deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
It's funny that, given the ostensible webbiness of the attendees of TPAC, that the W3C 20th Anniversary / WWW 25th Anniversary celebration was so much very much not touched by 21st-century remix culture. Personally, I would even have passed up the obvious opportunity for vidding Sir Tim as Sergeant Pepper teaching the band to play and gone instead for the relationship between all of us as Golde and the Web as Tevye in "Do You Love Me?"

Do I love the Web?
For twenty-five years I've lived with it
Fought with it, yelled at it
Twenty-five years I'm in this biz
If that's not love, what is?


This terrible video remix idea brought to you from the realization that every time someone asks me what my languages are and I respond "Perl and Python" I get earwormed by Nicki Minaj:

Perl and Python
We're overdosing
I'm angry but I still love you
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Marco Zehe writes "Apps, the web, and productivity" about his experience with improved accessibility/usability of native apps over web apps on mobile. My experience in many ways mirrors his, although I would go further and say I have found the same thing on desktop.

For example, I honestly did assume that once I was forced by a job to use Gmail, that I would discover features of Gmail that outweigh the power and accessibility of a mail application. I understand that I am a change-averse Luddite, and suspected that using Alpine my primary mail reader in this day and age was indicative of a slight flaw in my character.

But now that I have been using Gmail with some regularity, it has become abundantly clear to me that no webmail client I've used (Gmail, roundcube, web Outlook in accessibility mode or in rich mode) has the speed, power, and accessibility for me of using the dedicated mail application.

Marco boils his reasons for switching to native apps down to less clutter and latency . I'd say both of those are issues for me as well, just as much as simply saying "accessibility" -- although they are both inextricably tied to accessibility for me.

A cluttered screen -- especially a screen with one of those damn non-scrolling JS banners taking up screen real estate -- is one that requires more scrolling, which is inherently difficult to do without a mouse. Even on desktop, my monitors are smaller and my fonts larger than they used to be, and the design of web apps has gotten less streamlined, substantially, over the last few years.

Meanwhile, the annoying wait-till-it-loads aspect of the web app is a lot more annoying when I am waiting for mouseless browsing to see all of the page elements so it can put actionable links next to them. It's a lot more annoying when I can't start interacting with the page until it is fully loaded, unlike a mouse user who can start to move the mouse towards the expected area of the page.

Ultimately, it comes down to a combination of both spoons and basic UX. Like a lot of computer users with disabilities, the extra cost of using the computer is high enough for me that every aggravation that gets thrown in my way is one more blocker that possibly prevents me from being able to work at all. And as for basic UX, well. Like a lot of techies, I'm used to the power and speed of the keyboard-based environment. I honestly have no idea how people used to a powerful, lightning-fast, terminal-based mail application become comfortable with the clunky latency of webmail.
deborah: Kirkus Reviews: OM NOM NOM BRAINS (kirkus)
I realize I am actually sick of talking about terrible people and how they treat people badly. So I'm going to talk about something positive: This is my review of Revolution 60, the game created by Giant Spacekat. Disclaimer: I'm a book reviewer, not a game reviewer. I'm not going to review this in a critical, professional way, but only my very personal reaction.

As you know, Bob, I have pain and dexterity problems in my hands, severely limiting what I can do on a touchscreen. I'm not dexterous, I'm not fast, and I have to be enjoying myself a lot to spend spoons on a game. These days most of my gaming is shared with my housemates, where they drive the controller but we make decisions together. Many of the games I install on my iPhone get rapidly deleted for this reason, and even the ones that I do play I specifically don't play in timed modes, or modes that require dexterity.

So I was a little bit nervous about Revolution 60. I knew there was a combat system, which was necessarily going to push my limits. I picked up the game anyway, on the recommendation of a coworker. (This was when the game first launched, long before the Internet blew up at Brianna Wu.)

Revolution 60 review )
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
interesting side effect of my own adaptive tech with the adaptive tech I am currently using to test websites:

For myself, I am using Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Also for myself, I have the "hey Siri" functionality enabled on my phone. (Hey, Apple, thank you so much for that functionality – it is really making a major difference in my life.) And I'm currently testing a website with the screen reader NVDA.

End result, sometimes me, my computer, and my telephone get into some really unexpected conversations.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
In the general pool of "people who have something to say about Web accessibility," the only reason I don't call myself an expert is because I have a deep aversion to calling myself an expert anything. I am sitting here right now trying to come up with jokes about where I do have expertise -- napping? reading? cat snuggling? -- and I am actually talking myself down from all of them.

I implement and explain the accessibility standards. I test for accessibility on all spectra except cognitive. I write accessible HTML and JS, and debug other people's code. I teach and present on the the bureaucratic, technical, and content aspects of creating an accessible web. I know where my weaknesses are (cognitive accessibility, legal aspects, mobile, etc), but I know where to turn to complement those weaknesses. All in all, I have always been confident in my knowledge in any room full of accessibility professionals.

Then I got involved with the W3C.

Now that I'm co-leading the accessibility folks for the Digital Publishing Interest Group, I'm basically floored every day my how much sheer knowledge there is on the team. Sure, I have a lot in the can about straightforward web accessibility, but there's so much more regarding the interactions between accessibility and digital publishing, and my colleagues know it.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Here is what I am currently doing for my job: an accessibility review of one of my favorite reference books, so my employers can know what needs to happen to make it more accessible.

I am making one of the best reference books more accessible. And in order to do that, I am having to spend a lot of time going to lots of pages on the reference book's website.

I don't know what I did to deserve this, but I want to find out so I can do it again and again.

#Yes, I have favorite reference works. That's how we librarians roll.
#Once a librarian, always a librarian.
#I've been spending enough time reading tumblr that completing a post with a series of rambling postscripts just seems normal now.
#But I actually use my tags for classification and discovery.
#Cf. above re: "librarian"
#So apparently I am fake hashtagging because I am a hipster.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
ATMac has been collecting iOS 8 accessibility wishes. Here are mine, focused on mobility limitations:

  • A single tap for a page down / move down one full screen, and page up / move up one full screen, which works in all apps that follow a base iOS standard
  • Hey, how about a base iOS standard widget / gesture set, which apps are encouraged to follow for consistent usability, just like on a desktop machine!
  • Tap to go to the bottom of the screen, like we currently have tap to go to the top
  • Improvements to Assistive Touch favorites, starting with better documentation; ability to reorganize favorites; more favorites; more consistent favorite functionality; and easier movement between Assistive Touch favorites and the rest of the UI. I would love a favorites bar dock I could place on the screen.
  • A more functional way to use Assistive Touch with VoiceOver, maybe with a bank of predefined taps for the base VoiceOver gestures
  • Integration with alternative keyboards -- if I could only use Flesky as my default keyboard!
  • More comprehensive Siri or VR integration, especially more command-and-control
  • At least some minimal VR in the absence of network, just a little command-and-control


Also, I keep hearing about the great accessibility features that would be available to me if I were to jailbreak my phone. I'm not going to, but why should I need to jailbreak the phone to be able to run f.lux to dim the screen with the time of day, or the ability to move mutiple icons at a time, or tie gestures to app activation, or half the stuff I mentioned above regarding a richer family of gestures. If jailbreakers can do it, Apple can do it, and I hardly see how having a "jump to bottom of screen" would be a security or stability hole.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
This trend I'm seeing for massive fonts -- 22 pixels on Medium, 20 pixels (computed from 3.0625 em!) on Boston.com, when my default size is 13 pixels -- is driving my up the wall. I have my screen set to a certain resolution and my fonts at a certain size which I find readable. When the main body text is that much larger than my comfortable reading range, I have to shrink the heck out of my fonts to be over to cope, and then increase them again when I'm done.

I have my browser set to a comfortable reading size. Why are all these sites assuming I don't?
deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day! I'm very excited about the presentation I'll be giving tonight (that's grown from this one) at Fresh Tilled Soil's Boston GAAD event. I'm looking forward to the other speakers, as well; I've been reading Kel Smith's book, actually.

I want to give a very brief overview of how I use technology, since enough people have asked. I'm including the various technologies (hardware and software) I use, as well as some of their perks and frustrations. Part one is my non-mobile experience: Windows, Linux, Mac.

For context, I used to be about 99% hands-free, and now I am more like 80% for actual coding/writing and maybe 50% for just dicking around online. Hooray, vast improvement! But I still have 100% hands-free days, and I need to be able to control the computer completely. I'm a programmer in my day job, and in my free time I sysadmin, code open source, write book reviews, and spend a lot of time on social media. In other words, I'm on a device the vast majority of my waking hours.

Operating Systems, Software, Hardware: Cut for length )
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
(There's some non-screenreader friendly text in here, because the nature of the documentation I'm pasting in includes very long alphanumeric hashes. When you get to them just skip over them.)

Sometimes, because you are not looking at two different branches or a pull request or something such as that, you don't have access to the "compare" options from the github UI. However, you can build the URL manually. The documentation gives it as

http://github.com/USER/REPO/compare/[START...]END


Where USER and REPO are obvious, and START and END are branch names, tag names, or commit SHA1s specifying the range of history to compare. If is omitted, the repository's default branch is assumed.


So https://github.com/dreamwidth/dw-free/compare/08d335399862f0557311caa4ccd530b17c1a18b3...HEAD

Can get me to a diff view of everything from the commit with SHA1 08d335399862f0557311caa4ccd530b17c1a18b3 as its label (this is the long string in the URL of any commit) to the HEAD revision, which is to say, the current revision.

Fun times!
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Free Government Infomation's Best. Titles. Ever. is back! It's now a tumblr, it's hilarious as ever, and it's managed by the amazing Aimee. Come for the lulz, stay for the muskrat meat. Thanks, GPO and Pueblo, Colarado.

This mab of the London Tube is rendered entirely in CSS! It's hasn't taken advantage of that for accessibility, but it'd be easy: a positioned off-screen header before each line, some text to announce junctions of two lines.

In response to "Of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, just 93 were about black people":

Christopher Myers: "The Apartheid of Children’s Literature" in the NYT.

The mission statements of major publishers are littered with intentions, with their commitments to diversity, to imagination, to multiculturalism, ostensibly to create opportunities for children to learn about and understand their importance in their respective worlds. During my years of making children’s books, I’ve heard editors and publishers bemoan the dismal statistics, and promote this or that program that demonstrates their company’s “commitment to diversity.” With so much reassurance, it is hard to point fingers, but there are numbers and truths that stand in stark contrast to the reassurances.


And père. Walter Dean Myers: Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?

Simple racism, I thought. On reflection, though, I understood that I was wrong. It was racism, but not simple racism. My white co-worker had simply never encountered a black chemist before. Or a black engineer. Or a black doctor. I realized that we hired people not so much on their résumés, but rather on our preconceived notions of what the successful candidate should be like. And where was my boss going to get the notion that a chemist should be black?



deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I've left Tufts DCA after the longest tenure I've had at a job to become a support engineer at Safari Books Online. Among other things, this means that after nearly a decade, I've left academia for private industry.

Well, for publishing. Which is like private industry, but for people laugh at profit.[note]

I want to talk briefly about my career trajectory. )
[Note] I snark; Safari does just fine, online tech books being a popular item even before you get to all the reference book contracts. Though after a decade in academia, my scales for what is considered financial success are all off. Academic institutions measures success not by quarterly profit, which can be low, but by the size of the endowments they sit jealously and often uselessly upon like learned Smaugs.[back]
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I'm supposed to be at Linux Conf Australia now, ready to give a presentation on "User-Created Content: Maintaining accessibility and usability when we don't control the content". Due to the vagaries of snowstorms and the helpful Can Don't attitude of Emirates, I'm not there, but luckily Her Fabulousness the amazing [staff profile] fu is going to give the presentation in my stead, which makes up at least a little for missing the conference myself.

I've uploaded my slides to slideshare, though if you're at LCA I suggest going to see [staff profile] fu speak instead (her presentation will differ from mine, of course, in style if not in content).

The topic:
Social Media sites, Content Management Systems, and Learning Management Systems rely on end-users, not web developers, to create the content at the heart of the site. How can we design our interfaces to encourage users to create usable, accessible content? Can we train our users without annoying them or driving them away? What tools can we give them to make it easier for them to create the best content? We want it to be easy for our users to create content every bit as accessible and usable as we would create ourselves.


The meat of this presentation is in the notes; I'm not big on text-heavy slides, which is great during a presentation but harder to follow when downloading a presentation. On Slideshare you can view the slide notes on a slide by slide basis or in a PDF I've created of the entire presentation. Sadly PPT-to-PDF notes view has no alt for the slides, and slideshare has no way of modifying a transcript to include off-slide text. In other words, my authoring tools got in the way of the accessibility of my content. >:( The most accessible format might be downloading the PPT directly from slideshare! (All non-decorative images in the Powerpoint have alt.) I will upload audio at some point.



Oh, and if you're at LCA, [staff profile] mark's giving an introduction to Go tomorrow, so you should go to that, too!
deborah: Kirkus Reviews: OM NOM NOM BRAINS (kirkus)
Kirkus Reviews reviewers are anonymous, and I like it that way. For one thing, it means that we speak with an editorial voice; when the incomparable Vicky Smith changes my reviews (always for the better), it means she's doing so with the voice of the publication.

Famously, our reviews are anonymous because they give the reviewers (in the very small world where so many publishers, authors, editors, agents, reviewers, and librarians know each other, smaller now in the days of the Internet) the freedom to be frank. Some, whose opinions I do not share, think that we are infamously cruel. The Kirkus folks I know certainly don't think of ourselves this way. Rather, we know that our reviews are being read by people with limited budgets and limited time, not just readers but librarians and teachers with small selection budgets, and we are determined to give those Kirkus Reviews readers all the tools they need to make the right purchasing choices. And yes, sometimes this means we write reviews authors don't like. The children's book review world has a partially true reputation of operating under the "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all" rubric. This is most apparent with journals such as The Horn Book Magazine, which dedicates almost every one of its limited pages to books it thinks excels. While this serves one purpose for potential customers of reviews, Kirkus Reviews serves a different one, and I'm glad they both exist.

Anyway, when I first started reviewing for Kirkus Reviews, I would occasionally go seek out the social media presence of authors about whose books I had been ... not as kind as the authors probably would have wanted me to be. I'm not quite sure what experience I was seeking out. It wasn't schadenfreude or gloating, because I had nothing against these authors and certainly no desire to cause them pain or financial harm. I suppose it was a desire to see my mark in the world in some small way. I've long since stopped doing that; the point of our reviews is not a relationship with the author, but a qualitative description of the book in hopes that we might help find the right reader for the right book. In general I have thoroughly mixed feelings about the now-thoroughly shattered wall between readers and authors, and especially between authors and book bloggers. I apologize for thinking aloud in reader response terms, but I feel like the transaction between reader and story is fundamentally changed when the reader is constantly aware of the author.

But I do confess I still have one small social media bit of spying that I sometimes do. Occasionally, long after I have reviewed a book -- and not when I have something else by the same author in my pool -- I will go look at the blog of an author whose work I starred or otherwise kvelled about. If the author doesn't mention Kirkus Reviews, I am perfectly happy. And if they mention the review in a way that shows they are thinking about the effect on sales, that doesn't really affect me one way or the other. But sometimes I go to an author's blog and their response to a review I wrote is some variant of "They liked my baby! Those famously picky people liked my baby!" or "Wow, this one sentence in the review shows that what they loved about my book is what I love about my book!" And then I think, you know, Author, my goal was not to make you happy. In fact my goal was to take the ways in which you had given me joy (by writing the book), and convince as many people as possible to share the experience. But the fact, Author, that I gave you such joy -- it rebounds back onto me. ♥ Floating hearts and kittens for everyone. ♥
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
  1. In your CSS, make sure you can see where the cursor is as you tab through the page. Avoid using CSS display:none; or display:0; These attributes are often set incorrectly in widely shared CSS you may have downloaded, so you'll have to turn this back on with a:focus { }.

  2. Make all page elements keyboard accessible.
    1. In the Javascript: Trigger events "onFocus" as well as "onHover", to keypress events as well as mouseclick events, and to focus exiting and entering as well as hover entering and exiting.

    2. In the HTML: If you must artificially create HTML elements using CSS and JavaScript, use roles and tabindex in order to specify appropriate page elements. This requires only adding two attributes in the HTML: role and tabindex.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Tressie McMillan Cottom isn't a techie; she's an academic specialising in "education, inequality, and organizations". I've been fascinated by her blogging on her research topic: for-profit education. Tressie has worked in both for-profit and non-profit, so she has a bigger grasp of the distinctions than many of us who are advocates for one side or the other.

Anyway, today -- presumably not for Ada Lovelace Day; Tressie's not, as I said, in tech -- she coincidentally posted: "One of These Things is Not Like The Other: Speaking While Black."

On the trip from the ballroom to the lounge I was stopped by three black hotel staff workers. I’m used to this. They are often older, but not always. Either way, they’ve worked in places like the Hilton for many years and they have rarely, if ever, seen someone who looks like me — like them — on the stage. They want me to know they’re proud of me. I’m a good southern girl so I mind my manners and my elders. I say yes ma’am, I’m in school. Yes, sir, my momma sure is proud of me. Thank you for praying for me.

Even my colleagues make a point of telling me that they are proud, of acknowledging my existence. A loquacious, entertaining, generous senior professor from Illinois bee-lined towards me as I found an empty seat. He didn’t even bother with introductions, as family is liable to do. He just started in with, “i sure did like seeing you up there.” I know what he means but he wants me to be clear. He goes on to tell me how long he has come to events like this and how rarely he has seen a brown face at the front of the “big room”

He asked what, by the end of the day, I was asked about half a dozen times: “how did that happen?!”


We're making excellent (if slow) inroads into getting more female representation of speakers at tech conferences. I hope we're ready to make similar inroads with the vast racial disparity (at least at every tech conference I've ever attended, in the US and in Europe).

Tressie's post is illuminating. She's a model for me, even though our fields of interested don't overlap at all.

Happy Ada Lovelace Day, everybody.

And, hey, just to make this an official Ada Lovelace Day post, here's to Kimberly Bryant, founder of the amazing Black Girls Code. I don't know that much about her that I haven't read in press for BGC, but that's impressive enough:

Kimberly’s daughter, who is currently in middle school, has been interested in technology and an avid gamer since the age of 8. Several years ago, after realizing her daughter would frequently get bored with videogames, Kimberly wanted to show her how to make one and enrolled her in a summer game development program at Stanford. “It was a great experience for her,” explains Kimberly. “But there were only about 3 girls out of approximately 25 students and she was the only person of color enrolled.”

As a result of these experiences, Kimberly decided to launch Black Girls CODE, a nonprofit that encourages young minority women to pursue a career in technology by providing them with workshops and after-school programs focused on a wide range of tech-related topics. “Our goal,” Kimberly explains, “is to address the gender and diversity gap in technology and to feed girls into the STEM pipeline as early in their development years as possible.”


--"Kimberly Bryant, Black Girls Code"
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
So it's hard to say I am currently admiring a woman who left computer science, and it's certainly not Ada Lovelace Day material, but let me flail for a minute.

So to start with, quoting [personal profile] allen:

Went to see [twitter.com profile] viennateng(with [twitter.com profile] highceilings opening) show tonight. I went with [personal profile] deborah and [personal profile] cnoocy. [personal profile] cthulhia showed up a few minutes after we did and sat behind us. [personal profile] ursamajor we met up with at the merch table between sets. [personal profile] momijizukamori found us after the show and walked back to the T with us.

The concert was excellent, too, in addition to the impromptu meet-up.


If it's not clear, all of those meetups were unplanned and coincidental. I also ran into M, a friend from high school.

Anyway, Vienna Teng. She got a BS in Computer Science at Stanford in 2000, and worked as a programmer for two years. Then career shift, boom, music, and that was her career for the next 8 years - and then she turned around and went back to grad school (dual Masters, MBA and Environmental Studies). And now she's making music again.

It's just, man. I'm currently working on my third completely unrelated Masters. (Library Science can be related to both Computer Science and Children's Literature, but I'm not interested in the overlaps, except inasmuch as I'm a programmer as a librarian and archivist.) And looking at how Vienna Teng has happily decided she can be a musician along with her other skills and studies, reminds me that this can be a successful way to be, rather than just undecided flailing.

And her music is freaking gorgeous.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
"What Can Old Menus From Hawaii Tell Us About Changing Ocean Health?"

The basic premise is this–if a species of fish can be readily found in large enough numbers, then it’s likely to make it on restaurant menus. Van Houtan and colleagues tracked down 376 such menus from 154 different restaurants in Hawaii, most of which were supplied by private menu collectors.

The team compared the menus, printed between 1928 and 1974, to market surveys of fishermen’s catches in the early 20th century, and also to governmental data collected from around 1950 onward. This allowed the researchers to compare how well the menus reflected the kinds of fishes actually being pulled from the sea.

The menus, their comparative analyses revealed, did indeed closely reflect the varieties and amounts of fish that fishermen were catching during the years that data were available, indicating that the restaurants’ offerings could provide a rough idea of what Hawaii’s fisheries looked like between 1905 and 1950–a period that experienced no official data collection.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
So I have long understood the critiques of relying on Peggy McIntosh and Tim Wise for introducing white students to race theory and the concepts of privilege. And (while they are not the same person and should not be painted with the same brush), Tim Wise's current panstlessness on Twitter has reminded me of a question I've been meaning to ask for a while.

While I know that there are plenty of excellent writings by people of color on the concept of privilege, I've never found anything, personally, as good as The Invisible Knapsack for really doing that first, preliminary, kindergarten step of introducing the concepts to white students who are initially resistant to the ideas. Given that pretty much anyone with any privilege on any axis is going to get their back up the first time they learn about the concepts, and white students especially given how overwhelming the racial problems are in this country and how much the dominant narrative wants us to believe in a post-racial society, I really like starting with something gentle, something they find it harder to kneejerk argue with. It's certainly not where I finish, but I have found it to be a useful starting point.

I'm sure there must be other introductory essays which are similarly clear and gentle but also written by POC, but my librarian skills are failing me. Anyone have any good recommendations?

(I know there's Scalzi's difficulty level essay, but that suffers from the exact same problem, and also doesn't actually particularly address my usual audience.)
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