Weekend Gazette – Link Collection for February 7

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The Accessify Forum [No longer active as of 15May16] is an excellent place for accessibility discussions – for developers, technical communicators.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 April 2009. (SXSW Interactive is focused on emerging technology. The festival includes a trade show, speakers, parties, and a startup accelerator.)

Also see an excellent resource from the OneVoice for Accessible ICT Coalition (onevoiceict.org 2012-2015). OneVoice aimed to "assist organisations in embedding accessible information and communication technologies (ICT) as a fundamental part of their diversity and inclusion values and culture". See their published report Accessible Information and Communication Technologies Benefits to Business and Society (accessible .pdf).

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 helpful information about them at What Is Alt Text? Why You Should Use It, and How to Write It by Sydney Butler, Published Aug 22, 2022. Steve Faulkner, The Paciello Group, has been diligently updating the draft for HTML5: techniques for the provision of text alternatives provided an interesting study of how different browsers handle the alt text at the time: Alt and Title content display in popular browsers, 5 January 2010 by Steve Faulkner – another resource to monitor. Finally, Vlad Alexander asked 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.

Modern technology, however, may have the potential to bring Braille back.

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. See Youth, Disclosure, and the Workplace Why, When, What, and How. 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 (.pdf) by Barbara Frankel, DiversityInc.com, January 21, 2010. 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


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.  Updated

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 Seen as Asset, Not Liability, in Some Jobs Dec. 8, 2009, 8:27 AM EST, Source: msnbc.com contributor, by Chris Tachibana, NBC Health News.

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

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.

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.

More awareness about captioning is coming March 2, on Dr. Seuss' birthday. That is when the Described and Captioned Media Program (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 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

The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled administers a free national library program that provides braille and recorded materials to people who cannot see regular print or handle print materials. Established by an Act of Congress in 1931 to serve blind adults, the program was expanded in 1952 to include children, in 1962 to provide music materials, in 1966 to include individuals with other physical disabilities that prevent reading regular print, and in 2016 to permit NLS to provide refreshable braille displays. The NLS program is funded annually by Congress, and books and materials are mailed as "Free Matter for the Blind or Handicapped" through a separate appropriation to the United States Postal Service. Cooperating network libraries are funded through a combination of state, local, and/or federal sources.

  • Informational Publications. Explore the variety of NLS publications on issues related to blindness, visual impairment, or physical disabilities, as well as compilations of current resources on many topics of interest to NLS patrons and those who provide services to them. Ask a Librarian can help answer questions related to these NLS publication as well as NLS service.
  • Video Gaming Accessibility

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. 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."

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).

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

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!