deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
first she had on her own checkered cap, then a bunch of gray caps, then a bunch of brown caps, then a bunch of blue caps, and on the very top a bunch of red caps.

Apologies to Esphyr Slobodkina


(For those more in the loop of
  1. obscure fairy lore or
  2. Dungeons & Dragons baddies based on obscure fairy lore than on
  3. 76 year old picture books
the allusion was to me being a person who chooses to wear many hats. Any implication of being beleaguered by monkeys is purely coincidental.)

After several happy years at Safari Books Online working with Python, I'm moving on to other projects. For now, I'm moving on to a variety of open source projects. I hope to have the chance to talk about the bigger ones soon. As for the smaller ones, well. Expect pull requests from me soon!

Seriously, though. I'm trying to talk myself out of adding (imagine Allie Brosh-style self-insert here) Fix All the Accessibility Bugs! to my todo list. That seems like a Poor Life Choice.

Much love to all my Safari Co-Workers who've been mentors in my journey into Python Infested Waters. I'm sure I'll see most of you in my new spaces as well. Liza will be sad that I'm looking forward to having time for Perl projects again -- though probably happy to know that I'm a convert to the Python culture 100%, if only partially to Python-as-language. (You'll pry regexes out of my cold dead fingers, Liza. Well, pretty easily; you've seen my fingers. But out of my metaphorical fingers.)

W3C work isn't going away, especially not since my W3C colleagues have been making noises about increasing their demands on my time, you know who you are. And there's likely to be more children's and YA lit in my life soon, as well! More details will be forthcoming if that happens.


Further up and further in!
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
True Story: I only eat oranges when someone offers them to me. I can't peel them, I can't use (as seen on TV!) orange peelers, I can't scoop them out with a spoon like they're tiny grapefruit. I can sometimes peel a clementine, but not reliably. Yes, I could ask a friend to peel me an orange, but honestly, I have to ask people to do so many other things for me just so I can eat (carry that bowl; drain that pasta; chop that onion; open that bottle); I'm not going to waste one of my precious asks on an orange when I could just eat an apple.

Another True Story: My mother brought me up to feel real shame over convenience items. She was willing to compromise on keeping tinned soups in the house we kids could make for ourselves, and buying bakery bread. But everything from supermarket bread to pre-chopped garlic to cake mixes were items worth nothing but scorn. (Oddly, we had a microwave. Also, I'm pretty sure that in the 70's vegetables grew in rectangular frozen bricks.)

#OrangeGate thus hits home for me.

A summary of The Case of the Package in Orange: Last week, [twitter.com profile] awlilnatty tweeted:



The image in the tweet is of peeled oranges being sold in plastic tubs by Whole Foods.

Social media backlash was huge, Whole Foods pulled the oranges, the press covered it in multiple countries. Meanwhile, disabled folks on Twitter said "WTF, those oranges are awesome!" and got called Earth-destroying demons by some asshats on the Internet. (References: Crippled Scholar, "When Accessibility Gets Labeled Wasteful". [twitter.com profile] AnaMardoll, "Feminism: Oranges and Disability Accessible Items".)

Every time I purchase a convenience item, I argue with the inner puritan my mother instilled in me, the shaming voice that sounds like an army of Twitter eco-activists happily tweetraging away from their rare earth-filled mobile phones. I am lucky enough to be a well-to-do person with a disability, so I can make convenience choices: the robot swiffer; the accessible doorknobs and taps I've installed in my home; the touchpad remote control; the top of the line microphones and adaptive tech. And every one of these makes me feel lazy and shamed.

Once, I bought a motion-sensitive liquid soap dispenser. It was awesome, especially in the mornings when my hands are minimally functional. Later, someone I follow tweeted mockery at an ad for the dispenser. When mine subsequently died, I couldn't bring myself to replace it. Seriously, every time I see it in the drug store, I think about buying it, but stop myself. I've even put it in the shopping basket before putting it back. I hear my inner puritan yelling at me, now combined with the mockery of people on the internet. So in the mornings I struggle with a regular soap dispenser (uncomfortable, awkward, sometimes painful) or bar soap (constantly dropped, difficult to grip, sometimes painful).


  • The robot swiffer means I can help out a little more around the house and not rely on my partner.
  • If it weren't for [livejournal.com profile] diceytillerman reminding me I'm allowed to take taxis, I'd see my friends even less often.
  • Do you know they make tool that both unscrews bottles and opens that annoying wedge of cardboard you're supposed to push in with your thumb? It's amazing.
  • My partner has to pop daily pills into a pill case for me, because nobody's invented a convenience tool that defeats blister packs.
  • If I could bring myself to buy pre-chopped onions, I'd cook far more often than I do. But every time I think about it, I'm confronted with people making fun of them as luxuries as in this old piece from Consumerist.
  • My mother shames me for buying sliced sandwich bread -- from the bakery, even, not from the store -- because if I won't bake it, she can bake it for me. But the store bread is sliced. Slices matter.
  • I remember when I could eat artichokes. I haven't been able to eat an artichoke in 15 years because I can't grip the leaves, but I can eat a canned artichoke heart.



Disability is expensive. An adapted life is one which is allowed to have a footprint on the world. Living without convenience items by choice is a luxury, and you should be grateful you can.

Excuse me. I need to go eat an apple.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
It's a good thing I don't live near DC, because I would apply for this job in a hot minute.

Department: Executive Office of the President
Job Title: Accessibility Officer

Duties )


Step one: teach the people running the job board that you don't use all caps for headers, you use regular capitalization and style to caps with CSS if that's what you want. :D

Do people in jobs like this get fired when the administration turns over?

...Now I'm imagining the accessiblity officer in the Trump administration.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
New project DictationBridge will make screen readers play nicely with dictation software: speech-to-text working well with text-to-speech! So excited about this. The first revision will be NVDA and Windows Speech Recognition, followed by Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and eventually other screen readers.

It's being billed as for blind and VI people with RSI, but as a sighted RSI accessibility programmer I am going to love this. Also since I have a cordless headset I might become a person who full-on computes while cooking.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I have finally started identifying as "I have all these huge posts in draft, but I really want to boil them down into something smarter before I post them. But I have one very simple thought just occurred to me.

I have finally started identifying myself as "a programmer" and not just "a person who writes a lot of code" or "an archivist who hacks a lot." I don't think it's actually because I now have a job title of "programmer." It's because I've been doing code reviews.

My code reviews are still very junior. In many ways, I'm too trusting of the code that I read; I sometimes read it as pseudocode and so don't see errors. But I forced myself to start doing it, and I started with just asking for more comments any place where the code wasn't self-explanatory -- which is really valuable, and I should not understate that with "just."

The obvious next step from there was to ask people to clarify their coding style to make it more self-documenting. If it took me too long to figure out what was going on, then either it's a complex bit of algorithm and needs better comments, or there's a fair chance the code is not as clearly written as it could be. I will admit this is an easier task than it could be because I am almost always code reviewing Python programmers, not Perl programmers. Python programmers don't have so much of the cultural machismo attached to writing WORN (write once, read never) code. (For what it's worth, I don't think that has anything to do with structures inherent in the languages. You can write unreadable Python just fine, and Perl Best Practices-compliant code is plenty readable. It's a cultural problem.)

From asking people to clarify their coding style it was actually a surprisingly short jump to pointing out ways code could be more efficient. Once you start looking at ways the code is not written very clearly, you start noticing inefficiencies. Before you post a comment you say to yourself, "that generator is kind of hard to read, I wonder why they used it? Before I critique it maybe I should check to see if that's the best way to do this thing." And then you find it's not; it's too slow, or too memory intensive, or the like.

Of course, I need to remember to comment on the elements of the code where I do have strengths, and I need to remember that those strengths, while they are not the same as those of senior engineers, are relevant skill sets which actually need to be addressed in the product by more people. In my case, that's accessibility along with usability and user experience.

Everyone doing a code review needs to check for security and accessibility issues, and don't worry if you don't know the details. All you have to do is say things like "I see you are taking user input here; did you verify all of the security issues were resolved?" Or "I see you have added a new interaction mode to the front page; did you do an accessibility review?"

Just make sure the person for whom your code reviewing those your limitations. If you are not particularly skilled with knowing performance tuning, then you probably shouldn't be the only person code reviewing a rewrite the database ORM. If you aren't sure, talk to the developer.

You can code review for developers who are far more experienced than you! You can code review even if you aren't doing a lot of programming yourself.

So give it a try.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I dislike using ad-blockers, in general. I know investigative journalism and online fiction are both expensive to produce, and I want to support all of those content creators. To that end, I wish there were an ad broker that worked closely with the maintainers of Ad Block Plus and Ghostery, and committed to only providing ads which were guaranteed to (within reason):
  • Contain no malware
  • Contain no trackers
  • Contain no data scrapers or other hostile code
  • Not require risky tech (eg. Flash) to run
  • Not move

I know, that last one is unusual. That's an accessibility thing more than anything else; animated ads tend to use scripting rather than animated gifs for their movement (thus ignoring browser animation settings), frequently ignore WCAG, and -- my reason for loathing them -- are often a migraine trigger for me.

I used to browse with NoScript everywhere, but these days that breaks more of the web than not. Instead, I browse with Ghostery to make myself safe; I had to whitelist a few websites which break with Google Analytics off, and had to whitelist some of the A/B testing platforms and video CDNs, but otherwise that leaves the web fully functional. But I still have to use ABP to block two things: obtrusive animations, and links to clickbait sites which are disguised to look like links from the host site, and which frequently redirect to dangerous, malware-infested pages. (Actually, Ghostery catches most of those, too.)

I would be fine with ads plastered all over websites as long as they weren't highly likely to be malicious or dangerous to me! If ABP makes enough of a dent, I suppose, perhaps there'll be demand for it.

I'd kind of like to put some non-JS tracking code in my company's site to see how many hits we get with Ghostery on or JS off (though we're non-functional without JS, sigh.)
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Yet another pass through the cycle that periodically afflicts me.

  • Follow professional colleagues on twitter.
  • Be relatively quiet and well-behaved on twitter because it's a professional forum.
  • Follow more social justice folks on twitter because that's where they are.
  • Tweet more about politics because these issues are important.
  • Get stressed about tweeting about politics because I'm inexplicably followed on twitter by my boss, my grandboss, my great-grandboss, and my CEO.
  • Get equally stressed about tweeting during the workday because see above, even though I'm responsible about when I check it.
  • Hope they have me muted.
  • Follow lots of people using twitter as a long-form platform because the New Web is weird, y'all.
  • Start to long-form tweet because I pick up the languages of cultures I'm immersed in far too quickly.


With a soupçon of "I have all these blog topics half-drafted; why do I never finish them or reply to comments?" and a dash of "I seem to be so destractable and irritable lately."

I did eventually figure out that one of the reasons I was doing long-form tweeting is my perception that more people will read a storify than a blog post (unless it's on medium, *snort*). Which, (a) aargh, whatever, this is not a productive of my focus, and (b) I'm not widely read anyhow. [footnote]

I also keep running into the situation where I'm capable of being ridiculously diplomatic in situations where I believe it's called for (basically, any situation which has already become fraught), but in pretty much any other situation I am my father's daughter. I call that "assuming that in any non-politicized situation everyone is an adult and is willing to speak frankly with each other and hear frank and open opinions", though I suppose my father probably would have called it "not having time for assholes". To be fair, he also would have said something to the effect of "you're your father's daughter, and we're both assholes."

(Sometimes I miss the hell out of my dad. ♥♥♥♥♥)

This has led to the odd situation where some people believe I am incredibly diplomatic and can be called on to moderate awkward conversations, and some people think I am a bull in a china shop and should not be allowed out in public. Both of which are actually situationally true! But twitter, in any case, is one of the situations where it will not occur to me to be incredibly diplomatic, even though almost by his very nature it is already fraught.

It was at this point that I recalled I could disable Echofon notifications on my phone.

I'm hoping this will stick.


Footnote:
Certainly I'm not widely read in the accessibility community, where I'd like to have some influence. On the one hand this is deeply frustrating, because I do have a lot to add to that conversation with respect to technology, usability, and standards. On the other hand, that arguably means I can burn bridges freely.

Which, as I watch (as I have over the last decade) women, people with disabilities, and people of color get shunted to the side in accessibility standards making, accessibility voices cited, and people in the field given credit for their work, is something I have been considering more and more lately. If I'm not going to be allowed to help improve the accessibility of the web as a whole, why not focus on improving the accessibility of individual websites? I am too practical to bang my head against this particular wall forever.

Also, today was my first real mansplain! (Since its coinage.) I mean a For Serious dude in my mentions Calmly Explaining Me Things, when it became clear via three separate threads that he had no idea what he was talking about, and I, who had assumed he knew more than I did because he was so confident about it, was the more more knowledgeable of the two of us.

I was grimly thinking last week about the great day in the future when I will be able to burn all of those aforementioned bridges and speak a truth or too about the way things happen in the accessibility community, when I remembered the also aforementioned "the accessibility community doesn't particularly value my voice." Which again, means I can be tactless enough to make a post such as, say, this one, without even worrying about ticking people off. I could even link to it from twitter, honestly, although that would arguably be counter-productive for my own mental health.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
One hugely important outgrowths of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement has been the understanding the diversity in books requires diversity in authors and illustrators, in the publishing industry, and yes, among reviewers. Malinda Lo compiled her four-part Tumblr essay into "Perceptions of Diversity in Book Reviews" (February 18, 2015), and Jason Lee of Lee & Low Books assembled "The Diversity Baseline Survey" for publishing houses and review journals. A few months ago, School Library Journal released their numbers for race (though oddly not disability or sexuality and gender identity) with Kathy Ishizuka's "Survey Reveals Demographic of SLJ Reviewers (April 27, 2015). Now my editor, Vicky Smith, has released the numbers for Kirkus Reviews.

I know Vicky was working on diversifying the KR review pool for a while before Malinda made her much needed call, which might be part of why KR's numbers, pathetic though they may be as representative of the industry, are less bad than one might expect. I will say that Vicky has never shut me down or edited me out when I've critiqued a text on social justice grounds: race or gender, queerness or disability, fatphobia or class. She asks me to provide page references and source quotations, and occasionally asks me if changes she's learned will appear in the final version of the book (rather than the advanced review copy) will change my assessment. The only person who second-guesses my race or gender analysis is me; years after a review I will sometimes wonder if I've been too harsh (oy, that one book still haunts me) or if I didn't shine enough of a spotlight on something that needed the right attention.

If you want to know why it's legit for a trade reviewer to comment on ideological grounds, ask and I'll make that post. There's a long answer, but the short version is readers want to know. In the case of children's and YA books, teachers and librarians especially want to know.

Anyway, here are a couple of pieces by Vicky:From the latter:
We asked our 110 reviewers to answer four questions: What race do you identify as? What gender? What sexual orientation? Do you have a disability? In just three days, I received 79 responses, and I can't say I'm terribly surprised by the overall results. We are mostly white: 77 percent. We are mostly straight: 76 percent. We are mostly able-bodied and -minded: 81 percent. And—only in children's books, folks—we are overwhelmingly female: 86 percent.


I'm in some of those groups and not others (white, cis, female; queer, disabled). And I fully support the goal to continue diversifying KR, reviewing, and the entire field.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Kudos to [twitter.com profile] tikva for raising the issue of the Watertown Public Library's posted position for a Circulation Supervisor (Wayback Machine link). Tikva brought the illegality of the posting to the attention of the Watertown Public Library on 24 April. As of tonight, 28 April, here's an excerpt from the posted job:

  • Moderate physical effort required in carrying and shelving books, computers and other equipment and in performing other typical library functions
  • Frequent standing, walking, bending, reaching, and climbing
  • Ability to operate a keyboard at an efficient speed
  • Frequently required to sit and talk or hear
  • Must occasionally lift and/or move materials weighing up to 50 pounds
  • Vision and hearing at or correctable to “normal ranges”

Now, I always get mad about ADA violations. But in this case, I'm not just my usual disabled jackass who's angry about ableism. I'm a disabled jackass who:

  • has worked many a circ job, and knows exactly what is and isn't required for the job

  • is deeply over-qualified for this job, which I could knock out of the park (not that they'd be willing to pay someone with an MLS for this position)

  • could not, nonetheless, meet three of their six "Physical Requirements", even though two of them could be adapted with minimal adaptation and the third (listed as "occasionally") with a mild reshuffling of work requirements

  • knows the ADA backwards and forwards, and is well aware of how blazingly illegal this posting is

  • and, oh, has a recently bereaved kindly busybody of a mother who lives in Watertown and is a frequent patron of the Watertown Public Library. This is a woman threatened to sue her own condo association if they didn't build a wheelchair ramp. (Spoiler alert: they folded.)

So I think on this one I'm not going to write up a long angry Illegal Job Requirements 101. I'm going to call in the cavalry.

I'd duck if I were you, Watertown Public Library. Right now the cavalry hasn't got a whole lot of patience for anyone who makes life harder for people with disabilities.
deborah: Kirkus Reviews: OM NOM NOM BRAINS (kirkus)
Let me talk briefly about one of the many reasons I love Kirkus Reviews and my editor.

I've reviewed for many journals over the years, but Kirkus is the only one I've stuck with. Kirkus is also one of the only two major review journals with anonymous reviews. Kirkus claims to have an editorial voice, which is why the unsigned reviews, but while the Children's and YA Editor, Vicky Smith regularly grooms my words, she almost never modifies the thurst of the content without discussing it with me first. Sometimes she asks me for a clarification, a polish, or -- if I've crossed the line from the necessary honesty of which Kirkus reviewers are proud, to the brutality of which we're sometimes accused -- textual support to justify a surfeit of negativity. Sometimes she gives me context I didn't have (such as a publisher's indication they've changed some wording) and asks me to rewrite. Maybe once or twice in my years at Kirkus, at most, she's simply disagreed with me and rewritten in that light.

All of which is far more than she need do, because I am a writer-for-hire both legally and artistically, and while I craft reviews of which I'm proud, my job is to create reviews in the Kirkus editorial voice.

Years ago, I reviewed for another source which did have the reviewers sign the reviews. Each of those reviews was signed with my name. And every one of those reviews was edited extensively. Those edits were comprehensive in word, tone, and thrust, sometimes completely changing my judgement and analysis. As one point I wrote to the journal asking for more feedback about what they wanted me to be writing in the first place, explaining that I felt uncomfortable having my name on "work which has been so greatly modified from my original as to be scarcely recognizable," which was putting it mildly. They misunderstood, explaining they were grateful to get the sense of the reviewers' opinions, even on reviews they just then rewrote.

I began to get very uncomfortable when I realized how often they were mellowing out my negative reviews (or flat out making them positive), which happened most frequently when I complained about racial stereotypes in books. Tonight, I happened across one such review from many years ago. It was one of the only reviews I ever wrote where they kept the word "stereotype," though they made the assessment of the book much more positive than I did. I assume they kept the word because I provided textual support: six quotations, including awful representation of Native Americans, East Asians, and indigenous South Americans. One of those quotations was a massive othering of the protagonist of color starting from the book's opening pages, while several others were repulsive depictions of a non-Western country's everyday elements as being nasty, superstious, and like unto gothic horror.

Eventually I realized that I was simply unwilling to have my name on the reviews as they were rewritten. Honestly, there was a part of my brain that said "if Debbie Reese critiques something said under my name, am I willing to stand behind it?" [1]

So here's why I love Kirkus:
  • If I can provide textual support for an assessment, my editor has my back.
  • Vicky has never once suggested I'm too sensitive to representation issues in fiction; she's only asked me for textual support.
  • If the judgement is changed in a review, she usually tells me why and I trust her decisions.
  • She's asked me for a second opinion when she wanted a confirmation on a review that mentions a group I'm a part of, and I assume she does it with reviews I write as well, which adds to my confidence.
  • My name's not on the reviews anyway, woohoo


In short, Kirkus++.




[1] I second-guess my reviews all the time. I still regret reviews in which I was, in retrospect, overly concerned with a social justice analysis which was inappropriate for the length of the review and the depth of the problem. I also regret reviews in which I let deeply problematic elements of a book slide. It's a perennial balancing act. To anyone who thinks reviewers shouldn't address social justice concerns in their reviews, I obviously think you're profoundly mistaken, and I can write about that later if anyone wants, but that's another story for another post.

I also second-guess my reviews for other reasons. Was I too kind to a bland waste of paper? Was I overly influenced by an author's fame? Did I conflate my taste with quality (in either direction)? Did I ignore the value a book would serve to its readers despite all its problems? Do I need to stop reviewing when I'm battling migraine aura? That's why I recommend trusting more than one professional review source, especially if you're buying on a budget for a collection (eg librarians, teachers). Personally I recommend Kirkus and PW, but YMMV.

[back]
deborah: Kirkus Reviews: OM NOM NOM BRAINS (kirkus)
It's really quite impressive how many conversations between Kirkus reviewers about books end with one of us asking, Why is everyone so racist? :(
deborah: Kirkus Reviews: OM NOM NOM BRAINS (kirkus)
This is enough of a paper topic that someone's probably already done the research, but here's a hypothesis:

One of the reasons I so often have to hold myself back from describing YA realism novels as "modernist" or even "existentialist," is that some of the core elements of both -- subjectivity, disorientation, confusion, and chaos in a seemingly absurd world, all as the ultimate, horrifying breakage which must be solved by the central character -- provide a very sensible thematic structure for the way the West defines adolescence.

Man, modernism as an adolescent worldview. Of course I would think that; I'm a post-modernist at heart.
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?
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