Weekend Gazette – Link Collection for January 23

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!

Accessibility Statements

@mgifford started a page about the need for Drupal accessibility statements on the Drupal wiki. Recently, this good article The Importance of an Accessibility Statements was made available. Who wants to try writing a draft or two for a Drupal accessibility statement?

Conferences

After the success of AccessibilityCamp in Washington, D.C., the idea is spreading to other cities. London, Boston, Seattle. Go to Twitter and search for the hashtags #a11yldn (for London), #a11ybos (for Boston), and #a11ysea (for Seattle) to learn more about those events. May 15 is already earmarked for Boston. What about hosting an accessibility unconference in your town?

Two Second Life conferences are coming soon.

  • SL Pro! runs from 23-25 February. It is billed as a conference that will bring together "serious content creators to expand their professional capabilities via two days of high-level seminars, creativity, and critique within the virtual world of Second Life."
  • The focus of Virtual World Best Practices, 12-13 March, is "Imagination Around the World". "From the North, East, West and South corners of the physical world what is evident is the collaborate nature of virtual world participants to share knowledge and experience. This 48 hour conference will indeed provide opportunities for sharing and further understanding virtual world technology."

Security

No one likes spammers and trolls on their websites, so once upon a time someone invented CAPTCHA as a barrier to such critters. CAPTCHA became very popular because it seemed to work quite well. However, it also became a barrier to people with disabilities, who find it hard or impossibile to crack the CAPTCHA code. Some people have started thinking about alternatives to CAPTCHA. Stylemix provides a list of ten alternatives a list of CAPTCHA alternatives. Please share this list with your friends. CAPTCHA is like nails on a blackboard to some people!  Updated

Education

Becoming an eTeacher is an intriguing site made by several post-graduate students taking a Master's course in Applied eLearning. It looks useful to any technical communicator preparing any type of instructional design or learning material. Of course, it's good to see an entire module dedicated to "making your website accessible".

Byron Reeves, Communication professor at Stanford, discusses avatars in the workplace – "why avatars are likely to be as much of a hit on the job as they are at the box office." Is this an adaption of Second Life concepts or is this a direct application of Second Life to work activities?

Another example of virtual worlds melding collaboration and learning comes from ISN Virtual Worlds. They are rolling out their Oasis Foundation Virtual World Project. "The Oasis Foundation is an Italian nonprofit providing medical care and assistance to the elderly and disabled. The hope is that a virtual world, in this case one built on top of the Second Life Grid, will provide them an outlet for community interaction as well as some employment."  Updated

Further along, Virtual reality opens world of possibilities for seniors From Yosemite National Park to a deeply missed home, MIT startup called Rendever is helping seniors with physical limitations travel the world virtually. CBS NEWS September 1, 2016  New

Seniors Try VR For The First Time – HTC Vive, Jan 4, 2018. In 2018, some friends stopped by the studio and tried virtual reality with the #HTCVive for the first time. See what they experienced and what they thought.  New

Storytelling

Articles and videos get their message across quickly when they tell stories. One such article is called I'm blind, but there's no need to talk to my dog.

BBC's Ouch! has a well-done series of videos made by and for people with learning disabilities. Sit back and enjoy these videos. They are audio described and subtitled, too!  Updated

Forms

Forms haunt many technical communicators. That's why it's important to do them well. Especially when they involve democracy! The Usability Professionals' Association has developed LEO Usability Testing Kit for local election officials.

Manipulation with forms is rather scary. UX Magazine asks How Deceptive Is Your Persuasive Design?.

Policies and Procedures

Many technical communicators write policies and procedures full-time. University of Dundee has a Disability Equality Scheme as a part of the strategy on equality and diversity. (See Equality Act 2010.) That sounds like a task for writers of policies and procedures, especially in academic or government workplaces. Why not get inspired by reviewing what the University of Dundee has prepared? This might even be a new career move.

Reading is FUNdamental

That was a slogan when I was learning to read. Reading might be fun, but there are still barriers to reading for all.

In Canada, the National Reading Campaign in [English and French] is a nationwide advocacy initiative to urge Canada's provincial and territorial governments to provide immediate and fair public funding for nationwide accessible library services and protect the right to read of more than 800,000 blind and partially sighted Canadians.  Updated

Other problem areas are ebooks or "electronic book readers", such as the Kindle. Here is an article about using the Kindle in the classroom – "Justice Department Reaches Three Settlements Under the Americans with Disabilities Act Regarding the Use of Electronic Book Readers". These agreements follow the Jan. 11, 2010 agreement between the Justice Department, Arizona State University, the National Federation of the Blind and the American Council of the Blind concerning the use of electronic book readers. Another headline reads "COAT Affiliate ICDRI Calls For Ending E-Book Famine For People with Disabilities." In her speech in Geneva, Switzerland, ICDRI's Cynthia Waddell cited to the Kindle E-book controversy where the text-to-speech (TTS) feature has been turned off. She described this as a growing problem creating 'a book famine' for users with disabilities that must be ended now.

Thom Lohman, from DCMP, recently wrote "Read Across America – a new twist!" about the benefits of captioning for literacy. A technical communication example of this would be captioning the video used as documentation for a product being delivered to many different countries. That way, users who are not fluent in the language spoken in the video could use the captions as a supplement to listening to the intructions.

Social Media and Accessibility

I strongly encourage everyone to listen to Jennison Asuncion talk about social media and accessibility with Dr. Norm Coombs in "EASI: Equal Access To Software & Information". Social media in his talk refers to Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. (Unfortunately, this is no longer available as of 12 May 2014.)

  • Social Media and Accessibility MP3 file. (Unfortunately, this is no longer available as of 12 May 2014.)
  • Social Media and Accessibility transcript. (Unfortunately, this is no longer available as of 12 May 2014.)

There are many good issues brought up during this 30-minute talk. One example is government agencies using Facebook to make themselves more easily available to the general public, yet not providing services to all due to lack of accessibility. Schedule a listen or a read for your next break. It is worth it!

After you listen to or read that talk, it's time to go read Joe Dolson's article about Tips for Accessibility in your Social Media efforts.

Miscellaneous

The Color Theory Quick Reference Poster is a very useful reference with the basic color wheel, passive versus active colors, color types, color relationships, and much more. There are files you can download to hang on your wall, or use as wallpaper on your computer.

Wheelchair dancing fans in the UK can look forward to a new TV competition on the BBC – for wheelchair dancing. They'll call it "Dancing on Wheels". The article includes a brief video clip of wheelchair dancing. All I can say is Wow!

Sad Goodbye

The passing of Jack Pickard (598 Kb .pdf) at way too young an age last week sent a huge shock through the accessibility community. Many, like myself, only knew Jack through his blog and his tweets, yet we felt as though we lost a friend.

All the tributes across the web speak of a kind, funny, witty, and caring man. His post called Accessibility Allies Against A11y brings a special smile to my lips. It reminds me of a discussion with Jack and several other people on Twitter last autumn about the use of "a11y" as a short-hand version of "accessibility". I have followed his blog for several years, and now I plan to go back and read or re-read his many posts about accessibility. Do read and share those articles, too. Let's make the Web accessible and inclusive. It's a lovely tribute. (Fortunately all archived on the WaybackMachine.)

Memorial Tributes

Link Contributors

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

@AccessForAll
@anikto
@ClearHelper
@cynthiawaddell
@dcmp_tweets
@Disaboom
@ePaul_M
@ezufelt
@Jennison
@joedolson
@kelsmith
@mgifford
@mpaciello
@musingvirtual
@nileshsingit
@RehaDesign
@RhiannonSL
@slewth
@sloandr
@sriniworld
@tbabinszki
@waspinteract
@whitneyq

Weekend Gazette – Link Collection for January 17

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.

The Rise blog asks the question: Why Don’t Employers Hire People With Disabilities? by Catherine Gordon, CPHR, June 5, 2018.  Updated

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 of Google gave a talk at the Accessing Higher Ground conference "Access To Cloud Computing Challenge And Opportunity" in November 2009 and made his slides (in PDF (.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.  Updated

Captioning

Before you say "I'm not deaf, so I really don't want to hear about captioning anymore", read "How Captions Benefit more than the Deaf and Hard of Hearing," by Austin Dillman, Jun 21, 2017. This article is 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.  Updated

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. See the "Captions For Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Viewers," from the NIH National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders for the requirements.  New

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".  Updated

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 an interesting study of how different browsers handle the alt text alt and title content display in popular browsers, 5 January 2010 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 "Making Videogames Accessible for Disabled Gamers: The Value of Brand Equity". 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."  Updated

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.

For other conference resources, try our own page for Upcoming Accessibility and UI/UX Conferences.  New Other resources are

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 are becoming more comfortable with using Internet. However, AARP and Microsoft held a series of focus group discussions with baby boomers in May 2009 to find out how the "boomers" use technology, and what can we learn from their attitudes? The report, "Boomers and Technology: An Extended Conversation" shows developers shouldn't ignore the potential of their appetites for technology and their increasing use of technology in the future. The report is available in PDF format (.pdf).  Updated

Another resource is Microsoft's free, online "Computer Guide for Boomers" [no longer available as of 24 March 2020.]  Updated

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!