If you’ve been following me on social media for any length of time, you’ll know I’ve been working toward a community for blind and visually impaired cannabis users. I started the project with an initial survey back in 2022 and hoped to have things up and running by the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023, but the best laid plans bla bla bla. Fast forward to the summer of 2023 and the community is built, so we just need to get some people on board. Before I tell you how you can become a member of this new and exciting community, I would like to explain a bit about why I decided it should exist. It’s good to understand so you know what to expect if you join.

Why Build Such a Thing?

Until 2018, I was a healthy, functioning member of society. In the spring of that year, I started feeling tired all the time. I ignored this because I’m an insomniac, but as spring turned into summer and then winter (there are no seasons in this part of the U.S.), I began experiencing chronic pain to go along with the fatigue. I followed up with my doctor, that doctor referred me to another doctor and so on until I had more doctors than answers.

By the end of 2020, I’d had quite enough thank you very much. My state had just legalized medical cannabis within the last few years and I began giving it serious consideration. The trouble was I didn’t know how to fillet the application. Or how to use it even if I was approved. Or, and no community can entirely solve this problem, if I went for the evaluation and didn’t get approved, or if the doctor doing the evaluation decided I must be faking because I don’t look sick, how would I deal with that? There are many people with invisible disabilities that will understand this anxiety perfectly.

In 2022, I took a trip with family for a weekend to one of the nearby tourist towns . I spent that weekend somewhere between being able to function and wanting to sleep forever so it wouldn’t hurt anymore. When I got back, I applied immediately. If the doctor wouldn’t help, I’d find another one.

The next few months were spent learning about what method of consumption worked best for me. What dose should I take so I don’t incapacitate myself? How would I measure the dose? What would be the safest method for me to consume it? How would I maintain that method?

These questions are part of managing any medication. The difference is most medications only have a few choices, but cannabis has many more. I’ve since found methods and techniques that work for me.

If Your Questions are Answered, Why do this?

The fact of the matter is as soon as states started legalizing cannabis for medical purposes, it technically fell under medication management. Medication management is one of the core areas of visual rehabilitation therapy (the field that shows blind and visually impaired users adaptive techniques for living independently with vision loss) and I have yet to find a provider of these services that covers this areas it relates to medical cannabis use. Furthermore, cannabis is like sex—people will do it whether they have the means to be safe about it or not.

Through many conversations revolving around these points, I learned a few more things. For example, people still are grappling with taught beliefs and values surrounding this topic. They may benefit from it, but if, like mental health, it lives in a no-talk zone, the chances that person will get what they need are significantly reduced. Since one of the biggest impacts of blindness is hindered access to information, the problem is that much bigger. Once I got my head around that, it was time to figure out what to do about it.

Getting Started

Since a community without people is just a pretty web page, I decided to figure out what blind and visually impaired people would want from a community like this. In summary, they wanted a place to exchange adaptive techniques for safe consumption, pdiscuss roducts that were or were not accessible to them, a place to meet other like-minded individuals and they wanted a bit of privacy. Grappling with the issue of age verification and making sure I had moderation tools to get me started as soon as possible had me leaning toward Reddit, Discord, or some decentralized version of one of those. When Reddit rolled out its API changes, the choice was made for me and I set about building the Discord server.

How Do I Join?

Some excellent news! I was able to use Discord tools to screen for the age limit. You must be 18+ years old. If this sounds like a community for you, then visit changeling.mx/bvi420. This link takes you directly to the server. If you have any problems/concerns, please send an email to bvi420@starshipchangeling.net. Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you there!

What is this?

This is your Weekly Changeling for March 12, 2021. It is about as useful to you, reader, as winning a weightless container that only exists in a universe in which you do not exist.

Tech Things

  • Clubhouse is so last week for me. The shiny new feeling wore off alarmingly fast for me compared to other new social networks. I think this is because it didn’t give me anything I didn’t have before, and Twitter is getting ready to make Spaces widely available, so I’ll want to see what that’s like.
  • I’m pretty sure my reservations concerning the changes Twitter is making to its platform come from the fact that I am a microblogging purist. There’s just something about organizing my thoughts in to a short little blurb and throwing it out there to see what happens with it. I’ll need to keep this in mind when I’m evaluating new features Twitter puts out.
  • I’m actually writing this all from my iPhone, in Markdown.

Ongoing Projects

  • Everything from last week is exactly as I left it. Dealing with one’s personal life can have that result.
  • I’m considering starting a Starship Changeling Facebook page. I’ve been posting these and other posts to my personal timeline over there, and they just get buried. I don’t do this for the numbers, but I like to know someone is seeing it.


  • I survived another week on Earth.
  • I managed to put out a Weekly Changeling after saying I wouldn’t.
  • There’s a Starship Changeling Telegram Channel.
  • I managed to enter a drawing for a weightless container that exists in a universe where I do not currently exist.
  • I managed to spell “accomplished” without having to ask Siri first.

Chat with Changeling

If you want to comment on any of the things here, you can get in touch.


  • “NORMAL” is a lost cause. Just do your thing and try to make it pleasant for those you encounter.
  • Starve the Internet trolls. Any kind of response validates their actions. Ignoring them sends them into an existential crisis.

What is this?

This is your Weekly changeling for March 5, 2021. It is about as useful to you, reader, as earning all the points on “Whose Line is it Anyway?”. It’s just a summary of all the things that have gone on throughout the week in one post.

Tech Things

  • my Xfinity modem gave up the ghost, and I had to get a replacement. I discovered I had been paying for speeds the old modem couldn’t deliver for at least a couple of years, not even a tenth of the speed, actually. 😦
  • After setting up the new modem, i realized just how much work it is to configure all of one’s smart devices, but it’s all finished, and everything is working as expected. 😣
  • I discovered a tutorial for using the WordPress block editor. 😄 You can find my test post and a link to the tutorial here.
  • I’ve begun experimenting with Markdown. If you have suggestions for good resources or programs, please leave them in the comments section, or send an e-mail.
  • After a moratorium, I’ve gotten back into Mastodon. 🐘 You can find a link to my profile at the bottom of this or any other Starship Changeling page.


  • I hosted my first Clubhouse room. 🥳 It was an Ask me Anything about using discord with screen readers. You can find a recap of the event and my feelings about the Clubhouse experience here. the recap also includes a link to the discord accessibility feedback form.
  • I’ve managed to send myself over one hundred wake up songs as a self care exercise. You can find the list on Spotify.


  • After last weeks Clubhouse event, it occured to me that the desktop and mobile experiences are similar across their respective platforms. For the sake of keeping things as current as possible and saving myself energy, I’m considering having just a desktop and mobile version of the guide, rather than one for every platform. It would require some revisions, but I believe it would save me time in the longrun.
  • A series of experiences has led me to have feelings about QR codes and their accessibility to blind people. 😄😟 I’m working on a post that summarizes the experience and my feelings. No scheduled release date, because i want to take my time with it.

Closing Thoughts

It’s actually been a busy week here on Starship Changeling. It doesn’t feel like it when I’m doing these things, but writing it down puts things in perspective. Here’s to another fun-filled week. 🥂

chat with Changeling

If you have any thoughts about what you’ve read here, here’s how you get in touch.
* send an e-mail
* tweet me
* send a Discord message to Changeling#0001.
* Or reply to or comment on the post where you found this link. The Starship Changeling is powered by Bridgy. This means your replies are automatically pulled back to the site.


NORMAL” is a lost cause. Just do your thing, and try to make it pleasant for those you encounter during your journey.

PSA: Yes, I’m a blind person. Yes, i like dogs. No, I do not have a dog guide. No, dog guides are not the perfect solution for every blind person. Besides that, the doctor won’t clear me for one until they declare me in remission. no, blindness is not the most complicating life factor a person can face.
I toyed with the idea of changing my site’s tagline to, "Text to speech unavailable here," while posting the rest of the guide for users, but I didn’t feel like dealing with that subset of people who take things so literally and would act accordingly.
Whenever one of the humans asks me if i no where to find deaf or hearing impaired lifeforms after seeing my white cane, I pretend I’m in one of the time traveling episodes of #Supernatural, and I ended up in the ’60’s. It keeps me from going all monster on them and attracting the attention of local hunters.

What is This?


This is the third in a series of posts that describes how to use Mastodon if you are a screen reader user. It is an alternative form of documentation, but is not intended to replace the originaldocumentation for Mastodon or your screen reader. If you have just found this post, I strongly suggest you go back and read the first two chapters, links to which are in the next section.


The Road So Far…


  • Chapter One gave an introduction to the series, explained my reasons for writing it, and suggested things a person might need before joining an instance.
  • Chapter Two took a closer look at what Mastodon actually is, gave details about how to join instances, and briefly described the signup process.


If you haven’t done these things, now is your chance to go back and read these chapters. Otherwise, move on to the next section.


What is in This Chapter?


This chapter walks you through the process of completing your profile, as well as sending your first post, know as a Toot.


Before We Begin…


Before we begin, I want to talk about keyboard shortcuts. Rather than list all of the keyboard shortcuts for Mastodon, I ‘ve decided to bring them up when they occur in context. For example, when we are talking about sending a new post, those keyboard shortcuts will be listed in the directions. You can find a complete, out of context list here, or under the “Getting Started” section of your home page for your instance.


Similarly, I’m not going to list key commands for every screen reader. This guide assumes that you are mostly familiar with your own screen reader, or that you at least know how to access the documentation. The exception to this is when I need to make an example, or point out a situation where I know a specific screen reader behaves differently than expected.


Full Disclosure


I have not personally tested every screen reader. I know people with other screen readers are quite successful at using this platform, but I’m not aware of every single quirk there is. If you find that something doesn’t behave as described, feel free to leave it in the comments section, or use the contact form on the Contact page to get in touch. I’m even willing to work with you to try and work through any issues you may experience, as I know this is a lot of information.


For the record, I use Chrome with Chromevox on ChromeOS. Your experience may vary depending on browser, screen reader, and instance.


If you plan to primarily use a mobile device, chapter Six (to be published) will talk more about apps for this platform. You will need to consult the app’s documentation to bridge the gap.


Terms in This Chapter (in order of discussion)


  • Profile
  • Header
  • Avatar
  • Animated Avatar
  • bio
  • metadata
  • bot account
  • profile directory
  • verified content
  • Toot


Completing Your Profile


Now that you’ve signed up for an instance, it’s time to create your profile. This is what other users will see when they come to your page on the instance. It does not offer as many options as a standard Facebook profile, but it’s also got more customization and flexibility than other microblogging services typically offer.


To edit your profile, do the following:

  1. Log in to your instance.
  2.  If your screen reader puts your focus on the “Compose new Toot” box, move away from it, and then go to the top of the page.
  3.  Find the link that says “Edit profile”, and click it.
  4.  Use standard navigation to move through and fill out the web form. If you move through the page using the arrows rather than the tab key, you’ll find helpful hints for each piece of content you can include. They will also be described here.
  5.  When finished, click the button that says “Save Changes”.


Profile Elements


All of your profile elements are optional. Some of these you’ve most likely seen before, and some of these will be new. I’ll go through them now.


Display Name


This is where you put your name, or what you like to be called. You can include emojis. It’s worth noting that, unlike Facebook, Mastodon does not require you to use your real name.




Header is an image that goes at the top of your profile. you can use it to express an interest, hobby, belief system, etc. Note that whatever picture you use will be resized to 1500x500px, and is limited to a size of 2MB.




An avatar is a picture, separate from your header, that represents you, the user. The maximum file size is 2MB, and the picture will be resized to 400x400px.


Be Picky About Your Pictures


When choosing both your header and avatar, remember to make sure both pictures keep to the code of conduct for your instance. For more information about instances and codes of conduct, see Chapter Two


Animated Avatar


An animated avatar is an avatar that moves, like the pictures in Harry Potter. Mastodon lets you use these, but keep in mind that many users find animated avatars distracting, and these kinds of avatars can be dangerous for people who are prone to seizures. It seems best to avoid these to me, but that’s just my own experience.




Your bio is your biography. Not the kind that starts something like, “I was born on a dark and stormy night in the heat of summer,” but a snapshot of the things you’re interested in. If you put a hashtag (#) on these, you can add yourself to the profile directory, which lets others find you by interest. If you don’t want that, don’t hashtag, and uncheck the box to include your profile in the directory. You can also lock your account, so that people have to send you requests to follow you.


Bot Account


bot account is an automated account. If you’re reading this, you’re not one of them.




Metadata is the section of your profile whete you put things that didn’t make it into your bio, but you want people to know about. You can put up to four items here. Each item gets a label, and a place for the content. This is a good spot for links to other profiles.


Verified Content


verified content is a way to verify to users that you own the content your linking to in your metadata. It uses rel=”me” links to do this. Rel=”me” is far beyond the scope of this discussion, but you can check out my H-Card in the sidebar of this page to see them in action.




Here are some suggestions for completing your profile. The best thing to do is to try each thing on to see if it fits you. You can edit your profile as often as you like.


  • Be authentic. Mastodon is a big world. You’ll find someone who shares your interests.
  •  Remember that the bio is only a snapshot. It’s okay if not every detail is there. That’s what posting is for.
  •  Consider including your pronouns somewhere in your profile. Mastodon has become very popular for GLBTQIA folks, and the result ispeople may be uncomfortable making assumptions based on your name, physical appearance, etc. To make sure everyone has a comfortable experience, provide your pronouns so people will know how to refer to you. It can either go directly in your bio, or be part of the metadata.


Now that your profile is complete and you’ve saved the changes, find the link at the top of the page that says, “Mastodon”. Click it to return to the main page. You’re ready to send your first post.


Posting Your First Toot


Toot is what Mastodon calls users’ statuses. In this section, we’ll be posting a toot that says, “Hello World.” From the main page of your Mastodon instance, press Alt+N to compose a new toot. Alternatively, use your screen reader’s jump command for edit boxes to get to the compose box. Once you do, use the command that lets your screen reader know you want to enter text.


Elements of the Compose Box


You can use Tab and Shift+Tab to navigate the compose box. We’ll be discussing what each element does in more detail in the next chapter, but here’s what you can expect to find.


  1.  Multi-line edit box.
  2.  Insert Emoji dropdown.
  3.  Add Media button.
  4.  Add a Pole button.
  5.  Adjust Status Privacy dropdown.
  6.  “Text is not Hidden” dropdown. This is where you can set a content warning.
  7.  Toot button.


Compose Your “Hello World” Toot: Method One


  1.  Navigate to the compose box with Alt+N, or with the jump command for edit boxes specific to your screen reader.
  2.  Make sure your screen reader is set to enter text into the box. Common names for this are Forms mode (JAWS), Focus Mode (NVDA), etc.
  3.  Type “hello World.” into the box without the quotes.
  4.  Tab until you hear “Toot”, and activate that button.


Composing Your “Hello World” Toot: method Two


  1.  Navigate to the compose box with Alt+N, or with the jump command for edit boxes specific to your screen reader.
  2.  Make sure your screen reader is set to enter text into the box. Common names for this are Forms mode (JAWS), Focus Mode (NVDA), etc.
  3.  Type “hello World.” into the box without the quotes.
  4.  Press CTRL+Enter to send the Toot.


Coming Up


In Chapter Four, we’ll be taking a more detailed look at working with posts, as well as finding people to follow. In the meantime, this is a good time to sit back and relax. It’s been a long road so far.

Drafting Chapter Three of Changeling’s Guide to Mastodon for screen readers. I didn’t realize describing the profile section could be so complicated. This platform really does let you include lots of information about yourself.
Dear Gubenberg,

You may have once been the cadillac of Bibles, but your WordPress editor is hell for screen readers.

Disgruntled Writer

I have mixed feelings about the recent swarm of ADA lawsuits. It’s great that there’s awareness, but a lot of these businesses don’t even know anything’s wrong until they get nailed with legal papers, and it just feels wrong. Back on the bright side of things, this introvert gets to practice their people skills every time someone contacts me wanting information about it.