Episode 81 – Unstoppable Boat Rocker with Coby C. Williams

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Coby C. Williams will tell you that he always has been a person who asks “why”. He readily admits that some find his inquisitive attitude at least a bit uncomfortable, but Coby has built a career on his “why” attitude.
Coby is the founder of New Reach Community Consulting. New Reach is a Black-owned and Certified B Corp small business. A B Corp is a special corporation category of only around 5,000 “benefits companies” that are known for environmental and social justice concerns. Coby is definitely all about social justice as you will discover.
Our conversation covers a wide amount of territory including talking about how disabilities are often left out of social justice conversations. I think you will find this episode quite fascinating and engaging. I can’t wait to read your thoughts. As always, thanks for being with us and I hope you will give my conversation with Coby a 5 rating.
About the Guest:
Proudly from the Westwood neighborhood in Cincinnati, Coby C. Williams, Founder and Owner of New Reach Community Consulting. New Reach is a Black-owned and Certified B Corp small business based in Columbus, OH that provides public affairs consulting services to help organizations connect with communities for important causes.
He’s “an activist who happens to be a consultant” and has been involved in social justice in various ways since he was a tween. His background includes community organizing, legislative affairs, and consulting in the private sector. Coby serves on the national Board of Directors as well as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee for the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) USA.  He enjoys bourbon and is a lifelong fan of the Los Angeles Lakers.
Link to Coby’s LinkedIn profile: www.linkedin.com/in/cobycwilliams
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.
accessiBe Links
https://www.linkedin.com/company/accessibe/mycompany/ https://www.facebook.com/accessibe/
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Transcription Notes*

Michael Hingson  00:00
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  01:21
Well, hi again, wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing Welcome to unstoppable mindset today, we get to interview Coby Williams. And Coby has a really great story to tell. He believes in working with minority businesses and a variety of causes. He is a founder of New Reach Community Consulting, and he’ll tell us about that. And so I don’t want to give a whole lot away. I’m not gonna gonna tell you all about it, because he will so Coby, welcome to unstoppable mindset.
Coby Williams  01:55
Yes, thank you so much, Michael, it’s a pleasure to join you.
Michael Hingson  01:59
Well, if you would, why don’t you start and kind of go back near the beginning and just tell us about your life a little bit growing up? And how you sort of got where you are?
Coby Williams  02:09
Yes, thank you. Thank you, Mike. Well, um, I am very proudly from a neighborhood called Westwood, and Cincinnati, Ohio, I lived in that neighborhood, just over 20 years of my life. And my mother, few years beyond that, who is still still with us. And Westwood is a, it’s a what you call, I guess, a challenge neighborhood would be the term that would probably be used. And it really fundamentally shaped a lot of the ideologies, that I have a lot of the passion that I have, both just not just professionally, but also personally. You, you name it, I’ve seen it. In that environment, both the good, bad, and in between, and, you know, coming from an environment such as that, you know, it really helped shape, you know, what’s possible? And also to question why things are, why are certain individuals and populations and communities experiencing those those challenges? And most importantly, how can those individuals and communities be empowered? And, you know, what’s the role that they can play in help to better those conditions? And, you know, what are some of the systemic changes that can happen to better those conditions, so, very much shaped, you know, who I am and who I be becoming, you know, one thing I like to say is, you know, coming from an environment such as that a lot of people I say they, they either run from it, or they lie about it. And I very proudly wear that on my sleeve, and I’m very fortunate that the nature of my work still takes me to communities such as that either directly and or to help organizations engage with, with communities for you know, what I just simply call social impact or social justice, you know, what are ways to help move different communities forward?
Michael Hingson  04:38
Well, what what got you to do that I mean, you something made you make that decision or something in your life, kind of turn your your head to go there, what really got you to the point of truly being that concern and interested in social justice and trying to make a difference in that way.
Coby Williams  04:56
You know, great question. I I’ll see, I cannot recall a moment per se, I am a self admitted nerd of of many things, many, many subjects, many topics, but you know, the, the civil rights movement was very, you know, I’ve studied that growing up, which, you know, I’m quick to point out, did not start in the 1960s or 1950s. And it certainly did not end. But, you know, learning about that, of what was taught in school, but largely, you know, self taught or taught through my community, and how many of those conditions just were, were and still are present? You know, as I got older, and, you know, Cincinnati is my beloved hometown, but is fairly tribal, with with our neighborhoods. And as I got older and got exposed to different neighborhoods, and you know, hey, every neighborhood isn’t facing these challenges. And why is that? And so, you know, getting there wasn’t a specific moment, I think, but just kind of just being exposed to different environments, and tying that into, you know, history, you know, past or present, and how, you know, some things unfortunately, kind of have remained the same. And that really just, you know, I’m a big why person, you know, why is that the case? And, you know, what are some of the ways that I can be a drop in that bucket to help, you know, be a vessel was really how I view myself in my work, to help, you know, make a difference with the finite time that, you know, I’m here on this earth. Hmm.
Michael Hingson  06:50
Well, it’s, it’s interesting, I think our environment does shape us a lot. You just said something. I’d love you to expand on you said that the Civil Rights Movement didn’t begin in the 60s or in the 50s. When would you say it began?
Coby Williams  07:05
Yeah. You know, and that’s something I stand tall on a soapbox on is, you know, the first enslaved Africans were brought here in the early 1600s. And I don’t think that they were affected. I know, they weren’t very happy about their predicament. So I think it goes all the way back to the to the early 1600s, at least the 16, nine teens. So you know, didn’t start in the 1950s or 60s, take it all the way back to the early 1600s.
Michael Hingson  07:43
I had a history teacher who talked about that. And I’m not sure I remember which class it was in which teacher it was. But he came in, and he started telling a story about how a ship came in a harbor and the crew of the ship went below and they brought up all these people who look different because they were, as we now would say, people of color or African Americans, and they said, and we brought these people over here, we’re going to sell them to you so that you can use them as slaves and get things done. And that story has always stuck with me. And I, I would say in one sense, you’re right that the civil rights movement started then. But I take it back even further. Of course, I come from dealing with a community of persons with disabilities, and specifically people who happen to be blind. And I would say it goes back far beyond that, in terms of dealing with someone who’s different that is someone who happens to be blind. But the problem is that if you deal specifically with blindness, there are many fewer blind people than there are people who happen to be a bit different color or have some other kind of a difference, which makes it tougher, but I would say as long as we’ve had differences, we’ve had people who believe that we should be treating people more equally than we do.
Coby Williams  09:10
Well said. Well said. And I also want to add Arizona, you know, you know, folks were brought here to to unoccupied land. Right, this this land was fully occupied by our brothers and sisters in indigenous and First Nations community. So, yeah, a lot of, you know, untold stories, unfortunately, with, you know, the origins and beginnings of various civil rights movements and those intersects intersectionalities.
Michael Hingson  09:39
Yeah, because in the case of, say, people with blindness, the perceptions were different. Well, they can’t do anything so we’ll just really discount them. They need to stay at home and not stir anything up. And occasionally, some did and have had some successes at it, but still Oh, there are so many issues dealing with people who are different and it doesn’t matter whether it’s blindness or any other kind of disability, someone of a different color or whatever. A lot of the issue is that it’s still fear. You know, we’ve just fear people who are different than we. Yes, yes. Now let’s talk about you specifically. I mean, if we’re going to talk about you, we got to recognize the fact that you’re as normal as they come you like bourbon?
Coby Williams  10:30
I am a bourbon boy I love bourbon. completed most of the Bourbon Trail and the kind of the greater Louisville, area of Louisville, Kentucky, and I have sampled I’ve lost count but several dozen different labels at this point. However not all at one time. That’s that’s probably want to point out yes, that’s that’s helpful. But yes, I love her Barbie.
Michael Hingson  11:01
What’s your favorite?
Coby Williams  11:02
Oh, I can’t do just one i Yeah. I can give you a four or five that I enjoy. Love Woodford Reserve, Eagle rare Buffalo Trace. Weller’s special reserve, and I’ll give I love wild turkey. I like Wild Turkey as well. So bit of variety there. But yeah, I can’t pick just one. And I like Maker’s
Michael Hingson  11:31
Mark. But I also definitely like, Woodford and and a number of others. Of course, there’s always the old common Jim Beam. Oh, yes, yes. And a few years ago, it seems to me as I recall, there was some sort of an accident and a Jim Beam, whether it was a distillery or a shipment or something caught fire, and that had to put a dent in everything for a while. And we were wondering, Where’s our next bourbon coming from? But we did survive.
Coby Williams  12:00
Yeah, they had some I think, tornadoes over over the years that has affected their supply chain, too. So and as we know, good bourbon takes several years to to make. I know there’s naming some bourbons are only aged for six months in the year two and that I need six, seven plus years on my bourbon.
Michael Hingson  12:27
Well, yeah. There’s always secrets. But that’s more of a blended thing as I recall.
Coby Williams  12:34
Yes. I think you’re right.
Michael Hingson  12:35
I think you’re right. However, just just demonstrating that, that we all we all have great tastes, and then there are those who don’t like bourbon. And that’s okay. We love them in our world as well. Yes. Yes. Which is, which is really important. Well, you have been very much involved in diversity and equity and inclusion, and, and really trying to advance it, what does all of that mean to you?
Coby Williams  13:04
Oh, wow. Um, and, you know, even to that point, I know that, particularly within the past couple of years, I think there’s a fairly limited understanding of D, E, and I, and equity and who and all that that involves, and, you know, there are what I call kind of the big eight of which includes, you know, age, stability, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio economic status, and religion. And, you know, within those kinds of communities or populations, there’s the haves and the have nots on either sides of that, that fence, if you will, and there’s a lot of intersectionalities, you know, even within those groups, I do say, in my experience, opinion and observation that race does cut through each one of those. However, it’s also not to me about the oppression Olympics, and you know, it’s just who are the half knots? Why and how do they become that and how can that be, you know, corrected addressed or at the very least mitigated is, you know, you know, when, when I speak about social impact, that’s really just a fancy word for a lot of the ugly things in this world. And, you know, when we talk about issues which in my world an issue is a problem with a solution. Ultimately, in our it is those folks, you know, on the margins or who have been placed in the margins that are, you know, catching the most Yeah. And so that’s where generally speaking, a lot of the focus of my work is really concentrated on at the end of the day.
Michael Hingson  15:10
Tell me a little bit more about what you do then and what your work is, if you would, please.
Coby Williams  15:14
Yeah, thank you. Um, so I’m the owner and founder of New reach community consulting. New reach is a small business that provides Public Affairs, consulting services to help organizations connect with communities for important causes. And very proudly new reach is also a B Corp certified business, B Corp is considered to be the gold standard for demonstrated social and environmental impact. New reach is part of, at this point about 5000. B Corp in the entire world. And one of only about a baker’s dozen in Ohio, and about the same black owned B corpse in the entire United States. And the nature of new reaches work is really doing all things that I call community touching to be behind the scenes or in front of the scene. So it’s developing strategies and approaches and implementing those at times, to help organizations engage with communities, the organizations that I work with, or primarily public sector, so local, state, and occasionally federal government, as well as nonprofits, or philanthropic type of organizations, be it foundations, or just kind of community groups who might not have a formal structure, but they’re trying to do some good in those communities. And, you know, the what my work looks like, in a more practical sense, is stakeholder outreach and community engagement, strategic planning and implementation, issue, advocacy, capacity building, and messaging and communications are kind of the general kind of lanes or how my work looks like. And during those those activities,
Michael Hingson  17:19
would you tell me and our listeners maybe a few stories about some of the things that you’ve done the successes that you’ve had, or attempts to have an impact on, on society? In that regard?
Coby Williams  17:31
Yes, sure. It can look in a variety of ways, one of which is working with a local government to help engage the community for the development of their climate action plan. So, you know, who are the communities again, generally casting the most hell are generally the marginalized communities, typically around social, socio economic class, and our rate, race and ethnicity. So I worked with the local government to help engage that members of those communities to see this is what the city came up with, as far as their climate action plan. Does this resonate with you? Does this mean anything to you? How would you prioritize these different activities that are being considered to be implemented? And, you know, more importantly, you know, how can we engage you or the city to engage you to help, you know, help them implement these plans, and something I’m very proud of, I didn’t have a direct role in this, but the community actually pushed back and said, you know, these, these goals and the climate action plan are not aggressive enough. And more needs to be done, you know, we’re already behind the eight ball, you know, nationally, or just kind of as a human race, more needs to be done. And get I didn’t have direct involvement in that piece of it, but did smile when I read about that in the news that the city actually said, you know, what, yes, we can and should do more to help offset some of these, these challenges that are communities are facing as a result of climate change. So that’s just one example of that, certainly a weighty issue, but of how communities can be engaged and be empowered to help them in their communities and in a better place.
Michael Hingson  19:29
How do we continue to deal with the whole issue of climate change when some of our elected officials and I won’t call them leaders because I don’t regard them as really leading but they come back and they say there’s no such thing as climate change, or we’re not going to find it. How do we get beyond that?
Coby Williams  19:48
You know, I’ll start with a with I think the messaging has has evolved. I did some work in the past. Um, at the time was just environmental movement. Now it’s kind of known as the environmental sustainability movement. And, you know, once upon a time, that movement kind of focused on what I call the the birds, bees and trees. And, you know, that really only resonated with and still does a finite population, when you really talk about that, you know, the topic in that way. And the messaging was also about saving the planet, certainly, when I grew up, I’m an 80s. Baby, that was a thing as helped save the planet, and the messaging really evolve, because at the end of the day, the planet does not need to be saved, the planet was around for billions of years before humans were a thing, and it will be around for billions of years afterwards. So it was really kind of an arrogant message. We don’t need to save the planet, we need to save ourselves, we need to, you know, in a way that being custodians of the planet, so that we can live on it, that’s really the more accurate message. And then it became more about sustainability. So that messaging has thankfully evolved, and it’s more, it’s more broad, you know, it’s more so safe air and clean water, because who can be against that, that kind of brightens the message and the thinking around it. But you know, to your point, there still are folks who are anti facts. And, you know, my personal philosophy is I usually start with facts, and then that’s where you can get into perspectives. But if we can’t agree that it’s currently July, then, you know, we can’t have a conversation with with one another. And I want to have conversations with people who agree that is currently July, if you think it’s December, and there’s you know, three feet of snow outside, then you just, you can’t be a productive, productive participant of this conversation. So I really do think that, you know, at least conceptually, it’s having the conversations and the actions with folks who were really being a part of a factual based conversation, as opposed to over acquiescing to people who still want to say, Well, no, it’s actually December, and there’s 10 feet of snow outside. I think a lot of that is effort in futility. And sometimes, I think a lot of times, it’s an intentional diversionary tactic. You know, we’re trying to convince folks of this, and quite literally the world is on fire. So, you know, a lot of that might be kind of philosophical, but at least that’s kind of my approach is going to where there’s actual energy and attention and respect given to an issue. And, you know, looking for the people who are looking for you. And, you know, really starting to work there. Unfortunately, a lot of time, some people will never be on board, but I, you know, one monkey suit and stop a show, and, you know, go to where the energy is.
Michael Hingson  23:15
The problem is, it’s happening way too often that one does stop the show. And how do we? How do we get beyond that?
Coby Williams  23:25
That’s a fantastic question. You know, I’m a classically trained grassroots community organizer, and, you know, the essence of organizing is building power to to make a difference and to make a change. And at the core of that is largely people power, because you’re usually outnumbered. You’re usually out resourced, you’re usually going up against a lot of systems. And, you know, the work itself is incremental. But I do believe in the in the power of doing that. And you had a conversation with a friend and in many ways, a mentor recently, the reality of a lot of the work that myself or others have been involved with one way to view it is it’s really a tour of duty. I am not aware of any issues, certainly no issue that I’ve been involved with that completely get wrapped up. Certainly not during during my lifetime, you pick the issue and, you know, things that you thought were settled weren’t quite settled. We look at you know, what, regardless of where you fall on that issue, the recent decision of the Supreme Court with you know, Roe versus Wade, there’s people generations ago who thought that was kind of a settled issue. So, you know, say that to say that, you know, I think that some effort any effort does make a difference. However, the reality is unfortunate reality is you you, you just want to tour of duty, that issue likely will not be settled. You just do what you can with, with who you can and the moment that you’re given,
Michael Hingson  25:07
it certainly isn’t going to be settled for a while. And we, it we find in an interesting situation, I’m starting to hear a little bit more in the news. Let’s take Roe v. Wade. Yes, I’m hearing a little bit more in the news, that the the conservative arm of this whole discussion, wants to get back to conservative religious principles and bringing God back into our states and so on. And what amazes me about that is that these are some of the same people who, who talk about religious freedom, man, separation of church and state, but when they opened those discussions, what are they doing? They’re not separating church and state. And that is, it is so unfortunate. The the message becomes hypocrisy related in some way. hypocritical.
Coby Williams  26:07
Yeah, absolutely. That’s, you know, I am. Yeah, I’m an issue based person, I don’t, you know, bleed D or R and, you know, I believe, what do the issues call for, you know, issues a problem with a solution. But, you know, it does, you know, really just don’t understand the hypocrisy, or the lack of consistent political policy agenda or platform. You know, it can’t be, you know, separation of church and state yet, we need to bring, you know, God or once God back into the discussion, it can’t be, you know, over acquiescing to capitalistic structures at the expense of workers. And, you know, it’s just the continuous hypocrisy from, you know, sometimes literally, from one day to another, or one week to another, I just, you know, I just really struggle with that. And, you know, I can, you know, it’s helped me understand the position and the consistency of it.
Michael Hingson  27:25
Well, so here’s another one to really make life a challenge for you. You mentioned a while ago, the Big Eight, the big eight things that go into dei and so on, did you notice what’s missing out of that big eight? So to be fair, you named eight different things, and not once, even though persons with disabilities make up roughly 25% of our population. disability isn’t included in that.
Coby Williams  27:53
Yeah. And into my understanding of that fall under the ability under the Social identifier?
Michael Hingson  28:06
Well, I don’t know whether I can, can concur with that. The bottom line is that when we talk about diversity, and we talk about the different groups, we never discussed, the concept of persons with disabilities. It’s, it is some social, but it’s social with everyone. And it’s it’s very much with with a part of disabilities and a significant part, a physical issue, but yet it’s not discussed. And one of my favorite stories about that, in an illustration of it, is that in 2004, when Kerry was running for president, and we were living in Northern California, and the carry for president, people open an office in San Rafael would California which was about seven miles eight miles from where we lived. And a person in a wheelchair went by because there had been an announcement that once the office opened, there was going to be a party. And when the office opened, and everyone started to learn about this person in the chair happened to drove by and noticed that there were stairs going up to the second floor where the office was located, but there was no elevator. And he pointed that out. And that became very visible in the news because he and others said, well, but we can’t come to be at the at the event, the celebration and so on. And the carry people said, Well, yeah, we’re gonna work on it. We’re aware of it, we understand it, we’re gonna fix it. And as these people then pointed out the the people in chairs, but we’re not able to be there and be a part of the party. And that’s the issue is it’s a lot more than a social kind of thing. There are so many examples of blind people, for example, who grow up in And they’re told by educators and so called professionals in the field, Oh, you don’t need to learn braille, because you can listen to books, you can listen to information, audio is available, you can listen to it on your computer with synthetic speech. And the question that I and others ask us, then why don’t we teach sighted kids to read and we don’t emphasize teaching braille to blankets. The problem is, it goes well, beyond just a social stigma, it’s still a total lack of inclusion.
Coby Williams  30:33
Great, brilliant, thank you for sharing that. Yeah, I absolutely include that with my, you know, working understanding of that both physical and cognitive ability with within my, my definition of the Big Eight, if you will, specific with with ability. I recently did, Jesse Cole in intensive experience with members, leaders within the, the disabled community to, to learn more about that over the course of a few months. And you know, to be more cognizant, and aware and sensitive to that, even within my own work and on, you know, personal understanding. And, you know, one thing that’s really interesting too, is so, you know, kind of the, the world went online, within the past upwards of two plus years, and a lot of the tools that we’re using are new to some communities, but they were kind of a necessity for others. And, you know, but oftentimes, when we do use tools, such as the resumes of the world, they often don’t accommodate members of those that community who have, you know, the disabled community who have, you know, so a lot of ironies kind of in, you know, the, how the tools are used, if they are used, and, you know, big fan of yielding to and, you know, being humble to folks who might be more knowledgeable and experienced in those areas. So, you know, I have tried to be intentional about that, like, hey, yeah, you know, we’re using these tools, but are they accommodating the folks who, you know, we’re using them for years, years prior to so we’ll see
Michael Hingson  32:29
what’s really ironic about that, and you raise a really good point. And so I’ll deal with it in terms of disabilities, but I bet we can take it in other places where we can actually but what’s what’s really ironic is that as we have become a more technologically based race, and especially will will say in this country, and as we have brought more things online, and created electronic environments to present those things, it in reality is incredibly much easier to make information available to persons with disabilities, because now, there there is audio, there are also for blind people refreshable braille displays, the internet could be constructed or websites could be constructed. So that persons who can’t use a mouse say, persons who happen to be quadriplegic and can’t move a mouse with their hands can have better access and that the websites can be created because the guidelines have been created to do so. The the ability to make websites much more inclusive, is there yet 98% of websites are not demonstrating any ability or demonstrating any specific effort to make them accessible. And if a lot of those websites are accessible, is simply by accident, because they’re very simple websites and don’t have a lot of the more complex coding and so on. But there we are, like books. The reality is, there are so many ways that information could be presented in an inclusive way. But we’re getting further and further away from doing that, which is extremely unfortunate.
Coby Williams  34:22
Yes, yeah. To that point, when I was going through the the intensive learning experience I mentioned with the disabled community, one of the instructors or leaders mentioned that she has never seen personally experienced a website that had triple A compliant so there’s a there’s an A rating, which is the lowest double A which is mid range. And she had personally never experienced a triple A across whether it’s public sector or private sector or Um, and you know, that’s that’s pretty telling, right that we’re going into something web 3.0. But we still haven’t gotten up to snuff in terms of kind of the, just the basics.
Michael Hingson  35:14
Well, as early as 2010, for example, the Obama administration saw just say the government made a commitment to create standards for governments and contractors, and so on, at least, to make sure that websites and all of their information was available. But yet, it still hasn’t happened. And it’s 12 years, there’s so many other things we we have seen the advent of quiet cars and hybrid vehicles and so on. And those vehicles when they’re quiet, then mean that some of us won’t hear them. And it took finally the National Institute of Highway and Traffic Safety NITSA to come along and discover that the accident rate across the board was 1.5 times higher regarding quiet vehicles and hybrid vehicles and pedestrians than regular internal combustion engines. Point being it isn’t just a blind people that rely on those engine noises we all do. And yet, it is still something that today, the final standard to make it a requirement for vehicles to make some sort of annoys hasn’t been promulgated by the government. Even though the law was passed the pedestrian enhancement Safety Act was passed in 2011, or signed in 2011. To make that a requirement, it’s it’s unfortunate, we still make life so difficult. And I’m not saying that to pick on on you in any way. But but rather to say we need to recognize the need to be more inclusive. So the big eight probably really ought to be the big nine. But you know, that’s, that’s still an issue that probably people need to address because it still comes down to being afraid of what’s different from what we experienced regularly.
Coby Williams  37:18
Absolutely, point point take and then have some familiarity with that. I’m the owner of a hybrid car and it freaked me out. When I turned on a test drive. I didn’t think the car was on I was inside the car going to operate it. And I heard nothing. I had to go out and ask for help. Can you can you hear what’s going on? Oh, no, they say it’s, it’s it’s quiet like that when you know, the the engines that run when the engines are running? Yeah, yeah.
Michael Hingson  37:48
Well, and one of my pet gripes is the Tesla vehicles, they’re totally quiet. But the big issue is or a another big issue. And Tesla doesn’t make the make noise yet. But another big issue is you really control most of it from a touchscreen, doesn’t that take your eye off the road to need to read the screen and do things on the screen, Tesla would say but we’re automating a lot of the the normal driving tasks, which is true. But still, we’re encouraging people to look at the screen, rather than utilizing other senses like audio information, to give people what they need to be able to more effectively drive the car and make that touchscreen or parts of it for passengers accessible. So that people other than those who look at the screen can sit in the passenger seat and tune the radio like any other passenger would do in any other vehicle that isn’t so touchscreen oriented.
Coby Williams  38:52
You know, we’re talking about technology. And you mentioned kind of the audio system devices earlier. I’m curious to know your your take on say the the Alexa’s and the Google devices of the world. And where are you you see that as potentially being helpful or or a hinderance or anything in between?
Michael Hingson  39:16
Well, I think that devices like Google Home Alexa and so on, make it possible for all of us to more effectively interact with information. So I use And primarily, although I have both, but I use primarily the Amazon Echo device here. I don’t want to use that other word because otherwise it’ll talk.
Coby Williams  39:43
Yeah. Yeah, no. Actually, I can’t even commercial sometimes.
Oh, I know. Actually, I’ve changed it from Alexa to computer but I turned the volume down so it won’t really talk but but the reality is that it did it gives me some access to things that save me a lot of time, whether whichever device I use, I happen to be in front of, I can ask it to give me information about one subject or another, I can turn the lights on and off, I can learn my alarm system. And all that is doubly relevant for me because my wife happens to be a person in a wheelchair. So a lot of those things she can’t easily do, either. And so the fact is that we both take a lot of advantage of having those devices. And I think they’re extremely valuable to have. And that’s actually kind of what I was getting at, that those same technologies and techniques could be put in vehicles in a more significant way. Or take the Apple iPhone, and it’s speech technology, voiceover, or Android phones and their speech technology, TalkBack. And why is it that we don’t have automobiles providing us much more voice output? Rather than dealing with the touchscreen? Why is it that the Alexus don’t default, to providing verbal information, output wise, much less me being able to provide information and command of the vehicle input wise with my voice? And it doesn’t matter whether you’re blind or sighted or whatever? Why is it that we’re not taking a lot more advantage today? Of a lot of the technology that is already developed? And part of the answer is we’re locked into the way we’ve always done it, like we’ve talked about before, and we just don’t change there. Yeah. And I think it is something that we really ought to look at, over time, and see how we can and when and how, but think the houses are there. But to make a concerted effort to make a change. I work for a company called accessibe. And one of the values of accessory is it’s a very scalable technology that makes internet websites more accessible. It started with an artificial intelligent widget, as we call it an AI widget that can look at a site and add a lot of coding to the browser. And rather than doing it at the website, and but that makes the browser think that the website is more accessible, does it? Does it do everything? No, it doesn’t. Because AI hasn’t progressed that far. But it does a lot. That plus the other aspects of accessibility that are manually controllable can make all the access needs of a website available. But yet, well not. But yet, so excessive B was formed intentionally with the idea that over time, we need to get rid of the accessibility gap. As I said, 98% of all websites tend not to be accessible. And we’re not changing that excessively, inexpensively begins to change that. So accessibe has a goal of making the entire internet world accessible by 2025. It’s a very aggressive goal. And there are people who still stick with the idea that, well, we got to manually code things because that’s the only way to completely do the job. And if we look at a lot of the websites that the manual coders produce, it’s not necessarily doing the job either. But the reality is, it’s fear that prevents things from happening sooner than they are or cures.
Coby Williams  43:35
So I’m not sure how familiar or knowledgeable you are about, you know, what’s the metaverse and web 3.0? But curious to know, you know, you’re taking on it a lot of the AMA techie by the way, but a lot of the things I’ve been reading and following. As we’re talking kind of comes to mind, it seems to be largely based on you know, a visual experience, you know, there’s the Oculus, you’ll be able to see people doing this and doing that. And you know, your thoughts on maybe what are some of the possibilities from your perspective, for that or even cautions that you might have as that technology gets gets developed in ways that it can be most most useful for a variety of people?
Michael Hingson  44:21
Well, that’s why I say the big a really needs to be the big nine until we really bring disabilities into the conversation. We’re not going to change it. And there there are things that that in theory, web 3.0 And the new web content accessibility guidelines as web 3.0 comes out, will do. But will they be implemented? You can make all the changes that you want but until the conversation truly includes persons with disabilities, truly understands and includes those needs and makes it a part of what we do think These aren’t going to change, here’s a better way to look at it. There are a number. And it’s a relatively small number of technological companies that really control the internet. You’ve got Microsoft or, for example, you have an Apple app, Amazon, Google, and a few others. And let’s, let’s go to the internet WordPress. Tell me one of them. That makes true inclusion and accessibility part of what they do right from the outset. And I’ll help you the answer is not. Microsoft comes out with new versions of Windows or Microsoft a few years ago came out with a competitor to zoom, Google or Microsoft Teams. And yet, it took a while to make the app accessible. For persons with disabilities, for blind people on a PC, it came out actually as an accessible app first. But the bottom line is, it should have been done natively right from the outset. And no one disagrees with that. But it doesn’t happen. The iPhone when it was first developed, was not accessible. It took the threat of a lawsuit to get Apple to deal with that, even so now that if you go buy an iPhone, it is accessible. And all of the parts of an iPhone will verbalize, but there’s nothing that guarantees that apps will have any level of accessibility, you know, I can go through any number of examples, the so until the conversation changes, then we’re not going to see the real change that we want to have. And the reality is that the conversation can change. And it will not only benefit, those of us who really totally depend on it, but it will help the entire world. The fact is, you can talk all day about how much more you can see with what will happen with web 3.0, and so on. But the reality is, eyesight is only one sense that we all have. And if we don’t really begin to learn to use all of our other senses, in conjunction with eyesight for those of us who have it. And if we don’t accept that not everyone uses eyesight, and there’s nothing wrong with that and doesn’t make us lesser beings, then we’re not going to change the the whole situation and become an inclusive society. Yes, you’re here, but that we can do? Well, for you. Have you always wanted to do what you’re doing now?
Coby Williams  47:40
I? Short answer is, yes, I didn’t know that you could make a career out of it. I, you know, I was was a super volunteer. That’s kind of how I got my start, if you will, as a as a tween just, you know, volunteer stuff around the community, be self organized, or just getting involved in more formal programs or what have you. And, you know, when you when you do more, you get asked, get asked to do more. But I was in the IT field professionally, prior to doing what I’m doing now. And I, you know, again, didn’t realize you could do a career out of it. It’s just it, I considered it my work, you know, do it on the lunch hour or, you know, off the clock, but, you know, I can just consider I consider now my vocation and my craft, but I quite literally didn’t know, you know, realize that it was a a profession. And in that regard,
Michael Hingson  48:51
what’s a common myth of that you can say that people have about what you do?
Coby Williams  48:58
Oh, well, there’s a few. Um, I think one is that, you know, I call my work as Public Affairs, which, you know, just kind of means I work with the public in a variety of ways that it is not. As I say, it’s not just event planning, you know, oftentimes, folks, they focus on the winning the, where, you know, so what, you know, give us a date and a time, be it, you know, clients or what have you, and although that is a part of the work, that’s the nature of the work for public affairs, when you’re engaging with communities, that’s just a means to an end. And that there’s many different ways to engage with communities. So that’s, that’s a misnomer. Or my sometimes I say, frenemies and, and public relations whom I work with, you know, pretty regularly, but it’s almost like a Venn diagram. There’s there’s some overlap between public relations and and Public Affairs, but there’s ultimately different in games as well. Whereas I would argue, you know, public relations is kind of it’s it’s, you know, it’s painting the room, it’s, you know, decorating, it’s accessorizing the room, and public affairs is kind of well, how does how do people receive it? Do they receive it is what they wanted in the first place? How do you get to accommodating that room? So that’s those are a couple of common misnomers in terms of the nature of the work. And, you know, again, a lot of friends or family, you might think, oh, you know, Kobe is in politics. And it’s, you know, I do have a background in legislative affairs, as well as, you know, grassroots community organizing and consulting. So I have been on each side of those, those tables. However, that’s an oversimplification for, for the nature of my work, policy over politics, and, you know, issues over over party. So those are kind of a common, you know, myths that I try to dispel. Often,
Michael Hingson  51:11
there is nothing, it seems to me, no matter what we say about Washington and politics, but there’s nothing like going to DC and walking the halls of Congress, and meeting with elected officials and talking about issues when they’re willing to do that. It’s an awesome experience to be in, in DC, where, you know, all this stuff happens. And it’s a lot of fun to do.
Coby Williams  51:34
Yes, yes, at one point in my career, DC was a kind of a third home for me, I was there at least every two to three months, doing advocacy and or lobbying work, and no couple of state houses around the country and city halls and respective cities as well. And you know, a lot of my work, certainly in his current capacity I look at as connecting the say that the main streets and the Martin Luther King avenues with the, you know, City Hall avenues. And you know, what, what does that what does that work look like? Or what could that look like to move communities and move issues forward.
Michael Hingson  52:17
And it’s really great when you find people who are willing to learn and explore and recognize that you have some different experiences than they do, and they want to really understand you. And I have found that any number of times in Washington, when meeting with people, and it’s so cool when that happens?
Coby Williams  52:37
Yes, yes, absolutely.
Michael Hingson  52:39
So you have, I am sure been mentored by people that helped you move along, and so on. Who’s your favorite mentor who really mentored you?
Coby Williams  52:51
Oh, wow. I had a teacher in junior Junior High in high school, Mr. Holloway, who I believe is still still with us. I actually came to mind about a couple of months ago. And I sent him a note online through through Facebook, just to thank him. I don’t think he ever realized the impact that he had on my life just as a student, I had him for homeroom and high school. And he also taught history as well as African American history, which, you know, sadly, is an elective in most school school systems. And I remember the first day of class, I think it was just kind of American or colonial colonial histories, as I like to say, and you know, first day of class, we all have our textbooks out and you know, we’re just ready to learn. And he says, Well, you’re gonna put those away, ain’t nothing but lies in them anyway. And it was, wow, you know, just just a 1617 year old kid, and, you know, everyone your thoughts, everyone just drops their textbooks when they’re on the ground. And he taught just kind of the off, you know, what I got from it, just off authenticity. And, you know, that just that, that stuck with me, ran track a little bit in high school and coach T. Jimmy Turner, believe he is still with us and was just a very graceful, humble. He asked a lot from you, but in a very way that was, he wanted the best for you very respectful, and the lessons that I still carry with me off of the track, and he really cared about us and for many of us, quite frankly, we weren’t exposed to male figures or role models in our lives. A lot of us really looked up to him and never wanted to, you know, disappoint him, on or off the track. So those were two, you know, people who I considered were definitely influential in, in my life, and certainly in those kinds of young and impressionable years, and, you know, lessons I still think about often and carry with me now, personally and professionally.
Michael Hingson  55:27
Isn’t it interesting? How often, we remember teachers that were a great influence on us. A lot of people may say that they weren’t necessarily charismatic, but the reality is they loved what they did. That got passed on to all of us, because I remember a number of my teachers and talk about them. I know, in my book, Thunder dog, we we talked about the Kerbal Shimer who I met, who was my sophomore geometry teacher, and we still talk. And I remember any number of my other teachers, which is really, I think, important and cool. And I’m glad that they were a part of my life, because they definitely had an effect on me. So I’m with you. Yeah. Yeah. Let me ask this, if you could meet and talk with any historical figure, who would that be? Oh,
Coby Williams  56:16
wow. And this is coming from a from a from a nerd and history history? Well,
Michael Hingson  56:22
that’s why I asked.
Coby Williams  56:24
Oh, the name that immediately comes to mind is the late great. Dr. Martin Luther King. And I think my opinion is, regardless of what you think of him, it’s probably still he’s underappreciated. For one of the most documented figures, certainly in American history, be books that he wrote personally, or people close to him wrote about him, or, you know, we want to go down what what the government, you know, kind of kept kept tabs on extremely well documented person, but oftentimes for nefarious reasons. His his words have been twisted, his ideologies have been, you know, taken out of context. And, you know, I think he’s a fascinating figure, because, you know, Dr. Cornel West says that his you know, Dr. King’s image has become center, become like Santa Claus, Santa Claus, classified, I believe it’s a term that he uses, but just the grace in the patients that he that he had. And, you know, he, you know, when he was taken from us, you know, following fifth 14 years of being, you know, jailed, brought bombed, harassed, etc, etc, and ultimately, you know, shot in the face as I like, like the telephone see, we have a 34% approval rating. And, you know, he’s lionized now, but, you know, get he was taken, taken from us, which I think is really not mentioned in that light. Just, you know, just to have 15 minutes, with the man in person just to absorb the source of that patience and hope. And, you know, which is something that, you know, I think we all get benefit from,
Michael Hingson  58:37
I’m with you. And it makes perfect sense. I think it’s, again, our historical figures, when we really study them do set a lot of examples that that we ought to emulate then, and it’s so bad that his approval rating when he was alive was not higher than it was. But again, it’s all about growth, isn’t it? Yeah. Yeah. So you asked me to ask you a question. I’ve got to ask, which is, what’s one insult that you’ve had in your life that you’re proud of? You brought that up?
Coby Williams  59:14
Yeah. You know, I’m, I’m known. As I say, To Talk That Talk. I do challenge. I’m going to be a boat rocker. And I’ve, you know, that goes back. My mother will tell you that’s just always been a part of who I am. And it’s not to be provocative for the sense of being provocative. I just question why things are, and suddenly, when I was younger, I knew that’s who I was, but might have been a little kind of felt bad about it at times, but I’ve fully embraced that. You know, I am a I’m an activist who happens to be a consultant. You will find very few consultants, particularly for what I do who who will say that publicly? They might maybe whisper that in closed rooms? No, you know, what you’re getting with with Kobe with with new reach, and it is to challenge status quo as to challenge, you know, why are things the way they are? How can they be better? How can they be? How can you help put, you know, individuals or communities in a better place? And that does require being provocative, you know, not just for the sake of being, you know, I mentioned the way great Dr. King, he was considered provocative. You know, he was talking about justice and, you know, in the land of the free and that was considered to be, you know, rocking the boat. So, for me, it’s all very relative, a lot of folks who we might look up to, it’s afterwards it’s after they’ve gone through hell, sometimes after they’ve been taken from us as because they did have a vision and they question things. And I, I’m not shy about doing that, but it’s for a reason. And the spirit behind that is to put things people situations in a better place.
Michael Hingson  1:01:15
What are three books you would recommend that people ought to read?
Coby Williams  1:01:20
One I recently read is 4000 weeks it, wow, very powerful book, the premise of the book is really, maybe a paradigm shift of how to live a fulfilled life, with the time that you’re given on this earth, and it really puts your own life in perspective, and you don’t have to give too much of the book away. But, you know, we’re not all that important in the grand scheme of things, and that’s okay. The power of now is a very powerful book. That’s, that’s the guy she want to reread. I think that’s a book that, arguably you might be able to read annually and still get something out of it. And it might might humble you in a bit. And, wow, a third. Think anything again, the late great Dr. King, he has auto biographies. He did, you know, write a few books while he was with us on this earth. And I think you can’t go wrong with anything that he has. He has written. And, you know, so that might be cheating a bit. That’s, that’s, that’s two plus. But those are some that I would recommend via titles and or authors.
Michael Hingson  1:02:50
You said something that’s really interesting. You mentioned the power of now, isn’t it great when you find a book that you read, that you can reread? And that you can reread and reread? And every time you discover something new in it?
Coby Williams  1:03:04
Yes. And what I like about is that, you know, the books I mentioned, aren’t so much prescriptive their experiences, you know, I think that so many things that we want, okay, what are the three tips to life given to me, and it’s, you know, that’s just, that’s not how things that’s not how it works. That’s not how it works. Life is an experience. And with experiences, you can get something out of it. Each time you kind of go through it.
Michael Hingson  1:03:32
Well, before we wrap up, we have to go over one more revelation regarding you and that is that you are a fan of basketball and specifically Yes, absolutely. The Los Angeles Lakers.
Coby Williams  1:03:44
Yes, absolutely. Like you know, I I originally grew up kind of watching baseball at the time, particularly in the early 90s. It was kind of that transition where it was less baseball, more NBA on TV. And I wasn’t particularly a fan of any one team. But I just remember catching a game probably was on NBC at the time of the Lakers. It was kind of the later years of the lake show and it was wow they played differently than any other team they have fast breaks continuously and they run the floor and magic just being magic you know with with the ball and it just it really resonated with me it wasn’t just throwing the ball in the post and you know, taking 20 dribbles with with the center of the power for no they were dishing the ball all over the court and just the razzle dazzle so I think that’s what really got me was was the Lake Show and been a lifelong fan. Ever since. Yeah. And hoping for a better season this year.
Michael Hingson  1:04:58
Oh, I’m hoping for a better overseas. I must, I must admit that, for me, getting attracted to the Lakers to the Dodgers and to others, I got spoiled by the announcers la always had the best announcers. And in my view, I mean, there’s nobody who could be Vin Scully and with the Lakers, Chick Hearn, although I also got to listen in Boston to Johnny most but still, no one did a game like Chick Hearn. And yeah, yeah, it was just kind of amazing. indican Berg out here also, who did the angels and, and did some of the football stuff as well. So we missed them all. But they’re there. They’re what attracted me in a way because I, I learned sports from those people, which was great. Well, I really want to thank you for being a part of this today and being with us. If people want to reach out to you and learn more about you. How can they do that?
Coby Williams  1:06:02
Yeah, thank you, you can check me out. nourishes website is new reach community.com. Or you can also follow me on LinkedIn where I’m pretty active on there as well. You can just search for Coby that C O B Y C Williams, and I’d love to connect with folks.
Michael Hingson  1:06:28
Well, great, and I hope you who are listening. We’ll reach out. I think we had a great discussion. And I think we’ve given each other and lots of people who are listening, a great deal to think about which is what makes this whole podcast series a lot of fun. So thank you for being here with us. And I want to thank you all for listening. You’re welcome to reach out to me, we’d love to hear what you think. Feel free to email me at Michaelhi at accessibe.com Accessibe is A C C E S S I B E.com. Please, wherever you’re listening to this podcast, give us a five star rating. We appreciate your ratings and your comments. They’re invaluable and they help us. If you know of anyone else who want to be on the podcast and Coby you included please feel free to let us know or reach out or provide introductions. But once again, Coby, thank you very much for being here and being a part of unstoppable mindset.
Coby Williams  1:07:25
You’re welcome Michael, thank you so much for the invitation and be well.
Michael Hingson  1:07:34
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.

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