Archive for July, 2009

North Texas 23: Thing 9 – More Facebook

I followed through the items on Thing 9 – I requested that Carolyn Davidson Brewer from NTRLS become a “friend,” I joined three groups – two for PEO (a philanthropic, educational organization for women) that I belong to, and one for Boston Terriers (my favorite family dog was half Pekingese, half Boston), and I became a fan of Willie Nelson (after having been one for twenty years)!

I added the comments to my wall, and uploaded my Denton, Texas license plate picture as my ID for Mary Den.

Unfortunately, I had to enter Captchas several times to post comments. I loathe them, and it’s a feature that greatly decreases accessibility for people who use screen readers.

I understand the appeal of Facebook, and would use it if required to in a work situation or because a group I belonged to used it.  I may change my mind, but I don’t think I will use it otherwise after this project.  Other applications (I belong to several Yahoo groups and other email lists) seem to keep me quite busy.

North Texas 23: Thing 8 – Facebook

I have really been trying to avoid Facebook.  However,  I did create a profile under a user name, and I searched for some acquaintances from high school and college.  I was pleasantly surprised to see several familiar names from high school (I graduated from a very small high school).  I also searched for my niece.  I know she’s on Facebook, but I didn’t find her.

I can understand Facebook’s appeal, and can understand its utility for a library as a public relations tool, or for librarians who want to stay in touch with colleagues.  I just seem to accomplish the same tasks with e-mail.

I have also been turned off by the attempts by Facebook to capitalize on all the information they collect, and the cheapening (to me) of the term friend. “SlightAcquaintancebook” describes more accurately, in my opinion, the way the site can be used.

Mrs. E.A. Draffan of the University of Southhampton in the UK sent me this site – Web2Access (http://www.web2access.org.uk/).  It documents tests for accessibility run on numerous social media web sites, and the results are given in detail for particular types of disability. Facebook’s results are at:   http://www.web2access.org.uk/product/3/.

Facebook received a rating of 67% for those with blindness or severe visual impairments, and a rating of 78% for those with partial vision.  Ratings are also given for:  cognitive/learning disabilities, specific learning differences including dyslexia, dexterity/mobility, partial sight/visual acuity, visual stress, color deficiencies, deaf/hard of hearing.

North Texas 23: Thing 7 – RSS Feeds

Adding RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds to Google Reader seemed quite easy, and I added all the feeds that were suggested on the North Texas 23 – Thing 7 page (http://northtexas23.blogspot.com/2009/05/thing-7-rss-feeds.html).  I’ll give them a try and see which ones I keep.

I had previously received an “Unshelved” digest by e-mail.  I’ll test and see if the RSS feed has advantages.

North Texas 23: Thing 6 – Blog Readers

I followed the instructions on the North Texas 23 page (http://northtexas23.blogspot.com/2009/05/thing-6-blog-readers.html) and found signing up for Google Reader to be fairly easy and painless.  However, I did not have a Google account, although I had saved a note file that indicated that I did.  Therefore, I had to sign up again, and found that Google uses the evil Captcha mechanism (the tangled letters that have to be re-typed correctly) as the final step in its process.

I don’t have a severe visual disability and it still took three tries for me to log on successfully!  They do have the ‘handicapped accessible” option which will speak the letters, but this is still very annoying.  The American Foundation for the Blind’s article “Are Social Networking Sites Accessible to People with Vision Loss?” comments on the issues involving a number of sites (http://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=57&TopicID=167&DocumentID=3153).   AFB gives an approving nod to Google’s Blogger and I assume, Reader, for using the “handicapped accessible” spoken feature. As I encounter the other sites they mention, I will see if any modifications have been made in favor of universal accessibility.

North Texas 23: Thing 5 – Image Generators

Image generators are fun, too.   I looked on ImageChef (http://www.imagechef.com/ic/make.jsp?tid=Texas+License+Plate)  and saw that I could customize a license plate.  I recently considered doing this for real – I have always wanted a customized plate with the Texas horned lizard on it.  After checking, I decided it was too expensive, so this will have to do.
Texas license plate with word "Denton" in center
Texas license plate with word “Denton” in center

Again, I used the feature in WordPress.com that allowed me to put alternate text where the caption would go.

I have learned how to create some of these effects in Photoshop.  However, for a quick preview of an effect, the image generators might work  just as well.

North Texas 23: Thing 4 – Flickr Mashups

Flickr Mashups are great fun!  Since I dabble in web design, the generators that create a palette, or a graphic of some kind could be very handy.  To create my mashup, I chose the Bead Art generator at Big Huge Labs(http://bighugelabs.com/beads.php).  I used a photograph that I took at a Wings of Freedom expo at the Denton Municipal Airport. Wings of Freedom is an organization of volunteers who maintain WWII era fighters and bombers and display them in host communities.  For a fee, you can take a ride. My picture had a decidedly blue cast, so I thought I would try the Bead Art generator.

World War II bomber photo as bead art

World War II bomber photo as bead art

The upload/insert button on WordPress.com mentioned that the caption would also be used as alternate text.  So, rather than use the title I gave the image (WildBlueBeads-WingsofFreedom), I deliberately used text that would be read descriptively by a screen reader.

As I interpret comments I’ve received on other e-mail lists, Flickr does not require alternate text input by someone uploading images – it automatically takes the caption (which may be something like IM00012) and copies it as alternate text.  Obviously, IM00012 would not describe an image in any way, except that it was the 12th of a set of images.

However, the Library of Congress for instance, which is a public site and may post on Flickr, most likely supplies appropriate alternate text information for its uploads.

So, as a courtesy to those who may use screen readers, please remember to provide appropriate alternate text on mashup images you create.

North Texas 23: Thing 3 – Flickr

Flickr is a ton of fun!  Since I already have several programs on my computer for organizing and editing photos, including Photoshop, I didn’t see the need to open an account.  However, I could while away endless hours browsing this fascinating site, and the options for making albums and other collectibles is intriguing.

Libraries and schools might have many occasions to use Flickr for different purposes, but it seems that if used as a storage location, some protocol for local backup would be desirable.

On a family trip over the 4th of July, I went to Louisiana. On the home page, I entered “Louisiana” as the search term, and on the first page of results, retrieved this lovely picture of the Calcasieu River Bridge (http://www.flickr.com/photos/80651083@N00/97228003/).  I’ve traveled it many times, and it often looks like this.

Flickr might seem to pose problems in use for people with visual impairments. Remember, if pictures from Flickr or other sites are to be incorporated in electronic resources, alternate text, or the “alt tag,” needs to be included.  This short list of tips from the American Foundation for the Blind gives a simple explanation (http://www.afb.org/Section.asp?SectionID=4&TopicID=167&DocumentID=1453).