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"I was kicked multiple times in the face, and my retinas detached," Cipriani said.
Cipriani had multiple surgeries to attempt to restore his vision, but, in the end, nothing worked, and he was left blind.
"It took about two years," he said, "to learn how to use a white cane, read Braille, and figure out how to use adaptive software for the blind."
After returning to work as a staffing consultant, Cipriani noticed many websites and apps were not accessible to him. Also, he recognized he was not the only one being denied access by organizations.
"My friends who could not use their hands and rely on speech to text, as well as my friends with learning disabilities, were having a tough time using popular apps with their software," he said.
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Cipriani moved to Minneapolis and launched Oleb Media -- an accessibility firm -- and now works with organizations to help their digital properties be more accessible to people with disabilities. He says people with disabilities are loyal consumers and all organizations need to pay attention to the disability community.
"We are parents," he said, "brothers, sisters, friends and lovers, and need to buy things for ourselves and our families all the time. Yet, we often come across access barriers when making purchases online."
Cipriani is also the Executive Director of Oleb Books -- a disability publisher -- and will be returning to the San Francisco Bay Area to read from the press' debut title, Firsts: Coming of Age Stories by People with Disabilities. The anthology, which recently received a gold medal from the Readers' Favorite Book Awards, as well as a positive review from Kirkus, took Cipriani three years to put together.
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"I must have read over 300 essays," he shared, "and it took me years to narrow it down to the 11 essays that make up the collection. I'm looking forward to sharing my work with my Bay Area community."
Cipriani will be reading from Firsts on September 25 at 7:30pm at Notre Dame de Namur University Welcome Center (1500 Ralston Ave., Belmont, CA); on September 26 at 6pm at the Holy Names University library (3500 Mountain Blvd., Oakland, CA); on September 27 at 6pm at Congregation Sha'ar Zahav (290 Dolores St., San Francisco, CA); and on September 30 at 7pm at Booksmith (1644 Haight St., San Francisco, CA).
Learn more about Oleb Books at https://olebbooks.com.
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