Join us this week for a in person recording with 3 of the founders of Penny Forward; Chris, Liz, and MOe, as they attended the AFCPE Symposium in Orlando Fl this past Nov. Listen to them discuss the challenges of attending such an event as a person with a disability, and to the many directions Penny forward is looking forward to moving into over the future months. All 3 were awarded a scholarship to attend the conference.

 

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Transcript

 

MOe: It’s okay to be nervous, especially about a new opportunity, but it is totally worth it to step outside your comfort zone.

 

Chris: This is the Penny Forward podcast, a show about blind people building bright futures one penny at a time.¬† I’m Chris Peterson.

 

Liz: And I’m Liz Bottner.

 

Chris: We are blind people learning from each other how to be successful in our personal, professional, and financial lives.

 

Liz: Before we start, we’d like to thank Ron and Lisa Brookes, at Accessible Avenue, for sponsoring the Penny Forward podcast. I’m sure many of us have experienced frustration and uncertainty when trying to use public transportation or paratransit services that are either inaccessible, or just poorly designed for meeting our needs.¬† Accessible Avenue works with transit agencies and other mobility providers to make transportation services accessible for everyone, including those of us who are blind or visually impaired. Accessible Avenue also works with individuals and organizations who need training or assistance with public transportation problems. You can learn more at

www.accessibleavenue.net

 

Chris: We’d also¬† like to thank Kane Brolin of Brolin Wealth Management for sponsoring the podcast. Investing doesn’t have to be complicated, and it’s never too late to take action. But depending on how far away your goals are, the decisions you need to make will be very different. Kane Brolin is a blind certified financial planner, and chartered special needs consultant, who may be able to help you, no matter how much you have, or what stage of life you are in. Learn more by visiting

brolinwealth.com

or by calling 574-254-7180.

 

Chris: MOe and Liz, glad to have you here.

 

MOe: Happy to be here.

 

Liz: Happy to be here.

It’s fun to be able to record this in person.

 

Chris: Usually when we do these, Liz is in Washington D.C, and I’m in Minneapolis, and we’re doing it either on Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and uh, it’s fun to have MOe here as well. Before we start, I am Chris Peterson, I am the founder, president, and CEO of Penny Forward, and I’m going to assume that, if you’re listening to the podcast, you¬† are already somewhat familiar with who Penny Forward is and what we do, but if you’re not, I invite you to check out our website at

pennyforward.com

and join us if you feel like you want to support our mission, or you feel like you want to take advantage of the services that we currently offer, or will offer in the future. So that’s a little bit about me, and my roll within Penny Forward. Liz, would you introduce yourself and talk about your roll in Penny Forward?

 

Liz: Yes. My name is Liz Bottner. Hello, Everyone. I am Vice President of Penny Forward. I also help co-host the podcast.

 

Chris: Thank you, Liz. And MOe?

 

MOe: I am MOe Carpenter, I am currently the administrative assistant, and run a lot of what you guys see either on the blog or social media.

 

Chris: Yeah, and one of the things that uh,¬† she does that is, is really helpful is she does a final check on the podcasts and the transcripts and makes sure that they get posted with good show notes and stuff. So, um, we’re really glad to have MOe with us here as well. And, while she didn’t say so, she doesn’t want to just stop at being an administrative assistant. She wants to start there, and then move on to a career working with people and their finances to make sure that they feel good about the money decisions that they’re making. Um, Would “financial therapist” be maybe a good term? That’s what you’re thinking?

 

MOe: That is the field that I am looking into, moving into.

 

Chris: Awesome.¬† Okay great. So, let’s quickly talk about the symposium, and kind of what we were anticipating going into it. I had some health issues right before the symposium started, so I felt a little bit unprepared, but one of the things that I was particularly interested in learning about is, what is it like to travel to a professional conference like this? What would the sessions be like, and I always wonder what it’s going to be like to, to network with other people that are further along in the field than I am, and, and what I would be able to, to learn from them, and take away from it. So, those were some of the things that I was anticipating, and, and uh, I also have some, some anxiety around travel, so, uh, I was a little bit anxious, uh, going in about, you know, “What might go wrong?” You know, this is stuff that rolls through my head. Liz, what were you anticipating leading up to the conference?

 

Liz: I was anticipating not really knowing what I didn’t know, and being completely okay with that. I have been at many professional conferences in my career in blind rehabilitation. Um, I was also, in addition to my career space in digital accessibility, I was familiar with navigating the surface level of conferences, and the mental map that you have to make of the hotel, and everyone struggling with that, not just people who are blind or who have low vision. All of the sighted attendees are also, “Where’s this room? Where’s that room? What the heck?” And so, for me, it was just making sure that I took enough time beforehand to kind of look over the conference agenda, there was a way to kind of put sessions in your own little list that you could find easily, and not have to look at the whole agenda, so I did that based on sessions that I thought would be of interest to Penny Forward. Not just for myself, but for any of us who might be either attending now or even as members, what information might impact the most number of people. And I also, um, just was prepared to just be open and, interested in, in, learning and expanding what I didn’t know, and, you know, knowing that I didn’t know everything and it was fine. So, that was kind of my overall thought.

 

Chris: Okay. And Moe, how about you?

 

MOe: So, this is the first professional conference, and first time I’ve traveled by myself in any kind of aspect other than like a yarn convention thing. (Chuckle.) Um, so, I had no expectations of what to expect, but overall, it was just trying to figure out the things that I could figure out beforehand, uh, and looking at that agenda, but yeah, it was so much information. It was very overwhelming.

 

Chris: I’m really glad that all of us talked about kind of how we were feeling going into it, because I think, particularly if you’ve never done anything like this before, it is very common to be nervous or anxious about the travel aspect of this. Getting around the hotel, maybe being able to do that in a way that you feel like you have some dignity and some grace around it, these are things that, that we think about. Even if we have done this a lot of times before, …

 

Liz: It doesn’t matter.

 

Chris: It doesn’t matter.

 

Liz: It doesn’t matter.

 

Chris: And it’s perfectly normal, and it’s okay. It’s absolutely okay. Um, one of the things that I noticed, and I want to move now into talking about what we experienced when we got here. And one of the first things that I noticed when we got here is that everybody was extremely welcoming, and there were tons of people that were in our corner. That wanted to help us make sure that we knew where we were going, and what we were doing, and part of that was because they knew ahead of time that we were coming to the symposium, that the three of us are, are blind, and that we might need some additional help. So that was helpful for them to know that, so they were looking forward to seeing us when we got here, but even the conference attendees that we were here with. These are all people that are in their careers, in their lives, they’re helping people. They’re helping people with their finances, in various different ways, but they’re also just like that’s the way their brains are wired. That’s why they’re in this kind of career, and so they were also asking, “Well how can we help you get to where you want to go and participate in what you want to participate in,” and I, I have to say, I have experienced some conferences that are related to blindness where people were not as helpful as they were here. And help is something that I really appreciate, because it helps to cut down on the anxiety of uh, you know, “Am I doing this right? Am I, you know, am I navigating this without looking like a complete idiot?” If I know that there are people in my corner that are willing to help, and I’m able to give them a clear idea of what I’m looking for or what I’m wanting to do. Now, not everybody wants that kind of help, and that’s okay. And people were also very, very kind about saying, you know, if we said we didn’t need help, they were kind about just letting us go on our way, which is also a good skill to have, but I do at least personally really appreciate it when people ask. Because I’m, I’m not afraid to say that I sometimes do need help, and I feel much more comfortable accepting it if somebody offers it than if I just like grab somebody off the street.

 

MOe: I think that was the big thing, was people always asked. If you need help, and …

 

Liz: Yes. And respected your answer.

 

MOe: It wasn’t just grab you and push you in a direction.

 

Chris: Yeah. Now MOe, you got here several hours before Liz and I did.

 

MOe: A few.

 

Chris: And that gave you a chance to get the lay of the land a little bit more than, than we did, and, and experience maybe you had a better … better sense of what was going on.

 

MOe: I got a private tour, so … (Laugh.)

 

Chris: Wow! What was that like?

 

MOe: Well, I got to walk around with Kate and Ann, well, it was, uh, for a short time with both of them, but Kate had to go off to one corner, so Ann finished up. And I just said “Take me to the different places and tell me which rooms are here so I can kind of get a lay of the land figured out. A mental map made.” So that was super helpful ’cause then I could help you guys when you got here, and, actually help other attendees out when they got here. Because one thing people forget is that blind people are really good at that mapping, so any time people are like, “Oh, how do I get to Magnolia?” It’s like, “Okay, so you want to be at the ballroom, when you’re coming out of the ballroom, it’s to your left, and it will be like two doors down, and …” (Laugh.) You know, ’cause, visually, people don’t think of that stuff.

 

Chris: Right.

 

MOe: So, it was just funny that it was the first time that I’d been that blind girl that was like, “Okay, here is how you get here, and …” (Laugh.)

 

Chris: That is really neat. And I, I did find myself giving people directions a couple of different times too, and, and that was uh, it’s really fun to feel like you , you’re giving back in that way and that you know what you’re doing.

And was there anything else that happened to you, MOe, before Liz and I got to the hotel that, you know, that gave you a sense of, of feeling prepared about how the symposium was gonna go?

 

MOe: Um, I wouldn’t say anything that made me feel more prepared ’cause basically, I did the tour and then I started doing break-out sessions. So, …

 

Chris: Okay. We’ll talk about the break-out sessions in a bit, ’cause that’s really sort of the meat of this conversation I think, but um, Liz, what was your impression when you first got here? About the symposium, about the process of checking in, and so forth?

 

Liz: Before I get into what it was like when I got here, what I wanted to mention is that even before we did get here, everyone that I corresponded with through AFCPE were very welcoming and willing to do whatever was needed to help get registered, anything at all, if we ever needed anything, they said, “Reach out.” Even then, my impression was that it was gonna be a good experience, and there was a little bit of anxiety that was lessened for me of, “Oh my gosh, I will have to potentially explain what I need more, and maybe people won’t get it,” I mean there wasn’t any of that. And I also agree that just being asked how I might need help, vs. assuming, that was huge. And upon getting here, it was just so refreshing. That they truly, again, they asked how they could help us, wanted to do whatever we knew that would be helpful to us, and they let that decision, and those instructions come from us. And they were open and willing to learn how to best help us. So it didn’t feel like, “Oh, I’m helping these people because I feel like it,” No, it was not an obligation to them. They really wanted to help, and learn, and just be a part of our conference experience, I felt like, and, and help us enjoy the conference.

 

MOe: And one more thing to add, Chris, to your question, I guess I did come up with something while Liz was talking, was, the two individuals that we’ve mentioned gave us their personal phone numbers, and said if we needed anything, and needed any help, that they could be able to assist us.

 

Liz: And there is actually one other thing as well. When we first got here and we were getting a tour of things, and registered, my guide dog had to … I was like “I probably should take her outside.” And there is, as we were walking along, there was a door that was off to the left that led outside:. I didn’t know that, but my dog was kind of signaling like, “Here’s outside.” And that was completely fine, not only that, but one of the people, Ann, said, “You know what, can I, do you want me to just take her out? I have dogs, I’m a dog person, that’s fine with me.” So it was, it’s just been very awesome and authentic and genuine and I love that.

 

Chris: The people that we’re talking about are Ann Hamilton and Kate Melets, and Kate, I hope if you’re listening to this that I’m pronouncing your name correctly. Uh, we’re gonna follow up with an episode with them, or somebody from AFCPE talking more about AFCPE and what it is and does, and the AFC certification, because that’s really the meat of why we’re here. Is, is that all three of us are going to be pursuing this, and, and, hopefully becoming competent financial counselors as a result of this experience. And that we’ll be attending future symposiums. And we believe that there haven’t been very many other blind people, if any, that have gone through this process, or that have been in attendance at these symposiums. And so it’s not an experience that they have a lot of, and, and it’s not something that we have a lot of experience with. And I will say that they seem very motivated to want to make sure that, uh, this certification and the symposium are inclusive to everybody, including people with visual impairments. And there were a number of break-out sessions that were focused on inclusiveness. There were presentations given at the general session that were focused on inclusiveness as well. And so it’s something that it appears that they really care about, and want to make sure that, we’re not the only blind people that are, ever attend this thing. That there are more in the future. And that’s a goal that we have too. Is to bring more blind people into financial counseling careers, or other financial careers, because we think that it’s an accessible job, and, and something that the blind community needs more of. So, let’s now, then talk about the break-out sessions we attended, and what we learned from them. Liz, what were some of the highlights of your symposium experience?

 

Liz: One of the sessions I attended was about a program for youth that a gentleman had developed, and it was how to teach financial education-related topics through a game.

 

Chris: MOe, any highlights from you?

 

MOe: I went to one on mindfulness, that was really well put together, and I actually got to that one fairly late, so I was really glad that I still got to take away some stuff from it, and just different things on, like developing courses, and credit counseling, and just a variety of topics.

 

Liz: Chris, what about yourself?

 

Chris: So, the first session that I attended was about financial atomic habits. And this is based on the book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear.

 

Liz: It’s a really good book by the way.

 

Chris: It is a really good book. And it’s a book that we are going to feature in a future members only book discussion.

 

MOe: I was just going to mention that.

 

Liz: It is available on your usual platforms for finding books, be they accessible or mainstream.

 

Chris: Yeah. And it’s all about making small changes that make big differences. And how financial counselors can help their clients that they’re working with to identify those little tiny things that make big differences. For example, any time you spend money, you throw the extra change into a savings jar on the counter or something to make sure that you’re putting some money away in savings, even if it’s just a little bit, for those times when you maybe don’t have enough. And I really liked that session. I really liked the concept. It’s something that I have talked about, and even have done, maybe without realizing it, in my own life, but I really think that a lot of the kinds of money problems that we encounter in our financial lives are because of habits that we’ve developed that maybe aren’t in our best interests. And I’m very interested in helping people to find new habits, and ways of managing their money, that maybe put them in a less stressed out position, but I’m also aware that most people don’t want to be thinking about their money all the time. It’s not maybe their top priority. And so I’m looking for ways that people can be financially healthy without having to think about it. I also attended a session on social security overpayments. Something that almost everybody in the blind community, I’m kind of saying that a little bit facetiously, but I’m not, because I learned at this particular session that about forty-five percent of people that are receiving social security benefits experience an overpayment decision at some point in their lives. So I learned a lot about why this occurs. Sometimes it’s our fault, sometimes it’s social security’s fault, or a combination of, of the two, and sometimes it’s just an, an error entirely, but also what we can do about it. So now I feel like I have a better understanding of what the possible remedies are for dealing with these kind of overpayment situations that a lot of us run into. And I have contact people that I can reach out to, to ask for better training and better help as well. And then, uh, I also attended a, a session on technology, and how to use technology to save time as a financial counselor. Or a financial advisor, or whatever term you choose to use. Therapist, anything. There’s a lot of administrative work that goes into that that people don’t really think about. And that takes up extra time that’s taking away from being able to serve clients. And those clients need help, and if you have to spend a bunch of extra time writing out case notes, or finding times when both of you can meet on each other’s schedules, etc. etc., that’s taking away from the time that you could be spending actually meeting with those people and, and helping them with the problems that they have that they really want to uh, to get fixed. So, we talked about different tools that can be used for scheduling, different applications that can be used to help people to build budgets, or pay down debt, and, I learned a lot about some tools that I’m gonna try, and, and evaluate for their accessibility, but one of the other things that I thought was really great was that I was able to pitch into the session a little bit and let people know that, “Hey, if you have a client with a visual impairment, for example, Calendly is a very accessible way to do online scheduling. It’s, it’s really easy to use with a screen reader. And so, uh, you know, if people are wanting to set that up for their clients so that somebody can, can make an appointment online, it’s a really easy, and uh, quick way of doing it that’s accessible. I want to be able to provide that information to other financial counselors with regard to, uh, applications that they might use in collaboration with their clients. For example, many financial counselors help their clients build a budget. And a lot of people do this using spreadsheets, which is very accessible, but is also kind of bare bones, and means that you have to spend some time teaching your clients about spreadsheets, but many people use other apps. Like, uh, You Need A Budget, which has pretty good accessibility, Mint has pretty good accessibility, although a lot of that is new within the past few months. So, if you used Mint and say, “Well No, Chris, Mint really sucks.” Um, it’s actually made some great strides just since like December of 2021. So uh, it’s worth, worth trying again. But there were some other apps that I was unfamiliar with, and want to try out. Like uh, Power Pay, and Undebted, which are focused on paying off large amounts of debt, and, and getting to be financially healthy that way. Uh, so I’ll take some time to figure out how those¬† work with screen readers and, and uh, probably do some members only group chats or, or podcast episodes or something featuring demos of those when I, I know more about their accessibility. So, stay tuned for that.

 

Female Announcer. We’ll continue our interview in a moment, but first, …

 

Female Announcer: Looking for resources and services related to blindness and low vision? The trained staff of the American Printing House for the Blind Connect Center Information and Referral line are here to help. Call 1800-232-5463, or visit our website,

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to access our community connect calendar, our directory of services, as well as our websites. The APH Connect Center, providing resources to guide children, parents, adults, and job seekers who are blind or low vision to greater independence and success in their lives. Call 1800-232-5463, or visit

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Chris: There were also exhibiters. And I will say that for me, the exhibit area, which was basically a hall way outside of, of the grand bawl room, or the Palms Room they called it. Exhibit areas are probably the most difficult thing for me to deal with, because I have a little bit of hearing loss, so it’s crowded, it’s noisy, it’s hard to hear people. Because of the crowds, it’s, it’s a little bit hard to figure out whether you’re, you’re tracking a straight line through the tables. It’s not always easy to identify when you’ve moved from one table to the next, or what you’re about to be looking at, and so, you know, let’s take some time to talk about some of the experiences we had in the exhibit area. ‚ÄėCause we did get to talk to a number of exhibiters, and we did find some techniques for navigating the exhibit hall that were helpful to us. Uh, MOe, do you want to start that off?

 

MOe: I was just gonna say, we made some fantastic connections in the exhibit hall, and a lot of projects that we hope to partner with different companies on, and see how we can make their product accessible for our population. But, the thing is, I guess with sighted people and blind people, they don’t always realize that we can’t tell if they’re at the table, so I’d just walk up to a table and be like, “What is this table for?” And, you know, make that connection, and then it always just opened the line of communication, and I don’t think I went to a single table where I was like, “Okay, moving on.” It was always like a half an hour discussion with how we could help, and how they could help us. It was great.

 

Chris: Yeah. Um, I will say, that kind of a recurring theme was, “We don’t know whether our products are accessible. We haven’t necessarily made an effort to have blind and visually impaired people try them, uh, but we’re interested in that. And we’re glad you’re here, because uh, you know, whenever we had that conversation, we said “Well, you know, we can, we can help you with that.”

 

Liz: And in one case, (Chuckle.) We actually did, I actually helped test the product, and found that some of it worked and some of it didn’t. So, …

 

Chris: Yeah. Yeah. So it’s, it’s a way for us to start the conversation, and, and, hopefully, that will lead to the better availability of some of these really cool resources. And Liz, why don’t you talk about, um, the thing that you tested and, and what it was?

 

Liz: I believe it’s called Money Habitudes, it is a card game. It’s both, uh, physical, actual cards, and I tested the online version, and I believe that the company said that they had previous feedback related to accessibility, but I was able to test it, and, as I said, some of it worked and some of it didn’t, but they were very happy to continue discussions with us to improve the product.

 

MOe: And to make a braille version of the product.

 

Liz: Yes. Yes.

 

Chris: Yeah. Yeah. So that’s something that we’re very excited about. There were a number of games. We also talked to somebody who was, uh, developing a stock market kind of tracking game. and I can’t remember the name of it right now, but uh, he was also kind of of the opinion that maybe there hadn’t been a lot of testing of that with uh, blind and visually impaired people, but uh, he had a board game version, and an online version, and um, had a lot of interest in, in creating accessible versions of both. Which uh, I think is fun. I’m really excited about the idea of board games that help us to learn financial concepts. And, and this was a, a little bit like monopoly, in that it teaches that, but it, you know, sort of, uh, more focused on your daily life. Like, “Here, you have a job and you have a paycheck, and you have these bills you have to pay, and, and what happens.”

 

Liz: And, in contrast, the game that I was talking about earlier was, you have these cards, and it said, like, “Whenever I go to a store, I need to buy something. I do that all the time, I do that some of the time, or no, that’s not me at all,” and you go through 54 cards in this deck, and you put them in certain piles, and then based on how you categorize them, it leads to kind of an overall snapshot of your habits with money.

 

MOe: I think the fun thing about the guy who had developed the …

 

Liz: His name is Paul. I do know that.

 

MOe: Yes. (Chuckle.) What Paul had done with the board game, um, was that he was already looking into accessibility options, for the blind, and, he even mentioned, the hearing impaired. So, I think that was really cool that he was already looking down those venues.

 

Chris: Yeah. And, and uh, we also talked with uh,

americasaves.org

They have a lot of online digital content, and they had some awareness of accessibility. They were asking us about overlays, like Accessibe and, and this kind of thing, and whether they were helpful. And so we got to provide some education about the pros and cons of, of those things, and uh, potentially, you know, they have a podcast, they have a lot of online articles and things that they offer, …

 

Liz: For free.

 

Chris: For free.

 

Liz and Chris: For free.

 

Chris:¬† Yup. Again, they’re interested in, in figuring out how to make sure that that experience is accessible and enjoyable for people with visual impairments too, so, I believe that us being present and asking those questions was a really great way of generating awareness among the personal finance community. So, very, very cool. Um, we also met with uh, some organizations that we were previously familiar with, um …

 

MOe: Wells Fargo.

 

Chris: But hadn’t met in person, Wells Fargo, National Disability Institute, and then some other ones that were kind of specific to specific populations, like, uh, Project One Off, uh, which is focused on the financial wellness of veterans. And even there, there’s some overlap between what we do and what they do, because we know that there are a lot of blind people who are veterans also. So, it’s, you know, it’s an important segment that we need to be thinking about. And at least, you know, from my perspective with Penny Forward, we’re all about figuring out how to partner with other organizations to make their stuff accessible. As well as figuring out what we can build that’s accessible from Penny Forward’s perspective. We want to do it all. It’s something that I feel is really important for us to be a part of the conversation in the blind community. And so, I’m happy that people are, sort of universally seem to be open to including us in that part of the conversation.

 

Liz: Absolutely. Nowhere did I go where they were like, “Ah.” That I got the vibe that they didn’t want us here. They want us here, they want to learn from us, we want to learn from them. I just, it’s, it’s exciting.

 

MOe: It was amazing.

 

Chris: It was. It was very exciting.

 

Liz: We needed to be here. We, we did. And we were part of the conversation, and that was welcome.

 

Chris: Yesterday afternoon, Ann Hamilton did walk with us through the exhibit hall, and that was helpful just for us to have an idea of what tables we were walking past without necessarily having to stop and have a half hour conversation at each one.

 

Liz: Thank you, Ann.

 

Chris: Yes. Absolutely. Thank you, Anne, and, and uh, …

 

Liz: And Kate.

 

Chris: And Kate, for everything that you’ve done to make this experience wonderful.

 

Liz: And anyone who’s behind the scenes that we don’t know about. Thank you.

 

Chris: Yeah.

 

Liz: Thank you.

 

Chris: There’s other people that I would love to thank too. Um …

 

Liz: Just because we’re not thanking you in person doesn’t mean we’re not thanking you.

 

Chris: Yeah.

 

Liz: We don’t mean to forget anyone.

 

Chris: Oh my gosh, there’s a …

 

MOe: All the staff, all, all the exhibiters, I mean even the exhibiters were super helpful in directing you.

 

Liz: Yes.

 

Chris: Yeah. Um, Ashley from NDI was helpful, um, …

 

Liz: Brandy, …

 

Chris: Brandy, uh, …

 

Liz: I forget where she’s from.

 

Chris: I know that she’s on the AFCPE board, but …

 

Liz: Yes.

 

Chris: But I can’t remember, um, where …

 

MOe: I think she had a private practice, didn’t she?

 

Liz: Yes.

 

Chris: Um, very possibly.

 

Liz: I believe so.

 

Chris: Uh, Loquicia, Kim, from Thrivent, …

 

Liz: Who he had to come all the way to Florida to meet, but yeah.

 

Chris: Yes.

 

Liz: That was amazing.

 

MOe: Or just the individuals that I asked to help me find a seat in the crowded rooms.

 

Chris: Yeah.

 

Liz: Yes. Or any of them who we didn’t ask but came up and said, you know, “Can I help you?”

 

Chris: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

 

Liz: Sometimes I wouldn’t get their names, but I really appreciated that.

 

Chris: Tod from Money Fit, …

 

MOe: The people at … Was it Otto?

 

Chris: Otto! Yes.

 

MOe: The spending tracker?

 

Chris: Yes. Yes. Otto is a spending tracker app. And they were not sure if their app is accessible or not. They were very, very open, and welcoming, and they have a kind of a unique perspective on budgeting apps that I want to learn more about.

 

MOe: And apologies to the several exhibiters that we didn’t even get to meet.

 

Chris: Yeah.

 

Liz: Yes.

 

Chris: So one of the down sides, in my mind, of, of walking up to a table and saying “What table is this,” is that we did have half an hour conversations with each one.

 

Liz: Yes.

 

(MOe laughs.)

 

Chris: And so I, I am sure there were a ton of tables we never stopped at, because, …

 

MOe: Oh there were. There were.

 

Chris: Yeah.

 

Liz. There absolutely were.

 

Chris: But, because this is a hybrid conference, and I … I love hybrid conferences. It makes the accessibility of the conference experience just so much better.

 

Liz: Agreed.

 

Chris: All of the exhibiters are available online. So, even the ones we didn’t talk to here, …

 

MOe: We will be.

 

Chris: We’re going to be able to reach out to.

 

Liz: Yes.

 

Chris: And that’s, that’s amazing. I would say that, you know, one, one of the things that I’m thinking about and I want to try in the future, is seeing whether it makes sense for us to have our own exhibit table. In some ways, it may be easier for us to stay put and have people come to us, than it was for us to get around. And these are all kinds of things that some things are gonna work for different people. One of the things that I love about Penny Forward is that all of the people that are involved in Penny Forward have very unique styles. And so I learn every day from being around MOe and Liz about ways that they think of to navigate situations, or, or be involved in experiences that didn’t occur to me. And so it gives me ideas for how to make my conference experience better in the future. But, I also love how we’re able to help each other out. MOe talked about building the mental map of the hotel, and that’s really hard to do, especially when you get here as the conference is, is literally starting.

 

MOe: When everyone else is fumbling along.

 

Chris: And everybody else is, is getting here too. Yeah. But, each one of us developed our own, even if it was just a partial, mental map. And so we were able to help each other out, and I thought that went really smoothly, particularly as we kind of got into the swing of things, towards the later part of yesterday morning, into the afternoon, you know, we started to find techniques for, “How are we going to regroup? Or do we even want to?” And uh, MOe was great about, you know, “Should I come to the room that you’re in and pick you up? And, you know, could I help you find something that I know how to get to and drop you off there?”

 

Liz: And maybe this is just something that I just am not used to, but this hotel actually has multiple areas of rooms in separate buildings. And so, we actually were all going to be in three different buildings. MOe was familiar with two of the three, but didn’t really know about where the third one was, and this is kind of where it helps to kind of, not be shy, or be brave enough to assert your needs with accessibility. And so I just asked the question, “Is there any possibility that at least two of us could be in one building? I don’t care where it is, just can we maybe but in, two of us, might be in one building?” And they were able to accommodate that. So, …

 

Chris: Yeah.

 

Liz: It was helpful.

 

Chris: Yeah. It was very helpful. And even the hotel staff was very helpful about helping us to, to identify our rooms, to find our rooms and stuff. I don’t know if they had had experience with that before, but they tried. They made the effort.

 

Liz: Yes.

 

Chris: And the effort is appreciated, even if the execution isn’t always exactly the way we would want it to be. We do need to remember that people don’t encounter blind people every day. And, and so, … you know.

 

Liz: That’s actually, um, … and if the hotel had said “no,” we would have figured it out. That’s what we do.

 

Chris: Yeah.

 

Liz: But speaking of people not encountering blind people every day, going back to the, one of the presentations on inclusion, there was particular feedback that I had for the presenter that I, you know, professionally, made him aware of in terms of what I had gotten out of the presentation, and he was completely receptive, and, you know, apologetic for my, the experience that I had with it. I’m being cryptic on purpose.

 

Chris: I don’t want to be cryptic about this because I actually wanted to talk about this specifically.

 

Liz: Okay.

 

Chris: So I’m glad you’re bringing it up. Because this was a presentation all about how we have built-in biases.

 

Liz: Yeah.

 

Chris: And a lot of it was about race, but he also covered disability. He said, “You know, if you don’t encounter a … if you’re white, and you don’t encounter a black person every day, that might be something that you find uncomfortable. Whether it’s something that you consciously know is uncomfortable or not, it may be something that drives the way that you behave. And not in necessarily a good way. And so you may want to slow down, and methodically think about how do you treat that person first with respect, and uh, make them feel comfortable without being overly friendly or overly nice, which can be uncomfortable in its own way.” And he mentioned people with disabilities, he specifically brought up …

 

Liz: Twice.

 

Chris: People who use wheelchairs, yeah. Twice.

 

Liz: Same example twice.

 

Chris: Yeah. But, he used some object lessons during the presentation that were about reading words, or counting triangles on a screen, and …

 

Liz: Colors.

 

Chris: Identifying colors.

 

MOe: Or identifying facial expressions.

 

Chris: Right. And it didn’t land particularly well with us because the three of us were sitting at a table and going, “Well, this is a conversation all about being inclusive, and we’re …”

 

MOe: “And we’re on the outside.” (Chuckle.)

 

Chris: “We’re clearly not being included.” And, and Liz …

 

Liz: And this gentleman did talk about the anxiety that someone from that group that’s underrepresented, you know, going into a group that’s underrepresented, you know, going into a group of, you know, people that are well represented, and having the anxiety of that before, like, “Oh my gosh, what’s my experience gonna be like, you know, am I gonna be discriminated against,” things like that, and then, here Chris, MOe and I are, in this presentation, … yeah.

 

MOe: I feel like I’m on the outside!

 

Chris: Yeah.

 

Liz: Um, … and it was just, like, “But I’m being discriminated against right here. In an unintentional way I’m sure, but …

 

Chris: Well, he also talked about your intent versus your impact.

 

Liz: Yes.

 

Chris: Sometimes your intent is not necessarily wrong, but your impact is. And so Liz was clearly uncomfortable with, with some parts of this presentation, and I, you know, leaned over to her and I said, “I encourage you to say something if you have the opportunity.” And, and she did get the opportunity.

 

Liz: I was hoping they would open it up for questions. They didn’t, but I felt compelled enough to stay after. And I’m really glad I did.

 

Chris: And what was his response? Because I didn’t get to listen to your conversation with him.

 

Liz: He was very respectful, and professional, and extremely apologetic, and very receptive, and wanted to continue the conversation later on and see how, you know, if we might have any feedback to help him better understand.

 

Chris: Wonderful.

 

Liz: So I gave him a business card, ’cause I can ’cause I have them now, …

 

Chris: Yeah.

 

Liz: And it was awesome.

 

Chris: Wonderful. And I had hoped that would be his response, because his, his intent was to make sure that we all understand how to make everybody feel included. So, while that wasn’t the impact for us necessarily, it was something that we wanted to make sure that we got the message across to him that, “Hey, we didn’t quite feel included like we think you intended for us to be.”

 

Liz: Absolutely. And I was hoping that would also be his response, but there was another part of me who was thinking, “This could go one of two ways.”

 

Chris: Right. And that’s the anxiety part of, which was another thing that he talked about.

 

Liz: Right.

 

Chris: Like the anxiety part of feeling like you’re part of the quote unquote “out group.” So,¬† um, …

 

Liz: I don’t hold … I don’t like those words, I don’t like those associations, so that’s not coming from me, that’s coming from the presentation.

 

Chris: Right.

 

Liz: Just, general, for the record.

 

Chris: But really important conversations for us to have.

 

Liz: Yes.

 

Chris: And I’m, I’m really proud that you were able to speak with him, and that you didn’t just sort of give up and let it go.

 

Liz: I honestly was thinking about it, but I was brave enough, and …

 

MOe: I kept her there. (Laugh.)

 

Chris: Yeah.

 

Liz: I was like, “You know what? This matters, actually. So, thank you.”

 

Chris: All right, so, uh, we’re running out of time.

 

Liz: Yeah.

 

Chris: Uh, but we will be following up with, sort of a more formal episode. We haven’t scheduled it yet, so I don’t know when it’s gonna be.

 

Liz: But it will be. Stay tuned.

 

Chris: But we will be following up with a more formal episode, uh, focusing on the AFCPE, and what it does, and so forth, but uh, for now, let’s just close out with final thoughts. And I’ll start out. My final thought, my, my take-away, my advice to you is, you know, if you have an opportunity to participate in a conference like this, even if it isn’t a blindness related conference, if it’s in a field that you think you might want to pursue, I don’t know if it’s gonna be perfect, but it’s gonna be okay. There are gonna be people that are in your corner, and definitely take advantage of the opportunity. Don’t, don’t¬† let anything stop you, and um, while there may be issues, things may not be perfect from an accessibility perspective, if we advocate for ourselves, we can make it through, and it’s worth the extra challenge.

 

Liz: You are worth the extra challenge. (Chuckle.)

 

Chris: Yes.

 

Liz: Your long term success in whatever you choose to do, um, if you feel strongly about something, show up in the places where people show up related to that thing. Assert yourself as a person who is demanding a seat at the table as it were, and network. And I, I guess the one thing I would say, just, if I had to pick one word, I am excited. I am leaving this conference truly excited for just the future of the organization and what we will accomplish. I’m excited.

 

MOe: I think one thing that I am definitely taking away from this is, it’s okay to be nervous, especially about a new opportunity, but it is totally worth it to step outside your comfort zone.

 

Chris: Absolutely. Uh, for more episodes like this, for our members only group chats, for everything else that we offer, check out

pennyforward.com

Join us. Please. There’s a link right on the front page that says “join Penny Forward.” Find it, click on it, costs 9 dollars a month or 99 dollars a year, sometimes we have discounts for special events, and uh, you know, maybe you might find at some point that you would like to pursue a financial related career, and among other things, we would like to be able to help you with that. So, if we can be of any help at all, please reach out to us.

 

Liz: Do you know the difference between a savings and money market account? When you’re in an unfamiliar financial environment, and need a hand understanding the lay of the land, Penny Forward is here to help. Our online courses, members only group chats, and access to one on one coaching, help you build your own bright future one penny at a time. It’s easy to sign up or cancel at any time, and memberships are just 9 dollars a month, or 99 dollars a year. Visit

pennyforward.com/membership

to join us today.

 

Chris: The Penny Forward podcast is made possible by a sponsorship from Dennis and Nicole Malinis. They sponsor the Penny Forward podcast because they believe in Penny Forward’s mission; to help blind people navigate the complicated landscape of personal finance through education, mentoring, and mutual support. Thank you, Dennis and Nicole, for your generous contribution to sponsor the podcast.

 

Chris: The Penny Forward podcast is produced by Liz Bottner and Chris Peterson, audio editing and post production is provided by Byron Lee at

superblink.org

and transcription services are provided by Anne Verduin.

 

Liz: Penny Forward is a community of blind people building bright futures one penny at a time. Visit

pennyforward.com

to learn more about who we are and what we do.

 

Chris: For all of us in the Penny Forward community, I’m Chris Peterson, …

 

Liz: And I’m Liz Bottner.

 

Chris: Have a great week.

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