Episode 28 – The Oprah of Tech, Truly Unstoppable
Myrna Daramy is called “The Oprah of Tech” by her clients. She has an incredible gift to break tech down into simple concepts that anyone can understand. Even more important, Myrna regularly demonstrates that she is a visionary who can assimilate and encompass new concepts.
As a “marketing technologist” Myrna discovered early that she has a knack for not only relating to people but that she can help them solve difficult problems. Her interests are varied and far ranging. Two years ago, for example, she first encountered the concept of what we call the “accessibility gap” regarding the availability and usability of websites by persons with disabilities. What did she do? She made providing access a part of her business. She already has helped over fifty customers ensure that their websites are inclusive. Along the way, she discovered accessiBe and uses it to her great advantage in helping to promote inclusion for all.
Myrna’s story represents the unstoppable mindset as the best part of her life. I am sure you will be inspired by what she has to say. After listening, please let me know your thoughts via email at email@example.com.
About the Guest:
Myrna Daramy is a Marketing Technologist and the founder of Myrna & Co, a technology coaching firm specializing in digital media marketing strategy, analytics, and ADA Compliance. Over the last 15 years, Myrna’s obsession with optimization has led her to educating over 500,000 professionals and transforming countless small business brands’ digital footprints. Myrna’s clients often call her the “Oprah of Tech” for her unique ability to translate ‘tech talk’ into simple and actionable concepts that make sense to even the most non-technical business owners. She takes pride in helping her clients peel back the layers of their brand, establish connections with prospective customers, utilize the latest and greatest technology tools, and return to them an optimized digital footprint that converts better than ever before.
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards.
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On April the 16th at 2pm North American instant time, blind musicians from across the globe are getting together for an online benefit concert for Ukraine. It’s called we’re with you, and all money raised goes to the world of blind unions unity fund for Ukraine. To learn more, including how to listen and how to perform it were with you visit mushroom fm.com/withyou that mushroomfm.com/withyou
UM Intro/Outro 00:30
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson 01:49
Well, hello again, everyone. This is Mike Hingson welcoming you to another episode of unstoppable mindset. And today we have a marketing technologist I’m really interested to learn what that is all about. She’s formed a company called Myrna and CO and company which is pretty cool. Myrna Daramy, welcome to unstoppable mindset.
Myrna Daramy 02:14
One, I’m so happy to be with you today, Michael.
Michael Hingson 02:17
Well, we’re honored to have you and we’ll get to how we met as we as we proceed. But tell me a little bit about kind of your early life and all that what, what got you into the world and all that kind of stuff that you think people would want to know about? And even if they don’t tell us anyway,
Myrna Daramy 02:36
I love it. Okay, so what got me into the world, yes, of marketing technology, I will say I started not in that realm at all I started in the world of architecture, that’s what I went to undergrad for. But architecture is one of those degrees that I literally cherished, because it is that one space where I now in retrospect, when I look at, you know, the career that I have, it told me and, and molded me in a way that allowed for me to create something out of nothing. Because throughout my whole class curriculum, we would always have these projects. And these projects would literally be like, you know, create, that was the whole goal. So there was no textbook, there was no reference, we just had to be very creative and concoct these designs that we made up and then would have to present it to a board. And they would critique it. And so in those exercises of doing that, it allowed for me to free myself enough to realize that I can create as much as I wanted. And you know, hopefully in critique of those things that I created, it would do some good. So you fast forward to today, I ended up getting an MBA in technology management. And in that, I realized that there were several holes in the market space for people who were able to not just speak tech, or be very tech savvy, but also be very equally as creative from the business and marketing side of things as well. And so I kind of infused myself into the mix, because I can think on both levels, and have been working with clients ever since bridging that gap between marketing and technology.
Michael Hingson 04:39
So what kind of holes do you find? Where do you what do you find our biggest? I know weaknesses are.
Myrna Daramy 04:46
So the biggest holes I will say the people who are very technical or that are deemed more tech savvy, the web developers, the programmers, they tend to be very detail oriented. down to the granular approach. And they also tend to not be able to think much out of the box, because I think in their world, they are very zeros and ones black and white. And so there’s a level of I wouldn’t say they don’t explore, because they are very cool. They are creative in their own right in their own way. But when it comes to marketing, and speaking, layman’s terms, and connecting those dots, so that you can actually bring more brand awareness and attract more audiences, they’re lacking sometimes. So I realize that on the flip side, a lot of the people who deem themselves more creative and more on the marketing or the business side of things tend to shy away from or run away from anything that seems techie. Where it’s, it becomes too much. And they will quickly say, you know, oh, no, you know, I don’t know, tech, or, you know, I don’t know how to code or I don’t know how to how to understand this program. So it always seems to be that there’s this like, you’re on one side or the other. And so I’ve seen holes on both. And so I guess for me, I’ve just always been able to teeter totter on either side, and translate from there. So
Michael Hingson 06:26
I know exactly what you’re talking about, I find that a lot of people are focused, where they’re focused. And we never like to go outside of our, our world or our sphere, or what we’re comfortable with, if you will, the usual, people don’t like to go outside their comfort zone. It does tend to make a real problem. For me, as a person who happens to be blind, and I’ve been blind on my life. I’m not sure what my comfort zone is, well, I do know I have a comfort zone, I’m being a little sarcastic. But I always have to go outside of it, it can be as simple as walking across the street, and suddenly hearing a car when I expected there to be no cars, because there were none that were coming in front of me. And suddenly, I have to deal with it to going to a strange place and all that. So I do tend to like to take a different approach than I think what a lot of people do. And I noticed that having grown up and spent most of my adult world in the sales and sales management world. It’s just as relevant their salespeople, I’m not techie techie, or really don’t like to do the technical stuff I just sell. But the reality is, if people would learn a little bit about the other side of the fence, they would be much better at doing what they normally do. Exactly,
Myrna Daramy 07:56
yes. It’s like whatever lens you’re looking through, having the openness to be able to explore. And, you know, just ask the question of what if or just being able to, to your point, you know, not all the things you don’t need to be a programmer. But to understand that some of the nuances definitely does help and give you a new perspective for sure.
Michael Hingson 08:21
One of my favorite stories is my best sales guy who I ever hired, and I went to do a sales presentation. I kind of am technical enough that I can be an additional sales engineer to the ones that we normally had at the company. And he and I went to do this presentation. And they got fairly technical. My master’s degree is in physics, which opened me up to being curious. And so I learned how to be somewhat technical. I’m not a programmer. I’m not normally a fix it guy, but I can analyze problems and sometimes help fix but we went to this presentation. And when we left. When we got outside, Kevin asked me how is it that you know, this stuff, all this technical stuff about the product? And I don’t? And and what I said was Did you read the bulletin that came out last week that Kevin came out to all of us? And he said, No, I was really pretty busy. I said, Well, there you go. It was all there.
Myrna Daramy 09:23
Michael Hingson 09:25
And it’s it’s not that the information is not available, it’s that we don’t take advantage of it all too often. Because we don’t consider it a priority to grow.
Myrna Daramy 09:35
Exactly. Now that’s so true. I see that a lot, especially in you know, I work with a lot of creative entrepreneurs and they did to your point, I want to stay in my lane and create and do all the fun aspects. So when it comes to things like search engine optimization, or website optimization, they’re like, No, I don’t want to do that. So,
Michael Hingson 10:01
and I don’t necessarily want to do it, but I know enough about how to do it, then I can interact with the people that I want to do it for me. And I know that those people can do the job better than I. But having the knowledge helps me interact with them, and make us all more efficient.
Myrna Daramy 10:23
Exactly, yes. Because you don’t know what you don’t know. So if you can get yourself to have better understanding, you’ll be able to not only communicate better, but to your point, you’ll have a better outcome. So 100% agree.
Michael Hingson 10:38
That’s just another way of saying you should learn to know what you don’t know.
Myrna Daramy 10:43
Right? Is knowing that you don’t know what you don’t know is very important. It’s a big that’s a big step in the right direction.
Michael Hingson 10:51
It can help well, so you, you started an arc you. So you, you actually started in architecture, and were you an architect for a while, or did you deviate before then?
Myrna Daramy 11:03
So the funny story on that Michael is I tried, I mean, I interned with an architect for a year, I worked at an interior design firm, for about a year and a half, I think after that, but every time I was in those positions, where I would be considered architectural intern or architect, staff architect, I was promoted to become management. And so they always kind of said, Let’s push you out. So you can be more with out facing with the with the clients. And so I realized at that point, I was like, well, maybe I’m not supposed to be doing this, maybe I am supposed to be doing something a little bit more front facing or outward. Because I am, I call myself an introverted extrovert. But I do love people. So I’m in that that’s when I think the light bulb moment went off and said, you know, and I said to myself, maybe I should actually pursue, you know, something more along the lines of business, or, you know, management. And so that’s where I ended up getting my MBA.
Michael Hingson 12:07
Did you apply any of that and go back to doing architecture work? That is did you? Did you work with architectural companies? Or did you just go off in a completely different set of directions?
Myrna Daramy 12:19
The funny thing, I did start off working with architectural companies, but I did it from a marketing standpoint, right? after the fact. And then from there, I branched off. But yeah, that’s where I started.
Michael Hingson 12:32
So I, I appreciate all of that. I’ve worked with the architectural world from the standpoint of being one of the first people or starting an organization that was one of the first to sell PC based CAD systems. Wow, that was a revolutionary thing back in the 80s, for architects to consider using a computer, instead of drawing boards to do their work.
Myrna Daramy 12:59
Exactly. That’s huge.
Michael Hingson 13:02
We had a lot of fun with it, it was it was pretty interesting. And when the light bulb went off, and an architect could realize they could do in hours or a day or two, on a computer, what they would normally take days and days and lots of paper to do with the drawing board. They went, Oh, I like this.
Myrna Daramy 13:21
It was a smart move. Yeah, it’s funny, because when I was in school, Kevin was out, of course, but they wanted us to learn the traditional way. So we did spend a lot of time hand rendering things, which was, you know, and I appreciate it now. But at the time, it was, why can’t we just use CAD?
Michael Hingson 13:44
Do people do hand rendering and do a lot of stuff during their educational phases, as opposed to CAD? Or is CAD pretty much now use right from the outset? Transition Point
Myrna Daramy 13:57
is definitely more of a standard. But I think in in my day, early, you know, 2000s, I think it was still they wanted to make sure we owned the the craft, yeah, and, and used it as a tool, not necessarily as the actual application all the time. But now it’s totally everything’s all CAD.
Michael Hingson 14:20
Being a physics oriented person, it still seems to me that it’s important for young children to learn to do math, with pencil and paper as opposed to using a calculator because the calculator doesn’t give you the ability to learn the process. I’m not convinced that that’s true with CAD because I think with CAD, you still have to create the process. And you have to know what to tell the CAD system to do to make the process work. Whereas with a calculator, you don’t learn about units you don’t learn about other things.
Myrna Daramy 14:54
Exactly. I agree with you on that Michael like yeah, you still have to learn you still have to understand what it is 3d rendering or like a 3d image looks like. And to your point you use the the application to create that. But yeah, it’s your Yeah, I 100% agree. Because when it comes to other tools out there like calculator, or even down to like an iPad or something that allows for multiple ways of doing things, as opposed to hand writing something, I do believe that there’s definitely a detriment that happens when there’s that. I don’t know what you want to call it, it’s almost like you fast forward, you went from like A to F as opposed to going through all the steps.
Michael Hingson 15:38
And getting CAD doesn’t take away the steps. CAD just takes away the the pen and paper but it doesn’t take away the steps. Exactly. I remember being in college, working at a campus radio station, you want to talk about steps. If you wanted to create a program or edit audio, you sat down with a slicer or a razor blade, you recorded it, you cut tape, and you spliced it together. And if you were neat enough, you could get this places to go through and you could hear a completely smooth recreation without whatever it is that you didn’t want, or you added in the things that you don’t want. Today I use a tool called Reaper, which is an audio editor. Yeah, I got to tell you, it’s a whole lot easier than cutting tape.
Myrna Daramy 16:32
I was about to say this splicing the word splice in itself, like people don’t realize what that means when they say it in today’s day and age of splicing things together. But to hear you say it tell that story about splicing would literally That’s intense. So yes, it can be appreciated to say right now that
Michael Hingson 16:54
you’re sitting there with reels of tape, you have a little roll of what’s called splicing tape, which you you have around and you have a razor blade or some sort of way to cut and literally put the pieces of the recorded tape together and use splicing tape to connect them and glue them if you will, together. And if you do a good job you can you can make it work. I was not the greatest splicer in the world.
Myrna Daramy 17:20
That’s a school. Yeah.
Michael Hingson 17:26
But life is fun. But you know, we we grow, but that’s okay. But I understood the process. And now audio editing, I understand the process and find that the audio editor doesn’t change the demands of what my creative skill needs to be, but it, it helps with the technique, but I still have to know what to do, which is good. Exactly. I love that too. It’s a lot, a lot of fun. So you went off and you started marketing? And you have you have obviously been pretty successful with that. And you’re a coach, and you’re a coach, and you train and manage teams and so on. Tell me about that, if you would. So
Myrna Daramy 18:03
yeah, so fast forward to what I’m doing today, I often consider myself and I said this a little bit in the beginning translator, I have become a technology translator for a lot of businesses where I assist business owners and their teams, and understanding how to leverage the use of technology in their business. So whether it be that they’re focused on marketing, there’s, you know, how to how to how do they utilize, whether it’s the web, whether it’s, you know, any type of technology device to help them in marketing their businesses or their brands to internally if they wanted to help streamline their practices or their processes. I assist with that with that as well. So it’s been fun. Um, you know, I joke on this, but I mean, I have worked from penile implant surgeons to Funeral Home directors, I have assisted in business, because I have I see in business, there’s a lot of parallels. And everybody who’s trying to market themselves, you usually need some assistance when it comes to utilizing tech. So it’s been a very amazing and fulfilling career. So it’s been great.
Michael Hingson 19:24
What are some of the challenging situations that you found yourself in where you’ve, you’ve been tested pretty well trying to break through and get people to market? Right.
Myrna Daramy 19:37
Well, you know, some of it always good to have
Michael Hingson 19:39
Myrna Daramy 19:40
It’s always good to have stories. I mean, a lot of it is people’s fear of tech, which is, you know, interesting too. We talked about this a little bit of people wanting to stay in their own lanes. And I mean, I I’ve seen it where I’ve literally had to almost act as a therapist at times in coaching and advising my clients and their business owners To make better decisions on what type of technology they’re using, whether it’s, you know, if their websites are not as effective, you know, obviously, we jump on that to make sure that that’s as optimized as it could be, which is, I think, how we actually probably connected. But you know, it can run its course. I mean, I’ve had scenarios where the teams were at odds, because one person felt that something should happen one way versus the other. And I would basically come in as mediator to help them again, to streamline and bring people to the next level. You know, husband and wife team is the one I’m thinking specifically where she wanted to advance and utilize like a new customer relational database, scenario, CRM, but the husband wanted to use the antiquated system. And so they were at odds, and I came in and acted as mediator, and help them so that they could be more streamlined and work more efficiently. So, yeah, there has been amazing story. I mean, there’s there’s stories for days on this. But one thing’s for sure, I think something that technology seems to do to people is make people not as Sure. And so I think my as my job and my role in a lot of these clients and with my clients, is to help them feel reassured that they’re making the right decision, or they’re making the best decision for their business. So it’s been fun.
Michael Hingson 21:34
Yeah, it’s always a challenge. One, we’re used to doing things one way and I, I know, my wife and I have discussions about technology, and she’s extremely resistive to learning technology skills, she just doesn’t like to do that at all. She’ll even tell you that math lies, because she can use a calculator and perform the same calculation three times and get times and get three different answers. So she says math lies. But, but you know, at the same time, she, she has learned to use stuff, she’s learned to use QuickBooks and quicken and other things like that, that she never used to do. She wanted to be a librarian, and also thought she would be a good architect. Karen happens to use a wheelchair, and has been the lead designer, at least conceptually, on building two, three houses, and modifying other houses to make them accessible. And we learned along the way, it’s, it’s clearly better to build a house from scratch, if you need to make it accessible than buy a house and modify it just because of all the extra costs of, of having to tear things down and so on. Whereas if you modify it, or if you build it into the design doesn’t cost anything.
Myrna Daramy 22:59
Exactly, exactly. And foundationally, that’s just so much better in the long run. And I think that’s probably why I love accessibility so much as a whole anyway, because I’m like, it’s not just, you know, allowing for making things easier and making things you know, making things more able for people. But it’s also freeing and giving more opportunity as well. So, love
Michael Hingson 23:32
it. What got you looking at or becoming exposed to the concept of accessibility and inclusion? And in the other part of that, well, let’s do that. First, I have another part. Go ahead.
Myrna Daramy 23:47
Okay, there we go. So what got me what got me started, I have always been and I think I mentioned this, you know, in terms of optimization, I have actually always had a love affair with optimization, especially, I mean, down to and I say this, you know, in, it’s kind of funny, like, the way that I even fold my clothes, or, you know, when I’m looking at just anything, my I’m always like, how can we make this even more optimized or even better than, you know, what it is today. So when it comes to business, and specifically when it comes to the web, I have always loved, you know, helping businesses in optimizing their web presence. And a lot of my expertise comes from search engine optimization, and again, user experience, in terms of how someone would utilize a website or get to, you know, that next stage of conversion, and so, accessibility just kind of fell in place. And it was like the next step for me, I guess, in terms of becoming more optimized. And I think, you know, if I could be, you know, really Frank 2020 Was that year that Think exposed a lot of areas where we could improve. And I, you know, I say this to all my clients, I’m like, You know what, you know, we can say whatever we want to say about the challenge of 2020. But when it came to technology, I mean, it brought us three things in, it gave us the ability to connect, it gave us the ability to communicate. And it also allowed for us to either create some kind of community or establish some kind of community somehow, someway. And in that way, there was this responsibility I felt for the web to be something and apply, you know, it’s in terms of a platform that can be as accessible and inclusive as possible. And so it kind of got me on this quest of, you know, how do we do that? And of course, you know, there were some other influences, like, you know, the the Black Lives Matter, movement, and just thinking through diversity as a whole, and what does it mean to really, truly be diverse or inclusive. And so I felt that accessibility was just that next progression in, especially when it comes to the web, actually, in making something inclusive, that means that it should be open and accessible for all. And so that’s what started me on this class. And I’ve been passionate about it ever since?
Michael Hingson 26:24
How did you learn about the lack of accessibility saying, in the internet or on the web,
Myrna Daramy 26:30
I started the diving, I mean, I will say I did have a clients who about and I want to say it was like maybe 2019 received a letter from someone claiming that their website was not accessible. And they, you know, wanted to know whether or not they’re going to make changes. And that kind of opened the doors to me for ABA compliance and what that actually meant, because prior to that point, I knew enough about it to know that from a federal level, if you were a federal agency, or something that was more public, facing, quote, unquote, that you definitely had to abide by some rules and regulations. But I knew that those rules and regulations were very gray. And so I started to do a deep dive into what those guidelines were, and what it meant to be compliance. And of course, with that also escalated with 2020, the usage of the web and how dependent we all became on the web. So it all was this, like, perfect storm, where it just, you know, allowed for me to deep dive and really, really get a firm understanding of the fact that 97 to 98% of the websites out there in the world are not even accessible. So that’s kind of where that whole process and journey began for me.
Michael Hingson 27:56
So you, you start obviously, in the way you do you started to, to learn more about it, and wanted to try to do what you could to, to help the process. How do you distinguish I’m going to change and then come back to it, but how do you distinguish between? Or do you diversity and inclusion.
Myrna Daramy 28:22
So in my minds, I see diversity as being the ability to have this array, and very, you know, variety of ways, and things to get to the same result. Right? You know, and and equaling and leveling off the playing field. So regardless of who you are, what you do, what abilities you have, I feel like that’s creating a diverse environment, right. And then when you think inclusivity or inclusion, that means that you’re making it an intentional point, to ensure that the playing field has been leveled, and that you’re making it so that there is this consideration and intention behind making sure that everyone is being accommodated or that there is this leveling of the playing field, so that everyone can experience or do the same.
Michael Hingson 29:31
I love to talk about Hollywood, which lately has been a place where they talk about, we have to be more diverse, and we have to bring diversity into to what we do, but yet they don’t ever or very rarely have included disabilities. Right? And for me, a few years ago, I started to draw a line and say the problem with diversity City is a diversity doesn’t include disabilities, they have Warpath, the word. And diversity doesn’t include disabilities anymore. Which is why I developed a speech that I love to give from time to time called moving from diversity to inclusion because you either are inclusive or you’re not I don’t, I don’t even allow or love to try to help people not allow someone or or their own company to say, well, we’re partially inclusive. Oh, you are inclusive, or you’re not?
Myrna Daramy 30:29
Yeah, it’s it’s yes, it’s a yes or no. And I agree with you full, full wholeheartedly on that. Because, for me, yeah, I mean, I happen to be a woman of color. So I’m very sensitive to the diversity label as well. And to your point, I say, like, you know, if you’re not inclusive, meaning that you’re not considering all different things, all different variables, you’re truly not diverse, and you’re truly not inclusive at all. So I do agree with you that I feel like the the term diversities seem to kind of get almost, I want to say put in this box of thinking through, you know, race or, you know, culture as opposed to thinking of all the things including disabilities in that for sure.
Michael Hingson 31:24
It’s ironic, of course, that between 20 and 25% of people have a disability. And we are the group that is most left out. Why do you think that is?
Myrna Daramy 31:36
I think that’s the most bizarre and rare thing ever. I feel like because so many of the disabilities, I think, are not visible, quote, unquote. And I think people have this stigma about them, that it gets lost in the shuffle. But to your point, it’s, it’s more normalized than we realize. And I think the the conversation needs to be had in normalizing it all, because it does not make anything, you know, I don’t know, in my mind, I’m like, I value human beings, and I value all human beings. And I feel, you know, very sensitive to know that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. And in that, that is being human. So valuing that, and honoring that is important. And I think that’s a large part of it, too. I feel like a lot of people feel like they want to level and say, Well, this is worse, this is better. Now, it’s not really it’s everyone is a combination of things. And I think that we need to just really, really just focus on the beauty of that, you know, of that imperfection, quote, unquote, as you want to call it. And really relish in it. But I think it’s a rarity thing for me, I don’t understand it. And I never probably will understand it. But I don’t know why. Truth be told? Well,
Michael Hingson 33:15
I think there’s a an issue. Also, when you talk, you mentioned Black Lives Matter earlier. And there’s there’s a lot of validity there, in terms of dealing with that and you don’t hear Asian lives matter as much, although I think that black lives matter, really sends the message that all lives matter. But it’s mainly addressing it from the standpoint of how you look. Right? And it doesn’t deal with discipline, persons with disabilities lives matter. And the other problem that we have in the world of persons with disabilities is one label, in a sense doesn’t fit all the needs of a person using a wheelchair are technically different than the needs of a person who happens to be blind as opposed to a person who happens to be deaf or hard of hearing. attitudinally and emotionally and intellectually, the need is the same to be included. But what we need is different. And that tends to create a problem as well that we haven’t really learned to deal with as a society.
Myrna Daramy 34:30
Correct? Yeah. To your point. And I think yeah, the individual aspect of it is what makes it challenging for people. But that’s where I say the conversations need to be had and you know, it may need to be looked at more in a different light. Totally as opposed to trying to create a generalization.
Michael Hingson 34:54
What do you think about the idea that it also has to do with people are just afraid of People who are living well living with who happens to have some sort of a disability, that we’re taught to be afraid of them?
Myrna Daramy 35:08
Mm hmm. Yeah, no, I, I think that too, I think people, you know, sometimes when things are not what like, we like them, I’m fearing the unknown is is, is real. But I also know in that, you know, conference, you know, conversations and talking about it and being exposed to it. And embracing it does allow for that fear to dissipate. I mean, I’ll be honest, like, well, I spent, when I started this whole journey of just learning more about accessibility, I spent hours every week in clubhouse, I actually because there were several diverse groups, because I wanted to, actually, I wanted to immerse myself in understanding as much as I could. So every week, I would go on with different chats and listen to several different disability groups. I mean, I know it was, it was the best experience just learning from everyone, and meeting such amazing people. And it just blew my mind. So that was really the catapult for me to, to really, you know, I guess take heart in doing this and really trying to educate people on being more inclusive as a whole. But yeah, I think that’s that’s the thing. It’s like fear, definitely, of the unknown, or things that are not like you hate, you know, even though I found myself with more things in common with many of the people in those chat rooms, then some people that I’ve known, who wouldn’t be deemed as having a disability. So I don’t know.
Michael Hingson 36:52
It’s It’s better now, of course, but for a while clubhouse was extremely inaccessible for people to be blind. Yeah, it was horrible.
Myrna Daramy 37:01
Yes. Yeah, I was in one chat one day, and we did an experiment to see wonder how one of the transcribing applications could be applied in there and what it did. And it blew my mind. I was just like that. Yeah, to your point. They have come a long way. And they were listening, because I was a part of one of the club shots that was helping them to become more accessible. And so they took a lot of feedback from them, which was great, and made, and they’ve made some strides. But yeah, in the beginning, it was rough, for sure.
Michael Hingson 37:35
They have made actually really tremendous strides, and it’s a lot more usable. Now. The iOS app is usable. Yes, yeah, of course, they’re now now actually making it available on the PC and other things like that. But the iOS app has become more accessible. And they’re bringing it up in the Android world as well. So they’re becoming a here we go more diverse, more diverse. They are making in and they are making him more inclusive, which is which is great. And it’s it’s important to do that as well, for the very reasons that we’ve been talking about. Well, how did you run across accessiBe, I have to ask.
Myrna Daramy 38:15
So I came across accessiBe to me, because I was searching for something I was searching for a solution, because you know, I was going through learning about all the WJC guidelines and ADA compliance. And I also, and I mentioned this earlier, I work with a lot of creative entrepreneurs, and a lot of creative business owners, a lot of them are in the fashion realm and in the bridal space. And so they they very much had a definitive feeling about their aesthetics online. And so I was like, what could be out here, aside from stripping their website, and you know, trying to make it user friendly and accommodating and inclusive for various elements and various abilities in order to manipulate the website. I was like, What can we do and I just stumbled upon and searching accessiBe, and it was like a light bulb moment. And I was like, Oh, my goodness, this is amazing. This some this is something that can meet people where they are, this is something that even if someone is not deemed, quote, unquote, disabled, which even the word disabled to me I have sometimes issues with, but I’m someone who may need assistance, who you know, can use it and manipulate as they see fourth, which I thought was brilliant without damaging or hindering the aesthetic of the website. So that’s how I stumbled on it. And of course, in that, I contacted them and I was like, This is amazing, you know, I’d love to, you know, become more of a part of this. And so that’s how I became a partner and have been You know, advocating for making websites more accessible as a whole. So
Michael Hingson 40:07
how have your clients received the idea of accessibility and how they received accessiBe and so on.
Myrna Daramy 40:15
My clients have loved it, they felt that it was a total win win, they felt that, again, 2020. And, you know, we talked about this, I think it was also a time where people had to reflect on what they value, what they felt was important to them. And if they weren’t going to say that inclusivity or diversity was important to them, this was something they needed to make sure they incorporated as well. So it became a mission, and also an opportunity for them to open up their awareness and some of their branding and some of their marketing to a demographic that they may not have even served to before. So it was a win win. And so they see it as something very positive. And making a difference in the world, which, which I love.
Michael Hingson 41:13
As, as humans do, I’m sure you’ve seen various degrees of acceptance or excitement or interest in, in dealing with accessiBe to be Have you had some really big challenges in that regard. And people who resist it, or are you just really good, and you can show everybody the value of it upfront, which is always better?
Myrna Daramy 41:35
Well, you know, it’s funny, I haven’t had too much resistance. Truth be told, I, I mean, when I have had resistance, my argument was always, you know, you’re doing something that’s at least in the right direction, as opposed to nothing at all. And so it always tended to win them over. But now, to your point, yes, there’s always going to be the people who are for something or against something. And I mean, the one good thing I will say is, you know, talking about it, I mean, you know, I, I made sure I talked to several of my friends and confidants who are disabled. And I asked them, I said, Look, how does this work for you? Like, I want to know, like, if I’m going to advocate for something that, you know, because I want it to hopefully, make something more inclusive, like, does this work for you or not. And throughout all of my experiences, everyone has been supportive, they love it, they there was no negative. So I, you know, chalk that up to know that it is doing more good. And I love the fact that it’s doing more good. So that’s why I can rally behind it. And to your point, like I said, majority of my clients, they are I win them over. So
Michael Hingson 42:52
we are philosophically, whether it’s accessiBe to be or people who really think about it, who happened to have disabilities, as we think about it, we love to point out that accessiBe to be well, let me rephrase that, that accessibility and inclusion ought to be part of the cost of doing business. Just like having the ability to provide lights for you light dependent people who can’t get around in the dark at all and handicapped people. And it is, it is really part of the cost of doing business that ought to be taken into account right from the outset. And that’s a marketing challenge sometimes that I’ve seen with some companies, they say, but we’ve got other things that are higher priorities, and how could you is really the question.
Myrna Daramy 43:46
Exactly, no, I know, I say this all the time. Like I had a saying for myself that I did in a presentation, where I was like, Yeah, diversity, because a lot of people seem to love that buzzword. And they felt like that was important enough that they would invest their time and energy towards that. I was like, diversity equals innovation, for sure. I mean, when you have a diverse internal staff, and you’re promoting to a diverse demographic, it, you know, creates an innovative experience, but accessibility to me, is equal to opportunity point blank, because, you know, again, and I say this, you know, depending on me the whole goal of meeting someone where they are, should be what every business wants to do. And I think accessibility allows for that. So to your point, yes, absolutely. I feel like it is literally the cost of business and needs to be a priority for sure.
Michael Hingson 44:44
It’s just much the cost of business, as I said, as having lights a coffee machine, computers and monitors on a desk and so on, because it’s just the way it
Myrna Daramy 44:54
Michael Hingson 44:57
So how many how many cups Have you been able to, to get to start to really make their products and their websites and so on accessible?
Myrna Daramy 45:07
So we I started what, a year ago. And so today, I probably have about 50 of them. So yeah,
Michael Hingson 45:16
you can you kind of alluded to this, but you say that the pandemic has a silver lining. And I think we sort of talked about it. But can you kind of explain that a little bit more?
Myrna Daramy 45:29
Yeah, I mean, through all the challenges, I feel like we faced with this pandemic, the silver lining, I feel like is that, you know, we were able to leverage the power of the web. And the web allowed for us, like I said, during the beginning, is it allowed for us to one, stay connected, for sure, because I feel like we relied on it more heavily. Because we could not connect physically, it allowed for us to communicate, and share information much more. And we utilized it in a way where, you know, zoom and virtual meetings became the new norm. And then it’ll allow for us to if we didn’t have any type of community, that whole concept of we’re all in this together was a whole different level when it came to communicating and connecting on the web. Because people were establishing communities and building communities in order to do all three. So that’s why I feel the silver lining of the pandemic is evident, because thing going to fast forward to today. And I think it made us stronger. And again, it allowed for us to even see the vulnerability and then areas where we need to improve in that. So you know, that’s why I’m loving the fact that more people are speaking about accessibility, more people are really trying to define what diversity and inclusion means to them, as well.
Michael Hingson 47:07
I, I guess I’m different than that a lot of people and maybe a lot of blind people are the same way. But I hear people constantly talking about the fact of being tired of the pandemic, we’re pandemic, over overdose, over overload and so on, to get back to being with people, and that the pandemic has just caused us all to become very insensitive and very tired of having to do something in a different way. What do you think about that concept?
Myrna Daramy 47:45
It’s funny, I don’t feel that I kind of feel like it made us better. You know, again, anytime you have the opportunity to go internally, you know, and reflect for a second because we all had to go inward, whether it was stay home or you know, not be around people and really think through things and be willing to adapt and or quote unquote, that magical word pivot. I feel that that’s, that’s a strength, like, that’s building resilience. So, you know, to that point, you know, not to discount the need to connect and you know, for physical engagements and all that, because I know how important that is. And I know that that still is, is something that we all want to do. I personally feel that this is now just created us to become more versatile and flexible and resilient.
Michael Hingson 48:46
For me, probably my best example of talking about that is 20 and a half years ago, working as the Mid Atlantic region Sales Manager on the 78th floor of Tower One of the World Trade Center, and escaping with a guide dog with my guide dog, Roselle and, and others and working with people to get out. But after the attacks, I started hearing people say we got to get back to normal. And it took me a while to understand in my own mind why I was reacting to that. And the reason was because normal will never be the same again. No, it won’t. Yeah. And I and I hear that today we’ve got to get back to normal, normal will never be the same again.
Myrna Daramy 49:33
You can’t undo and undo what you’ve done. And we’ve done.
Michael Hingson 49:38
Right, whatever, whatever it is. And for me, personally, I have tended not to be too bothered by COVID. Yes, it’d be nice to be out. Yeah, it’d be nice to go out to dinner. But as I love to say Instacart and Grubhub are our friends. And we do pretty well. Today is Christmas Valentine’s Day and it’s also My wife’s birthday, but we’re not going to go out. She’s there’s a little bit of immune compromising situation that she deals with. So we’ll just eat here, we’re going to order something in there. But in general, I have found COVID to be a great advantage of being able to deal with people and interact with them. Because of the fact that Zoom, which was very smart about it has become or was and continues to be extremely accessible. So they make it possible to really be involved in doing the same things that I would do if I went somewhere. But I also used to selling on the phone anyway. So it’s it really not a whole lot different. But we’re so many of us are, again, only comfortable with doing things one way and as you pointed out, we need to be learning to be more versatile. Exactly.
Myrna Daramy 50:55
Yeah. I mean, I It’s funny, you say that because yeah, I mean, I’ve been using Zoom since before the pandemic, it was probably 2017 When I first encountered it and started using it. And I thought it was the best thing ever since I didn’t have to travel as much for my clients, which was great. But um, you know, when it comes to accessibility, I’ll say this, like I received something from PayPal the other day, because I was I was getting a new credit card, the old credit card was expiring. So they were like, Oh, we’re gonna send you a new credit card. And when they sent me the credit card, they had a postcard in there. And on that postcard it said to you to activate your pay your credit card, here are three ways you can do it, you can call, you can, you know, take a photo of this QR code, or you can visit the website. And that to me, was a beautiful, accessible paper or postcard because it allowed for me multiple ways to do the same thing. And I got to choose which way it was that was best for me. And I was like, Oh my gosh, this is genius. Like, I wish other people could just appreciate the value in being more accessible and allowing for people to have options, because it would then make it so much better and much more effective. So I don’t know, to your point. Yeah, I feel like it is being more versatile, being more flexible, is such a good thing. And yeah, there is no normal anymore. Like it’s now every day is a new normal pretty much. So of
Michael Hingson 52:34
course, the obnoxious blind guy did the postcard happened to also come in Braille.
Myrna Daramy 52:39
It didn’t however, it did have a did have something on there for hearing impaired. And also they did have a little disclaimer for blind as well. But it did not have Braille on it, though, which I was. And that’s something I feel like another level where people need to realize like there’s, you know, adding this would make it so much more accessible.
Michael Hingson 53:03
One of the interesting things about technology is carrying over into the whole world of persons with disabilities, that we don’t take advantage as a society of some of the things that say blind people really do cause to happen and make available. So for example, in the mid 2005 2006 Arena in the first decade of the century, Apple wasn’t making their products accessible, right and a lawsuit was created I was part of that actually, that would cause well there that would be filed against Apple because they weren’t making the iPod available. The new iPhone available. They weren’t making iTunes you available. They weren’t doing well, because of another lawsuit that someone else had to settle that cost them several million dollars because they wouldn’t make their products accessible. Apple said, Oh, we’re going to fix this. And they did. What surprises me about all of that is that well, Apple built voiceover, for example, into all of their products so that if you buy any Apple product like an iPhone or an iPod or an iPad, or a Mac, you can activate voiceover because it’s built into the operating system. What they have not done is started to look at how to take advantage of that for the non blindness or market for persons without a disability to enhance what they do. So when you are in a car and get an iPhone phone call, you still have to look at the screen to hear who it is. Unless you do some specific things to cause it to verbalize. You don’t Have as much of an easy way to use the iPhone to dial series. Okay. But the but the point is they don’t take advantage of that technology. Yet we’ve made it possible because Apple decided to create this technology for persons with disabilities, we’ve made it possible to expand that far and wider, further and wider, hence helping to open up the conversation. Right?
Myrna Daramy 55:27
No, absolutely. No, that’s huge. And I agree with you. I feel like again, I’m like, if once people get the memo, I think that accessibility equals opportunity. I think there’s going to be a shift in the intention behind the drive of it all. But we need to get there because that’s basically the situation for sure.
Michael Hingson 55:53
We do need to get the fear out of it. Yes, I understand that people who have eyesight, don’t want to lose it. But you shouldn’t be afraid that if you do, and more and more people are for whatever reason. It’s not the end of the world. And we don’t teach that to people. We don’t teach people to get over that fear.
Myrna Daramy 56:13
Right? And realizing that you’re still going to have a wonderful life and experience amazing things. So yeah,
Michael Hingson 56:23
agree. Or at least you can.
Myrna Daramy 56:26
Or at least you can exactly, exactly option.
Michael Hingson 56:30
Well, I think we’ve been doing this a while. But I’d like to give you a chance to maybe talk a little bit more about your coaching programs. And if you would like people to be able to reach out to you to learn more of what you do or maybe engage you how do they do that?
Myrna Daramy 56:45
So yeah, if anyone has any questions about how I can assist them in again, leveraging the use of technology in order to become more effective and make better decisions in their businesses, you can simply go to Myrna and co.com or you can email me at hello at Myrna nyrr na P as in Peter D as in David calm, and I will definitely reach out and connect
Michael Hingson 57:14
for sure. And the website again is Myrna and co.com. Correct. miRNAs MYR Na,
Myrna Daramy 57:23
my RNA and a nd co.com.com.
Michael Hingson 57:28
Well, Myrna Thank you very much for taking so much time and being here today. This has been fun. And I would love to I’d love to continue this. And if you think of other things that we ought to talk about, please let me know. And I will also because I’d love to have you back on and continue the discussions and tell some more stories. And I’m sure there are lots of things that we can talk about.
Myrna Daramy 57:54
Oh, I would love that this has been so much fun. I’ve enjoyed our time together for sure.
Michael Hingson 57:59
Well, and you keep making sites accessible and helping people get their sites and their minds inclusive and accessible. And you certainly have our well wishes and thoughts and support in any way that we can help to make that happen.
Myrna Daramy 58:15
Oh, I love that. Now same here if you ever need me, Michael, you know, I am here as well.
Michael Hingson 58:20
Well, I appreciate that well people reach out to Myrna and learn more about her. And again, as many of you know, if you’d like to reach out you can contact me Michael Hingson at M I C H A E L H I at accessibe A C C S S I B E .com that goes directly to me. I’d love to hear from you your thoughts, your ideas, your suggestions and input. You can also visit www.michaelhingson.com That’s M I C H A E L H I N G S O N.com/podcast. To learn more about unstoppable mindset. And you can also go to anywhere podcasts are available and see all of our episodes and listen to our episodes. We’d love to get your thoughts. And please, when you go and you listen, give us a five star rating. We would love to have your support. We were honored at the beginning of February to be mentioned and named as podcast magazine’s editor’s pick for February. So I guess we’re doing something right. And we would like your continued support so that we can continue to educate and inspire and be a place where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. So thank you very much for listening, and we’ll see you next time. We’re gonna thanks again.
Myrna Daramy 59:40
Oh, you’re so welcome. That was fun.
UM Intro/Outro 59:46
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.