Weekend Gazette – Link Collection for January 17

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!

Employment

By the way, you can now monitor our Twitter stream for job openings related to accessibility, thanks to the efforts of Web Diva Cyn, who followed a great tip from the webmaster of the STC Technical Editing SIG.  Updated

Did you know that some people view autism as an asset, not a liability, in some jobs? The topic of this article is just that — Autism Seen as Asset, Not Liability, in Some Jobs Dec. 8, 2009, 8:27 AM EST, Source: msnbc.com contributor, by Chris Tachibana, NBC Health News.

The Rise blog asks the question: Why Don't Employers Hire People With Disabilities? by Catherine Gordon, CPHR, June 5, 2018.

On the other hand, maybe those people with disabilities are too good for some employers?!

Cloud Computing

Is your head in a cloud with the talk about cloud computing? T. V. Raman of Google gave a talk at the Accessing Higher Ground conference "Access To Cloud Computing Challenge And Opportunity" in November 2009 and made his slides (in PDF (.pdf) and HTML format) and talk (MP3 format) available to everyone. Check out the highlights of the challenges and opportunities of accessibility in the clouds.  Updated

Captioning

Before you say "I'm not deaf, so I really don't want to hear about captioning anymore", read "How Captions Benefit more than the Deaf and Hard of Hearing", by Austin Dillman, Jun 21, 2017. This article is about the benefits of captions for people without hearing issues. As a person without hearing issues, I am grateful for the subtitles on my TV. It gets me safely through parts of shows where some technician went a bit crazy with the background sounds or music, disrupting the flow of speech in the process.

In the U.S., there is a petition to support a move to make telecommunications accessible for and usable by people with disabilities. The petition was created by the Coalition of Organizations for Accessible Technology (COAT) to support "The Twenty-first Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009", also known as H.R.3101. COAT made a one-page summary of H.R.3101. From that page, you can also navigate to the petition site and follow the progress of the bill through the United States Congress. See the "Captions For Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Viewers," from the NIH National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders for the requirements.

More awareness about captioning is coming March 2, on Dr. Seuss' birthday. That is when the Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP) holds its Read Captions Across America (RCAA) campaign, held in conjunction with the National Education Association's (NEA) Read Across America event every year. RCAA wants to "raise awareness—particularly among children and their parents and teachers—that video-based media can be just as effective at encouraging and fostering reading skills as books, as long as captions are always turned on!"

Excellent information from the University of Washington's DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) serves to increase the successful participation of individuals with disabilities in challenging academic programs and careers, such as those in science, engineering, mathematics, and technology: Creating Video and Multimedia Products That Are Accessible to People with Sensory Impairments, by Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D. "And How Universal Design Features Benefit Everyone". PDF version.

Social Media

Does Twitter need a wake-up call? This article says that user "accessibility is crucial for social media sites that want to stay successful. Now Twitter is risking its future by not taking accessibility seriously".

With that in mind, read this review of Twitter.com versus AccessibleTwitter.com!

For those who still find social media boring, here's a great "matchmaking" story from the Twitter community.

On Jan 20, 2009, @scenariogirl writes "@briankelly Fantastic talk this morning, I will come up and say hi at lunch". On Jan 23, 2009, @scenariogirl writes "massive thanks and kudos to @briankelly for adding context & purpose to my accessibility methodology i.e. Accessibility isn't binary." Later that month, a talk is born: "From Web Accessibility 2.0 to Web Adaptability". Finally, six months later, a paper is published.

Rather sweet, don't you think? It's also proof that Twitter isn't just vapid chatter! That paper is pretty amazing as discussed in our Toward Web Adaptability blog post back in July.

Web Accessibility

Have you been told to investigate the Web Accessibility Accessibility Guidelines? Tom Babinszki set up a nice WCAG 2.0 tutorial that is a very user-friendly introduction to the large body of W3C documents.

If you struggle with the alt and title attributes in HTML, you may enjoy an interesting study of how different browsers handle the alt text alt and title content display in popular browsers, 5 January 2010 by Steve Faulkner of The Paciello Group. The problem is often due to different ways of rendering the information depending on the browser, so Steve did some testing, which may improve your understanding.

Gaming

The National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled administers a free national library program that provides braille and recorded materials to people who cannot see regular print or handle print materials. Established by an Act of Congress in 1931 to serve blind adults, the program was expanded in 1952 to include children, in 1962 to provide music materials, in 1966 to include individuals with other physical disabilities that prevent reading regular print, and in 2016 to permit NLS to provide refreshable braille displays. The NLS program is funded annually by Congress, and books and materials are mailed as "Free Matter for the Blind or Handicapped" through a separate appropriation to the United States Postal Service. Cooperating network libraries are funded through a combination of state, local, and/or federal sources.

  • Informational Publications. Explore the variety of NLS publications on issues related to blindness, visual impairment, or physical disabilities, as well as compilations of current resources on many topics of interest to NLS patrons and those who provide services to them. Ask a Librarian can help answer questions related to these NLS publication as well as NLS service.
  • Video Gaming Accessibility

Able Gamers "gets" the concept of accessible games. They review games to determine how playable the games are for gamers with disabilities. It's a good site for game developers to monitor. An interview with Able Gamers' Mark Barlet explains why.

What happens when a person who is not a gamer-with-a-disability starts thinking about video game accessibility? Read the article in that hyperlink to find out!

Conferences

What conference to attend? Where to go?

Our first recommendation is – of course! – the STC Technical Communication Summit.

For other conference resources, try our own page for Upcoming Accessibility and UI/UX Conferences. Other resources are

Exhibits

From the comfort of your home, wherever you are in the world, you can explore the Smithsonian's Disability Rights Movement online exhibit. It shows information about with disabilities and the Disability Rights Movement.

eBooks

Did you know that Baen Books Offers Free eBooks For People With Disabilities? There have been some sign-in difficulties, as @vavroom writes. However, when you do gain access, their entire catalogue of e-books is available "to people who have a reading disability. This can be visual impairment or physical inability to hold a book."

Boomers/Silver Surfers

You may not have a disability yourself, but there is a good chance that you will grow older! That means you can't avoid discussion about baby boomers, senior citizens, the elderly, silver surfers – or whatever you want to call the older/oldest generation using the web and technology.

Some Senior citizens are becoming more comfortable with using Internet. However, AARP and Microsoft held a series of focus group discussions with baby boomers in May 2009 to find out how the "boomers" use technology, and what can we learn from their attitudes? The report, "Boomers and Technology: An Extended Conversation" shows developers shouldn't ignore the potential of their appetites for technology and their increasing use of technology in the future. The report is available in PDF format (.pdf).

Another resource is Microsoft's free, online "Computer Guide for Boomers" [no longer available as of 24 March 2020.]

Showcase

Recently, @vick08 tweeted that "this is the web I'd like it to be." He was talking about the BBC's approach to accessibility – "my web, my way". Take a moment to explore what BBC has done with accessibility on their (massive) site. Get inspired for your work and learn along the way.

In contrast, we have the government site for New York City. Jim Thatcher reviews the site and gives his verdict about the accessibility of NYC.org (once available on dotgov.com). Oh dear, get inspired about what you should not do for your work!

Quotes

We close this week's gazette with some food for thought.

"Society is disabled in its inability to include the diversity of human experience equitably. Society needs an inclusion prostheses." – @jasonnolan

"The only disability in life is a bad attitude" – Scott Hamilton

Link Contributors

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

@mpaciello
@TVRaman
@AbilityNet
@AccessibleTwitr
@webaxe
@Twitter_Tips
@LinkAbilities
@tbabinszki
@stevefaulkner
@jfc3
@aebsr
@raspberryfrog
@jebswebs
@NCTI2
@michaeljanger
@Disabilitygov
@vick08
@Jennison
@briankelly
@justfordeaf
@DeafnessGuide
@ablegamers
@AquinasWI
@ESCrossroads
@IBMAccess
@GlendaWH
@BethAARP
@NADtweets
@grwebguy
@anikto
@vavroom

Thanks to all of you!


Toward Web Adaptability

Update—25 July 2009: The author of the paper discussed below, Brian Kelly, thanked us for these comments and wrote that the paper is available on the repository at From Web Accessibility to Web Adaptability. He can release a number of copies. Brian's site is "UK Web Focus: Reflections on the Web and Web 2.0" at https://ukwebfocus.wordpress.com/. See the details about the paper at http://www.ukoln.ac.uk/web-focus/papers/disability-and-rehabilitation-2009/  Updated
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I can't wait until the end of June 2010. That is when University of Bath releases "From Web Accessibility to Web Adaptability", which was published in the Disability and Rehability: Assistive Technology journal Volume 4 Issue 4, July 2009. For now, an (excellent) summary of this paper will have to do. I am sharing my first reaction to reading this summary.

We already had advance notice of this paper a few weeks ago when David Sloan posted a nice summary about this Web adaptability paper:

A review of web accessibility from an organisational and policymaker’s perspective. This paper focuses on ways to strike a balance between a policy that limits the chances of unjustified accessibility barriers being introduced in web design while also providing enough flexibility to allow the web in a way that provides the best possible user experience for disabled people by acknowledging and supporting the diversity of and the occasional conflicts between the needs of different groups.

Because of different perceptions of how to mesh resources and an individual's needs and preferences, the authors consider the approaches of a "Web accessibility 1.0", "Web accessibility 2.0", and "Web accessibility 3.0". The "Web accessibility 3.0" idea appears to be a personalized approach where resources, and the information about them, are provided in a way "that enables users or automated services to construct resources from components that satisfy the individual user’s accessibility needs and preferences."

The authors won't be shying away from sticky issues such as "can all resources truly be accessible to all potential users". They reference evidence (I assume it's in the paper) that suggests this is not a realistic goal. I think this is an issue that cuts both ways and is probably used by both "sides". They also look at the concerns some feel about having to comply with WCAG 2.0 requirements.

Disability is a social construct

I love that phrase, which I took from this article. The full context is:

Disability is therefore a social construct and not an attribute of an individual. In particular, resource accessibility is the matching of a resource to an individual’s needs and preferences. – and is not an attribute of a resource.

The report has several case studies, listed in the summary only in bulleted form. One caught my attention immediately: adaptability for the deaf. Ever since I read Oliver Sacks' Seeing Voices, I have had the idea that it is totally wrong to regard Deafness as a disability. I began to view it as a culture, like Greek or Brazilian. There might not be a geography involved, but there most definitely is a culture and a language. I am not deaf, so I must make it clear that these thoughts are meant with full respect for the Deaf community. Think about regarding Deaf as a culture, not a disability – your perceptions are completely altered, correct? If disability is a social construct and we – the social bit – remove it, are we not left with the culture?

I digress. Yet my digression shows my personal excitement for my expectations of how the authors tackle this topic. I am guessing that as they explored "Web accessibility 3.0", the concept of "Web adaptability" was conceived. I don't see "adaptability" replacing the term "accessibility" as such. I do think that they may have found a greatly improved way of explaining and communicating this entire, uh, Web accessibility issue to those who are involved: the providers or producers of the material in question.

Where does technical communication fit in?

Web accessibility is a topic that affects technical communicators, even those not directly working with web products. These days, everything is so connected in one way or another, so sooner or later, some aspect of this topic may appear on the desk of any technical communicator. That is why it is so important to discuss Web accessibility or Web adaptability. Technical communicators can be involved directly. They can also involve themselves directly because of their content strategy skills, for example. They can help to drive the adoption of improved Web accessibility by enforcing corporate social responsibility, reputation management, user involvement, business strategy, policies and procedures – the list goes on. The authors have used the phrase "holistic approach" in the past with regard to Web accessibility. In my technical communicator ears, that translates as content strategy.

Here is a closing statement from the paper:

[This paper] argues for the adoption of a Web adaptability approach which incorporates previous approaches and, perhaps more importantly, embraces the future, including technical innovations, differing perceptions of what is meant by accessibility and real world deployment challenges.

I'll close for now. Remember, I haven't read the paper – only an article about the paper. Quoting many chunks from that article is a bit silly, so go read it for yourself!

I am simply very excited about the work that Brian Kelly, Liddy Nevile (awesomeperson!), Sotiris Fanou, Ruth Ellison, Lisa Herrod, and David Sloan have written. (BTW @stcaccess follows Ruth, Lisa, and David on Twitter, so I hope they'll help us keep tabs on that June 2010 release!)