Accessibility and UUX SIGS

What is a SIG?

A Special Interest Group (SIG) gives people who have shared interests in a specific topic or field a place to combine their knowledge, share their experience, and support others.

  • ACM SIGACCESS – Special Interest Group on Accessible Computing of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), promotes the interests of professionals working on research and development of computing and information technology to help persons with disabilities.
  • ACM SIGCHI – Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction.
  • ACM SIGDOC – Special Interest Group for Documentation.
  • ACM SIGGRAPH is a Special Interest Group for the evolution of computer graphics and interactive techniques.
  • ACM SIG UX – Special Interest Group for User Interface Design.
  • ACM SIGWEB – Special Interest Group on Hypertext, Hypermedia and Web.
  • British Computer Society (BCS) Interaction Specialist Group. A community of IT professionals and enthusiasts who are passionate about interaction.
  • STC Accessibility SIG – Special Interest Group for accessibility in technical communication and documentation in the Society for Technical Communication (STC).
  • STC UUX SIG – Usability & User Experience Special Interest Group (SIG) in the Society for Technical Communication (STC).

Blogs as Disaster or Emergency Communication Tool

Some attendees at the June 2008 STC conference may recall the session about "Communicating and Creating Training for Disasters and Emergencies" presented by members of the Environmental, Safety, and Health SIG. "How do you write emergency training that will engage people to become prepared when they are apprehensive about their safety?"

At the other end of the spectrum is communicating during disasters or emergencies. The popular blog, Lorelle on WordPress, discusses that in a recent post called "Blogs Offer Communication, Information, and Connections During Disasters".

This post provides an interesting discussion of how blogs are one way of getting news to the world about an unfolding disaster. Obviously, the infrastructure necessary for this type of communication can be threatened: no electrical or telephone lines, for example. Lorelle shares many tips about coping with that type of situation. She also reports the abuse that, sadly enough, follows in the wake of these disasters.

All in all, this post echoes some of the ESH presentation. Could emergency preparedness be communicated through blogs, and could those same blogs act as a lifeline during an emergency, helping to coordinate relief efforts and connecting people and resources? To me, the answer is an obvious yes, but you wouldn't necessarily be able to start doing all these things the very day disaster struck. Planning, as discussed by the ESH SIG, is in order.

I'll close this entry with Lorelle's closing thoughts, which sum up the lessons to be learned. I hope you'll add your thoughts in the comments.

For the bloggers living, working, and surviving in disaster areas, they have a lot to teach us about how blogs can help and serve our online community. Those who want to help from outside the impacted areas are learning more about how to integrate multiple media and blog sources into a single aggregator without impinging upon copyrights, creating central clearing houses for news and information. The more we learn about how useful blogs are in a disaster, the more our blogs will improve overall.