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What Price Helping the Community!

One of the things I have always enjoyed doing is giving something back to the visually impaired community. I am blind, I always have been, and while I have to have a professional life as I need to put food on the table, I have always tried to give something back. I count myself very lucky to have a job which I enjoy doing, but I accept that a lot of blind people do not, either due to having little opportunities for self-improvement, because of prejudice on the part of employers or just simply because there are no jobs about. So because I am more fortunate than most in our community, where I can do something to help, I always will. Through various projects, I donate hundreds of hours a year to our community and generally enjoy doing it.

So when things happen to me of the kind which I am about to describe, I have very mixed feelings. Certainly there is initial anger, but mostly disappointment that some people really have very little regard for the work I put in, and it does make me think, is it really worthwhile?

Some months ago, I was going through quite a busy and emotional period of my life. But someone approached me who I knew well, and said that she really did want a website creating. She had a tremendous amount of talent and I very much wanted to help as she had helped me in the past. She knew absolutely nothing about website development and I agree to help the best I could.

So, I advised her as to a suitable web hosting package to purchase from an excellent provider, and I then began to work on the site. I don't mind saying, I spent many many hours developing it. She wanted me to develop the initial site for her, and if possible show her how to maintain it herself so she could add content and features.

I built the initial site using Drupal. This involved installing Drupal onto the domain and setting up a database. I configured a number of pages, two blogs, the ability to add pictures, and a number of other features.

Ideas then developed, and she wanted to enhance it further. She would not research what was necessary on Google, she preferred me to find out what was necessary. I provided her with full thorough written instructions on how to accomplish what she wanted, and with credit to her, she followed them and gained what she wished from them.

The site went live, and I helped promote it on Twitter and through what resources I had available to me.

I remember one day, she wrote to me, saying that she wanted to include a page with comments from e-mail messages she had received. She wanted each new comment to be denoted with a new heading and wondered how this could be done. I had some time available, so I produced most of the page for her. As she had the syntax available, she could then learn by my example and add to it.

Following this, she posted a blog entry, referring to the fact that she had struggled to learn how to implement this particular page, but that she had "got there in the end". Not a reference to me helping her at short notice, but I let that one go. Perhaps that was a sign of things to come.

I did place a site design copyright notice at the bottom of each page, naturally stating that the entire text content belonged to her (which is only right), but that the site design was credited to me.

Inadvertently two days ago, I discovered on Twitter that the site had changed to some extent. I was locked out of it administratively and my name had been removed from it completely. There was no reference to me at all. It was as though I didn't exist and had not been a part of it.

I don't mind in the least that someone else has taken over the site development as this always had been the original intention. But when I had invested so much time at a critical period in my life in this project, not to receive any thanks or credit on the site for its initial design is, I think, not very good.

When something like this happens, you really do feel like not investing considerable time in anything like this ever again. I know I will, that is how I am, but I am not sure I would ever do anything like this without ensuring I didn't get something back from it. This is the third voluntary project I have been involved with over the past year or so where I have invested so much time, and for no result.

I have to say, L (as usual) has been an absolute rock to me over this as she always is about everything. I think, (well I know), she was angry and upset on my behalf too, and I thank her for that.

So, if you are blind, and sometimes you wonder why you don't always get the help you need, it is because of experiences like this that some of us will now hold back and may not be as keen to assist as we once were. Some people like to give in this community, others like to take. There are some people I must say who are willing to pay for services, either financially or by crediting an individual with the help they have received. But there are others who just do not care at all and I have found that out rather late. I certainly will think very carefully before doing anything like this again.