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)  Updated. 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 January 9

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!

Technology, Tools, and Devices

Captioning

The year in captions for 2009.

Usability and Design

  • What are the essential points of usability? Watch this recording of Steve Krug [No klonger availkable.] and "The Least You Can Do About (TM) Usability" from the Business of Software conference in Boston, September 3-4, 2008 (includes pet peeve – audience asks questions with no microphone and speaker doesn't repeat questions. Grrr!)

E-Learning

  • A Guide to Ensuring Your E-Learning Materials Are Accessible and Inclusive (.pdf). JISC Regional Support Centre, Scotland North & East, Edinburgh’s Telford College. [Scotland]
  • Disability Information Scotland is a national project that provides reliable, accurate, and accessible information for people living with disability in Scotland. They offer several free online certificate courses designed to improve your general knowledge and understanding of accessible Information. They also provide excellent Training Resources & Publications [Scotland]
  • What do you think will happen in 2010? In the January 2010 article "Predictions for 2010" by the staff of eLearn magazine, Roger Schank predicted that e-learning on mobile phones (m-learning) would go away. (At the start of each year, eLearn Magazine's contributors predict what changes are afoot for the coming 12 months.) His prediction was attacked by many in a lively debate about Roger Schank's Prediction for 2010 in eLearn Magazine's blog (no longer available). Read his followup post about this in "Learning Hasn’t Changed (guest post by Roger Schank)", December 13, 2012.

Related Links

Interviews with Accessibility Movers and Shakers

  • From India comes a great article published in the STC Intercom, "
    Accessibility in India: An Interview with Shilpi Kapoor
    ", by By Makarand Pandit, Intercom, August 2013.
  • In other news from India, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment launched "the first website of a Ministry of the Government of India that fulfills accessibility norms for Persons with Disabilities."
  • From China comes an interview with Frances West, Director, IBM Human Ability & Accessibility Center (HA&AC). The article's title is "Advancing Technological and Societal Inclusion in China". (no longer available as of May 11, 2014)
  • Visionaware had an interview with Pratik Patel "Pratik Patel's Passion for Knowledge". Mr. Patel is the Director of Information Technology Access for the City University of New York and member of the Governor's Advisory Council to the New York State Department of Education. His passion for knowledge is what makes him an interesting person to follow on Twitter and elsewhere. You know you'll learn something from him!
  • Disaboom recently interviewed Dr. Alan Brightman, Senior Policy Director for Special Communities at Yahoo!, Inc., and the Founder of Apple Computer's Worldwide Disability Solutions Group, in a two-part article. The first interview with Dr. Brightman discusses his roles as "Assistive Technology Pioneer, Advocate for People with Disabilities". The second interview with Dr. Brightman discusses how his workplace, Yahoo!, "gets" disability, accessibility, and assistive technology. This goes in the category of "must-read". (unfortunately, the disaboom website is no longer on line as of May 11, 2014.)

Mobility

The Irish Times article "Wheelchair access to concerts" highlights the issues facing concertgoers with wheelchairs, as well as the (lack of) understanding at concert venues. (PDF of the article: "Irish wheelchair users fight lines to get concert tickets".

Reflections

"Nil by mouth" (Nothing by Mouth) is a post by movie critic, Roger Ebert, about not being able to eat or drink after his throat surgeries, posted 6 Jan 2010. Read it. [Note: this has nothing to do with the bleak Gary Oldman 1998 movie “Nil by Mouth”.]

Weekend Fun

Link Contributors

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

@merylkevans
@mpaciello
@spedteacher
@visionaware
@sprungmarkers
@smiffy
@joemsie
@vick08
@BlindTwit
@a11y
@brucel
@danachis
@AAPD
@ClearHelper
@kprobiesch
@AccessDemand
@visionaware
@Meera404
@IBMAccess
@cinteractionlab
@Shilpi_Kapoor
@grwebguy
@LisaGualtieri

Thanks to all of you!