Category Archives: Workshops & Presentations

Comics, Graphic Medicine, and Creating Stigma Awareness: A Panel

Comics, Graphic Medicine, and Creating Stigma Awareness

Last week I mentioned this year’s Investing in Ability events, and that I’m involved with one. Well, this is it! Friday afternoon you can join us to talk about “Comics, Graphic Medicine, and Creating Stigma Awareness.”

The panel includes:

* Susan Brown of the Ypsilanti District Library, who coordinates their Graphic Medicine collection;
* David Carter of the Duderstadt Library, who coordinates the University of Michigan Libraries’ Comics and Graphic Novels collection;
* Anne Drozd of the Ann Arbor District Library on their comics, webcomics, and related collections and activities; AND
* Lloyd Shelton, of the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities.

Each of the librarians will talk about how stigma, stereotypes, and bullying are portrayed in their collections, with Susan focusing on Graphic Medicine, Dave on mainstream comics, and Anne on indie and manga. Lloyd will respond to they stories they highlight from the point of view of a person with disabilities. This promises to be a phenomenal event, and I hope you can join us:

October 16, Friday
Hatcher Library, Gallery (map)

The event is in an accessible location, and will be audio-recorded.

Stigma Barricades Ability: Investing in Ability at UM

Investing in Ability, UMich

I truly cannot express how delighted and proud I am of the University of Michigan, their Council for Disability Concerns, and especially my dear colleague Anna Schnitzer, for their annual hosting of a rich series of events focused on issues at the intersection of disability and ability. This year, the special topic of focus is: “Stigma, Stereotypes, and Bullying.” I will be hosting one of the events (more on that shortly), but I wanted first to introduce the entire series of events, and highlight resources from past events and one of the early events in this year’s series.

Investing in Ability: Main Page:

A text list of events:

2015 INVESTING IN ABILITY: Stigma, Stereotypes, and Bullying

One of this year’s speakers at a previous event, Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein.

Richard Bernstein, Investing in Ability, University of Michigan Oct 21, 2013

Investing in Ability events explore stigma, stereotypes and bullying for persons with disabilities.

Now that you know how to find the rest of the events, here are the highlights from one earlier this week, a very passionate and information-rich presentation on the role of Stigma in Muslim Mental-Health, and how that has very real impacts on all of America.

Stigma in Muslim-American Mental Health

Bugs & Genes, Mice & Poop, Worms & Shrooms: 24 Take-Aways from the Microbiome Symposium

Loving the Microbiome Symposium

This time of year seems to be nonstop conferences, symposiums, presentations, meetings, and chats. I’ve been trying to catch up with the Storify collections for all of the ones I’ve been attending or lurking in recently. The Microbiome Symposium was a HUGE one!

In case you didn’t know, I’m fascinated by the microbiome, and have been for years. I’ve been tracking research about it, playing with personal microbiome testing services, finagled my way into being the liaison librarian to the Host-Microbiome Initiative here on campus, and doing my level best to make myself a useful collaborator with them. This all gained me access to the day-long Microbiome Symposium sponsored by Cayman Chemistry, where a few of us live-tweeted. I want to take just a brief moment to talk about some of the highlights. But in case you don’t have time, here is the number one most important critical thing to remember (the rest are in no particular order):

NUMBER ONE: Eat fiber. Lots of fiber. Many kinds.

2. What we don’t know about the microbiome is how all the species interact.

3. Microbes are sort of little factories that make all sorts of chemicals, drugs and poisons (which aren’t regulated by the FDA).

4. Liver and bile are way more important than we expected. To the gut. Yeah, really.

5. Nutrients from food are not one-size-fits-all. What you get out of your food is tailored by your microbiome.

6. The reverse is also true! What you eat tailors your microbiome!

7. What we don’t know about the microbiome is how it interacts with the rest of what our body does, say, for example, exercise.

8. We might be able to predict different diseases by watching changes to our microbiome, like cancer and diabetes.

9. If we can spot predictive changes early enough, we might be able to head them off by changing diet.

10. Most of the bacteria that show colon cancer seem to come via the mouth. So brush your teeth!

11. Don’t eat fiber? Changes your microbiome. Degrades mucosa. Erodes protection from mucus, first line defense. Triggers inflammation. OOPS!

12. It’s complicated.

13. Complexity is important. Eat the rainbow.

14. Fiber is IMPORTANT. Especially eating a diversity of fiber. Try counting how many different plants are in your meals.

15. A diet poor in what make the bacteria happy (fiber, a.k.a. microbiota-accessible carbohydrates, a.k.a. MACs) has immediate impacts on them, long term impacts on us.

16. Diet is a tool to engineer (program) our bodies to meet our goals. What are your goals? Optimize yourself, your health, and your mood, with food!

17. Break the chain, it stays broken. (Once you kill off the diversity of bacteria in your body through poor diet, they don’t tend to come back.)

18. How do you get a diversity of bugs in your gut again? Fecal transplants.

19. Avoid antibiotics whenever possible. but especially early in life.

20. Bugs I want to remember: FLVR = Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Lachnospira multipara, Veillonella parvula, Rothia mucilaginosa.

21. High fiber diets help protect against allergies, and allergens, and asthma.

22. High fiber diets help protect against different types of gut pain.

23. About probiotics: Dead bacteria don’t work. They have to be live, the kind you keep in the fridge.

24. This isn’t regulated territory yet, the FDA has little sway. Be cautious about product claims.

Now, those were the official take aways, but there were some deeply intrigued nuggets in the hallways conversations and posters as well. There was a lot of unofficial buzz around fungus, and worms (helminth therapy). Things to watch for in the future. Here’s the Storify, if you want to dig into this more deeply.

And in the meantime, I found ANOTHER Storify from a symposium that focused on microbiomics, so here’s that (from Cell Symposia as #CSMicrobiome) as a bonus.

Aaron, Lost, and Found Again

Panel: Open Access Activism, The Story of Aaron Swartz, with lessons for libraries and information.

Panel: Open Access Activism, The Story of Aaron Swartz, with lessons for libraries and information.

It’s been a couple years since Aaron died. Aaron who? Aaron Swartz. I’ve talked about him here a few times (Jan. 14, 2013; Jan. 15, 2013; Feb 2013; Jan 2014). Aaron was one of those bright and shining young stars, who did amazing things at early ages (helped code RSS at age 14?). reimagined ways to access information (see his fantastic Image Atlas collaboration with Taryn Simon), made very clear challenges with the status quo, and promised a future with much to contribute. That didn’t happen quite the way people hoped. In case you haven’t heard of him, there are a few links at the end of this post. Here is a quote from his dad at his memorial.

“We can’t bring Aaron back, he can no longer be the tireless worker for good… What we can do is change things for the better. We can work to change MIT so that it . . . once again becomes a place where risk and coloring outside the lines is encouraged, a space where the cruelties of the world are pushed back and our most creative flourish rather than being crushed.”

The University of Michigan is planning a really fantastic event this month looking at the circumstances of Aaron’s death, the factors that led up to it, the changes that have come after it, and how this has and is changing the information landscape and legal context in which libraries operate. Even better, you get to see the movie for FREE! Here is the event information.

Panel: Open Access Activism
Wednesday, June 17 at 4:00pm
Library Gallery, Hatcher Graduate Library, University of Michigan

Melissa Levine, U-M Library’s Lead Copyright Officer
Jack Bernard, U-M Associate General Counsel
Brian Knappenberger, Director, The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

Brian Knappenberger’s film chronicles the story of Aaron Swartz, information-access activist and Internet prodigy, who was targeted by the FBI in a high-profile criminal case involving JSTOR and MIT at the time of his death. Join Knappenberger, along with Lead Copyright Officer Melissa Levine, and Associate General Counsel Jack Bernard in a panel discussion about the issues of the case and how they relate to libraries and information both more generally and at the University of Michigan.

Film Screening: The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz
Tuesday, June 16 at 7:00pm
Join us for this free screening with the filmmaker at Michigan Theater the evening prior to the panel.


AaronSw (his site):

Wikipedia: Aaron Swartz:

The inside story of MIT and Aaron Swartz: More than a year after Swartz killed himself rather than face prosecution, questions about MIT’s handling of the hacking case persist:

Remember Aaron Swartz:

Naughton, John. Aaron Swartz stood up for freedom and fairness – and was hounded to his death: The internet activist who paid the ultimate price for his combination of genius and conscience. The Guardian 7 February 2015 18.00 EST.

The Life of Aaron Swartz (a collection from the Internet Archive of the rich activity surrounding his loss):

BBC Four: Storyville: The Internet’s Own Boy [IMDB: ] [Review: ]

Internet Activist, a Creator of RSS, Is Dead at 26, Apparently a Suicide

In My “Drafts” Pile

M-BLEM Workshop at UMich

This winter has been a rough one for my family. Lots of family crises, illness, injury, etcetera. What that means is that the blog slows down, projects slow down, I get way (WAY) behind on things I wanted to do and wanted to share. In the past month, my collection of unfinished (“draft”) blog posts has exploded. What normally happens then, is that I actually finish a couple that someone asked for, whatever else is most fresh in my mind, and the rest never happen. I thought it was about time to give folk a chance to comment on what they want, so that I do write up things people have asked about. Also, several of these were planned to be brief expansions of Storifys or Slideshare decks that I made or found and wanted to share, so for those, I’ll just put links in for now, and will expand on them later, maybe, if you ask.

#a2wiad – Ann Arbor’s Stake in World Information Architecture Day

Anonymous Social Media Overview, Part Four: More on Risks, Opportunities, Benefits, Ethics

Biobanks & Biobanking

Comics & Healthcare

Cool Toys U: September 2014 Notes

Cool Toys U: October 2014 Notes

Designing a Tablet Computer for the Elderly & Technophobic

Design plus Business [NOTE: There is a LOT more I need to add into this story! Cool stuff!]

#HCSMCA on “Is Academic Peer Review a Dead Man Walking?”

Infographic of the Week: Public Attitudes to Science 2014

“Live Long & Prosper”: Can Emotional Intelligence Be Taught? #HCLDR [NOTE: Linked is Joyce’s Storify on this, but I wanted to do one with a different focus]

MBLEM Workshop

MEDLIBS on the Horizon Report 2015

My Physical Therapy & My Tech

Peer-to-Peer Sex Education in Social Media & Games

Phoebe Gloeckner

Random Round-up: Cool Things Tech is Doing with Poop

Report Out: The Happiness, Health, and Stories of Populations (#umcscs)

Selecting Online Resources for MOOCs

Sexpertise 2015

Should She? Or Shouldn’t She? Sharing YOUR Pics

Strategies for Better Science Blogging, Part 2

Symposium: Thirty Years of “Thinking Sex”

Tactile Graphics, An Introduction

Book Cover, Texture, Quackery All Bricked Up and Nowhere to Go ... Nailed Texture
Texture: Drain Cover Washington, DC: Donkeys: Black & Braille Rough
Montebello: Pottery Texture Woven Sculpture #4 Univ of Mich Binding Imprint

This week I attended a webinar on tactile graphics. Most people I know would say, “Tactile graphics? What does that mean?” So let’s start with that.

In a way, we’ve always had tactile graphics, in the broad sense of pieces designed for visual impact which carry tactile interest or information. Leatherworking often has designs punched into the leather; quipu knotwork carried mathematical data; old books had logos embossed into the covers; pottery might have painted ornaments layered onto the surface which can be felt and distinguished; sculptural shapes might be designed with textures that add layers of insight to the underlying meaning of the work; fabrics can have textures woven into them.

And of course, there’s always Braille, in which embossed or raised dots carry very specific kinds of meaning — words and numbers. In the center of the opening montage is an image of a sculpture of a donkey covered with Braille letters and words. This was a political statue in Washington DC. I don’t know what it says, but I imagine someone with blindness caressing the glossy blackness and curved shapes of the statue, reading the words of the Declaration of Independence, or the statements of the Bill of Rights. Such a powerful metaphor for the idea of tactile graphics. But in another sense, this explanation is a kind of digression, for in the actual world of artists creating art to be touched, the phrase they use is not “tactile graphics” but “tactile art” or “sensational art,” meaning art for senses beyond simply vision and art explicitly designed to be touched. If you are interested in this aspect of tactile artistry and graphics, you might want to be aware of the work of Ann Cunningham, who is a leader in this space.

Ann not only creates artwork that carries dual meaning through combined visual and tactile designs, but is also engaged in how this can carry over to shaping information and making “sensational books.” If you have ever tried to read a plain text (ASCII) version of a heavily illustrated book, in which the images have been redacted since they are not text, you may have some insight into the challenges of reading books while blind. You can read the text, but whenever you reach a place where an image is referenced, you read whatever description was given in the text, but that is usually minimal and refers to the image itself for further insight, and the image is not there. As a sighted person, I often go the the Internet Archive and download both the ASCII version of the book (for speed and portability) and a PDF version (which includes the graphics). I’ll read the ASCII text, and when I become sufficiently frustrated, I will open the PDF online version to see what image they are talking about.

Here is an example of what I mean, a work about Vincent Van Gogh. In the first screenshot, if you are sighted, you will see the title page and opening etching, entitled “Le Semeur.” The image shows a young man in peasant garb, grasping a large bag with his left hand, and making a gesture with his open palmed right hand. Even if you don’t read French, you may be able to guess at the meaning of “Le Semeur,” which is “The Sower.” In the second screenshot, if you are sighted, you will see the same area of the book in the raw text format. Where the image should be, there is nothing but a string of cryptic meaningless computer code, followed by the words, “LE SEMEUR.” There is no indication that you are even missing an image, no clue given as to what content it is that you are missing. Later on in the book, there will be a table listing images in the text, and that may give you a clue, but until you get to that point, you are pretty much lost.

Screenshots illustrating how images "translate" to text in OCR.
Screenshots illustrating how images "translate" to text in OCR.
Van Gogh, par Théodore Duret. Full: Text only:

So, very broadly then, tactile graphics are graphics which carry meaning through elements that can be touched. More narrowly, the phrase “tactile graphics” has become meaningful as an explicit technique in the creation of accessible information for persons with visual impairment. This is actually closely related to the work being done by Ann Cunningham, since the technologies used function in a similar way, often creating a kind of bas-relief version of an image so that it can be perceived and interpreted by persons who are blind. It is also work that is closely related, conceptually, to Braille, in that it explicitly tries to convert information into a format that can be deciphered by persons with blindness, in this case, visual information.

This can be done with making lines on paper that will puff up so people can feel them. This can be done with special paper, special printers, or special pens. This works fine when the images are linear, but less effective when they are more complex. It can also be done through the techniques mentioned earlier, embossing, embedding, interweaving, etcetera. There are kits, special hardware, a whole variety of technologies being developed around ways to make tactile graphics. All of those approaches tend to be very time-consuming. New technologies being used to create accessible tactile graphics include 3D printing, in which image characteristics are converted to a three-dimensional form and literally converted into a kind of flattened sculptural form of the image. There are some concerns that all the hype around 3D printing will lead to people focusing on that as the ONLY kind of tactile graphic option, which is far from the case, or that people will mistake the conversion of images to 3d format for actually making the images accessible, which may or may not be the case. A particularly eloquent description of this dilemma was posted to Facebook by a teacher of young children with special needs, Yue-Ting Siu.

3D printing and Misappropriation for Tactile Graphics

This was in response to a long conversation around this topic, one for which the entire conversation is well worth digging into.

That’s a very brief introduction into the concept of tactile graphics. I’ll include a few more links at the end if you want to explore more. The webinar from the Diagram Center was very interesting. The webinar, presented by Richard Ladner of the University of Washington, included a solid background in how tactile graphics for accessibility are being created now, some of the technologies, challenges, and solutions. Some of the problems are the time needed to create the tactile graphics, the low resolution of the information, the loss of complexity in the information content, and that certain types of information don’t translate well into current tactile graphic modalities. Then Dr. Ladner described the special problems associated with complex mathematical images and equations, especially those in advance mathematics, physics, and engineering texts. Without access to those images and that content, persons with blindness can be, in essence, excluded from those professions no matter what their actual talents might be. His team has been working on some new approaches to the idea of tactile graphics, creating images that can be read with a smartphone. Wow. Now, this is still fairly early in the development life cycle, but the potential for this new approach is phenomenal.

The Storify (below) includes my notes and links from livetweeting the webinar. The webinar itself, Tactile Graphics with a Voice, will soon be posted on the DIAGRAM site.

Storify: Tactile Graphics With a Voice:


Tactile Graphics:
– Producing Tactile Graphics:

3D Tactile Graphics:

American Foundation for the Blind:
– Basic Principles for Preparing Tactile Graphics
– Braille Writing Tools and Tools for Tactile Graphics
– Deciding Whether to Create a Tactile Graphic
– Resources for Preparing Quality Tactile Graphics
– Tactile Graphics Course:
– Types and Producers of Tactile Graphics

American Printing House for the Blind:
– Tactile Graphics Image Library:
– Tactile Graphics & Manipulatives Available from APH (Missouri School for the Blind: Outreach Services)


The DIAGRAM Center:
– The Accessible Image Sample Book:
– Poet Image Description Tool:
– Research Reports from DIAGRAM:
– Tools from DIAGRAM:
– Webinars:

Systematic Reviews 101


This morning in the Emergent Research Series, my colleagues Whitney Townsend and Mark MacEachern presented to a mix of mostly faculty and other librarians about how medical librarians use the systematic review methodology. They did a brilliant job! Very nicely structured, great sources and examples, excellent Q&A session afterwards. They had planned for some activities, but it ended up there wasn’t time. I’d like to know more about what they had planned!

I was one of the folk livetweeting. According to my Twitter metrics, this was a popular topic. I assembled a Storify from the Tweets and related content. I thought it would be of interest to people here.

Storify: PF Anderson: Systematic Reviews 101: