Weekend Gazette – Link Collection for February 14

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!

Promoting accessibility to developers

Sitepoint posted an article called "Enabling Accessibility in Flex applications". Some people in technical communication are also into development. Others are on development teams, but do not code that much themselves. However, when the tech comm #techcomm person dons their researcher cap, they do an excellent service to their teams by sharing articles like this. Yes, you have the power to tell your development team or product management team about the need for accessibility and to share information for meeting that need. This article is just one example. Talk to your teams – and may the force be with you!

In the same vein, we have the article about "Audio Track Accessibility for HTML5" by Silvia Pfeiffer. Across the Internet comes the message that technical communication is moving to more and more multimedia with lots of focus on video. Before the vision and hearing impaired are excluded from your customer base, get cracking on learning about the incorporation of audio description, dub tracks (for internationalization), and sign language tracks. One day, these features, or lack thereof, could be the difference between success and failure in your business. (P.S. here's another article about video in HTML5, "HTML5 video markup, compatibility and playback", but I don't sense the same focus on accessibility that Silvia has. )

By the way, preaching accessibility to developers is really important. For example, I know that STC community websites want to implement some sort of security filter on their sites to keep trolls and spammers out, but they are mostly left with CAPTCHA, which also keeps out legitimate visitors who are unable to pass the CAPTCHA tests. Somewhere, there are some smart and savvy developers who can whip up an accessible way to include all people and exclude only spammers. Let's find them.

Involving people with disabilities in your testing

The stories in the Clear Helper blog "Web Accessibility Insights from 6 Women with Intellectual Disabilities" are exciting insights for testing. There's a truckload of information here. Are you getting truckloads of information by including users with disabilities in your testing? This tale is not over. Follow @ClearHelper on Twitter to discover more lessons learned. By the way, this tale concerns people with intellectual disabilities, but testing can involve any disability.

Evangelizing about accessibility

Help raise awareness about accessibility. In just 2 minutes and 57 seconds, your friends and colleagues can learn what an accessibility lab is and why it exists at Yahoo!.

That video sent me a message that I had known for some time, but which hit home much better than ever before. Crisp, clear writing in your headings makes it so much easier for a screen-reader user to skim headlines. I know, I know. It's so obvious, and I know that good writing is important anyway. It was watching the words on the monitor in the video and matching them to the screen reader voice – shades of testing with users with disabilities! Wow. It makes you realize that really bad headlines must be a royal pain to skim in a screen reader. This can expose bad writing in a very painful litmus test! Would your writing pass?

Troubles kicking off those accessibility conversations? Try sharing these fresh articles with friends and colleagues, like those developers mentioned previously in this blog post.

Move it, move it!

Going mobile with your website? Here are "7 Tips To Make Your Web Site Mobile-friendly".

Other overall usability tips for the mobile phone can be found in this BBC Ouch! article on what blind and visually impaired mobile phone users need to consider when phone shopping by Emma Tracey, 6 February 2010. [Archived page of BBC Ouch!]

Watch your forms on those phones! Luke Wroblewski investigates "Web Form Innovations on Mobile Devices".

Disasters, Emergencies, and the Technical Communicator

How are people with disabilities coping in the aftermath of such a huge disaster like the January 12 earthquake? Via the Huffington Post article, "Don't Overlook People With Disabilities in Haiti" by Dale Buscher, we found an article called "Persons With Disabilities And The Humanitarian Response In Haiti" (.pdf). The versatile skills of the technical communicator can be used for many of these actions. In a previous log post, we have talked about the value of technical communication skills in disaster or emergency communication. After all, who writes the emergency preparedness documentation used before a disaster? Who writes the information used after the disaster – crisis communication, instructions for using life-saving equipment, and so on? There's even a conference on this type of topic: the "Inclusive Hurricane Preparedness Conference" scheduled for April 28-29 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Writing and editing skills may save lives.

See our information for preparing for emergencies and disasters at News Feeds: Current Health Warnings, Disaster Notices, and Health and Emergency Preparedness Resources page.

The Last Word

Let's close this week's gazette with some music.

Here's an opportunity to experience "The HTML5 Song" (Parody of 7 Things – Miley Cyrus).

There's more bounce in this video. Do you know the song “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” by Beyoncé? Listen or watch this cover version where kids tell you what they think of education. The song is "All the Scholar Ladies (Get an A on It)". They get an A for the captioning (and for attitude)!

Link Contributors

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

@abrightman
@AccessForAll
@AndyAAPD
@AquinasWI
@ClearHelper
@cripchick
@DaveBanesAccess
@helenbaker
@hollylamarche
@iheni
@Jennison
@katharnavas
@mpaciello
@musingvirtual
@prettysimple
@racialjustice
@sprungmarkers
@steno
@webaxe
@whirlwindwc


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