When starting a new collaboration, you should be upfront with what you need to be successful. A lot of information is visual, and this can lead to a visually-impaired or blind individual feel excluded or left behind. In being clear about your needs and your obstacles, you'll be surprised how many people are willing to go out of their way to describe an image or plot.
It's also important to be vigilant, otherwise things can be easily forgotten or overlooked. For example, when working in a trio, it can easily turn into a duo because sighted individuals can discuss visual information more quickly amongst themselves. Most people are willing to accommodate you, they just don't know how.
Lastly, be mindful when working with access assistants in collaborative or group settings. Similar to the trio example, sighted people sometimes interact with my access assistant, rather than with me. However, it's important to emphasize that the access assistant is present to assist me in my work—I have to ensure that the conversation is with me and not the assistant.
Below is a list of things that I found work well for me:
- ask for the slides in advance: this allows me to work with an access assistant before a meeting or presentation to review the material
- try verbal-only meetings: I've found this to be a very effective method to collaborating with others. Without the use of visual aids, I can focus on the information being shared and don't get left behind.
- take notes: It can be helpful to bring an access assistant with you to take notes, especially for the visual aspects.
- brush up on your communication skills: You may need to have some difficult conversations; it's important to be able to approach these interactions with tact and finesse, so learn to communicate effectively!