Laura, Knock Down That Accessibility Barrier!

Comments   8   Date Arrow  March 21, 2023 at 9:21am   User  by Mark Willis

Eugène Delacroix. Liberty Leading the People. 1830. Louvre, Paris. [Source: Wikimedia Commons]]O.K., I’m sorry. Let me try again. “Laura, knock down that accessibility barrier, please.” Nick Negroponte said someone like you would come along someday to help me get stuff done. I’ve been waiting for your cool efficiency and ass-kick assertiveness for years. I’ve been working without support  staff for  so long  that I forgot my manners. I’ll do better next time. Don’t go passive-aggressive on me, Laura. I’ll send you a sonnet by Petrarch on Virtual Assistants Day.

Who’s Laura? The new VA from Microsoft. Eric Horvitz extolled her virtues this morning on NPR. Since Laura is still in development, let me place my custom order in advance. Booking airline reservations would be nice, but I don’t need to be nagged about blowing off deadlines. I want a virtual assistant who understands my accessibility needs and can hack text and code like an administrative professional killing snakes. Except that’s just a metaphor, in case you don’t do nuanced tonality yet. Really, I like snakes. You’ll have to do a lot of reading to me, so I’d love a voice  that purrs like Catherine Deneuve selling the proverbial bath oil.  And you can skip the ice-cube persona. I want the passion of Delacroix’s Liberty leading the people over the barricades!

Tagged   accessibility


  • #1.   flava 03.22.2009

    I somehow came upon your beautiful piece of writing and had to comment. This is the first time on this site and I felt so compelled to register just so that I could tell you how much I love your sense of humor and beauty in your chosen words.

    Deana Snyder
    Florida Legal Support

  • #2.   tomrobertstennessee 03.22.2009

    Thanks to Deana Snyder for reminding me just how wonderful a writer Mark Willis is. I’ve been hearing this voice in print for so many years that I sometimes take for granted the perceptive eloquence and unique sense of humor.

  • #3.   Mark Willis 03.23.2009

    Deana, thank you very much for your kind comment. I’ve been imbued in the political/legal approach to disability and accessibility for many years. I know my righteous rhetoric about social justice and equal opportunity has its limits, but I can’t quite let it go, either. In my experience of both disability and accessibility, there’s plenty of room as well for satire and farce. For me, Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People bridges both perspectives, offering a stance that is forthright and comic at the same time. That works for me, and I’m pleased to know the humor resonates for you.

    And Tom, thanks as ever for your long friendship and steadfast support of my writing. I’ve been thinking about John Granger ever since you mentioned that he toured with Paul Robeson once upon a time. Does John Granger have any documentary traces on the Web?

  • #4.   flava 03.23.2009

    Mark, I don’t come upon exquisite writings such as this as the legal profession does not lend itself to it or my circle. I am nowhere near any poets in my life or fine writers but I know something as touching as this to get my attention! Thank you for your artistic abilities in your writings and keep it up!
    P.S. I wish I had a fine writer to do my marketing letters while I attempt to launch my business!

  • #5.   tomrobertstennessee 03.23.2009

    Mark, I’ve researched John Granger’s bio on the web several times. He is mentioned sparingly for his film roles in Otto Preminger’s “Advise and Consent,” (a great political movie), and “Tatoo.” Most of his work was live theater, and his name is mentioned on some theater websites for the two Broadway shows he performed, “Othello” in 1945, and “The Little Hut,” in 1953. However, no biographical information to be found.

  • #6.   Mark Willis 03.24.2009

    John Granger needs a web site, or at least a web page.Do you have any photos from his audition portfolio? I think I have a copy of the American Express ad that he did in the 80s… somewhere.

  • #7.   tomrobertstennessee 03.25.2009

    Mark, That is a spectacular idea! I have a collection of photos depicting most of John’s characters in dress rehearsals, along with some head shots. I have some other material too cumbersome to describe in this comment section. Thanks for the idea, Mark. I’ll forward something to your e-mail address next week.

  • #8.   Mark Willis 03.25.2009

    Yes, please send me a dress rehearsal pic for starters, then we can talk about where to go from there. Since John Granger has come up in the conversation here,. I’d like him to have a dramatic presence on the blog.

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