About slger123

Updated Bio and Research Narrative

I was a “computer geek” before the term was coined but I knew, early on, that I wanted broad career experience. As one of the first women doctorates in Computer science, I subsequently worked in research and management in software engineering and technology transfer at Duke U., NASA, NSF, ISI Information Sciences Institute, Wang Institute, MCC, and Embry-Riddly u. That’s experience in government, industry, and academia with stints in self-employment, parenting, unemployment, and now semi-retirement and social entrepreneurship. Apparently, on my wish list for life opportunities, I forgot to uncheck the box on Disability because I’m also now legally blind from myopic retinal degeneration.

I caught the podcast listening bug in late 2004 and have used podcasts and RSS to replace news, magazines, technical pubs, and TV. Fortuitously, I stumbled onto the channels of Internet radio podcasters who distribute invaluable demonstrations, reviews, interviews, and inspiration. Adding to visits to assistive technology exhibits at CSUN and the “#accessibility water cooler” on Twitter, I’ve been able to guide my self-rehabilitation and meet my vision education needs.

Good thing I’ve been able to self-rehab as vision resources in my locality (Prescott Arizona) have gone downhill from “not very much” since my vision dipped away in 2006. This blog started as an exercise in learning to write and express myself and morphed into a soapbox on both unsolicited professional advice on accessibility and advocacy for attention to disability services locally.

I’ve been a lifelong learning student since 2008 at Yavapai College OLLI (Osher Lifelong Learning Institute( where I also facilitate classes in social media, the Internet, science debates, and the coming Singularity, see YC OLLI Asks course website. I offer a workshop “Using Things That Talk” on screen readers, synthetic speech, book reading, iPhone apps, and odd devices.

My favorite career project was an empirical study of “Do Search Engines Suppress Controversy?” and searches into the Analytic Web. Try out this simple search form at Controversy Discovery Engine if you want to search Google for more in-depth and sometimes fractious content.

I hope other macular degenerates, pathological myopes, and any type of Vision Loser will come with me on this journey and share their experiences in the forum.

Susan L. Gerhart
Prescott Arizona
July 2007 updated May 2013

Over here is a more traditional biography .


4 Responses to “About slger123”

  1. rellyg Says:

    just found this. I am an IT “nerd” and am going blind from myopic retinal degeneration as well.

  2. slger Says:

    Research autobiography for slger at

  3. slger Says:

    Weary Words from a White Cane Warrior

    Susan L. Gerhart,
    for Blogging Against Disablism Day May 1 2014

    Able ism, disablism, normal, , rehabilitation, mobility, accessibility—
    new found words dominating my concerns today,
    replacing decades ago professional vocabulary —
    Abstraction, , pre/post condition, invariant’s, correctness, reliability.

    Not so different, really, all about
    that guides participants from start to goal, and
    Error correction
    when mis-steps deviate from the path or the goal is revised, and
    to operate the Process and Error Recovery mechanisms.

    But now I am a visible animal, not an automaton, pushing a roller ball body extension.
    The White Cane Warrior battles society’s processes with
    inner, oh so carefully forethought, plans, mechanized through
    The miraculous stick and hand sensory system
    that, unfortunately, symbolize to society:
    Warning: deviant walker, needs help, oh pity her.

    “Do you need help?” as I stand outside the bank.
    “No”, adding “just waiting for my taxi”.

    “Do you need help?” while I sit on a bench listening to birds.
    “No”, adding “waiting for class”.

    “Do you need help?” as I cross the parking lot.
    “No”, adding “familiar with where I’m going”
    like about the 50th time along this planned route, I mumble.
    “Oh, careful of the curb”, he points, as my cane touches the bump and
    I step over painfully aware I’m being watched.

    “Do you need a prayer?” as I Decipher intersection traffic patterns.
    “No”, at the fifth entrapment by that Prayer Lady.

    “Do you need help?” as my cane slides across the icy sidewalk.
    “Oh, yes, show me around this stretch, please”
    as the stranger wonders how to explain, point, take my arm, offer his.
    There is no graceful interaction around a public hazard except relieved”Thank you!”.
    So I speed dial City Streets to report, yet again, citizen carelessness.
    But no trip today to Emergency for stitches or broken bones!

    Nobody offers help as I weave through downtown sidewalk sandwich advertising signs.
    Restaurants, saloons, souvenir and art shops, keep the city afloat!
    City saw horses mark maintenance needs, never repaired in my memory.
    Cane trappers, tall people knee cappers, random clutter—
    Ah, the ambience of a scenic mountain community
    Immune to pedestrian safety.
    The White Cane Warrior could proclaim
    “Fix this for me and all pedestrians will gain” but
    “Everybody’s Home Town” doesn’t mean “Welcome, weary retina strained myopes!”.
    Hello, city council, let’s celebrate 25 years of American Disability empowerment by acknowledging laws.

    Did I fail to thank the intervening helpers?
    Yes, indeed, I feel no obligation when my private journeys are interrupted
    by voices to which I must respond
    Thus disrupting my concentration and endangering my safety.
    But I also cringe at my own pre-blind obliviousness like that stranger
    watching, worrying, maybe caring, often pitying, sometimes amazed.

    Oh, when and how to help the old lady feeling her way? or not?
    The majority population are TAB, our code for ‘Temporarily Able Bodied’.
    Society is failing all of us:
    TABs, patients on the injection assembly line, ignorant charities,inaccessible web site designers, inattentive drivers.
    My fight to become independently mobile me instead to become a White Cane Warrior
    Navigating the social services, charity thieves, process laggards
    Who cannot respect my inner triumphs at simply walking place to place.

    But technology save me:
    Podcasts from Main Menu, Accessible World, Eyes on Success;
    Blogs from Goldfish, Reading in the Dark, Universal Design, Unrepentant;
    Writers Kuusisto, Grunwald, Krieger, Sacks;
    The #a11y Twitter stream of mundane and stellar advice;
    abundance of reading materials from the enlightened Benetech and Bookshare;
    genuine sharing community MDSupport.org.
    All brought me a world of true help with no pitying, or ambivalence about barriers, or expectation of gratitude,
    Simply advice from the practitioners, who mastered the Processes,
    and reveled in affordable mainstream assistive technology (bless Steve Jobs).
    They enable me to walk the trails, visit the theater, enjoy the classes, read the books, eat the meals, refresh the relationships,
    Of a regular life beyond denial, depression, and indecision.

    Help this Weary White Cane Warrior, if you want:
    by listening to my analysis, preferably while sitting down together;
    by never donating to charities needing tokens like me as their tickets to Heaven;
    By reading “As Your World Changes” struggle to regain literacy;
    by educating yourself toward a likely fate, or destiny, from aging eyesight.
    and then this White Cane Warrior will have shown the way that
    Energy sustained for Process and Error Correction dispel need for the words “Help You?”.


    Composed for OLLI “Creative Writing” class, Rod Williams facilitator

    April 22 2014

  4. Life In Deep Water Says:

    Very thought provoking. Thank you so much for sharing such private feelings with us.

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