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

Legal & Human Rights Resources

  • ABA Commission on Disabilities  Updated
  • ACLU position / briefing paper: "Disability Rights"  Updated
  • ADA&IT Technical Assistance Centers
  • ADA Publications and Videos  New
  • ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG)
  • ADA Facilities Access & Parking fact sheets:  New
  • ADA Guide for Places of Lodging: Serving Guests Who Are Blind Or Who Have Low Vision
  • ADA Library of the Job Accommodation Network (JAN) Mission
  • Administration on Disabilities (AoD) works with states, communities, and partners in the disability networks to increase the independence, productivity, and community integration of individuals with disabilities. AoD includes the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) and the Independent Living Administration (ILA).  New
  • Adapt grassroots disability rights organization
  • Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living (ACL)  Updated
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Information and Technical Assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Americans With Disabilities Act Information on the Web: ADA Information from the Department of Justice
  • Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law is committed to criminal justice reform.
  • UC Berkeley's website on the Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement
  • Center for Social Change (CSC) provides residential and supported employment services to children and adults with developmental disabilities in the community [Maryland]
  • Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA) is an independent, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization of attorneys, advocates, parents and other professionals. COPAA members work to protect special education rights and secure excellence in education on behalf of the 7.1 million children with disabilities in America.  Updated
  • Disability Law and Advocacy Resources
  • Disability Rights International (DRI) (formerly “Mental Disability Rights International”)  New
  • Equal Rights Center, Washington, DC
  • The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is an international court set up in 1959. It rules on individual or State applications alleging violations of the civil and political rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. Since 1998 it has sat as a full-time court and individuals can apply to it directly.  New
  • Open Society Foundatioms (OSF). are the world's largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights in Europe.  New
  • FCC Disability Rights Office If you have any questions, concerns, or need assistance in regard to disability issues relating to telecommunications please do not hesitate to contact us at email hidden; JavaScript is required. If your disability prohibits you from filing a comment please send your e-filing comments to email hidden; JavaScript is required with your address and telephone number included. If you need to reach a member of the Disability Rights Office please call 202-418-2517.  Updated
  • Human Rights Education Associates (HREA)
  • Justice for All  Updated
  • FREE Legal Help from the American Bar Association  Updated
    • ABA Free Legal Answers Online pro bono program that matches low-income clients with volunteer lawyers, who agree to provide brief answers online for free.  New
    • Find Legal Aid from Legal Services Corporation (LSC) LSC is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. Federally funded legal services offices provide lawyers who are experts in helping low-income people with legal problems. The Corporation currently provides funding to 134 independent nonprofit legal aid organizations in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories.  New
    • Pro Bono Resource Directory Search for pro bono organizations in your state. Pro bono programs match low-income clients with volunteer lawyers, who agree to take their cases for free.  New
    • Other Legal Resources by State Information about the law or tools to help solve simple legal problems such as lists of courts, law libraries, State legal help.  New
  • Maryland Department of Disabilities (MDOD) MDOD oversees the restructuring, reorganization of government delivery of services & programs for people with disabilities in Maryland through collaboration with all state government agencies.
  • Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) assures the full participation of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families in all aspects of community life
  • Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC) envisions a state where all people with developmental disabilities exercise control over their lives, reach their full potential, and lead healthy, fulfilling lives with enriching relationships. [Maryland]
  • Maryland Dept. of Health Developmental Disabilities Administration Coordination of Community Services [Maryland]
  • Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) [Maryland]
  • Maryland Technology Assistance Program (MDTAP) [Maryland]
  • Neighborhood Legal Services, Inc. (NLS)
  • Older Americans Act  New
  • Social Security Disability Information from the Social Security Administration
  • Social Security FAQ  Updated
  • Social Security Disability Questions & Answers
  • Accessibility Laws & Standards is an overview of the various major standards and legislation pieces passed in the U.S. and other countries. These lists do not provide an exhaustive list of all such legislative pieces, but does list the major relevant standards and legislation.  New
  • The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. P&As and CAPs work to improve the lives of people with disabilities by guarding against abuse; advocating for basic rights; and ensuring access and accountability in health care, education, employment, housing, transportation, voting, and within the juvenile and criminal justice systems. NDRN is the only legally based advocacy organization established by Congress to protect the rights of all individuals with disabilities. As part of that mandate, the network includes agencies in every state and U.S. territory, working to provide legal protection and advocacy services for people with disabilities.  New
    • Training and Advocacy Support Center (TASC) is a division of NDRN that delivers training and technical assistance information and coordination for the federally mandated P&A/CAP Network. TASC is designed to enhance the advocacy functions of the P&As and CAPs in their efforts to protect the civil rights of persons with disabilities and prevent and/or remedy abuse and neglect of those who reside in institutions, other facilities and the community. TASC is a federal interagency project TASC by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD), the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), the Social Security Administration (SSA), and the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA).  Updated
    • Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and Client Assistance Programs (CAP) There is a P&A/CAP agency in every state and U.S. territory as well as one serving the Native American population in the four corners region. Collectively, the P&A/CAP network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.
  • U.S. Department of Justice ADA Home Page
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Information for Disabled Persons  Updated
  • HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) works to eliminate housing discrimination, promote economic opportunity, and achieve diverse, inclusive communities.  New
  • HUD's FHEO Disabilities Overview Disability discrimination is prohibited by the Fair Housing Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other federal, state, and local laws.  New
  • "U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section works to achieve equal opportunity for people with disabilities in the United States by implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Through its multi-faceted approach toward achieving compliance with the ADA, this Section works to make this goal a reality. The Section’s enforcement, certification, regulatory, coordination, and technical assistance activities, required by the ADA, combined with an innovative mediation program and a technical assistance grant program, provide a cost-effective and dynamic approach for carrying out the ADA’s mandates. The Section also carries out responsibilities under Sections 504 and 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act, and Executive Order 12250.
  • "When Words are Not Enough" communications training program for responders is an educational tool to teach responders simple methods for emergency communications with people who have disabilities and special needs. The program includes a video, written manual, communication booklet, and poster. The manual provides basic information about individuals with disabilities and communication difficulties. The booklet is easy-to-assemble and includes 10 key communication words in English and Spanish, with American Sign Language instructions.  New
  • Workforce Investment Act of 1998 was a United States federal law that was repealed and replaced by the 2014 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.  Updated
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014  New
  • H.R.803 – Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act 113th Congress (2013-2014) full text  New
  • Wrightslaw Parents, educators, advocates, and attorneys come to Wrightslaw for accurate, reliable information about special education law, education law, and advocacy for children with disabilities. Begin your search in the Advocacy Libraries and Law Libraries.