deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
A story from International Business Times went viral last night: Donald Trump White House Dress Code Policy? Female Staffers Must ‘Dress Like Women,’ President Says. It's terrible, and confirms everything we believe about Trump. It spawned a hashtag, #DresslikeaWoman. It's also not true.

It hurts the fight against Trump to share false stories about Trump. It makes us weaker.

Information literacy -- the ability to recognize when you need to acquire information, and the skill set to locate and assess the quality of that information -- is one of the most important skills we can have in this #AlternativeFacts, #FakeNews era. While the Trump administration has used the fake news label as a pejorative against any story with which he disagrees, or which has any facts which are contradicted by other sources, we know better. Fake news is the reporting of false stories, or true stories reported with hyperbolic, overblown, or outright false context. In the social media snippet era, in which all of us are guilty of sharing stories we haven't read or investigated based on headline, a tweet, or a brief Facebook post, we are all responsible for being more careful.

There are a lot of ways librarians teach information literacy. One of them ("trust sites that end with .gov") is getting seriously rethought in the Donald Trump era. One of the other important ones is both assessing whether or not something that appears to be a news site actually is a reputable news site. Advanced information literacy techniques include understanding the different kind of sources of information even reputable news sites use, and understanding how to assess their likely truth value. Note this is not a way of addressing the question of whether sources lie or disagree with one another. That's going to happen, and that much harder to address. But we should be able to understand when a story is flat out, on its face, total garbage.

So what's wrong with the "Dress Like a Woman" story? Everything.

how to see the story is false )

One of Trump's methods for success in 2016 was that he accomplishes six outrageous, inhumane, and occasionally illegal actions before breakfast. How can you cover a man whose every pronouncement is ridiculous? It leaves us unable to focus on any one of them to the extent that we should. So much as happened in the last 48 hours that people have already forgotten that he casually threatened to invade Mexico. He's a fire hose of hate and incompetence.

(ETA: An anon in the comments points out that I got not played myself in this piece about being careful about not being played. Although the original allegations about Trump's threat to send troops to Mexico was reported by the Associated Press, both the White House and the Mexican government deny those allegations.)

This means two things:
  1. Getting outraged about things that didn't happen is a distraction from being outraged about that far worse things that actually did happen.
  2. There is literally no purpose in making up fake stories about crappy things he is doing, because there is a mountain of crap that is actually happening.


In this era, a responsible citizen must read beyond the headline, read beyond the lede, read beyond the tweet or the Facebook repost.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
[personal profile] allen and I formed Suberic Networks back in 1997, which is hard to believe. Our baby is a millenial! Over the years we've providing hosting solutions to myriad non-profits, small businesses, informal organizations, clubs, and individuals. When doing freelance programming, we've done so under the umbrella of Suberic Networks.

Suberic was formed back in the wild old days of the Internet, when "there shalt be no commercial speech on the Internet" was extremely recent history (only three years after Canter and Siegel spammed Usenet). We've grown a lot over the years. I can't recall for sure, but I bet we once had little icons that said "Bobby approved!" and "Best when viewed in Lynx."

Today we're launching the new home page for Suberic Networks, LLC. Our gorgeous new logo was designed by Pablo Defendini. The site's launch aims to showcase my freelance programming work.
We build database-backed software solutions with rich user interfaces that provide a tested and welcoming user experience. Suberic Networks is particularly adept with the Perl and Python programming languages, and we can modernize legacy software as well as design, build, and test new projects. We have specialties in accessibility, user experience, digital libraries, and publishing.


I know many of you are involved with accessibility, library, archives, and publishing. Not coincidentally, those are particular strengths of Suberic Networks consulting! I encourage you to consult our expertise and consider whether we might be of use to your organization. And I'd be grateful if you'd signal boost (without spamming, of course) to interested parties.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
My favorite Nazi puncher is my 91-year-old cousin Arthur, who, at 65, got arrested for punching Salem, Massachusetts's least favorite hometown Nazi at a protest against a Holocaust denialist.

Arthur was fined $1.

May we all look at Cousin Arthur as our role model in these dark days.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Jason McIntosh ([twitter.com profile] JmacDotOrg) interviewed my household about the way we play videogames: "Play of the Light #11 - The Freaks on group-playing single-player RPGs." This is vaguely connected to accessibility, just because we touch, somewhat, on how we play in a way that doesn't use my hands, although that's not the focus.
deborah: Kirkus Reviews: OM NOM NOM BRAINS (kirkus)
Four days ago, I read the Kirkus review of Lara Avery's The Memory Book after seeing it linked on the Kirkus Best YA of 2016 list. I promptly placed a library hold.

One day ago, my hold came in at the library and I read this novel from the point of view of a teenager diagnosed with Neimann-Pick type C, a rare lysosomal storage disease which causes physical and cognitive degenerative symptoms.

Two years and two days ago, my sister died of Late Onset Tay-Sachs disease, a rare, adolescent-onset lysosomal storage disease which causes physical and cognitive degenerative symptoms.

So. That happened.


Some spoilers behind cut, warned for. )

In conclusion: Fuck Tay-Sachs. And Neimann-Pick, and Gaucher, and this whole shitty family, and all the rest of the rare diseases.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I spent two and a half hours yesterday in the ophthalmologist's waiting room with dilated eyes, like you do, so I ended up listening to several podcasts. And by pure serendipity, I had queued up two consecutive literature episodes, each with a children'sand YA lit focus, of non-literature podcasts.

First came the "Why Are Samosas In Every Single Book?" episode of the BuzzFeed podcast, See Something Say Something. (Accompanying recommended book list for See Something Say Something.)

Youth Lit authors Hena Khan and Sara Farizan talk about writing young Pakistani and Iranian characters, and wonder why every single book set in South Asia includes samosas. Plus, they give Ahmed some writing advice and read from their own work. Hena shares an excerpt from her forthcoming novel "Amina's Voice," and Sara reads from "Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel".

Then, by sheer coincidence, my phone decided to entertain me in the eyewatering, glaring boredom of the doctor's office with another BuzzFeed podcast: Another Round. The episode, "All Stars: Lit is Lit," isn't explicitly a children's lit episode. But it does feature Jacqueline Woodson, Marley Dias of #1000BlackGirlBooks, and asked a slew of adults when they first saw themselves in books, which led to a very children's and YA lit-centric conversation. (Accompanying recommended book list for Another Round.)

This week, you’ll hear from past guests - prolific writers & avid readers - answering questions ranging from, “When was the first time you saw yourself represented in literature?” to “Why are so many books about white boys and their dogs?" You'll hear from Roxane Gay, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Chirlane McCray, Jacqueline Woodson, Saeed Jones, Jeff Chang, and more. #protip: this is a great episode to suggest to a friend who's new to the show!
Both these episodes were fabulous: interesting, funny, and informative. They also gave me thinky thoughts about representation which I'll put in a second post because they got lengthy.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Those of you who subscribe to the childlit mailing list will understand why this clip has been looping endlessly through my head for the last day.


(Transcript)

Those of you who don't can extrapolate.
deborah: The management regrets that it was unable to find a Gnomic Utterance that was suitably irrelevant. (gnomic)
I'm seeing a lot of people post about how, in light of current political shifts, everyone should increase online security. A few points on this:

  • Yes.
  • This is always true.
  • Most of the advice going around is a mix of good, reasonable, difficult, and bad. (eg. One list going around says Gmail is totally safe because it won't get hacked. Google (and Facebook, and Apple, and others) explicitly cooperates with the CIA, the NSA, and other governments around the world.
  • There is a conflation of different concepts of online security: protecting your data from theft, protecting your data from government abuse, protecting your accounts from hacking. There's no point in getting paranoid about Internet security if you don't know which of these dangers is most important to you, how much you can assess risk, and what measures specifically apply to that danger.

Don't take the advice of activists about security. Take the advice of professional Internet security experts (I am not one). Start with Brian Krebs ([twitter.com profile] briankrebs) and Bruce Schneier ([twitter.com profile] schneierblog). A lot of what they have to say is aimed at security experts and you can ignore it; focus on the pieces that are obviously relevant to you, such as Brian Krebs' Tools for a safer PC. If you are the kind of person who likes to look for the work of women and people of color when you are looking for expert opinions, don't hold your breath when you are looking in research for computer security. That is not to say that there are not security experts who aren't white men, but infosec has notoriously always been so misogynist and such a cultural cesspool that it appalls even the rest of the tech industry.

When it comes to protecting your accounts and your own devices from hackers, the tips you get from experts are only somewhat inconvenient and a great place to start.

However, when it comes to protecting your information from the panopticon, whether corporate or government, I've got some bad news for you:

If the advice sounds easy or socially convenient, it's false.


  • Cloud services put you at risk. (Twitter, Gmail, Facebook, and technically Dreamwidth, though the scale of Dreamwidth allows many of us to have a relationship of trust with the site.)
  • Credit cards put you at risk, whether or not you have ever purchased something online in your life.
  • Using an email address in multiple places put you are risk.
  • Having ever given your telephone number, email address, or Social Security number to a business puts you at risk.
  • Having friends who know your email address or your phone number puts you at risk.
  • Not knowing the underlying tech infrastructure of the online services you use puts you at risk.
  • Browsing the web puts you at risk.

If you are going to be engaging in the kind of activism that will put you in a government's crosshairs, and you have a sincere, evidence-based belief that you are going to be targeted by a government because of your activities, and you want to protect yourself, you need to do some serious, hard-core curation of your available information online. You are not going to fix your problems by installing Tor and using two-factor authentication on your Gmail account. You are not going to fix your problems by any tip sheet that is currently being circulated around Twitter. And you are not going to fix your problems easily. It is difficult to address this kind of situation without a major life change. For most of us, resources would be better spent on lobbying the companies we do business with to mitigate the damage from these kind of practices writ large. That is to say, not necessarily helping ourselves, but trying to diminish the surveillance state as a whole.

Here's a very brief summation of the problem. Okay, not so brief. Be Afraid. )

tl;dr

If you are seriously worried and have good reason to be exceptionally careful:

  • Encrypt everything.
  • Only use cloud services where you explicitly trust the host and know their policy about government requests for information, third-party vendors, and their third-party vendors' similar policies.
  • Only use throwaway cell phone numbers, email addresses, and credit card numbers to do business.
  • Never, ever use social media.

For the rest of us, well. Here's what we can do.

  • Take a deep breath and acknowledge that any reasonably competent government and sufficiently well-off corporation already knows anything about us that it wants to.
  • Protect our devices and our accounts from explicit hacking.
  • Lobby for institutional change in the surveillance state and the industrial panopticon.
  • Stop panicking.

And seriously, folks. Install 1Password, KeePass, or some other locally hosted password manager, and switch to unique and difficult passwords for every account you have. And then install Ghostery on your browsers.

And don't panic about this. Be concerned, and be careful, but panicking is counterproductive; the cat is so far out of the bag for most of us that there is not even cat hair left. We have a lot more to panic about than whether the government can find us.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
This is primarily just a collection of links, pointing to some of the current activities of the Digital Publishing Working group. I'm posting from the conference where I can't dictate, so I'm not adding much context. But please feel free to ask me questions.

To begin with, here's the briefest of introductions to the core standards body: The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), and the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). There rest of my presentation covers the accessibility activities of the Digital Publishing Interest Group (DPUG IG). I'm an Invited Expert on DPUB IG, and I'm a co-chair of the DPUB IG Accessibility task force, with Charles LaPierre of Benetech.

You can follow many of the activities of the DPUB IG on the W3C blog, category digital publishing, RSS, [syndicated profile] dpub_w3c_feed.

deborah: Kirkus Reviews: OM NOM NOM BRAINS (kirkus)
I've updated the online reading list for my Fantasy and Science Fiction class at the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College.

Some random statistics might be interesting. I kept track of them for my own purposes, and then I had too much fun with pivot tables, so I'm sharing some of my results. Keep in mind these are often guesses on my part, because I only needed rough numbers, and I could be wrong.Many stats! )
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Longdesc doesn't get stripped from entry source, but nor does it get displayed on entries. This is a test to verify that.

Update: Ah, this makes sense. Longdesc that's encoded as a data URI gets stripped. Data URIs are a great way to encode longdesc, but it makes perfect sense to strip them. This is now a test to verify my new understanding.

Linked longdesc:

Dreamwidth logo

Data URI encoded longdesc:

Dreamwidth logo

Update 2: Yep, verified.
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.
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