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" By Jeffrey R. Young, February 14, 2010. 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.  Updated

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.

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.]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, has a blog: "The Topic is Cancer". Posts are made by a community of patients, survivors, and health care professionals that empower people to improve their knowledge, inspire confidence, strengthen their relationships, and make informed medical decisions.

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


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!

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."

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

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.

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!

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. For example, the University of Dundee provides Disability Services to students and staff. This includes providing: confidential advice and support services for disabled students and staff, identifying reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of disabled people, training opportunities for all staff to raise awareness of disability issues and to support staff in providing an inclusive learning and working environment. Their staff develops disability-related guidance and policy advice under the Disability Equality Act (2010) and related quality assurance requirements. 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.  Updated

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.

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.

The Strictly Wheels Foundation aims to promote and inspire people to take up wheelchair dancing as a social activity and at competitive levels. Its about "Ability not Disability". Wheelchair Dancing / Para Dance Sport Wheelchair Dancing or Wheelchair Dance Sport (now Para Dance Sport) involves athletes with a physical disability that affects the lower limbs. Dancers may participate in "combi" style dancing with an able-bodied (standing) partner and "duo" style dancing for two wheelchair users together. Wheelchairs users can use a power or manual wheelchair. See clips from the World Para Dance Sport website. 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