Weekend Gazette – Link Collection for February 22

We present to you a menu of tidbits collected in recent days that are too short for blog posts and sometimes too long for a tweet (when we want to add clarifying comments). Headings provide a light grouping to help you skim the offerings. Bon appétit!

Ada Lovelace Day

March 24 is approaching, and that means it's "Ada Lovelace Day" again. We blogged for it last year and aim to blog again this year. Our twist is finding women in technology or science whom we admire – and who are connected to the topic of accessibility. We encourage you to blog for Ada Lovelace Day, too. "Twitter lists of Women in Tech" is one place to find candidates.

Technology News

There are some fascinating uses of technology in the article about "The Future of User Interfaces". As these new technologies are explored and developed, what spin-offs will be discovered and will they contribute to universal design and universal accessibility? What new challenges will they give the future of technical communication?

More cool technology is mentioned in an article about "14 tech tools that enhance computing for the disabled". In the comments to the article, one reader provides some thoughtful criticism that is also worth reading. Many of these items require a big bank account!

Maybe the devices developed for NEDC will be affordable. NEDC, the "National Engineering Design Challenge", "asks students, in grades 9-12, to put their creativity and problem-solving skills to use and create an assistive technology device for a person with a disability." The competition is an excellent and inspiring idea. It will be exciting to read about the winners on February 25, 2010. Or rather, read about the results. All the participants are already winners.

"After Frustrations in Second Life, Colleges Look to New Virtual Worlds" By Jeffrey R. Young, February 14, 2010. What's happening in Second Life and do virtual worlds have any use? Second Life itself may have been overwhelming, but some colleges are rethinking the concept and taking a more sensible approach. They may have been dazzled by the technology, but kept the old mindset – an approach that is often doomed.  Updated

Green Accessibility

A recent post on the FWD (Feminists with Disabilities) blog titled "Accessibility & Sustainable Transportation" discusses sustainable transportation on a university campus and what accessibility challenges there might be. The author would love to hear other people's thoughts on the matter. Share your ideas on their blog.

Blindness

Tom Babinszki, from Even Grounds, finished a nice article series called "A Day Through the Eyes of a Blind Woman" getting ready for work. "A Day Through The Eyes of a Blind Woman: Part 2" at work, and "A Day Through The Eyes of a Blind Woman: Part 3" at home. This is a great combination of a persona and storytelling. I found some of the comments on the first article to be a bit shocking – when you are interested in accessibility issues, you forget that some people are not at all familiar with any of these issues. Read them for yourself to find out what you think.

Some contrast came from Sandi Wassmer in her recent blog post about breaking through stereotypes about disabilities "Impaired? Yes. Able? Definitely. Disabled? Occasionally.". Another thought-provoking post worth reading is "Blind Anxiety". As @ezufelt put it, the article shares "interesting thoughts on emotions related to blindness". In the comments, someone mentions that the feelings were similar to their experience as someone who is deaf.

Also read about Tips about Air Travel if you are Blind on our Accessible Travel page.

Communities About Health Issues

The Sharing Mayo Clinic is a community blog for stories from patients, families, friends, and the staff of the clinic. The NPR "Our Cancer" community seemed to have the same purpose. @lisagualtieri comments that they are very different and I agree. The NPR page feels cluttered; I am unsure of what to do or where to begin. The Mayo clinic site is simple and rather standard, but its layout is familiar and makes me feel more comfortable. My comments are based on my immediate visual reaction. I don't know what a screen reader user would think of these two sites. Emotionally, I would think the target audience for these sites would appreciate a standard, perhaps conservative layout, as opposed to something elaborate or unfamiliar. [The NPR blog is no longer running as of May 15, 2014.]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, has a blog: "The Topic is Cancer". Posts are made by a community of patients, survivors, and health care professionals that empower people to improve their knowledge, inspire confidence, strengthen their relationships, and make informed medical decisions.

The Last Word

We close with a quote and a cartoon.

This quote that surfaced on Twitter last week couldn't be retweeted; it was too long! It was worth saving for this blog post.

Enhancement is not about design. It is about process, teamwork, maintainability and about delivering working solutions. — codepo8

Others were laughing at a Dilbert cartoon that some claim came directly from W3C WCAG 2.0 meetings. Many technical communicators might claim it came from their meetings. Here's the content of the cartoon.

Dilbert is talking to his colleagues in a meeting: "The Marketing Department has asked us to make our products more robust.
None of us knows what that means.
So we can either cancel this meeting and go ask them…
Or we can pretend that arguing with each other about the true meaning of "robust" is just as good.
While that option is stupid, it would give us the illusion of doing something useful right now."
Dilbert's young colleague asks: "Would it be ethical to ignore the long-term interests of stockholders just to feel good about ourselves for a few minutes?"
Dilbert stares at his colleague for a moment.
Dilbert turns to Wally and says "I think robust means it has lots of features." And Wally shouts back, "It means sturdy!"

Link Contributors

This post was glued together with links or inspiration from many people. They are listed with their Twitter names.

@anthonypash
@ComputerWorld
@DaveBanesAccess
@ezufelt
@fredshead
@jared_w_smith
@kelsmith
@KoreenOlbrish
@kurren
@LeeAase
@lisagualtieri
@Meera404
@mpaciello
@ReeveFoundation
@SandiWassmer
@sarahebourne
@songvang
@stc_carolina


Ada Lovelace Day 2009 – who should we write about?

I will publish a blog post on Tuesday 24th March about a woman in technology whom I admire but only if 1,000 other people will do the same.

Suw Charman-Anderson

And Ada Lovelace Day was born. (More about what we expect from you, dear reader, but first, a little background.)

Suw Charman-Anderson set up a pledge site to find those one thousand other people. She described the purpose of the day as follows:

Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology. Women's contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines. Whatever she does, whether she is a sysadmin or a tech entrepreneur, a programmer or a designer, developing software or hardware, a tech journalist or a tech consultant, we want to celebrate her achievements.

To refresh your memory about Ada Lovelace or to learn about her for the first time, start with a visit to her page on Wikipedia (hint: she is consider the first programmer).

The Ada Lovelace blog mentions an interesting article "Women need female role models" about how women need to see more female role models than men need at see mail role models. Many of these stories are not being told, but now we have a chance!  Updated

When Suw Charman-Anderson launched this pledge, she hoped to get 1000 participants by March 24th, the day chosen for Ada Lovelace Day, which, by the way, was just a day that was clear on her calendar, having missed other relevant dates related to Lovelace! She managed the task in only 7 days, not 77 days. Pledging is still open and will remain open until March 24th.

If you would like to participate, register at the website set up to collect pledges to blog for Ada Lovelace Day. Participate and pledge to publish a post on Tuesday, March 24, 2009. Remember that many blog tools allow you to set a future publication date, so you can write it now and publish on the 24th.

You can also follow the development of this blogging event by following the Twitter account called @findingada. In fact, the STC AccessAbility SIG first announced this event on its Twitter account, @stcaccess!

Why do we have a question in the title of this post, and what would we like from you, dear reader? Suggestions! And something special about those suggestions.

The word "Disability" with a red x across "dis".

We would like to write about women excelling in technology who just happen to have a disability. This blogging event will give us many stories about women in technology. We would like to focus on women who were not only dealing with gender issues, but also with disability issues. It would be a lovely way to demonstrate how we aim to take the "Dis" out of "Disability"! Lovelace herself did not have the best of health, according to the Wikipedia article, but that was not a barrier to her.

Add your suggestions in the comments. If you want to do the same, keep visiting this post to see what ideas others provide. We look forward to hearing from you. And thank you!