Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Admiration vs. Objectification

17 October 2013

charlie-hunnam
I’ve been fascinated with the unfolding narrative about casting 50 Shades of Grey and the fallout from Charlie Huunam (pictured) deciding against the role. I find it far more interesting to read the discussions because neither the book holds any interest (especially after reading Jenny Trout’s recaps/teardowns here and especially this link about abusive relationships) nor do either of the lead actors, so I’m able to watch the train wreck without feeling invested in it.
ThinkProgress just posted this article about Huunam’s backing out and objectification vs. admiration. This. So much this. Also, this earlier piece from the same writer about the specific problems of casting 50 Shades.
I’m a pretty solid fan, and I’ve met lots of people through fandom over the years. Thanks to Fairly Legal, I wound up getting close to several people, one of whom I write most most days. Before that, I’ve met a lot of people through science fiction fandom, generally through our mutual love of books.
Some of what I’ve heard out of fans just boggles me. Like, for example, one fan’s confession that she stopped watching White Collar after Matt Bomer came out because she just couldn’t fantasize about the actor or character any more — and, weirder, not realizing that might be a problem in her character.
I’m happy that my favorite actor, Ryan Johnson, is married (cute wedding pic). I like knowing that there’s someone to be there through life’s daily challenges, because auditioning (and job interviewing generally) is stressful, and actors do more of that than most people. I love knowing he’s discovered my favorite coffee gadget or bought an iPhone for his birthday, but not as excited as when he announces a new role. In other words, I root for him. Yeah, he rocks a suit (and a cereal bowl), but what I most like about him is that he’s funny (gag reel clip) and expressive. And nice.
Back when Ryan was doing a live chat during an episode airing of Fairly Legal, one of his fans said that he’d make an awesome Christian Grey and had he considered the film role? My first thought was, “Nooooooooooooo.” His response was, if I recall correctly, that he hadn’t read the book or been approached about the project. Regardless, I remember it being a far better answer than the one I came up with. If he did land the part, I’d be supportive — it’s not about what I want, after all.
I think that’s part of the perspective that some of the people objectifying Huunam have completely forgotten about. There are actual real people involved in the making of this film, and real people have their own career goals in mind, not to mention needing to take into consideration the people around them. No matter how much fans might wish otherwise, a random fan on the internet (or not on the internet) doesn’t count in “the people around them.” We’re just happy when we’re happy and not when we’re not. Even the loyal among us aren’t perfectly so.
Getting back to 50 Shades, the rumors going around are interesting: 1) Huunam was offered $125k for the film (which seems unlikely given a studio of that size and a role of that size); 2) he left due to creative differences, frustrated with the handling of his notes about the script — which, apparently, he wasn’t allowed to see before signing. The official reason for his departure was scheduling differences.
It’s pretty evident from the attention Huunam’s gotten that objectification was part of the problem with keeping the film role, though that damage can’t really be undone. Worse, there’s the argument some are making that he’s inherently asked for this because he’s an actor. Which, frankly, is a variant on saying that a woman’s asked to get catcalls just because she wore a short skirt, and just as ridiculous.
You know what most actors are used to most of the time? Being passed over. Being ignored. Rarely having the right look at the right time. Being too young (or having too little experience). Being too old. Getting close to a part they want and not getting it. Not getting a call at all for the hot audition for the new hot project. Being one in a room of similarly-hot actors. Being called in for second reads with twenty-five other actors, and trying to find the right unique take that will clinch them the part. Having a better read, but not getting the part because the look wasn’t quite right. Maybe, just maybe, they’re lucky like Stephen Furst and manage to fumble an audition in the most perfect way and land the part.
Using an actor is not a part of the job actors signed up for. Do actors want attention? Probably most of them do. (I’d have said “all” at one point, but have you seen the Inside the Actor’s Studio episode with Kim Basinger shaking like a leaf? Talking about how she couldn’t leave the house for months because she is agoraphobic? Now imagine her doing 9-1/2 Weeks being that person. Amazing actor.) But that kind of objectification? I don’t think any of us want that. Wil Wheaton has written about this. More than once.
The one thing that makes me think the 50 Shades film might not be the total nosedive it might otherwise be is Sam Taylor-Johnson. I loved her film Nowhere Boy about the early life of John Lennon. I think it both respected how difficult Lennon was as a person and how charming he could be. No doubt that film is why I eventually wound up finally visiting Liverpool.
Sam had to work with difficult constraints about people both living and dead in order to make the film, and it worked. Do I think she could handle the 50 Shades content sensitively? Yes, if permitted to do so.
There’s also the issue of wanting to cast younger stars for the leads in 50 Shades. Historically, Hollywood will tend to cast people who are age 30 +/- 10% for their first leading role, even if that role is as a teenager, because they have to have a certain amount of fame to be a draw for the film and enough experience to be completion bondable. Example: Eric Christian Olsen in Fired Up!. The younger an actor is when taking on a role like 50 Shades, the more it will tend to typecast them. One of the things that was different about Twilight was that Catherine Hardwicke cast younger actors, but they weren’t expected to do a lot of nudity. It’s also worth remembering that Twilight was an indie film. Summit is no longer an independent studio, and that’s largely because of the success of the series. I believe Hardwicke still holds the title for the highest domestic-grossing film of all time directed by a woman.
Yet, for both of these book series, it was the book fans, not the actor’s fans, who were the initial primary pull for the movie. Sure, more people saw the Twilight films than read the books. That’s to be expected. But the initial pressure came from the book’s fans and what they expected Edward Cullen to look like/be like. Many of them were quite unhappy with Pattinson’s casting, partly because of the “don’t cross the streams” problem with his appearance in the Harry Potter films. After auditioning three hundred actors for the role, Hardwicke got what she was looking for. But: name three other films Pattinson’s been in since the series started without looking at IMDB.
There was a great interview with Daniel Waters, writer/director of Sex & Death 101, about casting sex scenes. Unfortunately, I can’t find a link to that audio file. (Here’s another interview.) The short version was that he found it incredibly difficult to cast Americans in the roles, and found it far easier to find Canadian and Australian actresses to be in his film. Also, the lead, Simon Baker, was Australian. (This was Baker’s last role before The Mentalist.) In a threesome scene, the two actresses involved had different body parts they didn’t want shown, and Waters talked about making sure that scenes were shot and edited to comply with the actors’ constraints. This is all difficult stuff, and non-trivial in a movie like 50 Shades where you need more comfort with explicit material from both leads.
On the other hand, the movie can’t actually be very explicit. There’s no way this movie will be PG-13, and it’s hard to get big box office numbers with an R-rated film. Even R won’t permit a lot of explicit content. (See: This Film Is Not Yet Rated) The two movies it’s most likely to be similar to, sex-scene wise, are 9-1/2 Weeks (which actually was remarkably light on sex scenes and had a teeny domestic gross and was also based on a book) and Basic Instinct (which was primarily a thriller).
So I’m perfectly content to let the actors act and the director direct, and see where this thing heads. It’s quite possible the movie will be better than the books. I certainly hope it will at least minimize the abusive relationship aspect.
Since we’re talking movies based on books here….time for a few book plugs.
For reading in the BDSM erotic romance subgenre, Abigail Barnette’s The Boss series, Maya Banks’s Sweet series, and Jayne Rylon’s Men in Blue series are all series written by people who know a lot more about the genre than E.L. James, who admittedly was writing outside her own experience. I’ll add this disclaimer, though: I’m not into BDSM, but I read outside my own preferences all the time, and I enjoyed those three series. So if that is your thing and you don’t like the books because of the way they explore BDSM content, I’d love to hear why.

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CSS Transforms: An Interactive Guide

16 October 2013

Fellow Apple and Safari alum Vicki Murley has written a book about CSS transforms. You can purchase the book here.
When it comes to books, I’m generally reading fiction in portrait mode, and am of the “just give me the damn text” persuasion. A lot of the extra touches that iBooks Author offers don’t add anything for that kind of book.
However, Vicki’s is the perfect book to showcase the additional features of iBooks Author with its interactive code examples.

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Comedy in Death

15 October 2013

Deadbeat dad leaves wife, gets declared dead, eventually turns up to be re-declared alive. Fails.
Edge Case Deirdre is all over the interesting possibilities in this one: he can’t really collect social security of his own. If you can’t serve someone with divorce papers, and you can’t find them, declaring them dead generally is the last resort.
They just usually don’t show up years later (too many years in this case) to object.


I don’t know why I was reminded of this when I heard the story, but….
My first husband, Richard, was raised believing his mother was his sister and his step-grandfather was his father (and his grandmother was his mother). Only on his mother’s deathbed did he find out that he was adopted by her parents. So her maiden name was Savino (after she was adopted), same as his.
I legally changed my surname and because Richard and I were together but not yet married at that point, I just tacked his on, so my maiden name became Saoirse-Savino. Which was also my married surname.
So when Richard died, I was talking to the guy at the funeral home, who was arranging the announcement for Richard’s death, and he asked my maiden name and Richard’s mother’s maiden name, and boggled at the fact that they all were Savino.
“I know I’m gonna get calls on this,” he moaned.
I still get the occasional chuckle out of that.
Sure enough, when the paper ran the obit, my maiden name changed to Saoirse and his mother’s changed to the believed surname of his birth father (Aigner, who apparently had never known he had a son).

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United Family Day

13 October 2013

united-747
One of the things the travel community has are mini-conventions called DOs, and one of the cool things they do are station tours of various airport operations.
Smaller events (in time and scope) are called mini-DOs.
Thus, the household went to the SFO Mini Do, which consisted of the following:

  1. Charity lunch at The Slanted Door, where we raised money for FF Giving which is a pass-through charity primarily for the United We Care Employee Relief Fund, which helps United Airlines employees and retirees in crisis. I’ve got to say, The Slanted Door was among the best Vietnamese food I’ve had outside Viet Nam. (It’s really really hard to beat Cục Gạch Quán in Ho Chi Minh City.)
  2. Learning about United’s wifi and in-flight entertainment strategy, which had some interesting info about the problems of wifi bandwidth in the air.
  3. Sitting in operations listening into flight operations as we sat with one of the people handling flights and gates.
  4. A visit to the still-under-construction part of Terminal 3 (boarding area E, consisting of gates 60-68), complete with hard hats and safety vests. I declined to go up on the roof, but Rick did.

Then we trundled over to the 8th annual United Family Day, which had a bunch of things to do: vendors to visit (Rick got a picture taken as a Captain of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner), United planes to trundle onto and off of (we went on the 747), classic car displays (Rick liked the Morgan), new car displays (I had some quality Tesla time), food vendors (mmmm, pulled pork), and classic airplanes of various sorts.
Oh, and they ejected one of the airplane slides while we were watching. Quite loud!
There was also a plane pull. You could sign up on a team that pulled a United Airbus 320. We didn’t, but I’m sure there will be photos of other people from the Do who did.
One of the neat things about the planes on display is that each of them had something highlighted that you don’t normally get to see, like the innards of a 747 engine.
united-747-engine

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Something Else Needs To Be Said

12 October 2013

…about Vera Nazarian and Norilana books, because it’s bigger than I thought.
Let’s talk about $170,000 in 2008 and 2009 — and not enough money to pay royalties at the beginning of 2010.
I remembered she’d had a bankruptcy, and when I went to look, I didn’t see the second bankruptcy because of how I searched.
Bankruptcy happens, and I’m not going to judge anyone, including Vera, for taking advantage of it, but two Chapter 7 discharges is unusual. National average for repeat filings is around 8%.
Before you object to divulging of some of the numbers below, remember that this is a public record. You could get the same information I did. There is a point, I’m just drawing circles around it for you to make your own conclusions.
2002: Bankruptcy, Chapter 7, California. Case 1:02-bk-12569-AG
2008: Borrowed $50k for business operation loan from Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. (source: 2012 bankruptcy filing)
2008: Fundraiser ($30k) to save house from foreclosure (which I helped run)
2009: Borrowed another $50k for business operation loan from Kevin O’Donnell, Jr. (source: 2012 bankruptcy filing)
2009: Business income of $41.8k (source: 2012 bankruptcy filing)
So: $50k loan + $30k fundraiser + 50k loan + 41.8k income = more than $170,000. That number excludes business income in 2008 and all other sources of income in 2008 and 2009.
2010: Public statement about Norilana being late in paying royalties
2010: Postponing several anthologies
2010: Business income of $37.4k (source: 2012 bankruptcy filing)
2011: Foreclosure finally happens, then move to Vermont
2011: Business income of $13k (source: 2012 bankruptcy filing)
2012: Bankruptcy, Chapter 7, Vermont. Case 12-10003, debts discharged $158,064.27. Of those, $109,364 is due O’Donnell. Link to PDF of her schedules, which has some information Norilana’s cash flows. Link to her filing, which has more data.
This is interesting:
Debtor
Vera Nazarian
[…]
dba Norilana Books
…yet there is nothing showing any royalties due any authors. They are not on the creditor matrix. They should have been.
2012: Kickstarter to fund one of Vera’s books. Funded about six months after her discharge.
2012: Kevin J. O’Donnell, Jr. dies of metastatic lung cancer. SFWA renames their service award after him.
2013: Eugie Foster announces she has cancer, then, tells people she hasn’t received royalties from Norilana for three years.
2013: Current Indiegogo fundraiser to fund Vera’s next book.
Edited to add: this Indiegogo fundraiser from Aug-Sep 2013 that I had not previously known about.

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Week in Review: Coming Home

11 October 2013

A few weeks ago, I was at Milford. Let’s just say that it was a much-needed experience.
On my flight home on Monday, I was seated next to a guy who seemed to be starting his midlife crisis that very day. One of the things we have in common is a dislike of the “Where do you see yourself in five years?” kind of question. Our goals are not tickable boxes that way; they never have been. What we seek is experiential: a great environment with interesting problems. In both our cases, our definitions of interesting problems had shifted recently.
And he said, more than once, “Respect your dreams.” Always good advice, but also something I needed to hear that day.
Interesting conversation to start the week with, and something that keeps coming to mind.
trigonos

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Something Needs To Be Said

10 October 2013

I know a lot of you have heard about Eugie Foster’s plea for help in the light of her cancer diagnosis.
I also have noticed a lot of people are minimizing or excusing Vera Nazarian’s (and Norilana, her small press) part in all this.
Look: Vera hasn’t paid royalties in three years (by Eugie’s comment and Vera’s own admission). If it were anyone other than an author telling a sad story, we’d be all over them. Vera says she’s ashamed. I doubt that. Plus, telling a sad story is a core competency for a Nebula-award-nominated author, isn’t it? In Vera’s case, the narrative has arguably become her life’s work.
Example (quoted from above link):

I am doing all I can to remedy my situation, working NON-STOP.

No. You are not doing all you can. Not in the least. Other people have had to wrest their rights from you. If you can’t afford to pay the suppliers for the things you sell — and haven’t been able to for three years, you should not be selling those things and keeping the money. Which you are, by your own admission, doing.
Vera’s been able to pay her SFWA dues, apparently, as she’s an Active (but not Lifetime Active) member. So she puts more value in paying the organization than the organization’s members she’s published.
Last year, Vera held a Kickstarter to raise money for a book. Not to pay money she owed her authors, but for herself. And now she’s doing another fundraiser (which I will not link to, and I will delete any comment that does) for writing her next book. But not for paying her authors.
Look, this isn’t a short-term problem, and it’s not going to resolve. She knows that.
Several of us ran a large fundraiser for her years ago. Those of us administering the fundraiser heard about vast sums of money (more than the thirty grand we raised) borrowed from other people, and she couldn’t pay that then. However, we didn’t hear it from the people themselves (so I don’t know how much truth there was to the numbers I heard), and we’d already committed to the fundraiser. It left a bad taste in my mouth.
So, I ask: if you know you can’t pay your authors their royalties, and you keep selling their books and, therefore, accruing the royalties due them, and you still need more cash from a Kickstarter: what’s the word for that kind of behavior? (Please do not post it, as I don’t want anyone to be accused of libel or slander. But you know what I mean, right?)
What I can say is this: Good behavior is a choice. It’s never too late to start. It may be too late to avoid some of the consequences, true.
See, when I buy a book, I am trusting that the author will get paid in a reasonable time. It’s not just a contract between the author and the publisher (and all the booksellers and wholesalers). It’s also a social contract between the purchaser and the publisher. Vera has betrayed our trust. I should be able to buy any of Eugie’s books in any format and trust that Eugie will get paid.
So, here’s what I suggest:
1) Vera should revert all rights to all Norilana titles that aren’t public domain or authored solely by herself. Yank all such titles out of all stores. Even if the authors are your friends, because you are not being one of theirs. The authors should not have to ask.
2) No signing any new authors or collections until Vera’s able to pay royalties again and has paid all past royalties.
3) Calculate all the amounts owed and pay them (or work out a realistic plan for the monies owed). I’d be happier if this was done with the help of a neutral third party.
4) Provide camera-ready copy to all authors and editors for existing works, including any artwork Vera has the rights to. This will make it easier for authors to re-publish their work themselves.
Oh, and start with Eugie Foster. [apparently Eugie’s print rights reversion is already in process]
Vera’s behavior is not that of someone who’s had a run of bad luck over the short term. There’s a more fundamental and deeper problem here. Every time someone brings it up, she turns the whine machine on full tilt. It becomes all about Vera, Vera, Vera.
It’s misdirection.
The whole problem with making an author ask for their rights back when Vera’s got the Poor Me Machine running full tilt? It means that only certain kinds of people will ask, or will ask only when others rage on their behalf. Thus, Vera can continue to take advantage of everyone else.
If we stop falling for this bullshit, maybe it’ll stop happening.

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Outside the Comfort Zone

10 October 2013

I’ve been asked a number of times why I travel the way I do, and why I make a point of going to so many different places.
Do I have favorite places to go back to? Of course. Hawaii, Ireland, London (and the UK generally), Venice, Istanbul — those are among my favorite places.
In general, though, I’d rather go somewhere new. By new, I mean a country I haven’t been to. I have a list of countries sorted by minimum time it’d take to get there.
Why?
Because I discovered that I was sticking to countries that felt too safe, too secure.
At some point, I found out about the Traveler’s Century Club: to join, you have to visit 100, but their list is quite liberal. For the last 10 years, I’ve kept track of my progress, and I discovered that I really needed to get outside of my comfort zone if I wanted to visit 100 countries.
What I’ve discovered is that the world is not as intimidating a place as I’d thought. Somewhere between 50 and 75 countries (I’m now at 88), I lost a lot of fear about travel. I’m no longer quite as uncomfortable walking around in a country where I can’t read the script system and I only know a few phrases in the local language.
Some countries I’ve visited completely cold: I didn’t research El Salvador before visiting, except for the obligatory bits (checking to see what the safe kinds of local foods are and booking a place to stay). Imagine my surprise when I realized that the country’s currency was the US Dollar.
Some I’ve overprepared for: I actually planned a trip to Australia over a period of months. When it fell through, it took me years to actually want to go to Australia again because I felt like I’d already been there.
Every new place brings its challenges, but what I really love are the unexpected moments that challenge your assumptions about the world: making the faux-pas in another English-speaking country because the language usage is different; having a broken conversation because neither of you understand each other very well, leading to some great comedy; seeing some amazing treasures of art and architecture that you can’t see where you’re from; seeing how other people’s cultures differ.
Everyone has their own way of getting outside their comfort zone. Some people like it, some don’t. I think it’s an essential practice. Otherwise, over time, your comfort zone tends to get smaller and smaller.
ithaa_restaurant
Outside my comfort zone is dining underwater. I love the ocean, but there’s always a fear because large bodies of water can also be lethal. The photo above was taken at Ithaa restaurant (the world’s first underwater restaurant) in the Maldives.
A few of the things I’ve done in the last two years:

  • Visited Þingvellir and seen the divide between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates
  • Walked some of the broad promenade in Douglas, Isle of Man
  • Visited the ruins of Nan Madol, one of the more fascinating prehistoric sites
  • Landed on Kwajalein, where tourism is pretty tightly controlled because of the US military
  • Been quizzed by a suspicious Bermudian immigration officer about the purpose of my short trip. He let me in when I showed him my Steve Jobs autographed iPad
  • Suspicious Canadian immigration officer wondered why I was having dinner in Vancouver and not staying longer. I pointed out that I’d had lunch in Indonesia the month before (it’s a ferry ride from Singapore), and showed him my passport entry. He rolled his eyes and let me in
  • Ski Dubai!
  • Trip with friends up the tallest building in the world
  • Weekend trips to four Central American countries, so I’ve now had at least a cursory visit to all seven
  • Spent Christmas Day in the exclusion zone of an active volcano
  • Flew on the last departure ever for Continental Airlines with friends
  • Nearly missed a flight out of Tokyo’s Narita airport
  • Had green tangerines in Kosrae. Apparently, oranges and tangerines never develop their eponymous colors in that part of the world
  • Got the deal of a lifetime on a ticket home from Myanmar (fka Burma). Side effect: took trip to Myanmar.
  • Visited a friend I hadn’t seen in far too long in her home town of Cape Town, South Africa
  • Being delayed getting out of Russia because the bureaucrats wanted more bribes from the cruise line (and they’d already had quite enough…)
  • Saw an octopus while I was snorkeling
  • Fell for Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Thailand, South African Airways (and, to a lesser extent, Cape Town), Micronesia, and New Zealand (again)
  • Flew around the world. Twice

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Xeni Jardin on Pinktober

07 October 2013

I’ve collected some of Xeni Jardin’s tweets over the last couple of weeks about Pinktober and breast cancer. Everything below this sentence are her words. I thought they needed a more findable home.
I might write about why Pinktober is dumb, a bummer, and insulting, but I might not. It’s the job of people who don’t have the disease. (link)
Because they’re the ones marketing, exploiting, cashing in, rolling around in all the maudlin pinkness. Not us. (link)
Pinktober is gross & dehumanizing for breast cancer patients. I’m not Jewish, but think of it this way: sticking a smiley face on Auschwitz. (link)
Pinktober doesn’t even square with science. Breast Cancer isn’t “boobies disease,” it’s mutant cells that happen to amass in that area. (link)
Breast cancer isn’t even one disease. Ask an oncologist. 16? 17? 20? Dozens of diseases? Hundreds? And it metastasizes, travels far. (link)
Reject Pinktober. Use the month to learn about people living with metastatic breast cancer, and find ways to help them. Fund more science. (link)
Use Pinktober to figure why quacks like Burzynski legally allowed to continue to kill breast cancer pts. Confront non-science-based frauds. (link)
Use Pinktober to figure out why poor breast (& other) cancer pts must choose between food & chemo in America. Demand a more humane system. (link)
Many women with breast cancer go bankrupt in America, due to cost of treatment or job loss. Not one dime of Pink profit until that stops. (link)


The correct answer to “Did you beat it?” is, “breast cancer is not a Michael Jackson song.” (link)


Just FYI, I know women w/& without insurance too broke to afford breast cancer screening, care after diagnosis, or food/shelter during tx. (link)


Spent some time with a childhood friend this week who, like me, had/has breast cancer. She was/is uninsured. Is she in remission? Who knows. (link)
How often do you go for checkups, blood tests, scans with your oncologist, I asked. “I kind of don’t,” she said. “I don’t have insurance.” (link)
She is single, a creative freelancer type, a long respected career. But no insurance, and lots of medical debt, so poor/no monitoring. (link)
She could have mets, or a new secondary cancer, and not know it. Lack of insurance means more of us die, or live lives you would not want. (link)
Odds of this fellow breast cancer survivor finding an insurance policy she can afford, with her “pre-existing,” grim now. This must change. (link)


A thing I love about Pinktober: listicles/PSAs implying you can prevent breast cancer by doing “the right things.” The Great Kale Swindle. (link)
This “people who are obese/sedentary/smokers/meat eaters/whatever-ers get it” myth made me believe I couldn’t possibly have breast cancer. (link)
I love most that we’re able to take a horrible, disfiguring, lethal disease and turn it into shopping. Because Yay shoppings. Pinktober! (link)


It’s time people knew the truth. I got breast cancer from reading Internet comments. Plz RT 2 save lives! #BreastCancerAwareness #pinktober (link)

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Usability and Contrast Loss

07 October 2013

My father, Owen, is legally blind due to contrast loss. This is not your typical form of blindness. Essentially, everything mushes into grey. Note that some contrast loss with aging is normal, so the problems noted here do affect many people as they age, just not to the same degree.
When I first saw iOS 7, I knew it would be a problem for him and that he would not be able to see it as well as iOS 6 (which had problems, too, but fewer of them), but I didn’t want to make assumptions about what specifically was a problem until we’d had that conversation.
Last night, I managed to talk to Owen long enough (before the call dropped) to get some of his complaints.
Specifically, he can’t see the UI to unlock his phone. Let’s look at the before (iOS 6) and after (iOS 7) examples here:
Slide-01
(image from wired.com)
Now, imagine that you’re only able to see high-contrast well, like Owen is. Which has greater accessibility? This is an effing lock screen, people. No one should have to go around with their internet pants down because they’re blind.
This is actually a really good argument for the iPhone 5s: it doesn’t matter how awful the accessibility is on a feature if it’s irrelevant. So, I’m going to help my dad get an iPhone 5s and set it up.
After my complaints on Twitter, several people suggested that Owen go into the Settings app and increase the font size and boldness.
Exercise for the reader:

  1. Assume you’re legally blind from contrast loss (and haven’t locked yourself out of your phone because you’re blind).
  2. Find the Settings app on iOS 7.

settings
(clipped out of a larger image here)
Note how much less accessible (from that perspective) the iOS 7 icon is than the iOS 6 one is. Some of the iOS 7 icons are better, some are way worse, and some are about the same. This one is decidedly worse, and it wasn’t that great to begin with.
In addition to lower contrast, the detail is much finer, making it harder to see (than the iOS 6 icon) by most visually impaired people.
And that’s what the settings to improve accessibility are hidden behind?
Fail.
Now, let’s get back to the point about increasing the font size and boldness. In general, this never hurts. However, for someone blind from contrast loss, these options may not help. It is the contrast, rather than the font weight or size per se, that is the issue.
Looking up at the lock screen, note that the time is a larger font than it used to be. Assuming it were also the same weight, it would still be less accessible for Owen — because contrast is more important. Also note that shadows, gone from the iOS 7 UI, help define edges and thus improve accessibility for those with contrast loss. Personally, I like shadows so long as they’re not overdone.
Per Owen, it’s also easier to see white text on a dark field rather than dark text on a light field. For him, light-colored backgrounds flare. I don’t know if this is true for all who have contrast loss, though.

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