As I sink into my chair after a long day at work, I boot up my PS4 and navigate to the Netflix app. Resting the controller on my lap, I finish up yet another job application to the tribune and type LOL with a winking smiley to an IM joke someone sent me. I have work ahead of me, certainly. I have a graphic audio title to review, an article to write regarding "The Hunger Games" and I have a video game review that's half-completed that I will send to IGN for consideration.
I feel, however, this night deserves a bit of celebration because of our victory regarding audio description and Netflix. We have documented the long fight for Netflix accessibility over the years and finally got people without disabilities to understand why accessibility and advocating for accessibility are so important through the Accessible Netflix Project. It is glorious! That's half the battle, but still, we all should be celebrating this victory. We have changed the world through writing and journalism.
Girl Scout cookies rest in my lap, ready to be consumed by this cookie-loving journalist. My phone is literally vibrating so much that it falls off my small dresser. It doesn't take me long to navigate to "Daredevil" on Netflix and begin playing episode one. I navigate to the audio options and still can't believe it's there. It's as if I am having wishful déjà vu but the words are clear as day. I select the audio description option. I am thrilled that a describer immediately describes the Netflix logo as it pops into view: "Letters pop out from a white background, then turn red. Netflix."
Remember when you were in school and people called you a winner, as if they knew you were going to do big things, change the lives of others? I've seen it happen to people. I've never had it happen to me. Nobody told me in a dream that I was going to win a victory against a huge corporation. Nobody told me that collective action would improve so many lives to come. I was the ordinary gay boy except for my writing gift.
I knew it was powerful because it made people laugh, cry, think, debate, argue and become best friends, but I did not understand its strength until today. I was talking to my old elementary school teacher on Facebook the other day and she said that I have had the gift of writing ever since I was little. She saw me as famous humor author, penning stories to make people smile so big they could part the sidewalk.
Even though people have said that my writing was excellent, they didn't have a lot of faith in it. Well, I am glad this happened. I am glad we changed the lives of many. Through journalism, we have changed the world. It may seem like a small change but we did it. Bloggers changed the thinking of a big company, with more to come. I wish I could gather up all people with the gift of the written word, stand in front of all of them and tell them, "don't let people tell you to do something else. Pursue your writing. Flex it. Strengthen it. Harness it. With great power comes great responsibility. So use your powers to change the world."
I'm glad I didn't give up my writing and journalism because it has changed the world. People will remember the Accessible Netflix Project as the one that started it all - global accessibility and global audio description. I see both common on streaming platforms soon. I see it happening now more than ever. I see it happening because, one, there isn't an excuse anymore and two, because someone will make it happen with the power of an email, tweet or some other form of the written word.
You don't have to be good at being blind or have to be what some call "completely independent." That's a farce. You just have to continue to fight, and write, for what you believe in.