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" 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.

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.  New

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.]

Johns Hopkins Medicine has an Our Cancer blog. A community for people living and fighting every day.

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

Avoiding Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

(Editor's note: This is a guest post from Holly McCarthy.)

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, or repetitive motion syndrome, was once a malady for only a few. Before the advent of computers, carpal tunnel affected mostly factory workers and warehouse employees who did the same physical tasks over and over. Now that everyone is on their computers for so many hours each day, however, the number of cases of carpal tunnel doctors are seeing is skyrocketing. This is especially disconcerting for writers who rely on their ability to type to make a living.

But, carpal tunnel is not necessarily an inevitability if you follow a few simple guidelines for keeping your hands and wrists out of harm's way as you type.

  1. Position. Where your wrists fall on your keyboard is of the utmost importance. Your wrists should not fall below your hands as you type. Keep wrists even with your hands to avoid strain.
  2. Equipment. If you need wrist supports for your keyboard and mouse, get them. Choose a desk designed for computer users as it will be a bit lower than a traditional writing desk.
  3. Location. Use an office desk chair on which you are comfortable. Fight the urge to type "where you are comfortable" as these locations can put you at risk as you type. Do not type on your sofa or bed in particular.
  4. Guards. If you have been prescribed wrist guards or braces by your physician, use them. Many people take issue with the aesthetics of their guards but they are necessary for providing support and avoiding future injury.
  5. Common sense. In the end, you will know when you are out of position for healthy typing. We all know the proper form we should be using every time we sit at our keyboards and many of us ignore the suggested guidelines.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is not some small, annoying condition. It can become a major, painful problem that ultimately requires surgical intervention to repair. If this is required, you can imagine the impact it can have on one's livelihood. Carpal Tunnel can cause permanent devastation that can cause lifelong problems.

The best cure, as with many conditions, is prevention. While some people are just predisposed to the condition, most of us just need to be more cognizant about our surroundings and work stations to stay healthy and productive.

This post was contributed by Holly McCarthy, who writes on the subject of the sports management colleges. She invites your feedback at email hidden; JavaScript is required. Holly graduated from UH with a degree in Communications and then taught for two years before becoming interested in writing full time for a variety of online publications with venues in education and nursing. She writes from research, knowledge, and past experiences.