Bookmark Beat: EP 6

The blind leading the blind (and why that's a good thing)

I took the week off of writing the beat, last week (remember when I said it'd be mostly weekly) 😉 Did you miss me?

This week, I'm sharing tips on how to be a better advocate and assist Blind / Low-Vision folks. Plus, some practical guides, jokes and reflections on working cross-functionally!

If you groove to this beat, you can subscribe to updates via Substack

An intro: A delicious drink to end the summer

It's finally starting to cool down in Denver (where I live) and I've officially run out of the variety of whiskies I have in my bar. So I decided to try something new this week with the vodka that's been sitting in my freezer for months. This Pear and Elderflower Collins hit the spot!

It can be made with honey or simple syrup, but don't skimp on the liqueurs 😉 The combination of elderflower and pear gives a just-sweet-enough flavor to the otherwise pulpy puree. For those who don't enjoy alcohol, you can make the same thing with an Escape “liqueur” and I'm sure it would be just as good!


It's an astigmatism, not a stigma

Last week, I shared my experience as a low-vision gamer. Eventually, it's possible I'll go fully blind. This took a while to get used to… but what I found to be most difficult was to communicate to others what it's like to lose vision. The NYTimes’ Video Series I’m Going Blind. This Is What I Want You to See is the closest I've seen to getting it right.

Similar to their Olympic coverage, earlier this year, What It's Like To Ski Nearly Blind, this article tries to simulate the world in a way that matches what so many folks see through their eyes.

As a designer with a foot in both the seeing and not-seeing world, I've been trying to figure out how to go beyond empathy (callback to 2020's “Empathy is Overrated” blog-spree) and spur action, creativity and inclusive practices instead.

This is how I encountered Sighted Guiding which, like CPR training or learning how to identify the signs of a heart attack, is a practical skill that can help you feel more comfortable around a blind or low-vision person. I hope that, even if folks never have to use these skills, these sorts of classes can help fully-sighted individuals understand what it takes to move this world with a different capacity for vision and maybe, just maybe, create a more inclusive environment for those around them.

Speaking of inclusive environments…

What does it take to make design crit work¹? How does the way we create documentation, mockups and expectations² affect our relationship with the people who consume them? And how do we feel when all of our best intentions in these areas fall apart³?

May I present to you… the answers!

  1. Design critiques at Figma - a practical guide to making them work better
  2. Design files are aspirations - a reminder that even the best design system doesn't replace the need for clear communication
  3. George is surprised that the feature he wanted was not implemented the way he expected - if you can't laugh, you'll at least cry (the whole site is gold!)

All of these point to the challenges of working in a balanced team of designers, engineers and product managers. This idea has been sold to us as a way to make working together a bit less “waterfall”…

At Spotify, they called it “Squads”. At Pivotal Labs, we called it a “Balanced Team”. What we found at Pivotal was that there's no “one size fits all” solution and just cramming together a PM, Designer and a bunch of Engineers wasn't going to magically fix everything. It took practice, feedback and a lot of retros for this structure to actually deliver on its promise…

The article, Failed #SquadGoals, does a great job of describing these common failures and the practices required to combat them. I highly recommend reading it slowly and not just skimming it to defend your own virtues. It's really good!

There's some things I found this week that wouldn't fit into my rambling narrative above, but I still want you to know about them:

Now let's get to the…

Tweet Thread of the week

My son has set the house up with a Pi-Hole. It’s a raspberry pi running Ad blocking on the whole house’s network.

We’re a few hours in and we’re seeing effects, as well as some teething problems.

~ 🧵 by @Tupp_ed

Wow! Who knew a Pi-Hole could lead to such a rabbit hole!

Hope this was at least somewhat interesting to y'all! If not, let me know 😃 I'd love to learn why you subscribed and maybe I can hunt down some better bookmarks for you…

And, if you haven't subscribe yet, feel free to do that now 🕺 Until the next beat!