From Carnival Owner to Blind Entrepreneur: Navigating Accessibility

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I never saw this happening. I never saw myself as an accessibility expert. I never realized I had anything special to offer the disability community. It all started when the APH VisionAware Peer Advisor program invited me to share my story of going from a carnival owner to an online entrepreneur who happens to be blind. From that experience, I understand that people can learn from my struggles in building a website, starting a blog, understanding social media, and more.  

Contributing to the Disability Community 

I was delighted to contribute, and my articles helped me get to know more community leaders. I gave a great deal of thought to those whom I helped. I did not seek help from people with disabilities or disability groups, nor did I ignore them. However, I did not write much about accessibility. 

Improving Website Accessibility 

In 2019, I met Alex Sanfilippo while speaking at the Pod Fest Expo event. We both spoke in a short-form talk track called PechaKucha. He loved my talk on interdependence.  

Alex’s site,, helps podcast hosts connect with guests using artificial intelligence (AI). As a prolific podcast guest, I could see the potential value of it. In March 2021, Alex hired me to help him improve the accessibility of his platform. I still did not see myself as an expert. I thought I was helping a friend by sharing knowledge built up over years of working online.  

Alex said, “Max, you are an accessibility expert. You have advised people on the subject for years. You have not received pay, nor do you realize the strength of your knowledge or the power of your reputation.” 

Audio Eye 

In the summer of 2022, I had another nudge toward accessibility as a profession. Through LinkedIn, I connected with an individual at Audio Eye. I thanked her for accepting my request. She said my work history was impressive, and she thought they had a job for me as an accessibility ambassador. 


Many aspects of the position were perfect, but there were some requirements I could not meet in specific technologies like Adobe, Word, Excel, etc. I wished to apply but did not feel fully qualified for the position. Instead, I hoped they would consider me as a contract employee to support the eventual hire in the areas where I was qualified. They asked me to apply for the position so they would have my information on file. I thought, “What the heck,” and hastily compiled a resume. I used the easy apply option on the LinkedIn job listing, added my resume, and pressed send.  

About a half hour later, I received an email from HR at Audio Eye saying they appreciated my reaching out and applying for the position, but I was not qualified. I got a good laugh out of the response. I had an interview to discuss contributing to whatever roles I am qualified. Eventually, I had four interviews — the last one with the COO.  

Authoring and the Editing Process 

At first, I authored articles for their website. I had no idea what to charge for articles. Audio Eye has a scale for paying contributing writers — between $150 and $350. I settled on $200.  

They assigned an editor, and we connected to begin working together. We developed a method for handling edits. I suggested he copy problem passages into an email and paste his suggestions or questions below. We supplemented this with biweekly meetings to plan future content and address any other issues. I depend on editors to add headings and help organize my thoughts.  

My First Article 

My first article appeared in October 2022. Once live, I wrote about it on my website, the Blind Blogger, and shared it on social media. I did this for all new Audio Eye content. Eventually, other team members and I received payment for promoting Audio Eye content on our social media feeds.  

PHP Architect Magazine 

Early in 2023, I submitted a talk on accessibility for a PHP Architect Magazine conference in Chicago. I applied, partly because I saw the potential of educating developers about accessibility and partly because I wanted an all-expenses paid trip to Chicago! Full disclosure: I will accept free travel almost anywhere! 

The application asked if the applicant would be interested in writing an article in the future if a speaking presentation was not accepted. I agreed. They rejected my proposal to speak but contacted me about authoring an article following the conference.  

I met with the magazine’s founders, who wanted more than an article. They invited me to write a regular monthly column on accessibility for their magazine. It seems they had been looking for someone like me for a while. They had even tried out a couple of contributors with no success. It did not take me long to say yes. The articles are generally short — approximately 850 words.  

Additional Surprises 

There were some other surprises along with the invitation to write for PHP Architect Magazine. First, I would have my own column called Barrier Free Bytes and a byline. Second, the magazine is available in electronic and hardcopy print formats. I receive payment for my column and two copies of each month’s issue.  

Reviewed Magazine 

During the summer of 2023, Chris Groux contacted me about writing for Reviewed Magazine. I was unaware of the magazine or its affiliation with the USA Today network. We scheduled a meeting and had a great conversation. Chris explained that the magazine has a division that reviews products for accessibility or lack thereof. He told me Reviewed was considering adding someone who could review products for people with vision loss. They saw my social media posts, read some of my work, and invited me to write.  

Roku Review 

The onboarding process took some time. We decided that my first task would be to review a product I already owned. I recently purchased a Roku TV and one of their smart remotes. As mentioned in my review, I am impressed by the remote’s design, which allows people who are visually impaired to use Roku-enabled devices off the shelf without sighted assistance.  

Review of LEGO 

My latest review is the LEGO Braille Bricks developed by the LEGO Foundation. In September 2023, LEGO made them available directly through their online store or Amazon.  

My review covered a lot of territory. I discussed the positives and negatives of LEGO Braille Bricks’ educational and fun aspects. I mentioned that being able to play with LEGO may help children who are blind or low vision socialize because LEGO is cool. I wrote about how much fun I have experienced from people learning about the LEGO Braille Bricks review. Friends and followers said, “Man, how many people can say they got paid to play with LEGO!” I felt nervous writing about LEGO, but people encouraged me to tap into my inner child. On the Midway, Dad used to say, “Grownups are kids — 48 inches tall or more.”  


Here is what I hope you take from my post.  

  • We all have knowledge, skills, and experience that has value to others and the world at large. We should always be open to leveraging these to help others or to grow our professional lives.  
  • It is important to have people who will help you discover your talents, skills, and abilities. Where would I be without support from VisionAware Peer Advisors, Audio Eye, PHP Architect, and Reviewed Magazine?  
  • Do not let meeting all position-specific qualifications keep you from putting your hand up and saying, “Pick me.” Opportunities may exist in other areas.  
  • Although I have trouble accepting that I am a great writer and storyteller, employers tell me how great I am by hiring me. If someone wants your work enough to pay you for it, you are good enough for them.  

In closing, I do my best to improve daily as a writer and person. I have great people helping me accept my value. I look forward to learning from your journeys. 

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