Weekend Gazette – Link Collection for February 7

Last updated: April 17, 2019

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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!

Where to Discuss Accessibility?

The Accessify Forum [No longer active as of 15May16] is an excellent place for accessibility discussions – for developers, technical communicators. All are welcome! A recent topic showing the versatility and importance of this forum discusses who is responsible or accountable for accessibility issues. Stop by soon.

Where to Learn About Accessibility?

It depends. Next question. No, seriously, this is a big topic because it depends on what you mean by accessibility. Do you write code? Do you write policies and procedures? Your accessibility focus will depend on your actual work. However, a good foundation is good for everyone, so stopping by the WaSP InterAct Curriculum at webstandards.org will always be a good choice. Get your bearings on the About page. (By the way, it’ll be time to say Happy Birthday soon. WaSP InterAct was born at the South by Southwest Interactive conference in March 2009.)

Another good starting point is ScrunchUp, the web magazine for young designers and developers.

More resources can be found at The OneVoice for Accessible ICT. OneVoice aims to “assist organisations in embedding accessible information and communication technologies (ICT) as a fundamental part of their diversity and inclusion values and culture.” It is a new, still developing site, so come back frequently to find resources for best practice, tools, and guidelines for web designers and developers, HR and IT departments, and other parts of the organization involved in building accessible ICT.

Text Alternatives

Alt and title attributes are parts of the web content that aren’t immediately visible, yet they are important to know and understand.

Get help from Ian Pouncey’s articles: Alt attributes and Title attributes. Steve Faulkner, The Paciello Group, has been diligently updating the draft for HTML5: techniques for the provision of text alternatives – another resource to monitor. Finally, Vlad Alexander asks how web browsers should render alt text.

Definitely an area for technical communicators to monitor!

Short and Sweet – Abbreviations

Make a note of “a11y” and “tsaccess” for future reference.

“a11y” stands for “accessibility”. A is the first letter, y is the last letter, and 11 is the number of all the other letters in between the a and the y! Some might recognize this model from “l10n” (localization) and “i18n” (internationalization). In the world of Twitter, saving letters counts! Purists will cringe, and others will argue that these terms are not clear, but they are here to stay.

“tsaccess” is a new term that stands for “touch screen accessibility”. Touch screens are getting a lot of attention with iPhones, the iPad, and other devices with touch-sensitive screens. Where is the accessibility in that? Jennison Asuncion coined “tsaccess” as a hash tag that can be used to discuss this topic on Twitter, in conferences, or wherever hash tags are used.

Connect the Dots

Braille for Everyone is an interesting new initiative that could lead the way to less expensive braille devices, which could promote a wider use of Braille. Why Braille? You may recall a recent article in the New York Times about Braille and literacy that went around Twitter. Audio books and videos are convenient to use when we are on the go, and videos seem to be touted as the way for technical communicators to make documentation in the futures. The literacy issue that has been raised in connection with the decline in Braille sounds quite alarming. One blogger even asks can Braille become obsolete. Technical communicators preparing single-sourced material to be delivered in multiple ways should be very concerned about literacy issues for that material. It is a topic worth monitoring.

Employment

The U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Disability Employment Policy has an article about when to consider revealing a disability to a prospective employer. Your mileage may vary depending on your local laws and situation, but the article has some useful insights.

Employers should read People with Disabilities: The Talent You're Missing. No explanation is necessary with that title.

Doing it My Way

The beta version of the accessibility pages for the BBC website is quite impressive. It’s called My web my way and definitely worth a visit, especially for some good old inspiration. The page has links to other great accessibility offerings from the BBC, so grab a cuppa and poke around the site for a while.

An Awesome Newsletter

The University of Minnesota at Duluth has been sending out the Web Design Update newsletter since 2002. Any time news or information is posted to the Web Design Reference site, a newsletter is sent out to subscribers. Get your copy of the newsletter today by following the WDU newsletter subscription information. You can also read past issues on that site. I remember hearing about that site on the STC Lone Writer SIG discussion list years ago. Awesome is the general term used to describe the resources at the Web Design Reference site.

SharePoint and the Technical Communicator

SharePoint is rather notorious among technical communicators – some love to hate it. Offices toss it out on the web because they have it in some package deal. Most could use better training and education, but that requires knowledge about its accessibility. Bruce Lawson wrote about SharePoint accessibility in 2008 and Alastair Campbell wrote about SharePoint 2010 late last year. These two posts should get you talking about accessibility and SharePoint in your workplace.

The Last Word

@gezlemon posted a tweet that was too good to pass up. He writes that it is a true story from Radio 4 (in the UK).

“Right-click on your desktop.”
“Okay.”
“What do you see?”
“Click.”
“What did you do?”
“Wrote click on my desktop.”

Link Contributors

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

@brucel
@blindperspectiv
@DaveBanesAccess
@gezlemon
@gmcdermith
@ianpouncey
@jennison
@mpaciello
@stevefaulkner
@TCSAssociates09
@webaxe

Orca: an open source scriptable screen reader

Last updated: March 3, 2015

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Orca is an open source scriptable screen reader. The development of Orca has been led by the Accessibility Program Office of Sun Microsystems, Inc. with contributions from many community members. For more information and to download Orca, see https://wiki.gnome.org/action/show/Projects/Orca?action=show&redirect=Orca.

Using various combinations of speech, braille, and magnification, Orca is designed to work with applications and toolkits that support the assistive technology service provider interface (AT-SPI). This includes the GNOME desktop and its applications, OpenOffice, Firefox, and the Java platform. Some applications work better than others, however, and the Orca community continually works to provide compelling access to more and more applications.

On the Accessible Applications page at Orca Accessible Applications, you will find a growing list of information regarding various applications that can be accessed with Orca as well as tips and tricks for using them. The list is not to be a conclusive list of all applications. Rather, the goal is to provide a repository within which users can share experiences regarding applications they have tested.

Anyone with an interest in improving the GNOME Desktop Accessibility Guide (user section), please review the latest edits at https://help.gnome.org/users/gnome-help/stable/a11y.html and direct all corrections, suggestions, etc. to email hidden; JavaScript is required – your input is greatly appreciated!

Darragh Ó Héiligh has created several audio guides for Orca. The audio guides can be found at https://www.digitaldarragh.com/linuxat.asp

Accessible Computer Hardware & Software

Last updated: March 3, 2015

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  • Access Technology Blog from the National Federation of the Blind
  • Adaptive Technology, Accessible Techcomm list of resources
  • American Printing House for the Blind The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) is the world's largest nonprofit organization creating educational, workplace, and independent living products and services for people who are visually impaired.
  • Apple® Accessibility Features Vision built into all Macintosh computers provides adjustable keyboard, an ergonomic mouse, CloseView screen magnification software, Easy Access system software (StickyKeys, SlowKeys, MouseKeys), electronic documentation, key-repeat disable, text-to-speech synthesis and voice recognition (PlainTalk), sticky mouse, and visual alert cues. The VoiceOver spoken English interface for Mac OS X is a fully integrated, built-in screen reader technology providing access to the Macintosh through speech, audible cues, and keyboard navigation.
  • "A Few Notes on Buying a Computer" by Curtis Chong, Director of Technology, National Federation of the Blind, 2001
  • GW Micro provides computer-based speech products. GW Micro is the maker of Window-Eyes, Vocal-Eyes, speech recognition and speech synthesizer software, and braille printers
  • Humanware – see things differently computer tools that empower people to compete effectively in a sighted world
  • Kurzweil optical recognition products for Macintosh and Windows platforms
  • Low vision software Ai Squared maker of ZoomText magnification, and magnification with speech
  • MAGic Screen Magnification Software with Speech MAGic opens up a whole new world of computing to low vision users. Whether you are surfing the Web, creating a document, e-mailing, or engaging in social networking, MAGic provides you the tools you need to work more efficiently.
  • "Making Your Web Site Accessible to the Blind" by Curtis Chong, Director of Technology, National Federation of the Blind, 2008
  • Mayer-Johnson Hand Held Voice®, a dynamic screen voice recorder from Ability Research
  • RC Systems makers of Doubletalk speech synthesizers. RC Systems has been a market leader of low cost, high quality text-to-speech and voice synthesis products since 1983. You’ll find our voice synthesizers in a wide range of products, from talking ATMs to vending machines, and homeland security to space satellite telemetry systems.
  • Talking Clocks products from Assistech Special Needs