In my last post a couple of years ago I was struggling with my eye pain and didn’t post again. Well I’m OK and actually a few weeks later things got better and I’ve been stable ever since. I’m using 300% magnification and that is working great for me. So I think of those 2/3 months, back in 2014, as a hiccup. Yet again I have my osteopath to thank for helping me improve my neck mobility which in turn has reduced my chronic pain to bearable levels where I can be productive at work.
I’ve been promoted since my last post to Software Architect and I really am happy in my work and my life. The truth is that moving to screen magnification from a screenreader has made my life easier and allowed me to go further. It is easier to do my job, of that I have no doubt but I believe using a screenreader was critical to me reaching this level in my career.
The Screenreader Made Me the Man I Am Today
Yes using a screenreader is hard, yes there are limitations to what you can do but there are also positive side effects as a result.
I worked harder at being technically superior to my colleagues to compensate my weaknesses. I listened to technical podcasts and listened to technical books. Reading database scripts was easier than reading the entire code of applications so I decided to become a database expert. I listened to deeply technical books about the inner workings of databases, books on database performance and the SQL language. The funny thing was that I really didn’t have an opportunity to put all that knowledge to work in my small team but I carried on regardless.
After reaching a good level with databases I studied a wide range of other technical areas and never gave up. In the end I had totally outmatched the technical skills of my colleagues and was almost on par with them when it came to speed of work output. However due to my skills I was able to produce results that they were never capable of because they simply didn’t know the technologies like I did. In my current job there has been a huge need for database skills and it was those skills that gave me my first good publicity in the software development department.
Now that I am using a screen magnifier I haven’t stopped dedicating lots of time to learning and study and my technical knowledge and skills have continued to grow. Now three years after starting my current job I have moved from developer to technical lead to software architect and I put that technical success down to the dedication that using a screenreader forced into me. I just don’t think I would have had the stamina and will power if I was a normal sighted guy.
If I was still using a screenreader today I doubt I would be architect but I am pretty sure I would still be the most kick-ass database expert in the company and have had a vital role. The great thing about working at a large company is that there are more opportunities for specialists. I would have doubled down on databases and made sure that when people needed help on a difficult database problem they would reach out to me without even thinking.
When I used a screenreader my visual impairment formed an integral part of my life and my daily thinking. Now my eyes have improved and I can use screen magnification and it is not the focus it once was. I will write new posts in the future when I start work, eventually, on my HTML diagrams project which I still really want to do. In fact if anyone out there wants to help, or may be contribute as part of a university project or something it will probably give me the boot up the arse that I need. Get in touch!
I have a new blog where I am writing about technology and teams, check it out at http://jack-vanlightly.com.
I have written a post about my set up using a screen magnifier and special sun glasses, check it out at http://jack-vanlightly.com/blog/2016/7/2/5-tricks-for-people-who-are-hyper-sensitive-to-computer-screens
Take care everyone!