the group because I got tired of asking. 

MELINDA [00:34:15] OK. That’s, um, that’s super frustrating. 

MEKA [00:34:20] Um, but I want to give a shout out because I want to give a shout out to a couple of groups, two OSRBC. 

MELINDA [00:34:28] Yes. They have really done a lot of good stuff. 

MEKA [00:34:33] I love it’s such a pleasure to be a part of that group. And I tell other readers who are blind and who leave room to join that group, because I know that it’s an accessible group. And if someone doesn’t post something, then we can ask them the comments and, and they will instantly post that. 

MELINDA [00:34:52] Yeah. That makes me really happy. I’m friends with a few of the admin and I know that they work really hard to try to make that accessible. That makes me really happy. 

MEKA [00:35:01] So, so tell them I gave them a shout out, because they are so great.

MELINDA [00:35:06] Eva in particular, I mean to the one I’m closest to, she’s like, yeah. They are really awesome. That makes me happy. 

MEKA [00:35:13] And then of course like, the at least the part, the corner of Twitter Romancelandia that I’m in. But also I’ve noticed that authors have started putting them in their newsletters, putting like alt text in their newsletters and stuff. 

MELINDA [00:35:25] That’s awesome. 

MEKA [00:35:26] And the first time I saw when I was like, I literally screamed. I was like, “yes!” But also, I really wanted to give a shout out to, to Bree’s Discord. 

MELINDA [00:35:37] Yes. 

MEKA [00:35:37] Because it is so easy to be a part of that group. That is a group that has put accessibility like, you know, once people really started learning about it, like they just went all in. And I, I, in their rules, there’s even a rule that says that you have to, that: please describe your pictures. And I just really appreciate that. And “please describe the,if you put a book cover picture up there, please describe it.”  And I just, I just love that. And they are so inclusive, and so caring, and just it’s very easy to be a part of that group without me feeling like I have to constantly be on guard or worry that I’ll be left out. 

MELINDA [00:36:19] I want to pause for a second and say something else about Bree’s Discord, because not only is it, it’s accessible and inclusive for a few different areas because…so, like you said before about disability, disability covers a couple different areas. And like, they also have, they have all these different channels and they’ve done a really amazing job of like syphoning to where you need to go to take good care of yourself. And which is amazing, especially in 2020. But also, so like there’s different sections, like I said. But then, so, um, they’re like there’s a mental health self-care part, which I’ve been utilizing a lot lately. And it’s just delightful to be able to talk to other people who know how hard things are for certain areas. And then also within that little section, I’ve also found people who also have fibromyalgia. And so, like, it’s just really wonderful to be able to have that. And I love the fact that they are inclusive to not just only that, but literally everything you can be inclusive of. It’s just really amazing to have that. 

MEKA [00:37:36] Yeah, they’re, they’re like, they’re like family. So, I just, I just adore them. 

MELINDA [00:37:42] Yeah, they’re pretty fabulous. 

MEKA [00:37:45] Just so people know, OSRBC stands for Old School Romance Book Club. They talk about everything in that group and that is run by Sarah, Sarah MacLean. 

MELINDA [00:37:56] Yep, that’s correct. And then Bree, that we, were talking about, is Bree of Bree and Donna, who makes up the author duo Kit Rocha. 

MEKA [00:38:06] So, yeah, and they are, they’re just, they’re just fabulous. It’s a great place to be. 

MELINDA [00:38:12] Yes. I cannot highlight it enough, and they, they often put out like link on Twitter randomly. So, she is constantly tweeting it out and just randomly shouting it out for more people to join. So, I’m in there all the time. 

MEKA [00:38:30] The same, same. It is the only thing keeping me going in 2020 It feels like sometimes… 

MELINDA [00:38:37] Believe me, yes. OK. So, the other thing I wanted to talk about is, in terms of accessibility, like obviously we’re talking about, we talk about reading and books all the time. So, like things that are accessible for us and how we read is obviously really important. And so, for you, it’s a lot different than me. For me, obviously, I can read paperback, but not really. Which is I have a really hard time holding, like actual paperback books because of the pain in my hands. 

MEKA [00:39:20] Mm-hm. 

MELINDA [00:39:20] So, I can’t actually hold those books very well. So, I can only read digital books. But when the pain in my hands are too bad, then I can’t even turn like press the pages of the digital books. So, I know it’s literally just a button on the device, but still with my pain, my pain is too bad I can’t press it. So, digital books are like my lifeline, but audio books the last, I would say, three years have been like a whole new world for me because when my pain is so bad that I can’t read at all like being able to listen. And so, being able to actually read that way has been just miraculous. And I know other people who have pain has said the same thing. 

MEKA [00:40:13]  And I find it really fascinating that you read more audiobooks than I do. 

MELINDA [00:40:19] I know. I think that’s wild. 

MEKA [00:40:22] I read, I read audio books sometimes. But my preferred method of reading, if only everything came in Braille, I would just read it like that. But I, I read eBooks and usually in the Kindle app or using an app called Voice Dream Reader. Because I get a lot of books from Bookshare, which we’ll put in the show notes and which is legal. So, I just want to put that out there because some people don’t know that that it is it is legal because of a copyright law. So, anyway, I can read… 

MELINDA [00:41:02] So, how does…? 

MEKA [00:41:02] Part of my book in this synthesized voice. Mm-hm?

MELINDA [00:41:03] OK. That’s what I was going to ask with how does it work, okay. 

MEKA [00:41:07] In a synthesized voice. And a lot of people and I can’t read audio books very much anymore because I don’t like speeding up humans. I don’t like speeding up, like, you know, books that are narrated by people. I had a lot of people love to do that, and I, I never have. So, and when I read an audio book now, I’m just kind of like I could read three books by now. 

MELINDA [00:41:32] I can understand that. And I know that when we talked in Bree’s discord and we asked for some information, we were talking about the formats and how they’re accessible or not. And I know that because I do read ARCs and so PDFs are really not accessible for, um, me when I read. So, if I get those kinds of ACRs, I generally don’t read them. I know we got feedback from other people in the Discord saying the same thing, because I like you can’t make the font bigger. And so, like with my migraines like that eyestrain, it really, it’s super kills my eyes. And I know that other people said the same thing. 

MEKA [00:42:21] So PDFs are…I, so, here’s, here’s the thing. Every document can be made accessible, but if people don’t do that from the beginning. So, if they’re not structuring the document the way that it needs to be structured, if they’re not making the headings the way that they need to be, it’s going to come out as a hot mess. EPUB, by its design, is probably the most accessible format out of all of them. 

MELINDA [00:42:48] And of course, that not the one that is the, that’s not the format that I’ve read the most. 

MEKA [00:42:55] Of course! 

[00:42:57] <laughter>. 

MEKA [00:42:57] Is it MOBI? 

MELINDA [00:42:57] Yeah. 

MEKA [00:42:57] Is that the one that you read the most? 

MELINDA [00:42:57] Mm-hm. 

MEKA [00:42:59] So, yeah. So, like Kindle books, they…I have not I’ve, only had trouble reading a few of them and I don’t quite know why. So, I don’t know if it’s sometimes they sound like all the words or squished together. So, there’s only been some that I’ve not really been able to read that I need to investigate. But since we’re talking about Kindle for a second, can I just go into my like rant/call out. 

MELINDA [00:43:27] Of course. 

MEKA [00:43:27] So, on the Kindle app. So, when you are submitting a Kindle book, publishers. There is, there is a part there is something on there that says text-to-speech, and it’s something that you have to enable. Now, personally, I don’t think that people should get a choice. I believe that it automatically should be enabled for every book. However, however, when Kindle, when the voices when, kindle was first becoming accessible, the Authors Guild had a they tried to stop it by saying that that by saying that it was, that it was like it was tantamount to reading an audio book. 

MELINDA [00:44:12] I remember this now. 

MEKA [00:44:17] And, and so, I think that’s why that got enable. You know, that test-to-speech thing got put out as enabled. But why it became a choice. But it really shouldn’t be a choice, because people would be up in arms, if, if their mode of reading was suddenly if someone said, “well, you can’t read the way that you want to.”. 

MELINDA [00:44:38] Right. 

MEKA [00:44:40] Or the way that you need to. And, um, and cookbooks especially seem to be a huge challenge. Some publishers are submitting cookbooks to Amazon and they’re leaving the text-to-speech option disabled. And they’re leaving out a whole a whole population of people who are interested in reading. 

MELINDA [00:45:00] Okay. That blows my mind because, of course, why would blind people not want cookbooks? 

MEKA [00:45:09] And I just don’t understand why in the year of our lord 2020. 

[00:45:11] <laughter>. 

MEKA [00:45:11] You know, why? Why is that a thing? So, it’s just, it’s just not, it’s not acceptable. And so, I just hope that anyone who is submitting a book to Amazon makes sure that that is, that that is, that that is turned on, um, because it was a silly argument back then to even think that it would be like reading an audio book. And it’s, and it’s an even dumber argument now. 

MELINDA [00:45:38] I listen to text-to-speech and I obviously listen to a ton of audio books. The two are not even comparable. 

MEKA [00:45:48] They’re not the same. They’re not the same at all. 

MELINDA [00:45:51] OK, that is… 

MEKA [00:45:52] That’s my rant. 

MELINDA [00:45:54] Definitely interesting and I can see where that would be ridiculous. OK. So, yeah. PDFs for me: not accessible. Are they accessible for you? 

MEKA [00:46:05] They are if they’re structured correctly. 

MELINDA [00:46:07] Oh right. You already said that. OK, yup. 

MEKA [00:46:09] Oh, I’m sorry. Yeah, if they’re structured correctly then yes, they are. And a PDF of it being a picture sent in, like a picture of the text, that is not acceptable. 

MELINDA [00:46:22] No, no. 

MEKA [00:46:25] We can scan it you know, or whatever, but it just takes a lot longer. And sometimes colleges do that for textbooks for people like I have a friend who’s in college right now. And just to get her textbooks accessible is just this whole thing of gymnastics, which it should not be that way. 

MELINDA [00:46:42] OK. Interesting. And then, I did want to bring up, so something else in general, like under the heading of general accessibility. So, I know that there’s been times when you’ve needed, like, help with things that are not accessible, which blows my mind. Like when you needed help, like, oh, filing for unemployment which, because in the year of the lord, 2020, was not accessible, which I wanted to scream. OK. How ridiculous is it that it’s not accessible to do that? 

MEKA [00:47:21] I was definitely difficult. It was definitely difficult. 

MELINDA [00:47:23] Okay, that’s, that’s ridiculous. It is a huge, massive bureaucracy thing that needs to, that should, should not be that hard. 

MEKA [00:47:35] I also want to just mention captions, captions for people who are deaf. You know, like four videos and things like that or on shows and things like that, that is super important. And the big thing I want to mention that, Melinda, besides that, besides like the unemployment thing. Cash. How is it that we are in 2020 and cash, if you are a blind person and you didn’t have something to tell you what the cash was, someone handed me a stack of bills…

MELINDA [00:48:08] Yeah. I don’t even know because I know that at that. Yeah. That’s wild. 

MELINDA [00:48:15] And voting. With you know, I won’t, I won’t make a political stance here, but I will just say that I will just say that voting, that voting is not accessible for and for everybody in 2020, and that’s not OK. 

MELINDA [00:48:31] Also along those lines, voting this year is very worrisome to me in terms of accessibility, because I just had this conversation today, depending on where you live. The talks of it being very long to be in lines is very concerning to me, accessibility wise. So, I would just like to say, if you’re intending to vote, please check your early voting polls, because that is one way for people who need accessibility to try to get to the polls. So, you do not have to stand in line if you literally physically cannot. And so, just FYI. And yes, for other reasons accessible, accessible voting is ridiculous in the fact that it’s not. But yes, I 100% agree. 

MEKA [00:49:21] And just in a general subject. I have to tell you how, I just gonna give you like a little victory here. And I’m in the Facebook group called Meme Meme Jokes for blind folks, where someone will submit a meme and there are sighted people in the group that will describe it. And it is a group where all names are submitted. So, it’s not based on…so, there are means that are submitted that are offensive. But, but sometimes accessibility is about knowing, like is about having information to like everything. And, and but I didn’t realize how much I love frickin Memes until I joined this group. 

[00:50:05] <laughter> 

MELINDA [00:50:07] I remember when you told me that and you were so excited about this group, and it made me so genuinely happy for you because you were just delighted by it. 

MEKA [00:50:16] Is it so good! It’s so, it’s so fun. Like, I really enjoy it. But there are a lot of memes that are…I, I even like it when people do submit the really offensive ones because I know, I know that I could submit when if someone put one on my page, you know, and I wanted to know what it was, I could submit it and find out. And maybe that means that I don’t need to be friends with them on Facebook anymore. But I wouldn’t know that if I didn’t, if that meme wasn’t described. 

MELINDA [00:50:48] Yeah. No, I completely understand that. I mean, you have the right to be offended as well as everyone else.

MEKA [00:50:55] I guess so! I’m like, oh my gosh. And then would you mind if I just told you about a couple of, about a podcast that I discovered? 

MELINDA [00:51:04] Of course. 

MEKA [00:51:04] It’s a new podcast out, It’s called Talk Description to Me. And it’s hosted by, um, It’s hosted, the host is blind. And then the other host is a professional audio describer. And audio description is where they have taken, the, they, um, where people have written up the descriptions of, let’s say, a movie and they put it in between the dialogue. So, and sometimes, sometimes they have they have very little time to work with. But so maybe you like you’re watching the movie and there might be a description that says, “she watches as she leaves, and then, and then smirks, and then smirks evilly as she pulls out her knife or whatever” something like that. But that might not be something that I would know. I might not, I might think that she’s the innocent one. But it’s because of those it’s because of that description, It’s because of that body language, that we know more about, about this person, this character already. So, so there are audio described plays, movies, and on Netflix, Prime, Disney Plus. I mean, even Hulu now is getting is getting some. And we always want to see more of a very happy about what’s out there. But, but this one was all about like, how do you access your news? And a lot of your news is images, videos, still videos, you know. And so, and someone and so they describe these images. So, he’s describing the images to her like different protesting signs. The first, the first episode that I saw was him describing was him describing that what happened with a George Floyd video. And, and it was very upsetting to listen to, but it was also, you know, like having that was information that I didn’t necessarily have from like a think piece or from an article or, you know… 

MELINDA [00:53:29] I was going to say, did you know what was in the video before you heard it described? 

MEKA [00:53:34] No. 

MELINDA [00:53:34] OK. 

MEKA [00:53:34] I knew, I knew parts of it, but I didn’t really know, like, detail. So, I, you know, I just knew a little bit. And I didn’t, I didn’t watch the video and I didn’t listen to a lot of the description. But to know that, I really appreciated this, somebody had this idea of, of doing this. They also describe protests and like the different signs and images and things that, the things that go viral because, like, people can see them and they’re snapping the pictures. But that, but that we wouldn’t know. 

MELINDA [00:54:10] OK, so that is amazing that something like that exists, and I’m, I’m…that makes me really happy that it does. Because, I mean, the George Floyd video obviously is horrific, but that you don’t have the ability to make that choice of knowing what, what it is, you know, I mean. 

MEKA [00:54:35] Yeah. 

MELINDA [00:54:35] Like, that’s not fair. And I’m glad that you, you know, have that option now. 

MEKA [00:54:42] And it’s something, I just wanted to mention, like it’s something I would have never asked my friends to describe, like never, you know? 

MELINDA [00:54:50] Right. 

MEKA [00:54:50] Because I wouldn’t want to trigger anybody. And in the way that I kind of see it, as I’m kind of used to being without information. So, I would much rather be without the information than to ask a friend, like to describe something like that to me when I knew, that when I know, that it would be like really upsetting to them. So, it is really nice to have this podcast out there. For that, I am able to know and, and also able to make sure that my friends are OK. 

MELINDA [00:55:20] That’s really powerful. Yeah, I can imagine. ’cause I know that you don’t even like to ask your friends to like, do good things. 

[00:55:30] <laughter>. 

MELINDA [00:55:30] ’cause of course you wouldn’t want to ask your friends to do something hard like that. So, yeah, I’m really happy that you have something like that. 

MEKA [00:55:40] And then they also, but then also they also, I guess Justin Trudeau has some hot looking hair recently. 

MELINDA [00:55:50] Oh, he does. 

MEKA [00:55:50] Or did something to his hair. And so, they also described that. So, anything that was like really made the news they made sure to go into great detail about Justin’s hair. 

MELINDA [00:55:59] I mean, that’s awesome. I’m glad that it’s not just horrible news, which I mean… 

MEKA [00:56:03] Yeah. 

MELINDA [00:56:03] So, it’s basically all horrible. But I mean…

MEKA [00:56:05] Yes. 

MELINDA [00:56:06] I think you get to be as informed as everybody else. 

MEKA [00:56:10] Exactly. So, I’m really hoping that I, I need to figure out who to find to discuss this new party video that just dropped. 

MELINDA [00:56:21] Oh, my god. 

MEKA [00:56:22] Because it is so delightfully filthy, I can’t even. Oh my god but I need to know the imagery that is involved. 

MELINDA [00:56:31] I need…I need there to be something that does this in great detail because I would not be able to do it justice for you.

MEKA [00:56:44] Do we have anything else before I let you wanted to give a shout out, and I wanted to mention a few people as well. 

MELINDA [00:56:52] Yeah. I just wanted to mention just a few people that I think are pretty, you know, great at this ability in general, just talking about it either in books or blogging. Obviously, some of these are people that we love. People like Corey, a blogger and author that you. 

MEKA [00:57:17] Yes. 

MELINDA [00:57:17] Talked about before. They’re pretty amazing. They talk about disability, kink, weirdness. They’re on Twitter. And I will definitely have these people in our show notes. And then, you know, The Qook queen who she talks about disability and, you know, fatness. She’s pretty great. I’ve reviewed her periodically. And just in general, she’s pretty great to follow and she’s super sex positive. So, that’s always fun. And then Imani, I think her last name is Barbarin. She has had some really great viral hashtags: #DisTheOscars #AblesAreWeird. And like she’s just a really great follow on Twitter. She talks a lot about disability. And honestly, I’ve learned a lot from her by just following her on Twitter. I don’t think that she is an author. I just think she’s a really great disability activist that I follow. 

MEKA [00:58:27] Sounds awesome. 

MELINDA [00:58:28] Keah Brown is an author of The Pretty One, and she’s a Black disabled woman. And I just think she’s really great. It’s not a romance book, but it’s nonfiction about being on Black and disabled, and I highly recommend it. 

MEKA [00:58:45] Oh! I know I follow her, and I’ve seen like a lot of her, a lot of her tweets. 

MELINDA [00:58:52] She talks about pop culture and which, um, hello, I love pop culture and about disability. So, I she’s just fun. 

MEKA [00:59:00] Yay! That’s awesome. I have a few as well, none of whom are authors. But all of them like to read. So, that counts, right? 

MELINDA [00:59:12] It totally counts. 

MEKA [00:59:13] So my friend Natalia, Natalia Radcliffe, she has a blog Um, and she is @guidethisway on Twitter and has the most adorable dog, besides Treble. 

MELINDA [00:59:26] Obviously, Treble. 

MEKA [00:59:26] But Dodson is a very respectable dog. But, you know, she talks a lot about being. She talks a lot about mental health, and blindness, and intersectionality, and, um, and also a lot about like Mexican culture and dealing with all of that within that culture. And, and about school and, and all kinds of things, so she is definitely a great follow. Tommy Edison has a YouTube channel where he talks, he gives film critiques, and has a lot of like how do blind people do this kind of videos. So, what I think is always really good when they’re, I commend anybody who is blind out here on YouTube or or Instagram. And Dianna with two N’s, that’s her channel name. And she is she is amazing. She has great, she has great videos, great perspectives, and it’s really good to get different perspectives, you know. So and I, we’ll stick a few more in the show notes, but I can definitely, definitely those three are just quite fabulous. And I mean, blind people are out here on tick tock. TikTok is like, I’m old. 

MELINDA [01:01:02] Meka, I, um, may be obsessed with TikTok. I, I,it’s my I don’t know how I got on it. I’m ridiculously old, but I still get on it. I don’t make videos so I just, I just look at it. 

MEKA [01:01:17] I have to find the videos with the with people talking because there’s a lot of them on there where it’s just music in the background. And, you know what I mean? 

MELINDA [01:01:24] Oh, yeah. 

MEKA [01:01:25] So, so… 

MELINDA [01:01:25] There’s a lot of dance one’s that I’m just like, oh, you’re…I don’t care about those. I like the ones where they’re talking to. 

MEKA [01:01:31] But the dog, the Siri pets. Those are great. And so, yeah, and there’s just I mean, we could just go on forever about accessibility. It’s so important; It permeates. Sometimes I worry that people get tired of me talking about accessibility, but it does permeate every facet of our lives, and every, and impacts everything that we do, and whether, and and how much work our agency like. You know, that we have to put in, you know. And I just remember recently I went to Red Lobster to celebrate my friend’s birthday a few months back, in B.C. before COVID in, in the before times, and we went and there was a there was a tablet on the table. And it had and there was like a menu, you know, those tablets on the tables. 

MELINDA [01:02:29] Yeah, Right. 

MEKA [01:02:29] That have the menus? And the waitress wanted me said, oh, there, try this one, put some headphones in, it talks. And I wasn’t even going to ask about it because in the past, like, none of them have ever really been accessible. So, I just know not to ask, right? This one was completely accessible once I put the headphones in, at least, so, at least if you did not have a hearing loss or hearing impairment. So, it was not accessible if you needed to just use Braille. 

MELINDA [01:03:02] Right. 

MEKA [01:03:03] Or if you couldn’t use auditory. But for me, as a hearing-blind person, I was able to go through the menu, I was able to pay the bill, independently, get my get my Red Lobster reward points. And get the, input the tip. Often without having to ask the waitress to input the tip, which is really awkward. 

MELINDA [01:03:34] Yeah, I’m sure. 

MEKA [01:03:36] And I was able to do that independently and I didn’t realize how much I needed that until, until it happened. And then I ended up writing an article about, about what happened. But it was just an amazing, it was just an amazing moment, and I, and I always feel like those amazing moments when things like that just fall into place. And when that and when that happens. 

MELINDA [01:04:00] Yeah, I just think that, you know, accessibility is key to literally all aspects of our lives. And like I said, top that you chip away at it literally every day. And you, you just start making it part of your everyday life. And I mean, not for people who it’s not part of their everyday life. You know, before my husband met me, he didn’t think about any of these things before I met you. I didn’t think about, you know, anything that needed to be accessible for blind people. And now I do on a daily basis. And I know that I’ve talked about it to other people and hopefully that has permeated into their daily lives. I just think that slowly but surely, like, I know that I think about it when I do just about anything now, when I, you know, post any screenshot or anything like that. So, I just think if you keep doing it slowly, it’ll start becoming part of your everyday life. So, I just hope that if anyone listens, that they at least take that little teeny, tiny nothing away. 

MEKA [01:05:10] Exactly. And disremember, you know, ask and there’s plenty of research. If you have questions, please ask me. I meant it. But I also get to know me for my, for my love of smooching and banging in books, too. 

[01:05:23] <laughter> 

MELINDA [01:05:25] I mean, that’s the best part about you, really. What more do they ask for? So, I really think that we, you know, talked about literally everything there is to do with accessibility. I don’t know what more we could provide there so… 

MEKA [01:05:42] Write good characters that are disabled. 

MELINDA [01:05:44] Oh, well, that’s a given. So, no. Yeah. I got nothing. Nothing beyond that. Write good characters. That’s all you got. 

MEKA [01:05:53] That’s it. So, thank you so much for tuning in, and we are going to have a resource list, kind of, you know, just some things that we mentioned to get you started on the right path. And, you know, like, I’m always open to questions and I love chatting. And, you know, we, Melinda, this is so much fun. Thank you. 

MELINDA [01:06:14] I’m so glad that we finally did it. And yes, if anyone has any questions about any of this stuff, feel free to hit us up for that. Other than that, you can always ask us for recs. 

MEKA [01:06:26] Yes! 

MELINDA [01:06:26] About amazing books. 

MEKA [01:06:27] Yeah, we are ready for the recs, too. 

MELINDA [01:06:29] Yep, so.

[01:06:31] <laughter>. 

MEKA [01:06:31] All right. Thank you, guys. Bye! 

MELINDA [01:06:33] Bye. 

Special thanks to The Romance Librarian @mrsjgbuck for her assistance creating this transcript!