Archive for the 'universal design' Category

North Texas 23: Thing 23 – Reflection

Since I don’t have a severe visual impairment (I wear eyeglasses) or severe hearing impairment, I didn’t experience any extensive difficulties with the sites.  However, I was annoyed because so many of the sites use Captcha in their log-in procedures.  That’s enough to make me avoid them.

I found Flikr, Facebook, delicious, LibraryThing, Libworm, the RSS feed aggregators and the podcast aggregators to be informative projects, and will explore them further and continue to use them.

The project also prompted me to start this blog;  I will probably keep it, although I may integrate it with a website so that any content I post will be accessible to people with visual and hearing impairments.

It’s disconcerting to learn that while so many of the sites we explored could easily be accessible to people with disabilities, thought wasn’t given to making the sites accessible from the start.

While I consider the project to have been worthwhile, I hope that future efforts will include a component explaining the concepts of accessibility for people with disabilities.

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.

North Texas 23: Thing 21 – Podcasts

I enjoy podcasts and frequently download them from some of my favorite sites.  I’ve been a subscriber to Audible (http://www.audible.com/adbl/site/homepage/home.jsp?BV_UseBVCookie=Yes ) for a couple of years and really enjoy the ability to download books on my MP3 player. While it’s not exactly a podcast, it’s very similar. I think all of the sites listed on the North Texas 23: Podcasts page (The Library Success Wiki Podcasting Page, PodCast Alley, and the The Education Podcast Network) have material that I want to explore.

I decided to download Juice (http://juicereceiver.sourceforge.net/index.php) as my podcatcher.

Apodder (http://www.apodder.org/) – for assistive podcatcher was the first podcatcher listed on the page given at North Texas 23: Podcasts. Web2Access doesn’t review applications that are downloaded and reside on computers at this time.  Nevertheless, Apodder may offer an option for the partially sighted.

Those with hearing impairments would seem to be the most disadvantaged by the lack of a print alternative to the podcast content.

North Texas 23: Thing 20 – YouTube

YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/) is neat!  I’ve been neglecting it.  I used the library-related search terms and found some interesting videos.  Some were descriptive – basically public relations spots for libraries, some were informative – a craft show produced by Abilene Public Library, videos of children’s story hours, and some were just funny – book cart drill team.

As a solution to the ever-problematic issue of how to get local television stations to do brief spots on public services such as libraries, YouTube seems to be the answer everyone was waiting for.

Although many of these incorporated text in a PowerPoint slide show way, the YouTube options for displaying annotations or captions weren’t used, because apparently, no one thinks of captioning their uploads.  In one – “The OPAC Sucks” – a rock anthem about OPAC deficiencies, a commentator actually asked for captions because the lyrics weren’t understandable!

Web2Access has extensive comments about YouTube (http://www.web2access.org.uk/product/8).  Some of the issues related to captioning YouTube videos are discussed at this site from University of Washington web developers (http://cuwebd.ning.com/group/accessibility/forum/topic/show?id=1763934%3ATopic%3A358).  Captions need to be added to videos prior to uploading. An alternative YouTube interface by Christopher Heilmann is available on his blog (http://www.wait-till-i.com/2008/06/12/making-youtube-easier-and-more-accessible/).

Ratings for YouTube are 73% for those with blindness and severe visual impairments, 78% for those with partial sight and visual acuity, and a very low 33% for those with hearing impairments.

North Texas 23: Thing 19 – Google Docs

I like Google Docs.  I had used it previously, and it was easy enough to learn. Actually setting up each of the different types of documents was easy enough as well. At first, I wasn’t paying close enough attention and when sharing didn’t notice the difference between sending to edit – showed up as sending to a collaborator, and sending to view – showed up as sending to a viewer. Another slightly confusing element was that forms were viewed under a spreadsheet heading.  I also learned that the document box had to be checked in order to move that item to a folder.

One of the most appealing features is being able to have access to Windows Office type document creation tools from any computer, which can then be sent to your e-mail address for retrieval at your home computer.

I will add the Google Docs Blog (http://googledocs.blogspot.com/ ) to my RSS feeds.

Web2Access evaluated only the word processor (http://www.web2access.org.uk/product/147).   Ratings were 67% for those with blindness/severe visual impairments, those with partial vision/visual acuity, and those with hearing impairments.  Google Docs was rated as fairly accessible with some weaknesses, and deficiencies varied according to the application used. The log-in used Captcha, which weakened the ratings, and it was also noted that it was necessary to know keyboard shortcuts for the best accessibility.

North Texas 23: Thing 18 – Wikis

I have been acquainted with Wikipedia for quite some time, and find it very useful. I searched for DAISy and was sent to a links page, and at the bottom, under “Other Meanings) I saw DAISY digital talking book.  I clicked on that and was sent to that link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DAISY_Digital_Talking_Book). Using the terms “digital accessible information system” took me directly to another links page, with the same link at the top.  The information is brief, but the citations are from reputable sources, mostly from the DAISY Consortium page (http://www.daisy.org/).  The discussion tab and the history tab were both interesting – the history tab allows you to read the previous versions. Two additional topic links were given – Accessible publishing(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accessible_publishing)     and Audiobooks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audiobook),  which also provided interesting background information on DAISy.

I approach Wikipedia with healthy skepticism, but often use it to introduce myself to a personality or topic. I am especially skeptical about topics with religious, political, or historical subjects, since these are most vulnerable to editing from those with particular points of view.  On technical topics, Wikipedia is often very useful to me, because new terms come into being more quickly than more established sources can define them.  The articles often have many links, which allow quick verification and lead to more information. In fact the links are often the most useful part of a Wikipedia article for me.

I am careful about citing Wikipedia links in papers, however, because an article can be changed so quickly. I try to find other sources to verify main points and cite those instead.  I will continue to use Wikipedia though, and consider it a “success story” in the area of open-source publishing.

I had used PBWiki in another context, so posting pages on a wiki wasn’t novel.  Wetpaint was easy to use (http://dfw23things.wetpaint.com/).  Web2Access (http://www.web2access.org.uk/product/67) rated Wetpaint pretty highly, giving scores of 82% for those with blindness/severe visual impairment and 78% for those with partial sight and visual acuity.  It was rated at 100% however, for those with hearing impairments.

Wikipedia was also evaluated by Web2Access (http://www.web2access.org.uk/product/6) and received fairly high marks. I commented on it under North Texas 23:  Thing 13 – Tagging (https://daisyconnect.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/north-texas-23-thing-13-tagging/).

Wikis seem to me to be unique applications and useful tools. With a little tweaking, they can be highly accessible.  I will continue to use them.

North Texas 23: Thing 17 – LibWorm

My first search on LibWorm was for the term DAISy – digital accessible information system.  I received few hits on the subject but did discover an interesting blog – TeleRead:  Bring the E-Books Home (http://www.teleread.org/).  It covers new developments in the world of digital books in general, such as the Kindle and other e-book readers.

Another search on bookmobiles, brought up numerous references.

I am glad to be introduced to this site, and will add it to my RSS feeds.

At present, Web2Access doesn’t review LibWorm, but if that changes, I will post an update.