Lighthouse for the Blind & Visually Impaired Mid-Market, San Francisco, California, United States

Saying No To “Inspiration Porn”

I had the chance to spend the day at the Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, an organization whose purpose is just like it says on the tin. Their building’s amazing, beautiful interior design loudly proclaims that creating accessible experiences in the physical world is mostly a matter of paying attention to details which make life easier for everybody. Who doesn’t like smooth, comfort-grip stair railings and elegant room signage featuring lovely typography that’s visible from a distance?

As part of my work to make the Netflix iOS app work well for blind and low-vision users, I’ve benefited enormously from the expertise and sheer verve of the folks who work at Lighthouse. After a day of interviews with some of their staff I had the chance to stay for a screening of films from the Superfest Film Festival, which they co-produce. My favorite was Stumped, whose trailer is embedded in this note.

One of the best parts of the film was a parody of local-news feel-good pieces which tend to gush on about such inspiring feats as one-handed typing. The much more interesting story is that Maureen Beck, the film’s star is a foul-mouthed, morning beer-drinking free-climber who doesn’t want or need pity. The audio description of a scene in which she reacts to such a piece was a simple “Maureen rolls her eyes.”

Everyone in the room was doing the same, while laughing heartily.