Nora is from Buenos Aires, Argentina, but she thinks and dreams in Japanese. She often goes by her Japanese nickname, Nori, and is hugely into anime, cosplay, and “anisinging,” which is a type of karaoke focused on anime characters. Nori has had a visual impairment since birth from Hallermann Streiff syndrome, and she combines tech tools to pursue her passion for Japanese. In fact, she won the top prize in a national oratory competition five years in a row.
“I was inspired to study Japanese, because I wanted to watch anime but had to do so without reading subtitles, due to my low vision,” Nori said. “I also wanted to understand the lyrics of the songs I wanted to sing at anime karaoke events.”
For Nori and millions of fans worldwide, anime isn’t a cartoon—it’s an artform and the basis of an entire culture. Conventions and all kinds of activities bring together people across subcultures and identities, including gamers, otaku, cosplayers, singers, international bands, and artisans who make costumes, makeup, action figures, and more. For Nori, anime is a way of life and a realm of treasured friendships and community.
Studying Japanese with low vision is a challenge, but Nori is resourceful and determined. She practices by using Windows 10 in Japanese and making the most of accessibility features and even Cortana to support her learning.
“I can ask Cortana about health, cooking, news, advice, and song lyrics in kanji,” Nori said. “The conversations help me to improve pronunciation and reading, since Cortana’s answers can be heard and read. I adjust text sizes through Personalization, which makes it easier to read complicated words in Japanese. And with high contrast mode, I can see and read all menus and websites, as well as many apps.”
High contrast mode inverts the default white background of Windows to black, making text easier to read for Nori. She also uses Narrator to listen to lengthy documents like user instructions and Japanese audio books. She has one tip. “Play background music with Windows Media Player so that Narrator’s reading is more interesting!”
During anime events, she also helps organize and judge competitions like karaoke, cosplay, and drawing—activities she can do quickly and efficiently with keyboard dictation and OneNote.
“I’m happy to have accessibility tools that improve my job productivity and help me study very easily and quickly,” Nori said. “In Argentina, there aren’t many opportunities for people like me. It’s not easy to have low vision. It’s a gray road between seeing and not seeing. I don’t expect a magical cure or a miracle, but I simply accept my weakness and seize my strength.”
Nori prides herself on her independence. She lives with her boyfriend of 8 years and at home does plenty of the cooking and cleaning. (“I like the vacuum, because the sounds help me find the dirt,” she said.)
She walks outside with a green cane, which identifies her as a person with low vision, so that other people can help her navigate busy roads and avenues. In the future, she would love to collaborate with researchers to help advance better treatment for her eyes and Hallermann Streiff syndrome. And of course, she’d also like to visit Japan.
“I’d like to explore Kyoto and more traditional places, to sing in the street, and buy many anime things,” Nori said. “I have many, many dreams for the future. You can consider me an eternal dreamer xD.”