Weekend Gazette – Link Collection for March 21

Last updated: May 30, 2016

Note:  All links going to other websites will open in the same window. Use the Back button to return to our site.

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!

Happy Birthday, Twitter

Twitter turns 4 today. Could we have imagined the social Web of 2010 back in 2000? Social media is even "invading" the world of technical communication – read Anne Gentle's "Community and Conversation" if you don't believe me. Even though the concepts are changing the way we work, the technology is still dragging its feet in the area of accessibility. In my opinion, Twitter.com is a rather wonky Web application, and some of the desktop Twitter applications leave much to be desired. Thank goodness we can celebrate Twitter's birthday with an accessible Twitter application on the Web called Easy Chirp! Hurrah for @EasyChirp! What?! You haven't tried Accessible Twitter? I don't use assistive technology at all, and I love it! The interface is cleaner (easy on the eyes), and no weird AJAX-y things appear just because your cursor rests momentarily over a link of some kind. It works for me.

The Old Folks at Home

Speaking of growing older… @jebswebs shared a not-so-new, but still interesting article about Boomers and Technology. In the article, "Author and futurist Michael Rogers examines the attitudes of today's boomers regarding their use of technology, and what they expect in the future."

I am always slightly amused by the discussion of age and technology. My gut feeling is that some of it is just a stereotype. I think availability and motivation is a huge factor that is not always discussed. A love of genealogy or connecting with grandchildren on the other side of the globe are motivating factors to learn about computers. Even with motivation, helping hands are always appreciated. Those of you who are are the IT department for older relatives might enjoy the Computer Guide for Boomers.

Alzheimer's and dementia are some of the nasty surprises that await the aging population. Temporary relief or support is possible with assistive technology. What does that have to do with technical communication? Technical communicators can help with the documentation, user interface design, user testing, and all sort of tasks to make these cool tools available to the public. Like the SenseCam, a "A Little Black Box to Jog Failing Memory" (a device to nudge the memory of a mind succumbing to Alzheimer's disease.)

Travel

Did you know that people with disabilities can travel? Yup. They take planes, trains, automobiles – you name it. That means they want hotels now and then. Like anyone else, they want to book their hotel online. So? That means that hotel websites need to make it clear what facilities they offer. What is it like navigating the hotel in a wheelchair or with a white cane? Do they have equipment for the deaf, such as a vibrating alarm clock? Is there a roll-in shower or bath stool? Are there enough electrical outlets for recharging scooters or CPAP equipment?

The Expedia press release Expedia.com Launches New Accessibility Search Tools for Disabled Travelers dated February 16, 2010 announced the launch of new accessibility search tools for disabled travelers from the giant in the travel industry: "Travelers in the U.S. can now visit Expedia.com to search for lodgings in the U.S. that offer accommodations including accessibility equipment for the deaf, accessible bathrooms, accessible paths of travel, Braille or raised signage, in-room accessibility, a roll-in shower and more."

Expedia and Hotels.com's Accessible Room Gimmick Abledbody.com was not impressed with Expedia's move for (at least) five reasons.

  1. Customers can search for, but not book, accessible rooms.
  2. There's no guarantee you'll get an accessible room.
  3. Yes, there was a lawsuit against Expedia. – In other words, this wasn't done out of human kindness.
  4. The ADA already covers most of these accessibility features.
  5. The accessibility box is hard to find.

I have tried booking an accessible room twice (not through Expedia). I was sharing a room with someone who needed the room to be accessible. Both times, I was forced to finish the transaction over the phone – the form was not sufficient. In one case, I got a hotel call center who botched the booking, but fortunately, the hotel involved was able to resolve the issue. With the possibility of speedy online booking today, additional effort and steps for booking are, well, they are a slap in the face. @AquinasWI takes a positive view of Expedia’s accessibility efforts. Maybe we should stop being so grumpy and join him. (Crossing our fingers, too, won't hurt!)

Usability Doesn't Mean Ugly

Some people think that a usable site is an ugly site – that you cannot have good design and usability together. In Top 11 Best Designed University Websites, the author looks at the top 100 university websites from a given list and names the top 11 best-designed of those websites. I saw no mention of accessibility. Curious, I did a quick check with WebAIM's WAVE. Three of the top five had an accessibility error or two. Of the top five on this list, number 1 (Johns Hopkins) had two accessibility errors (forms lacked labels) and number 4 (Rutgers) had 19 accessibility errors (alt text). WAVE reported one error for University of Chicago, but I couldn't find it. You might think these specific errors are minor. Hello. These errors are so banal – so Accessibility 101 – that they should not be there. These sites might be pretty, but it's pretty silly to have these simple oversights.

Color My World

When technical communicators discuss colors for hyperlinks or graphics, the topic of colorblind is often forgotten. I recall (but have lost) one amazing thread where someone who was colorblind jumped into the discussion. That was an eye-opener for everyone participating. We have colorblind resources on Accessible Techomm, but the harried, one-stop shopper might prefer the Colblindor website. The site is all about color blindness – by someone who knows what he is talking about!

Collaborative Subtitling

Mozilla is behind the Collaborative subtitling design challenge. The full title is "Collaborative subtitling — How can users quickly create a timed transcript of any video on the web?"

As the site says, "Participatory Culture Foundation and Mozilla are working to build a universal system for creating and collaboratively improving subtitles for any video on the web. We believe that many users would be willing to contribute and translate subtitles if there was an easy way to do so. And that we can use this energy to knock down language barriers for popular online video."

Important dates for the exciting challenge are

  1. March 2010 – Launch of the Collaborative Subtitling Design Challenge
  2. April 26th, 2010 – Submission Deadline
  3. April 29th, 2010 – People's Choice Voting starts
  4. May 11th, 2010 – People's Choice Voting ends
  5. May 17th, 2010 – Best in Class honors, development plans are announced
  6. June 11th, 2010 – New prototype released
  7. June 18th, 2010 – Usability study of new prototype released

Festival2011

SXSW

Knowbility and several thousand others attended the annual South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWI) Festival recently. (Catch up on Wikipedia's SXSW article if you have never heard of it before.)

Knowbility, organizers of the famous John Slatin AccessU (10-12 May 2010), share their thoughts on the Knowbility's Know Wiki. Poke around the wiki for demos and material. [the wiki is no more]

@knowbility sent tweets from the Web Access Gone Wild session. (Search on Twitter for the #webaccessgonewild hash tag.) These tips or statements are perfect for pondering!

  • Accessible sites don't need to be ugly… but then, why are so many of them so hideous?
  • Your site can be fully compliant and technically accessible, yet functionally inaccessible.
  • The goal of web accessibility is to get users to content, not provide accessibility options.
  • Accessibility implemented partially or incorrectly can be worse than no accessibility at all.
  • Images that are the only thing within a link MUST have alt text.
  • Tabindex, focus() and aria are crucial to making rich internet applications accessible.
  • People with cognitive disabilities outnumber people with all other disabilities combined.

Knowbility (& @AustinGovOnline) sent a few good tweets from another session called Thoughtless Design Leaves Disabled Gamers Logged Out (hashtag #disabledgamersloggedout).

  • For disabled, video games can be a lifesaver. MSNBC first raised awareness for this in Apr 09
  • Accessible games create a sense of community for disabled that they may otherwise lack
  • 20.5% of the gamer market is disabled, which is worth more than $14 billion dollars.

The tech writer in me puzzled over that last remark. Is the entire gamer market worth $14 billion dollars, or is the 20.5% worth that amount. I've not found the correct answer yet, but either way, it is a large market share. @jared_w_smith sent a sad tweet letting us know that there were a "whopping 11 people in the audience for #disabledgamersloggedout". That is a shame. Let's read the panel description again: "With approximately 20% of the US having some sort of disability, potential gamers are being left out of game play due to most design being far too conservative. How different disabilities affect game play and how game design can be more innovative to achieve social justice will be discussed." 20% ? And only 11 people attended.

There was a session called "My 3-year-old is my usability tester". I loved the creativity of the titles. @jared_w_smith tweeted that the session could have been called "My 3-year-old is my cognitive web accessibility expert." Later on, he mentioned that there is "lots of insight/overlap with cognitive disabilities research. Need more of this. #3yroldexpert" I am now imagining hoards of testers starting to collaborate with the local kindergartens! Of course, the real geeks among us are always quietly monitoring all discussions at the dinner table at family get-togethers. Throw-away remarks by Auntie May or Grandpa or the crowd at the kiddie table might come in handy at the next design meeting!

You'll find many presentations from SXSW 2010 on SlideShare.

Have a think about the last SXSW tweet I read from @jared_w_smith: "One of my many SXSW takeaways: Accessibility technologists are awesome, but we need more passionate, vocal designers in this field." Who can you mentor or encourage to follow that path?

The Last Word

If you also find stories or use stories everywhere you go, you'll be excited to know that Rosenfeld Media is publishing a book for you right now. It's "Storytelling for User Experience" by Kevin Brooks and (our own) Whitney Quesenbery.

March 20th was World Storytelling Day. Childhood seems to be the ideal place to develop a mindset of inclusion. Signed Stories is a sweet site with captioned and signed (British – BSL) children's stories. The site told me a story. These captioned and signed tales could be enjoyed by everyone, including those with cognitive disabilities or hearing impairments. Take a moment to read one of these tales with a child you know (the one inside you?) and imagine a world of inclusion. That would be a very happy ending.

Link Contributors

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

@AquinasWI
@campustweet
@dboudreau
@jared_w_smith
@jebswebs
@joemsie
@knowbility
@meera404
@mpaciello
@redcrew
@sprungmarkers
@subtitling
@thomlohman

Weekend Gazette – Link Collection for January 17

Last updated: May 19, 2016

Note:  All links going to other websites will open in the same window. Use the Back button to return to our site.

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!

Employment

By the way, you can now monitor our Twitter stream for job openings related to accessibility, thanks to the efforts of Web Diva Cyn, who followed a great tip from the webmaster of the STC Technical Editing SIG.

Did you know that some people view autism as an asset, not a liability, in some jobs? The topic of this article is just that – autism as an asset.

Evengrounds provokes with the question: Why bother hiring people with disabilities?

On the other hand, maybe those people with disabilities are too good for some employers?!

Cloud Computing

Is your head in a cloud with the talk about cloud computing? T. V. Raman gave a talk at the Accessing Higher Ground conference in November 2009 and made his slides (in PDF and HTML format) and talk (MP3 format) available to everyone. Check out the highlights of the challenges and opportunities of accessibility in the clouds.

Captioning

Before you say "I'm not deaf, so I really don't want to hear about captioning anymore", read "Captions: Understand DVD Shows," an article about the benefits of captions for people without hearing issues. As a person without hearing issues, I am grateful for the subtitles on my TV. It gets me safely through parts of shows where some technician went a bit crazy with the background sounds or music, disrupting the flow of speech in the process.

In the U.S., there is a petition to support a move to make telecommunications accessible for and usable by people with disabilities. The petition was created by the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) to support "The Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009", also known as H.R.3101. COAT made a one-page summary of H.R.3101. From that page, you can also navigate to the petition site and follow the progress of the bill through the United States Congress.

More awareness about captioning is coming March 2, on Dr. Seuss' birthday. That is when DCMP holds its Read Captions Across America (RCAA) campaign, held in conjunction with the National Education Association’s (NEA) Read Across America event every year. RCAA wants to "raise awareness—particularly among children and their parents and teachers—that video-based media can be just as effective at encouraging and fostering reading skills as books, as long as captions are always turned on!"

Excellent information from the University of Washington's DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) serves to increase the successful participation of individuals with disabilities in challenging academic programs and careers, such as those in science, engineering, mathematics, and technology: Creating Video and Multimedia Products That Are Accessible to People with Sensory Impairments, by Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D. "And How Universal Design Features Benefit Everyone". PDF version.

Social Media

Does Twitter need a wake-up call? This article says that user "accessibility is crucial for social media sites that want to stay successful. Now Twitter is risking its future by not taking accessibility seriously".

With that in mind, read this review of Twitter.com versus AccessibleTwitter.com!

For those who still find social media boring, here's a great "matchmaking" story from the Twitter community.

On Jan 20, 2009, @scenariogirl writes "@briankelly Fantastic talk this morning, I will come up and say hi at lunch". On Jan 23, 2009, @scenariogirl writes "massive thanks and kudos to @briankelly for adding context & purpose to my accessibility methodology i.e. Accessibility isn't binary." Later that month, a talk is born: "From Web Accessibility 2.0 to Web Adaptability". Finally, six months later, a paper is published.

Rather sweet, don't you think? It's also proof that Twitter isn't just vapid chatter! That paper is pretty amazing as discussed in our Toward Web Adaptability blog post back in July.

Web Accessibility

Have you been told to investigate the Web Accessibility Accessibility Guidelines? Tom Babinszki set up a nice WCAG 2.0 tutorial that is a very user-friendly introduction to the large body of W3C documents.

If you struggle with the alt and title attributes in HTML, you may enjoy this article by Steve Faulkner of The Paciello Group. The problem is often due to different ways of rendering the information depending on the browser, so Steve did some testing, which may improve your understanding.

Gaming

There is a need to make video games accessible for disabled gamers. This article discusses the benefits of using video games for people with disabilities, and why the video game industry should keep such customers in mind. Otherwise, "they are missing out on a great way to improve their games' brand equity."

Able Gamers "gets" the concept of accessible games. They review games to determine how playable the games are for gamers with disabilities. It's a good site for game developers to monitor. An interview with Able Gamers' Mark Barlet explains why.

What happens when a person who is not a gamer-with-a-disability starts thinking about video game accessibility? Read the article in that hyperlink to find out!

Conferences

What conference to attend? Where to go?

Our first recommendation is – of course! – the STC Technical Communication Summit 2010 in Dallas, May 2-5.

For other conference resources, try

Exhibits

From the comfort of your home, wherever you are in the world, you can explore the Smithsonian's Disability Rights Movement online exhibit. It shows information about with disabilities and the Disability Rights Movement.

eBooks

Did you know that Baen Books Offers Free eBooks For People With Disabilities? There have been some sign-in difficulties, as @vavroom writes. However, when you do gain access, their entire catalogue of e-books is available "to people who have a reading disability. This can be visual impairment or physical inability to hold a book."

See also Books for Visually Impaired from the Benicia Public Library.

Boomers/Silver Surfers

You may not have a disability yourself, but there is a good chance that you will grow older! That means you can't avoid discussion about baby boomers, senior citizens, the elderly, silver surfers – or whatever you want to call the older/oldest generation using the web and technology.

Some Senior citizens becoming more comfortable with using Internet. However, how do those "boomers" use technology, and what can we learn from their attitudes? The article includes a link to a full report in PDF format.

Another resource is Microsoft's free, online "Computer Guide for Boomers".

Showcase

Recently, @vick08 tweeted that "this is the web I'd like it to be." He was talking about the BBC's approach to accessibility – "my web, my way". Take a moment to explore what BBC has done with accessibility on their (massive) site. Get inspired for your work and learn along the way.

In contrast, we have the government site for New York City. Jim Thatcher reviews the site and gives his verdict about the accessibility of NYC.org (once available on dotgov.com). Oh dear, get inspired about what you should not do for your work!

Quotes

We close this week's gazette with some food for thought.

"Society is disabled in its inability to include the diversity of human experience equitably. Society needs an inclusion prostheses." – @jasonnolan

"The only disability in life is a bad attitude" – Scott Hamilton

Link Contributors

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

@mpaciello
@TVRaman
@AbilityNet
@AccessibleTwitr
@webaxe
@Twitter_Tips
@LinkAbilities
@tbabinszki
@stevefaulkner
@jfc3
@aebsr
@raspberryfrog
@jebswebs
@NCTI2
@michaeljanger
@Disabilitygov
@vick08
@Jennison
@briankelly
@justfordeaf
@DeafnessGuide
@ablegamers
@AquinasWI
@ESCrossroads
@IBMAccess
@GlendaWH
@BethAARP
@NADtweets
@grwebguy
@anikto
@vavroom

Thanks to all of you!