Family photo of the author at age 7
Family photo of the author at age 7
Family photo of me at age 7, about a year after I was told I was deaf

About 25 percent of adults in the United States have some sort of disability, and I’m one of them. Most of us use some sort of digital technology, and most of us encounter difficulty using that technology. When I say “most of us,” I mean most everybody, not just people who have cognitive, physical or sensory challenges.

In addition to having a disability, I’m also a student of digital accessibility, which I like to think of as trying to make it possible for all people to successfully use technology. People like me. People like you. Everyone.

My journey to becoming…


Analyzing the experience of people with screen readers.

A hotel key, reception desk sign and bell to ring for service
A hotel key, reception desk sign and bell to ring for service
Used by permission | Photo credit: viperagp

People with disabilities have a lot of spending power.

Yes, on average we may have less disposable income than people without disabilities, but according to DIVERSEAbility Magazine:

Discretionary income for working-age people with disabilities is about $21 billion, which is greater than that of the African-American ($3 billion) and Hispanic ($16 billion) market segments, combined.

My takeaway from those stats is that there are people with disabilities who don’t have a lot of money to spend and people who definitely do. …


As a high school English teacher, I found that writing was a way of training the mind to think more clearly.


One of my favorite quotes I stole from an art director I used to work with: "Originality is a condition of the obscurity of your sources."


Health-care provider administering Pfizer vaccine to young man in car at drive-up clinic
Health-care provider administering Pfizer vaccine to young man in car at drive-up clinic
Photo by Alex Mecl on Unsplash | Used by permission

COVID-19 vaccines are free and widely available in the United States. Unfortunately registering for a shot online can be tricky, especially if you have a disability.

So why does this matter?

To answer this question, I keep thinking of that old cliché: “If a tree falls in the forest, but there’s no one around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Only my version — for the purpose of this article — is: “If you have to make an appointment online to be vaccinated, but you can’t because the registration website isn’t accessible, does vaccine prevent the virus?”

Answering that question

Some…


Written with the hope that others will be inspired to download screen readers and learn to use them. Let’s learn together.

A person reaches out to select a book from bookshelves pictured on a laptop screen
A person reaches out to select a book from bookshelves pictured on a laptop screen
Illustration Credit: juliatim. Used by permission.

On my quest to become a certified Web Accessibility Specialist, I’ve discovered that I absolutely must learn to use a screen reader. How else am I going to test sites to find out whether they work for people with vision impairments? The problem — and the reason I’ve been putting this off — is that I have a hearing disability. Will I be able to hear the screen reader well enough to make this tool usable for me? Can someone who has trouble hearing test accessibility for someone who has trouble seeing?

You are most likely familiar with computers talking…


Code for an accessible skip-navigation link superimposed over a blank monitor sitting on a desk
Code for an accessible skip-navigation link superimposed over a blank monitor sitting on a desk
Code for an accessible skip link | Photo by Jessy Smith on Unsplash

Accessibility? When I was in coding boot camp, no one mentioned the word to me. Kudos to the local women’s tech networking group for at least introducing me to the idea of accessible color contrast. I’d seen ARIA attributes here and there and was curious but didn’t know what that was all about. Eventually, it was a volunteer coding gig for a local government that opened my eyes to the accessible digital world.

Our team of volunteers had just presented a working beta version to our local Code for America brigade, and the city official who had commissioned us to…


A computer mouse
A computer mouse
Photo Credit: Oscar Ivan Esquivel Arteaga on Unsplash

Unplug your mouse and hand it over. Do you know which hotkey turns your monitor screen off? Press it. Now I have a challenge for you: whatever you were going to accomplish online today, get started. No, you can’t have your mouse back, and your screen stays black.

Building empathy for people with vision impairment who must navigate the internet using a keyboard is the goal of this year’s winning project in the annual axe-hackathon sponsored by Deque Systems, a digital accessibility company. The winning team calls their project Inclusiville.

Team leader Suella Lee describes the project as “a simple…

JoLynne Martinez

There’s always more to learn about digital accessibility … https://jolynnemartinez.github.io/

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store