we went to a a temple where one half was a tiger and the other side was a dragon – hence the title (subtext aside).

it was mostly raining while we were there (not at all typical for that time of year). my wife presented at Kenting (going there was a long , wide, and straight highway – our driver explained that the dividers can be removed and as a contingency can serve as a makeshift runway), a beach town (which we were unable to enjoy because of the weather and time of year – December isn’t exactly an ideal time), which was still about a two hour drive away from Kaoshiung airport. we were able to go to the night market – we would have enjoyed it more had it not been so windy. we had a cheap meal there – luckily the menu had pictures because we didn’t speak Chinese an they didn’t speak English at the restaurant. that said, most of the cuisine has a pronounced star anise or 5 spice smell and flavour – so if your not a fan of liquorice or aniseed be careful what you order.

the wi-fi at our hotel was very “efficient”. when we left the room that network disappeared. when we were at the lobby it was different, and when we were downstairs at the conference area another one took over. moreover, they had one on the tour bus they helped arrange.

among the tour, we were able to see a “shelled” beach where people are no longer allowed (as some tourists kept taking away the “sand”). we also visited the southern most tip of Taiwan (where you can supposedly wave to someone in the Philippines – it’s a “nice”, if highly implausible story). A very kind stranger got out of his car and helped my wife push my wheelchair up as the road was inclined upwards (it must be because we encountered a lot of Hindu temples).

we spent the last few days in Kaoshiung so we changed hotels. I was delightfully surprised that it was also highly accessible (and in my experience, second only to Australia and well ahead of several Western nations i’ve visited). honestly, i didn’t have great expectations as most Asian countries have what Hofsteder refers to as high cultural (adjective my own) power distance – case in point, ramps in other parts of Asia are quite steep and assumes there is someone at the back pushing the wheelchair instead of being self-propelled (which wasn’t an issue in Taiwan – at least the places i visited). that said, our driver said that a person in a wheelchair couldn’t just hail a cab off the street and special (read as: prior) arrangements need to have been made)

anyway, we were also able to go the night market in the city (it was obvious it was Japanese designed as the architecture and layout reminded us of Tokyo) but were not able to find the stall driver recommended – it’s really difficult when you can’t read or Speak Chinese. serendipitously, we ended up in a restaurant were another Filipina worked so it was easy ordering food.

our driver took us around the city before dropping us at the airport. we were able to visit the temple i mentioned previously. there were a lot of Japanese tourists and i noticed a heap of flights back to Japan at the airport. it was a “hidden” gem – we wished we had a few more days to explore it “properly”.

today (November 19) is UN World Toilet Day. i know it’s to promote sanitation and health but, with your indulgence, let me “hijack” it to discuss some of my concerns about accessible toilets. it may be crass and gross to most but to me it’s a microcosm of how disability is viewed/treated by society at large: a few do it for the sake of compliance and to merely adhere to the law, while most are well-meaning but “misunderstand” the issues because “designers” have no lived experience (whether personal or ancillary) or lack proper awareness.

doors. some doors are “too” heavy without a spare set of hands. another “pet peeve” of mine is when there is another set of doors: this is extra effort because i’s another “obstacle” and there usually isn’t enough space unless you close the first set. moreover, my wife or son sometimes need to hold the door open for me to get in and out. furthermore, a few open the “wrong” way so that i need to position my walker to the side in order to open it (i always wonder how people with wheelchairs manage).

locks. some people no longer or aren’t imbued with the necessary dexterity to operate locks: i’ve used the facilities a number of times without engaging the locks or spent several minutes to unlock it (and it’s really bad for me as i have claustrophobia and can get terribly anxious).

space. i understand there are costs involved but sometimes i can’t turn and need to exit “backwards”. i also encountered a few that requires you to “park” your mobility aid elsewhere to use the facilities – there was even one with a wall separating a toilet. in such cramped quarters, how can people using wheelchairs safely transfer to the toilet itself.

handrails. there are a few with “misplaced” handrails or items (usually toilet paper) placed atop where you are safely meant to grab. i’ve even encountered some without any handrails – they just assume that everyone will just sit down but you may need to hold on to something to adjust your seating or help you get up.

toilet paper dispensers. i’ve yet to find one that’s easy to use. i can understand the intention but you have to be adequately nimble to get any TP: sometimes your fingers need to navigate a “small” opening to either get the first square or because after you tear a few off it goes back “in”. These are often sharp and is problematic for me as i’ve got co-ordination issues and occasionally involuntarily movements – i can’t even imagine someone with “severe” movement disorders.

lights. a few have them have the switches behind the door. automated ones are usually handy but i find they don’t detect you when you’re on the throne and cut-out after a certain time – i have to “furiously” wave my arms to get the light back on and even tried moving various body parts to no avail.

smell. unfortunately, i’ve got a keen sense of smell and most do double duty as parents’ rooms with nappy (diapers to you American-English speakers) and when there is something in the bin (or trash can) it can get a bit “whiffy”. Alternatively, the bowl isn’t flushed because it was hard to do by a previous user; they forgot or don’t care; the flushing mechanism doesn’t work or doesn’t function well enough – whatever the case may be, the result is the same: it stinks.

i’m sure there are other things i’ve missed as the topic gets me worked up. on second thought, hotel bathrooms need a seperate entry as my family and i like to travel a lot. i need to say this because the country by far with, IMHO, the “best” accessible toilets is by far Australia.

there are even chairs in a few toilets. you might ask: isn’t this a good thing? yes and no. for people that need support, it’s wonderful thing but it’s a subliminal indication that persons with disabilities can’t or shouldn’t participate in the community independently.

both sides now

September 25, 2019

i started with a “bottom-up” approach hoping it solidly grounds “learners” on the “basics” – hoping that they can build upon the “fundamentals” (as “constructivist theory espouses).  However (and i could be wrong), certain topics seem to me “better” suited for “top-down” pedagogical design as this focuses on a particular concept not only to build confidence but, also, to encourage interest  (like they do in music by giving students a piece to practice).  This not only provides them the expected output (allowing them to validate their work or check if they are on the “right” track) but help identify which topics  (and the “order” in which they are introduced)  they need to learn (as it’s not practical to cover everything about a programming language – how long is a pice of string?  Certain “minutiae”  may be interesting but must be omitted for the sake of “practicality).

This may result in longer times between releases but if there’s anything i’ve verified through my own experience with project (software development in particular) that “front-loading” is more cost-effective as it’s ‘cheaper” to make changes “earlier” in a product’s lifecyvle

 

 

expect delays

September 18, 2019

there will be delays in building my Python repository on GitHub as: 1.)  i’m sill busy figuring out how to “better” restructure it, 2.) i’m searching for an old computing book that may help me with content, 3.) while my ABI compromised my reading speed it is way much faster than my typing output, 4.)  everybody says i tend to “overanalyse” things (ask my Mum and wife) so i’m carefully considering how to frame sample code to help “maximise” learning.  FYI.  Sorry.

alt =

September 16, 2019

i keep forgetting.  According to Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines (http://udlguidelines.cast.org/), i should strive to provide alternative representation. Not everybody knows (yet) what a Jupyter notebook is or has an App that can read this format so i’m publishing a pdf version. Here’s the updated repository: https://github.com/LinsAbadia/Python

Also i forgot to mention that while i may “post” in a certain order, there’s nothing to prevent the user from “skipping around” and doing what feels natural.

pick your poison

September 15, 2019

i still need to workout guidelines (it’s an evolving thing like much of software development). i need to determine the most appropriate file format (e.g. blog post, Jupyter notebook, PDF, presentation, straight text file etc.) for samples in my Python GitHub repository. That said i should also try to provide alternative representation(s) based on UDL guidelines (http://udlguidelines.cast.org/)

(sliding) doors

January 24, 2019

as a pragmatist, I’m conscious that automated doors can be expensive or impractical for disability toilets but i don’t understand why some doors are really heavy and require at least two people to open it (and keep it open).  Some of them aren’t designed properly:  there are doors that open the wrong way, there are quite a few doors where you’ve got to form a plan in order to open a door with a walking aid or wheelchair, and there was even one where you couldn’t close the door with a walker inside.  Moreover, there are locks that are problematic as well: some don’t indicate when they’re locked (or are not that obvious to the occupant), there are a few double locks so you’re not sure which to use (and sometimes you need to use both as the engaged indicator is seperate), and few locks require fine, manual dexterity to operate.  It underscores how compliance isn’t a substitute about thinking about the practicalities of actual use.