North Texas 23: Thing 22 – Developing Your Own List of 23 Things

I’m involved with librarianship at this time as an independent librarian/consultant.  I don’t really need to use most of the applications we’ve studied, either in my personal or professional life.  Since I work in the area of access for people with disabilities, particularly visual disabilities, I was already aware that most of these applications were troublesome for people with disabilities.

It didn’t make any sense for them to be my main communication platforms, because many of the people I wanted to communicate with wouldn’t be able to use them effectively.

However, by working through the project, I am much better informed about the deficiencies in these platforms and also learned that most could quite easily be made accessible.

Along the way, I was introduced to E. A. Draffan of the University of Southampton in England and her project, Web2Access (http://www.web2access.org.uk/).  By evaluating 100 of the most popular sites with Internet platforms, and keeping it updated, Ms. Draffan has made it much easier for those who are trying to advise people with disabilities about the problems they will encounter on the sites.  In some cases, alternatives or work-arounds exist.

Most of the difficulties with the sites stem from thoughtlessness: with simple adherence to the WCAG 2.0 standards for accessible web design, most of the problems could be easily corrected.

I also learned that some of the sites, like Facebook and YouTube offer channels of communication for libraries that are very effective.  Libraries will continue to use them.  However, now when I post or write on library topics, I can make informed comments about the lack of access for people with disabilities.

I would hope that other librarians would become more aware of the issues mentioned here, and try to become more effective advocates for people with disabilities.

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