Category Archives: Accessibility & Usability

Keeping Busy, the June Edition

I’ve been a tad overwhelmed for months now — major events, presentations, travel, etc. Lots of stuff to share, but as a quick overview, here are just a few of the Storify collections from recent events I livetweeted or attended or collected online. (I will be doing more blogposts on specific LARGE events for which I did several Storify, like the MLA Annual Meeting, or the Comics & Medicine Conference, or … and then also others from earlier this year). WordPress doesn’t like people to embed Storify links directly into the blogpost, so for each entry, I’ve embedded a tweet that has an embedded link to the Storify. This means, the easiest way to get to the good stuff is to click through.

June 7, 2017

The “Strategies to Empower Women” Symposium aims to close the historic gap that leaves females consistently behind their male counterparts in salaries, grant awards and opportunities for advancement. It was a really powerful event, and I was sad to miss the beginning of it. Making a Storify helped me find and read some of the early comments, even if I didn’t actually get to see the presenters.

“Strategies to Empower Women to Achieve Academic Success”

June 21, 2017

You need to look backwards to look forwards. You need that context of what happened and what worked and what failed to help inspire you to do something truly innovative. I was really delighted to hear Barbara MacAdam describe some of the evolution of library innovation on our campus through the lens of her own personal experiences.

“Barbara MacAdam on Library & Intellectual History at #UofM #UMich200”

June 24, 2017

Great Twitter conversation sponsored by the Journal of the American College of Radiologists on the topic of what is burnout among physicians and other healthcare workers, what does it look like, what do you do?

“Physician Burnout – #JACR June 2017 Chat”

June 26, 2017, AM

The Emergent Research series rarely has presenters from within the library, and rarely presenters who are not actually presenting research or data. In this case, the time slot was used to present really mission critical skills for researchers, faculty, and staff who work with data or concepts that should maybe not be completely public all the time to the whole world. They cast the conceptual net broadly, because, well, frankly speaking, these skills apply to everyone at the University, sooner or later.

“Digital Self-Defense (#MLibRes)”

June 26, 2017, PM

“The Evolving Bargain Between Research Universities and Society”

Accessibility through Social Media for Libraries 101

Just a quick collection of resources I find helpful in using social media to create better and broader access (and accessibility) for library events and more.

ACCESSIBILITY

There are many ways of interpreting the word “access.” The ones I encounter most often are 1) access (as in this thing exists somewhere I can find it or get hands on it, which I think of as ‘discoverability’) and accessibility (as in I can use this, even if I’m a person with a disability, whether my functional difference is visible or invisible).

Golden rules of social media accessibility: http://www.danya.com/files/sma_poster.pdf

Accessibility Hub: Social Media Accessibility – Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube: http://www.queensu.ca/accessibility/how-info/social-media-accessibility

Social Media for People with a Disability: https://mediaaccess.org.au/web/social-media-for-people-with-a-disability

SSB Bart Group: Accessibility in Social Media: http://www.ssbbartgroup.com/blog/accessible-social-media/

ePolicyWorks: 5 Things: https://www.epolicyworks.org/epw/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/ePolicyWorks_SocialMediaAccessibilityTips.pdf

District of Columbia: Office of Disability Rights: Technical Assistance Manual: Section 508: Website and Social Media Accessibility: https://odr.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/odr/publication/attachments/Web%20and%20Social%20Media%20AccessibilityTechnical%20Assistance%20Manual.docx

Accessibility U: Accessible Social Media: http://accessibility.umn.edu/tutorials/accessible-social-media

Global Disability Rights Now: Creating Accessible Social Media Campaigns: http://www.globaldisabilityrightsnow.org/sites/default/files/related-files/243/Social%20media%20and%20accessibility.pdf
[comment: I find it super ironic that a site on disability rights is providing accessibility content as a PDF.]

LIBRARY EXAMPLES & ARTICLES

Use of social media by the library, current practices and future opportunities: A white paper from Taylor & Francis: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/access/white-paper-social-media.pdf

University of Virginia: Library: Legal Information about Media Accessibility: http://www.library.virginia.edu/services/accessibility-services/media-accessibility-resources/legal-information-about-media-accessibility/

Social Media and the Science Library: How It Really Works: http://www.rsc.org/globalassets/14-campaigns/m/lc/lc16026/royal-society-of-chemistry-social-media-ebook.pdf

#FridayReads: Library and campus engagement through social media: https://link.highedweb.org/2017/02/fridayreads-library-and-campus-engagement-through-social-media/

TOOLS

One of the benefits of social media is that it makes content more readily discoverable by a broader audience in time and space. One of the drawbacks is that many social media platforms aren’t easy to use by people with various disabilities. This is just a tiny sampling of some of the information or tools that might help with some parts of that, although not others.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/
– Facebook Accessibility: https://www.facebook.com/accessibility/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/
– Easy Chirp: http://www.easychirp.com/

Lanyrd: http://lanyrd.com/

Storify: https://storify.com/

SOCIAL MEDIA POLICIES

If you don’t have a social media policy, you will probably live to regret it. Here are some examples.

Why Have a Social Media Policy for Your University Library? http://www.proquest.com/blog/2013/why-have-a-social-media-policy-for-your-university-library.html

Creating a Social Media Policy: What We Did, What We Learned: http://www.infotoday.com/mls/mar13/Breed–Creating-a-Social-Media-Policy.shtml

Example social media policies from libraries

Cleveland Public Library: https://cpl.org/thelibrary/usingthelibrary/policy-on-the-use-of-cpls-social-media-sites/
Monroe County Public Library: https://mcpl.info/geninfo/social-media-policy
Plum Creek Library: http://www.plumcreeklibrary.org/jackson/Docs/social%20media%20policy.pdf
TAZEWELL COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY: https://tcplweb.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2015/03/TCPL-Social-Media-Policy.pdf
Thomas Crane Library: http://thomascranelibrary.org/sites/default/files/Social%20Media%20Policy.pdf
UNC University Library: http://blogs.lib.unc.edu/news/index.php/social-media-policy-for-library-employees/
Washington State University Libraries: http://www.wsulibs.wsu.edu/policies/social-media

GUIDELINES ETC.

Where to start first

Federal Social Media Accessibility Toolkit https://hackpad.com/Federal-Social-Media-Accessibility-Toolkit-xWKKBxzGubh

Federal Social Media Accessibility Toolkit Hackpad: Improving the Accessibility of Social Media for Public Service https://www.digitalgov.gov/resources/federal-social-media-accessibility-toolkit-hackpad/

More resources

Section 508: Create Accessible Video and Social Media https://www.section508.gov/content/build/create-accessible-video-social

Media Access Australia: Social Media for People with a Disability: https://mediaaccess.org.au/web/social-media-for-people-with-a-disability

Improving the Accessibility of Social Media in Government: https://www.digitalgov.gov/resources/improving-the-accessibility-of-social-media-in-government/

Social Media and Accessibility: Resources to Know:
https://www.digitalgov.gov/2015/01/02/social-media-and-accessibility-resources-to-know/

Visual Abstracts — Thoughts from a Medical Librarian

Visual Abstracts (Screenshot)

You might be interested in this initiative arising out of surgery, and primarily developed by Andrew M. Ibrahim MD, MSc of the University of Michigan. Dr. Ibrahim is a Clinical Lecturer in Surgery here and a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation. His idea of a visual abstract is kind of a blend of visual literacies, infographics, posters, and science abstracts.

In surgery, this is being adopted as a new strategy for creating journal article abstracts. It is being mentioned by the Annals of Surgery, Cochrane Collaboration, Journal of the American College of Surgeons (JACS), and the World Journal of Surgery, among others.

It lends itself to plain language explanations of concepts, clarity for funding agencies and policy makers, and as a tool for public outreach and education. The visual abstract may be more accessible to folk with cognitive or learning disabilities, while being less accessible to those with visual disabilities. There are powerful benefits, especially in this era of publicly contested science findings, as well as some significant drawbacks if we were to depend on the visual abstract to replace written abstracts. Another challenge is that it isn’t actually searchable in databases, and the issue of how to include and discover visual abstracts in MEDLINE remains to be addressed by the National Library of Medicine. Personally, I’m not sure that it replaces the full functionality of the traditional abstract, but rather supplements it, which I suspect is the intent. Offering both strongly empowers science communicators and educators, especially if the images are licensed to promote use and dissemination. It would be ideal if the standard of practice for visual abstracts would be to make them Creative Commons licensed.

Medical librarians must be aware of this, and should develop the competencies and skills necessary to make them so that they can help support their institutions as well as creating these for their own articles and research. One of the most common questions about this is how to locate or create icons to use. Just a few quick suggestions. If you have a significant budget, hire a graphic designer. If you have a smaller budget, consider licensing icons from the Noun Project. If you have more time than money, consider using Open Clip Art, where the images are free, but it may take more digging or editing for images you can use.

Cool Toys Pic of the day - Noun Project

So, how do you make these? Dr. Ibrahim has examples, videos, and guidelines available at his site.

Here is the direct link to the primer, including guidelines and best practices for the creation of visual abstracts, but I have not been able to get the direct link to work consistently.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5854aaa044024321a353bb0d/t/58b8f5b437c5816223531822/1488516555585/VisualAbstract_Primerv2.pdf

Increasing numbers of journals are requesting visual abstracts as part of article submissions or are creating them as part of promotional content for highlighted articles. You can find many examples on the website, and more in the Twitter stream for the hashtag #VisualAbstract. Here are some examples from the past couple weeks.

Social Media For Exclusion

First posted (with a few small editorial changes) at the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media Blog: http://socialmedia.mayoclinic.org/discussion/social-media-for-exclusion/


Pic of the day - Sweetness

We praise the power of social media to bring people together, to engage people around topics and events of shared interest, to include. Too often we don’t stop to think that every new tool with new ways to include people is probably excluding someone else in a new way.

The accessibility of social media is rarely discussed outside of communities of persons with disabilities. When it is discussed, the people who most need to hear it (us?) may not be in the audience. When we aren’t, the work we do to try to include and engage may actually serve to accomplish the opposite.

VIDEO

The obvious example, one you probably already know about, is when you share video or use streaming tools, but lack captions. It isn’t always possible to pay for live captioning, as much as we might want to, but there are tips and tricks to get around that with low-cost options. In Second Life, the Virtual Ability community has, as a standard of practice, a roster of volunteers who offer to type into live chat a synopsis of what the speaker is saying, and who describe images on the slides for the blind. Because some conversations there are held in typed chat, they also have someone sighted volunteer to read aloud the typed chat, identifying the speakers. Why couldn’t we working in healthcare media implement something like this for streamed events?

TWITTER

Did you know about Easy Chirp? It’s a Twitter browser designed for people who are blind or visually impaired, but it can be useful for others as well. Just as with curb cuts, tools to make social media more accessible for marginalized and excluded audiences can make life easier for people who are nominally able-bodied. Accessible browsers can require less bandwidth and be more robust when you are in that crowded meeting room with a hundred people sharing wireless, just as an example.

Do you tweet using one of those marvelous fancy tools for the pros that allow you to track multiple channels at the same time? Often those will place the relevant hashtag for the channel at the beginning of each tweet. I wager you weren’t aware that this makes life harder for those with visual or cognitive challenges, because it makes it harder for them to sort out the important part of the message. Recommended practice is to place hashtags at the END of your tweets.

Also, for those hashtags which smoosh together parts of different words? Screenreaders struggle to figure out how to read those when they are all lower case or all upper case. I have a bad habit of not mixing the capitalization because it is faster when I am typing, but for screenreader, there is a world of difference between #mayoclinic and #MayoClinic. Now that I know, I am trying to be better about it, because I was excluding people when I meant to include them.

MORE

These are just a few examples, low-hanging fruit. There is a lot more to know. Luckily, there is an upcoming free webinar on social media accessibility from the ADA National Network, if you are interested in learning more. If you are here on campus, we are meeting in the Hatcher Gallery Lab to watch this together.

October 20, 2015
2:00-3:30 p.m.
Social Media and Accessibility

At The Movies: Tactile Art & Tech for Autism

David Chesney is Back. This Time With Sean Ahlquist (Art & Architecture) and Sile O’Modhrain (Music). The project being highlighted this time is designed to use a flexible stretch “coloring book” to provide a kind of engaging biofeedback to children with autism regarding the amount of pressure they are using. This would have been fantastic to have when my son was small.

David Chesney: “The research that I do here at the University of Michigan is at the intersection of technology and childhood disability.”


Tactile Art | MichEpedia | MconneX https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQU7ZhMvH2k

University researchers and students create device designed to aid in Autism therapy https://www.michigandaily.com/news/university-researchers-and-students-different-fields-study-create-device-designed-aid-autism-th

More videos about the project from Dr. Ahlquist.

Social Sensory Surfaces Research Project from Sean Ahlquist on Vimeo.

Social Sensory Surfaces Research Project https://vimeo.com/125392278

Stretch|PLAY from Sean Ahlquist on Vimeo.

Stretch|PLAY https://vimeo.com/125633678

Social Sensory Surfaces: http://taubmancollege.umich.edu/research/research-through-making/2015/social-sensory-surfaces

Related work from Dr. Chesney on his work with autism.


Software Engineering Class Hacks Autism https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUT-Chcffqc

Digital avatars help children with autism – w/video http://www.autismdailynewscast.com/digital-avatars-help-children-autism/21463/snapshot/

Hacking Autism and University of Michigan https://www.autismspeaks.org/blog/2012/05/01/hacking-autism-and-university-michigan

Video games help autistic students in classrooms http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-05-31/video-games-autism-students/55319452/1

More interesting projects by Dr. Chesney & his students.


Untapped Resonance: David Chesney at TEDxUofM https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GO9HSiUMylE


Engineering with Grace: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDjYoyYfUQE
Engineering with Grace: Software class aims to help one teen communicate: http://ns.umich.edu/new/multimedia/slideshows/21712-engineering-with-grace-software-class-aims-to-help-one-teen-communicate
Computer Science with Soul: http://dme.engin.umich.edu/grace/


Provost’s Seminar on Teaching – Presenter David Chesney https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDSwN1MEfnY

#ADA25! Tech + Touch + Targets: Part Three, “Are We Done?”

SL15: VAI: ADA25

The first post in this series focused on the White House’s #ADA25 celebration and how high tech can sometimes lead to high touch, improvement of quality of life and connections. In the second post, the focus shifted from the national to the hyper-local, with the new Amtrak technology innovation in Ann Arbor that we hope will impact on rail accessibility nationwide. In this third post, I’d like to introduce you to Virtual Ability, a virtual world space that is home to a global community of persons with all kinds of disabilities

VIRTUAL ABILITY IN SECOND LIFE

Virtual Ability, Inc. (VAI) has, throughout their existence, facilitated access to resources and training for persons with disabilities around the world. This includes personal one-on-one support as well as informational, educational, advocacy and awareness events for their audience. These events engage an international community around disability advocacy. Naturally, the 25th anniversary of the signing of the United States’ Americans with Disabilities Act was not overlooked, with related activities planned for the weeks before and after the actual date. Because of the international nature of their community, events are often scheduled twice, to enable access from different hemispheres.

SL15: VAI: ADA25

Because of the complex range of disabilities supported within their community, information and presentations for their events are offered in text and audio, to support those with or without hearing as well as those with or without sight. This is standard practice for them, and a model that clearly should be adopted for webinars and livestreams and other multimedia online events. What can I say? VAI is ahead of the curve, and committed to doing it right if at all possible. FYI, they used to offer a consulting and testing service to advise organizations providing online content, and providing access to a group of engaged testers with a wide range of access challenges. Very, very valuable.

The VAI events and conversations were hosted and moderated by Gentle Heron, who also provided the voiceover for presentations provided in text.

SL15: VAI: ADA25

For the actual day of the anniversary, VAI offered four events. Two were showings of videos about the ADA then(1) and now(2), with community conversations about them; the other two were formal presentations, one about strategies and resources for personal disaster and crisis preparations (which I hope to blog about as a separate post), and another about the bare bones basics of what persons with disabilities can and should expect (and REQUEST) for accessibility for online content from organizations in the United States, how this varies globally, and why there aren’t any such guidelines for virtual world online content. This last was basically a user’s guide to WCAG, the first presentation I’ve seen like this. Most WCAG presentations are for web developers, instructing them on what to do. It is rare to see a presentation for persons with disabilities explicitly on what WCAG means for them.

SL15: VAI: ADA25SL15: VAI: ADA25
SL15: VAI: ADA25SL15: VAI: ADA25

The question that came up over and over through the day’s events was, “Are we done yet? What’s left?” It’s been 25 years, we’ve come a long ways, but there is still a lot left that needs to happen for true equality and access. Me, in real life, I was listening to these conversations sitting on my couch wearing a t-shirt that said, “Disability Rights ARE Civil Rights.”

#ADA25 TshirtDisability Rights ARE Civil Rights

The conversation was urgent, engaged, informed, and educational. People talked about the need for more accessible modes of transit; new technologies that may help the homebound get out into public life (especially exoskeletons and the Rewalk System, examples of persons with disabilities in leadership roles that influence policy for others; how the United States leadership in disability rights has influenced access and expectations in other countries; the looming cuts to social security income (SSDI) for persons with disability, and the potential impacts (“Many of us are foregoing meds already”). Ironically, the topic of foregoing meds appeared the next day in one of my Twitter chats.

This post focused on #ADA25 in virtual worlds in part because this powerful way of using technology to build community remains drastically undervalued and overlooked. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways in which online social spaces are being used to create community, support, and opportunity around these issues. Just take a look at #spoonies, #SpoonieChat, #a11y, #AXSchat, and the #ADA25 hashtag itself. Many of the same issues and concepts brought up in the VAI conversations and events were echoed in the Easter Seals #ADA25 Twitter chat, #ADAtoday.

If any of this intrigues you about the potential for how virtual worlds, online environments, and related technologies can support individuals and communities with disabilities, you might want to also take a look at this recent video describing the VAI community.

#ADA25! Tech + Touch + Targets: Part Two, “Our New Technology”

#ADA25 Amtrak New Accessible Technology #a11y

To continue the series on “what I did for #ADA25,” I’d like to talk about the very exciting event here in town last week, in which Ann Arbor sets the stage for a national high speed rail system, and access for persons with disability is at the core of making this possible.

#ADA25 Amtrak New Accessible Technology #a11y

AMTRAK

The event was the ribbon cutting for the new disability-accessible platform at the Ann Arbor Amtrak station.

“New disability-accessible platform opens at Ann Arbor Amtrak station” http://www.mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2015/07/new_disability_platform_opens.html

The event started out with the mayor, Chris Taylor, describing the importance of the University of Michigan Health System and hospitals in providing advanced health care to the residents of the State of Michigan, and how critical accessible rail transport is for supporting this.

Lt. Governor Brian Calley noted, “Acceptance & awareness are important, but inclusion is a game changer.”

Richard Bernstein, Judge of the Michigan Supreme Court, waxed eloquent, clearly joyful and delighted with this innovation. You can hear his full remarks on Soundcloud.

Joe McHugh (Amtrak’s Senior Vice President) described this as “the flagship of our new technology,” continuing with the vision and possibilities that would come from this.

Joe really meant technology, too! The new boarding platform is retractable, and extends toward the train when in use. The Amtrak press release describes it as “The platform mechanically extends toward the train, bridging the gap created when a level-boarding platform is needed. This next generation of passenger-focused technology will allow America’s Railroad® to deliver a modern passenger railroad that is accessible to all.” That wasn’t the limit of the tech, either. In addition to designing the platform, the interactive portions of the tech, they also had to design manual tech to support the process in case of problems with the automated portions or for situations that require special extra support.

#ADA25 Amtrak New Accessible Technology #a11y

As with all ribbon-cutting events, the actual story started long long before. Or stories, I should say. This event sprang from the intersection of many stories, many people’s experiences. There are the local folk who fought for a better way to take the train, and helped make people aware of the reasons why it should start HERE. There were wheelchair passengers who complained about being put on a jack, hoisted into mid-air, and left dangling in the rain while the station staff try to get the logistics sorted out. There were the Amtrak staff who helped people with luggage, moms with strollers, elderly folk climbing the narrow stairs into or out of the Amtrak cars.

The story that resonated most powerfully with me was told by Richard Devylder, the U.S. DOT’s Senior Advisor for Accessible Transportation.

#ADA25 Amtrak New Accessible Technology #a11y

Richard was born without arms or legs. The combination of his experience, his intelligence, his connections with the community of persons with disabilities all help to inform his position and influence change. And when the opportunity presents itself, he absolutely will go for the brass ring.

That’s kind of what happened one day a few years ago. Richard described a room full of transportation higher ups. He asked, “Well, do you want to see high speed rail in the United States?” Yes, yes, yes, they all did. The next thing Richard said? “Then you have to find a way to let people like me board the train in less than 15 minutes.” BOOM.

That was one story. He had another good one. Richard described one day when he was trying to get on the train, and a ramp had been set up to allow him to board. But he couldn’t even get on the ramp because it was so crowded with people. Elderly with walkers. Parents with strollers. People with heavy rolling bags of luggage. Part of him thought, “Hey, why are all these people blocking my ramp?” Immediately he realized it is because all of them also needed a ramp, and the one provided for him was the only one there. BOOM #2!

We need ramps for boarding trains absolutely as much as we need curb cuts. The next ADA25 story I’ll be telling is about a group of people in virtual worlds. They were pretty impressed when I told them about this new Amtrak platform. Then they asked, “But why did it take 25 years? And why is there only ONE in the entire United States?” More on that in the next post.

The actual ribbon cutting, with Gary Talbot as the honored local person who pushed the hardest to make this happen.

And then people could board!

#ADA25 Amtrak New Accessible Technology #a11y
#ADA25 Amtrak New Accessible Technology #a11y


Updated to include Gary Talbot’s name.