About SLGer

Susan L. Gerhart (slger) is a retired computer scientist. Her professional specialities included software engineering research, technology transfer management, and computer science education, see SLGer’s Research Autobiography.

Susan is active in a lifelong learning institute (OLLI) at Yavapai College in Prescott Arizona. She has facilitated courses on podcasts, Twitter, the Singularity, and climate fiction.

“As Your World Changes” blog describes her journey with vision loss into the spectacular world of assistive technology and the frustrating practices of accessibility. She writes with the NVDA screen reader, reads books from Bookshare on a BookSense, and listens to podcasts on an iPhone. slger123 on Twitter records her favorite articles and occasional comments on life and politics.

Creative writing courses led her to undertake “A Chip On Her Shoulder”, a novel asking the questions: “how did we get into the privacy mess of modern social media?” and “Are we now just ‘packets of data formerly known as people’?”

Contact: slger123 at gmail.com

4 thoughts on “About SLGer”

  1. 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

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