Hannah Kinsey has been blind since birth, but she has never let that slow her down. Luckily, neither did her parents. Growing up, Hannah did everything her sister did, despite her lack of vision. She played softball, and rode bikes, and always found a way to participate. From a young age, Hannah was determined to be an unstoppable force. She credits that determination to her support system; she says her parents “taught [her] to take the world by storm,” and there was nothing she couldn’t do if she set her mind to it.
“Within reason,” she added, “I think we all knew I would never drive a car.”
Hannah’s brilliant attitude and sense of humor shine today, but she faced a lot of adversity growing up. When she reflects on her adolescence, she recalls being met with resistance from classmates and teachers that always seemed to be doubting her capabilities. Her parents had to take a stand when she was not going to be allowed to join the high school marching band, something she was very passionate about.
Music is Hannah’s greatest passion. She is a trained vocal performer, pianist, percussionist, and clarinet player. This passion led her to pursue a degree in Vocal Performance from Southern Nazarene University.
Growing up, Hannah attended NewView Oklahoma’s OWL Camps. NewView is Oklahoma’s only provider of comprehensive services for Oklahomans who are blind, providing services to Oklahomans of any age. From orientation and mobility to assistive technology and vocational training, NewView seeks to empower individuals living with vision loss to live their most independent lives. OWL Camp is a summer camp experience tailored to pediatric patients to encourage confidence and community with other children with similar disabilities.
Hannah has fond memories of camp. She remembers shooting BB guns, jumping off diving boards, and feeling a sense of pride in her fellow campers as they gained the confidence to become unstoppable forces, just like her. For her, it was eye-opening to see how other kids with similar disabilities navigated the world; not everyone she went to camp with had the same belief in themselves that she did. Since her family always told her she could do whatever she set her mind to, she attended camp with no fears.
Another one of Hannah’s passions is accessibility. It affects her daily life, she relies on assistive technology to navigate the web, manage her household bills, secure transportation, and to participate fully in the workforce. Like millions of other Americans, Hannah relies on digital and physical accessibility to access the world around her.
After college, Hannah was ready to enter the workforce. But she was met with roadblock after roadblock perpetuated by non-inclusive workplaces and the inaccessibility of websites, including online employment applications. For five (5) years after graduation, she relentlessly pursued work, and on the rare occasion that she could get a foot in the door Hannah continued to face doubts from hiring managers that did not understand how capable she is.
Her fruitless job hunt brought Hannah back to NewView, and it is there that her experience with assistive technology and her passion for accessibility would collide. Hannah joined NewView Oklahoma’s READable division and became a certified Trusted Tester. READable focuses on digital accessibility and PDF remediation. Remediation efforts ensure that documents and websites adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, or WCAG. WCAG is a predetermined set of criteria that content should follow in order to be accessible to people living with low vision or blindness, or a number of other disabilities. As digital media’s role in our lives changes, WCAG changes as well. Keeping up to date with WCAG and implementing new guidelines is an ongoing task.
Since joining READable, Hannah has proven to herself and those around her that every ounce of doubt those hiring managers had was misplaced. Today she is a certified Trusted Tester, which means she is trained in understanding the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and can guide remediation. She is also a PDF remediation specialist.
Hannah’s latest project was working alongside Traction Marketing to help NewView do a complete overhaul of their website. Hannah manually tested each aspect of the new site before launch, provided comprehensive feedback on roadblocks, and screen recordings to walk the developer through what she was experiencing through her lens, using a screen reader and other assistive technology.