Cute puppies and mental health

Last updated: June 4, 2016

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Aww. A topic about cute puppies on campus can draw the attention of many people. However, these puppies are on the MIT campus for a serious reason: mental health.

What are puppies and mental health doing on our site? Well, whether or not you have a soft spot for puppies, mental health is an issue that deserves our attention. Our Accessible Techcomm site looks at topics on technical communication with a special focus on accessibility and usability. Technical communication is a career, and as with any career, stress can rear its head along the way. That is one aspect of mental health and wellbeing. Job seekers can also have mental health issues in their portfolio that should cause no concern for future employers and colleagues. Therefore, mental health topics are perfectly legitimate topics to discuss in our community. We like talking about topics such as alt text, but thinking holistically, as I think we should, our well-being and mental health is also just as important to consider in the daily life of a technical communicator. Discussing these sensitive topics raises awareness and understanding about the issues and prejudices.

Think Beyond the Label works to educate businesses and job seekers with disabilities about making a more inclusive workforce and to create opportunities for taking action to do so. One of the faces of disability is mental health.

  • If you are an employer, are you educating yourself about being inclusive and welcoming employees with mental health issues?
  • If you are a job seeker, are you educating yourself about how to present your mental health issues to future employers?
  • If you are in a workplace, are you welcoming and inclusive toward colleagues with mental health issues?

True, there are many types of mental health issues, but anecdotally, I have had techcomm colleagues who were bipolar and I’ve heard tales of stress and depression caused by the job or by life, which was impacting the job. These are things that are happening in our techcomm world right now. We should not be afraid to talk about these issues so that we can provide support where possible and work together to eliminate those stress-causing work situations. The fact that both the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) have sites dedicated to mental health ought to make us stop with the shaming and the stigmas and start with the healing and supporting.

No, I didn’t forget the puppies. What I really like about the puppies is that a high-profile place that is full of stress – an institution of higher education – acknowledges the need to do something to raise awareness and educate the community about mental health.

For the full story about the MIT Puppy Lab, read the article, MIT Puppy Lab to open during National Mental Health Awareness Month.

You can always expect tweets from @accesstechcomm on mental health now and then. The topic is not going away any time soon!

May is National Stroke Awareness Month

Last updated: January 14, 2019

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Learn 3 things to ask if you think someone might be having a stroke

Graphic poster (small) to be a stroke super hero

"The Stroke Song" helps you remember to tell someone to

  1. Smile [check to see if it is straight or crooked]
  2. Speak: “It’s a sunny day outside.” [check to see if it is clear or slurred]
  3. Raise your hands [check to see if the hands are raised to an even level]

To help you remember, listen to "The Stroke Song" at https://www.thestrokesong.com/

Will these 3 tests accurately diagnose ALL strokes?

A: Nothing is perfect, not even sophisticated medical tests. These are the five symptoms The American Stroke Association says are the warning signs of a stroke:

  1. Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side
  2. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  3. Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  4. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  5. Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

If a person exhibits any of the above symptoms OR can’t pass the 3 tests then get emergency medical treatment immediately.

More Resources

See the following links in addition to our lists of resources on this website.

Poster for Five things to know about stroke

The issues with CAPTCHA

Last updated: May 28, 2016

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Back in 2009, we published a post called "New Logical Captcha Plugins for WordPress". One of those plugins is no longer available. Since 2009 there have been many articles and discussions about using CAPTCHA and new plugins developed for preventing spam. Those maintaining websites need to prevent damage to their sites due to unwanted spam, yet these prevention methods often keep out legitimate site visitors, too.

We collected a list of a few articles and discussions about the issues with CAPTCHA. If you have slapped a CAPTCHA solution onto your site without considering what problems you might be causing legitimate visitors, you really need to take some time to read and learn from these articles. Note that many of them include even more links about the challenges. Kudos to the people working to resolve this long-standing problem with security solutions blocking legitimate visitors. There is still lots of work to do, so please consider sharing your knowledge or experience in the comments.

Articles and Discussions

Plugins

Here is a list of some plugins that claim to be accessible or user-friendly. Based on some of the discussions in the previous list, none of them are perfect solutions. Some claim to avoid issues for one disability, yet they still have issues for other disabilities. For example, do the logic-based tests consider issues with cognitive or learning disabilities? Let us know what you are using these days and why. [Someone once suggested an accessible slider as part of a CAPTCHA solution, but we couldn’t find that link. Please share it in the comments if you know what happened to that project.]