IAP 2020-E3: Karen McCall, a pioneer in the field of accessible document design

In this episode:

The host, Mark Miller, talks with Karen McCall, who currently works for Open Access Technologies, a company that helps make documents accessible. When Karen was 14 she went blind overnight, for reasons unknown. However, she was not about to let that get in her way of getting a college and master’s degree, or living a fulfilling life. She and Mark discuss the new challenges she and others with disabilities face during the COVID-19 global pandemic. They talk about the difficulties she faces in the rural area of Ontario where she lives, like getting groceries delivered, or the dangers of relying on public transportation or even taxis that may be contaminated with the virus. She informs Mark about the many documents she has found online that supply valuable information on the virus and how to prevent infection – most of which are inaccessible. Their discussion emphasizes the very real dangers of an inaccessible internet, culminating in the dark humor she and her friends indulge in as they joke about “not dying from the disease, but from starvation” if they are unable to get to a grocery store or have groceries delivered.

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Listen to IAP 2020-E3: Karen McCall

Links of Interest

Open Access Technologies, Inc

Karlen Communications

Transcript

Mark Miller: Hey, welcome to the IAP, "The Interactive Accessibility Podcast," brought to you by the Paciello Group and its affiliate, Interactive Accessibility.

 

I'm your host Mark Miller, thanking you for helping us keep it accessible. Do us a favor. If you're enjoying the IAP, share it, tell someone about it. Even link to it from your accessible podcast.

I'm here today with Karen McCall. Karen works for open access technologies which is a company that focuses on making documents accessible. Karen is one of the pioneers in the field of accessible document design and she has been training people on how to make digital content accessible for people with disabilities for over 20 years.

She started in 1999, doing this, so a lot of experience. What I want to talk to Karen, welcome Karen, welcome to the IAP.

Karen McCall: Thank you.
Mark: You're welcome. What I want to talk to you about today, Karen, is how this situation where we're all sheltering in place and where the world is under this pandemic of COVID-19. There's a lot of challenges I think that everybody really faces. A lot of ways in which our lives are changing, and ways that we have to accommodate for ourselves differently.

 

You, as a person with a disability...This document remediation came about, I'm assuming, because you have a need yourself for documents to be done properly so that you can perceive them. You're legally blind, but you have some vision. Am I accurate there?

Karen: Yes.
Mark: Tell us a little bit about that situation. Then let's dig into how this new way of living has been affecting you.
Karen: I lost my vision when I was 14. It was literally overnight. I went to bed Sunday with normal vision and woke up with this vision. Things have stayed the same. They have no idea what caused it. It was adapt or sit in a corner. I chose to adapt. That was many, many years ago.

 

One of the reasons I got into accessible document design was that I was doing my master's when online learning was just a thought. I quickly began to see that we were being excluded. I had professors, I had faculty who were telling me that blind people couldn't and shouldn't be using computers. I was already using a computer. Some of it was out of necessity because I needed access to information.

Some of it was, "Wait a minute, you can't tell me that this thing that is supposed to rescue me from the evils of society," for lack of a better word, "is not going to be accessible." At the same time, I was being told that, I was being told, "This is great. The Internet, you'll be able to work from home, you won't have to go out of your house. You can go shopping online, you won't have to go out of your house."

Basically, they were telling me I didn't have to go out of my house. I could be hidden, that was something I didn't want. On the other hand, I wanted the Internet. I wanted digital content to be as accessible as it can be, which is very accessible if you do it correctly.

I started with instructional design for faculty, I moved into accessible PDF, and in 2005 wrote what is still, I think, the only comprehensive book on working and creating accessible PDF documents. It's now in its fourth edition. From that people said, "Wait a minute. Working in Adobe Acrobat is a little too hard. How can we make our documents accessible in the native application in Word and PowerPoint?"

I started writing books about that. My books are basically the notes that I took while learning how to do it. Filling in steps that were missing, and writing things in a plainer language, so that I could use the books to go back sometimes when I forget how to do something. All of the instructions are there and it's in a language I can understand.

Mark: Out of curiosity, you said that you had professors telling you that people who are blind shouldn't be using a computer. Do you remember roughly speaking what year that was?
Karen: 1998.
Mark: Here's the interesting thing. When I was in college in 1995, probably earlier, probably '93 or '94. I had a professor who was completely blind, no low vision whatsoever. I can remember to this day, walking into this office and listening to his computers, he used it. That would have been five years before somebody told you that?
Karen: Mm-hmm. I had been using a computer since 1983...
Mark: [laughs] Well, there you go!
Karen: ...when they designed an educational program while getting my Bachelor of Education degree so I'd already been using a computer for many years. All of a sudden I was coming up against this brick wall and decided to do just get rid of the brick wall.
Mark: It's amazing how declarative that is like, "Oh, you want access to that information but you're blind, you shouldn't be doing this anyways." Where would you...how would they even know?
Karen: Yes.
Mark: They don't stop and go, "By the way, how do you access information? Let's see if we can get you something." "Let's forget it."
Karen: The interesting thing was all of this was based on academic research articles that had been written by people who had no contact with people with disabilities, which I found really interesting. Every time I went to do research on the...Everybody cited this one article and then just expanded on it, how we couldn't use computers.
Mark: Unbelievable.
Karen: I know it was a very interesting experience.
Mark: The other comment I want to make before we move on is, at 14 years old, to go from being sighted to being legally blind overnight? That had to be a huge emotional impact on a young girl.
Karen: Yeah, I didn't tell anybody. I started counting steps. It wasn't until a week later that people found out because I walked into an open locker door.
Mark: Wow, it's amazing that you kept that hidden. It sounds, I'm sure that when that first happened to you that you had all sorts of thoughts and emotions and stuff that went through your mind.
Karen: Yes.
Mark: But ultimately, your strength prevailed and you embraced it and started to make things better for other people who were in your situation.

 

It's interesting that you say that you counted steps because when I hear that, I hear that's a way that you had to accommodate. You could no longer see the steps. So, you quickly figured out that if you counted them, you would know when you were on the last step.

I would imagine that there's several things that you had to do throughout your life to accommodate for not being able to see. What I really wanted to get into today is, how's that changed? What are the challenges?

What are the things that you're having, that may be an extra challenge for you or it's a different challenge for you than maybe the average person is experiencing out there when it comes to being sheltered in place?

When it comes to not being able to maybe get groceries the way that you're used to, not have the same kind of contact with other people that you might have, all those things, that we're all dealing with, but are probably impacting you a little bit differently?

Karen: The main thing is digital accessibility, it's still a problem. When I think back to the time when those of us with disabilities were told that online shopping would be our salvation, our way of being able to shop and not leave home.

 

The whole concept of, now I have to stay in my home, I can't go grocery shopping. Let's see how accessible online shopping is, let's see what the delivery times are, let's see what the choices are.

Now everybody is trying to shop online, even those of us who took advantage or were able to take advantage of shopping online are facing huge barriers in terms of timeframe.

I placed an order three weeks ago, it just came today. I'd forgotten what I had ordered and because I chose a fast-and-first, fit-me-in wherever you can, when I went and looked back at my order history, I couldn't find it. So I ended up, did I actually place the order? Did I not?

Then I went to my email, it's like, OK, it says that I placed the order that my order has been received. Then all of a sudden, today, about two hours ago, I get a text that, so and so is shopping for you. It's like, all right. What did I order? It was like Christmas. The groceries were dropped off at my doorstep and it's like, oh yeah, I did order that.

Mark: A similar thing happened to us where I called it unintentional hoarding. We had ordered coffee online, and we got the same type of delays. It took two or three weeks for the coffee to get there. In the meantime, we made it to the grocery store.

 

All we had in our head is we need coffee. So we bought coffee at the grocery store. Then two or three days later, a bunch of coffee showed up. We ended up with just a big pile of coffee.

How's your experience in dealing with those e-commerce sites and stuff in general? Are they becoming more accessible for you, or is the situation highlighting the fact that not enough of them are accessible?

Karen: There are a few problems. The first problem is the accessibility, I tried using my screen reader, which is up to date, so I'm not using an old version. Focus kept jumping around, I couldn't tell whether I'd actually added things to the cart, how many things I'd added to the cart. I couldn't tell where I was in reviewing the cart or going through the checkout.

 

I'm in Canada, so we don't have Section 508. We don't have the Americans with Disabilities Act. I am in Ontario, so we do have the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. But there hasn't been any kind of serious enforcement since the Information and Communication Standards were implemented in 2012. It's hit and miss.

There is some accessibility on the site, but not enough that I could independently decide whether I had actually ordered what I wanted to in the amount that I wanted to. So I ended up turning my screen reader off, which I admit I have the luxury of doing.

I also don't have a learning or cognitive disability. I don't have a mobility disability, where I may have tremors or not be able to target some of the small buttons and things like that or be confused when I hover over something and I get an entirely different visual thing. The first hurdle is the accessibility.

The second hurdle is that it seems, at least here in Canada, that you have two options, you can order and pick up, or you can order and be delivered. I live in a rural area, so I wasn't even sure that any of the grocery stores around here would deliver. But I found one, and it happened to be the store that I usually shop at, and they deliver.

But the selection for delivery is like you would find in a convenience store, not a lot, whereas the selection for pickup is much more expansive. The problem with that is I am legally blind, I don't drive. What started me on talking about the whole COVID-19 and accessibility was that I went to go grocery shopping on the 16th of March, when the stay-at-home was really portrayed as more or less of an option, something that was coming.

It was sort of at the beginning but not the beginning. Anyway, when I called my local taxi -- and I know the owner because it is a small rural community -- he said that someone had been in his taxis and had tested positive, and he didn't want me in the taxi.

I immediately -- because I had taken the taxi the day before, ironically to go for lunch with friends -- called the restaurant. I had just been to the drugstore and I called the drugstore. I called everybody that I came in contact with, and then I started self-quarantining.

Mark: Wow.
Karen: It was a real "Oh my goodness, this is real. This is here." Even though I don't have any underlying conditions, I didn't know what I might expect. It was a very scary 14 days.
Mark: That's really interesting. I mean, I just wouldn't have thought of that. As somebody who can drive, I'm perfectly safe getting in my own car, right? I don't have to worry about other people having been in there and potentially contaminating it.

 

Of course, just being able to drive makes things a little bit easier. I've never stopped to think that reliance on taxis, on shared transportation, means that you're at greater risk. That's a real kind of interesting, I think, thing that you have to worry about that other people might not, right?

Karen: Yes. I was doing what I thought was due diligence. Here we have our public health offices, I emailed my local public health office and told them what had happened. I detailed who I had contacted, and they called back and left a message. The nearest testing site was about an hour away, and I would have had to take a taxi, a bus...
Mark: A taxi to do it! [laughs]
Karen: A taxi, a bus, a commuter train, and another bus to get there. If I had been infected, it meant I was then potentially infecting everyone. If I hadn't been infected, I was opening myself up for more infection.

 

So the whole lack of mobile testing for those of us...I know it's an issue in urban areas, but for those of us who live in rural communities, and facing, "What do I do? Do I risk either getting it or exposing people to it just to get a test or do I just stay here?"

I decided I would just stay here, and fortunately, I didn't have any symptoms. Then trying to find out what the symptoms were...There was information coming out, the United Nations had posted a COVID-19 Planning Guide, and I thought, "OK, let me get that." It's an untagged PDF document, so I can't read it.

Then there was a group in Australia that published a document. It was called "The human rights approach to COVID-19." They had tagged it, but they hadn't checked the tags. I was reading a paragraph from page one, and then a paragraph from page two, and then something back on page one. Then it went through all the images and then...I couldn't understand it.

What I found was, there was a really good video that our Canadian Broadcasting Corporation did with a Surgeon on how to wash your hands. She described it amazingly, but there was no caption. So anyone who was deaf or hard of hearing wouldn't have been able to follow the instructions.

Mark: It's twice that you've mentioned something related to the order in which you read things. I think that a lot of people don't think about that because you were talking about going through that checkout process on the e-commerce site and that the focus kept jumping around, right?

 

For you listeners who may not know what that means exactly, if you imagine when you're watching something like Netflix, or Hulu, or one of those type services, focus is the reason why you know what show you're about to choose. Something changes as you're going through that, that shows you, "Hey, you're now going to watch whatever it is." Right? "Friends." Usually, it could be a border that goes around it. It could be it pops out.

That's a visual indication to that focus, but if you think about moving through that, it's logical. You know that when you click the button, the arrow to the right, you're going to now be focused on the show to the right.

In some cases where we're clicking around with a mouse all the time, people can ignore programmatically doing focus correct. When somebody like you gets to it, you're using a Tab key or an Arrow key to go through these things. All of a sudden -- you think you're going to go to the next thing -- it disappears. It goes somewhere else. You have to figure out where you are.

That can be incredibly frustrating. It would be like if you're trying to walk to the store and somebody kept picking you up and moving you onto a different street [laughs] you have to keep figuring out, your new way to the store that would take you all day to get there.

Karen: Yes, I describe it as being in the middle of a sentence and all of a sudden...Squirrel!

 

[laughter]

Mark: Like ADD whether you have it or not. [inaudible 19:03] all over the place. A lot of people ask me for, in the job that I do, because most of the listeners know but if you don't, my job is to help companies make sure that their websites are accessible to people with disabilities and who need the types of accommodations you're talking about, Karen.

 

One of the questions I often get which is really interesting is, what is this effort we got to go tag all the image, meaning they've got to add an alternative text. If there's an image they've got an add text to it so a person who's using a screen reader can understand what that image is trying to convey.

That's usually something they grasp very quickly. But unless you've experienced it, I don't think people think of things, like focus, and what we would call tabbing order, which is the order in which your focus travels through a page, or something like that. It's seems like a simple thing, but for somebody like you just trying to check out, it's incredibly frustrating.

Karen: Well, just trying to find out what the symptoms were because at that time, March the 16th, all we were hearing was, it's like the flu but it's not. That doesn't give me very much information. So searching...

 

[crosstalk]

Mark: [laughs]
Karen: Yeah, searching for information that was accessible and understandable was very difficult. It wasn't until literally the day before I went into self-isolation, that I had a clue as to what I should be looking for. Up until that time I'm going, "OK, flu but not like the flu."

 

What exactly does that look like? What should I be experiencing when I all of a sudden have to make that decision whether to seek medical assistance, I need to know that.

For people with disabilities who do have underlying conditions, it's important to know what the symptoms are so that they can incorporate that knowledge with their normal physical activity. They can say, "OK, I have a cold, but now this is really getting worse and related to my other disabilities. I know that this is not normal."

Having the information, detailed information about what we should expect if we do have this coronavirus, was very hard to get.

Mark: Before you and I had jumped on the podcast, we were talking about this. You were saying how you tried to go to the hardware store and buy regular painter's or carpenter's masks, and they were all out. I'd asked you if you had seen the postings from the CDC about how to make masks.

 

As Karen and I went through this I was looking at those images and realizing none of them were tagged. If you go to the CDC's website, there's wonderful instructions on how to create masks, and how to create them without sewing. You're fortunate, maybe you can zoom in and actually see it with the vision you do have.

If you're totally blind and completely relying on a screen reader, the images which not only visually showed you what to do, how to fold the cloth or whatever it was, also the instructions on what to do were part of that image. The words were part of the image.

The instructions weren't even accessible, and there was no alternative text to those images. I would imagine, especially when you start to think about your situation with the taxi and stuff, you probably would like to know how to make a mask to get out of your house. That information is not there either, or not visible.

Karen: The other issue with any kind of protective equipment is that, again, being in a rural community, I know that there are shortages in other places. In my community, we haven't had any kind of disinfectant hand wipes, or Purell, or anything like that since at least the beginning of March.

 

I'd been monitoring the costco.ca website and finally, they had in stock, a big package of Lysol disinfectant wipes. I quickly ordered those and five minutes later, I got an email from Costco saying they don't deliver those to my area.

I can buy coffee from Costco and have it delivered but not disinfectant wipes. So, even if we find things online...I did the same thing with Lowe's and Home Depot, I found some disinfectant wipes. I ordered them and I ordered enough so I would get the free shipping, only to find out, "We don't deliver those to your area."

Mark: So what did you end up getting?
Karen: There's nothing.
Mark: There's nothing you can order?
Karen: There's nothing. I don't have a car, I'm not getting into the taxi. I can't even drive to one of those locations that may have some in stock and order them to pick up.
Mark: Wow. The thing I think about when I hear you tell these stories too, is that it's difficult enough as it is. But a lot of the things, maybe not that particular one, but a lot of the things, like the information that you're trying to get access to, it doesn't have to be that way.
Karen: No. The dark humor my friends and I talk about, is that we may survive the virus but die of starvation because we can't order anything online.
Mark: [laughs] Yeah. These are things that the average person...I don't know if take for granted is the right word, but can do. They can get to the store, they can order stuff. It's not difficult for them to scroll through their phone or their laptop and look at the instructions from the CDC or the latest information.

 

But if people aren't paying attention to how that stuff is created, then it's a double whammy for you.

Karen: In emergency preparedness, we didn't prepare the Internet and online shopping capabilities to be able to ramp-up, so that everybody would be dependent on it. While I may be able to order something, I have no idea when it's going to be delivered.

 

In Kingston, Ontario, I have some friends and they tried to order something, the earliest delivery date they have is the end of May.

Mark: Wow. Since the taxi incident and shelter in place and stuff, have you tried to venture outside of your house at all or have you been just absolutely...?
Karen: I am lucky that I have a backyard and I have a deck. One of the advantages of being in the rural community is that I can go for a walk and not encounter a lot of people.

 

Looking out my front room window because everybody else is staying at home, it seems they're not getting up till around 11:00 or 12:00. So I can easily go out for a walk and go through the park or across the river in the morning and not encounter anyone.

I find that, even normally when I would go for a walk, I wouldn't use my white cane. I do when I go downtown simply because sometimes it's crowded and they have things on the sidewalk and that. Normally, if I'm just walking around my own neighborhood, I don't. I am now, and people still don't seem to understand, when I do run into people, that I can't always see them.

Mark: You just try to give them as much of an advantage as possible.
Karen: Yeah. I end up having to be extra vigilant, which is why I try to go out when I know people aren't really up yet so that I don't have to do that.
Mark: People...
Karen: I'm also finding people...I do have some really good neighbors. Every two weeks, we do go out grocery shopping. I have that advantage. There are a lot of people with disabilities who don't have that advantage, or who require an accessible vehicle to go shopping that don't have that advantage.

 

I find that although most people in the grocery store are good at social distancing. There are still some people who don't seem to have got the message that this is serious and we have to pay attention.

So I try not to go to any kind of place where there may be people because l don't want to end up exposing myself again to the virus and having to self isolate and have that worry for 14 days.

Mark: Do you find too that...You're probably much more tactile than a person with sight would be because you rely on your hands to discover things that somebody else might be able to do with sight.

 

When I go out I'm trying to touch as little as possible. When I am at the grocery store that counters kind of a hot zone of where I might pick up the virus, or the handle to the cart or those kind of things.

Do you find that to be a particular challenge, are you concerned and trying to figure out ways around, where you would be more tactile with your environment not having to do that?

Karen: For grocery shopping, and that's all I am doing right now, I have adapted to that, I wear long sleeves because again, I don't have any gloves unless they're my winter mitts which don't really work in a grocery shopping environment.

 

I wear long sleeves and if I have to touch anything I pull down the sleeve and do that. I wash my hands before I leave the house, I wash my hands when I come in the house, for the grocery store I know where everything is that I am interested in buying, so I don't have to touch a lot of things.

Mark: Is there anything else when you're out in the public like that going through a grocery store, or from car and the store, anything like that, that becomes a particular challenge?
Karen: Only people who aren't paying attention because again I'm taking my white cane and hoping that people will understand exactly what that is for and will be able to keep their distance when I can't see them.
Mark: That's interesting. That's I think really important and something that we don't always...Advantage I have, having sight is that if somebody's getting too close I perceive it pretty quickly, and I can choose to create that distance, in most cases.

 

In some cases, you're backed against a corner and you can't, I have been in those as well, for you, not even realize somebody's gotten that close. You're very reliant on somebody else being astute.

Karen: Especially if somebody is coming up on my left side because that's where I have a really big blind spot. I'm not able to see them or perceive them unless I hear fabric or see a shadow or something like that.
Mark: Do you get help from people, I'll explain what I mean by that. In my grocery store, they started doing things like taping off every six feet in front of the registers, not in front of registers but where you would go and unload your groceries. When you're waiting for the teller to free up and get your groceries in the conveyor belt, your back six feet from the people who are currently doing that.

 

Do people help you out by letting you know like, "Hey there's a line, somebody's taped off a line, here's where it is or if you take two steps back, you'll be behind it," or do you not get that kind of...

I just think about that, and I would almost want to give you that information if I were the person in front of you, but I also wouldn't want to come off as being rude, like, "Hey lady, get back."

Karen: I'm fortunate in that I go grocery shopping with my neighbor.
Mark: Your neighbor, OK.
Karen: She helps me. The people at the grocery store that I do go to, there's one person who is kind of corralling everybody. They have been very helpful if my neighbor's looking in a different direction or something like that, they have been very helpful.
Mark: I think that's a challenge for a lot of people who...When people with sight that aren't used to being around people who are blind, see people who are blind they sometimes they don't quite know what is OK and what's not OK, but I would imagine that in your social group and the places where you show up a lot, people are very used to you and helpful.

 

That's the silver lining, I think, from this whole situation too, is that people are just...That sense of community and helpfulness and everything is getting deeper and deeper. I'm hoping you're experiencing that, too.

Karen: Yes. Just to change the subject a little bit. One of the other issues, because I do teach at our local community college, one of the other things that has become very apparent is the lack of educational material that's accessible.

 

Now that students are online, all of those teachers and faculty who have been able to avoid making their content accessible, are facing challenges in terms of having to make stuff accessible if that is now a requirement.

It's not clear from our government, either provincial or federal or the American governments, either state or federal, whether it is now an important thing that everybody needs to make their education material accessible.

There are students who don't have computers at home or don't have their adaptive technology on their computers at home. I know that our local school board has just now started calling students to find out if they have access to the Internet. Some of the students will say, yes I have it on my phone, but they don't realize that their data plan on their phone is not sufficient enough to handle online learning.

The county next to us is still on dial-up and rotary phones, so their data plans are going to be cost-prohibitive if a household has them. Some of the barriers, lack of bandwidth and data plans at the very core, that affect all students are extreme barriers for students with disabilities.

I was talking to one of my other neighbors over the fence this morning, for students with disabilities, students in general, but I focus on the students with disabilities, who don't have access to a computer or the Internet at home, they're mailing out assignments.

Well, if you're a student who is blind or visually disabled, or has a learning, or cognitive or print disability, sending you print in the mail with your assignments and information on it is not helpful if you don't have those tools at home to make that content accessible.

The other issue is while all of the rest of your classmates or a significant number of your classmates may have access to the Internet and are being that cohesive class talking and discussions and participating in an online environment you're left out because you just have print to refer to.

The inequities in education that have been revealed by this -- and, again, where there has been no emergency planning for online education, just assuming that everybody is going to learn online without having the infrastructure, the online shopping, assuming that everybody is going to be able to shop online without having that accessible infrastructure.

It has revealed the great inequity in access to things that we do in our daily life by those people with disabilities.

Mark: I completely agree with you. We're seeing that on our end as well, the demand in sectors like education, that we're starting to get for accessibility. Now, that everything has been driven out of the classroom, in that example, and to the home.

 

As you said, there's a lot more than just that. There's a lot of barriers, socioeconomic barriers, and all sorts things that are being exposed by the situation. They've been saying it in all sorts of different areas with this, that if you're not ready for it now, if it wasn't planned for ahead of time, it's too late.

The good part about it is that, maybe it will force people in the future to pay more attention to the accessibility of their digital information and digital tools. Right now, we're feeling the pain because it wasn't thought of ahead of time, at least not by everybody. To be fair, there are some very good places out there, that did make their tools and their content accessible a long time ago.

Those people right now, are prevailing because they thought of it awhile ago. You're absolutely right, it's preparedness. Maybe we'll be more prepared next time, because of this time, but...

Karen: My approach to this isn't telling people that it's too late. I'm raising, or trying to raise the awareness of the scope of the problems. We have four to five months before this virus comes back again in the fall, and I have no doubt that it will.

 

If not, then there is another pandemic on the horizon. We look at SARS and the distance between SARS and MERS and the distance between MERS and COVID-19. The distances between pandemics is getting shorter and shorter. We have now four to five months to do strategic planning and start putting things in place.

We don't have to have everything done by midnight, but we do have to have a concerted and forcible effort to fix the infrastructure that is going to provide equity to everybody but include those of us with disabilities and ensure that we have equal access to all of the things that we need in order to stay at home, and be productive, and shop online, and not die of starvation. We do have four to five months. It's what are we going to do with them?

Mark: What are you going to do with that? I'll tell you what, Karen, it's people like you that are going to inform a lot of what needs to be done too. I think that that's important. I don't think anybody doesn't want to react, everybody wants to react and improve and with you being vocal, it's really going to help people understand how they need to improve for people with disabilities.

 

Thank you for that. We do have to wrap up. Is there any last advice or anything you think people should be aware about there that you like to wrap up with?

Karen: No, I would just like to reiterate, we have four to five months. We can't just sit and say, "Oh, it's too late." We have time to get ready for the next round and the next pandemic and the time to do our strategic planning, our emergency preparedness, and fix these infrastructures of education and shopping and even online employment, making sure that we have the tools that we need at home in order to be productive.

 

This is going to be a societal shift and we can't sit back and think that everything's going to go back to normal and that we aren't going to face this again. We need to take advantage of the four to five months that we have before the next wave of this pandemic comes to build the infrastructures.

Mark: Well said. I hope it gets heard. Thank you, Karen.
Karen: Thank you.
Mark: I really appreciate it, thanks for coming on with us. I hope that things go well for you and that you stay safe and get the things that you need. I'm sure listeners appreciate all that you illuminated for them. Thank you for that.
Karen: You're welcome. Thank you for listening.
Mark: [laughs] You're welcome. This is Mark Miller thanking Karen and reminding you to keep it accessible.
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