About Me

Welcome. I’m so glad you’re here.

If we haven’t met yet, I’m CJ.

I’m an accessibility designer who turns my experiences as a neurodiverse, chronically ill, and disabled person into a passion for helping small business owners create sustainable accessibility solutions for their online spaces and digital products. I’m also a poet, witch, and disability activist. I currently live on unceded Seminole land (Davenport, FL) with my wife, three cats, several houseplants, and a small gaggle of ghosts.

CJ, a white genderqueer person with glasses, smiles at the camera
CJ Buys

My personal life

I grew up in Maine, a state that will always hold a big piece of my heart, but I ran away from the cold and now live in Florida with my wife Meg, our three cats, some house plants, and a small gaggle of ghosts. I love to cook, write poetry, read, play D&D / Pathfinder, and cuddle with my cats. I’m never without my phone, my water bottle, my journal, and a mobility aide, my favorite of which is my lavender crutches.

CJ and their wife Meg sit in a sports stadium, heads pressed together
CJ and their wife Meg
CJ stands in front of a table covered with houseplants
CJ and the house plants
Fraggle, a white cat with a brown ear and bright golden eyes lies on his side, looking majestically at the camera
Our first cat, Fraggle

I prefer both my tea and my coffee cold, though I have to drink a truly ridiculous amount of water every day for medical reasons, so I don’t drink as much coffee or tea as I’d like. I grew up allergic to chocolate and am now allergic to nuts, but I did have four perfect years when I could have peanut butter cups and I miss them desperately. My favorite author is Seanan McGuire, my favorite Disney Princesses are Elsa and Ariel, and my favorite tarot deck is the Anima Mundi deck.

Leia, a brown tabby, looks slightly past the camera
Milo, a black cat, lies on a bed, spooning a pair of blanket-wrapped legs
Sully, a grey and white cat, is curled on a cushion giving the camera a grumpy look

My background

I started off thinking that I was a hard-core scientist, getting my bachelor’s degree in biochemistry (and also German) and planning on going to medical school, especially after my grandmother died of cancer in my sophomore year, so that I could help people like her. Three things changed my path, though I didn’t really see their impact at the time.

Firstly, I realized that I didn’t really want to go to medical school.

To be fair, the impact of that one was pretty immediate: I stopped working on my medical school applications and started panicking about what I wanted to do with my life, which I think was a reasonable reaction. I ended up deciding that I’d get my Masters of Public Health (MPH) because I believed that it would allow me to help more people at a time than medicine would while still making use of my love of science (and the MCATs that I’d already taken).

So I headed off to get my MPH, originally thinking that I’d focus on public policy, but that was when the second realization happened: I really love tech.

This one was two-fold, thanks to a biostatistics class in my last semester of college and one in my first semester of grad school. Both of them were technically math classes, but they really focused on using computers to do the math for you, and I realized that I was really good at that. With the help of my grad school biostatistics professor – who went on to be my thesis advisor, mentor, and then very good friend – I switched my grad school focus to biostatistics and dove right into it.

For a while, I was really happy with my path. I absolutely love bringing huge data sets to life, making them really mean something to people in a way that a spreadsheet of numbers never will. But, as I transitioned from grad school to the workforce, I found out the awful truth that learning to do something doesn’t always mean you get to do it in your job. I stuck with it for a while, working for a clinical trial and finding parts of my job that I loved while my health got progressively worse.

And then, the universe decided that it was time for a change, whether I wanted it or not, and the clinical trial I was working for ended, leaving me without a job. As scary as this was, I decided to take it as an opportunity to find more joy in my life. I took the time to take care of myself and start building my health back up after my second bout of COVID in June 2022 had really knocked me on my ass, and I started looking at what parts of my job that I had loved. If I could do anything in the world, what would it be?

And that was when I had my third realization: I’d always loved digital design.

This is the one that was a long time coming, because I’d actually had my first experiences with design back in the summer after my first year of college – I’d designed a poster to show off my summer research project, turning all the work I’d done from a jumble of science into this beautiful roadmap that walked people through the project and helped them really understand both what I’d done and the impact it could have. And it had done really well, winning me an award at a conference I attended the next year, but I’d brushed that off. I was a scientist, after all, not an artist!

But I’d kept doing design wherever I went, creating beautiful graphs to help people understand the data I was working with, slides to show off what we’d done, and forms to walk people through complicated procedures. Everywhere I went, my love of taking confusing messes and turning them into something that really helped people understand what those messes meant had been guiding me. So I decided to lean into it, and I started learning more about design, about websites, and about how to make those designs and websites accessible for everyone.

Because underneath everything I’ve been doing has been one common thread – I want to help people. Life can be confusing and messy, sure, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. We can change that, just by reaching out and doing what we do best to make things better. Other people coach or teach or research, and I’m proud and happy to be the person who helps to make that work happen.

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