Writing 7yrs of journey in one post is very tough for me. There are lot of learnings & memories associated with WordPress. Without WordPress I don’t have an online presence & the simplicity of publishing has provided me a voice that is heard. Whenever I am heard I got a response from the wider community & with this community I was able to fulfill few of my dreams. They might look small for someone else but they are very important for me because everything I wanted in my life is made tougher because of my visual impairment. Being born in a third world country & learning at the age of 14 that you are 80% blind is not an easy thing to digest. I have a great family and while my parents supported me mentally to cope with my progressive blindness, my sister took it as her initiative to make me learn the basic social & life skills. I was always a slow kid for my age, I cannot do basic Math & I failed every exam in my 9th grade. Technology was not mature enough & we had absolutely no knowledge of using the technology in our day to day life or for my education.
In 2004 I got my first computer at home & my sister “Sirisha” taught me how to use Google & I never looked back. With the limited eye sight I had I taught myself few important things related to computers & little programming. I use to spend 10-12 hrs each day on computer & internet, I think I learned a lot because of computers & having this within my reach gave me a wide exposure to life.
In 2006 I learned basic web design & started selling website templates, this is when I stumbled on wordpress.com because I was doing bit of SEO & I was trying to build some links. I never understood the power of a CMS. As the years passed my eye sight deteriorated and as a result I was forced to learn screen readers. I felt I was destroyed. My ability to enjoy the visual part of computers & the world around me was taken away. It was very tough initially. My journey as freelance entrepreneur came to a halt as my vision deteriorated & I was forced to take a day job. I moved to Bangalore to pursue education in learning the screen readers & then took a day job as Digital Accessibility Consultant.
“Some things are important but one needs to let them go so that more important things can take the new space”
During my stay in Bangalore I felt lonely; I was away from family & friends. This is when I stumbled on two awesome things: Blogging & Audio Books. On my 23rd birthday I got the domain raghava.in & got my first post on the same day. I started writing things that used to happen around me & within my own mind. Initially there was not much response but once I started attending the Indi blogger events I got a tremendous response. I met lot of bloggers who said they read my blog & love the writing style. I was grateful that I found my next love in life; I kept to blogging & then slowly ventured into understanding & learning WordPress.
“Writing freed my mind & soul from the pain & sorrow; it takes a person into a Zen state where one will understand their soul once they see their own thoughts on paper.”
Initially it was tough. I know bit of HTML & CSS but I felt all the code was very complicated. Because of my visual impairment I have mild learning disability so I took it slowly. First I learned how to install themes, plug-ins & how to do minor changes in themes using theme options. Once I felt comfortable with WordPress I started converting all my websites to WP. I started helping my friends & other family members with WordPress going forward, initially it was just basic install of WP, theme & plug-ins but slowly people started asking me lot of questions. This prompted me to expand my knowledge in WordPress space; I used to spend lot of time in forums & blogs reading/finding solutions. All this gave me extra practice to become more knowledgeable each day. Today I can build any kind of website using WordPress. I know that there are plug-ins out there, and if not I know agencies who can build one for my requirements. I have a better understanding of theme file structures & how PHP functions work, I can customize bit of plug-ins if I can get the right set of tutorials. All this might take little time but I can definitely do it.
“It takes lot of time & all I have is patience & patience”
WordPress has changed the way I see my life, today I am a full time Digital Accessibility Consultant & I build most of my code examples on WP. This is helping me grow professionally & personally each day. I am financially independent, travel around the world, attend & speak at conferences/meet-ups, fought depression with my writing, wrote a bucket list & am actively pursuing it. All this would have not been possible with the power of publishing & WP has simplified it for me.
I have 2 wishes:
- Attend Word Camp US & meet Matt Mullenweg.
- I want to see every aspect of WordPress accessible the core, Jetpack, Woo Commerce, Sensei, Buddy Press & BB press & I want to be part of this journey.
I am currently working on few plug-in ideas that will enhance the accessibility of few features in WP. I’ve never built a plug-in and I have no knowledge the process. So I decided to hire an agency & I’m getting my documentation ready before I start searching for an agency who can build these for me. I want to give back to the community somehow & I think of it every day, I take time to check on any accessibility bugs in WP & report them actively.
I am working with few friends to put an Accessibility meet-up in every city in India & provide some awareness on the subject. There are a lot of designers & developers in India, a lot of great tech products are built here but they lack accessibility. I want to change this going forward. I am on the quest for Digital Equality & I want to do my part in this journey.
“There is always a hope for tomorrow! Don’t look for the light at the end of the tunnel, embrace darkness, listen to the quietness & feel the air flow. You will know that light is ahead even before you see it”